Friday, 22 July 2016

10:05 – I happened across this article yesterday, and decided to post this morning about why we don’t use a pressure canner. (There’s one sitting in a kitchen cabinet, but I use it only as an autoclave for biology stuff, not to preserve food.)

FTA: “…for four people, her suggestions would require 800-1200 jars…” Assuming you buy new jars in bulk, and depending on capacity and mouth size, a thousand canning jars with lids and bands might cost $700 or so, or $0.70 each. That’s a lot of money for empty jars. The canning process itself is also costly, both in terms of fuel and time. And that’s not even counting the financial and time costs of planting a vegetable garden. Nor is home canning sustainable in the long run if lids are no longer available. Most preppers would want to buy enough spare lids to re-use those jars at least five times. That’s 5,000 spare lids. If you buy in bulk, lids will cost about $0.20 each. If you buy in really large bulk, you might get that down to $0.15 each. (You could buy Tatler or other reusable lids, but I don’t trust them. They’re quite expensive, there are too many failures with reusable lids, and even they can’t be reused indefinitely.) So, 5,000 spare single-use lids at $0.15 each is another $750 on top of the $700 you spent on the jars originally. You can buy a lot of commercially-canned vegetables for that amount of money. And, to top it off, most of what you’d be canning would be vegetables, which are not essential to the human diet and contain very little actual nutrition for the amount of effort and storage space required.

It would be far better to buy commercially-canned vegetables for your long-term storage needs. They’re cheap even in standard-size cans, and cheaper still in #10 cans. A standard size can of vegetables at Costco or Sam’s Club might cost $0.70 (less than the cost of a canning jar), and a #10 can (equivalent to six or seven standard cans) might cost $3.50. Canned vegetables remain good for many years, or even decades. Instead of spending that $1,500 on canning jars and hundreds of hours growing vegetables and canning them, you could buy more than 400 #10 cans of vegetables, which would contain considerably more food than you’d fit in those 1,000 canning jars.

But of course, those #10 cans will eventually all be used. What then? Well, I hope you’ll be keeping a garden all along and eating fresh vegetables while they’re available from your garden. With proper planning and management, depending on your climate, you should be able to have a garden that produces an ongoing supply of vegetables for at least five or six months a year. The rest of the time, you eat your canned vegetables. But by eating the canned stuff only when fresh isn’t available, you also extend your supply of canned by a factor of two. And I hope that by the time you run out of canned vegetables you’ll have built a solar dehydrator to use to preserve vegetables from times of plenty to use when food is hard to come by.

You may have noticed that I focus a great deal of attention on food. I remember discussing water and food storage with a prepper friend back in the 70’s. He was famous for his malapropisms and twisted logic, often coming up with statements that were almost but not quite right. In this case he said, “Water is easy to come by but food doesn’t grow on trees.” I think I sprayed my coffee out through my nose, but he had a point. Water *is* easy to come by, at least for most of us. Food, on the other hand, really doesn’t grow on trees.

So that’s why I don’t spend time and money on canning food. If it ever comes to it, I’d dehydrate what I could. The rest of it, mostly meats, I’d salt down or pickle. I just hope it never comes to that.