My first tomato canning adventure_and_The joys of homemade pickles.

 (Cue the Valley girl accent).  Oh, my God.  You people who can your anything are, like, so to be commended.  (End the Valley girl accent).

Three hours, three solid hours it took me to do this:

Some refrigerator  pickles (made from some store bought cukes @ 10/$1 and some home grown) and three, count ’em, three jars of what I’m calling seasoned tomato sauce.  This was made from some of the Bandywines and some of the early girl and lots of the cherry tomatoes.  I added garlic, bell peppers, onions and Italian seasoning.  But three hours!!!  I don’t think I’ll be canning my own tomatoes unless I grow a bazillion pounds of tomatoes to process all at one time.  Although, I have to admit, hearing the sound of the lids making the little click noise when the lid sealed was kind of satisfying.

Now the pickles, that’s another story.  It doesn’t take long to make a simple dill pickle brine …garlic, dill seed/dill weed, salt, vinegar, water, pepper corns/flakes, maybe a hot pepper.   A few minutes to slice your pre-chilled (tip from Annie’s Granny)  and washed cucumbers, a few more minutes to stuff the sliced cucumber into jars, a few minutes to pour the brine in the jar, a couple minutes to put on the lids and pop into the refrigerator.  They stay nice and crunchy like Claussen pickles.  (I actually heated my brine, but it’s not necessary for refrigerator pickles). 

When you factor in the cost of new canning jars (about .70 each for the quart size), the cost of cukes if you buy them on sale (about .30 or .40 at 10/$1, although I could barely stuff 3 into my jars because the cucumbers were relatively large), the cost of garlic (.5 for a few cloves per jar), cost of vinegar, water, spices (negligible), that’s way less than $1.25 a jar for all natural, chemical free pickles.  If you grow your own cukes and you’re reusing old canning jars, your cost has gone down to the cost of garlic and spices, which is, being generous, .25 per jar.  A regularly priced jar of Claussen pickles is about $4.00, although you can catch them on sale for $2.50 .  Twenty-five cents per jar or ten times more if you’re lucky and catch the Claussens on sale.   The savings add up quickly.  And since I actually did something right and my second planting of cucumbers were pickling cucumbers…

…I’ll be able to save by making more homemade dill pickles before the end of the growing season.

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10 Comments

  1. engineeredgarden said,

    August 22, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Yeah, anytime you’re canning something made from tomatoes – it takes alot of time and work. As you said, pickles are really easy….

    • August 22, 2010 at 9:49 am

      I have a new respect for people who have the time, energy and skill to do it right. After I had put the tomatoes in the jars and put the jars into the water bath, I looked over and saw the lemon juice. I forgot to put the lemon juice in. I stuck them in the fridge and I’ll have to use them relatively soon.

  2. August 22, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Tell me about it. If I got paid a minimum hourly wage for making tomato sauce/ketchup/barbecue, I would be a rich woman. And each jar would be pure gold. Now, just plain canned tomatoes or juice, even (especially) salsa, is a different story. The time spent preparing and canning these is well worth it. I did tomato sauce yesterday, and I’m quite sure my cost (lids, lemon juice and electricity) probably was higher than buying the prepared product. I started in the morning, and pulled the last of 13 pints out of the canner just after midnight. The crockpots were doing most of the work, but I still had to be up to pour the product into the jars and finish the process.

    • August 22, 2010 at 12:53 pm

      I’ll say it again, you are amazing.

      Even though you can buy some things cheaper already prepared, there’s a certain satisfaction in saying, “I did it myself,” and double yay if you add, “from beginning to end.” You’ve got some serious bragging rights going on.

  3. Robin said,

    August 22, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    I decided this morning the sound of the lids going “pop” is one of my favorite sounds…after my kids laughing of course. I commend you for trying canning. Building up your supplies is expensive but after the initial investment the reward of a homemade, chemical free end product seems very much worth it to me. Besides most of my friends think I’m a freak anyway for being obsessed with my garden so this just gives them something new to shake their heads about. Welcome to the extreme club!

    • August 22, 2010 at 4:59 pm

      It’s funny how the little things do it for you. The sight of newly germinating seeds, the first blooms on your plants, the first actual fruits on the plant, the sound of the pop.

      I was looking at the price of the large pressure canners, and they are very expensive. I’ll have to stay in the newbie section for awhile, unless I luck up on one at a thrift store or something. Thanks for the welcome. I’m in very good company.

  4. meemsnyc said,

    August 22, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Oooh, pickles and sauce! Yummy!

  5. Wendy said,

    August 22, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    looks great! I started canning last year and love it. Honestly, I don’t think I really save a lot of money, but the product I make is…invaluable! 🙂 Tonight (actually all day today!) I made an Asian plum sauce that puts everything at the asian supermarket to shame. Yesterday I canned plum preserves. I also recently did a habanero jelly. Scrumptious.

    Anyway, welcome to the canning club! 🙂

    • August 22, 2010 at 11:43 pm

      Asian plum sauce and plum preserves, habanero jelly…light years ahead of me. Thanks for the welcome to the club, although I’ll be in the newbie section for a while.


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