Canning season is here if you choose to make strawberry jam next month. I’ve already got my kids psyched to pick strawberries! If you’re interested in more canning recipes, I currently have them linked on my price book page. I’ll pull the recipes together on a canning page within the next week. More information on growing fruiting vines is in my Edible Landscaping series.
One of the vines growing in our yard supplies us with Concord Grapes. I think there may only be one or two vines doing all the work, but it works very hard to give us enough grapes for 8 – 10 batches of grape jelly.
Making grape jelly is a two-step process. Two years ago, I invested in a Back to Basics Steam Juicer which has helped speed up the process enormously. I don’t remember the cost of the juicer, but it probably ran between $30 and $50. At the same time I received a Back to Basics 7-Quart Aluminum Home Steam Canner for Christmas, one which ran about $30 to $40, another good investment. A steam canner only needs about two inches of water in the bottom of the canner, meaning you use less water and need less time to boil the water.
Now, we’ve been canning for about 15 years so our cost for our jars and bands are pretty much at zero at this point. The lids I find on clearance at Target or the grocery store at the end of the summer; this usually saves at least $1 on the cost of the lids.
Cost Breakdown for Homemade Grape Jelly
Homemade Concord Grape Juice FREE
14 cups of sugar 4.32
2 packages of liquid pectin 1.48
14 regular lids .84
14 8 oz. jars FREE
Total Cost: $6.64
$.47 / 8 oz. jar
The USDA does not encourage the use of steam canners. However, the small amount of research that has been done so far does show that steam canners work just as well for high-acidic foods, plus it uses much less water than a traditional water bath. I’ve never had an issue with my steam canner. I’ve found that if something hasn’t sealed properly, it’s obvious when the food has gone bad.
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