Today’s big question is; Does canning your own food save you money? Well, first off, everyone who is just getting started into canning has seen that the cost of entry is not terrible, until you start buying cases and cases of canning jars.
So let’s dig deep into the cost. Let’s take tomatoe sauce as an example.
The basic items for canning are:
- An 11 quart pot to cook the tomatoes in (much smaller won’t give you a full batch to can) about $30
- A basic canning pot with rack is about $17
- A jar funnel is about $6
- A case (12) of quart jars with lids is $13
- A strainer to take the skins, seeds, etc out about $35
So a basic canning “kit”, if you will, is going to run about $100. All of that is reusable, except for the lids on the jars. Those should be replaced after each use. However, I have been known to keep used ones to use for beverages and dry goods, but it wouldn’t be wise to reuse them for canning, as the rubber seal isn’t made for multiple uses. A hundred bucks for a new hobby that produces food isn’t bad in my mind.
Then you need the tomatoes about a half bushel will do, some lemon juice and salt, combined you should be able to get all that for $20 or less
Out of a half bushel of tomatoes you should get about 14 quarts of tomato sauce. Quick math shows that to be $1.42 a 32oz jar, not including the jar, but the lids will need to be replaced and they are roughly .25 each. So the math shows that if you are buying your tomatoes, lemon juice, salt and lids a 32 oz jar actually costs you about $1.67 to produce. This week at Meijer, there is tomato sauce on sale for 1.25 a 29oz can
Does that answer your question? It is not cheaper if you are buying the tomatoes. However, if you are growing your own tomatoes and already own the supplies your only paying for your plant, or the seeds, garden amendments, lemon juice, salt and lids.
So, for my family, canning tomatoes is what I do with the imperfect tomatoes. It may or may not save us much money in the long run, but I have quite a large collection of canning jars. Tomatoes that are cracked or bruised are fairly easy to come by in a market garden with hundreds of tomato plants.