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Discussion Starter #1
I apologize if this has been discussed, but there is a LOT of information on the boards and I haven't seen it here or elsewhere so....

One of the things on my list to stockpile is canning supplies. Whether we are only dealing with a short term economic collapse or personal financial difficulty or a long term TEOTWAWKNI being able to can food will be essential, at least for me.

I've done enough canning that I'm not terribly worried about losing jars or rings. I've never had a Ball or Mason jar break on me and the rings if cleaned thoroughly after use never go "bad", but the sealing lids are supposed to not be reused. The "Tattler" lids are purported to be reusable.

In an emergency scenario I think that canning supplies will be rapidly bought up and may make reasonable "barter" items. Storing empty jars takes a lot of space, but they weigh very little compared to the bulk. The lids of course pack very densely.

My strategy includes a storage facility near my BOL. Once I've committed the funds for a small storage room, going a bit larger so I can store a few dozen cases of jars isn't that much (in the big picture), so I'm thinking that storing 30 cases of jars (1 quart per day for a year) along with five times that many rings or twice that many if I use the reusable ones makes sense.

If I'm preparing against a much worse collapse then two years worth of jars and related amounts of equipment makes sense.

Of course a couple of pressure cookers and associated material goes without saying, and extras of these for barter I think makes sense as well.

I read a lot of talk about using things like .22 and 12ga ammo and salt/coffee/tobacco for barter, but I think in a collapse of any kind food preparation equipment like canning supplies may be far more valuable.

Yes there are other means of food storage such as drying, but canning is part of an overall food storage plan for me. Plus, I've got lots of recipes for canning! :)

I know there are other related parts to this topic such as storing heirloom seeds, etc., but I'm interested particularly in what you think of canning supplies particularly, including books, for use and trade?

Namaste
Kate
 

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Though canning has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity the last few years, it's still not something the majority of people do, or even understand how to do.

I think in a long term collapse more people would be willing to do it, making your trade items pretty valuable, but that would be several years into it. I do have a large box of lids, and a good collection of rings. Most commonly I use my Reusable lids so the disposables sit in storage. I would trade them if a market arises for them.

I'll bet the item hardest to find would be pressure caners. They're not something most would plan to buy several of for trading due to their expense, but a couple of waterbath pots might be good.
 

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Elisavaet

If you truly feel things are going to be so bad that we will be reduced to bartering, it could very well mean that there is also a food and supplies shortage. If there is, it would be a huge mistake to let any of those canning jars go. Once gone, they won't be coming back.

You didn't mention how many people you personally would be canning for. 30 cases is not that many if one is relying on several years supply of canning. Yes, there will be the newly emptied jars coming on line, but that first year of canning to supply four people will require all 30 cases plus more. Even for dehydrating, those jars will be very valuable for storing your dry goods.

Logistics says that to eat just one jar of green beans per week you will need 52 jars (4 cases) to last one year. It is prudent to assume one year between one successful harvest to the next, or six months to one year to the next butcher date.

So, we have 4 cases used for just one jar of beans per week for 52 weeks. 30 cases will allow you to have 7.5 different varieties of food on hand with only one jar of each food type available to eat per week.

The question becomes how many different products you would like to see on your shelves? It is common for people who can what they eat and actually eat it, to keep at least 125 cases of jars (1500 jars). These are serious homesteading types with a family to feed. Your needs may be much smaller. The problem is if that food doesn't get eaten and you have canned up a small container load of food and five to eight years down the road you have to start emptying those jars because you haven't eaten the food and/or SHTF never came.

There is just no way to tell how many people will show up for dinner or how much your family can actually eat until you get a year or two of record keeping under your belt. Home canned food will last indefinitely and although it will stay safe to eat, the texture will get mushy over time; some recipes will be like cat food in a year, meat is good for about 5 years before it starts going down the cat food road. Veggies, can always be turned into a thick pureed soup.

Personally, if I were to be bartering canned food, the customer would have to bring their own container and be ready to eat that food as soon as they get it home because they wouldn't be getting a single jar. Now, if I sell a jar of something, that jar is immediately replaced as it is not something I want to be caught short on or hoping to barter for and they aren't getting any cheaper.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you so much for the comments! You're giving me a lot to think about, which is exactly what I need right now.
 

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Canning is a wonderful thing we do a lot of. A couple of summers ago between what we got from the garden and meat we bought we used about 300 jars. I wouldn't want to give any of mine I didn't expect to get back away because as others have said once they are gone, they're gone.

And unfortunately they are getting more and more expensive to buy new so unless you get lucky enough to run across some at a garage sale or such they are getting harder to come by.

We are lucky enough to have an Amish store about 15 miles from us that sells canning flats in mass quantities for good prices. About the only thing we have trouble keeping up with is rings. We try to keep them oil, but after a while they just rust beyond being usable.
 

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Mrs. Sardog,

I am curious as to why you are having problems with the rings. I have noticed that like everything else these days, they are getting flimsier.

I have been canning since before I was born. I was taught never to leave the rings on the jars. Jars are to sit untouched for 48 hours after canning at which time the rings are removed and the jars washed before going into storage. If there is high humidity in the storage area, such as in some basements, crawl spaces and many root cellars, not only would the rings rust but also the lids. In this case, great great granny didn't have to worry as she had glass lids with zinc rings, but my mother learned to brush metal lids with melted wax to keep them from rusting.

She kept ridiculous amounts of canning in the dank, nasty kid sized cave under the house for years on end, so it was a very necessary step to take.

Rings were washed and dried and kept in a air tight bin until needed again.
Using this method, I still have one or two rings rust out every year, but not very many and usually, I have far more rings available for use than I need as they are all in a bin and not on the jars in storage.

Sometimes one has a reason as to why a lid is kept on the jar. In this case, remove the ring and wash the ring and jar separately. Replace the ring when only when thoroughly dry. If the jar is kept in high humidity conditions for long periods of time, then waxing is needed. Waxing a ring will make for a messy hassle when used in the canner later so I don't recommend this if at all avoidable.

I apologize if I am droning on about stuff you probably already know. I am just putting in the extra details for those who read these threads and don't have much experience in canning yet. The more bits and pieces they can put together from all of us who have learned the hard way, the more likely they are to give canning a go and keep it up. No point in re-inventing the wheel.
 

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I buy jars everywhere I can find them, mostly from flea markets and yard sales. Caners, lids and rings, are always store bought. I get about 6 packs of lids everytime I go to Walmart. Lids that have been used, are reused but not on canned foods. They go on my dehydrated or dry jars.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Store what you use, use what you store

Using canning jars for dehydrated food

I had not thought of using the jars for dehydrated goods. Do you waterbath them first so they pack in a vacuum or just close them up? I've used my spare jars as general storage bins for beans, sugar, etc., but never thought of using them as a secondary storage for dehydrated goods, although it makes a lot of sense when you think of it!

Rusting lids

I've never stored my canned goods in anything other than a pantry in a house with central heat and air so I'd never thought about the lids rusting. I have read the argument about removing vs leaving the ring in place but have always just left it in place as a backup seal. I'll have to give some more thoughts to that. Basically it means I'm low balling the amount of replacement rings I need, and even reusable lids are going to have a high replacement rate.

Barter/Sell equipment and supplies

One of the things that I've tried to do over the years, and am trying to move back into, is to set myself up in retirement/collapse with skills that are valuable to others. At one point (before a major very bad life event about a decade ago) I had the setup to reload and manufacture about thirty different types of ammunition including casting bullets for example, and was in the process of stocking powder, primer, and lead to allow me to do so in some quantity. I figured I'd either shoot it all up myself having fun at the range and hunting, or, if the economy went 'South' for whatever reason, I could barter my skills and equipment in that area for other services. I also have had kitchen gardens throughout much of my life, canned food, dabbled in healing herbs and had a library of books for natural medicinals, and generally tried to set myself up with useful, knowledge based skills.

I think perhaps you guys have pointed out that I was thinking in terms now of stockpiling supplies for trade, when I probably should be returning to that former mindset of trading on my skills. I liked Big Bertha's comment about having people trade in a container for a container, kind of like we used to do on soda bottles.

I can see that, rather than stock equipment and supplies to barter, I should be stocking equipment and supplies so I can use them and my skills to can the produce that (potentially) others have harvested and need to be preserved.

I know for example in the N TX area where I grew up, each year the wild plums ripen and literally tons of wild plums rot on the ground. It's not just that no one uses them, no one can use them fast enough! For non-farmers I think the rapidity with which you have to harvest and store or preserve crops can be a bit alarming.

If I am in the position to can a lot of goods rapidly for others that might be a good thing, dependent of course on my not losing my containers as has been pointed out.

Food for thought...

Time Frame

Yes, as Baby Blue mentioned, it may be a while before people need or want canned food, and I agree this is not something I'm looking for being useful in the first few months of a major downturn, but something I can use long term, which makes the prior point about trading in skills and knowledge rather than goods more important.

As I mentioned above in the notes about wild plums in Texas, I think that in the first year or two of a major downturn many people will be alarmed, first at how difficult it can be to grow crops to fruition, and second at how difficult it can be to preserve and store them.

So yes, it will probably be into the late first or second growing season before my skills and equipment would be appreciated, but that's ok.

Store what you use, use what you store

I always try to rotate what I store, whether it's food, ammunition, powder, etc. Unless it's something incredibly stable like toilet paper, I mark it well and make sure it's rotated. I also don't generally store things I don't normally eat. I've seen a lot of people over the decades, particularly in the pre-Y2K hysteria, that stored dried beans but dried beans weren't in their normal diet! I tried to tell them that, not only are certain cooking techniques required, just your stomach being unfamiliar with them is a problem. Change from Dr. McDonald's diet to dried beans overnight and you are in danger of exploding!

Bertha mentioned food going to 'mush' over a few years. I actually have wondered about this, but I've always canned in small enough lots that we used up what I can within six to twelve months. Some things, like my world famous salsa recipe :), rarely lasts more than about three weeks for a batch of six pints!

As I move back into this I will have to take care to resist the temptation to can up several years worth of stuff and stay with the "store what you use, use what you store" philosophy.


Thanks for lots of new ways to look at this ladies!

Namaste
Kate
 

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Big Bertha like you said the rings seem to be getting flimsier and don't keep very well even if kept dry and oiled. We too take them off of jars after a few days to use again on the new batch to be canned. It seems like the older ones or the ones that are silver last a lot better than the gold ones.
 

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Tattler has a deep discount sale once a year on their website. (I think it's usually in November or December, but can't remember off hand.) I usually buy a couple of cases every year. They work great.
 

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I oven can dehydrated items. It's not a safe method for many things, but for dry items? Sure thing!

I also have a very wet basement. I take rings off of jars and put them into a plastic garbage bag with a folded over top. Do I get a little rust? Sure. Can I use the rings anyway? Yep.

I also agree that you are dramatically underestimating the amount of jars you"ll need. For example, I just did a round of lemon syrup. We use it to make iced tea with. I had 36 Costco sized bags of lemons. This is not quite a year's supply for me. I used 126 pint jars to can this. That is a lot of jars. I had jars on the reuse shelf and new jars, and I used everything but 1 flat. I'll be buying more this year. (I've also got other things in jars waiting for use. A lot more...)

You should look into the Tattler lids for reuse-able lids. I use them almost exclusively.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Oven canning for dehydrated food! That's a new technique for me to try. Thanks!

Yes, I can see I need to up my jar count estimate and start picking up jars and lids routinely.

Thanks!
Kate
 

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I oven canned salsa several years ago. I was super easy. Just get the oven to about 250 degrees, put jars in on a cookie sheet, I did pints, and bake for one hour. Then let cool for an hour. They sealed just as well as pressure canned ones.

I wouldn't try it with non-acidic foods such as meats, but it did work for the salsa. Also I wouldn't use it as my primary method, but it was just and experiment.
 

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I used to can a lot more than I do now. I realize it's a great skill to have and it helped humanity survive some really tough spots. I'm not sure if it would be a good barter item or not right away. Someone would need to have a big harvest and an abundance of food to need that.

I stopped canning as much because the supplies are just getting way too expensive. For the $12 or so for a case of jars, I can buy about 24-30 cans of veggies already done up! I still can my tomato sauce and some pickles, but I changed gears and dehydrate most things now instead.
 

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I just make sure they are clean, never had a failure. I currently have 200 pint jars and 100 quarts. With the new expanded garden, and pantry, I won't have to can as much root crops as I have in the past. I will be dehydrating more so that means another dehydrator. My old one runs practically all spring/summer/fall. I love it and will be heartbroken when it dies.
 

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I might throw away 10 rings a year. I have sacks and sacks of them in our basement. Guess it has to do with the basement not being terribly damp.
 

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I use canning jars for everything. I store my sugar, flours, masa, etc that I am currently using in half gallon jars, my dehydrated foods in quart jars and actually went to using pint and jelly jars as my drinking glasses. I find them used, on sale, etc and just keep buying them. I think I am obsessed but having that many around gives me canning options for later
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I use canning jars for everything. I store my sugar, flours, masa, etc that I am currently using in half gallon jars, my dehydrated foods in quart jars and actually went to using pint and jelly jars as my drinking glasses. I find them used, on sale, etc and just keep buying them. I think I am obsessed but having that many around gives me canning options for later
That sounds like a sound 'multi-purpose' strategy to me. I'd used them for nuts, dry beans, sugar, etc., but never thought of using them for drinking glasses. Maybe that's the white trash in me rebelling against my roots! ;)

From the replies on the thread and given time to think about them I think that this is one of those things where it's hard to have too much.

Thanks!
Kate
 

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That sounds like a sound 'multi-purpose' strategy to me. I'd used them for nuts, dry beans, sugar, etc., but never thought of using them for drinking glasses. Maybe that's the white trash in me rebelling against my roots! ;)
It's funny you say that. We started out by using them as beer mugs. They fit perfectly in the freezer door for icy mugs. At some point I realized that the jars held up much better than the "fancy" glasses, so I switched to jars for every day glasses.
 

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It's funny you say that. We started out by using them as beer mugs. They fit perfectly in the freezer door for icy mugs. At some point I realized that the jars held up much better than the "fancy" glasses, so I switched to jars for every day glasses.
lol, yes, they are certainly tough! I started this thread to get ideas and boy have I gotten them! Got my thinking cap to smoking it did! Canning in the oven and canning dehydrated food and reusable lids and now back to the basics of minimalism, a philosophy of multi-use.

Since I need so MANY jars (beaucoup, aka: a whole bunch), I'm thinking of using them as drinking glasses, lamps, storage for all types of food, etc. Anywhere the storage doesn't damage the glass where I need storage I could use them. I'm pretty sure that, if I really, really need those jars a few years or months from now I'll be able to find something else to store misc stuff in, but using the jars now means I just get more of them into my possession, which is clearly what we refer to as, 'a good thing' :)

It's tempting to think of them as a universal storage solution but, a) they come in quart max (that I can find), and b) some things, like storing cast bullets, might damage the interior or compromise the structure of the glass. So I'm thinking of them only for foodstuffs, non-hard items (no bullets, cartridges, nails and screws, etc.).

Since they are glass, I could theoretically use them for non-food stuffs that I labeled properly, but I can't think of many things I'd want to transfer out of the original container. Smokeless powder or cleaning chemicals for example should be left in the original packaging typically so you know what it was down the road. I think I'll stick with foodstuffs and non-hard and non-nasty stuff.

:)
Namaste
Kate
 
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