Is Home Canning Frugal?

I've often said home canning usually isn't the cheapest option for obtaining food. Yes, I think it's probably less expensive than freezing, but let's face it; I can buy a 15 oz. can of peaches in light syrup for less than 50 cents, but it costs me about $2.21 to can 1 quart of them. (The quality is far superior, of course, and there are no preservatives or dyes when I can them myself.) 

But this canning season, in an effort to keep better track of how much I can and when I run out of certain home canned items, I've also been tracking my costs more closely. And happily, I've discovered that - more often that I thought - home canning is definitely cheaper. 

My best results came from buying vegetables from a local woman with a huge garden. She picks the veggies for me, then charges me a small sum for them. In this way, I was able to can dill pickles for just 85 cents a quart and green beans at 26 cents a pint. What a deal! 

I also found that gourmet foods, while not necessarily cheap to can, still cost far less than what the grocery store charges. For example, I canned pickled green beans for just 27 cents a pint, whereas they are about $10 in our grocery stores. 

Pickled asparagus was another deal. I bought the asparagus at the local grocery store (a first for me!). The end product cost me $2.67 a pint to make, but pickled asparagus cost about $14 for a tiny jar at local stores. 

So while I continue to suggest canners shop for local produce, don't just limit yourself to the farmer's market or local farms. Consider neighbors who have large gardens - and check out Craigslist. This year, I saw a number of ads from gardeners wanting to sell their overrun of produce cheap. Also remember that you can save a considerable amount of money home canning "boutique" type items that would cost a great deal more from a store; these not only give your family a treat, but they make terrific gifts.  

What about you? Did you save any money home canning this year?

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