The Adventures of Berry Canning

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on June 21, 2011

So we hit the berry patch…and I really didn’t intend to get some many lbs of berries…but I just couldn’t help how perfectly ripe they were…and to be quite honest…there’s nothing better than jam that was made with berries that were picked less than 2 or 3 hours before being processed.

Nothing better.

Especially in the dead of winter!

Note: This is not meant to be a how-to. I recommend PickYourOwn.org :)

Black raspberry jam bubbling away.

And making its way into the jars.

Spoon please?!

The mess. We had dualing cutting boards going on!  I had to solicit some help getting all the strawberries hulled and stems removed. Not something that my little guys are ready for! Yet!

And the rare paper towel. We don’t use them often…but this is an example when we will bust out the roll!

The Final Results

  • 4 16 oz. containers no sugar strawberry freezer jam, plus 1 8 oz. container and about 1/2 cup for the fridge.
  • 8 half pints, 1 pint black raspberry jam
  • 10 pints strawberry jam (3 not pictured, still in the canner), plus a little for dinner and the fridge

Total of 40 half pints, or 39 plus fridge leftovers

The Cost Analysis

Was this really cheaper than buying them in the store?!

Good question!  I don’t think so…especially if you factor in the time spent in canning all these. Plus whipping up the strawberry freezer jam. Here’s the math…

  • Cost of berries – $40.46
  • Cost of jars/lids – $10, jars are recycled, lids are new
  • Cost of sugar – 5 lbs – $3
  • Cost of apple juice – $1, used half bottle-ish
  • Cost of pectin – 8 boxes at $.89/box – $7.12

Total cost materials -$61.58

If I were to buy 40 half pints of no sugar jam, or low sugar jam, it would cost me $1.69/jar of generic or $2.49/jar of name brand. $67.60 – $99.60.

So yes, cheaper by the materials…but not if you include time.

But I don’t mind spending time doing this at all…it’s educational…the kids were intrigued…I’ve got a nice stockpile of jams to use this year and to give away as gifts…and we had a fun day together as a family!

And…like I said before…there’s nothing better than jam that was made with berries that were picked less than 2 or 3 hours before being processed.

Who else is canning and jamming?! Have you found it worthwhile?! I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!!!

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristia@Family Balance Sheet June 21, 2011 at 11:40 am

I have never canned, but I grew up watching my mom and grandmother can quite a bit. The canning bug has just not hit me yet. I freeze most of my garden produce and haven’t had a problem. I make freezer jam and I wonder what the difference in taste is.

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Jennifer C. June 21, 2011 at 12:19 pm

I just canned some cherry jam last night…but I think I left out some of the sugar. I usually can peaches and make peach jam from my husband’s grandparents peach trees. Your jam may be more expensive than store bought, but you can’t beat the taste and the “homeyness” of homemade jam!

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The Working Home Keeper June 21, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I canned pear honey with locally grown pears from our farmer’s market for the first time last year. And canned strawberry jam from the berries we picked at a local, organic u-pick farm a few weeks ago. I haven’t done a cost analysis. In my case, I’m guessing probably not cheaper. But I enjoy it! I enjoy putting food away like my mother and grandmothers used to do. And nothing tastes better than home canned strawberry jam over homemade lemon pancakes for breakfast on Sunday mornings!

Mary Ellen
The Working Home Keeper

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Michelle Grham June 22, 2011 at 9:00 am

Lemon pancakes w/ strawberry jam sounds divine!

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Teresa June 21, 2011 at 2:50 pm

I just put back a small amount of spiced peach jam and pickled peppers. The pickled pepperoncini – probably not worth it cost wise since not a specialty item, but had never done peppers before and using it as a dry run. The spiced peach jam – definitely worth every cent! Can’t find that in the store and at the farmers market going to pay at least $3-4 for a half pint. Most of my veggies I freeze. I can dilled green beans, fruit jams and salsas.

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danielle June 21, 2011 at 3:01 pm

i love to can- jelly, honeys, jam and salsa. i did freezer preserves (no pectin) last week with fruit from aldi’s. two of my favs are blackberry peach freezer jam, and strawberry jalapeno jam (microwave version). can’t buy those in the store! this year i want to can my own rotel-like tomatoes. i used to can all sorts of fruit that i received for free. since i’m not in that position anymore and have to pay, i can less fruit. i plan to look for wild black berries soon.

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Dannelle June 21, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Great job!
We had jam fest last month with all of the rhubarb and will be doing strawberry variations next week. I use Tattlers for lids (resuable) and free fruit (our yard/garden) so I only pay for sugar or pectin – making each jar about $.20 — SOOO much cheaper and Yummier than store bought!

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Lindsay Sorgenfrei June 21, 2011 at 3:59 pm

I will be canning 150 4oz jars of strawberry this weekend- a wedding favor for my wedding in September!

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom June 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Whoa Lindsay! What an amazing gift!!! Wish I was there to help you!

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Hilary June 21, 2011 at 4:47 pm

I can! Mostly stuff from our garden. I make pickles from my grandmother’s recipe. Best. Pickles.Ever. I also make basil jelly, jalapeno jelly and pickled okra. These are specialty items here that cost $8-$12 a jar, so I know I’m saving money on those things. I also think it’s really fun, so I don’t mind the time spent.

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Merrilee June 21, 2011 at 5:20 pm

I just canned 6 half-pint jars of strawberry jam this week. At first I was sad about how little jam I made. Then I tried the jam & it was wonderful. It used less than half the usually amount of sugar than the kind with pectin and a little lemon zest. It was so Yummy! So, yes, it was a little more expensive than usual, but I have never had store jam that tastes as good.
I just bought/u-picked 3 gallons of blueberries. Going to freeze some, make jam from some & try to dry some.

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brie. June 22, 2011 at 8:57 am

i can. and i think there’s also something to be said for keeping the ‘craft’ alive. there’s a love that goes into putting food up. it’s an opportunity for us to remember where our food comes from (and it’s not the jar!) and it’s also an opportunity to generate less waste. so as i see it, it’s all a winner! i had some green tomato chutney i made last september with lunch today, and it’s still great, and it feels good to taste the fruits of your labour (no pun intended!)

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Michelle Grham June 22, 2011 at 9:05 am

My family picked 19lbs of strawberries this past weekend and I came home and canned strawberry jam (19 pints) and sliced a big gallon freezer bag full for smoothies later. Bought blackberries yesterday and that is on the agenda for today. My son’s favorite is pineapple jam….so I’m watching for a deal so that I can make some more this year.

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Michelle Grham June 22, 2011 at 9:07 am

I also forgot to post…keep your eyes peeled for displays with Certo, Sure Jell Pectin….I recently found coupons for Free Sugar when you buy two boxes of pectin. The coupons are good until 2012…June, I think. Helps the cost a bit.

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