Canning Day

I had some rare toddler free time thanks to the miracle that is a friends sleepover. I decided to put my butt in gear! I harvested fresh basil from the garden and made some yummy pesto! I froze this batch into little discs to pull out this winter.


And I picked five lbs of apples for making jelly. I was a little disappointed that after cooking I only got four cups of juice when the jelly recipe called for seven. Jam and jelly require precise measuring so I had to fudge a little and used some of apple sauce pulp mixed with some purified water to get to seven cups of liquid. The jelly is very cloudy as a result and set very very firm. I’m definitely going to taste this before sharing with anyone…

I had been cleaning out the freezer and found four gallon sized bags of last years tomatoes. I decided to cook them down into sauce. I managed to get eight whole pints!

The house was very warm all day and I ended up running the dishwasher three times but it was very nice to stock my pantry and feel like I accomplished something off my list!

Holy Crap…More Tomatoes

I must be a masochist…or really love my husband. I’m peeling, blending, cooking, and canning 6 more gallon bags of homegrown tomatoes today. All so I can feed his salsa addiction over the winter and possibly give salsa out as Christmas gifts…

At least this cooking day I invested in a stool for the kitchen to rest my swollen preggo feet. Kind of a fool me once fool me twice kind of epiphany, lol.

This should be the last hurrah for my canner this summer and then I’m going to KNIT ALL THE THINGS until jellybean arrives!

Happy Saturday!

Freezer Fill-Up

My nesting seems to involve making sure we have food after Jellybean arrives. I previously talked about canning tomatoes and apples, and my adventures have continued!

This past three day weekend I added to the freezer and pantry!

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Eight crock pot meals of the chicken variety. I used this pin/blog post from Pinterest for those interested.

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I turned some beef neck bones into rich beef broth (frozen in freezer safe ball jars) and there was even enough beef bits for two BBQ sandwiches!

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Then I turned these pots into 9 more pints of tomato sauce. And not pictured was four pans of beef and three cheese lasagna! I used my own recipe but everything is fully cooked and so we just have to thaw and bring back up to temp! Easy peasy and yummy for our post baby fog!!

That brings my count to nine casseroles, eight crock pot meals, and more cans of apple sauce and tomato sauce than I can count right now. Pardon me while I rest on my laurels and put my feet up.

I’m interested….does anyone else out there prep for busy times by filling the freezer?

FO Friday: Summer Canning

My feet and I survived our canning session last weekend!

What were my spoils you ask?

– 11 pints of brown sugar/cinnamon apple sauce
– 5 full pints and 11 1/2 pints of apple jelly

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And 16 glorious pints of tomato sauce!!

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I’d still like to put up more salsa and tomato sauce but that will be schedule and pregnancy permitting. Just going with the flow at this point!

What’s in your canner lately?

The Day of The Tomato

My family has a ridiculously large garden. And I’m blessed to reap the rewards. Right now I have 8 gallon bags of frozen home grown delicious tomatoes in my freezer. Ripe and ready to hit the sauce pot. And that is literally just the tip of the iceberg so to speak of what the plants produced.

I learned how to cook, season, and can my own tomato sauce and salsa last summer. And boy….let me tell you how delicious that was all winter to have yummy jars to cook into my casseroles and crock pot!

Jellybean is growing and growing so I don’t quite have the get up an go of last summer. But my plan is to work slow and steady today with lots of water and sitting breaks. All so I can convert those juicy tomatoes into sauce. It’s a rough day when your food cravings crash against your swollen pregnancy feet, lol.

Wish me luck! I hope to have some good foodie photos to show when I’m done 🙂

Apples: Take Two!

Behold jars of green apple goodness…20140706-153312-55992321.jpgI’ve been cleaning out the deep freeze to both use up old supplies and make room for frozen casseroles for my post-baby haze. I found about 10 lbs of peeled, cored, and frozen green apples from my tree last summer. I cooked half of them down into apple juice and made apple jelly (front jars). The other half I put into jars and added this pie filling recipe (rear jars). 

I’ve tried the jelly and it’s a very light delicate jelly. I think the flavor would have been enhanced by leaving the skin on the apples but alas I did not have that foresight last summer. I shall remedy that this summer with the new crop. The pie filling remains to be tested. I have some summer BBQs on my schedule so now I can take fresh pie!

What is your favorite summer treat?

 

More Cherry Jam

Summer in Kansas is in full swing! During a recent trip to my parents house I noticed the cherry trees were ripe and ready to go. Two and a half hours later and five large ice cream buckets later, this pregnant lady was hot and tired. And, I might note, the three trees were only half picked!

As reward for my sweaty work I went home with two buckets of pitted and washed fruit. My most favorite jam of all time is cherry. So after a quick trip to the grocery store for sugar and pectin. I transformed all that fruit into jar after jar of delicious jam. Three hours and some swollen ankles I have this…

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Tomato Madness

My family has always grown a HUGE garden. The tomatoes set and produced like gangbusters this year. I have been dying to put up some homemade salsa and tomato sauce. I use so much sauce in my crock pot recipes and the hubby eats salsa by the gallon. But the problem is that I didn’t know how to can either of those.

So over Labor Day weekend, my Grandma and Aunt Janice offered to teach me. It was SOOO much work but it was awesome! I love making stuff in my Grandma’s kitchen. It reminds me of being a kid again.

Start with the freshest tomatoes a garden can produce. Remove skins and seeds leaving only the yummy pulp and juice…

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Pick some yummy green chilies and throw on the grill…

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Roast until toasty and blistery and sweat until skins come off…

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Take tomato goodness and cook down until you have thick saucy goodness…

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Season with yummy veggies and spices and pour into jars and process until sealed tight!

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In 13 hours (over two days with many helping hands) I was able to make 14 pints of tomato and roasted chili salsa and 17 pints of tomato sauce. My cupboard is so happy now!!! I can’t wait to savor these goodies in the winter when everything is cold and dreary.

Summer is Here!!

Spending last weekend in my hometown meant a trip to the family garden! Growing up my Grandparents grew a HUGE garden every year. My Grandparents raised four teenage boys in the 60s and 70s and took up gardening to protect their grocery bill! We had beans, potatoes, corn, onions, asparagus, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, rhubarb, gooseberries, tomatoes, peppers, cherries, apples, and more I have probably forgotten. I never knew what frozen or store bought canned goods were until I went to college, lol.

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Look at all the green goodness! Thanks to a mild spring and lots of rain the garden is in excellent shape. I couldn’t help snap a few pictures as I wandered the property. It was a beautiful day full of blue skies and sunshine. It was a perfect way to relax and meditate.

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My Grandfather has passed and my Grandma is 80, so this garden is largely tended by my father and my uncle. I try to pitch in when I am home because that’s only fair if I share in the bounty. My plans for summer garden goodies are as follows:

  1. Make and can homemade tomato sauce to store for the year. I use tomato sauce in so many recipes it would be nice to have healthy homemade in stock in my pantry.
  2. Make and can Jalapeno jam/jelly for Christmas and housewarming gifts
  3. Make and restock my homemade cherry/berry jam stock. I only have two jars left!!

On my visit I dug some new potatoes for an old family tradition of New Potatoes and Peas. I also snagged some sweet spring onions!

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I plan to clean up a couple of these and dice into some stir fry tonight for dinner!

Happy Thursday!!

Fall in Kansas = Homemade Jam

I grew up in the sticks…..like waaaaay out in the middle of nowhere Kansas. My family hunted, fished, and gardened all passed down through several generations. For as long back I can remember we have canned tomatoes, froze vegetables, froze meat, and preserved jam. As a child I didn’t see the point but as I have gotten older (presumably wiser) I find that I have the desire to do all those things that I used to think were dumb.

I just bought 1/2 a prime Kansas side of beef from a local rancher friend. This means our freezer will be FULL of beef for the year. I love locally grown Kansas grain fed beef (drool). However, I had some fruit I harvested from my grandparents trees, vines, bushes, etc in the freezer that needed to be worked up to make room. So I decided to can some jam!

A short trip to Walmart for sone essentials and I was ready to go! I had the fruit for and wanted to make sour cherry, mixed red/black raspberry, and mixed berry. My grandmother always used Sure Jell and got great results. So that’s what I use. It’s great because the recipe inside usually only calls for fruit, sugar, and pectin. I follow the instructions inside the box in case any one is wanting my recipe, lol.

I love cooking and watching the food transform, especially with home grown hand picked produce! Downside to this process, I only have one large burner on my stove so I had to do a lot of pot and pan swapping and shuffling!

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I cooked the fruit in the large burner and sterilized my jars in my canning pot on the small burner. (And drinking a coke to keep my energy up). When the jam was fully cooked I poured into the jars on the counter while moving the canning pot to the big burner to bring it to boil so I could seal the jars. And then switching back again to start the next batch.

On a side note, I don’t like big chunks of fruit so I run it through a food processor to make smooth before I cook it. I like the nutrition (ha, that is before the multiple cups of sugar added of course) and flavor of the whole fruit, just not the chunky texture.

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After four hours of processing, cooking, switching, and shuffling I had seven batches of jam that made the equivalent of 41 half pints of jam!

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My notes on this project:

– I had waaaay more fruit than I thought and now I have waaaay more jam than I can eat! Undoubtedly some of this will end up as Christmas presents 🙂

– I was not as exact as I should have been on my measurements as I should have been. Therefore some of my jam batches set “harder” or thicker than others. Oh well, it still tastes good!

– Having only one larger burner slowed this process down way to far. Argh….

– Some of my jars didn’t seal right away after canning and I freaked. If they don’t seal you have to freeze them and they don’t have as long if a shelf life. Turned out I panicked early because by morning when they were completely cool, they all sealed! Thank heavens 🙂

Mostly I found that I enjoy working with food and my own two hands. Probably why I also like knitting because I create things with my hands. While I spent hours in the hot kitchen I still had a good time and have goods to show for my effort!

Happy Knitting! (And canning!)