YAY one of the posts I’ve been saying has been coming for weeks now.
Now that I’m semi permanently work from home I watch a lot of Youtube videos while I work, and I have been watching a lot of homesteading and homestead adjacent channels. I was watching one of the canning for beginner videos that came up on auto play and the teacher said, almost with a literal sniff, ‘there is absolutely no reason to microbatch and I absolutely do not recommend it when you could just spend 6 hours and get your entire years worth done in a day’.
Ok. Hold up. Back up a second. It’s time for this post.
I have written on this before but that was prior to our descent into a cthonic hellscape. If anything I am MORE supportive than ever of microbatching.
A Couple of Points
I define microbatch here as anything you can reasonably source in a grocery trip run or a single day’s harvest. Microbatching is sometimes seen as being suggestive of something like two quarter pints and while that’s certainly a microbatch, assume something along the lines of ‘fits in a 12 quart stockpot without having to get out the enameled canner’
Microbatching does NOT impact my electric bill that much; even with being at home 24/7, cooking all the time, canning, running a camp sized washing machine, running a dehydrator, my husband gaming all the time, etc, my electric bill only went up by $4. That may be an actual defense but I feel like I’ve seen it said as a weakness, that you’re spiking electric usage for such a small output but I haven’t seen that to be true.
In Defense of Microbatching
Price-it is a lot easier to navigate and surf sales when you don’t need 20 bushels of a single produce item. You can still end up with the same total yearly output, but if you’re buying whatever crop it can be easier to even out the changes in pricing
Food waste-I have lost a single bell pepper since March 14th. March 14th was my first day of home leave, that’s the only reason I remember that date. There is a lot of ways of going about this including freezing whatever you have until you have enough that it IS worth running a canner for, but you can save a lot more food than you think if you stop thinking about canning as something where you need to put up 12 quarts at minimum
Availability-look I can’t tell you for certain that stuff will be harder to find this year. But I can’t tell you that it won’t be either. There is always a possibility that your personal buying power will be limited.
Crop size-it is possible to be ultra productive in an average backyard garden. It is also entirely possible your yield will be three cucumbers and a pound of tomatoes. You don’t HAVE to can that but there’s no reason not to can it either.
Material availability-similar to food availability, you may just not be able to even source enough lids to run massive batches this year. I’m hearing rumbles from various parts of the country that stuff is getting scarce and until we sort out supply chain stability issues you may not be able to run the size batches you’re used to.
Family size-not everyone has 10 people they’re trying to feed. Not everyone needs 100 quarts of tomatoes.
Storage space limitations-I know a lot of homesteaders like to sneer about this (don’t act like it’s not true we all know it’s true) but not everyone is prepping on 100 acres off grid. Plenty of people are prepping in apartments and don’t intend on sleeping on their canning stash.
Variety-this is a completely legitimate reason and one that is weirdly controversial though I’m not sure why. Not everyone WANTS 12 pints of just plain strawberry jam, and microbatching is where you can play with styles and flavors with more ease than with bigger batches, unless you have the need for massive amounts of canned product and the access to the produce.
Time-can we please work on giving up the idea that everyone suddenly has all the time in the world right now? I’m not sure why we all keep going along with this myth when everyone I know is working harder than ever. I am working a full time job including testing and overtime as well as effectively being a full time stay at home homemaker right now. I don’t -have- 6 hours at a stretch to just knock out a full year’s yield. I might be able to justify an hour or two a day at different points in my schedule. And I don’t even have kids. People who juggling education and childcare in there probably have even less guaranteed time access. I am well aware that people make it work, I am just saying that if your argument is just dedicate the time we don’t all have the time TO dedicate in a single block.
Phrase of the day is ‘not everyone’ and I’m not sure I have the mental energy to try to change it.