Canning Tomatoes to Save Money With Your Family Budgeting
Canning tomatoes is a great way to save money with your family budgeting. Our family of six uses about 40-50 cans of tomato sauce a year. At an average cost of $1.50 a can, that saves us $75.00 a year. If
you add the cost of buying spaghetti sauce, salsa, pizza sauce, and tomato juice, it makes even more sense to can your own tomatoes. You may not think you use that much, but if you make your own spaghetti sauce, lasagna, Sloppy Joes, soups, etc. which use a tomato base, you may be using more than you realize.
When you raise your own tomatoes, it is even more cost effective. For our family, six tomato plants provide enough tomatoes for fresh eating and all the sauce, juice and salsa we can eat. A 6-pack of tomato seedlings generally cost about $3.50 at your local nursery. All they really need to grow is water and lots of sunshine. Once you have tasted a true vine-ripened tomato from your own plant, you will never want to buy tomatoes from the store again and when you make your own canned tomatoes, you know exactly what is in your food.
Tomatoes usually ripen in stages, so you will have just a few at the beginning of summer and then in the middle of summer, you may feel overwhelmed with them.
Canning tomatoes is not difficult, but it is time-consuming. If you don’t have a day to devote to canning in the middle of tomato season, and you have a large freezer, you can wash and core your ripe tomatoes and freeze them in zipper freezer bags until a more convenient time.
One of the beauties of canning is that the tomatoes don’t have to look nice to be used. I use the nicest ones for slicing and fresh eating and all the ones with sun spots or cracks for canning.
You will need about 15 pounds of tomatoes, 12-24 pint size canning jars with flats & rings, a large kettle or stock pot, a medium kettle, a small kettle, a Foley Food Mill or some other device to press the pulp through to remove seeds and skins, a blender, a water-bath canner, a wide-mouth funnel, and a ladle. If you already have some jars, check to see that there are no chips. It is easy to check by just running your finger around the rim of the jar. If you feel any roughness, the jar probably won’t seal. You can sometimes re-use canning flats.
Check to see that the rubber seal is intact and doesn’t look thin in any spots. It is safest to use new flats. You may re-use the rings many times until they begin to rust and are too difficult to tighten. If you cannot tighten them on the jar, the jar will not seal properly.
If you are buying all the supplies you need for your first year of canning tomatoes, the cost may be significant, but most of the items can be re-used for many years to come. At your local Wal-Mart, you can buy everything you need to get started. A 21-quart granite-ware canner is $18.97. A dozen pint jars with flats & bands is $7.97. A utensil set, which includes a jar lifter, is $6.97. The next year all you would need to purchase is a box of flats which costs $1.63. Happy canning!
This guest post is by Melody Bold. She is a homeschooling mother of 4 busy children and CFO of the Bold family finances.
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