Monday, 13 February 2017

08:13 – It was 30F (-1C) when I took Colin out this morning, with high winds gusting to 60 MPH (96 KPH). As far as I’m concerned, that put the actual wind chill at -30F (-34C). I’ve started leaving a set of lab goggles on the foyer table for just such days. At that temperature and wind speed, I can’t keep my eyes open unless I’m wearing eye protection.

Email over the weekend from Cassie, a relative newbie prepper. When I last heard from her, a month ago, her self-employed husband had just hurt his hand and had to take time off work. Fortunately, he’s fully recovered now and back at work.

Cassie works as a checker at a small local supermarket, where she’s been buying dry staples in quantity regularly. Some of her co-workers noticed and commented on that, and Cassie has become friends with one of them. Because she lacks freezer space and has nowhere to put a standalone freezer, Cassie was considering getting into home pressure canning. She mentioned that to her new friend, who invited her over one day the weekend before last to show her the ropes on home canning.

The supermarket where they both work had a big sale on chicken, so Cassie bought 40 pounds on sale and hauled it over to her new friend’s house, where they pressure-canned it in pint Ball jars. Forty of them, at one pound per jar. Her friend supplied both the canner and the jars, which Cassie will replace with new jars she ordered from Walmart.

Her friend has been canning since she was a little girl and helped her mother and grandmother can. She has two pressure canners, a Presto she bought soon after she got married, and a big All American that her grandmother gave her when she was no longer physically able to can her own stuff. Cassie asked her if the higher price of the All American canner was worth paying. Her friend said she’d been using both for years and that although there were some things she really liked about the All American canner that the cheaper Presto could do everything the more expensive canner could do.

So Cassie ordered the same Presto 23-quart canner we have, along with a gross of pint Ball jars from Walmart. Forty of those go to her friend, which leaves Cassie with 104 canning jars. Her next project is to can a bunch of ground beef, so she’s just waiting for it to go on sale. Her new canner can process 20 pint jars at a time, so she plans to do two or three runs with ground beef to get 40 to 60 jars processed.

For now, Cassie will use the single-use lids that come with the jars, but she owes her friend the 40 Tattler reusable lids they used for her first canning session. Her friend swears by the Tattler lids, which she’s been using for 10 years, so Cassie plans to order a gross of them as well.

She considered buying half-pint jars for her own use, because a pint jar holds about a pound of meat, which is twice what they need for a single meal. But when she saw that half-pint jars sell for only about a buck less per dozen than pint jars, she decided that she didn’t want to spend nearly twice as much on jars to hold the same amount of meat, so she ordered all pint jars except for two dozen quart jars, which she just wanted to have on hand.

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