If You Can

I love canning. It is so satisfying to have a well-stocked pantry. Canned food is the original fast food, but so much better than takeout. I can have a meal on the table in twenty minutes by opening a jar of canned beans or canned beef stew and putting a pan of cornbread in the oven. It’s especially good if you add a quick salad or cottage cheese.

I can everything fresh I can get in season, tomatoes, corn, berries, and fresh fruit. My pantry shelves groan under pickles,jams, and jellies. When the summer growing season is over, I cook and can dry beans and soups. Home canned dry beans are delicious and much cheaper than bought canned beans from the store.

Canning soups is such a savings and convenience. I can homemade chili, home made beef stew, and bean soups. As I write this post, I am canning split pea soup. It will be delicious with hot cornbread on a cold day.

Two canners chugging along

When canning soup it is very important to remember you must not use flour, pasta, or dairy products in your soups. There is no way to effectively ensure you have killed botulism in these products so NO canning noodle, dumplings, or cream soups. I I have any doubts about a product, I consult the internet.

I Think I Can! I Think I Can!

imageSometimes I get obsessive about canning and filling my freezers.  I make a point to get to it the markdowns at the meat counter and in the produce department.  You get great deals that way.  The butcher was marking meat down as I was making my selection today.  I simply handed him my purchases and he checked the date and marked it right then.  If I had been five minutes earlier, I’d have paid thirty percent more.  It made my day.  I make sure to watch the dates in he freezer and can the meat up if it’s been there a few months.   I buy whole turkeys after the holidays, bake them, and can the turkey and broth.  I still have four quarts of canned turkey from Christmas.  It makes great soup, turkey salad, pot pies, and casseroles.

Yesterday I got twenty pounds of assorted apples off the markdown rack for six dollars. I canned seven quarts of apple pie filling, five pints of apples in light syrup and juice and five pints of apple jam from the peelings.  It’s incredible to think of all that produce for just six dollars.  I’d cooked two pounds of dried navy beans and pork the night before, so I canned four quarts of beans as long as I had the canners out.  I’d been wanting to can sausage gravy, so I made a batch and canned two quarts of that, as well.  It turned out great!  The main thing to remember when canning meat, is that it has to process at least ninety minutes at ten to fifteen pounds pressure to kill off microbes.  Vegetables and fruit take far less time, so they will fall apart if you process them with at the same time as meat.

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I have two of these pressures canners, so I can can fourteen quarts at once.  I have an smaller canner I can use for pints or smaller.  Should you stumble up on a used pressure canner, you can find replacement parts easily on line.  You can also find brand specific instructions and parts lists on line.

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Bud built shelves in the garage for storage.  I mark and date jars with Sharpy.

 

 

 

Early Thanksgiving

turkeyA week ago, I put four hundred twelve pounds of fresh beef in my freezer.  Two days ago we made sixteen pounds of homemade liverwurst and put it in the freezer.  Last week I froze quite a bit of fresh sweet corn.  In the midst of all this, I canned seven quarts of dried pinto beans and ham hocks.  Things were going so well, I was planned to start making a big batch of corned beef.  I was admiring the contents of my pantry when Bud came through saying, “What’s this big puddle of water coming from the freezer?”

We rushed out to inspect and found the packed freezer dead with the contents starting to thaw.  We shuffled the meat to my other freezer and ice chests.  Mean while, Bud starting investigating the freezer problem while I started canning and cooking.  By the end of the day, thank goodness, Bud had the freezer running again and I had canned all the thawed vegetables.  In addition to that, I had made pies  from my frozen pumpkin pie filling and frozen pie dough.  You might find a previous post on that subject.  https://nutsrok.wordpress.com/2015/08/20/fifty-two-pies-2/

At the end of the day, everything was saved, and we sat down to a turkey dinner with fresh pumpkin pie.  I am so grateful for the bounty and the freezer that kicked back off and saved us.

Poverty, One Thing Money Can’t Buy

Old Mother HubbardLearning to get by was the best thing that ever happened to me.  Growing up on a farm, the second of five children, I learned responsibility, despite my best efforts not to.  We were all needed, just to get back.  With stock to feed, hay to make, gardens to care for, there weren’t too many idle moments.  That was before helping Mother in the house, Continue reading

Fifty-Two Pies

I love a well-stocked pantry. It makes me feel good to can and freeze food so that I can pull out good, wholesome “fast food” to serve at a moment’s notice. My husband, Bud loves pie. One summer, we had a bumper crop of butternut squash, so I reasoned it would be a great idea to make some of these up into pies and freeze them. I rolled
enough piecrust to build a driveway, prepared large kettles of pie filling, and kept my oven going till I had fifty-two beautiful butternut pies ready for the freezer. My kitchen looked like a bomb had gone off, but I was proud of those pies as I wrapped them and stacked them in the freezer, anticipating the pleasure of pulling out a pie from time to time to enjoy after a good meal with family and friends, along with a good story.

It didn’t exactly work out as I planned. I hadn’t taken Bud’s love of pie into consideration but I did get a good story out of the deal. Bud was delighted with “his” pies. All the food at our house undergoes an immediate conversion the minute it is cooked and becomes “his” as in, “Is there any more of my apple pie?” or “Who ate the last piece of MY pie?” I wouldn’t dream of making a dessert to take to work without making an identical one for home. I don’t know if he would be more hurt if I “ran around” or “cooked around” on him. He still hasn’t forgiven me for giving away a strawberry-rhubarb pie over twenty years ago and still brings it up regularly.

Anyway, Bud and I had pie after dinner that night. It was delicious. He finished the pie off the next day after lunch. When he went to get “his” pie after dinner that night and found the pies all frozen, he was horrified. I explained to him, again, that I made them to freeze and serve over the next few months. Apparently, my first explanation had gone straight over his head, like so much of my mindless babbling. (We’ve been married fifty_two years. That’s how it works.) Frozen, in relationship to food he was planning to eat right then, is the F word at our house. We try to avoid it.

Heartbroken and betrayed, he self-righteously pulled a pie from freezer and left it on the counter to thaw overnight. He consoled himself with butternut squash pie for breakfast the next morning, adding it to his new breakfast menu. That was just the start. Unless there was another dessert on the menu, you can bet Bud had butternut squash pie, sequentially going through that mountain of pies in less than three months. When I had the satisfaction of eating the last, lonely piece of the final pie, Bud spoke what were very nearly his last words, “You ate my pie!”