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Canning after the Apocalypse!

 
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Alright, I try not to think about the end of the world too much, but when it's the middle of January and you're eating the last of the tomatoes you put put up in August, it's hard not to wonder "what would I do if I couldn't just go to the store after this."

Well, if the End of the World came, I wouldn't have to go to my job (yes!), and I could spend a lot more time on my tomatoes in the Summer (YES!!), but eventually I would run out of lids... THE LIDS!!! They're not reusable (at least not indefinitely so... I do admit to reusing them once if the still look good and I've never lost a seal...).

So what do you do? Can your rejuvenate lids with wax? Would you use the reusable taddler lids? How many seasons do they have in them? I imagine they would crack eventually. Perhaps canning is just a lost technology in the Next World. Thoughts?
 
gardener
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Have just started using Tattler lids so my experience is limited with them. I do dehydrate quite a bit. I even used strawberries in my oatmeal this morning. Currently use a large dehydrator from Cabela's but will eventually complete a solar powered one.
 
gardener
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I have an irrational fear of canning, at least of ME doing it. The last few times I tried canning some things, I screwed up half of it- lids loose- too much air, etc.

Anymore for long term storage I dehydrate.
 
steward
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In such a scenario, lids would be a finite resource. Getting the most out of what remained would be the rule of thumb. Using the lids of quarts would be better than using them on pints. Using them on expensive crops, such as meat, would be better than inexpensive crops, such as spinach. When new lids are not available, risking reuse on a precious commodity would not be worth it to some. The fall back for food preservation would be pickling, smoking, and dehydration. Employing used lids for storing dried goods is an option, and one which reuses the lids until they corrode to unsatisfactory condition. An airtight seal is not required, just keep the bugs out. As the lid supply dwindles, the ability to produce food continually and with minimal effort would be a primary concern. Canning can offer a bridge for storage solutions while you make the transition to complete self sufficiency and dehydrated food preservation. If maintaining the ability to preserve foods by canning is something you depend on, then acquiring and storing a large number of lids while they are cheap would be advisable.

An apocalypse scenario would be a greater shock to those who have not internalized homesteading skills and do not have a self sufficient lifestyle.

 
pollinator
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We bought a LOT of tattlers when they had some REALLY good deals when they were just getting back into the market. We will run out of jars and rings first. Jars break, and they take a lot of space to store. Rings are not made well and corrode very easily these days. I really want a source for better rings, either stainless or at least better plating.

 
Robert Ray
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I don't have a real root cellar and would really like one. My other half has asked for me to build her a new studio and one of the things she suggested is to build a root cellar underneath it. Thaw baby thaw I'm ready.
 
Posts: 181
Location: Central Ohio, Zone 6A - High water table, heavy clay.
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Tattler lids pretty much have that problem solved.

I have LOTS of them, and use them exclusively. They're the real deal. They don't crack, and given reasonable proper care they are pretty much indefinitely reusable. The weakest link in the chain is the rubber rings (which will dry out EVENTUALLY), but those can be purchased on their own, and there are ways to store them that would extend their shelf life.

With proper care your rings should last a long, long time, and you only really need as many as you can process at one time (remove them after cooling).

 
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I actually have a collection of the very old-style glass lids that are designed to work similarly to the Tattlers. However, I haven't had a chance to experiment with them yet (I need a low-value surplus crop to try that on), and I've heard they are a lot more finicky than even Tattler lids. I found the glass lids at garage sales and in Granny's basement; I think you need a taller ring to use them with, though, and I have a few, but I'm not sure if they make them anymore.
 
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How many jars to can in a year? Will that increase or decrease in the future, family getting bigger or smaller? How many more years will you can in your life? Add that all up and buy in bulk. They are small and store dang near forever.
 
pollinator
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More sauerkraut / kimchi style of preserving. That is more low tech.
 
Matt Smith
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Location: Central Ohio, Zone 6A - High water table, heavy clay.
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Angelika Maier wrote:More sauerkraut / kimchi style of preserving. That is more low tech.



Fermentation is rad, but having the jars and lids gives you options. It's relatively easy to vacuum-can dried foods in mason jars, making them essentially pest-proof for longer-term storage. That ability alone is worth the price of admission, IMHO.
 
Ken Peavey
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I'll be giving those Tattler's a try.
 
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dehydrate the tomatoes
 
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Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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chrissy bauman wrote:dehydrate the tomatoes



Yes, dried tomatoes are delicious. I've been canning less and dehydrating more...shiitakes, green beans, fruit. Working towards a solar dryer. I do intend to get some Tattler lids though as I have lots of canning jars and haven't given it up completely. Would everyone be canning on wood fires...I find canning uses a lot of energy. I cook on gas during canning season now but used to cook and can year round on a wood cookstove...that's a pretty hot job summertime though.
 
Jess Dee
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Judith Browning wrote:

chrissy bauman wrote:dehydrate the tomatoes



Would everyone be canning on wood fires...I find canning uses a lot of energy. I cook on gas during canning season now but used to cook and can year round on a wood cookstove...that's a pretty hot job summertime though.



I think that's why there were summer kitchens. If I had to cook with wood year round, I would definitely be looking into a summer kitchen.
 
Judith Browning
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Hi, Jess, we carried a small wood cook stove outside during the summer for years but 100 degree plus days are just hot no matter where you are...even early morning or late evening, but I did it for a long time. With the long hot and dry summers we have been having here i think solar dehydration is the way to go...it is calling to me...quit sweating over the fire....
 
R Scott
pollinator
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I am going to build a rocket stove (not mass heater) for summer canning.
 
Jess Dee
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Judith Browning wrote:Hi, Jess, we carried a small wood cook stove outside during the summer for years but 100 degree plus days are just hot no matter where you are...even early morning or late evening, but I did it for a long time. With the long hot and dry summers we have been having here i think solar dehydration is the way to go...it is calling to me...quit sweating over the fire....



Yeah, I don't blame you. We do fairly minimal canning here; we freeze a lot of things because we like the consistency better, and rely heavily on the root cellar for a lot of our storage also. We're mostly into jams, which I can time for fairly early (strawberries and rhubarb) or late (raspberries and blueberries), and avoid the worst of the summer heat. Post apocalypse, I think we'd be relying even more heavily on the root cellar and dried goods like beans and grain, with the occasional canned thing like jam or preserves as a treat or flavoring (like in jam cookies, or pickles, or salsa), rather than trying to maintain the exact same diet as we have right now (though we've been transitioning to a much more local and seasonal diet over the years, too, so it wouldn't be that big a stretch anymore). Dehydrating is definitely more appropriate in the summer heat, that's for sure!
 
gardener
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R Scott wrote:Rings are not made well and corrode very easily these days.  I really want a source for better rings, either stainless or at least better plating.  



I just happened to see these heavy stainless steel rings on Amazon.  Eye-wateringly expensive, but in the mode of "buy once, never buy again" they may pencil out regardless.  
stainless-steel-canning-rings.jpg
[Thumbnail for stainless-steel-canning-rings.jpg]
canning jar rings made from heavy stainless steel
 
gardener & author
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In Australia our main type of canning jars (Fowlers) has the option of almost-indestructible stainless steel lids. This preserving system consists of rubber rings (which they say are one-use-only, but everyone I talk to just reuses them over and over), the rings go onto an indent at the top of the jar, the lids go over the rings, and then a clip secures it in place while it gets sealed.

This is what they look like:


For Weck and Fido jars, the only things that need replacing are the rubber rings, and I've reused these on Fido jars many times.

I don't think pressure canning can be done with Fowlers, Weck or Fido, but Nourishing Days posted a while ago about reusable lids for mason jars, so they might be a good option for pressure canning: https://www.nourishingdays.com/2019/09/processing-meat-birds-and-canning-with-reusable-lids/

I still don't rely on canning much, I use it mainly for things that are tasty additions to food, rather than as a calorie-storage technique. I've never pressure canned before, but sometimes I think it would be good to have that option for broth and meat.
 
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As far as rings go, I'm not too concerned about the corrosion. Long as they're washed then baked in the oven at around 200 degrees to burn off water in the cracks a towel will never reach they should last quite awhile. Another reason is I reuse the same 20 rings or so over and over. I'll use them till I deem them unfit for service. Then just grab 20 more from my 5 gallon bucket full of new rings saved from new jars. I just gave a garbage bag full to my neighbor! Lol As you may have guessed, I don't leave the rings on the jars of canned goods.

As far as new lids go, I have heard they are good for 5 years in storage before the gum starts to dry out. Is it true? I don't know... But it would be fairly inexpensive to put away in mylar bags with an o2 absorber. Maybe the lack of oxygen will preserver the gummy material.

I have bought some Walmart brands lids and they have changed. They're not like they used to be as far as I can tell and look and feel exactly like a ball jar branded lid. I have used them without issue (Thus far, I just started using them). They're much cheaper in price than brand name  lids and are even made in the USA.

As far as a canner goes, spend the extra dough on an All American Canner. There's no gasket to wear out. But God help you if you ever severely ding the sealing surface! Lol Buy extra rubber safety plugs and put them away where they're not exposed to oxygen for long term storage. I had the big model, like a moron I sold it. Got a presto for now till financial times brighten up a bit to repurchase an All American. I will however still order extra seals and rubber safety plugs for the presto.

Edit: I would just buy a lot of lids when on sale and store them like I mentioned above. Walmart appears to have them in stock year around.
 
pollinator
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I can be a bit of a "rebel" with my canning; particularly when I'm the only one who will be eating the canned goods, so I save all of the lids & rings to reuse until they no longer work. This has allowed me to build up a stockpile of extras over the years.
When the SHTF, I will probably become a casualty of my medical issues; but I would figure out something to sustain me until then. When I run out of lids, I suspect I would be making meat into jerky and drying beans for protein. Grains and other carbs are usually dryable. I raise potbellies, so a source of fat would probably be lard. Much of the other vitamins/minerals would need to be foraged/grown seasonally. A big barrier would be that I still haven't learned what vitamins/minerals that a lot of plants provide. Plus my lack of knowledge and skills with surviving off grid. Until I learn more, the worn out canning lids would likely be the least of my problems
 
gardener
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I raise potbellies, so a source of fat would probably be lard.

 fat is also an excellent preservative, if kept cool and free of oxygen.  I'm not sure how pork would do.   However, the indigenous population on the north coast would store all kinds of foods in sealed wooden boxes filled with eulachon grease, or water with eulachon grease on top.  The grease also helped with the digestion of certain astringent roots.  Other fish oils were also eaten locally, but not traded extensively.  The grease was considered a much sought after delicacy, and was traded extensively from the coast and coastal rivers, in large chests packed by men over trails to Inland tribes, rare meats such as Elk and Moose, and Caribou were traded back down to the coast.  In addition to storing in grease, food was dried, smoked, fermented, or cellared in pits.  The diet was considerably more seasonal than the modern diet, and often involved many migrating species, such as Salmon, Eulachon, or Elk, so preserving the meat was also super important for long term survival.  

Much of the other vitamins/minerals would need to be foraged/grown seasonally. A big barrier would be that I still haven't learned what vitamins/minerals that a lot of plants provide. Plus my lack of knowledge and skills with surviving off grid.

Berries, richly coloured vegetables, and greens should probably get you what you need.  Remember that in a survival situation, you will learn quickly that the water you boil potatoes in is great for tomorrow's pancakes (with vitamin loss only from the cooking),  and that purple potatoes are bound to have a slightly different vitamin and mineral profile from red ones, pink ones, or yellow ones.  Variety is the spice of life, literally.  You will intuitively discover thousands of other tricks to ensure that you get the most food value out of every morsel that is put in front of you.  Instead of an occasional salad and steamed meal of greens during the summer, you will eat them every day until the plants freeze, and you will have some growing inside to tide you over that you planted in August and are growing or somewhat dormant through the winter, but will pick up before spring allows gardening to continue outdoors.
 
pollinator
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I knew a woman that strung Christmas lights between mason jars using only the jars and the rings. She had a sizable business selling those and a T-shirt in a jar. When she was making the light/jar strands, She would just throw the lids in a jumbo rubbermaid bin. She had no use for them and me being somewhat of a prepper, I SAW GOLD !!! She let me have the whole bin. I swear there's at least 5000 in there all brand new small mouth lids. The tub weighs a ton, but it's worth it's weight in gold!
 
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my grandmother, having been a farmers wife though the depression,  put up all sorts of stuff and would pour about 1/2" of hot wax to seal jars, when you open jar you save wax boil it, skim out the chaff and reuse it
 
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