Canning Information

Several have asked questions about canning so, even though this post will be long, I will try to give you enough information to get you started. I can for several reasons:

  • Putting food up for safer, better tasting storage than putting it in the freezer. Foods last much longer in a jar that has been properly canned and there’s never a concern about losing it during a power outage.
  • Having foods ready to heat and eat either in the event of a crisis or when I’m just too tired to cook.

Canner

Canning is not scary! There are procedures that must be followed, not only for your own safety but for the safety of the food being canned.  I do believe it’s one of those things that, for those of you who are scared of canning, once you read through the instructions, you’ll be asking  yourself “What was I so afraid of?”

If you have never canned before and are starting from scratch, you will need the following:

  • Pressure canner – The Presto canners are not bad. I used those for years and years. The All American canners are the cream of the crop as far as I’m concerned. There are various sizes. I highly recommend these but don’t feel like you cannot get started if you can’t afford the AA.  In fact, if you’re just starting out, I would recommend starting with the less expensive Presto just to be sure this is something  you enjoy doing.
  • Canning kit – There are several kits available. I find that this little Ball kit has everything I need. You’ll need the jar lifter to get the hot jars out of the hot water; the little magnet to get the lids out of boiling water; the funnel to get the contents into the jar; and the stick thing to get the bubbles out of the jar.
  • Jars –  You need canning jars. You should not re-use mayonnaise type jars for pressure canning! Jars come in lots of sizes, quarts and pints are the most popular. You can get wide mouth or regular. My preference is definitely wide mouth. For years I canned most everything in quart jars but now that it’s just the two of us, I’m mostly using pint jars. I will still can juice, fruit, tomatoes and broth in quarts but most everything else is going into pints simply so I don’t have leftovers for a week.

As with most everything, there’s a wealth of information on the internet. I’m very careful with the recipes I can. You do not want to can anything that has flour or most thickeners. You also need to be careful with things that will turn to mush — potatoes, pasta, etc.

I mentioned “I’m Still Workin‘” yesterday but it’s a youtube channel that has lots of canning ideas. Unless she has a specific video, and I haven’t seen them all, most of what I’ve seen is recipes and I didn’t see a basic start to finish “how to get started” video.

These are some posts I’ve done previously that  you might find interesting:

Nothing beats having a mentor so if you can find someone near you who would be willing to help you get started, or just let you come over and watch them can and ask questions, that would be wonderful.

If you truly are interested in canning, don’t be scared . . don’t wait . . get started!

The Lady at Kroger

Yesterday as I was walking into Kroger, there was an elderly lady outside looking at the plants on the sidewalk. She had just gotten off the little van that serves as “mass transit” in our town. She was all dressed up in nice pants and a sweater set. Her white hair was fixed perfectly. She had taken time to put on her makeup. She had gotten all fixed up for a trip to the grocery store! As I walked past her, she said something to me about the flowers being pretty. Her voice was so frail that I hardly hear what she said. As I made my way past her, memories of my grandma came to mind.

My grandma was always wearing a dress. Her hair was always fixed just right  .. and it usually involved at least a few bobbie pins. She always had on an apron when working around the house. They didn’t have phones so if someone wanted to come visit, they didn’t call first . . they just dropped in. I can see my grandma now . . she would hear someone drive up and she yanked that apron off, patted her hair to make sure every sprig was in place. There was always a homemade cake or pie, usually half of each, in the corner dining room cabinet. Anyone that stopped by was offered a piece of pie or cake.

My grandparents lived out in the country and they would go to town once a week and she always got dressed up to go to town. My grandma never had much .. she had what she needed but not much more. Her clothes were almost all homemade. I don’t remember her ever having a storebought dress but she might have. She loved flowers and they always had gorgeous flowers and blooming plants in their yard.  I don’t remember the Piggly Wiggly in Many, Louisiana having flowers back then but maybe they did and if they did, my grandma would have wanted to stop and look at them, but I think all her plants came from cuttings or seeds given to her by friends.

As I was leaving the store, the little van was back and I saw the lady sitting inside, and I saw a pretty hanging basket sitting near the open van door. The lady waved at me as I passed. I smiled . . thinking . . she had no idea the memories that had flooded over me . . just seeing her, all dressed up, looking at those flowers.

As I was driving home, I wondered . . what will my grandkids remember about me.  Darn . . a trip to Kroger had me wanting to go back to Missouri!

Canning Sweet Potatoes

Here’s another one of those “meant to be” moments. Is it because I’m always looking for them or do they just happen to me more than I deserve?  I cannot even remember what I was talking about the other day (could have been so many things!) but either a blog reader or a Facebook friend, suggested I look at “I’m still workin” but I had no idea what “I’m still workin” is or where it could be found. I googled it and poked around a couple of sites but planned to go back to a more thorough search when I had more time.

This week (sale ending today), the Kroger stores in our area had sweet potatoes for .57/pound.  Vince was in there with me on Saturday and we got a good size bag of them. This morning Vince said “Are you going to go to Kroger and get more sweet potatoes because today is the last day of the sale?” I said “No . . because I’m not real sure what to do with them and I don’t want to buy them if I don’t know how I’m going to save them.”

Then, right after lunch, I was emailing back and forth with my friend, Judy, and she asked me if I had ever watched the videos at “I’m still workin“. Darn! That’s two people in about 3 days that have asked me about that site and I had never heard of it so I asked my friend, Judy, to send me the link. She did and what do you think is the first video that caught my eye? Yep . . canning sweet potatoes.

The “I’m still workin” lady has the best canning videos! They were so good that I tried to listen to one on my cell phone while driving to Kroger to get more sweet potatoes . . and I have a very small data plan but was willing to explain to Vince why I went over my allowed amount of data.

For a little more than $11, I got almost 20 pounds of sweet potatoes and for that same almost $11, I’ll end up with about 30 points of candied sweet potatoes. I’m putting them up with a very light syrup. I got about half of them done this afternoon and will get the rest of them done tomorrow.

15 Pints of Sweet Potatoes

15 Pints of Sweet Potatoes

Tonight we had sweet potatoes and steak.

Dinner

Dinner

But the star of the show was the salad with fried goat cheese. I love goat cheese and I love it best battered in panko and fried.

Salad

Salad

Have I ever told you that I’d rather eat at home than most anywhere else?  :)

 

 

 

 

The New Coop

Vince is being so darned agreeable with this new coop . . it scares me! If there was something he wanted, I would be sure he was preparing to tell me he’s buying something big but I can’t think of anything he might want. That’s how agreeable he’s being! Once we got past the conversation of “Why do we need more chickens?”, it’s been smooth sailing!

The “footprint” is going to be 8′ x 16′, which makes it a lot larger than our other coops.  About 15″ will be for laying/nesting boxes so that will leave the floor space being about 6.5′ x 16′, which technically is enough space for 26 chickens. We’re going to try free-ranging within the confines of the orchard fence so if we ended up with 30 chickens in there, I wouldn’t feel bad because they’re going to be outside except when they’re inside laying or sleeping.

Cutting a Small Tree

Cutting a Small Tree

It will be a bit of a learning experience as to how many roosters to keep. My preference is 1 rooster per 6 – 8 hens but a whole lot depends on how many of each breed hatches.

I have 6 Iowa Blues so ideally, I will have 5 hens and 1 rooster. No matter how many hens there are, I’ll only keep 1 Iowa Blue rooster.

Same with the Black Copper Marans, Lavender Marans, Olive Eggers, Bielefelders and Speckled Sussex since I only have 6 or 7 of those eggs. I have 12 Black Australorp eggs so it will depend on how many of those hatch as to how many I keep.  There’s still room for 4 or 5 chickens in with the Dominiques if we need to put some in there.

New Coop

New Coop

Vince will get the forms all set for the corners and then the builder will come and help with getting it all framed up and finished. If no baby chicks hatch  . . we’ll have a nice new coop with nothing to put in it!