Buying In Bulk: It’s Not Just For Food

canned-tomatoes

It’s that time of the year. The harvest is in and my canners are running full tilt as we put the fruits of our labors up to see us through a long, cold winter.


As we reach our 7th decade, my husband and I have slowed down a bit. We actually tilled under a portion of the garden and seeded it back to grass. We find it more energy efficient to purchase some of our produce in bulk. I can get great local corn, potatoes, squash and tomatoes from our wonderful local farmers. Getting the less than perfect specimens makes them a great deal. I still get to do the fun part (the preserving) without the part that lays me up with a heat pack on my lower back.

Our produce is not the only thing we buy in bulk. Canning jars, lids and rings are all good things to have a stockpile of. Over the years I have accumulated nearly 1,000 canning jars, many purchased several cases at a time. I buy my lids and rings in lots of 200-300. It isn’t just a case of saving money (although it certainly does that) but it is also about having them on hand with no “quick” trip to the store should I find myself with a bushel of tomatoes that need processing.

Lehman's offers sleeves bulk canning lids for both wide mouth and regular mouth jars. These high-quality tin lids are packaged in brown paper sleeves and contain a sealant material which is FDA approved and BPA free. At Lehmans.com.

Lehman’s offers sleeves bulk canning lids for both wide mouth and regular mouth jars. These high-quality tin lids are packaged in brown paper sleeves and contain a sealant material which is FDA approved and BPA free. At Lehmans.com.

I even have a bulk supply of canners. That may seem like overkill; a canner is not small investment but we live in the snowy Northeast and we have, on occasion, had our power out for weeks after a bad ice storm. What saved most of the food in the freezer was a rapid response team. With the wood stove and both small, non-electric propane stoves going we put everyone to work canning the chicken, pork and beef that takes up the bulk of our freezer space. The broccoli and string beans couldn’t be salvaged but at least the 14 chickens were saved.

Pressure canning is the only method recommended safe by the U.S.D.A. for low-acid foods such as vegetables, meats and fish.

Pressure canning is the only method recommended safe by the U.S.D.A. for low-acid foods such as vegetables, meats and fish.

I have two AA canners and one more economical model. Now I have my eye on the 30 quart canner. As I watched the flooding in Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina due to Hurricane Mitch, I find myself eyeing the contents of my freezer again. Maybe I’ll order just one more order for rings and lids too, just in case.

Kathy Harrison

About Kathy Harrison

Kathy Harrison is the author of Just in Case, Another Place at the Table, and One Small Boat. She is a national spokesperson for both foster parenting and family preparedness and has appeared on The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and National Public Radio. She lives with her family in western Massachusetts.