Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Feasibility Factor/Canning the Harvest

Looking over my notes, I realize that I could have done allot better with this critical task.
Like starting my own veggie plants from seed instead of buying.
Like planting more.
Like getting my Roma's to grow 5 lbs. toms ... organically.

Here's the dollars and cents of putting food by on an urban homestead when you have limited Sun, Soil, and Space. The critical 3 S's.

Spent - a total of $37 on vegetable plants such as the Broccoli, Cabbage, Cantaloupe, Chard, Eggplants, Green Bell Peppers, Roma Tomatoes, Yellow & Purple Onions, and Watermelon seedlings. Also Marigolds & Nasturtiums for bug control.

$1 worth of lemon juice used in both prepping & canning of produce.

60¢ worth of pickling spice from my local neighborhood health food store.

$2 of white vinegar used in canning. Last year's purchase/price.

40¢ of salt.

7 boxes of pectin bought last year on clearance for 35¢ each - $2.45

$2.49 worth of Sugar (12.8 lbs. of Sugar originally bought for 99¢/5 lbs. in 2005 holiday sale).

$70 on farmer's market produce such as canning tomatoes for salsa, jalapeno peppers for jelly (yet unmade) & salsa, fresh corn on the cob (majority eaten fresh), a few bushels of fresh apples in varieties we could barter/forage such as Gala, also more Bell Peppers, Onions (over 25 lbs. total), along with a few purchases of new to us veggies for taste testing like Delicious & Turban Squash. About 1/4 was eaten fresh such as plums which weren't canned.

$50 for a 5 gallon bucket of pie making Cherries from a cannery located the next county over. Coop of sorts through a local home school group. One of the Mom's knew someone who knew someone ... Worked out to under $2 per lbs for pitted Bing Cherries.

Bartered a few Cherokee Purple Tomatoes, 3 large Bell Peppers, and a small Chuck Steak - $6.99 retail for 2 bushels of Bartlett pears worth $36 - net $29.01.

$147.94 for produce/ingredients.
Minus $18 worth of Broccoli collected from the garden which was both eaten & frozen.
$17 Winter Squash more than paid off the cost of the Swiss Chard plantings.
$29.01 worth of Pears subtracted from the produce/ingredients column.

Grand total spent $119.93

On the garden effort really only the Broccoli, Cabbage, Chard, and Roma's, were worth the effort.
The Chard for instance had a good return in not only the enjoyment factor for our table but also was a very profitable barter item. I eventually traded the last harvest, a peck's worth for a bushel plus of Winter Squash ($17). Some people really love Swiss Chard!
The Cantaloupe, and Watermelon never amounted to anything. The Green Bell Peppers worked out to about a 1/3 of a bushel. Peppers were on the very small side. Eaten fresh & dehydrated for later use in Chili & Soups.
Eggplant only yielded 1 med. & 1 very small but glorious purple tender globe. Next year I'll just consider bartering for a bushel or buying outright.

The rest of the ingredients used such as herbs were either freebies from GF's, obtained in bartering or started years ago in flower pots from seed.

Except for items such as Corn or the Chard which has to be Pressure Canned on my electric stove (I'm good but not that good @ Wood stove cookery) I cooked & canned on my laundry stove with free firewood. I'm not gonna calculate the cost of collecting the wood since the majority was done on foot with our little red wagon after the October 13Th storm.
Cost of my wood stove was absorbed last year as was my huge canner.
All American Pressure Canner was bought 8 years ago for $20 @ Aunt Sally's.

Old fashioned jar lifter was a gift from my SIL when we were running tag sales years ago.
Prepping was done with non electrical appliances such as paring knives or a Squeezo
All of my mason jars are paid off - freebies, gifts, or bought cheap over 5 years ago.
Canning lids were 9 ¢ each bought in bulk on eBay (shipping included).
224 canning lids were used for a cost of $20.16 , 3 mason jars broke during processing.

Comparison was to a local house brand from a Mega Mart who is so kind as to have online access to their products.
I didn't base cost on organic items because buying organic is out of my economic reach. If I had well I'd be talking a alot more Franklins.
That is one of the many reasons why we garden & forage.

Preserved Produce - 221 Mason Jars

Applesauce - 15 pints (240 oz.) retails for $9.60 ($1.99 /50 oz. or 4¢ per oz.)

Blueberry Jelly Organic - 13 jelly jars (104 oz.) retails for $28.51 ($3.29 /12 oz. or 27¢ per oz.)

Carrots - 7 pints (112 oz.) retail for $5.60 (65¢ /14 oz. or 5¢ per oz.)

Chard Organic - 6 qt. Unable to compare as this can only be bought fresh for $2.29 per bunch.

Cherries in Syrup - 12 pints (192 oz.) retails for $11.52 ( 99¢ /15 oz. or 6¢ per oz.)

Cherry Pie Filling - 11 qt. (352 oz.) retails for $42.24 ($2.59 /21 oz. or 12¢ per oz.)

Cider - 15 qt. 6 jelly's (528 oz.) retails for $21.12 ($2.39 /64 oz. or 4¢ per oz.)

Corn - 9 pints (144 oz.) retails for $2.88 (39¢ /15 oz. or 2¢ per oz.)

Current Jelly - 3 jelly jars (24 oz.) retails for $3.84 ($1.99 /12 oz. or 16¢ per oz.)

Hot Dog Relish Green Tomato - 7 jelly jars (56 oz.) retails for $7.28 ($1.29 /10 oz. or13¢ per oz.)

Lime juice - 11 half jelly's (44 oz.) retails for $9.68 (99¢ /4.5 oz or 22¢ per oz.)

Pickles Bred & Butter - 9 pints (144 oz.) retails for $20.16 ($2.19 /16 oz. or 14¢ per oz.)

Pickles Dill - 7 pints (112 oz.) retails for $14.56 ($2.09 /16 oz. or 13¢ per oz.)

Peaches - 15 qt. 4 pints (544 oz.) retails for $38.08 (99¢ /14.5 oz. or 7¢ per oz.)

Pears - 9 qt (288 oz.) retails for $17.28 (99¢ /15 oz. or 6¢ per oz.)

Pizza Sauce - 16 jelly jars (128 oz.) retails for $10.24 ($1.29 /15 oz. or 8¢ per oz.)

Salsa - 43 pints (688 oz.) retails for $61.92 ($1.49/16 oz. or 9¢ per oz.)

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam - 14 pints (224 oz.) retails for $60.48 ($3.29 /12 0z. or 27¢ per oz.)

Tomatoes Stewed - 16 qt. (512 oz.) retails for $25.60 (79¢ /14.5 oz. or 5¢ per oz.

221 Mason Jars yielded $378.12 in retail value.

Minus $20.16 - 221 canning lids, $119.93 - produce & ingredients.

Net savings of $238.03 or $1.07 per jar.

Awful lot of work for under $250 even if you factor in that the majority of the produce was organic, and had a very high quality control (me) and tastes outstanding.
Granted there is the serenity factor of being able to cook & can outdoors in my garden. Did have a nice tan going on.
Not having to deal with with weekly grocery shopping especially in the Winter (could factor in gas milage).
Peace of mind knowing that we have a good stocked pantry is rather priceless.
Still, I really need to work on either better barter deals or growing more produce for free.
Also increasing the amount that I can on certain items like fruit.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Crunching the numbers

~ ~ consider that a wave, be it a princess wave or a hailing a cab wave
Life has me running in circles right now. Employment schedule has changed drastically, children are busy running a muck a muck with both church and school activities which means child labor is in short supply, and my country man has started a new job so while he may be willing to be my prep boy he is elsewhere obliged. Pity his apron outfit makes me weak in the knees.
In short I need a good old fashioned hardy homestead wife to fill the void. Dressed a bit on the Amish side with good rubber clogs for gardening, strong hands that can weld a paring knife like a well train surgeon, and a deep desire to kick it. Ability NOT to say, " This is too much work" needed.
Any takers?

Canning season has wound down to a trickle. Jar count is over 200.
Freezer is filled to capacity with broccoli and beef and well items that hurt when they tumble out of the freezer dropping on our feet.
Buttoning down the old family home hasn't really even started despite a few good chilly nights.
Suppose were waiting for another October 13 storm to hit
Putting the garden to bed is taking longer than a first time babysitter with a set of 2 year olds doped up on candy.

So on that pitiful long winded excuse I pledge to have as soon as harvesting season is over October, I will have the final tally of our harvesting efforts from start to finish in dollars & cents.
The Feasibility Factor.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Got a windfall of Persian Limes from a friend who got them from a friend who originally got them from a food ministry who got them from a local mega mart. While the temptation to cut, squeeze, strain, and salt the nearest goblet in preparation of traveling to Margaritaville was great I made the decision to opt for long term storage. Future hopes of Lime curd and marinades for chicken won out. Directions posted from a query to HomesteadingToday forum provided directions based on a Ball Canning book.
2 lbs. of Limes gave me a quart and oh about a fourth of a pint of fresh Lime juice. Utilized half jelly jars for the containers since I doubt I'll need more than a few ounces at a time.
Lime juice retails for $4.39 a quart.
Limes were free, lids & jars were a B-day gift, energy to can also free.
Nonelectric food processor (knife & 1930 glass juicer).
While it can be said that canning up a few pounds of Limes was a waste of time I prefer to look at it as expanding my urban homesteading preservation mindset.
Sharpening my skills.
Besides I'm a type A personality.
Couldn't let a few Limes slip past me now could I ?
~~ pelenaka ~~