Grocery Geek: The Canning Adventures Continue

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I’ve become a canning fiend this week. I’m sure my husband wonders what’s come over me. I spent much of Sunday afternoon making jam: plum and cherry. And then Wednesday night, I burned the midnight oil making pickles. Yes, really.

I’m just as surprised as you.

I’m sure that if I were still heavily couponing, I might not need or want to can my own pickles and jam. But, here’s my rationale:

  1. The sales and coupons in California aren’t what they were in Kansasย — or even what they used to be here just a few years ago.
  2. I don’t want high-fructose corn syrup or food dyes in my jam and pickles. And that’s mostly what’s available.
  3. I’ve always loved the idea of putting up your own preserves. My Gramma grew and canned everything.
  4. Homecanned often tastes better than much of the stuff I can buy in the stores. This is true with my jam. We’ll see how the pickle experiment turns out.

That said, I’m not sure that home canning is the most economical venture. It’s not cheap. My organic pickles turned out to be about $3/quart. I know I can buy a gallon of conventional pickles for that price at Costco, but like I said before there’s dye in those. So, it’s a trade-off.

If my kids like the taste, then it will be a winner. And I’ll wait for a slightly cheaper price on pickling cucumbers. (I paid $18.50 for 10 pounds.)

Grocery Geeking Out

So, obviously, I was filling the pantry in more ways than one. I shopped. And then I canned. And some of the funds spent on those things will stretch into the coming months. I don’t think I need to buy or make jam for about a year.

But, the more I read, I realize that it’s a great way to use fruit that might be on its way to overripe. Some food for thought….

This week’s grocery shopping looked like this:

Trader Joe’s

It was the final week of celebration shopping this week. I had a birthday party, a family birthday, and Father’s Day to shop for. One of our birthday traditions is to let the Birthday Person choose the menu for the day, including a meal out. Many of these TJ items were bought expressly for the birthday.

Total spent = $55

Abundant Harvest

This was our last produce box for the month. I need to exercise some control, so I set the last two weeks on vacation. That should give us plenty of time to catch up and use all that we have. We’re doing a staycation of sorts at a San Diego resort at the end of the month, so I won’t worry about produce needing to be used up.

This week’s box included potatoes, pluots, green beans, basil, peaches, strawberries, lettuce, carrots, squash, beets, and onions. I also received replacement cherries and lettuce and extras of cucumbers and dill heads.

Total spent = $62 (includes delivery)

Walmart, Vons, and Target

I must say I love Vons’ Just for U program. They have been successful in getting me in the door. And I’ve been successful in not buying things that weren’t on sale. Hehe. We both win. Here are the “deals” I grabbed:

mushrooms $1.50/pkg
yogurt $2.19/32 oz
brats $2.99 and $2.44/pkg
bananas $0.59/lb
b/s chicken breast $1.97/lb
butter $1.99/lb
gourmet cheeses – clearanced to 50% off, making them a doable splurge

Total spent at Vons = $50

At Walmart I picked up the sugar that we were out of thanks to jam making and birthday cake baking.

Total spent at Walmart = $14

At Target (not pictured), I got juice and other comfort foods for all of us that came down with a terrible cold virus by Friday morning.

Total spent at Target = $12

Total spent this week = $193

Total Month to Date = $688

So, the month is half over and I’ve spent most of our budget. That means it’s eat from the pantry for the next two weeks. I think we’ll be fine as long as I’m careful and plan ahead. Time to take off the gloves.

How’s your grocery shopping going?

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  1. We’ve had a garden for years,but are just venturing into the world of canning. We’ve made pickles… and have TONS more cucumbers… we’d like to try salsa and spaghetti sauce when our tomatoes begin covering the counter! What’s your recommendation for a book on canning?

  2. I managed to get organic strawberry seconds (not as pretty as the regular ones) for .99 a pound, and I turned it all into 21 pints of strawberry jam. It was A Lot of work, but it tastes good. I think the price came out a bit cheaper than Costco’s organic strawberry jam, but mostly I like knowing what is going into my food and the food I feed my family. I plan to can pickles later in the year when our garden produces cucumbers. I would love to know your recipe.

    • Jessica says:

      @Melissa@Mom’s Plans, well, I used the basic recipe for Kosher Dill in the Ball book of preserving. One jar didn’t seal so I refrigerated that immediately and we’ve been snacking on them. There’s a slight flavor I don’t love, but I think that is from the pickling spice. It might mellow over time, I’m not sure. I’m guessing that not all pickling spice are created equal?

  3. Melissa says:

    I took the Master Food Preserver’s program @ the local extension office years ago and I’ve been canning ever since. Love it! We can about 150 quarts of fruit per year plus lots of jam and pickles. One important thing to realize is that internet abounds with unsafe canning recipes–especially when it comes to tomato products, salsas and pickles–which can be extremely dangerous if canned incorrectly. Current Ball Canning books and the USDA canning website are safe bets for recipes. My favorite canning book is put out by the University of Georgia and it’s called “So Easy to Preserve.”

    • Jessica says:

      Yes, it does. Even my grandmother’s recipes don’t fit current standards. I’m a germaphobe, so I use the Ball book. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. I have a great dill pickle recipe I got from a friend – she got it 40 yrs ago. It is a dill recipe with hot dried peppers and a clove of garlic added to each jar. The peppers have a faintly smoky, salty heat to them that I adore. This old recipe doesn’t call for the jars to be processed – the pickling liquid is boilng when it is added to the jars. I have about a 95% success rate of jars sealing, and the vinegar, which is diluted by half, is of course going to prevent anything from growing (the salt too is a powerful germ killer). I don’t know what my winters would be without these pickles! I eat them daily.

  5. Oh Jessica,
    You all have been so blessed with the strawberries in your produce box. In my area, the small box group has yet to get any included in the week’s box. It seems only the large box group is getting them and small box group has to add them on at an additional cost. I sure hope your family is thoroghly enjoying those tasty berries.

    • Jessica says:

      @NIA, I think the crop was really damaged this year. And I haven’t even seen it as an extra on my list, so at least you’re getting to buy them as extras? We’ve gotten a tiny box for a few weeks in a row. Weather can be a pain, can’t it?

  6. This month so far, I’ve bought 10# of organic strawberries at a Pick Ur Own for $1.99/# which I thought was rather high but they were beautiful.. I made jam out of most of them & froze about 2# to use in smoothies.

    I’ve also gotten 2 CSA boxes which I payed for just before Christmas so no out of pocket for that, and then I went to the open Farmers Market yesterday and got 4 large certified organic slicing tomatoes, a bunch of beets, and 3 large kohlrabis for $9.50. I thought it was a bit high but the prices were the same at all the venders and I got them at the stand of one of my CSA farmers, so I know they’re certified organic for sure. I got 2# of raw grass fed cheese for $12 and Im quite happy with that.
    Other than that, I’ve bought 2 gallons of milk at around $2.49 and thats it for me.

    I bought the beets to add to a bunch I got in my CSA box this week to make pickled beets. I love these & havent had any in a good long time, so its time. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Total $36.73

    • @KimH, I was in the kitchen cooking and I realized that I only got 1# of grass fed cheese… 2-8oz packages.. onion & chive, and pepper jack. $7.50/# & $12/# are 2 very different things. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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