Canning

My canning adventures.

Goodness..

I really wish I had 48 hours in my 24 hour day and that I could go endless hours without sleep and still feel perky.  I know you all wish that too lol.  I started my job working at Dollar General. It’s super close to my house and great since the kids are staying home. The only thing not great is the full time work I have to do and then try to finish the farming year here. I finally had two days off. You’d think that was great, but we have already started homeschooling so we can finish before the year before the next garden season which will be even busier as my CSA program grows.

Wed, I helped a friend clean part of her house, homeschooled my children, butchered some roosters I exchanged for laying hens, and made 4 gallons of chicken stock overnight. I also managed to visit the neighbor for about an hour. Then I had to go home and clean.

Today I didnt get to do school with the kids. They went ahead and did their reading and math, but nothing else got done. I ran to the vet to weigh the shepherd and get both dogs flea meds.  Then, I had my kids go out and gather our corn. I started with some we had picked from a friend while they brought in. So there they sat for a few hours on the floor shucking corn while I took the cobs and my awesome Pampered Chef tool and took the kernels off.  Yes they complained, but I told them this is what it means to be a farmer 😉

I’m now in the process of canning the chicken I butchered yesterday along with 8 gallons of corn. It will be a long night, but I have to get it done because tomorrow I need to go grocery shopping and then I have to work for 10 hours. Who knows what the rest of the next week will hold because I dont know my schedule. I cant have it sitting there for days. I have to gather the garden shares this weekend sometime too and get into the garden to pull out everything that is done and plant some buckwheat. If only there was a little more time…

Happy Homesteading!!  😀

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Categories: Canning, Homesteading | Leave a comment

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Hi, tis the Jam season! I really do not need more, but this jam really can be multi-purpose. I use it on ice cream, on toast, or on shortcakes.  It is super easy to make. Lots of people use pectin for jams and jellies. I say Phoowey with you all. Why buy an ingredient?? You know my secret?? Corn starch.  Yup. Thickens immediately so no figuring out if it will thicken enough or not.

Now last year I used GMO corn starch because I didnt know any better. This year I am actually going to use Arrowroot powder and see how it goes. I guess if it doesnt work I’ll be adding GMO free corn starch I bought at whole foods.  So here are the strawberries I am going to be using.

strawberries

I picked these from a friend’s house. He said he couldnt look at another strawberry…then proceeded to help my hubby and I pick lol. We will pick again tomorrow and then probably saturday. One batch to my friend Janice and the other frozen for yogurt.

Ok so my canning book says 4 cups of strawberries to 2 cups rhubarb. So that is what I did..then when I had a tad bit more rhubarb left over I dumped that in lol. Then it says to add 5 1/2 cups of sugar. Well that is always too sweet for me. This batch I added 4. When it is minutes from being done I will taste it again.

When you can rhubarb, it absorbs sugar so you always want it a tad sweeter than you normally would eat it.  All is boiling in a pot right now on the stove. Once the boil is achieved, I let it simmer for about an hour. This will make sure that all the rhubarb is soft and the berries are pretty much no existent. I always use my food processor to chop everything up before hand anyway 😉

Here it is cooking away.

jam

 

Once this boils down some and everything is pretty mushy and the foam clears up some, (thats from the sugar) then I will add the arrowroot powder/or corn starch.  If you add water to your cornstarch before you put it in, it wont clump on ya. Be sure to use cold water and just enough to dissolve the powder!  Put in enough that it thickens to your liking and then bottle it up in canning jars. I hot water bath my jars because for some reason I dont get a really good seal on my jars and after a few weeks they look weird in there. I started this practice with all my preserves. It doesnt hurt to water bath stuff and its not that big of a deal for me to do it. The canner just heats up while I am cooking the stuff.

Here is a link of how I make plain Rhubarb jam..so just add strawberries lol. http://simplyhomesteadingblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/how-i-make-rhubarb-jam.html

OHHHH and while your waiting for jam, you should totally make banana chocolate chip muffins..just banana bread recipe with chips added..check it out!

banana chocolate chip muffins

 

Happy Homesteading!!   😀

Categories: Canning, Homesteading, Recipes | 2 Comments

Two big purchases, but worth the money (#2)

The second best purchase you can make is a canner.

Some people are scared of canning.  “What if I get botulism??”  ” How will I know if my jar is bad?”  “What if a jar explodes?!”  “What if the canner explodes!!?”   Well I had those same fears honestly so let me put your mind to rest first.

What if I get botulism?– There is still a potential for this but it’s nothing you should worry about.  Use proper canning techniques outlined in your canning book and remember…the pressure in the canner is so high that it will kill all that stuff anyway.  Always make sure your jar is good… ** Make sure your children know how to spot a bad can if they help you cook!**

How will I know if my jar is bad?– Your lid should not pop when you push down on it.  If it does its bad.  In fact when you bring your jars out of the pressure canner and set them to rest, the lids will pop and that sound is wonderful because it means it’s sealed.  Always inspect the food in the jar too. This is important for water bath(certain foods only boiled under water, not pressure canned) items because they don’t go into a pressure canner and sometimes bacteria grows.  If it looks gross in there don’t eat it.  If you open the lid and it doesn’t look right…don’t eat it.

What if a jar explodes?- Well if it’s in the canner..no biggy..just pull out your jars when they are done and clean the mess carefully as to not cut yourself.  If it’s in the water bath that means either your jar wasn’t hot enough to put into your hot water or you have an old jar.  Let me tell you that 99% of the time it won’t break and you just have to tell yourself it won’t.  This was the hardest for me to get over because I actually had one break the first time I water bathed.  It doesn’t really explode..most of the time the bottom falls off.

What if the canner explodes?- Well first of all there are safety features on all the canners now to help stop that problem.  They have this extra piece that if pressure gets too high it will pop out or off to let out pressure.  Second of all.. DON’T Leave your canner unattended!!  Don’t start your canner and go hang laundry outside.  Don’t start your canner and call your friend to talk for an hour.  Start your canner, make sure to pay attention to when it comes up to pressure, and adjust the heat so it stays where you need it to.  Then you might, might be able to do something like the dishes quietly, or start a load of laundry while it’s going.  Keep your ears on and it wont happen.  Now I have to say I absolutly hate the temperature control ones…if you can help it don’t get it..get the one without it. To me it’s much easier to regulate and you don’t have to babysit it as much.

nonocanner

This is the canner I would not buy.

ok canner

This Canner is ok but I don’t like the temperature guage.

pressure guage

Make sure your canner has this type of pressure guage so that you can change the pressure for some items.

Canners are a great tool to have. I can all the veggies I possibly can and also meats like chicken and deer.  It’s really nice to be able to open about 5 cans and make a quick soup on the stove. It’s all cooked already you just have to warm it up. You really should boil all your canned items anyway when eating them.  The best part about buying a canner is that not only can you stock a pantry for years without the food going bad, but I actually use mine to water bath certain items.  I simply take off the lid and I don’t have to buy another pan!

Whatever type you choose, be sure you read the manual and understand how to work it.  If you don’t know how to can, watch youtube, buy a canning book, and don’t be afraid to start.  I like the older canning books from like 1980’s or so, but that’s just me.  You also could ask around in the circle of homesteaders you’re finding. Many can as a way to preserve and would be happy to show you.  Even if you don’t have a big yard, canning is possible with farmers markets and in season items.  It’s worth the money to buy one and get started.  In fact I wouldn’t even waste my money on a water bath canning unit, just save and use your canner.  Happy Homesteading!! 😀

Categories: Canning, Homesteading | 4 Comments

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