Category Archives: Canning

Different kinds of food

When I am canning I always make three piles of food.

One for the pigs

One for the worms

And one for us

I enjoy feeding the pigs when we go out to Bramble Hollow farms. Saving two grocery bags of apple cores to take out there on a chicken day, is a fun way to get closer to our food. We have fun feeding them and they seem to like them. Win win

Apple butter 2012

Friday night we started with this…a bag of not so pretty apples from Ikenberry’s. Roughly 50 lbs of apples for 14 bucks, not bad.

I estimated 40 apples for each crockpot to make apple butter. Lots of this….

Thanks to my mother in law for letting me borrow her crockpot. aww aren’t they cute together.

And the reward, apple butter on toast!

Canning tomatoes

We got half a bushel of roma tomatoes from Good Food Good People on tuesday, they needed to ripen for a few days, so I let them sit until Saturday. (We only had 5 or 6 with bad spots) I started at 9 washing and sorting.

About 2 1/2 hours later we had 7 quarts for the pantry.

The pantry

Making pickles

We are lucky where we live to have a great farmer’s market and awesome vendors. One of the vendors is Good Food Good People. They bring in a variety of produce, meat, dairy and homemade items. They also have bulk produce order. These are the people who I got my giant bag of corn from and boxes of potatoes. I like that they encourage their customers to buy in bulk — they promote food saving and canning.

I preordered cucumbers for pick up today so I could make pickles. We got a 30 pound box along with 3 pounds from another stand. 33 pounds of cukes is over 100. I washed, trimmed and sliced 2/3 of the cucumbers.

I started around 4 and was done about 7. I ended up with 3 quarts of dill spears, 2 quarts of dill chips, 6 pints of spears, 2 hot spears, 3 half pints of chunks. We did some in the fridge to eat in a few weeks and processed most in the canner for consumption in a couple months.

I really enjoy canning, maybe not the last 15 minutes before you are done and just want it to be over, but taking the time to prepare this food, being aware of the seasons, planning for winter. It makes those last 15 minutes worth it.

This canning business is hard work

If you remember I got a pressure canner for christmas from my mom. She got us a really great canner, lots of positive reviews, my cousin Christene even has one. And yesterday I finally got to use it.

I have been reading that the corn early in the season is the best to can, so I pre ordered a “sack” of corn from a farm in Pilot, VA. I had to make Boomer go with me to the market to get it since I didn’t think I would be able to carry it all. It was about 50 lbs of corn.

The bag the corn came in was a 100 lb feed bag for a horse (reduce, reuse, recycle) and was about 3/4 full. Since Madigan and I would be home most of the day ourselves, we tackled shucking the corn while cartoons were still on.

For perspective, that is a LARGE beach towel. All the husks went into a large kitchen trash bag. (Yes it could have all gone to the worm but our bin is small.)

That’s 60 ears of corn. We kept back 10 ears to eat this next week…but I thinkk after spending so much time with corn, I might share them with folks at work.

I took a break to freak out and start whipping up food. We had a wind storm on Friday night that downed a lot of trees, one being at my in-laws house. Lots of people without power, so I do what I can do, which is food. It turns out that everything was okay-ish and we weren’t needed, so back to processing corn.

Cutting the kernels off the cob raw was hard, and I am sore today. My hands got all tingley at one point, so I think I finally know what people are talking about with carpul tunnel. I think the suggestion of using an electric knife is brilliant. I think I would get one if I saw it at a yard sale or thrift store.


It took a long time to get to this spot. 17 pints in the pressure canner. It took a long time to get the canner up to 10 lbs of pressure. Since it was my first time I think I was a little passive on temps. Being a little more cautious what with the exploding canners from the 60s.

It worked…I think. The cans all popped. The seals look sealed. I would like to say that when they put something in the recipe like loose pack and generous 1 inch, take it seriously. I see that the corn expanded, and could have used a little more water. I will chalk this up to live and learn.

Would I do it again, yes…would I do it tomorrow, no. I think saving corn would be a couple times a season. And when it comes to the corn later in the season they say that is better to freeze due to the sugar content. Now to find myself an electric knife.

Canning

Here’s my issue with canning, I don’t have the right equipment to do it well/easily. But it’s hard to pass up the glut of apples that are in season right now. It’s hard to say, oh it’s too much work and if I only had this or that, It would be easier. So I decided to suck it up, and can some applesauce this weekend.

At Ikenberry’s I got a bag of apples, the seconds or the ones that were culled from the good bin. They call them deer apples or horse apples. I thought that meant you feed them to animals, but it’s the cast offs that won’t sell. But are perfectly good for canning and pies. It was 40 or 50 pounds of apples.

Those apples in small groups of 15 turned into this.

Then this mush goes into a ricer. I got the most affordable one that allowed me to do small batches. It’s not the best or easiest but it works. And since I can only do three cans at a time, and only a certain number of large pans, it worked out.

We ended up with this…23 jars of local homemade applesauce.

First day of fall and we are not ready for winter.

I mean, our pantry/freezer isn’t ready for winter. I have 12 jars of canned peaches, 6 salsa, 13 of the sweet pepper and onion relish (they are small jars) and 9 canned tomatoes, some frozen corn and beans. It will not get us to spring.

I don’t have a root cellar, so I can’t store the root veggies. The farmer’s market goes thru November here, then there is a winter market on Tuesday’s that I might be able to talk Boomer into going to and picking up something local. I feel a bit frantic and nutty.

We haven’t bought meat from the grocery store since May. I shop at Kroger only when I need something I can’t get elsewhere. The produce stand down the street brings food in from NC and GA, not local, but at least it is something. I don’t know how to stock up on vegetables. Since my canning can only be high acidic items, I am limited. I want to do apple sauce but there is another gadget that needs to be purchased. If we were in Spokane I would head over to the White Elephant and pick up everything I need including a toy for Madigan, but I don’t have that here. I don’t know where to go locally to get canning supplies. People tell me this store called Wal-Mart has everything, but you know how I feel about that Corporation.

When I hear myself whining about all of this, I do point out that my/our problems are really not problems, they are inconvenient. If there were no other options, and my choice was to starve to death or shop at Wal-Mart I would walk right in and buy what I needed, but thankfully we have better choices, we have the luxury to have the kinds of problems we do. We aren’t wringing our hands over how we are going to keep the lights on or how to pay a doctor’s bill. We are fortunate to have kinds of problems we have. It does sound very trivial in the grand scheme of unemployment, low wages, high costs of healthcare, abuse, hate, war– you know real problems.

With that said, we are not ready for winter.

Canning

Here are my thoughts about canning.

1) It is time consuming. Make sure you have dinner plans already in place. Last night I thought I would just can the peaches and then get dinner made. Problem is canning (for me) takes up all 4 burners. So after canning 3 pints of peaches at a time, once the last three were pulled out of the water bath, it was 8:30. If Boomer wasn’t a celiac it would have been a pizza night, but we headed over to Panera minutes before they closed.

2) I need better shoes. The longer I spend on my feet in the kitchen the more I wear my shoes in the house. I can’t stand for two and three hours in the kitchen cutting, chopping, stirring, baking, mixing without my feet hurting.

3) Make sure the under 10 crowd has something to do. Even if they are excited to help, it is a long process-A.LONG.PROCESS.

4) Have more jars, lids and rings ready to go than you think you will need.

5) Plan how long you think it’s going to take, then make sure you have an extra hour, just in case.

6) (This probably isn’t a problem for anyone else) Start with a clean sink, empty dishwasher and clear counters. You need space. You need to wash your hands, you need to have room for all your accessories, you just need room to work.

7) Home canning is not mass production. Each batch could look, taste and feel different. And it’s not going to look and feel like store bought. And that’s not a bad thing.

8 ) I am still worried that I messed something up and that somehow something I canned could make my family sick. I am gonna have to just get over that. I read and reread the directions. I am canning high acid fruit.

First attempt at canning

When I went out to Ikenberry’s they had a box of canning peaches for 10 bucks. The gal said it was almost a bushel. A regular bushel is about 30 bucks. These have some blemishes, misshapen or were over ripe.

Boil for a min, blanch, peel, pit and cut up.

We can only do three at a time.

Action shot

And from 9 peaches we got 4 cans to eat later.

My last thought before I went to bed last night, how do you get the lids off those jars?

starting small

I don’t like to go all in when it comes to hobbies or new interests. Here in the beginning of August canning seems like a great idea. Access to lots of veggies and fruit, but that may end sooner rather than later. I can see me working hard to get peaches, corn, salsa, tomatoes, put up. Then there will be apples, but then what?