Canning Apple Sauce: Step-by-step instructions to can apple sauce, Applesauce Pancakes


As I mentioned the other day, I’ll be doing a series of posts on how-to freeze and can your garden fresh produce. I’ll provide you with step-by-step instructions on canning many things over the next couple months. This is a busy time for me and I thought it would be great fun to show you the process by which I feed my family. I hope you’ll learn something that will last a life time while encouraging you to step out and try new things.  I want to inspire those who are seeking knowledge in this area to see just how easy it can be. I want nothing more than to know you are learning a skill that will help you feed your family.  All I ask is that you teach someone else… especially your children or grand-children. Don’t let this art be lost over another generation.

Early apples have arrived and many other varities are soon on the way! I thought it’d be timely to show you how easy it is to make and can apple sauce so you can have this wonderful staple on hand all winter long.

Here are step-by-step instructions as well as the supplies you’ll need!

Supplies you’ll need to get started.
*Victorio Strainer **see note at end of blog for info on this machine
*Large dish pans/ tubs/ bowls/ kettles
*Clean Jar’s, lids and rings- not necessarily new
*Jar filler and lifter
*Towels, hot pads or/and cooling racks, several
*Ladle or small pot with handle
*Wet and dry dish rag
*Water bath canner or pressure canner- you can use a pressure canner to water bath, just don’t seal the lid

Step-by-step instructions:

1. Have all jars you’ll need ready to be filled along with lids and rings for the jars. Be sure to wash jars in hot, soapy water.  Be sure to check all jars for any fractures or cracks and chips off the rim. Discard if you find any. Be sure if you are re-using lids that there are no rust spots on the inside, the rubber seal is still attached to the metal and that it is not bent inward at all, if any of these symptoms appear, discard.


2. Wash all the apples; sort any yucky ones and discard.

3. Quarter the apples; cut the stem and blossom end off along with any bad spots. Don’t worry about skins or seeds, the strainer deals with that.


4. Put about 2 inches of water in the bottom of your kettle; fill kettle with quartered apples right to the top; cover with tight fitting lid; cook on medium heat until the apples are soft. Stir occasionally, watching that the apples do not stick and scorch.


When apples are soft and have cooked down about a third, remove from heat. Time will depend on size and quantity of apples.


While the apples are cooking, set up your Victoria Strainer at a table where you plan to work. I recommend a kitchen or dining room table with plenty of room.  This will be your work station.


5. Have your Victorio Strainer set up along with jars, rings, lids, jar filler, ladle or small pot and cooling rack, towel and  dry and wet dish rags ready in your work station. Place hot pot of apples on cooling rack or hot pad.  Have a bowl on the floor under the handle for drippings, a pan to catch the sauce as it comes out and a bowl to catch the skins and seeds that come out the slop shoot.

Have jars ready and set up on a towel on the table. Do not leave them on your counter or table because the jars could crack.


6. Carefully fill the hopper off the strainer and start pouncing down while cranking.



7.Place the jar filler in your first jar and start filling; leave about an inch head space in each jar.

8 Once all the jars are filled, wipe each rim to be sure there is no sauce on it. If there is, the jar will not seal- new lid or not.  Once all the rims are cleaned, place lid on and secure with ring tightly.

9. Place in water bath canner or pressure canner and process quarts for 30 minutes and pints for 20.  Place on a cooling rack or towels on your counter for up to 24 hours to ensure the jars have sealed. Remove the rings and put your yummy jars on your beautiful canning shelves.


10. If any of your jars did not seal, either store in fridge for up to a week or place in freezer. You can also try to change the lid and re-can. That’s one beautiful thing with sauces, you can’t over process!


If you don’t have a Victorio Strainer but would like to look into getting one, here is the direct link to the company. I have had mine for over 12 years and I use it very hard. I suggest you ‘shop’ around, but at least you can look at the product and get a good idea.

Apple sauce goes a long way and has many uses other than simply enjoying it as a yummy fruit dish with a meal.

Apple Sauce Pancakes

2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp. salad oil
2 cups flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup applesauce

In a bowl, beat eggs, then add remaining ingredients, except applesauce. Beat until smooth, then add applesauce.
Yields about 16 pancakes.

Happy Day,

Freezing peaches: Step-by-step instructions, recipe for freezing peaches


Hello all…new post at The Detroit News, The Good Life… check out my article on how-to freeze peaches!

Follow this link to read all about it…see you there!

Happy day,

Canning Beets: Step by step instructions on how to can your beets, recipes too!

Many things are flowing in from our garden’s right now and beets are one of them. I’ve been getting so many requests for tips and lessons on canning, so I thought I’d share a step-by-step photo demonstration on beets today.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting article’s like this one to help you along in your canning endeavors!

If you’d like to see lots more canning tips and photo’s along with great daily posts, stop on by For Dragonflies And Me Facebook page… you can “LIKE” it from right here or click this link and go right on over to it!


So here we go!

Step 1: After you’ve harvested your beets, trim the greens off (SEE RECIPE below to use the greens), leaving about an inch of the stem end on. DO NOT cut into the beet. Do NOT peel the beets. Leave the root on; wash your beets.


Step 2: Put your cleaned beets into a large kettle, leaving about 3″ empty to allow for boiling. Cover with water. Bring to a rolling boil on high heat, then reduce heat to medium to maintain boil. Boil until the beets are soft enough that you can insert a knife all the way through.
HOW LONG TO BOIL: golf ball size beets, about 20-30 minutes; tennis ball size, about 40-50 minutes; baseball to softball size beets, about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.


Step 3: Once your beets are soft, drain the water carefully. Place the beets in a sink of cold water and let cool to where you can handle them. You may have to drain and refill your cold water sink. Once the beets are cool enough to handle, cut the root and stem end off.


Step 4: You will then ‘slip’ the skins off the beets. They will literally just slide off with no effort. Run under cold water if they get hot to handle again.


Step 5: Once all your beets are peeled, chunk them. About 1 1/2 inches by 1 1/2 or so. Do not dice.


Step 6: Fill your washed jars with the chunked beets about 1 1/2 inches from rim- to the shoulder of the jar. Put 1 tsp. salt for quarts and 1/2 tsp. for pints. Fill jars with water, leaving about an 1″ empty. Put your lids and rings on.

Step 7: Process in a pressure canner: Quarts for 40 minutes and pints for 30 minutes.

Step 8: Leave on counter for up to 24 hours to ensure a good seal.


Now how about a couple yummy recipes to use your beets in along with those leaves? Enjoy friends

Poached Beets

3/4 c apple juice
1/2 c water
1 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 1/2 to 3 cups canned beets
Salt & pepper
1 Tbsp. snipped fresh parsley

1. In a large saucepan combine 1/2 c of the apple juice, the water, and  brown sugar.  Bring to boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Add beets.   Return to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, about 45 minutes or  until beets are tender & can be pierced with a fork, stirring  occasionally.  Drain. 2. Transfer beets to serving bowl.  Sprinkle remaining juice over  beets.  Season to taste with salt & pepper.  If desired, drizzle  with honey.

Swiss Chard, Spinach or Beet Greens. Combine all if you want to!

15-20 leaves
1/4 c Olive Oil
2 or 3 eggs
1/2 c shredded cheese– your choice
Salt to taste

1. Wash leaves, cut out white or colored midrib. 2. Tear leaves into bite size pieces 3. Stir fry leaves in hot oil till evenly coated and wilted– sprinkle w/ salt. 4. Place leaves in baking dish– pour beaten eggs to cover– sprinkle cheese over top. 5. Bake @ 350 until eggs are set and cheese melted- Appox. 20-30 mins.

Happy Day,

Freezing Vegetables: A simple guide to freezing your gardens bounty

It’s August and the garden is overflowing with her beautiful gifts of that earthy goodness… fruits and veggies are abounding into our outstretched hands as if to say, “Thank-you!” for the tender care we provided from seedtime through the harvest.


The watering and weeding… mulching and now tenderly picking it’s gift telling them in their plant language to keep on going, just a little bit longer. Until we finally say, “All done!” and with broken heart of yet another completed life cycle we pull out that tired and faithful friend. But it’s not done there… now it’ll be composted and then in newness of life return into the soil into which it came next spring… once again aiding us into the new birth of yet another gardening season.


I love to write about gardening… it’s a passion that my soul hungers and thirsts after.  But more importantly, I love to teach you, my reader friends about this passion. I long to stir up a desire in you. To create that longing. A burning desire to touch the soil. To dig. To toil. To reap.

What we sow we will reap… if, if, and only if we toiled for it. The reaping is at hand and the bounty is in. My can shelves and freezers are filling up and time is ticking. They’re lives are coming to the end…. and my dear little plants know it.

The nights have been strangely cold for what we would expect from our Michigan August. Sunday morning at 6:30am it was 49 degrees… that’s cold… too cold for tomatoes to ripen, even in the hoop house.


But onward we go with what we have and so we must put-up all that garden goodness.  With it we can continue to linger in the garden through winters dead days, if only in a faded memory, as we prepare our meals and relish in that victory of self-sufficiency.

Canning, freezing, dehydrating, dry-curing and fermentation are a few of the methods to store the food that we have grown and raised.  I thought I’d touch base on the two that I have the most experience with, freezing and canning.

Today lets look at freezing fruits and veggies. Learning to put-up the produce that you have grown or have purchased is a key ingredient into self sufficiency and food freedom.  You know what you’re putting into that jar or baggie… you are in control, especially if you grew it. But even if you didn’t, get to know a farmer that you can trust and get organic produce that you can feel safe and good about feeding your family.

Here’s a Guide to Freezing Fruit.
I found this guide at Mother Earth News… and thought, “Why try to re-invent the wheel?” So here is their info with a link to more below.

“Depending on how you intend to use it, there are three ways to freeze fruit.”


Dry Pack: A dry pack is good for small whole fruits such as berries. Simply pack clean, dried fruit into a container, seal, label and freeze. A tray pack is an alternative that can make fruit easier to remove from the container. Spread a single layer of fruit on shallow trays without letting pieces touch, and freeze. When frozen, package and return to the freezer—fruit pieces remain loose and can be poured from the container easily.


Sugar Pack: Many fruits freeze well packed with sugar. To prevent darkening, first combine lemon juice or ascorbic acid in water (about 1/2 teaspoon per 3 tablespoons) and sprinkle over fruit. Pour sugar over fruit and mix gently. Let stand until juice is drawn out and sugar dissolved, about 15 minutes. Package, label, seal and freeze. Sugar packs are effective for sliced apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines, raspberries and strawberries.


Syrup Pack: Nearly all fruits can be preserved in syrup. To make syrup, dissolve sugar in lukewarm water (a medium-heavy syrup is 1-3⁄4 cups sugar to 4 cups water), mixing until solution is clear. Chill syrup before using. Use just enough cold syrup to cover fruit in the container (about 1⁄2 to 2⁄3 cup syrup per pint). To keep fruit under syrup, place crumpled parchment paper or other water-resistant wrapping material on top, and press fruit down into syrup before sealing the container

Read more:


Here’s a simple guide to freezing vegetables.
Vegetables are a little different because they typically need to be blanched or steamed, with a few exceptions. I only steam my veggies because as soon as the produce is submerged into the water (blanching), the nutritional benefits decrease significantly. Steaming doesn’t take as long either because you’re not dumping your water every time with the vegetable.

You’ll need to decide how large you want the packages. I do most everything in 1 quart (4 cups). This allows each of my family members to half a 1/2 cup serving.


Each vegetable has a different steaming time due to it’s size, density and thickness. Here’s a guide that I found that will give you almost every ‘common’ and a few not so common steaming times for over 40 vegetables. This was a keeper for me.


Here’s what I do with the veggies that don’t need any processing.:

*Zucchini and yellow summer squash- I freeze 2 cups of shredded summer squash in freezer bags because most recipes call for that amount.

*Onions are easy to freeze and are so handy to have already chopped, diced or sliced.  I typically use ‘snack’ sized baggies and place 1cup of onion into it. Then I place as many of the baggies as will fit into a gallon size freezer storage bag. Every time I need chopped onion for a recipe all I need to do is grab a baggie and toss the onion in. Great for soups, chilies and anything that calls for sauted onions.

*Peppers- hot or sweet again are great to have in the freezer. I chop and slice these- I like the chopped ones for chilies, omelettes and homemade pizza, while I prefer the slices for fajita’s and stir fries.  I typically lay the slices onto cookie sheets and place in the freezer. Once nearly frozen I use a turner to pop them up and then keep them in one gallon ice cream buckets. I like to put the chopped pepper into snack size baggies like the onions and store them the same way.

Here is my Pesto recipe that I freeze! Enjoy friends.



2 cups Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. sea salt
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
2-4 whole, de-skinned garlic cloves- end trimmed
Put all these ingredients into a blender and blend until completely mixed.

Add 1/2 cup, packed tightly fresh parsley leaves; blend until thoroughly  blended.

Add 1 cup, packed tightly fresh basil leaves; blend until thoroughly blended.

Put into 1/2 cup pint jelly jars or plastic containers. Freeze for up to 1 year.

Enjoy over pasta with some yummy homemade dinner buns!

I hope this not only taught you some useful, but also got you excited about getting your hands and kitchen dirty. I always say, “I’d rather spend a day or two of hard work putting up food so my family can eat good for the whole year!”

Happy Day,

Canning Tips, To-Do List Tags & How to Can Yummy Sweet & Sour pickles and Mexican Style Salsa!

Thought this was an appropriate article to share at this time of year… Why re-do when I’ve got it all here…
Enoy Friends…

For Dragonflies And Me

Read on to get the recipe for my Yummy pickles…

Heirloom Tomatoes… basil, garlic… oh my!  Summer goodness just keeps flowing into our kitchens from the gardens.  We are busy starting to put our food up for the coming cold months and how wonderful it is to watch those can shelves fill up with all that good stuff. Today we are going to busy making salsa and sweet & sour pickles.  Every time we add to the shelves, I just stand back and cannot help but be so thankful for all we have.  Life is good!  Today I am going to give some helpful canning tips that I compiled several years back for my cookbook, “Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats” along with my salsa & pickle recipe… and of course a cute crafty idea  too!  Have a wonderful day!


“Tips for Relaxed and Enjoyable Canning”, by Jean Smith…

View original post 729 more words

Grow veggies in the shade and some yummy recipes!

My 2014 raised bed garden plan

My 2014 raised bed garden plan

Gardening is therapy for me. Being able to run my fingers through freshly mellowed soil… holding some tiny seeds in the palm of my hand and then dropping them in a carefully made furrow… gently covering and patting the soil… watering to help it come alive… Gardening is pure passion…


I’m very blessed to have ample area’s of sunny spots to garden in, although I realize that this is not every gardener or gardener-wanna-be’s situation. Well don’t despair~ if you have at least two hours of sunshine a day, YOU can garden too!

I have some shady area’s that I need to plan for in one of my raised bed gardens. The photo above is my plot plan for next year’s plantings in this garden (photo below). The bottom two rows of beds ( in drawing)  get a substantial amount of shade from the large tree beside it. As you can see in my plot plan I have several of the things listed below planted in those beds, with the exception’s of squash and basil.


Many people think this is an impossibility, but not so! Gardening in the shade is possible. There’s actually several wonderful garden veggies and herbs that will tolerate only two to five hours of direct sunlight, while producing a fair amount of produce for you.

You can plant many of these crops right now for a fall and winter harvest.  Check your zone and the maturity dates before you plant.


~Here are some culinary herbs that will produce well with only two to five hours of sunshine per day:
*Sweet Marjoram


~Here are some Veggies that will tolerate some shade with about four to five hours of sunshine per day:
*Greens you can plant include lettuces, kale, Swiss chard, spinach, arugula, Asian greens, mustard greens and mesclun mixes.
*Peas, both shell and snow
*Scallions (Green Onions)

You will have great success with many of these crops if you harvest them as ‘baby’- greens, carrots and potatoes.   These crops will provide a fair supply, just on a smaller size scale.


Gardening in the shade does require a bit more patience. Things definitely take a bit longer to mature, but they will… and the rewards will be worth the wait.

Here are some recipes to use some of your garden goodies!

Sensational Cilantro Dip

4 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro finely chopped or 2 Tbsp. dried
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice, about 4-6 limes
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 Tbsp. green chilies, chopped finely
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Combine all ingredients and serve with tortilla chips or use as a topping for taco’s or rice.

Yummy Feta Chive Muffins

2 to 2 1/2 cups organic white flour
3 tsp. aluminum free baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbles without the juice
1/4 cup fresh chives, snipped or 2 Tbsp. dried.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Combine all dry ingredients; In a separate bowl, mix eggs, mild and oil; stir gently into dry ingredients.
fold in feta chees and chives.
fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
Serve warm!

Happy day!

Fall Planting Guide: Enjoy fresh greens and more until the snow flies!



My garden is so forgiving… it never gets angry or shouts at me, even when I miss a weed or two. If I don’t get it watered, well her roots will go down a little deeper and rather then wither up and die, she’ll work harder to become stronger for me.

Each spring she rises up with rejuvenation and power… through the cold, hard surface life bursts forth. And if that wasn’t enough, she creates new off spring so I can I have more of her beauty. Just when I didn’t think I can take another miserable day of nothingness, she suddenly appears. As if to say, “Here I am dear. I’m back for you tend” …and most lovingly of all, she’ll never leave me.

The garden’s are screaming, “Harvest us! Harvest us! We’re cold out here!”
“It’s just the beginning of August my dears… we’ve got more time…” I whisper to no one in the garden, yet to all things green… but time is ticking.

chard seed packet

Now is the time I start my fall planting so my family has fresh greens and more, right through until the snow flies… I’ve even drawn up next summers raised bed gardens. I’m a planner 😉

Here is what you can be planting now in your gardens! Please remember that I live in Zone 5 and this guide is for folks gardening in similar climates.

*Snow Peas~ Dwarf White Sugar- 50 day edible pod. This plant will produce with several frost, they’ll actually make her sweeter!



*Broccoli~ can be sown now as well. I recommend the hybrid Marathon. A 50 day variety that will do well with several frosts.



*Cold hardy lettuces are a wonderful addition to the fall garden. Here are some of my favorite tried and true Heirlooms.~Red Sails- 40 day loose leaf with maroon tinged leaves

~Ruby Red- 40 day loose leaf with beautiful glossy bright-green frilly leaves with heavy intense red shading. One of my favorites!
~Speckles- 45 day a dense bibb like head with apple green leaves flecked with red brown polka dots- Amish Heirloom
~Tango- 40 day loose leaf resembles endive but a darker green. Plant forms tight erect rosettes and deeply cut leaves. Very nice lettuce.
~Merriveille De’Four Seasons- 45 day French bibb type with reddish leaves producing a pale blond green tight head with excellent flavor. This is by far one of my favorite varieties!

*Kale is another wonderful cold hardy crop with lots of great nutritional value along with a wonderful nutty flavor!  It will tolerate several frosts.

Red Russian Kale in our hoophouse

Red Russian Kale in our hoophouse

~Red Russian 25 day for baby- 45-50 to maturity. This is the variety I use for it’s short day length to maturity and it’s nice thick, purple leaves. It’s wonderful fresh snipped into a salad or steamed with a splash of plum vinegar on it.

*Spinach is a cold weather loving green that is delicious tossed into a salad mix, all on its on as a salad or steamed. I love to toss into a stir fry, omelets and quiches.
~Rushmoor is a 40 day quick grow.
~Bloomsdale- 45 days is my old stand by. Nice small leaves and will continue to produce after many frosts.

*Swiss Chard is a wonderful addition to your winter greens mix. I typically grow Fordhook and Rainbow.
~Ruby Red and Rhubarb Red-30 days for baby chard are both beautiful red stemmed varieties with tender leaves
~Fordhook – 30 days for baby leaves. This is a white stemmed variety that is the standard.

*Radishes are a great choice for your fall garden with their fast production and love of cool weather. Here are a few of the quickest to maturity.
~Champion is the fastest at only 20 days. Bright red globe with a true radish flavor
~Cherry Belle- 21 day is the old time favorite!
~French Breakfast at 24 days is one of my personal favorites. With it’s oblong half white and half ping… it is just pretty on a salad.
~Pink Beauty at 27 days is a nice, firm quarter sized radish with a milder flavor. This is much nicer for folks who don’t the spiciness of a standard radish.
~Purple Plum at 28 days is very similar in size and flavor as Pink Beauty.

A couple tips to keep the harvest going longer:
*If you have access to straw bales, make a straw bale hot bed. Follow this link for a great how-to.

*When there is a predicted frost, cover your tender plants with bed sheets, being sure to secure the edges with rocks or another heavy object so it doesn’t blow away if it becomes windy. Do not use plastic to cover your plants, because this will actually ‘burn’ the plant causing black ‘burn’ spots where it touched.

*If you experience an unexpected frost, you can sprinkle the damaged plants lightly with a sprinkler or hose as long as the sun has not touched the plants. As soon as the suns direct light touches the plants it will be too late under most circumstances. Some plants will come out of it.

If you’re interested in more info on growing crops through cold months, a great resource is “Winter Harvest Handbook,” by Elliot Coleman. This is my go-to book for everything with regards to winter harvesting! It’s a must have for every gardener!

Elliot Coleman's Winter Harvest Handbook is a regular go-to for me!

Elliot Coleman’s Winter Harvest Handbook is a regular go-to for me!

For more information on season extension growing, check out Michigan State Universities website on hoop houses. Follow this link

If you’ve never tried a fall garden, now’s the time… go for it and enjoy your gardens until the snow flies!

Be sure to check out my Facebook page for daily tips, photos, recipes and lots more fun. Follow this link or simply click on the icon on this page! Enjoy friends!

Happy Day,