I have been up to my elbows in mango juice for the past couple of days. Mangos are in season and on sale this time of the year... 6 bucks a case here. Pretty fabulous, as they can be as much as 2 bucks a piece in the off season... otherwise, off limits! I bought three cases and dried two of them yesterday. Today I sliced up the final case for some mango chutney.
As the years go by it feels as though we do more and more canning! In the months where we don't have to heat the house, the extra bit of money seems to go to canning supplies and garden odds and ends.( gas and provincial park parking go in there somewhere too!) Even though I put out the extra funds for cases of fruit, organic sugar( I react to conventional white sugar. Don't know why I don't react to organic cane sugar, but I don't!) and other ingredients, I am sure that it all comes out as being frugal in the end. And let me tell you, there is nothing like opening a jar of mango chutney when you are dirt poor mid winter to serve with a bean and rice minimal dish. Or serving your Christmas turkey with some salal and oregon grape jelly that you lovingly put together months earlier. My preserves have been wedding gifts, additions to care packages, hostess gifts, bartering tools, and shared with lucky neighbours over the past few years.( we usually don't have many exra funds on one income , so having something like this to use for gifts is so fantastic) People ask to pay for thier favourites... strawberry jam, caramel spice pear butter and dilly beans. My hubby covets his chutney and the oregon grape jelly. We make great use of the orchards in the forest behind our house, full of fruit that just falls to waste on the fround. Apples, pears, plums, cherries, berries all right out the back door. We don't buy many condiments anymore. Being gluten free makes us a little bit wary of conventional products. Home made preserves can be used to flavour plain yogurt, whip up a plum sauce, meat glazes, toast, salad dressings and the list goes on.
All you need to start can be found at a local thrift store usually. Water canners can be found for well under 10 dollars, and jars can be found for under 3 dollars for a box there too. The bonus of the jars from the thrift store is that there are unique shapes, sizes and patterns of glass. I find the new ones to be a bit bland! You can find a lot of great canning literature online now, and the library has some great preserving books. You will need brand new lids for the jars keep in mind. For under 20 dollars you can get started on your first batch of home made jam, jelly, chutney, sauce etc. Pretty wonderful.( all you will need past that point will be the ingredients themselves)I keep a pretty decent supply of jars on hand so that I am ready to can right away if I am presented with a surplus of some type.
Just thought I might share the joy and simplicity of home preserve canning( for the frugal too!) in hopes that maybe someone else may be inspired. Off to jar and process my batch as I finish this! Yum yum!