Thursday, July 15, 2010

Does Canning Jam Really Save Money?

Everyone wants to save money on groceries, right? I wasn't sure how much it cost to can my own jellies, jams, or preserves, so I did a bit of cost analysis on my recent cherry jam just to see if it was really worth the effort. To put things in perspective, I typically purchase an all fruit spread from Trader Joe's because it doesn't contain additional sugar other than that which naturally occurs in the fruit and it's also organic. If I remember correctly, it runs about $2.99 for a 10 oz. jar.

When it comes to making my own jam, I find that the fruit often needs something to make it sweeter (perhaps because I buy from a u-pick location and it's difficult to tell when the fruit is at it's peak). By using Pomona's Universal Pectin, I can make my jam with honey or just about any other natural sweetener if I choose, such as stevia. A one ounce box makes about 10 - 12 half pint (8 oz.) size jars, so I was able to use half a box for my six jars of cherry jam. Here's the break down of what I spent (not including jars and equipment since it's assumed you'll reuse them):

Organic Fruit - approximately $8  (I paid $3/lb. and used 4 cups of crushed, pitted cherries)
Natural Pectin (1/2 box) - about $2.25
Lemons (2 for juice) - $1.50
Raw Honey (1 cup) - about $1.92

Total spent: $13.67

Divided between 6 jars = $2.28 each

The Kitchen Calc Pro is great for converting recipes and calculating costs!

At this point, I weighed my jars (and subtracted the weight of the jar itself) and divided the cost per jar by the number of ounces in my jar. 

The conclusion: Trader Joe's organic fruit spread cost about $.30 an ounce and my own runs about $.27. 


I know exactly what went into my jam, but I also spent time, physical energy, and fossil fuel which isn't included in my final cost. 

The bottom line? If you enjoy canning jams, keep doing it. If you watch the price of your fruit, you'll probably break about even with a high end store brand. It really didn't take much time to figure my costs, and you might be able to do a lot better and save more money. It's good information to have when you're working all summer, canning in the kitchen.  

Oh, and I'd like to think mine tastes better. 


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