There was a lot of interest in my canned broth. I’ll explain in another post exactly how I do that. It’s nothing special . . probably many of you already do it or know how to do it but for those of you who are new to canning, I’ll give the basics as I see it here. Then in another post, I’ll explain about making broth.
I use a 23 quart Presto Pressure Canner. Yes, I use it on my smooth top. Yes, I’ve used it on my two previous smooth tops. No, I haven’t had a problem but if your manual recommends not using a big canner, use at your own risk!
In the large canner, I can process 7 quarts or 24 pints at one time. Presto also makes a 16 quart that will process 7 quarts and 10 pints at one time. The 16 quart canner cannot be used as a water bath canner for quart jars . . it isn’t tall enough. There isn’t that much difference in price in the two sizes. I’d only go with the smaller one if you’re worried about your stove top or don’t have the room for the larger canner. If you have a microwave/vent over your stove, you may want to measure the space above your stove top before getting the 23 quart canner. I’ve always had enough room but it was real close at one location and there isn’t a whole lot of room to spare here.
Unfortunately, pressure canning isn’t recommended for the half gallon jars. Wish it was!
If you’re looking for a canner, and if you’re watching garage sales, be careful about the older models. Your county extension office may check it for you. It is a good idea to have all canners checked every now and then. You need to be sure the gasket is good and be especially sure your pressure gauge is accurate.
The Presto 23 quart model is probably going to run about $100 to $130. Quart jars are $10.99 per dozen at Ace Hardware and they’ll ship free to your store if your local store doesn’t have them in stock. Our grocery store, which is usually on the high side, has them for a bit less. When you first buy them, they come with rings and lid. The rings are reusable but the lids are not. You can buy extra rings and lids separately.
Price the canner, price the jars, then make a decision on whether it’s something that will justify the expense for your family.
If you live in a small town, you may want to get all the rings, lids and jars that you think you’ll need before canning season actually gets into high gear. I had to search to find more jars late in the season last year.
This is my stash of jars for canning. I save the cardboard boxes and sometimes store the jars in those. They’re really handy when moving the jars around from one spot to another. I would apologize for the mess in my garage if it really bothered me but it doesn’t. I’ve decided that we will never get the boxes unpacked. We’ve only been here 2 years, 3 months but darn it . . there just hasn’t been time to unpack the boxes. The real truth is that whatever is in there . . there’s probably no room inside the house for it so if we haven’t needed it in 2 years, 3 months, we probably can live the rest of our lives without it, right?
There’s probably 30 or more empty jars on these shelves and I’ll have probably another 70 or so jars empty before canning season really gets going. The jars on the third shelf down, and a couple on the middle shelf, are the half gallon jars and I don’t can in those.
You’ll also need some storage space if you’re going to do lots of canning. We bought these heavy duty wonderful shelving units at Sam’s Club.
The canner comes with a great manual, which is also online if you lose yours.
Once you buy the canner, a supply of jars, the funnel and lifter, you’re set. The jars may crack or chip with age and once they have a chip or a crack, you should no longer use them. Crazy as it sounds, I’ve been using some of my jars for years . . like 6 or 8 years, and have not had a chipped or cracked jar yet . . even after going through a move.
I’m not preaching to you and I know finances are tough for many but if you’re wanting to do some canning and if you truly feel you will do it, you’ll save money in the long run. When at the store earlier today, I checked the prices of broth. Swanson Beef Broth (15 oz.) was a bit over $1.00/can. I weighed up a couple of my jars and the average in each jar is 26 ounces. I figure I put up 351 ounces of beef broth last week. Based on a can being $1 in the store (actually, I think it was $1.06), that’s about $23 worth of broth I canned. Not counting the cost of the canner, the jars, the cost of energy (bring the pressure to 11 pounds and keep it there for 25 minutes . . I have no idea how much power that takes), it wouldn’t take long to make the cost of the canner worth while. The only other costs involved were 1 onion, a couple of bay leaves, some celery (I used the end with the leaves that I usually cut off and toss), some black pepper and whatever else you toss in.
I almost always make chicken broth after cooking a whole chicken so my guess is . . with just the broth alone, each year I save more than the cost of the canner. And, my broth has only ingredients I want it to have . . none of that strange stuff you find on the label of store bought broth.
Home grown and canned tomatoes taste NOTHING like store bought! If ever you can your own tomatoes, you’ll never want to use store bought canned tomatoes again.
Canning is one of those things that many want to do but are just scared to do it. Take each step, one at a time and you’ll be totally surprised how easy it is. In the next day or so, I’ll do a post on making chicken broth (simply because we just had smoked chicken), which is very similar to making beef broth. Then I’ll do a post including all the steps of getting the broth into the jars and sealed.