Tag Archives: canning

Pickled Peppers in the Pantry Are Not a Necessity–But I Canned Some Anyway!

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Every few years, I can just a few jars of pickled jalapeño peppers.  I have some teeny, tiny jars I use for this purpose.  Today, I went up to my sister’s house and picked her jalapeño peppers, since the pathetic crop I got has mostly been used when I made salsa the other day.  Last time, the directions were simple.  Put peppers in jars.  Cover with vinegar.  Can.  The recipe I found this year was a little more complicated, as in mix vinegar, water and salt, pour over, can for 10 minutes in a hot water bath canner.  It still was mostly vinegar.  When I use them, it doesn’t seem to matter that they’ve been canned in vinegar.  I just fish out the peppers and add them to whatever I want to spice up.

I only use them for a few things, so these 8 jars will easily be enough for the year.  In the past, I have added one small jar to a large pot of chili that needed a little zip.  Another time, I’ve used them to heat up salsa if I was making a small batch.  Another thing I do is to add one small jar to a large pot of beans when I’m making refried beans, especially if I’m out of peppers I have frozen or in a big hurry.  There have been a few other things that escape me that I’ve done with them.

I’m happy and thankful that my sister shared, as this was the year I ran out after not doing it for a year or two.  Some years, the jalapeños are so loaded.  Not this year for either one of us.  It was great to get a few to spice up our winter!

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I added both Serranos and Jalepenos to the pickles I made this morning, along with some red pepper flakes.  They ought to be spicy and zippy!  This batch has the most peppers in it than any I have made so far.  Every time I think those cucumbers are done, they give me a few more.

The beans also surprised me by giving me quite a few yellow and green beans.  They were supposed to be done, but I didn’t get the vines pulled, and they re-bloomed, and the rest is history.  I froze them tonight.

Tomorrow, we have several doctor’s appointments.  Before and after those, I have some tomatoes I need to deal with.  My sister sent a bunch home, and I have those I picked a couple of days ago.  I’m still not where I want to be with tomatoes, so I’m delighted to have them.  I don’t think I’ll grow the San Marzano Gigantic-a again, though.  They are late to ripen, and are cracking and molding easily with this little bit of rain we have had. Maybe they will taste so good it will be worth it, but I’m not sure.  I’ll decide next winter:). In the meanwhile, there are those, some Willamettes and some Glaciers still chugging along, and I’m getting a bowlful every few days.  When I add contributions from my aunt and sister, I think I’ll soon be where I want to be.  When you think that there are 52 weeks in a year, and I use tomatoes at least once a week in cooking, often more if you count salsa and other products I make, well, you see what is motivating me to keep scrounging them up!

Thriving in My Thrifty Week–September 2, 2018

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This is one of my favorite times of the year.  The canning cupboard is getting full, the garden is winding down but still producing, and the weather is cooling down.  There is still more preserving to do, but a lot has been accomplished.  It won’t be long until I turn my energy to other projects, like cleaning!  There are some areas in the house that have been neglected, for sure:)

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We spent a few deliciously cool days down at the beach, camping.  While we were there we went crabbing, clamming and fishing.  Since we already had our licenses, were able to camp for free using our park pass, and took our food with us, we spent very little extra money.  It was very restful, which is good, because we hit the ground running once we returned home.

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We purchased albacore tuna from off the docks and canned it once we got home.  We got 40 assorted jars, mostly 1/2 pints.  We caught both crab and clams.  I made clam chowder, ate crab, and froze the rest.  There is just a little bit of each in the freezer, and I need to use them quickly, as they don’ t last very long.

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Before we left, I picked peaches at my sister’s and she gave me some pears.  I put them in the drawers in the fridge, and they lasted just fine until I got home.

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I bought grapes for 99c/lb at the beach and brought them home, since they would have been off that great sale price once I got back.  Marachino cherries were purchased before we left, in a big container at Cash and Carry.  They are much more reasonable that way.   I was all set to make fruit cocktail once I got home.  I also made crushed tomatoes from the ones that had ripened while I was away.

Not long ago, my rickety pear tree in the back yard just fell over one Sunday afternoon.   I was able to pick a few now-ripened pears from it where it lay, and use them in the fruit cocktail.  I cut a bunch of branches off, and will put them in the weed bin once it has been emptied.  It is full now.  The tree is being removed little by little, and then Rob will chain-saw up the trunk for firewood. Ironically, we have not harvested good pears from that old tree until now:)

I also got one load of beef broth canned.  There were two packages of soup bones in the freezer that I wanted to put into a more usable form.  I still have some broth and all the bits of meat to deal with in the next couple of days.  In the next couple of months, our beef farmer will be calling to let us know that our 1/4 beef is ready.  We need to make room in the freezer for that over the next few weeks.

We watched several library movies and I read 2 books I had downloaded for free onto my Kindle before I left for camping.  Once home again, Rob took Jake to the library to pick up some books that were on hold and also took him to garage sales while I canned.  In the afternoon, since I was pretty tired from canning, I read several chapters to Jake of a much anticipated book, since it had arrived at the library!

Jake did not go camping this time, as his big sister took him to Disneyland.  Yes.  Really.  She did.  They had a blast and he arrived at my house yesterday looking like a character from Star Wars–a starfighter in full regalia.  He was so cute, but not in a mood for pictures, so I respected his decision, as hard as it was!

I grabbed a few more school supplies at rock-bottom prices, once I realized I needed a few more of certain items.

I did not have time to grocery shop on Friday, as I normally do, and I did not get time yesterday, either.  I will hang on to the weekly money for later in this week, or save it.  We have plenty to eat for now.

What did you do to save money this week?

 

Thriving in My Thrifty Week–August 19, 2018

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I was planning to take a nap this afternoon.  Instead, I canned Improved Elberta peaches.  They were picked only yesterday, but I checked on them after church out of habit, and was amazed that some of them needed to be processed!  I decided to do slices this year.  I still have some jars with halves left over, and slicing these will make people think they are getting something different:) :). I also froze a couple more trays of the Veteran peaches.

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I made a peach crisp with the blanched peaches that I did not need to fill my jars.

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I made chicken soup and broccoli cheddar soup this week.  We mainly ate soup this week, along with leftovers.  I cooked a chicken, too, and we filled in with hot dogs and sandwiches along with many garden vegetables.

I was very busy with food preservation and also spending time with a family member who was in the hospital.   Rob ended up doing most of the work hours this week, and Michaela’s dad took her to her events this week so us girls would be more available.  We all took turns going down there to spend time, and were delighted when the issue was resolved with a good outcome and the patient went home.   I will say the fact that the hospital was only about 10-15 minutes from my home helped a lot.  They sure treat people well there–one different thing from times past is that meals can be ordered at any time according to when the patient wants it.  The nurses were very attentive, so attentive in fact, that they did things like weigh the patient in the middle of the night, give a bath at 11 pm, and other crazy things!  Yikes.  Good thing they finally did what needed to be done and sent the patient home so they could actually get some rest!  Seriously, we are very thankful for the good care that was received.

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We did take Jake and Patsy down to the beach Wednesday afternoon, as had been promised before the other situation arose. I made it as easy on myself as possible as my week was so busy.  We took them to a place where a tiny river went into the sea so it was safe for them to play.   They dug in the sand for hours.   The “boy team” of sand castle builders made an amazing sandcastle.

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This was definitely the winner of the boys!

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Here is the winner of the girl team–a sand volcano.

The winner of the boys and the winner of the girls both got to go to Dairy Queen.  The fighting was pretty bad until they finally caught on that they BOTH were going to be the winners!  Silly kids.  I’m still laughing.  Rob and I grabbed a fresh shrimp cocktail from a seafood shop near Dairy Queen. It was so good!

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Because I was at the hospital during the morning before we went, I didn’t gather anything from home except the sand toys, books to read in the car and Rob grabbed extra Jake clothes.  Upon arriving at the beach town,  Jake and I ran into a little market and grabbed the cheapest loaf of bread they had for the sea gulls after he mentioned how much he was looking forward to feeding them.  He loved the store for whatever reason, and even told the cashier how much he loved the store.  She was surprised, but pleased at his fervent enthusiasm!  It might have been the fact that we bought Bugles and candy along with the bread….hmmmm…

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After about 3-1/2 hours of digging, I had a willing volunteer to wash off the sand toys.  We got him changed and went to another rest area, in search of a bathroom with soap in it.  He decided to wash out his cup at the second place in one of those outdoor foot washers, and soaked his pants again as he was standing in front of the faucet.  So, we got him changed yet again. Of course, there was the Dairy Queen visit, as well.  It was getting late, so we just took him home and kept him for the night as Rob needed to take him to the library summer reading party the next morning while I went down to the hospital some more.

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He loved the free party–his prize for all the reading we’ve done all summer.  He also received a free book.  Patsy helped Rob corral him.  It was super crowded again, and he had fun for a while before the crowds overwhelmed him.   Then they went home.

Rob and Patsy took off for a weekend away rock hunting, camping and fishing with one of Rob’s best friends.  I stayed home to get a few things done, mostly food preservation.  Now is the time of year to get that done.

My sister gave me peaches, corn, tomatoes and a handful of green beans from her garden and orchard.  I got several veggies from my garden, as well.  I used some apples from our tree to make 7 quarts of applesauce.  I love that I got free apples from my own backyard.  The tree did basically nothing last year, so I did not expect any this year, and it was a pleasant surprise.

I ordered 4 new shirts from Macy’s on super clearance.  They came yesterday and are exactly the same style I’ve had before, so I expect they will fit well.  I got free shipping on the order, due to a promotion they were having the day I ordered.  I simply have not had time to physically shop much lately, either for groceries or clothes or anything else, saving me quite a bit this past month.

In the past 5 weeks, I’ve spent about $150 on groceries.  $60 was spent today when I realized that I had no choice but to go shopping after church if I wanted Rob to feel welcomed home after his trip.  I could have him offered nothing but peaches and tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but we’ve stayed married for over 35 years for a reason:). I know better!  This next 4 weeks won’t be much worse, unless I go on a Costco run.  This is possible because the garden is producing so well, and I have a good stockpile.  I will need to restock sooner or later, though, but it’s been nice while I’m so busy to not have to shop.

Well, the weary campers have just walked in the door, so I’m going to hug them and go to bed!

 

 

Food Preservation Weekend –August 2018

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Rob and Patsy are away for the weekend, so I decided to have a food preservation weekend.  I know everyone has their own idea of fun.  This is mine.  This is the time of year when I want to fill jars and the freezers, and I get a lot of satisfaction from doing that.

I started out last night making enchilada sauce and applesauce.  I have been searching for a way to make home-canned enchilada sauce.  Occasionally, I buy a can.   It’s expensive and I only purchase it when I find a really good deal, but I love the convenience of just popping it open and making dinner in a hurry.  Otherwise, I make it from tomato juice, spices and a little cornstarch when I need it.  Last night, I used a recipe I found on the internet for a spice mix, and they essentially had me make crushed tomatoes and add the spices.  I know the recipe was safe to can, because I checked in my OSU extension canning books and followed the recipe for crushed tomatoes.  I’m excited to see how it tastes. I tasted it in the pot, and liked it, and am sure the flavors developed more during the canning process.  I’m going to open a jar very soon:)

A week or so ago, Rob and I picked all the apples that were growing on the branches of the apple tree overhanging the garden.  The apples were starting to fall, so we picked them, hoping they would be usable.  Rob made me promise that if they were too bad/wormy, I would let them go into the compost heap.  I started working with them last night.  They were wormy, but not too bad.  I carefully cut away the bad parts, and there was a lot of good apple left, so I made applesauce.  So far, I have canned 7 quarts and there are more left to work on.

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This morning, I started out going to my sister’s house and picking peaches, corn and tomatoes. Then I came home and picked what was ready in my garden, and got to work.  Instead of having a day where I processed large quantities of one thing, today I did small batches of many things.

I blanched and froze 2 pints of broccoli.  These are side shoots on the same broccoli plants that I planted last spring.  I have frozen very little this summer, so I”m glad to get these 2 packages.

The peaches in this picture are Veterans, a soft, sweet, juice peach.  I have 2 trays in the freezer right now, and a lot left to do over the next couple of days.  They will need to be processed quickly, as they won’t keep well.

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I brought home 3 bags of corn, and then picked the odds and ends from the first variety I grew in my garden.  The big, beautiful cobs are from my sister’s garden.  The little scrawny ones are what was left after we ate most of what was in my tiny patch, but there was enough to make them worth picking.

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I blanched the cobs in batches and then cooled them in a super-clean sink of cold water.  Then, I used the still-boiling blanching water to pour over the peaches I wanted to freeze so the skins would come off easily.

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I was very pleased to get 10 pint cartons for the freezer.

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I finished the day by making jalapeño dill pickles, and got a pint and a quart, which I canned for the prescribed 15 minutes.  It is so nice to have dill and peppers in the garden that I can grab quickly when I get a few ripe cucumbers.

I am now collapsed in a heap on the couch, resting.  I am pleased with my weekend’s production and am enthusiastic about doing more in the week ahead.

I picked 2 good-sized boxes and a bucket of Improved Elberta peaches to can when they get ripe in a couple of days.  I also picked a bucket of tomatoes to work on later in the week.  The apples need to be finished and the cucumbers will have more ripe ones in a couple of days. I will finish up freezing the Veterans, as well. This will be a very busy week for me!

 

 

 

Zucchini Dill Chips

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I made zucchini dill chips today with the 8 more zucchini I picked this morning.  I picked them very small, so that should take care of the problem for a few days:)

I checked out a book at the library Wednesday called “Pickled Pantry” by Andrea Chesman.  The recipe I used was on page 116.

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I put about 4-1/2 + cups of zucchini slices in my big measuring cup and salted them according to the directions.  I used 1 Tablespoon salt, since it was about a double batch.  I let it sit about 5 hours.  There was a lot of water in the bottom of the container, and I dried the zucchini off as instructed.

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Then, I packed the zucchini and other ingredients into the jars.  (dill seed, garlic, dill head) I used 1/2 pints.  I added red pepper flakes because we like things spicy–probably about 1/8 teaspoon per jar.  I left the 1/2 teaspoon of sugar out.  I’ve had sugar in my dills before and don’t care for it.  I also added mustard seed, as I like that in dills–about 1/8-1/4 teaspoon per jar.  Then, the vinegar and water and the pickle crisp.

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I canned them according to the directions, which was 10 minutes.

It clearly states that you can make any dill recipe with zucchini.  Next time, I am going to make up my regular recipe of brine, minus the salt because you sprinkle that on the zucchini at first.  It seems like it would be easier to me.

We opened a jar already, even though it said to wait weeks.  I wanted to make more if they were good, and never make them again if not……They are amazing.  Even on the same day.  There is little crunch, a nice dill flavor, some heat from the red peppers….I’m making more for sure!   I got 5 small jars today.  The recipe is set up for small batches, which worked well for me.

There are lots of other good-looking recipes in the cookbook.  I’m not sure if I will make more or not, but this one was a winner.

Cherries, Cherries, Cherries! July, 2018

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My sister has cherries, and I was invited over to pick what I wanted.  I went early in the morning yesterday, and had a good visit with her while we picked.

I was fortunate enough to find all 3 available kinds:  Ranier (light), Dark (like Bings or Lamberts), and pie cherries.  Then, I spent yesterday processing them.

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I canned 7 quarts, and 22 pints of sweet cherries.  Some jars were dark, some light, and some, like these, were mixed.  They were very ripe and sweet, so I used a 6:1 water/sugar ratio.  A little sugar helps them stay firm and fresh longer, but they sure didn’t need much.

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I made pie filling, and got 7-3 cup jars, and 7 pints.  That was a lot of work, because I had to pit all of those little cherries, but I’m super happy to have the pie filling.  I used the recipe here.

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I made cherry jam for the first time. I used a mixture of dark and light sweet cherries for that.  I used a low-sugar recipe.

With all these projects, I finished off the pie cherries and light cherries, except for a few I kept out for eating fresh.

I used some of the dark ones, but there are quite a few left in the camper fridge.  I plan to pit and freeze those today.

I’m very excited to have so many cherries.   I’m only guessing, but I think it was between 40 and 50 pounds combined. We have been completely out for a while, so this will fill things back up nicely.

 

 

Canning Green Beans and a Garden Update

This morning, I got up early and started picking beans.  I got SO many, just like I was hoping to.  At 9, my mom and aunt showed up to help, with Jake and Michaela in tow.  While out in the garden, I took the opportunity to pick a few cucumbers, snow peas, zucchini.  Things are coming along nicely.

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The bucket is full of beans, and the other veggies are just resting on top.  I had no time today for anything else, but tomorrow I’m going to see if there are enough cukes for a couple jars of pickles.

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My pollination issue has been resolved:)  There are probably about 15-20 zucchinis forming!

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These are Carmen peppers.  They are a sweet pepper, and are the first to turn red at my house.  I usually grow them from seed, and was delighted to find a few plants of that variety that I could buy.  They’re not ready yet, but are coming along.

Some of the seeds I planted for the late summer garden are up.  The bush peas are up, and the snow peas are just starting to poke up.  Beets are up like crazy, but the pole peas are nonexistent.  The seeds may have been too old.  I will plant a few more things after these beans are done and pulled out, like yet another row of lettuce.  The little cabbage plants are starting to take off.   Right now the garden is full.

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Before he left for camp, Rob set up this camp stove for me to use in the outside covered porch and got me a full tank of propane.  This house came with a flat-top stove, which is not recommended for canning on.  So, I’m learning to can a different way–outside, and with propane instead of electricity.  There was a lot of juggling things around, scurrying in and out of the house setting up things, and generally figuring out the new way of doing things.

My snapping crew kept snapping steadily while I washed jars, filled them, added 1/2 teaspoon salt, filled with water, put on lids and rings and began processing.  Then I put my mother on a chair in front of the canner to keep it at a steady 11 pounds of pressure.  She had to continually adjust the propane level to keep the pressure consistent for 25 minutes for quarts and 20 minutes for pints.  We always watch it the entire time.   It’s the safest way.

Michaela and Patsy helped snap and then Michaela helped Grandma by timing the length of time needed with her phone.

Aunt Janet kept snapping.  All morning long.  Jake asked to go to the Dollar Store to get the prize he had earned by doing his daily activities.  All morning long.

By lunch time, we had them all snapped and into jars.   By 1 o’clock, we had 2 loads cooked and cooling.  After a quick lunch, we all dispersed to our respective errands and I finished canning them when I got back.  From the Dollar Store.  (We also did a library activity, and some other things, so I didn’t actually finish until about 8:30 pm)

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At the end of the day, I have 21 quarts and 17 pints, all cooling on a table outside.  I’ll let them cool all night and wash and put them away tomorrow.  I am very pleased with the amount we got.  I could not have done it without all my helpers.  I’m so thankful for their help.  It was a long, satisfying day.

 

Home-Canned Beef Broth

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I had a large block of time on Thursday morning.  I decided to use it to deal with some packages of beef soup bones that have been in my freezer for a while.  Every fall, we get beef from a farmer friend of my sister.  Every year, there are packages of beef soup bones.  They were stacking up.  I am determined to make room in my freezers and use things that have been there for a while.

I got out 5 packages marked “soup bones.”  They had varying amounts of meat on them.  Some were quite meaty, some were more bony.  I got out my largest pot and one of my every-day large soup pots.  The large pot stays in the garage, and I only use it when I have a lot of something to preserve.  It makes my normal soup pot look like a dwarf pot:)

I then divided the bones, and filled both pots with water.  I added salt and boiled, then simmered the broth for about 3-4 hours.  A scum rose on top of the broth and bone mixture.  I skimmed it off and fed it to the cats.  In the meanwhile, I washed my jars.

I partially filled the empty jars with extremely hot water, to avoid breaking them.   You do not ever want to put hot liquid into a cold jar.  Then, I put the broth in the jars, put on the lids and screw tops, and put into my pressure canner.  I pressured-canned the broth for 20 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure, following the directions in my brochure from the OSU Extension office.  When done, according to directions, I cooled them on a towel on the counter.

My yield was 7 quarts, and 15 pints of broth.  I also got a large bowl full of beef chunks that I froze for future meals.  Now my freezer is a little emptier, and the broth is in a form where I can use it quickly and easily.