Preserving the Harvest - Page 11 - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-05-2008, 03:47 PM
 
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Hey everyone. This is my first year canning also. I've just started with jams and experimented with pickles. No vegetables yet. Does anyone have tips or stories to share? Any recipes? In particular, low sugar?

I've been using only a boiling water bath for canning. No pressure cooker yet.

There are a couple of reasons I got into it-homemade food is much tastier than some of the stuff you get at the grocery store. It may take some time, but does save some money. Also, YOU have control of the process of making the food. You know where the ingredients came from, you know how it is made, etc.

Anyway, looking forward to any discussion on the topic!
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Old 08-05-2008, 05:10 PM
 
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Pomona's Universal Pectin is great for low sugar recipes. I've done strawberry, blueberry, and cherry jam with it and they all turned out :.

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Old 08-05-2008, 07:08 PM
 
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I am thinking about trying the car method of dehydrating some strawberries. How long do the strawberries keep once they are dehydrated? Is there a website that shows how good canned and dried foods are good for? We don't really have any spare freezer space so I don't know how much we could freeze but we have plenty of places to store things that don't require refridgeration or freezing.
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Old 08-05-2008, 07:21 PM
 
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I think it depends on what you want to dry them for. The Blue Book says to cut in 1/2 inch slices and dry at 130-135 F "until pliable almost to crisp." It also says strawberries do not rehydrate well.

It says most dehydrated foods can be stored for 6 months to a year (under ideal conditions of humidity, dark, temperature, etc).

At the moment I have zucchini in the dehydrator, and the Blue Book says (the Blue Book says, the Blue Book says...) to let it get completely brittle. I'm going to use this in pasta sauces. I'm hoping I get enough eggplants to dry too, because dried eggplant in pasta sauce, on a cold winter day, is divine.

Something I am really looking forward to as I get into planning to make and can more of our food at home- less waste, fewer trips to the transfer station with recyclables! We use a lot of canned beans and canned refried beans from the store- not only is that getting expensive, but it creates a lot of garbage I have to deal with (no curbside) when I could invest in a jar for the price of the food in the store.

Speaking of which, does anyone can refried beans successfully? I know you can't can pumpkin puree, as we discussed above, but are pureed beans ok? I found directions and a recipe in Backwoods Country Home, and I assumed they'd know.

I also ordered a bread machine today- the price of bread in the store is starting to horrify me (and that's the cheap bread I was too snooty to buy two years ago!), and trips to the store are getting aggravating when I have a preschooler and a teen who can easily eat a loaf of bread a day between them. Anyone here grinding their own flour?
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Old 08-06-2008, 06:17 PM
 
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I just had to share something cool with you guys! I teach an occasional horticulture class at the local community college, and I was told yesterday that they're considering adding a produce preservation class that I might be able to teach! The program director was just thinking canning at first, but when I told him that I could teach canning, dehydrating, freezing, root cellaring, etc., he seemed interested. It's nowhere near a done deal--college budgets and politics and all that--but I'm so excited about the possibility! :


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Speaking of which, does anyone can refried beans successfully? I know you can't can pumpkin puree, as we discussed above, but are pureed beans ok? I found directions and a recipe in Backwoods Country Home, and I assumed they'd know.
I've never done it, but Jackie Clay is my hero! If she said to can mud, I would. I find a lot of the politics and social commentary in the magazine offensive, but Jackie's columns are unbeatable.

I wonder if Jackie cans pumpkin puree...
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Old 08-06-2008, 06:57 PM
 
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I find a lot of the politics and social commentary in the magazine offensive, but Jackie's columns are unbeatable.

I wonder if Jackie cans pumpkin puree...
Ok, I'm glad it's not just me. I love the practical things in the zine but as you say, some of the more inflammatory remarks are not even offensive- they're just bewilderingly wrong. I mean, no matter what side of an issue you're on!

Well, now we have a question to Ask Jackie!

Congrats on the class possibility- as BWH points out, more and more people are going to be realizing they don't have some basic survival skills!
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Old 08-06-2008, 06:59 PM
 
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I just had to share something cool with you guys! I teach an occasional horticulture class at the local community college, and I was told yesterday that they're considering adding a produce preservation class that I might be able to teach! The program director was just thinking canning at first, but when I told him that I could teach canning, dehydrating, freezing, root cellaring, etc., he seemed interested. It's nowhere near a done deal--college budgets and politics and all that--but I'm so excited about the possibility! :

This is so wonderful! I would love to take a class like this. Congratulations....:


So, I had a thought, I was wondering if instead of using a can grabber (yes I do believe that is the technical name) could I use a huge pot that has a steamer that sits in it and then just pull them all out by lifting the strainer?

Oh, and the other question I had was; to you need a certain kind of cucumber to make pickles? I planted way too many cucumbers and if all goes the way it looks we'll probably have about thirty cucumbers. They are just regular cucumbers.
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Old 08-07-2008, 12:28 PM
 
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Blooming, my Mom had a can grabber but I've just used pot holders.

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Old 08-07-2008, 05:10 PM
 
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Blooming ~ Just make sure you pick the pickles when they're nice and small. Can't fit a baseball bat into a jar, you know? Wide-mouth jars for pickles are a bonus too, at least for me.


Apparently I had a small incident last night in my canning madness. First, I managed to heat the house up nice and good between my 6 batches of canning. It "cooled" off to like 70* last night. Oops.

Anyway, seems one of my quarts of green beans was in a bad jar. Again, oops. I feel like I should cry, but I'm so tired and worn out between the canning and the kids that I'm more "eh." It was only my first few picking sprees before the beans really truly drive me nuts anyway. So I got to spend some quality time with my giant pressure canner in the sink cleaning it out. And no, I hadn't a clue what had happened until I opened the lid this morning (I let it cool down overnight). May I say, my pressure canner rocks.

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Old 08-07-2008, 05:14 PM
 
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Thanks Imoter! :

I'll make sure to do that after I get a few good sized cucumbers for salads.
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Old 08-08-2008, 04:46 PM
 
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Does anyone know how long I should process 12 oz jars of jam? I'm using Pomona's to make strawberry jam and the 8 oz jars last about a day for my kids (my 14 month old will eat jam plain -- he will lick the jam off crackers and then toss the cracker to the dog!) and I'd like to make some 12 oz jars, but want to make sure I do it right. I have been doing about 6 minutes processing (we are at about 1000 feet) and then 5 minutes off heat before removing the 8 oz jars.

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Old 08-08-2008, 08:24 PM
 
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I'd just go with what the recipe says for pints. Better to err on the side of caution, IMO. But if you're only boiling for 6 minutes for the 8 ouncers, make sure your jars are fully sterilized and all that jazz...



So my excitement?
I lost a quart of green beans.
In the pressure canner.
Like the bottom just separated from the body of the jar.

So when that happens is that when pressure canners of old blew up? Because I didn't know anything was amiss until I opened up the canner the next morning after it cooled off all night. Everything else is intact, although the inside of my canner now has a greenish tinge to it (but I washed it out with soapy water and everything).

So if that's the worst that can happen, I my canner even more.

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Old 08-08-2008, 08:35 PM
 
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I'd just go with what the recipe says for pints. Better to err on the side of caution, IMO. But if you're only boiling for 6 minutes for the 8 ouncers, make sure your jars are fully sterilized and all that jazz...



So my excitement?
I lost a quart of green beans.
In the pressure canner.
Like the bottom just separated from the body of the jar.

So when that happens is that when pressure canners of old blew up? Because I didn't know anything was amiss until I opened up the canner the next morning after it cooled off all night. Everything else is intact, although the inside of my canner now has a greenish tinge to it (but I washed it out with soapy water and everything).

So if that's the worst that can happen, I my canner even more.
LMonter, just wanted to say I love your blog! I wanted to comment but didn't want to join. Quick question-- what is IQF? I get that it's some kind of freezing probably?

Edit: nevermind, figured it out with my amazing deductive powers!

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Old 08-08-2008, 08:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by WeasleyMum View Post
LMonter, just wanted to say I love your blog! I wanted to comment but didn't want to join. Quick question-- what is IQF? I get that it's some kind of freezing probably?

Edit: nevermind, figured it out with my amazing deductive powers!
Teehee... yeah, individually quick frozen. Like those bags of frozen chicken breasts you get a the store? That aren't frozen into a giant block... I don't think I have it set up so you have to have a xanga acct to comment... I think Cathy even comments that way (her blog's elsewhere)... but since I don't ever log out and am always on it as me, I couldn't tell you for sure...

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Old 08-08-2008, 10:22 PM
 
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Photos are up! If you have dial up, it may be best to avoid my blog. I'm a big fan of the "picture's worth a thousand words" mantra.

24 pints of strawberry lemonade concentrate.
4 quarts of green beans (plus the one I lost)
Fair amount of chicken stock - I don't count anymore, just stuff 'em in the canner.
Finally washed and put away my 5 pints of strawberry pie filling.

Now I need to find a home for some of the older chicken stock, the peach pie filling that I'm never going to use, and figure out how to use the canned cherries from last year. Oh, and the apricot preserves. Just trying to get my bearings on what we'll actually eat, and free up the jars for something else.

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Old 08-09-2008, 03:49 AM
 
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I have a new pressure canner. I canned some green beans last week, and tonight decided to can some leftover vegetable soup.

The pressure regulator was gently hissing most of the time, and it appears some soup escaped the jars. I am paranoid since I took Microbiology last semester, and will probably just refrigerate and eat the soup, but I am wondering if any of that is normal or a problem.
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Old 08-09-2008, 11:22 AM
 
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I made 8 litres of applesauce to freeze yesterday. I also started dehydrating peaches. So far I have almost a litre dried. I have some peach slices frozen for smoothies. Next up is canning peaches. I'd like to try using a syrup sweetened with honey instead of sugar. Any tips? I read to use 3 T honey, 2 t. lemon juice, and boiling water to make a cup worth of syrup.

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Old 08-09-2008, 02:17 PM
 
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This week we're freezing more peaches too.

Picked ten pounds of berries from our very local blueberry farm. The whole time my little one kept putting them in our wicker basket and saying "kerplunk, kerplunk" (From Blueberries for Sal). We'll have to read it at nap time today.

I'm hoping ten pounds is enough to freeze, make a patch of jam, and dehydrate. We'll see, this is all new to me.

Today's harvest:
http://i77.photobucket.com/albums/j6...lueberries.jpg
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Old 08-09-2008, 02:20 PM
 
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I'd just go with what the recipe says for pints. Better to err on the side of caution, IMO. But if you're only boiling for 6 minutes for the 8 ouncers, make sure your jars are fully sterilized and all that jazz...
The recipe doesn't have anything for pints, just the 8 ouncers. Am I better off doing even the 8 ouncers for 10 minutes and then having them sit for the 5? I'd definitely rather err on the side of caution. Is there a general rule for the amount of time for pints vs half pints? Is it double or is there a ratio?

Thanks for your help:!

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Old 08-10-2008, 08:12 PM
 
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So when that happens is that when pressure canners of old blew up?
The stories our family tells involve lids blowing off canners and hitting the ceiling, and jars exploding while being taken out of the canner. I think canners have been redesigned with safety features to prevent the former, and the latter can be avoided by waiting long enough for the jars to cool a bit and de-pressurize.
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Old 08-10-2008, 08:30 PM
 
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Teehee... yeah, individually quick frozen. Like those bags of frozen chicken breasts you get a the store? That aren't frozen into a giant block... I don't think I have it set up so you have to have a xanga acct to comment... I think Cathy even comments that way (her blog's elsewhere)... but since I don't ever log out and am always on it as me, I couldn't tell you for sure...
Yeah, I just signed up and didn't go any further just so I could use the comment featured and get a notice every time Lanna blogs.

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Old 08-10-2008, 08:34 PM
 
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Oh, and what are the best apples to use for applesauce or what do you prefer to use? I'm going to go apple picking with my friend in the next month. So excited! My ds loves applesauce and it is so expensive. Hoping to find a u-pick. The kids will love it.

If you could tell me the book with your favorite applesauce recipe that would be awesome!

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Old 08-10-2008, 09:10 PM
 
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For applesauce, I like an old fashion type called a snow apple they can be hard to find though because they don't keep well on the shelf. We had a snow apple tree when I was a kid. Made the sweetest applesauce We never added sugar.

I'm getting really excited to start putting food up. I didn't do much last season because I was pregnant and tired all the time. I really missed digging in the pantry and freezer come Jan! I usually do tomatoes, salsa, beans, peaches, chutneys, pumpkin, dried apple rings and creamed corn. I'm thinking of doing some apple pie filling this year.
I'm drying my herbs for the first time right now. I'm just hanging them to dry. I'm hoping they dry well.

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Old 08-10-2008, 09:41 PM
 
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I am thinking about trying the car method of dehydrating some strawberries. How long do the strawberries keep once they are dehydrated? Is there a website that shows how good canned and dried foods are good for? We don't really have any spare freezer space so I don't know how much we could freeze but we have plenty of places to store things that don't require refridgeration or freezing.
Tell me about this car method! I want to try that!

I combed the rest of the thread to see if there was any other posts about it, and I just didn't spot any.

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Old 08-10-2008, 10:25 PM
 
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So my excitement?
I lost a quart of green beans.
In the pressure canner.
Like the bottom just separated from the body of the jar.

So when that happens is that when pressure canners of old blew up? Because I didn't know anything was amiss until I opened up the canner the next morning after it cooled off all night. Everything else is intact, although the inside of my canner now has a greenish tinge to it (but I washed it out with soapy water and everything).
I don't know about pressure canners, but this can happen in water baths too. I've had it happen once or twice but thankfully the jars were just sterilizing.
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Old 08-11-2008, 12:00 AM
 
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Were those jars older? Sometimes they'll break if they're old and have been processed a million times. I'm wondering what will happen to some of my jars when I use the pressure canner. Most of them are 50+ years old.
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Old 08-11-2008, 03:53 AM
 
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Jennisee ~ Yeah, my jar just kinda slid apart. And I adore the heavy duty lid on my pressure canner - it's heavy, metal, and has these clamps that go under the wing supports so it'd probably take a volcano eruption (I live between St. Helens and Yellowstone - that's my natural disaster look out) to make the lid blow.

Cathy ~ I just grab whatever apples I can. Did Gravenstein, Gala, MacIntosh, Fuji, and a few random assortments last year. My grandma used to use Gravenstein, King, and Pierce for her applesasuce, hence why I was on the Gravenstein hunt last year. Only to find out they don't taste the same because my climate's drier and colder than hers was. Wouldn't recommend Fuji - even with sugar and nutmeg and cinnamon it was still a bit bland. One of my favorite fresh eating apples as of late is Honey Crisp, so I may try to get my hands on some to try saucing this year. As for a recipe... I started off with Ball's recipe, but after the first few times you do it, it's pretty simple. I just added sugar a cup or half cup at a time, added some spices, and tasted. Kept adding until it tasted how I liked, then jarred it up.

Carrie ~ Yeah, I lost a pint of apricots and a quart of cherries last year in the water bath. Sucked.

Mama Poot ~ I honestly don't know if my jars that have broken were old or new. I've got a bunch that are a combo of ones I've bought new, bought off craigslist, and gotten off freecycle. I didn't mark 'em when I got them, so I can't tell the difference.

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Old 08-11-2008, 09:54 AM
 
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I dunno about pressure canners, but we had a pressure cooker blow when I was a kid. My parents were making pea soup. I was playing on my bouncy pony in the kitchen and kept saying "is that going to blow up?" until my parents yelled at me to leave them alone already. There was this HUGE bang, the lid flew straight up to the ceiling and pea soup was everywhere. I mean everywhere. The pot stayed put though. Scared the pants off me and to this day that chugging pressure cooker sound freaks me out.

I had a jar of pear honey break on me after I took it out of the canner one year. What a mess. I guess a cool(er) breeze touched it or there was a tiny flaw in the jar or something. Anyhow, it just cracked right in half, pretty neatly. Not like the glass baking dish I put on the cold counter top right out of the oven. That exploded :

Applesauce; I just cook the apples, use my wand blender to make it the right consistency, add sweetener as needed and then put some lemon juice in each jar (whatever the amount is... I forget. A teaspoon per quart maybe?). Easy peasy

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Old 08-11-2008, 11:19 AM
 
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Just wanted to say that I recently read a cup of maple syrup makes very yummy applesauce.
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Old 08-11-2008, 04:12 PM
 
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Ok, I haven't canned anything in a few weeks, and I'm really itching to. I've grown up believing that I have to finish all my "chores" before I do anything "fun," and because I enjoy canning so much, I keep putting it off while I do stuff like laundry and picking up toys. Plus, I have a mental block to cooking in a messy kitchen, so I always feel like I need to clean the kitchen before I get started. I need to just bite the bullet this week and start canning. I have two big boxes of apples on the counter, and I'd like to make applesauce and apple pie filling.

In other news, if anyone likes potato salad but hates the prep work, my friend just discovered that home-canned Yukon Gold potatoes are the perfect texture for making potato salad. She just opens the jar, drains them, and adds the dressing and any extras like eggs. I'm so excited to can some now!

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I guess a cool(er) breeze touched it or there was a tiny flaw in the jar or something.
Oh, good reminder! When I'm taking the jars out of the canner, I turn the ceiling fan off and close the kitchen window. Or if the A/C is on, I wait until it turns off to take the jars out.
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