Posted by: Kelli
If you asked me what my ideal life looked like, my family and I would live on approximately ten acres of land in the middle of no where. We would have a huge garden, a chicken coup full of beautiful chickens, an apple orchard, grapevines, and a few other farm animals. We would live off the land and play outside all day long. Our lives would be quiet and peaceful.
While that life may come ten years down the road, we know that particular life comes with lots of time and hard work alongside the many blessings.
For now, living in a subdivision, sharing a garden with my parents, and being thankful for free access to an apple orchard is the best decision for us.
Every year when August and September roll around, I take a break from the regularly scheduled sewing and reading during nap time. I spend many nap times and many evenings canning produce from the garden. In years past, we have canned hundreds of jars. This year our garden struggled. We didn’t end up with wheel barrows full of tomatoes and green beans so the days spent canning have been minimal (with a two year old and seven month old, this has been okay).
Since we go through about a quart of applesauce a week right now, I didn’t shy away from asking for apples again this year. My mother-in-law has brought us boxes of apples from my husband’s grandmother. And, we have some very very generous friends who have given us free access to their apple orchard the last three or four years.
If you find yourself wishing to preserve more food, know that it took me about three years of freezing and canning to really find my rhythm. I’ve learned the processes and order that works best for me. If you are new at it, give yourself some grace as you learn. And don’t get too frustrated if all your jars don’t seal. It happens.
The pros of canning your own applesauce:
1. You decide exactly what goes into your applesauce. We use just apples. No sugar. No water. No additives. And, I cut all the bad spots off the apples. I can almost guarantee you we have no bugs or worms in our applesauce.
2. You can stock up on applesauce for the entire year (or the next two years). If you can your food well and take precautions to preserve it correctly, it can sit on the shelf for a few years and be completely fine. My personal rule is to throw out all the jars we haven’t used after two years. This usually only happens if I get experimental one year and can something like beets that we don’t use very often.
3. Canned applesauce tastes much better than store bought applesauce. We don’t eat store bought applesauce anymore, but what I do remember of it, it is rather thin and runny. The applesauce we make is smooth, but it is still very thick.
4. Preserving and canning your own food is satisfying and rewarding. I can honestly say that going to the store and buying fifty jars of applesauce would take way less time than cooking, cranking, and processing fifty jars of applesauce. For me, there is something very rewarding about having a fully stocked pantry of home canned goods (or fully stocked freezer of garden veggies).
5. You know where your produce came from and you know the quality of your produce. This kind of goes hand in hand with point number one. When you preserve your own food, you know if it’s been sprayed or powdered. You know if it was completely ripened before picked. You know if the fruit you are using is good quality or bad quality.
6. Canning your own food can save you money. There are lots of resources on the internet that calculate out what it costs to can your own food. I have never taken the time to do that. The start up costs can be expensive if you have never canned before. There is lots of equipment involved. If you are like us and shop estate sales and garage sales for canning equipment, your start up costs can be minimal. If you do decide to invest in the necessary equipment and can year after year, I firmly believe you will come out ahead with cost. Be sure to weigh the time involved in canning your own food if you are really trying to get an accurate picture of the money saved.
1. Canning takes lots of time and work. You have to pick the apples, prep the apples, cook the apples, and grind the apples. This alone takes hours. Then you have to sanitize the jars, get your water bath or pressure canner going, and then you must process the jars for the recommended length. All this takes time, energy, and lots of standing on your feet.
2. The start up costs of canning may be expensive. If you have never canned before and want to start, you may be surprised at all the supplies you need to can your food properly. The costs can add up quickly. Jars, apple grinder, water bath or pressure canner, lids, rings, and the list goes on. If you are starting up, I’d recommend keeping an eye out at garage sales or especially estate sales. My grandparents’ generation did a LOT of canning. As a result, many estate sales from that generation have lots of canning supplies.
3. Canning puts off a lot of heat when you are trying keep your house cool for the summer. Often we have the water bath going, a big pot of apples cooking, and the oven going at the same time. These are all going while we are running our air conditioning trying to keep the house cool. This is one of the inefficiencies of canning.
4. You may not have access to free or inexpensive produce. If you don’t have an orchard or large garden, buying and processing produce can get expensive fast. If you happen to have a large garden or access to free apples (like we do), then canning can be a great investment of time and energy.
Unless you are my mother-in-law (her kitchen just seems to emanate canned goods), know that canning takes lots of time and effort. For us, the results are worth it. I find so much reward and satisfaction in growing and preserving our own food for the year.
A side note: we cranked the applesauce by hand for two years before we decided to invest in the KitchenAid Stand Mixer Attachment. If you are like us and make applesauce year after year, the investment was worth it. KitchenAid makes a fruit and vegetable strainer and grinder that attaches to your stand mixer. You just spoon the cooked apples into the mixer attachment and it removes the skin and seeds. The applesauce comes out smooth and clean. We recommend it. 🙂
Do you do any canning or does canning appeal to you? Any tips or hints you can share?