Canning Pumpkin: Easy how-to plus some yummy recipes!

DPP_0016

Canning season for some is over, but not for this farm girl. I still have a few things on my list… namely sauerkraut, a bit more apple pie filling, one more batch of salsa, my smoky barbecue sauce and my pumpkin.

Today I completed my pumpkin and barbecue sauce… so exciting when you get to cross that stuff off your canning list!

So what do you do with canned pumpkin other than make pie at Thanksgiving and Christmas? Well there’s a lot you can do with it, but first here’s a simple step by step how-to can pumpkin along with some yummy recipes to use it in!  Please note, that in a recipe that calls for mashed or cooked pumpkin, this is where you’d use your canned pumpkin.

Enjoy friends!

Canning Pumpkin step by step how-to:

**TIP: You can figure that 1 average size pie pumpkin will give you 2 cups/ pint jar of cooked pumpkin. So figure how many jars you’ll want and then you’ll be able to figure how many pumpkins you’ll need!

Before !

Before !

Step 1:  Cut the pumpkin in half; remove seeds and cut in half again.

DPP_0001DPP_0002DPP_0003DPP_0004DPP_0005

Step 2: In a large roaster, put 1″ of water; place the pumpkin quarters in the roaster; cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 to 45 minutes or until they are soft enough to cut.

DPP_0006

Step 3: Remove from oven and let cool until you are able to handle them.

DPP_0008

Step 4: Using a spoon, carefully slip the edge of spoon between the skin and meat. The spoon should just slide through allowing you to slice the pumpkin off the skin.

DPP_0009DPP_0010DPP_0011

***Step 5: Fill some of both 1/2 pint (jelly jars)  and pint size jars with the soft pumpkin leaving about an inch of head space; wipe the rims clean; top with lid and put ring on tightly.***

DPP_0013DPP_0012

Step 6: Pressure can pints and half pint jars at 10# pressure for 55 minutes.  Remove from canner and place on a towel or cooling rack. Leave on counter for 48 hours to ensure proper seal. Remove rings and put in storage area.

After!

After!

***The reason I suggest using both 1/2 pint (jelly jars) and pint jars to can your pumpkin in, is because some recipes call for one cup- 1/2 pint jars while others call for 2 cups- pint jars. It’s nice to have both on hand for specific recipes.

Now for some yummy recipes!

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls– this recipe can be found on page 42 in my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats and Treats. See link below for purchasing details.

DPP_00082 c milk, scalded
1/2 c butter (1 stick), or 1/3 c oil
3/4 c sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 c. cooked pumpkin
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp. yeast
6 c or more flour

1. Mix ingredients like a cake, except for the yeast. Do not mix yeast with water. Add yeast after making sure milk isn’t too hot; knead.
Dough should be soft, but not sticky.

2. Cover and let rise until double, about 45 minutes to an hour.

3. Shape into golf ball-sized balls; place in greased pans of your choice, 1/8 inch apart.

4. Let rise until doubled. Bake at 350 degree for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden done.

5. Butter tops.

For those of you who have purchased my cookbook already here are some yummy references for you to easily find:
Butternut Squash Cinnamon Rolls, Donuts or Dinner Rolls. I exchange the butternut for my canned pumpkin, pg. 48
Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins, pg. 57
Pumpkin Muffins, Pumpkin Crunch Muffins and Pumpkin Oat Muffins, all on pg. 58
Kathy’s Pumpkin Roll. pg. 284
Pumpkin Pie recipes… you have 7 choices between pgs. 301 to 304
Pumpkin Trifle. pg. 339
Dinner in a Pumpkin, pg. 115
… and there are more! Enjoy friends.

You can purchase my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats via PayPal by clicking this link. If you’d like to see a photo of it along with pages, you can do so on the side of this blog or by going directly over to my Facebook page by clicking the link on the side as well.

Click this link to go directly to PayPal
https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=RF3LVG5Z3NEHG

Pumpkin Cheesecake

pumpkin cheesecake photo: Pumpkin Cheesecake pumpkin_cheesecake_009_2.jpg

Crust:
1 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 c. melted butter

Filling:
3 – 8oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. powdered sugar
5 eggs
2 c. mashed pumpkin (canned)
1 tsp. maple flavoring
1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1. Make crust: Combine crumbs, pumpkin pie spice and butter. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan; Refrigerate.

2. Filling: Beat cream cheese and both sugars until smooth; beat in eggs and maple flavoring until smooth.  Add pumpkin and blend well.  Blend in flour and pumpkin pie spice until smooth.

3. Bake a 325 degree for approximately 1 hour or until edge is set but center is still soft.

Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

Spiced Pumpkin Pecan Butter

I love this recipe because you don’t have to spend hours cooking down pumpkin in a roaster or crock pot! Super yummy recipe!

3 1/2 c. cooked, mashed pumpkin
1 c. toasted, chopped pecans
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
4 1/2 c. sugar
1 box fruit pectin
1/2 tsp. butter, softened

1. Measure pumpkin, pecans and pumpkin pie spice into a large kettle;  stir in pectin, mix well; blend in softened butter.

2. Measure sugar into separate bowl.

3. Bring pumpkin mixture to a full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly; quickly add in sugar stirring constantly. Return to a full rolling boil and boil for exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly.

4. Remove from heat; skim off any foam with metal spoon. Ladle into jars, leaving an 1/8 inch head space. Wipe rims of jars, place lids on and put rings on tightly.

5. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.

Here’s a yummy recipe for Pumpkin Fudge!
http://www.recipegirl.com/2008/08/28/pumpkin-fudge/

Hope this gets you so excited you’ll be off to the pumpkin patch tomorrow getting loads of pumpkins to can!
Happy Day,
Jean

Apple Pie Filling: Canning and freezing recipes along with thickener information

DPP_0021

Fall brings out the nesting instinct in me… the instinct to cook and clean. Once my fall harvest and preserving has slowed down to a dull roar, I’ll go into the fall cleaning swing… that will bring some new posts on how-to organize your time and home. But that’s for another day…

Today I’ll share some canning recipes I thought you’d all enjoy!  It’s apple season and besides apple sauce, what else can you do with apples. Pie of course!

apple pie photo: apple pie apple_pie.jpg

Before we get into the recipes, I thought I’d touch on a question I often get asked, “What’s the difference between cornstarch, Perma-flo and Clear-jel?”

The following information that is italicized was taken and slightly adapted from: http://www.foodsubs.com/ThickenStarch.html
This site had an awesome chart on thickener substitutions.  A must read!  It has types of thickeners that I’ve never heard of. This would be really good info for someone looking for alternative thickeners with particular food allergies

Perma-flo and Clear-jel are pretty much the same. Cornstarch I learned the hard way you can’t cook your stuff to the consistency you want. It will get thicker the longer it sets. Where the other two you cook to the consistency that you want. Personally I like the perma flo best.

Some people have complained that Clear-jel leaves an after taste. Clear-jel and cornstarch can be inter-changed equally.

Pema-flo can be used to thicken fruit and then frozen.  

Cornstarch is used to thicken sauces, gravies, and puddings. Like other starch thickeners, cornstarch should be mixed into a slurry with an equal amount of cold water before it’s added to the hot liquid you’re trying to thicken. You then need to simmer the liquid, stirring constantly, for a minute or so until it thickens. Cornstarch doesn’t stand up to freezing or prolonged cooking, and it doesn’t thicken well when mixed with acidic liquids. 

Clear-jel is modified cornstarch and is the secret ingredient that many commercial bakers use in their fruit pie fillings. Unlike ordinary cornstarch, ClearJel® works well with acidic ingredients, tolerates high temperatures, and doesn’t cause pie fillings to “weep” during storage. ClearJel® is an especially good choice if you’re canning homemade pie fillings, since it doesn’t begin thickening until the liquid begins to cool. This allows the heat to be more evenly distributed within the jar during processing. This is such an important safety advantage that ClearJel® is the only thickener the USDA recommends for home canning. You can also use ClearJel® to thicken sauces, stews, and the like, though it’s a rather expensive all-purpose thickener. One downside is that products thickened with ClearJel® tend to break down if they’re frozen and thawed. If you plan to freeze what you’re making, use Instant ClearJel®.  ClearJel® is available either as pearls or powder from mail-order suppliers, but it’s not yet available in grocery stores. Don’t use this if you’re canning a pie filling.

Instant Clear-jel is a modified cornstarch that professional bakers sometimes use to thicken pie fillings. It has several advantages over ordinary cornstarch. Instant ClearJel® thickens without cooking, works well with acidic ingredients, tolerates high temperatures, is freezer-stable, and doesn’t cause pie fillings to “weep” during storage. Don’t use Instant ClearJel® for canning–it tends to break down.

Each product works differently and is better suited to particular recipes depending on if it is cooked or not. Be sure to check the recipe and understand the differences before you interchange them. I use Perma-flo in my canned pie filling because of the after taste I feel Clear-jel leaves.

apple pie photo: Apple Pie apple-pie.jpg

Here’s my recipe for canned pie filling along with a BONUS recipe from my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats.

Canned Pie Filling

2 c Perma-flo
2 c cold water
7 c sugar
6 c water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
24 c peeled, cored and sliced apples
*6 drops red food coloring, optional

1. In a separate bowl combine the Perma-flo and 2c water; stir until dissolved

2. In a large kettle combine the 6c water, sugar, salt and food coloring; bring to a rolling boil.

DPP_00023. Stir the Perma-flo- water mixture again; then very slowly begin pouring the mixture into the boiling liquid, like adding eggs to a pudding, stirring constantly. Once it thickens to a goop, remove from heat, add cinnamon and apples.  Stir until thoroughly mixed.

4. Fill quart jars, leaving an inch head space; wipe the rims of the jar; put lid and rings on tightly.

5. Water bath process 30 minutes or pressure can at 5#’s pressure for 5 minutes.  Place the jars on a towel on counter and leave for 48 hours to ensure proper seal.

Freezer Apple Pie Filling
This recipe can be found in my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats on page 427 in the canning section.

DPP_0004

6 c water
1 c Instant Clear-jel
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
5 c sugar
1 stick butter
16 c of peeled, cored and sliced apples

1. Combine sugar, Instant Clear-gel, lemon juice with 1 c cold water in a large kettle; stir until thoroughly mixed

2. Add remaining 5 cups water and 1 stick of butter. Cook on low heat until thick; cool.

3. Mix in apples, place in freezer containers and freeze.

DPP_0010

*TIP: I use wide mouth quart jars for pie filling if possible because it is much easier to get out when you’re ready to use it.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a couple of recipes on what to make with your apple pie filling!

DPP_0004

Happy Day,
Jean

Here’s are a couple links where you can purchase Perma-flo from if you don’t have a local source.  http://www.sharonscountrystore.com/perma-flo-1-lb-153.html
http://www.weaverscountrymarket.com/m5/1048–perma-flo-starch.html

Here’s a link to purchase Instant Clear-jel
http://www.amazon.com/Instant-Clear-Jel-1-lb/dp/B00015UC52

Plum Rhubarb Strawberry Marmalade

Fruit is coming on heavily as the summer’s quickly coming to an end… It’s hard to believe only a few short months ago I was planning my gardens and what we’d plant.

I love the seeding and transplanting, the weeding and mulching and then the harvest of each thing planted. It’s such a blessing to be able to grow your own food… to eat what you’ve toiled and sweat for.

Jams and jellies along with a host of pickles and relishes, sauces and soups have started to line our shelves and fill our freezers. What a joy!

DPP_0013

Well the other day a friend brought me over a dishpan of Damson plums… I’d never had these ‘small’ yet tasty fruits and thought, “There is no way in the world I am peeling those things!”

But then I remembered my trusty steamer and got the notion to steam them for juice- way less time consuming!  To find out more about this steamer go to https://www.lehmans.com/p-285-10-12-qt-stainless-steel-steam-juicer.aspx   This is the one that I have, but there is a smaller one.
DPP_0013

So several hours later I ended up with four beautiful quart jars of the loveliest lavender shaded juice. Now what? Lets make jam!

DPP_0003

I tried to think of some other things that might be tasty with plums and I got the notion to do a strawberry-rhubarb jam using the plum juice for the liquid. So off to the great world wide web I went to try and find a recipe. NO luck. I found a plum-rhubarb… but that’s not what I wanted. I had an idea and wanted to use it. I looked a bit more and nothing…

So… now what? I thought,  “I’ll make a plum jelly and add the fruit in like a marmalade…” and that’s what I did! Talk about delicious if I do say so myself 😉

Here’s my recipe!

TIP: When making jams and jellies, it’s very important to have all ingredients properly measured out along with all the supplies readily available. Have the jars washed and set up on a cooling rack with lids and rings easily accessible as soon as the jam or jelly is finished. Place a hot pad right beside the jars so you can place the pot of boiling jam/jelly on. Have your jar filler and ladle set up and ready to fill your jars.

DPP_0008

By following these few simple rules, you can speedily fill your jars and not worry about scrambling around and the jam/jelly setting up prematurely.

Now that all your supplies are ready, be sure you have all the ingredients measured out, like the sugar. You will not have time to measure out sugar when the liquid is boiling because during the cooking process you are constantly stirring. Time is very sensitive when making jams/jellies.

So here is my very own…
Plum Rhubarb Strawberry Marmalade Recipe  Yield: 8 jelly jars or 4 pints

Ingredients
3 cups plum juice
1 cup rhubarb
1 cup strawberries
4 Tbsp. lemon juice
1- 1.75oz package of pectin, like Sure-jel
5 1/2 cups sugar

Method
1. In a small sauce pot on medium heat cook rhubarb, strawberries and 2 Tbsp. lemon juice until completely soft, stirring often- about 10-15 minutes. Set aside.
DPP_0001
2. Put plum juice, package of pectin and 2 Tbsp. of lemon juice in a 8-10 quart sauce pot, bring to a rolling boil on high heat, constantly stirring. As soon as it comes to a boil, add the sugar slowly but immediately, constantly stirring to mix and dissolve.
3. Bring mixture to a rolling boil again and time exactly one minute stirring constantly; remove from heat onto hot pad.
4. Immediately ladle marmalade into prepared jars.
5. Wipe down the rims of the jars making sure there is nothing on the rim, otherwise it will not seal. Place a lid and ring on each jar.
DPP_0007

Water bath process for 10 minutes.  Remove from water and place on dish cloth or cooling rack and let set for 24hours to ensure a proper seal. If any did not seal, you can remove lid and ring, wipe down rim and water bath again or store in freezer or place in fridge and eat within one to two weeks.

Have fun and be creative not only in your gardening, crafting and cooking, but in your canning as well!

Happy Day,
Jean

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

IMG_6835

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.

DPP_0004

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.

DPP_0006DPP_0003

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.

DPP_0001DPP_0002

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

DPP_0005

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.

DPP_0007

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.

DPP_0013

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

DPP_0011DPP_0012

DPP_0010DPP_0009

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.

DPP_0017

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!

DPP_0018

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.
http://www.victorioproducts.com/store-catalog

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,
Jean

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! https://www.facebook.com/pages/For-Dragonflies-And-Me/550000798362651

DPP_0011

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.

DPP_0002DPP_0005

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.

DPP_0004

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.

DPP_0007DPP_0008

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.

DPP_0009DPP_0010

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

DPP_0012

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.

DPP_0011

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
Honey
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,
Jean

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.

DPP_0001

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.

DPP_0007

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.

DPP_0002

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.”

DPP_0009DPP_0010

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.

blueberries2

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.

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: http://www.motherearthliving.com/food-and-recipes/food-preservation/guide-to-freezing-food-zmoz13jazmel.aspx#ixzz2buFiyDsI

DPP_0012

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.

DPP_0002

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.
http://www.healwithfood.org/chart/vegetable-steaming-times.php

DPP_0013

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.

DPP_0005
Here is my Pesto recipe that I freeze! Enjoy friends.

Pesto

DPP_0020

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,
Jean

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

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, taken from Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats, pg. 389
*Always figure out approximately how many jars you will be needing.  Have them washed and ready to fill.
*Count out your lids and rings and have them ready.
*Keep a sink of hot, soapy water so you can wash as you go instead of having a pile of dirty dishes after you’re done canning and tired, and don’t feel like washing them!
*Have syrups, brine’s, etc., made before you start into the fruit or veggies.
*Put salt in a bowl with measuring spoon.
*Make sure you have all needed ingredients AND enough of them BEFORE you start a project.
*If it’s a ‘first time’ recipe, make a single serving to test if you and your family like it.
Make simple meals- use paper plates- don’t try to do it all in one day.
*Include the children- they can be more helpful than we often can even imagine.
*If in Doubt about anything- call an experienced canner!
*Try new recipes- make the season fun!

*Time Saver fro Pressure Canning– use 15 pounds pressure instead of 10 and cut your processing time in half!

*Sugar Syrups for Canning or Freezing Fruit:

~Light Syrup:  2 cups sugar and 4 cups water
~Medium Syrup:  3 cups sugar and 4 cups water
~Heavy Syrup: 4 cups sugar and 4 cups water
Method:  Heat sugar and water until sugar is dissolved.  for canning, keep syrup hot until used, but don’t boil down.  for freezing, refrigerate until ice cold.
to help maintain quality of canned fruits, use Fruit Fresh: 1/4 tsp. dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water, added to each quart of fruit.
*Use hot water bath for fruits, tomatoes, pickles, jams and jellies.  Use a pressure canner for meats, fish, chicken and other vegetables.

Tips for Canning Fruit, by Laurel Martin, taken from Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats, pg. 389
*Peaches: add 1/2 cup sugar to each quart. Bring water to rolling boil and turn off heat.  Time: Hard peaches for 15 minutes and soft peaches for 10 minutes.  Then remove from water bath.
*Pears: Add 1/2 cup sugar to each quart and 1/4 cup orange juice to each quart.  Bring water bath to rolling boil. Turn off heat and time 5 minutes.  remove from water bath.  The orange juice gives the pears a delicious looking color. 

There are tons more tips & ideas, along with almost 1000 recipe’s, 100 in the canning section alone in the cookbook.  I always have them at market for anyone interested!

To-Do-List Tag’s
Keep priorities in sight when planning your next trip by tying a to-do list onto luggage. We printed our list on card stock and used a metal eyelet to reinforce the hole through which a ribbon is passed. To be able to reuse the card for future jaunts, simply laminate it and check the things you’ve done with a dry-erase marker. Wipe off check marks and remove the tag when you head out on vacation.  (to see a photo, go to the website).

Here is my personal recipe for Mexican Style Salsa… It is excellent fresh as well as canned!

26 large tomatoes, cored and chopped into small bite size chunks
10 medium onions, chopped (you can peel them if you want to, I don’t bother)
7 Tbsp. dried cilantro or 1 cup fresh, chopped
20 fresh cloves garlic, minced- about 7 Tbsp.
1 1/4 cup lemon juice
7 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups chopped Jalapeno peppers
3 1/2 Tbsp. oregano
Salt

1.  In a large bowl: chop all tomatoes, onions and peppers; mince garlic; add rest of ingredients except salt.
2.  Fill pint jars leaving 1 inch head space; add 1 tsp. salt to each jar.
Process in a hot water bath for 30 minutes.  Yields about 16 pints.

Sweet and Sour Pickles…
Bring to Boil: Brine~ 1 Quart White Vinegar, 2 quart water, 3 cups sugar, 2 Tbsp. pickling spices, 2-3 tsp. alum.
Prepare~ Wash cukes, removing ends and any bad spots.  Slice lengthwise and put in large bowl, sprinkle Kosher salt over each layer.  Mix with hands; let set 3 hours or overnight.
Pack cukes in clean jars, add 1 sprig dill to each jar.  Pour brine over till covered, leaving 1 inch head space.  Make more if needed.
Process in hot water bath for 5 minutes.

Happy Day,
Jean