Saturday, July 18, 2009

Is Canning Financially Worth It?

I just finished canning some pickled zucchini and figured I would pose the question here, is canning financially worth it? Here are some of the costs:

Main ingredient being canned: For this batch, it's zucchinis from our garden. There was cost for the seeds to plant, but they were minimal ($0.10 packet) and I'll be using the seeds in the future. I was watering them often with rain water, but found out I was over-watering so I just let them be now. They did take yard space, but if I had grass there I would have had to mow it.

Vinegar & Spices: I used about 1/2 bottle of vinegar (2 cups), 1 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of salt and a bunch of spices. The only free spice was dill that I grew from seeds from last year's plants. The other spices were peppercorns, mustard seed, and celery seed. The costs there I will estimate at $1.50

Jars: I picked up a 12 pack of jars for $4 at Menards last week (that is the price after rebate). I used 4 of the jars, so the cost was $1.33 in jars (they can be reused though in the future).

Heat & Water & Equipment: There is the pots, the bowl that they sat in brine for a couple of hours, water, etc. No easy way for me to measure the costs but I consider them minimal.

Time: My active time canning consisted of 1/2 hour total (cutting, preparing brine, canning).

Overall my financial costs this year run about $3 for the 4 jars of pickled zucchini and 1/2 hour of my time. I know the jars can be reused, which if one estimates you can reuse the jar 5 times before they break, the cost comes down to a little under $2 for the 4 jars, not counting my time. If we counted my time like I was at work, the jars would have cost $12 more ($24/hr I get paid).

Overall, for me the cost doesn't matter. I'm not doing it to save money, I'm doing it to have food I know where it came from and can't buy anywhere else (eg: How many stores do you see selling pickled zucchini?). Am I crazy to think that way?


Carl said...

Can't answer the question but just had spagetti with home made sauce from last year's tomatoes. Between the sauce that had just some other store bought additions mushrooms, onions, peppers and some spices and that we had ground venison to mix it with it sure makes for an easy and cheap meal. One that can be made quickly since all ingredents are already here.

Yes and Menards is the place to stock up on canning supplies, just got some salsa spices for this years tomatoes.

Betsey C. said...

This was a very interesting post! I think it's fun to try to figure out what things cost. I bet your pickled zuchinni is delicious, too!

Jerry said...

It's worthwhile to figure out the cost per can/bottle that it leads to, I suppose... but I think that it's great that you are able to look beyond the dollars and sense aspect. I would do it even if it cost more, just to know what is in the food, and to have some insurance against additives.