Why I Can…

People often ask me why I can food.  My first response is always because I can.  Seems simple enough but really there are other reasons. I like growing our own food but since fruits and veggies don’t grow year round, I need to can what we grow and don’t eat right away.  I have a large family and I buy in bulk to help with the cost.  That means sometimes I need to can the excess for another time.  Then there’s the convenience factor.  For example the other day everyone was home for Spring Break.  We all slept in late but needed to get moving to head out the door.  Since it would be hours before we could eat another meal we needed something substantial  to fill our bellies.

So, I pulled out potatoes I had canned from our garden harvest last summer.

last summer's potatoes

last summer’s potatoes

I melted some coconut oil, chopped some fresh green onions, and put in the potatoes with some seasoning to brown.

In the skillet

In the skillet

Because the potatoes were pre cut and precooked in the canning process, by the time cooked the sausage, gathered fresh eggs and cooked them, they were ready.  I also heated up some pancakes I had made earlier in the month and froze.

In 20 minutes we had a hot satisfying breakfast and were soon on the road to enjoy our day.

quick easy breakfast

quick easy breakfast

 

Canning Turnips

My brother-in-law “threw out some turnip seeds to see what would happen.”  The result was astonishingly large turnips, which he just left in the field after eating a few.

We gleaned a lot of them.  They are sweet when raw and extremely tasty when cooked.  We stored several boxes in the cellar, but also decided to can up lots of them.  It took 2 days with 2 canners (as one was cooling down the other was heating up)

and we netted 43 quarts of processed turnips.

I think we are good for now.

Are You Ready For Fall Ya’ll?

After surgery early in the spring, an arm that was strapped to my body for a few weeks, and now weeks upon weeks of physical therapy, it’s been a tough summer to get much done.  We never got our garden going, so through the kindness of friends and an a wonderful farmers market, I have been able to get some canning done.

I lost count somewhere along the way but I did in excess of 20 pints of jelly,  25 quarts of pickles, 8 pints of relish, 36 quarts of spaghetti sauce, 8 quarts of diced tomatoes, 10 quarts of green beans, and 2 quarts of carrots.  Then it happened….I ran out of time.  The rainy season is starting so that brings and end to my canning.  You see, I need to pressure can outside.  We have a glass topped stove and you can’t pressure can on one of those or you could crack the stove top (never knew that until I wanted to can this year).  So, the most wonderful Mr. bought an outdoor propane stove.  It will do dual duty.  I am able to can on it, and we can use it to cook either at home if the power goes out, or while camping.

As I had my last (although I didn’t realize it at the time) canner full of veggies going, the rain came.  Thankfully I had a patio umbrella to help keep the rain off the pot:

But with cooler temps and dreary weather, canning the beans and carrots was cancelled.  So, after a quick blanching and run through the Foodsaver, into the freezer they went.  We will use those up first then move to the canned goods.  I really am hoping for a few more good days so I can get some pumpkin canned up and saved.  We love pumpkin pies and breads.

So, is fall starting to arrive your neck of the woods?

 

Grape Jelly and Hand Made Socks

Do you know that you can make jelly from store bought juice?  So, when I found a sale on grape juice I decided to try this theory.  It worked.  Three cups of grape juice along with some sugar, and we had grape jelly.  Kids are thrilled.  Mom is thrilled, because the cost of jelly is rising and there are a lot of mouths to feed here.

I love this pair of socks.  The yarn was spun by me and then the socks were knitted on an old fashioned hand cranked knitting machine.

I love how the colors turned out.  Very comfy too.  These will keep my feet warm as it’s still pretty cold here even though it’s supposed to be spring.

Something Strange Happened

Yesterday while ladling my sauce into a jar, I heard a cracking sound.  I looked at the jar and saw no visible sign of stress, so I went on my merry way.  As I finished the jar and lifted it to put in the canner rack, the bottom literally fell out.  I lifted the jar and the bottom as well as a quart of sauce was all over the counter, the cabinet, and the floor.  A near perfect circle of a crack on the jar bottom.  WOW.  After a quick clean up, we inspected the jar and were amazed at how clean the break was (sorry no picture…there was still a shock factor since I’d never had that happen before).  So, all in all, I ended up with just 10 quarts of sauce to show off today.  One went straight into the frig for dinner this week.

I did get a chance to sit at my knitting machine yesterday as well.  I was able to knit up this hat using some handspun yarn I had in my stash.

I love the little flower that hangs down the back.

Spahgetti Sauce

This is approximately 12 quarts of yummy spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove (how’s that for alliteration?)

I will can the sauce this afternoon and put it away for use later. I have so enjoyed getting back into the kitchen preparing foods for my family and stocking up things.  I don’t know about you, but with the ever increasing gas prices and the outlook on the wholesale food market, I think it’s a priority to stock up on essentials (and maybe even some non essentials) before the prices get too high.  I am already seeing an increase on some basics.  I am even seeing an alarming trend of downsizing but keeping the price the same.  Cereal for example, is packaged in the same size box, with less in there, but at the same price.  The consumer is fooled into thinking the price hasn’t increased until they get home and open the box and realize that what was maybe 6 bowls of cereal is now just 3 or 4.  With a large family (or any sized family, really) it adds up quickly.  I encourage you all to be prepared.

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Found a pattern I was really interested in knitting so I think I will cast on after the kids are finished with their school work.  Something to keep me busy tonight too after they go to bed.  Knitting is one way to keep me busy and to keep me sane.

 

An Apple A Day

I finished with my sale apples yesterday.  With my 10 pounds of apples, we ended up with 5 pints of applesauce canned with more in the refrigerator, 5 pints of apples for apple pie, and 4 trays of dehydrated apple slices.  Woo hoo.  Not bad for a few hours of my time and about $6.00.

I often use apple sauce in my cake, muffin, and quick bread recipes in the place of cooking oil.  I use it measure for measure (meaning if the recipe calls for a cup of oil, then I use a cup of applesauce).  It makes for a moister final product in my no so humble opinion.  Healthier too.  Sadly, I went back to the store today and apples were no longer on sale so there will be no more apple goings on tomorrow….but mushrooms and onions…well that’s another story.

Canning Salsa and Cheese

I canned two small batches of salsa and cheese yesterday.  I really didn’t want to drag out the big water bath canner.  Did you know you can use a regular stock pot as long as it has a tight fitting lid?  You need to come up with a raised bed (so to speak) to keep the jars off the bottom of the pot, so I tied together some jar lids using wire twist ties.

I put enough water in the canner to bring the water over the top of the jars, put it on to boil, and canned the salsa as I usually do.

Then I tried something new to me.  I read that you can can cheese.  So, we decided to give it a whirl and see how it does.  Two pounds of cheddar cheese yielded 5 – 8 ounce jars.  I first melted the cheese then processed for 40 minutes in a boiling water bath.

That hand woven dish towel is pretty nifty too, ain’t it?

Today I will be working on applesauce.  Apples were on sale yesterday and I bought 10 pounds (looking back, I should have gotten more) so I will be peeling and coring, cooking and canning them today.

Canning Peach Butter

You know, you really don’t need to have fresh peaches to make peach butter. I used a #10 can of peaches, pureed them, added brown sugar and cinnamon and let it simmer until reduced and thicker. Then process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.

When all is said and done, yummy peach butter to add to smoothies, yogurt, granola, ice cream, or whatever else you can think of.

Enjoy.