By Mary B from Alanson, MI
Have vegetables ready (washed, cut up, etc., as needed) before canner time is up. Put the vegetables in a metal colander into the water in the canner for about 3 minutes to blanch them, remove, and immediately immerse them in a sink full of of icy cold water. This saves the energy (electric or gas) and the time to heat up a large volume of water and "kills two birds with one stone."
Washing dishes with the canning water recycles the hot water too, although be careful not to remove a large canner of hot water from the stove or try pouring it out until it cools enough so you won't get burned. Dipping hot water out with a saucepan might be safer.
Also, the water can be used for a second batch of canning but don't plunge cold jars into extremely hot water as they could break, so the water should be allowed to cool or be diluted to a warm but not scalding hot temperature with cold water before adding jars.
By halstein from Valley City, ND
It lets me enter my relish, fruit, salsa, etc. in the fair, and I make a modest check from that every year. I bought jars from people who were quitting their canning for a dollar or two per dozen. Lids are cheap, but for fair entries, Ball lids are required now.
We found an old ice vending building (remember when you bought a block for the ice box?) that had been gutted, and we buried it part way to keep it cool, and my husband made shelves for it. We got the shelving very cheaply from a small grocery store that was closing. I keep it full. We could live out of it for the next year or two without a qualm, if necessary.
Some of the other things I put up are marinara sauce, our favorite pickles, all kinds of veggies, juice, fish, chicken and beef. It's the main reason our grocery bill is so low.
One year I found a box of bananas that had gotten frozen accidentally, and the grocery store manager gave it to me. I mashed them up with a bit of lemon juice and froze them. We now have banana bread whenever we want it. Pesto is next on my list. The basil is doing great this year!
Is there a simple, inexpensive way to can that doesn't take all day to do? If I have something I need to can, can I do it without spending tons of money to set up?
You have to buy jars, and you will either need a pressure cooker or a hot water bath canner. You will need a special pair of tongs to get the hot jars of canned goods out of the canner. Then you will need a cool place like a unheated basement to keep the canned produce, or a corner of the basement that isn't heated. By the time you prepare the produce for canning, until the time it gets done, you do spend a fair amount of time doing it. Once you get the filled jars in the canner you can do other things, but you do have to keep an eye on the processing time. It isn't hard to can, but it is time consuming and to get started it does take a fair amount of money.