Do You Think Making Your Own Applesauce is Worth It?

In early October, my mom came over and taught me how to make homemade applesauce and bottle it for future consumption. Anyone who knows me is well-aware that I’m not what you would call a homemaker. However, I had a great time bottling applesauce with my mom, and I felt good about the fact that all those apples on the tree aren’t going to rot all winter. Plus, the applesauce is delicious — much better than the stuff you buy at the store.

Photo by suzzanelong via Flickr

If you are thinking about how you can add a little to your self-reliance, as well as enjoy the fruits of your labor, consider bottling the produce from your garden. Even if you don’t have a garden, you can often purchase discount produce and then bottle it to preserve it for later. However, be aware that, for some items, the benefit of bottling comes in the fresher taste, and not so much in the savings.

What You Need to Get Started

In order to get started, all you really need are jars (and accompanying lids and rings) and some sort of bottler. For fruits, and other high acid foods, a water bath is required. If you plan to preserve vegetables, meat and seafood, a pressure canner is often a good idea. These are the only necessities, and you can get started fairly inexpensively:

  • Water Bath: You can usually find one (holding six or seven jars) with a rack, to be used on the stove top, for right around $20. Larger, and more expensive versions can be found for around $50.
  • Pressure Canner: These usually cost more than the water bath. You can find one for around $80, on up to $150. Some come with starter sets, and can be a good deal.
  • Jars: You can usually buy a case of 12 wide mouth pint jars for about $16. Note that you can re-use jars and rings, but you need to buy new lids (usually quite inexpensive) each year.

While the above is all you need, there are some items that can make your homemade adventure a little easier. My mother brought her Victorio Food Strainer and Sauce Maker. It made creating the applesauce much faster, since all we had to do was cut the apples into quarters and cook them. The strainer peeled, cored and seeded them. It was much nicer than doing it all by hand. You can get a strainer for around $60. However, if you plan to do a lot of bottling with a variety of sauces and preserves (my mom does salsa, too), it might be worth it to get the extensions, which bring the total cost up to around $100.

You can also purchase a jar lifter, canning funnel and recipe book (or use the book that comes with your water bath or strainer) for a small initial outlay. So, if you are serious about getting started, you could easily spend close to $200. (Reduce the cost by going in with family members to purchase the larger items and share them around.)

Benefits

Over time, though, there are benefits — even with your initial costs, and the cost of running the stove all day while you’re actually doing the bottling (and the ongoing cost of buying more lids each year, or replacing broken bottles and bent rings).

Some of these benefits include:

  • Becoming more self-reliant
  • Building your food storage
  • Enjoying food that is likely healthier than what you buy processed in the store
  • Better taste
  • Improved freshness over what you buy the store

If you are interested in making your own applesauce, here is a good step-by-step guide that will walk you through the process.

What do you think? Do you think bottling produce is worth it?

About the Author

By , on Nov 10, 2011
Miranda Marquit
Miranda is a professional personal finance journalist. She is a contributor for several personal finance web sites. Her work has been mentioned in and linked to from, USA Today, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. She also has her own personal finance blog: Planting Money Seeds.

Leave Your Comment (3 Comments)

  1. Pam Robson says:

    Boy! I don’t know where you do your shopping, but you are way out of line on your prices. You can get a waterbath canner for less than $15. On sale or used even cheaper (Goodwill, Salvage Army, yard sale, Craig’s list), new wide mouth pints for $7.99 not on sale. You can buy qts. on sale for $7.99.

    Try using an applecorer/cutter. Cook with skins (nutrients & fiber in skins) & after cooking run through your blender or food processor for smoothness. You can’t even tell the apples aren’t peeled.

    I have been canning fruits, vegetables, dairy, juices, jams/jellies, meats, nuts, etc. successfully since the 70s, but if I were just starting out, in reading some of the articles written by the inexperienced professing opinions, I’d never even attempt to try due to the cost, dire warnings & consequences.

    Your benefits are certainly right on! People need to wake up to what is going on and protect themselves and families through their food storage & control what is in the products they are eating for their own health.

    People see me stocking up & buying jars, etc. on sale & always comment about, “Wow, that’s alot of work.” I tell them, “It’s my hobby & what you enjoy isn’t work.” I am proud of the fact that if something happens, (mother nature, financial stability, other) we will be able to eat healthy & hearty. We are prepared & are survivors. More people need to think about the future instead of just today. Until next canning season we will eat very, very well for a fraction of the cost of what processed foods are & do not have to submit our bodies to all the chemicals they put into the processed foods.

    I have worked in canneries, & warehouses, etc. If people actually saw what condition & type of food was processed in these large factories, more people would take up food processing in their own homes to control freshness, conditions, cleanliness, chemicals, etc.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to preserve foods for yourself & family, only the ability to communicate with someone who has the experience, a preserving book (canning, dehydrating, etc.), food extention service, grange organization, computer to research, library, etc.

    Good luck, pride, & enjoyment to all who consider & take up control of their own food supply.

  2. Briana says:

    That sounds like something really fun and healthy! I’d be interested in doing it, and even getting into salsa. I’d have to find other things to can in order to justify the costs of the materials.

  3. Penny says:

    Thanks for the article and the links. I’ve been interested in canning for a little while now, and it’s something I definitely want to try out once I’m a little more permanently situated. I think canning would definitely be worth it over time if you did it consistently and made sure to eat everything you canned before it went bad. I have a problem with that when it comes to freezing food, because I either freeze it portion sizes that are too large or I avoid eating it because I might really need it later or I forget about it.

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