Shopping yard sales for food preservation supplies

Should you purchase used food preservation equipment and supplies?

As we head into the Memorial Day weekend, it seems to be the kick off to yard and garage sales for bargain shoppers. This holiday weekend also signifies the unofficial start of summer and makes us begin to think of local produce growing in gardens or popping up at local farm markets. If you are planning on browsing yard or garage sales this weekend, consider looking for good deals on equipment to use when home-preserving locally-grown produce that will begin appearing in the coming weeks.

When looking at equipment, Michigan State University Extension recommends the following:

  • Find out as much information as you can about the items you are considering for purchase. Ask the equipment owners how old the items are, if the instruction manuals are available, how often the equipment was used and how it was stored. When reviewing older canner instruction manuals, only use the manual as a reference for how to set up and use the canner, not for canning recipes that may be outdated.
  • Consider investing in new jars if you need to. New jars are a better investment over time than buying used jars at yard sales or flea markets. Inspect those you have for nicks, cracks or chips, especially around the top sealing edge. Nicks can prevent lids from sealing. Very old jars can weaken with age and repeated use; they break under pressure and heat.
  • If you purchase a used dial-gauge pressure canner, it should be checked yearly for accuracy. Contact your local Extension office to set up a time to have the gauge checked. Also inspect the rubber gasket if your canner has one; it should be flexible and soft instead of being brittle, sticky or cracked. It is also good practice to clean any small pipes or vent ports with openings so they are open all the way through.

In the end, depending on what information you are able to ascertain about the used home food preservation equipment that intend to purchase, it might be a better choice to purchase new items. Watch for sales at local department, grocery or hardware stores for all types of home food preservation equipment including lids, jar rings and larger equipment like canners or jars.

Great tasting and safe home preserved food depends on using correct equipment and supplies during processing, take the time to assess all your items, both new and used.

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