This time of year is a great time to do some pressure canning--the weather is cold and so heating up your kitchen is not a big deal. And lots of time you can get meats on sale. I usually pressure can meats and dried beans during the first months of the year. I usually buy an extra turkey, or two, around Thanksgiving or Christmas when they are the cheapest, save them in the freezer and pressure can later. I've got one in the freezer right now that needs to be taken care of. Buy any meats that you can find on great sales and then freeze them to can later if you can't do it right then.
When I pressure can I usually run 2 at a time. The one on the left is my 23 qt. pressure canner from hubby's grandma and I can double stack pints in it, thus canning 16 pints at a time. The one on the right is my 17 qt. pressure canner and I can only do one layer in it--therefore I usually just do quarts in that one. But even still, running 2 canners at once I can get 23 or 24 jars of stuff in one sitting.
Last week I canned Chili (recipe from the Ball Blue Book), without beans (I can those separately), and actually did a cost analysis on it. Sometimes people ask why we can--and sometimes it is because it is cheaper than buying in the store. Peaches and pears, depending on where you live, may not necessarily be cheaper than store bought. However, if it's not for the price it is definitely for the taste. Hands down canning your own stuff tastes better. So here is the breakdown for my chili:
Yield: 8 qts.
$22.32 (not necessarily the cheapest price for ground beef currently)
2 large onions (4 c. worth)
Chili powder (1 c. worth)
4 cloves garlic
Salt (9 tsp. worth)
#10 can diced tomatoes
divided by 8 = $3.49 per qt. jar (or $1.75 per pint jar which is a similar size to a 15 oz. can you'd buy in the store.)
Since I don't buy canned chili in the store (at least I can't remember the last time I did) I don't know if this is comparable or not. But the taste, and the nutritional value (way less salt and fat) outweighs anything you'd get in the stores in my opinion. And really this is the only chili that my family will eat.
As far as the beans go, I know for sure canning your own is WAY cheaper. You can buy a 1 pound bag of pinto beans in the store for about $1. They will be cheaper if you buy the beans in bulk. But a 1 pound bag of dry beans equates to 4 pints of canned beans. That means it is $.25 a jar, much cheaper than in the stores. They have less fat and less salt than store beans, and if you add your own jalapeño to each jar you can get more flavor without hiking up the price as much as they do for spiced refried beans in the store.
I also canned beans 3 different mornings last week and ended up with this:
Pinto beans 10 qts. and 23 pints
Garbanzo beans 5 pints
Soybeans 12 pints
Black-eyed Peas 2 pints
So here is why I canned beans this past week....earlier big empty shelf.
Now here is what it looks like after canning 62 pints worth of beans. 8 jars deep and double stacked.
L to R: Pinto, Garbanzo, Black-eyed Peas, Soybeans, and 10 bean soup in the quart on the right.
Here are instructions for home canning dried beans--very similar to what the Ball Blue Book instructs.
This site has instructions also along with pics---keep scrolling down a ways to see it.