Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Canning as a way of food preservation is making a come back. With all the difference pesticides and other food additives, many are choosing to can their own food in order to insure a quality product for themselves and their families. With the increase of popularity of the skill, the increase the demand for canning jars and supplies.
I thought I'd give a few tips on gathering jars as inexpensively as possible.
1. Free is always best.
- Ask for them. Especially the older generation. Many canned religiously but with the ease of getting food and their increased age, they don't want to be bothered anymore. (Great source to teach canning as well)
-Put out a request on Freecycle and Craigslist in your area. Remember to check areas that surround your area. Be willing to travel.
I must throw in a story or two of my experiences with Freecycle and Craigslist.
Freecycle - I threw out a request on my Freecycle group for canning jars. I was rewarded with a response from a lady that was moving and wanted to get ride of all her canning supplies. She gave me about 500 jars of different sizes as well as lids, tools and a Victorio Strainer. FREE!!! HELLO!!! Major score!
Craigslist - I saw an ad in the FREE category. I had to travel about 30 minutes North but was rewarded with 70 jars plus lids and rings. Again...a great score.
They're out there, you just have to keep your eyes open.
2. Not free but cheap.
- Craigslist - I'm finding that "jar owners" are tuning into the fact that they can make a little money off of their jar cache. Don't let them take advantage of you. Remember you can buy a whole box of brand new jars, lids and rings for less than $12 usually. (quarts always cost the most) I usually will spend as much as .50/jar but that's it. .50/jar for quarts and less than that for pints and half pints. Be respectful but bargain with them a bit, especially since they're not offering lids and rings.
Another Craigslist story - I saw an ad for an All American pressure canner and a lot of about 70 jars for $100. It sat their for a while but then I couldn't stand it any longer and bought it all. Everything was nearly new. The husband was getting rid of his wife's canning collection. That canner retails for just under $200 and the jars would've easily been around $50 brand new. Good deal!
-Keep your eyes open at yard sales and flea markets. You may pick up one here and one there, but usually it'll be closer to half a dozen or more. The same rules apply for pricing as above.
3. Stores. Boring, I know. Usually Big Lots has the least expensive prices on jars. They carry the Golden Harvest brand of jars. Walmart also carries jars during the summer (canning season) for decent prices. This year Ball and Kerr put out coupons for jars, you can use those at the Walmart.
Usually the grocery stores will be the most expensive. They typically carry jars all year long. That's your last resort though.
--When you go to pick up your jars, make sure you run your finger around the edge of the rim to check for any chips or cracks. You're not going to want to pay for those.
--Give the jars a good looking over to check for cracks or funky spots. I've had a couple of jars straight out of a new box that weren't completely blown out, they had a indent in them. Thus making them completely unusable.
--Most stores will put their canning supplies out around late April or early May. Prepare be saving some money throughout the winter to bump up your supply when they're available again. By the first of November here, Walmart was sold out of all their jars here in NJ. Down South, you'll probably find them earlier in the year and later into the Fall and even Winter. Canning is more of a way of life down there. Kinda like Mecca for me. :)
Hope that gives you some ideas. Just keep your eyes open and no doubt you'll amass quite a collection. Good luck!