Kitchen

Fast & Easy Elderberry Jelly Recipe

Elderberry jelly is easier to make than some older or modern Internet recipes would indicate. In those recipes the elderberries have to be washed, picked by hand; then boiled, smashed, cooked down and strained or sieved in some way to extract the juice for jelly.

Once the juice has been extracted the real business of jelly making commences. Many modern recipes use either liquid or powdered pectin. Older recipes use no pectin; just equal parts sugar and juice boiled to a jelling point.

Elderberry Jelly

Elderberry Jelly With Toast

I don’t recommend making elderberry jelly by those methods unless you want a messy, time-consuming and finger-staining early 20th century kitchen experience. If you just want beautiful, sparking elderberry jelly without the drama, I’ve got an easier and much faster way to get it.




My secret to perfect and fast homemade elderberry jelly (or just about any jelly for that matter) is the use of a stream juicer.  Sure a steam juicer is an expensive piece of kitchen equipment. But if you do a reasonable amount of jelly or juice making, a steam juicer will pay for itself the first summer that you own one. I would live without a toaster and an electric mixer before I’d forego a steam juicer in my kitchen.

Here’s my recipe for elderberry jelly. Try it my way once, and I promise you’ll never go back to picking berries by hand. Or spend another hot July night listening to boiled juice drip through a flannel cloth all… night… long…

GET THE JUICE

The first thing you need to do is to gather elderberries. Only collect ripe berries. Never use green berries or eat raw green berries unless you want to poison yourself.

Elderberries

Ripe Elderberries

For jelly I usually cut and gather enough elderberry clusters to fill a 5-gallon bucket. Once the berry clusters are cut, rinse them well with cold water and pick out any bugs or leaves.

Place the rinsed elderberry clusters in the colander part of the stream juice. Fill the bottom part of the steam juicer pan with water and then place the collection pan on top of it.

Elderberries For Jelly

Clusters of Fresh Elderberries in a Steam Juicer

Next stack the colander pan over those two pans and put the lid on the entire assembly. Put the steam juicer on the stove and turn the heat on. I always keep the collection tube of the steam juicer in a jar or cup while the juice is being extracted. Even with the clamp on the tube sometimes juice will dribble out.

Steam Juicer

A Steam Juicer Set Up In Summer Kitchen

Depending upon exactly how ripe the elderberries are, it will usually take about 1 hour to extract the juice into the collection pan. Once the juice is extracted the jelly making can commence in earnest.

Elderberry Juice For Jelly

Elderberry Juice For Jelly

ELDERBERRY JELLY RECIPE

Makes 7 to 8 Half Pints

4 cups prepared elderberry juice
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
7 cups of cane sugar
1 pouch of CERTO liquid pectin

Gather and assemble clean jars, lids and bands. Wash jars in hot soapy water and rinse and dry well. If you are going to use a water bath canner start to heat it now. Cut the top off of the liquid pectin pouch and set it in a glass or cup near the stove.

In a 6-8 quart pan measure out the 4 cups of elderberry juice. Stir in the fresh lemon juice and sugar until well dissolved. Put the pan on high heat. Stir the mixture constantly and bring it to a full rolling boil. (a rolling boil is a boil that doesn’t stop when stirred). Quickly stir in the liquid pectin and return the pot to a full rolling boil while stirring. Once a rolling boil is returned, time the boil for exactly 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to rest for about 2 or 3 minutes.

Foam on Elderberry Jelly

Foam on Elderberry Jelly That Should Be Removed

Skim the foam off of the jelly mixture with a cool metal spoon. Rinse the spoon in cold water between skimmings. Ladle the hot jelly mixture into the ½ pint jars and leave a ⅛ head space.Wipe the rim of the jar.

Fill Jar With Hot Jelly Mixture

Fill Jars With Hot Jelly Leaving 1/8″ Head Space

Apply the lid and band. Process the jars in a hot water bath if desired. If you don’t want to water bath the jars, invert them on a towel for 5 minutes.

Water Bath Processing Time

Altitude Time
0-1,000 ft. 5 minutes
1,000-3,000 ft. 10 minutes
3,000-6,000 ft. 15minutes
6,000-8,000 ft. 20 minutes
8,000-10,000 ft. 25 minutes

After processing time is complete remove the jars from the water bath and place them well out of the way of drafts. Allow the jars to cool for 8 to 12 hours. When cool remove the bands and check the seal. Wipe off the jars and label and date them. Store in a dark, cool dry location.

JELLY MAKING TIPS

  • Wear a long sleeve shirt.
  • Use an oven mitt while stirring hot boiling jellies.
  • Old-fashioned jelly glasses covered with a ¼” layer of paraffin will seal jelly if lids are scarce.
  • Use cane sugar.
  • Shallow wide bottom pans work best for jelly making.
  • Don’t increase the recipe. Make jelly in single batches only.
  • I don’t always water bath process my jellies. If I’m short on time I’ll just invert the jar for a couple of minutes. I have found that inverting a jelly jar will sometimes result in a lid and seal failure in about 6 months. Water bath processing on the other hand usually gives a 100% seal rate.
Elderberry Jelly

All In A Day’s Work. Elderberry Jelly and Canned Sauerkraut

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Pie

It’s a fact of life that nothing is so good that pure maple syrup doesn’t make it better.
And where I live, March is the time of the year when tree sap begins to flow and maple syrup is made.
It also just happens to be the time of the year when hens start laying again and eggs are plentiful.

Oatmeal Pie

A Slice of Oatmeal Pie

Oatmeal pie is an extremely sweet pie.
So sweet in fact that some people can’t tolerate it.
But those who do enjoy oatmeal pie can never seem to get enough. Many compare this pie to pecan pie and there is a similarity. The oatmeal gives the pie the effect of ground nuts and the bottom of the pie is gooey.




What follows is a very old recipe from the 19th century.
The recipe was adjusted for modern cooks in 1966 by one of my personal cooking heroes, the late Beatrice Vaughan.
So if you’ve never tasted real oatmeal pie before, or are curious about 19th century Yankee cooking, here’s my recipe based on Mrs.Vaughan’s.

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Pie

  • ¼ cup of softened butter
  • ½ cup of white cane sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup (corn syrup may be substituted but will not give the same flavor)
  • 3 eggs beaten in one at a time
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
  • 1 unbaked 9-in. pie shell

Cream the soften butter with the sugar. Add the salt, cinnamon and cloves and mix completely. Next stir in the maple syrup, and then beat in the eggs thoroughly one at a time. Stir in the oatmeal and pour into an unbaked pie shell. Bake in an oven for about 1 hour at 350F°. Cool completely before serving.
Serve with black coffee and a dollop of whipped cream if you’re really feeling decadent.

*Recipe notes
If you use anything larger than a standard 9-in pie shell you’ll need to double the recipe so that the pie filling fills the shell. I found that with a large or deep dish pie plate the filling is only about 1” thick and looks skimpy.

Beatrice Vaughan’s recipe uses only pure maple syrup. I’m sure because she was from Vermont, she would never have considered using anything else but pure Vermont maple syrup. I use 100% maple syrup from Northwest Pennsylvania or Ohio with good results. Maple syrup from New York or Canada also has a good reputation.

Some modern recipes for oatmeal pie use corn syrup. I’m sure the substitution came about due to the cost of pure maple syrup. If you use corn syrup or maple flavored pancake syrup the taste is not the same.

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Pie

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Pie

Keep Lemons Fresh In A Crock

For long-term storage, fresh lemons keep best in a tightly sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator.
But if you don’t have a refrigerator or space in the fridge is limited, there is a time-tested low tech way to store fresh lemons.

Fresh Lemons In A Crock Of COld Water

Lemons Can Be Stored In A Crock Of Cold Water

Fresh lemons will store very well for about 6 to 8 weeks by being completely submerged in a ceramic crock of cold water.
Simply place lemons in a clean ceramic crock and cover them entirely with very cold water.




Set a small plate or water filled plastic bag on top of the lemons to keep them submerged and prevent them from floating. Allow the water to cover the plate. If you use a water filled plastic bag, add more water to weight the bag down if necessary to keep the lemons down in the cold water.

Lemons Under A Plate In A Crock

Lemons Held Under Water By Plate Stay Fresh For Weeks

Store the crock in a cool location like an unheated basement or root cellar. Change the water every week or so and you’ll have a supply of  juicy lemons whenever you want them.

Farmhouse Kitchen Remodel

My mother-in-law always hated my kitchen.
She could never understand why I would live with a low-tech make shift kitchen for 25 years. To her way of thinking, a kitchen without fitted cabinets and lots of modern small appliances and vinyl is just plain kooky.

Kitchen July 2007

Kitchen In Summer of 2007

But in the middle of January 2015 my old farmhouse kitchen was completely remodeled with her full endorsement.
My mother-in-law hasn’t seen the new kitchen yet. For the last couple of weeks the snow and ice has made it too dangerous for her to visit. But as soon as some of the ice melts she’ll get to see it.
I know that some of you are also interested in the details and want to see it finished.
So here it is.




The kitchen remodel took only 2 weeks.
The old kitchen was totally torn out except for the existing cherry floor. The LP range, refrigerator, cook-stove and ceiling fan were saved.

Kitchen Torned Out

Kitchen Without Walls or Ceiling During The Remodel

The ceiling was lowered 3” to accommodate the new cabinets and crown molding. All new wiring was installed and 8 can lights were installed in a new plank beadboard ceiling.

Ceiling and Countertops

Beadboard Ceiling & Maple Countertops

Beadboard was also installed along the walls and topped with chair rail. The trim for the windows and doors is 7” wide and the baseboards are 10″ wide. A new cherry door was made by an Amish cabinet-maker, as were the maple counter tops.

Cherry Door

New Kitchen Door Is Made Of Pennsylvania Cherry

I designed the counter tops near the LP range with overhang to provide a lip for clamp-on food grinders and other kitchen equipment.

Upper Cabinets and A Shelf

Glass Upper Cabinets and a Shelf Above LP Range

An 18 gauge 9 inch deep double bowl stainless steel sink sits directly between the upper cabinets. The sink has a soap dispenser. The faucet is a pull down type with a lever handle that can either stream or spray.

Sink and Faucet

Stainless Steel Sink With A Pull Down Faucet

The back splashes are standard 4X4 white bathroom tile and reach to the bottom of the cabinets.
For the sake of expediency I ordered Kraft Maid cabinets from Home Depot instead of having them built by the Amish. If I had it to do again I would not buy Kraft Maid. The cabinets and drawers are solid maple and look nice.

Cabinets

Kraft Maid Cabinets

But what you can’t see is that they are put together with staples and in my opinion are junk.
The upper cabinets have glass fronts and the lower cabinets have a recessed panel.

The new walls are drywall and have been painted a very light grey. The trim is white.
I replaced the oak pedestal table that had been in the kitchen for 70 years with a smaller rectangular table.
The smaller table doesn’t look as nice to my eye but is a much better fit. The oak table is in storage. Hopefully  a new dining room will be built.
In general the remodeling went quickly and with no delays. During the remodel all of the appliances and the tall corner cupboard were pushed into the living room.

Kitchen In The Living Room

Camping Out In The Living Room

For 2 weeks we ate lots of hot dogs, frozen entrees and take out food.
I did buy a microwave oven during the remodel so that I could heat water for tea and heat the frozen food.
But I’m not sure if I’ll keep it.
For now the microwave is sitting on the counter because I want my mother-in-law to see it.
It will delight her to no end.

Microwave Oven

Microwave Oven Is On Counter For Show

Bread Machine White Bread Recipe

After a lifetime of his mother’s baking, and more than 25 years with me, homemade is pretty much the only bread my husband will eat. He’s a spoiled man for sure.
Usually I pick one or two days a month to batch bake. On those days I’ll bake 6 loaves of bread and make cookies and other flour goods. I freeze the bread and baked items so we seldom run out. But this spring I became involved in a couple of projects that left me little time and absolutely no desire to be in the kitchen.
So for a few of weeks I completely stopped baking. We eventually ran out of homemade bread.




So what to do? I bought a loaf of bread at the grocery store. No big deal right?
Wrong.
First off I was shocked at the price. Almost $4 a loaf! My goodness! I had no idea store bread was so expensive. And if the price of bread wasn’t bad enough, the taste, smell and texture was terrible. We couldn’t finish the loaf.
I ended up feeding the store bought bread to to the pigs. But while watching the pigs hog down the bread I had an “aha” moment.
It occurred to me that lots of people have been ditching their expensive bread machines and going Low Carb and Paleo.
Seems every time I go into the Salvation Army Thrift Store I see at least one perfectly good bread machine.

And sure enough later that day I had my pick of three decent bread machines at the local thrift store.
Problem solved. I stay out of the kitchen and the Mr. gets a fair substitute for what his mother and I do best.
It was the smartest money I spent this year. At the cost per loaf even if I had to pay full price for a bread machine it would have been money well spent.

Bread Machine

Thrift Store Bread Machine

Thought you might like to see the bread machine recipe I use for white bread.

Recipe for 2 Pound Loaf of Bread Machine White Bread

Add the following ingredients in order:

  • 1Cup of Warm Water
  • 1/3 Cup of Evaporated Milk (can also use regular fluid milk)
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 1/4 Cups of All -Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Bread Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons of White Sugar (I use cane sugar because it’s none GM)
  • 1 ½ Teaspoons of Salt

Gently stir the dry ingredients together with a fork taking care not to mix the water or butter mix into them. Create a small well in the flour mixture and then add

  • 1 ½ Teaspoons of Active Dry Yeast

Choose the 2 lb. loaf setting with a medium crust. Start the machine according to the  manufacturer’s directions for your bread machine. What could be more simple?

Bread Machine White Bread

A Loaf of Bread From a Bread Machine

Farmhouse Kitchen

My house was built in 1890.
The kitchen of my house was at one time a dining room. The original kitchen that was built with my home was a small wing that came off the west side of the house. The wing burned down sometime in the mid 1920’s and was never replaced.
I’m the 4th Mrs. Grossman and the 5th generation to live in my house. Since I’ve lived here the kitchen has had a few different alterations.The biggest change and improvement to the kitchen was the addition of a cook stove and chimney. I paid $4600 for the stove and $1200 for the chimney.
I think it was a wise investment.

Kitchen

Springtime Kitchen

In my kitchen a homemade counter top with a sink and a base was built from 2X4s. The counter top is a piece of laminate I found on the damaged item cart at Lowe’s. I think I paid around $35 for it 15 years ago.The double bowl sink and faucet in my kitchen were also from Lowe’s. They’re nothing fancy.

Happily in 1999 I got my first ever dishwasher. I don’t own many electrical appliances but I bought the dishwasher to help with my home canning.
It was worth every penny.
The kitchen cabinets consist of old shelves that I got at an auction for $10. There is also a free standing cupboard in the kitchen that came from a local junk store. I think I paid $225 for it. I didn’t want to spend that much money on it. But I couldn’t get the seller to take any less and I really wanted it. I’m glad that I sprang for it because it’s a storage behemoth. Mason jars fit perfectly. But my favorite piece in the kitchen is an old corner cupboard in the kitchen that has been in the same corner for 3 generations

Kitchen July 2007

Kitchen In Summer of 2007. Auction Cabinets and a Free Standing Cupboard

About 10 years ago I laid a cherry floor in the kitchen.
A small local family owned wood mill had a fire, and some of their custom ordered flooring sustained smoke and soot damage. I was offered the entire lot of cherry flooring for $230. So I bought it on the spot.

Cleaning Floors

Cleaning The Kitchen Floors

Now I’m no carpenter, but do know how to use a pneumatic nail gun and a cutoff saw. So I laid the floor myself. It was quite easy really. I just fit the boards and then face nailed the pieces in place. When the floor was complete I sanded it on my hands and knees with a hand sander.




Sadly the kitchen floor is looking somewhat the worse for wear these days. It needs light sanding and two new coats of varnish. The area in front of the sink has actually been worn down to bare wood from standing in front of the sink.

Worn Floor

Worn Floor In Front Of Sink Base

The base for the counter and sink also needs some work. There’s a large hole in the base. It’s there because this past winter I ripped out a brand new dishwasher that replaced the one I bought in 1999. Someday I’ll post about my dishwasher melt down and why I have no intention of ever owning another.
I think the only thing a kitchen really needs is some type of stove; an ice chest or cooler and source of water and a cook.
Everything else is a luxury

Painting The Pantry

Painting The Pantry

For the next couple of weeks I’ll be working on my old kitchen. The sink base will be freshened up with a coat of paint and I’ll sew some simple under curtains to conceal the dishwasher hole and the space under the sink.
The two cupboards in the kitchen will be cleaned out. The contents will be boxed up and moved out of the kitchen. That’s because the cupboards have to be moved so the floor can be varnished. The stove and refrigerator also have to be moved.

Before Remodel

Kitchen Before The Remodel

It should take about 5 days to a week for the floor to dry enough so that it’s safe to move heavy appliances and furniture back into the room.
So if you don’t hear from me again for a few weeks – you’ll know what I’m up to.

***UPDATE
I gave up trying to put lipstick on a pig.
Somewhere between painting the sink base and sanding the floor I decided I wanted kitchen that was easier to care for in my old age. Plus there is a possibility that I may sell my house and farm.
Not everybody wants to pay $$$ for a make-do funky homestead kitchen. So in January of 2015 the kitchen was completely remodeled.

Storing Canning Jars

Canning jar storage is almost always an issue for home canners.  I’m not sure an ideal storage solution has ever been found for empty jars.
I store canning jars in an unfinished cellar in clear plastic tote tubs. The jars are stored without the bands.

Mason Jars Stored In Tubs

Mason Jars Stored In Clear Plastic Tubs With Lids

I keep the bands out of the cellar and away from any dampness. In the past when I did keep the bands in the cellar they rusted and pitted.




I like clear tubs for storing Mason jars because I can easily see what size jars are in the tub. I also  can  see approximately how many jars are in a tub. The tote tubs are fairly sturdy and can be carried, stacked and are easily washed.

The only downside to storing canning jars in the cellar is that I have to go down a set of rickety stairs into the cellar to retrieve the jars.
It wasn’t a problem when I was a young woman, but now that I’m getting older, I can only carry up half a laundry basket of jars at a time. In another 10 years or so I probably won’t be able to safely carry any jars up the cellar stairs.
Oh the perils of growing old on a homestead!

Make Jam Without Pectin

Well wasn’t I hopping mad yesterday morning.
I had plans to make peach jam from frozen peaches that had been in the freezer since last September.
I like to use pectin when making jams and jellies because it saves time and stove fuel. I also think pectin jams have a slightly better flavor. But my plans hit a snag.

Free Peaches

Free Peaches





I bought “Ball” brand pectin instead of “Sure-Jell” brand, and didn’t notice until yesterday morning, that I had bought instant pectin instead of regular pectin. Instant pectin is used for freezer jams and is not interchangeable with regular powdered pectin.
I began to do a slow burn.
***(Optional Side Rant)***( All the Ball pectin products look alike to me when they’re on the grocery store shelf. And if you  ask me, Jarden/Ball Brands should work on their labeling so the difference between the two types of pectin is more readily apparent to the consumer. When I called to complain the customer service rep gave me some line about how we the consumers demanded “green” labeling for the Jarden/Ball Brand. Give me a  break!  Next time I’m buying Sure-Jell.)
Well I cooled off, but there was no way I was going to use up gasoline or time going to town for a couple of boxes of pectin. So I decided to make peach jam without pectin.

Peach Jam

Jars Of Peach Jam

Making peach jam without pectin is easy.
It just takes a little bit more boiling. The jam will be darker and have a more old-fashioned cooked taste when compared to jam made with pectin.
The trick to making perfect jams without pectin is a candy thermometer and knowing what “sheeting” looks like on a metal spoon.
When making jam without pectin you first need to determine at what temperature water boils in your location on a given day. The boiling point of water changes by altitude and with atmospheric conditions.To test the temperature of boiling water and jam you’ll need a jelly or candy thermometer.

Testing The Temperature Of Boiling Water

Testing The Temperature Of Boiling Water

Once you know what temperature water boils at, all you have to do is add 9°F to that number for perfect jam every time.

Recipe for Peach Jam

  • 4 ½ cups of peeled, pitted and crushed ripe peaches (I’m assuming you already know how to peel & pit peaches)
  • ¼ cup of fresh lemon juice (that’s 1 medium size lemon)
  • 7 cups of white sugar (do yourself a favor and buy pure cane sugar. Beet sugar is now a GMO)

Measure out crushed peaches and place in the bottom of a large kettle. Flat bottom kettles are perfect for this, but any good heavy 8 quart pan will do.
Add lemon juice and sugar to the peaches and stir well.
Place the kettle or pan on high heat and stir constantly until the mixture comes to a full rolling boil. A full rolling boil is a boil that cannot be stirred down.
Once the jam mixture has begun to boil, occasionally test the mixture for correct temperature and “sheeting”.

To take the temperature of cooking jam, place the candy or jelly thermometer in the center of boiling mixture. But take care that you don’t rest the thermometer on the bottom of the pan. You want the temperature of the jam not the pan. Remember you need a temperature that is 9°F above the boiling point of water.
Sheeting on a spoon is another method to double-check and test jam or jelly.

Jam Mixture Sheeting On A Spoon

Jam Mixture Sheeting On A Metal Spoon

Sheeting is tested by dipping a cool, clean metal spoon into the mixture and quickly lifting it up and to the side.
You are looking to see 2 drops of jam that will run together to form 1 thick drop on the edge of the spoon. The jam mixture forms a jelly sheet on the spoon.
The characteristic layer of jam on a metal spoon is sheeting. It’s the method that our great-grandmothers used when they tested for the correct jelly or jam temperature.

Keep in mind that jams and jellies will thicken as long as they are heated. And it’s easy to over cook jam if you’re not careful.

If you are lucky enough (or foolish enough) to own a refrigerator (depends upon world view),
there is another and more modern method for testing jam when jam is ready . The test is performed by cooling a small amount of hot jam on a plate and placing the plate in the freezer compartment of a refrigerator.
While conducting the test, you’ll need to remove the kettle from the heat so that the jam doesn’t accidentally over cook.
The way that you do it is to place a small amount of hot jam on a clean plate and put the plate in the freezer for a few minutes. If the jam forms a gel it is probably done. But if the jam is still too runny it needs more time on the stove.

Foam On Peach Jam

Foam On Peach Jam

After the jam is cooked, and you are confident that it’s the right consistency remove it from the heat. Set it aside for about 5 minutes to allow any foam to collect on the top. Now carefully remove and skim as much foam as you can with a slotted metal spoon. It helps to rinse and clean the spoon between skimmings.

The foam does no harm to the jam. It’s simply removed because of appearance. The foam migrates to the top of a sealed jar of jam or jelly and has a “rubbery” look and feel to it. You won’t win any blue ribbons at the local county fair with foamy jam or jelly.

Lawrence County Fair Jams & Jellies

Lawrence County Fair Jams & Jellies

After the foam has been removed, pour the jam into hot ½ pint jars leaving about ¼ inch head space – maybe a little less. Wipe the rims clean and seal the jars with a modern two piece lid system.

Process the jars for 10 minutes in a gentle water bath. Processing time is counted from the time the water begins to boil.

Peach Jam Processing In A Water Bath

Peach Jam Processing In A Water Bath

When processing time is complete, remove the jars and place on a wooden board or a thick towel. Allow the jars to cool undisturbed for 8 – 12 hours. When completely cool, check the seals and remove the bands. Store the jam in a cool dark location.

Jam Tips

  • Make only enough jam for one year. Jams and jellies lose quality if stored for too long.
  • Floating fruit is reduced considerably by stirring the jam mixture after the foam is removed and the jam has cooled down a bit.
  • Canned or frozen fruit may be used when making jams and jellies. In fact a superior strawberry jam is made from frozen strawberries instead of fresh ones. And I think the best pineapple jam comes from crushed canned pineapple.
  • Modern canning lid systems work better for jam than a layer of paraffin. Save the old timey paraffin seals for jelly and not for jam.

Freezers

I’m no fan of the grocery store. So I keep two freezers and a well stocked pantry.
One freezer is mostly for meat and the other is for fruits, vegetables, bread and other assorted foods. Throughout the year both freezers are in a constant state of flux. As one is emptied the other is filled again. I try to have both freezers low on food at the beginning of June to coincide with the summer garden. But sometimes that isn’t always possible. Especially if a cow,a  pig or a couple of lambs have recently been butchered and put into the freezers.By November 1st I like to have both freezers and pantries well stocked for the coming winter and following spring. That’s the time when food is scarce.

Meat Freezer

Upright Freezer With Meat

It may sound strange to you, but if I had to choose between owning a freezer or a refrigerator, I’d give up my refrigerator before I’d get rid of one of my freezers.




To my way of thinking a freezer is a much more practical electric appliance than a refrigerator. I can live very well without a refrigerator, but not without a freezer.
Here’s why.
Most foods are best when consumed fresh.
In fact a pretty effective argument can be made for always eating as fresh as possible and to avoid overly processed foods with a long shelf life.
Many foods can be kept at room temperature for a few days to a week before any sign of spoilage begins.
Fresh eggs can sit out on a counter top and have a very long shelf life. Hard cheeses and breads do well as long as they are wrapped tight.
Potatoes, onions, squash, apples, oranges, celery, cabbage and many other common foods really never need refrigeration.
Dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, and soft cheese should be kept cool. Beer, fruit juice and soda pop are best served cold.
Happily those foods can be stored in a large cooler.
Meats and other foods from a freezer can be easily defrosted and consumed as needed.

Upright Freezer

Upright Freezer In October

The way that the Old Order Amish here in my corner of Pennsylvania keep their dairy foods cold is with ice. They use a cooler or an old refrigerator that doesn’t run.
The Amish who use a broken refrigerator will buy bagged ice in town. That ice is then put into a large plastic dish pan or tub on the top shelf of the refrigerator and the food is placed on the lower shelves.
Depending upon the time of the year and how often the refrigerator door is opened, the ice is usually replaced every few days to once a week. During very hot weather the ice has to be replaced much more often.
Of course during the winter food can be kept in a cold pantry, in a cold attic, on a cold porch or in a cold box that is fitted to a window.

Chest Freezer

Removing Tomatoes & Butter From A Chest Freezer

When you have a freezer you can make the ice necessary to keep things cold. With ice you can keep your perishable food in a cooler or in an ice box.
I’m a food storage fanatic.
And I always store at least one year’s worth of food and supplies.
Long-term food storage is best accomplished by stockpiling foods by at least two different methods. Canning and freezing are the two methods I most often employed.

A large freezer (or two in my case) allows for the long-term storage of food and preserves the taste and texture of many foods much better than canning. Some foods like broccoli, cabbage or egg-plant should only be frozen and never canned.

Broccoli

Garden Fresh Broccoli Ready For Freezing

A large freezer can be easily maintained during an electrical power outage with a generator and some common sense.
If for some reason a power outage should last weeks instead of days, most foods in my freezer can be canned in an orderly manner.
The foods that can only be frozen (like egg-plant or broccoli) will have to be eaten promptly or fed to pigs or chickens.
But that’s not a real problem in the big scheme of things.
Give me the choice between a freezer or a refrigerator – and I’ll pick the freezer every time.
If you ask me, a refrigerator is an expensive and overrated modern convenience that most people think of as a necessity. There are much cheaper ways to store milk, ketchup, onions, lunch meat and beer.

Freezer

Cleaning Out A Freezer

Recipe For Apple Pie

Here’s my recipe for Apple Pie. There are two methods presented here: a raw filling and a heated filling.
The raw pack is presented first and is the faster method. The heated pack is essentially the same as the raw pack. Details for the heated filling follow in the notes below.

Apple Pie

A Slice of Apple Pie

The heated apple filling is probably the superior pie and always looks better. If you get a chance to try both and let me know what you think.
Enjoy!

  • 7 to 10 firm medium size apples – peeled, cored and sliced. It’s nice to mix a couple different varieties of apples when making an apple pie. Cortland and Northern Spy apples are my favorite for pies. But Granny Smith, Jonagold, Newton Pippin, Winesap or Honey Crisp are all good for baking.
  • 1 Cup Cane Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Corn Starch
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Juice and Pulp From 1 Medium to Small Size Fresh Lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter

Double Pastry for a 9″ or 10″ pie plate or tin

*************************

Step 1

Make The Pastry

Make a pastry for a double crust pie.
Please check here if you need a crust recipe or don’t know how to make one.
Wrap the pie pastry in wax paper or plastic wrap and set it in the cooler or refrigerator while you work on the apple filling. Pastry needs to be kept cold.

Step 2

Prepare the Apples

The lemon juice will help prevent the apples from turning an ugly brown. Lemon also adds a good tart flavor to the pie.
Cut, squeeze and remove the seeds from the lemon. If you run hot water over the lemon or place the lemon into a cup of hot water for a minute or so, and then rub it between your palms before you cut it, the lemon will give more juice.

Fresh Lemon Juice

Juicing A Fresh Lemon

Add the lemon juice with pulp to a very large bowl. You will put the apple slices into the bowl while you are working on them, so make sure the bowl is big enough.
Prepare the apples by peeling, coring and slicing them into ½ inch slices. A mechanical apple peeler and corer works well for this.

But an old-fashioned paring knife and apple corer will get the job done too.

A Peeled Apple

Peeled Apple Ready To Be Cored & Sliced

As each apple is peeled, cored and sliced, place it into the large bowl with the lemon juice. Stir the apples after each addition to insure that all apple slices get their fair share of lemon juice.
Step 3
Mix the Apple Coating
In a separate large bowl combine the sugar, flour, corn starch, salt, and cinnamon and apple cider vinegar.
Mix it well with a fork until all the dry ingredients are well incorporated.

Mixing Coating Over Apples

Mixing Coating Over Apples

The mixture will be brown and crumbly.
Turn the apples into the bowl a few at a time and mix with a wooden spoon to coat them.

Step 4
Roll Out the Pastry For The Bottom Crust
I always use wax paper when rolling out my pie crusts. But you may prefer a well-floured board, counter top or pastry cloth.



Roll out the bottom crust taking care that you don’t stretch it or over work it. Keep the rolling-pin and pastry dough well dusted with flour to prevent the pastry dough from sticking. Line the pie plate and allow about 1 ½ – 2 inches of pastry dough to overhang.
Step 5
Add Apples
Fill the pie pan with the coated apples.

Apples Fill Pie Pan

Filling Pie Pan With Prepared Apples

The first picture in this section depicts raw pack apples. The second picture with the butter pats depicts the hot pack.
If you look carefully you will notice a difference. The same amount of apples are present in both pies, but the heated pack apples take up less space.

Evenly dot small bits of butter across the top for either type of filling.

Doting Mixture With Butter

Dotting Apple Filling With Butter

Step 6
Roll Out the Top Crust
You’ll need to make the top crust wider than the bottom crust.
That’s because the apples will be heaped up in the pie pan. It takes a larger top to cover them.
Put the top crust on the pie, trim the crust evenly (I use scissors) and turn the edges under to seal the pie. You can crimp or flute the edges with your fingers. A spoon, fork tines or the handle of a butter knife also works well.
I usually cut a few air holes in my pie tops or use a pie bird to help vent the stem.

Pie Bird In Action

Pie Bird Helps To Vent The Pie

If you want to prevent the edges of the crust from over browning or burning, place thin strips of foil around the crust and remove the foil during the last 10 -15 minutes of baking. A commercial pie shield also works well. I don’t usually do this with a lard crust. But for a crust made with butter or Crisco it can be a good idea.

Also, you may want to place a cookie sheet on the rack under the pie while it is baking. Sometimes the pie will bubble over and leave a pretty good mess on the oven floor. It’s easier to clean a cookie sheet than an oven.
Step 7
Bake the Pie
Bake the pie for 40 – 50 minutes in a hot oven until nicely brown.
400F° is just about right.
Sometimes a really big apple pie will require more time in the oven.
Once the pie is done, remove it from the oven and place it on a rack to cool. Serve warm or cold.

Pie Cooling

An Apple Pie Cooling On A Wire Rack

*Apple Pie Tips & Hints*
*With apple pies, very often there will be a hollow space between the apples and the crust. It can be a disappointment for novice pie makers. But don’t worry you did nothing wrong.
There’s a fix for it.
The hollow space forms because the apples gradually shrink while they are baking, but the crust bakes firm where it started. The amount of hollow head space inside an apple pie can be partly controlled by par cooking the apples before adding them to the unbaked bottom crust.
Follow the recipe exactly as above, except in Step 3 mix the apple coating in a large kettle or pot and add the apples to it instead of a large bowl.
Next heat the apples on a very low heat for about 20-25 minutes. Stir the apples often so they don’t stick.
Take care that you don’t overcook them or you could end up with applesauce if you’re not careful.
After the apples have cooked and soften a bit, put the still hot apples in the pie pan. Cover with the top crust and proceed with the recipe. The baking time will be shortened and there’s sometimes a tendency for the pie to bubble a little more. I usually will make my pies by this method if I’m hungry for compliments, or appearance and presentation is important. It takes more time – but it’s worth it.
*Some cooks will brush the top of the pie with egg white or milk to make the crust soft or shiny.
*Place pies on a rack to cool and the bottom will not be soggy.
* A fluted pie pan makes a scalloped edge pie which is very nice for entertaining. Scalloped pie dishes are pricey but worth it if you make lots or pies or need to impress.

Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is a favorite around here. My husband likes it for breakfast and I like it anytime. It’s a fantastic way to use up leftover rice.
There are many different variations of rice pudding found around the world. The recipe below is classic American farmhouse cuisine.




Ingredients

Ingredients For Rice Pudding

Rice Pudding

  • Heaping ⅓ Cup of Cooked Rice
  • 6 Eggs
    • ¾ – 1 Cup of White Cane Sugar
  • 1 Quart Whole Milk
  • ½ Cup of Raisins
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

Pre-Heat oven to 350°.
In a large bowl combine eggs, sugar and milk. Beat well with a rotary mixer, whisk or by hand vigorously. Take care that the sugar is well blended.

Blend Well

Blend Eggs, Milk & Sugar Well

Place the cooked rice in a 1 ½ – 2 quart casserole dish or into small custard dishes. Sprinkle raisins over the rice.

Pour the milk mixture over the rice. Stir rice and milk mixture very gently with a fork to help unstick any clumps of rice. Evenly sprinkle nutmeg over the top. Place casserole or dishes in a shallow pan of water to bake. Bake for about 1 hour or until a table knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve hot or cold.

Rice Pudding

A Bowl Of Rice Pudding

How To Make Foolproof Crock Pot Yogurt

Homemade yogurt is actually very simple to make. And if you ask me the easiest and most dependable way to make yogurt at home is with an electric crock pot.
All you need is crock pot, a thermometer, some fresh milk and a little bit of the proper type bacteria.




Greek yogurt is a favorite of mine and is also very easy to make. Greek yogurt is simply ordinary yogurt that has most of the whey drained from it.

Milk & Electric Crock Pot

A Gallon of Milk & Electric Crock Pot

There are many recipes on the internet for homemade yogurt. Some of them actually make what I would consider yogurt – but plenty of them don’t.
Homemade yogurt does not have the same firm consistency as store-bought yogurt. Store bought yogurt is a fake out and is thicken and stiffen with pectin, milk solids and other thickeners.

Homemade yogurt created without added pectin or powdered milk will have a top layer of whey that makes the yogurt thinner.
Whey is the natural liquid by-product of cheese and yogurt making and is easy to strain off.

Yogurt & Cranberries

Fresh Homemade Yogurt With Cranberries

The important thing to remember about homemade yogurt is that if you want to make it thicker, the whey needs to be strained from the yogurt . The more whey that is removed from the yogurt the firmer the final product. In fact if you strain off most of the whey from yogurt, you’ll end up with a delicious soft cheese known as “yogurt cheese”.
The crock pot method of making yogurt produces very dependable results. It is pretty much foolproof as long as you follow the directions faithfully. If you want success – don’t improvise.

Here’s What You’ll Need

  • 1 Gallon of Milk (4 Quarts) – Doesn’t matter what type of milk
  • 2 Tablespoons of Starter Yogurt – The bacteria for the yogurt has to come from somewhere. If you don’t already have a starter you’ll need some yogurt. It can be any type of yogurt but must have both of the active and live cultures of lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus. Read the label to make sure you have the right starter bacteria.
  • Electric Crock Pot
  • Some Type of Cooking or Dairy Thermometer
  • A Whisk or Fork
  • A Colander
  • Muslin, Plyban Cheesecloth or Some Type of Woven Cloth
  • Bath Towel or Woolen Scarf
  • Oven or Other Draft Free Warm Location

Place the gallon of milk into the crock pot and cover. Heat the milk slowly until the milk is between 180°F – 190°F. It is vital to heat the milk to at least 180°F.

Heating Milk In Crock Pot

Heating Milk In Crock Pot

The milk must be made sterile and free from all types of bacteria. The only bacteria you want growing in the milk will be the lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophiles that you will purposely add when you inoculate the milk. This is an especially important step with raw milk.

* Note to raw milk people*
You have to get rid of the other bacteria if you want consistent and dependable results when making yogurt. Competing bacteria can be a problem.


Allow the milk to cool naturally and undisturbed to a temperature of 110°F. It takes about 3 ½ to 4 hours to cool to that temperature. It is critical to the success of the yogurt that you catch the milk at 110°F. 110°F is the ideal temperature for inoculating yogurt.

100°F IsThe Ideal Temperature

100°F Is The Ideal Temperature

A temperature any higher may kill the added bacteria. And if the temperature is too cool the bacteria will not thrive.

If you are using non-homogenized or raw milk there will be a skin that has formed on the top of the milk.

Milk Skin On Milk

A Milk Skin Will Form On Non-Homogenized Milk

The skin should be carefully and completely removed. If you don’t remove all of the milk skin you’ll get nasty hard flakes in your yogurt.

Remove about 1 cup of warm milk into a separate cup or small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of starter yogurt to the cup of milk.

Inoculating Milk

Inoculating Warm Milk With Lactobacillus Bulgaricus and Streptococcus Thermophilus

Do not add any extra yogurt. 2 tablespoons are all you need.
The bacteria must have adequate room to grow and won’t grow properly if overcrowded. With a fork or a whisk, gently but thoroughly stir the starter yogurt into the cup of milk to inoculate it.

Next pour the inoculated milk back into the crock pot and stir in gently going from side to side. Do not stir in circles – use a careful and slow up and down lifting motion moving across the length of the crock.

 Whisk In Inoculated Milk

Gently Whisk In Inoculated Milk

Carefully lift the covered crock out of the electric base and place it into a cool oven. Lay a bath towel or woolen shawl snugly around the crock and leave it undisturbed overnight or for about 10 – 12 hours.

 Milk Covered With Towel In Oven

Crock Of Milk Covered With Towel In Oven

You want the milk to stay nice and warm.
An oven with a pilot light or electric light turned on works great. Do not disturb the milk and keep the oven door closed. If you open the oven door you may have a yogurt failure.

After 10 or 12 hours your yogurt should be solid with a layer of whey on the top.

Proper Yogurt Consistency

Proper Yogurt Consistency After 12 Hours

If you like a thicker yogurt you’ll need to drain or carefully pour off the whey.
The way that I do it is by pouring the yogurt into a colander lined with Plyban cheesecloth that has been set on top of a large pot. A rectangular piece of muslin or a clean dish towel can be used. I don’t like to use regular cheesecloth because the weave is too sleazy and open. If I have to use regular cheesecloth I triple the layers.

Straining The Whey From Yogurt

Straining The Whey From Yogurt Using Plyban Cloth

As the whey drains away from the yogurt it is collected into the pot and can be used later for another food purpose or fed to chickens or pigs.

Whey Left Behind From Straining Yogurt

Whey Left Behind From Straining Yogurt

It takes about 2 hours of draining to make a thick natural yogurt, and about 3 or 4 hours to make Greek style yogurt. Once the yogurt is the thickness that I want, I lift the cheesecloth from the colander and carefully dump the yogurt into a covered dish or large container.

Finished Homemade Yogurt

Finished Homemade Yogurt

I store my yogurt in a refrigerator or a cooler to keep it sweet tasting. Some people prefer a tart yogurt and do leave it out at room temperature for over 24 hours. The longer yogurt stays at room temperature the more tart it will become.
I try to always remember to save a little bit back so I have starter for the next batch.

Non-Electric Drip Coffee Maker

I have hard water on my farm. Hard water has killed every electric drip coffee maker that I’ve ever owned. So years ago I gave up on electric coffee makers and switched to either range top perked coffee or the Melitta pour over system for coffee. Both methods make good coffee but both methods have drawbacks for my particular household.

Non-Electric Drip Coffee

Non-Electric Drip Coffee Maker On Cook Stove

Stove top perked coffee is wonderful but takes too long on most mornings. The Melitta system uses expensive paper filters and I’m not wild about buying disposable anything.
So a few years ago I bought a Lindys stainless steel drip coffee maker. The coffee maker consists of a two piece basket and lid and bottom.

Non-Electric Drip Coffee Marker

Lindys Non-Electric Drip Coffee Pot

Here’s how to make a really good cup of coffee with one:
Set a kettle of water on to boil. Place the basket on top of the pot. Measure ground coffee into the basket well and then place the basket top over the coffee. I use 1 tablespoon of regular ground grocery store coffee to 1 cup of water.
After the water begins to boil remove it from the heat and permit the water to just cease boiling. Quickly pour the water over top of the basket assembly and allow the hot water to drip through.

Coffee Driping

Coffee Dripping Through Basket Into Pot

After the coffee has finished dripping, remove the entire basket assembly from the pot and set aside.
I usually set the basket in the sink because sometimes it will still drip a little coffee.
Put the lid back on the pot and the coffee pot can now be set on the stove to keep it warm.


The manufacture suggests the use of paper coffee filters but I have found that with paper coffee filters much more coffee needs to be used. Without the paper filters sometimes grounds will get into the bottom of the coffee pot but it’s not too bad. I’d rather put up with some grounds than have to keep buying paper filters and extra coffee.
The non-electric stainless steel coffee pots are expensive. But they pay for themselves over time. We have used our coffee pot every day for well over 3 or 4 years without a problem.




When To Make Sauerkraut

Some days are better than others for making sauerkraut. Four generations ago when to pick the best day to cut cabbage for sauerkraut was basic everyday household information. Back then people couldn’t just run to a grocery store for food. What you grew in the family garden and then stored in your home had to last through the lean winter months. Cabbage and sauerkraut have always provided  a measure of food security for the rural poor.




A hundred years ago, even city people recognized that the moon’s monthly cycle had an effect upon the earth and upon agriculture. Today most educated people completely dismiss the notion that the moon’s cycle has any effect on daily life. It’s easy to think that if you’re not a farmer. Or if you are disconnected from the natural world and believe that food will always be available no matter what.

For many hundreds of years folk wisdom has instructed us, that the best time to make sauerkraut is during the time that the moon is new and up until the its first quarter.

Make Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut In A Crock With Plenty Of Juice

When you make sauerkraut during the early days of the moon’s increase there is always plenty of juice in the crock. The top layer of sauerkraut doesn’t dry out and you won’t have to add any extra brine to the crock. To find the lunar days in a particular month where the moon is beginning to wax consult any good current almanac.

Canning Grape Juice

I always prepare grape juice for canning and jelly with a steam juicer. After 40 years of home canning I’ve tried every way known to woman to get grape juice. Some ways are fun. Like putting whole grapes and sugar in a jar and covering the grapes and sugar with boiling water. And some ways are a real pain in the backside. Like boiling mashed grapes and allowing them to filter through a sieve and a flannel so they can drip..drip..drip..overnight.




Trust me. I’ve put plenty of time in with all the different ways and methods of preparing grape juice. A steam juicer is by far the quickest and easiest way to extract juice from ripe Concord grapes, berries and other soft fruits.

Hot Grape Juice

Pure Hot Grape Juice From a Steam Juicer

A stainless steel steam juicer is an expensive piece of kitchen equipment but is worth every penny.
I don’t own a microwave oven, food processor, electric coffee maker – but I do own a steam juicer.
I’ll never go back to the old way of making grape juice.
Never.

I have found that a full bushel of Concord grapes will yield approximately 18 – 20 quarts of grape juice when steam juiced.
It takes about an hour or so for all the juice to be extracted from every load of Concord grapes, and a bushel of grapes is about 4 full loads through a large steam juicer.

Ready To Steam Juice

Grapes Ready To Steam Juice

I have the best success and extract the most juice with a little trick that I employ.
I run the grapes until no more juice is dripping into the collection pan. I then empty the steam softened grapes into a large bowl and let the grape mess rest while I work on another load of grapes.
After I’ve steamed all the grapes, I take the waste grapes and place them back into the colander pan. I steam the entire bushel of waste grapes all at once (they will fit because the bulk has been reduced) for another 30 minutes or so.
The softened, waste grapes will usually yield another 1 ½ or 2 quarts of juice.
Once I’ve collected all the juice available from the grapes I sweeten the grape juice to taste with pure cane sugar before I bottle it up. I use 4 pounds of cane sugar to 18 quarts of juice. You may prefer more or less sweetening. The cane sugar readily dissolves in the hot juice and there’s never a worry about GMO corn syrup or GMO beet sugar.
Traditionally a boiling water bath canner is used to home can grape juice or apple juice.
Here’s how to do it:
Fill hot clean jars with hot juice allowing ¼” of head space. Wipe the rim of the jar and apply a lid that has been simmered and a band to the jar.

Filling Jars

Filling Jars With Hot Grape Juice

Place the jars into a gentle, but boiling water bath canner making sure the water covers at least 1”- 2” over the tops of the jars. By adding the filled jars, the water in the canner will stop boiling. Wait for the water to return to a gentle but steady boil and process according to the chart below.

Processing Time for Grape Juice in a Boiling Water Canner

Processing  Times at Altitudes of

Jar Size

Sea Level – 1,000 Ft.

1,001 – 6,000 Ft.

Above 6,000 Ft.

Pints or Quart Jars

5 minutes

10 minutes

15 minutes

Half-Gallon Jars

10 minutes

15 minutes

20 minutes

 

After the processing time is complete, remove the jars from the canner and allow them to cool undisturbed and free from drafts for 8-12 hrs.
When the jars are cooled, remove the bands and check the seals. Wipe the jars clean, label and store in a cool dark location.
PRESSURE CANNING GRAPE JUICE
I pressure can grape juice even though there’s no food science tested or approved processing time for apple or grape juice in a pressure canner that I’m aware of.
Maybe it’s out there somewhere and I just haven’t seen it.
I live at 1250 ft. above sea level, and usually process my grape juice in a pressure canner at 5 lbs. of pressure for both pints or quarts for 5 or 6 minutes and allow for 1/2 inch of head space in the jar.
When it comes time to use the home canned grape juice, I mix it half and half with water and chill before serving.  Or sometimes for a treat I’ll mix it with club soda and serve it over ice. It’s like grape soda – but better.

Tattler Canning Lids

Tattler lids are a modern and reusable 2-piece lid system for home canning. The lids consist of a BPA free white plastic lid and a red rubber ring or gasket. The two-piece system uses a standard modern jar band to keep the lid and gasket securely on the jar while it is being processed in the canner.

Tattler Canning Lids

Tattler 2-Piece Reusable Canning Lid System

Tattler lids work in principal a little like the old-time zinc lids or wire bail jars. Some of you may be too young to remember, but old-time canning jars used to use a rubber ring or gasket that was attached to the lip or shoulder of a jar, and a zinc lid or glass top was attached to the Mason jar with a bail wire assembly or screw threads.

Wire Bail Jar

Old Fashioned Wire Bail Jar With Rubber and Glass Lid

In those days instead of tightening the bail wire or zinc lid firmly onto the jar before processing in the canner, the lid was left a little loose or the bail wire was left up, so that the food in the jar could vent.

Vent Position

Wire Bail Jar In Vent Position

After the jars were removed from the canner the lid or the wire bail was tighten or clamped down immediately so that a vacuum in the jar could be formed.

Bail Jar in Closed Position

Wire Bail Jar In Closed Position

Reusable canning lids are the ultimate in sustainability and semi self-reliance. Tattler lids are much more expensive than regular one trip lids but will easily pay for themselves over time.





I don’t exclusively use Tattler lids for all my canning needs, but I do keep at least half of my canning jars mated with reusable canning lids.
That’s because I’m old enough to remember the canning lid shortage of 1976 and I don’t ever want to go through that again if I can help it.

Because the lids are reusable I use a wax pencil or a small piece of freezer tape across the top of the lid to mark the date and contents instead of directly on the top of the lid.

Below is a short video that I made the demonstrating the use of Tattler lids.

Can Whole Apple Applesauce With A Pressure Canner

This past weekend I made home canned applesauce and thought you might like to see how I make it.
I almost always make canned applesauce over the course of two days and use a pressure canner to can it. On the first day the applesauce is made and on the second day I can it.




My applesauce is a “whole apple” applesauce. That means the entire apple is used except for the core. I frankly don’t have the time or patience to peel apples for applesauce and I prefer the rosy or caramel color of whole apple applesauce. If you want white applesauce you’ll have to peel the apples to get it.

Whole Apple Applesauce

Whole Apple Applesauce Isn’t White

I save time and cooking fuel by pressure canning applesauce instead of water bath canning it. By pressure canning applesauce the canning processing time is cut by more than half.

WHOLE APPLE APPLESAUCE

First apples are gathered and washed in warm soapy water and thoroughly rinsed. You’d be shocked at how dirty fresh picked apples can be. If you are buying apples from a farm stand or from a grocery store, your apples are probably already washed and you can skip this step. I get about  25 pints of applesauce from a bushel of apples.

Washing Apples

Washing Fresh Picked Organic Apples

After washing, the apples are cored and any bad spots are cut away. Then the apples are placed in a large pot with just enough water so that they won’t stick to the  bottom of the pan. About a cup of water is a good place to start.

The apples then are heated slowly and cooked until they are soft and mushy. It is usually a good idea to stir the pot every now and then to prevent burning or scorching the apples. It takes a few hours to properly cook down about a half bushel of apples. And about another 4 – 5 hours to cool down the apples enough to comfortably handle them and proceed to the next step.

Cooked Apples

Cooked Apples For Applesauce

This is where I often stop for the day. Unless I happened to have started my day very early, the apples are put some place cool overnight like a refrigerator or on a cold porch.
The next day I pick up where I left off, and use a food mill to puree the cooled apples into a large pot.

I suppose if you didn’t have a food mill you could use an electric blender or food processor.

Using A Food Mill

Using A Food Mill To Puree Cooked Apples

I never sweeten my applesauce. But if you prefer sweet applesauce this is the point to add sugar to your personal taste. The applesauce is next heated to very hot. Be mindful and stir it often because it will burn.

Once the applesauce is very hot, it is ladled into pint or quart jars leaving a ½” of head space. I slide a non-metallic object down the side of the jar (I use my trusty wooden chop stick) to release any trapped air bubbles. The rim of the jar is carefully wiped clean and a hot lid and band is applied to the jar.

Lid & Band

A Lid & Band Are Applied To A Filled Jar

The jars are then placed into a pressure canner and the pressure canner is vented according to the manufacturer’s instructions – usually about 7 – 10 minutes. After the canner has been vented the weighted gauge is applied.

The processing time for hot pack applesauce in a weighted gauge pressure canner is:

Jar Size Process Time Sea Level – 1000ft Above 1000ft
Pint 8 Minutes 5 lb. 10 lb.
Quart 10 Minutes 5 lb. 10 lb.

Processing time is counted from the moment the first “jiggle” of the weight gauge is heard.

After the processing time is complete, the canner is allowed to return to normal pressure. The jars are then removed from the canner and allowed to cool away from a draft and undisturbed for 8 – 12 hours.

Cooling Jars

Allow The Jars To Cool For 8 – 12 Hours

After jars are cooled remove bands and check the seals. Wipe the jars clean, label and date the jars and store in a cool dark location.

****

You can most definitely water bath can applesauce. The processing time is 20 minutes for both pints and quarts.  Processing time is counted from the time the water begins to boil after the jars have been placed in the canner. Applesauce can also be frozen for up to 9 -12 months.

The Final Steps Of Skillful Home Canning

Lots of different types of home canned foods benefit from being wiped clean after the bands are removed from the jars and the seals are tested. And all home canned foods benefit from a date and labeling the contents.




Very often the outside of a home processed canning jar will be sticky or greasy. That’s because during the actual canning process most jars will vent a little allowing some of the contents of the jar to escape.
It’s one of the reasons that sometimes fluid is lost in a jar during processing and is the reason that it is important to maintain a proper “head space” for the particular food product that is being canned. Too much or too little head space can result in a loss of liquid and failure of the jar to seal.

Canning Peaches

Labeling Peaches Before Storage

After canning I always wipe my jars clean with warm soapy water and label and date them. A clean jar will not grow fuzzy mold in storage or attract rodents. Large rodents can and will take the lid off of a canning jar.
In a cool dark root cellar or basement, mold will often grow around the threads of a canning jar that is left sticky or dirty. Mold can make its way from the jar threads, to the rim of the jar, and under the lid and cause a lid to pop off and a seal to fail.

Labeling and dating the contents of a jar makes for an easy inventory and food storage rotation.

Not to mention that labeling helps to distinguish food that appear similar –  like cranberry sauce and cherry jam.

Recipe For Fresh Blueberry Pie

This year has proved to be an exceptional year for blueberries. The berries are large and the bushes are positively loaded. I thought you might be interested in the blueberry pie recipe that I use. It’s an older recipe and my personal favorite.

Blueberry Pie

A Slice of Fresh Blueberry Pie

It’s not too sweet and is pleasantly tart.
The secret is in the fresh squeezed lemon juice and pat of butter.
Preheat oven to 400°F

  • 4 ½ Cups of blueberries
  • 1 Cup pure cane sugar
  • ¼ Cup of instant tapioca
  • 1 Tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon butter

Gently but thoroughly mix the blueberries, sugar, tapioca and lemon in a large bowl. Set the blueberries aside for about 15 minutes.
While waiting prepare a double layer pastry crust for a 9” pie pan.
Line the pie pan with the bottom of the pastry crust and then add the blueberry mixture.

Making Blueberry Pie

Blueberry Pie In The Making

Dot the top of the berry mixture with the fresh butter.
Apply the top crust and seal well and crimp or flute the edges.




Cut a few slits in the pie crust or use a pastry bird or a pie bird pie dish to vent the steam.
Bake at 400°F for 45 to 50 minutes.
Cool and then enjoy!

Pie Bird

Pie Bird Helps To Vent The Steam From The Pie

Recipe For Plain Pastry Using Lard

It’s my opinion that the very best plain pastry for fruit pies and beef pies is a pastry crust made with lard and not vegetable shortening, oil or butter. A pastry made with lard is flaky and easy to work with.




What follows below is the plain pastry recipe that I use most often. Give it a try and maybe it will become a favorite in your kitchen too.
Ingredients for a Two Crust 9” Pie

  •  2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 Teaspoon of salt
  • ½ cup of clean white lard
  • 6 tablespoons of ice water

Sift the flour twice on a piece of wax paper or large plate before measuring.

Sift Flour Twice

Sift Flour Twice Before Measuring

Gently spoon the sifted flour into a measuring cup using a large spoon. Level the measuring cup off with the back-end of a table knife or spatula.

Measured Flour

Flour Is Measured Then Leveled In A Cup

Place the sifted flour into a large bowl and add the salt. Stir to mix the salt and flour.
Next measure the lard into a ½ cup measure. Press it firmly into the cup so that there are no air pockets.

Add Lard

Add Lard To The Flour & Salt Mix

Add the lard to the flour and salt mix.

Rub the lard into the flour using your hands or a pastry cutter. Keep rubbing until the flour crumbs are about the size of lentils or rice.

Lard Rubbed Into Flour

The Lard Is Rubbed Into The Flour By Hand Until It Resembles Course Crumbs

Add the ice water very gradually about 2 teaspoons at a time. Mix well with a fork.

Add Ice Water

Add The Ice Water Slowly

Only mix enough water so that the pastry dough can be easy picked up with your hands and not stick to the sides of the bowl. Divide the pastry dough into 2 balls.

Divide Into Balls

Divide Into 2 Equal Size Balls

Take care not to overwork the dough. Overworked pastry dough results in a tough crust. If the day is warm or the kitchen hot, place one of the balls in the refrigerator or cooler while you work on the bottom layer of the pie crust. Cool dough is the secret to easier dough handling and rolling out. A marble rolling pin can be helpful when the weather is hot or humid. The marble stays cool and is heavier than a wooden rolling pin.

On a piece of wax paper, pastry cloth or floured wooden board; gently roll out the bottom crust until it is just a bit larger than your pie pan. If the dough sticks at all, dust a little more flour on the rolling-pin and the board. Don’t be afraid to lift the pastry dough and turn it while rolling it out. Just don’t turn it over and roll it.

Roll Out Dough

Roll Out The Dough On A Well Floured Surface

Line the pan allowing the pastry to overhang the edges of the pan.
Add the pie filling.

Apples Fill Pie Pan

Filling Pie Pan With Prepared Apples

Roll out the top layer of the pie crust in the same manner but make it a little larger in diameter to allow for the extra area that the filling will take up.
Seal the two layers of pastry together by pressing them firmly but gently with your fingers. Trim off the top crust if necessary about ½” beyond the rim of the pie pan. Flute the pastry crust with either the edge of a spoon, fork, knife or your fingers.

Apple Pie With Flutted Top Crust

An Apple Pie Ready To Bake

Bake in a hot oven – 400°F to 450°F until the filling is done.
Cool on wire racks and enjoy.

A Year’s Worth Of Food & Supplies

Every June I start anew the annual cycle of putting aside one year’s worth of food and supplies.
The goal is to have all the food and supplies I need in my pantry, cupboards, closets and cellar by Halloween.
My practical food storage education first began in the mid 1980’s when I attempted to store a winter’s worth of food and household sundries. I live on a rural back road in the snow belt and those days it was not at all unusual for us to be literally snowed in and house bound for a week at a time.
My winter pantry proved to be such a wonderful convenience and time and money saver, that by 1990 I extended my pantry and household stores to last 1 year instead of just the winter.

Food & Supplies

Food and Supplies In A Cellar

I took a lesson from my husband’s Appalachian grandmother and coincided the beginning of my food storage efforts with each year’s new gardening and growing season. For me the food year begins with planting the garden in spring and ends with the final harvest in the fall.
What follows below is this year’s pantry & supplies list. It’s the master supply list that I will carry in my purse and use for the next 5 months to help me store or buy about a year’s worth of food and supplies for 2 older adults.

Pantry

A Basement Pantry

In practice the food and supplies will last longer than a year and I almost never completely run out of anything. I always end the year with a surplus of goods that are rolled over into the following year.
In theory, by comparing this year’s household & pantry inventory with the list that follows below; and then compare both lists with my future household & pantry inventory that I’ll take at the end of next spring, those interested in such things will be able to determine quantities of food and supplies that I use in my home.
From all 3 lists you’ll have a good idea of what my husband and I eat and consume in 1 years’ time.

Cellar With Food

Cellar Pantry

Such lists are fun to look at but probably won’t benefit anyone except me and my husband.
That’s because no two households have the same food ways, food preferences, living arrangements or dietary needs or restrictions.

If you study the list below, you’ll notice that there are no tree nuts or chocolate listed. That’s because chocolate provokes migraine headaches in me and my husband, and tree nuts are a migraine trigger for me. Chocolate chip cookies, hot chocolate, chocolate cake, brownies and chocolate pudding don’t happen at my house anymore and you should keep that in mind as you peruse the list.




You also won’t find any margarine, orange juice, turkey, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals; sweeten drinks, spaghetti or pasta because we don’t eat those things.
You won’t find eggs, fresh fluid milk or beer. We keep chickens, get milk from where we keep our dairy cows and buy beer by the case when we run out.
You won’t find dog or cat food.
What you will find is lots of canned pink salmon, tomato juice and white vinegar. That’s because I eat lots of salmon, like tomato juice for breakfast and clean my house with white vinegar.
You may not clean house or guzzle tomato juice at breakfast the way I do.
That’s why it’s important to understand what is happening in your own home and what you actually eat and use. Because every household is unique, I recommend that anyone who’s serious about the storage of food and supplies do a yearly inventory.

Upright Freezer

Upright Freezer In October

The items listed below that are marked with an asterisk * are items that I will buy at the grocery store or elsewhere because they are things that either I can’t produce myself or don’t care to.
Don’t forget when you read through my list that I have quite a bit of food and some supplies leftover from last year. You are not looking at a complete food or supply list for one year. You must add what I already have in my pantry and cupboards to get a better idea of what 1 year’s worth of food and supplies looks like for 2 older adults.

So without further delay here’s my 2013 -2014 Pantry & Supplies List.
Enjoy!

*After Note*
5/30/2013
My home garden and orchard is the mechanism by which all food storage and production in my home depends upon. Without a garden I don’t know how to economically run my kitchen or pantry nor where to get food or how to pay for it.
The list below does not take into account the fresh fruits and vegetables that are consumed from my home garden and orchard. In my location most of the fresh food production and utilization is between the months of May – October. The “fresh food year” starts with asparagus and lettuce in May, ending with apples in October and Brussels sprouts sometime around the beginning of December. Literally hundreds of pounds of food is consumed and processed for storage during those 6 months.

FOOD

Meat:

6 whole chickens, *# 25 chicken thighs,* # 10 chicken breasts,  ½ pig, # 20 fresh sausage, *#20 bacon, #*10 kielbasa sausage, *5 pkgs. hot dogs, *60 cans of pink salmon, *10 cans smoked kippers,
# 10 beef suet,# 10 leaf lard, (1 Dexter steer to be processed in December- approx. # 250 beef)

 Vegetables from Garden:

56 quarts tomato juice, 63 quarts tomatoes, 18 pints red beets, 9 pints carrots, 8 quarts frozen tomatoes, 20 quarts frozen broccoli, 5 quarts frozen zucchini, 5 quarts yellow summer squash, 8 quarts chopped frozen green peppers, 8 quarts chopped frozen onions, 10 quarts frozen sweet corn, 10 quarts frozen acorn squash, 5 quarts mashed frozen pumpkin, 6 quarts frozen cabbage, 5 quarts frozen Brussels sprouts

Fruits:

63 pints apple sauce, 21 quarts of peaches, 14 quarts of pears, 42 quarts grape juice, 6 pints cranberry juice, 25 pints frozen blueberries;  black berries & raspberries as God provides to go to freezer, *4 cans sliced pineapple, *# 8 box of raisins, *5 boxes prunes,* 2 bags of cranberries to freezer

 Fresh Fruits & Vegetables to Cellar:

potatoes, apples, pears, onions, garlic, 2 pumpkins, carrots, cabbages, squash, tomatoes (?) apple cider

Frozen Food from Grocery Store:

*10 boxes frozen spinach,*6 bags frozen peas, *5 bags lima beans, *4 bags mixed vegetables, *6 boxes breaded fish, *6 boxes Pirogies, *10 frozen pizzas

Dairy:

*# 30 butter, *15 pkgs. cream cheese, *30 cans evaporated milk

Condiments, Sauces & Jellies:

24 -36 ½ pints of jam & jelly, 14 quarts apple butter, 12 pints salsa, * 3 jars sweet relish,* 1 bottle ketchup, * 2 squeeze bottles yellow mustard, * 3 bottles barbecue sauce

Canned Soups & Stews:

14 quarts lentil soup, 14 quarts canned beef chili, 14 quarts lamb stew, 14 quarts beef stew, 14 quarts beef vegetable soup, 7 quarts split pea soup, 18 pints chicken cubes

Pantry Backbone:

*3 quarts red wine vinegar,* 2 gallons olive oil,* # 2 canning salt, *4 jars Miracle Whip, *8 # 4 peanut butter, *3 jars tahini, *6 pkgs. Jell-O, *5 pkgs., liquid pectin,* 5 boxes powdered pectin, *10 boxes lemon herb tea, * 12 large cans coffee,* 3 large chili powder, * 3 large paprika, * 2 large black pepper, * #.50 ground red pepper, * 1 bottle hot sauce, * 2 large ground cumin, * 2 large minced onions, *#1 ground ginger, * 3 -1 oz. bottles almond extract,* 1 bottle Marsala wine, *1 bottle good whiskey,

Flour Grains & Beans:

*#50 lbs. all-purpose flour,*#20 bread flour, *1 box cake flour, *5 large boxes oatmeal,* 1 box Cream of Wheat,*# 3 barley pearls,* #10 black beans, * #6 red kidney beans, * #5 chick peas,* #3 lentils, #50 wheat berries, * # 1 sesame seeds

Baking Supplies & Sugars:

*# 85 lbs. cane sugar, 3 quarts maple syrup, * 3 cans cooking spray,* 2 large bags of instant yeast,* #6 confectioner’s sugar, * 1 can vegetable shortening, * # 8 brown sugar, * # 3 shredded coconut, * # 3 chopped dates,* #2 dried apricots, * # 2 butterscotch chips

HOUSEHOLD SUPPLIES

*6 boxes large kitchen matches,* 10 gallons bleach,* 5 gallons white vinegar, * 1 box borax,* 1 gallon ammonia, * 30 vacuum bags, * 8 large boxes Tide, * 6 large bottles Downy fabric softener, * 1 box dryer sheets,* 14 large bottles Dawn dish soap, * 9 large boxes dishwasher detergent, * 3 bottles toilet cleaner, * 12 cans Bar Keeper Friend, * 5 bottles tub & tile cleaner, * 50 rolls toilet paper, * 24 rolls paper towels,* 4 boxes Kleenex,* 6 large pkgs. paper napkins,* 80 tall white kitchen garbage bags,* 1 box -30 gallon size garbage bags, * 1 box wax paper,* 2 boxes aluminum foil, *mouse traps, * rat poison,

MEDICINE & PERSONAL CARE

*4 large bags disposable razors, *4 cans shaving cream, * 4 large boxes Q-Tips, * 8 tubes toothpaste, * 6 boxes dental floss,* 8 large Listerine, *4 roll-on deodorant, * 4 mascara, * 1 brown eye pencil, * 3 jars old lady eye cream,* 2 large Tylenol, * 2 large aspirin, * 2 tubes hydrocoritison cream, *2 large Vaseline, * 3 large cold cream, *5 hand cream, * 3 cans hair spray, * 3 large shampoo, * 4 bags cough drops ( maybe make horehound drops too)* 2 bottles cough expectorant, *2 bottles cough suppressant,* 2 bottles Pepto Bismol, bar soap, bath oil, * essential oils for soap & bath

 

Plyban Cheesecloth

I make a lot of homemade Greek yogurt. I don’t know if you know it or not but Greek yogurt is simply regular yogurt which has been drained with cheese cloth to make it thicker. In fact if you drain yogurt overnight you’ll end up with yogurt cheese – but that’s a whole other post.

Plyban Lining A Colandar

Plyban Cheesecloth Lining A Colander Full Of Homemade Yogurt

The actual point of this post is the special type of cheesecloth that I use in my kitchen. It is the only type I recommend for Greek yogurt and for all cheese making.




I use a synthetic plastic cheesecloth called “Plyban”.  I prefer Plyband because the weave is tighter than regular cheesecloth and one piece will last me a really long time.

Plyban Hanging On Line

Plyban Hanging On Line To Dry

Curds don’t tend to stick to the surface of Plyban the way that they will with regular cotton cheesecloth. Nor will Plyban stain or discolor from repeated usage like cotton cheesecloth.

Plyban is completely washable and will hold its shape after repeated washings. Plyban is much more expensive than regular cheesecloth. But to my way of thinking it’s worth it. Plyban usually comes in a 40″ width and runs about $6 to $7 a yard. Sometimes you can find Plyban cheaper than that. You usually have to buy a 10 yard minimum which isn’t a problem if you can go in on an order with 2 or 3 other families. But if you can’t find somebody to split an order with – that’s an awful lot of cheesecloth!
If you only need a little bit, last I knew Hoegger Supply was selling two 18″X22″ sheets of Plyban for $3.95.

I clean Plyban by gently scraping any excess yogurt or cheese from the surface with a butter knife prior to hand washing it in hot soapy water. I rinse it well and hang it out to dry. Once it’s dry I fold it up and place it neatly in the cupboard to wait for another cheese or batch of yogurt.

Plyban

Plyban Folded After Washing

Peek Inside My Pantry – Use This Tool To Help Plan A Year’s Worth Of Food & Supplies

Every year I “put to store” about a year’s worth of food and supplies for my family.
I begin in June when serious gardening commences and try to be finished by the end of October. My tool for planning a year’s worth of food and household supplies is a detailed and complete household inventory.
For over 25 years I’ve done a yearly household inventory and recommend the practice to anyone seriously interested in a more self-reliant life.

Pantry

A Basement Pantry

By now I’m pretty proficient at estimating the quantities of food and household supplies for my family for a year or longer, due to sheer applied experience.
But when I was younger there was no such thing as the internet. Basic household management information had to be obtained by way of home economics books checked out of the local public library or by the oral tradition and histories from the 2 generations of women preceding me.
In the beginning when I started to plan for a year’s worth of household needs, I had absolutely no idea about how many rolls of toilet paper, green beans, Q-Tips, pounds of hamburger or coffee were used in my home in any given year. The way that I was able to determine that information was with a wall calendar diary and pen.
Every time I’d open a package of chicken, a box of laundry detergent, a bottle of aspirin or jar of peanut butter I’d note it on the calendar. I was determined and faithful about recording all food, supplies and ordinary household sundries. By the end of the first year I had a pretty good idea of what I was and wasn’t using and how much of each item I was consuming.
It took me 2 or 3 years of really paying attention and keeping track of what was actually occurring in my home to be able to make educated guesses so I could confidently plan for a year’s worth of food and supplies and not waste a penny. I had to learn about and understand my own family’s unique cycle of consumption.
I’m sure that there may be other ways or better ways to glean that type of personal household information, but the simple calendar supply diary is what worked for me and got me started on the road to plan for a year’s worth of food and supplies.

Upright Freezer

Cleaning Out A Freezer

With a yearly inventory I’m able to notice  possible patterns of changing food ways, behaviors or brand preferences and can make the necessary adjustments. The information I gain provides the foundation for a master household and pantry shopping list.

By planning and purchasing  household supplies and certain food stuffs ahead of when I actually need them or run out, I save time, money and gas because I’m not making weekly trips to the grocery store.
Most of the time, the only “shopping” I ever do between the months of November and June is in my basement pantry with a laundry basket.
Once I have a list to work with I know exactly what fruits and vegetables I need to grow for any particular year and how much I can expect to home can or freeze. My list also informs me as to type or quantity of livestock or poultry needed to be raised or butchered in any given year.

Freezer Beef

Beef In Upright freezer

I’ll use my master list to help me buy and then store a year’s worth of food and household supplies that I can’t or don’t want to produce myself – things like light bulbs, paper towels, dishwasher soap, lipstick, olive oil, brown sugar – you get the idea.




By spreading the purchase of store-bought items out over the course of 5 months my monthly budget is not as impacted and the acquisition and storage is easily accomplished.

 I’m almost ready to write my master household supply and pantry list for this year.
I spent 3 days last week cleaning out all my cupboards, closets, freezers and pantry and this year’s inventory is just about complete. I still need to take an inventory of all the “Personal Care & Medicine” stuff, but think I’ll wait until next week to tackle it. It will only take about 20 minutes.

 This year I had a few unexpected surprises with my 2013 inventory.

Year Inventory

Inventory Of Kitchen Cupboard

I was actually shocked at how little white cane sugar I have on hand – less than 3bs. I was also  surprised at how much peanut butter we used this past year – over 25 lbs!
Turns out I still have green beans left from 2010 & 2011 and I have more than enough canned beef and pork to go another year. I had forgotten that I canned part of a pig last year.
I should have exactly enough canned sauerkraut, vegetable beef soup and red beets to carry me through until spring and summer 2014. I will be making jams and jellies this year which is something I haven’t had to do for the last 2 years.

 Concord Grapes

A Bushel of Concord Grapes

Because I did an inventory I now have a clear understanding of what’s NOT on my pantry shelf.  I know that this summer I need to grow lots of tomatoes. I’m desperate for whole tomatoes and tomato juice. In fact I had to buy 5 cans of grocery store crushed tomatoes (hasn’t happen in 25 years) just to hold me over until the end of this summer.

I can also see from this year’s inventory that I’m still growing way too much garlic and broccoli. This summer I’ll only plant 8 or so broccoli plants, but there’s not much I can do about the surplus garlic because it was planted last October.
Hopefully our orchard will escape the predicted frost and we’ll have a good apple crop this year. If we are spared a hard frost  I’ll be able to make plenty of apple sauce, cider and apple butter, with a bushel or two of apples to store in the basement. Also it looks like my pear trees will bear heavy this year so I’m planning on canning lots of pears.

Cider Press

Waiting For A Turn At The Local Cider Press

It will take me another week or so to actually sit down and write out my master shopping list.
When I do I’ll be sure to share it just in case you are interested in perusing what types food and household supplies two middle age strangers living in western Pennsylvania will eat and use in one year’s time. After all the whole point of blogging and the internet is to be nebby.
And just in case you’re too shy or too busy to comment… no, I’m not a bit worried about other people seeing my “preps” or murdering mobs and bands of desperate starving neighbors or zombies storming my house when the economic collapse comes.
I put back extra food and supplies every year in the event of a local or national catastrophe to help those less fortunate or who have fallen on hard times and I suggest that you do too.

So without further ado, except for dish soap and a few cleaning products under the kitchen sink and in the bathroom dresser, what follows below is pretty much all the food and supplies in my house that are left over after a hard winter and a very long year.

 

 2013 Pantry Inventory List – May 2013

Seasoning & Condiments & Oil & Tea & Coffee & Specialty & Spices

1 bottle dry sherry + 1 cup Marsala wine
1 jar tahini
dry corn husks for tamales
4 ½ large cans coffee
3 boxes lemon herb tea
1 box red raspberry herb tea
1 large box black tea
1 jar green olives
2 cans black olives
1 jar artichoke quarters
2 jars sweet relish
1 bottle lemon juice
1 large bottle ketchup
2 medium squeeze bottles yellow mustard
4 jars mayonnaise
6 jars Miracle Whip
1 jar beef soup base concentrate
1 small can water chestnuts
4 small pkgs. Jello – 2cherry/2 orange
#2 sea salt
#4 bulk salt
4 bottles soy sauce
1 bottle barbecue sauce
1 package dry onion soup mix
1 #2 package Tender Quick meat cure
# 4 corn starch
½ 4 oz. jar powdered pectin
small bag citric acid
4 small envelopes gelatin
3 ½ quarts red wine vinegar
1 gallon cider vinegar
6 gallons white vinegar
3 large paprika
1 large red pepper flakes
1 large chili powder
1 large ground black pepper
½ large ground cumin
½ large dry minced onion
½ pound za’atar
1 12oz. garlic powder
1 3 oz. red ground red pepper
3 ½ gallons olive oil
small amount ground ginger
#1 ground nutmeg
#1 ground cinnamon
½ lb. ground cloves
ground allspice
.25 lb. ground sumac
ground mustard
ground turmeric
ground curry
½ lb. pretzel salt
½ 3oz. jar meat tenderizer
cream of tartar
# 2 baking soda
# 2 baking powder
# 1 canning salt
whole dried cumin
whole dried caraway seed
whole dried oregano
whole poppy seed
whole dried basil
whole coriander seed
dried orange peel
ground marjoram
ground cardamom
.33 lb. celery seed
whole anise seed
ground thyme
ground white pepper
whole cloves
whole fennel seed
dried cilantro
whole black pepper corns
whole mustard seed
1 oz. almond extract
7 oz. maple flavoring
7 ½ 7 oz. bottles pure vanilla extract
.75 oz. anise oil
.50 oz. peppermint oil
7 rennet tablets
# 7 honey
# 5 bread crumbs
2 pkgs. croutons
# 4 stuffing mix

Flour & Grains & Dry Beans
# 60 white flour
# 15 bread flour
1 box cake flour
1 ½ boxes baking mix
# 2 masa flour
1 ½ lbs. yellow corn meal
# 2 macaroni
# 8 white rice
# 8 red kidney beans
#4 chick peas
# 4 lentils
# 2 black beans
# 2 barley pearls
1 large old-fashioned cooking oats
#2 bulgur wheat
½ box cream of wheat cereal
# 4 rotini

Baking Supplies & Goods
#1 raisins
1 32oz. bottle corn syrup
# 2 crunchy peanut butter
#1 chopped dates
4 ounces instant tapioca
# 7 light brown sugar
# 2 confectioner’s sugar
6 ¼ bottles of dark molasses
6 cans sweeten condensed milk
3 cans evaporated milk
½ can cooking spray
1 7 oz. marshmallow creme
1 ¼ can of vegetable shortening
2 boxes food coloring
round toothpicks
cupcake/muffin papers

Grocery Store Canned Food
4 15 oz. cans of pumpkin
2 15 oz. cans great northern beans
1 28 oz. bake beans
5 15 oz. cans garbanzo beans
1 14 oz. can beef broth
2 10 oz. cans baby clams
5 cans smoked kippers
2 14 oz. cans pink salmon
5 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
3 24 oz. jars tomato pasta sauce
2 cans tomato soup
4 10.5 oz. cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 10.5 oz. cans cream of chicken soup
16 2 oz. cans tomato paste

Home Canned Food
1 pint applesauce
1 pint elderberry syrup
1 pint concentrated cranberry juice
3 1 ½ pints cranberry sauce
3 quarts black beans
13 ½ pints mushrooms
10 quarts sauerkraut
13 quarts canned pork
18 quarts canned beef
12 pints boneless chicken breast
12 quarts green beans
14 quarts yellow wax beans
2 quarts chili
8 pints salsa
21 pints of beets
10 quarts chicken soup
20 quarts beef vegetable soup
6 quarts beef stock
5 pints beef stock
22 pints tomato sauce

Freezers
4 boxes of pierogies
# 22 wheat berries
1 bag of cranberries
2 quarts blueberries
16 quarts broccoli
# 3 butter
2 skinless chicken breasts
#5 yellow corn meal
#200 + or – assorted beef cuts
1 cut & wrapped lamb

Household Products
3 rolls paper towels
2 bottles toilet cleaner
1 large dishwasher detergent
11 rolls toilet paper
2 boxes Kleenex
1 box paraffin
28 light bulbs
2 boxes moth balls
6 vacuum cleaner bags
Mop refill
1 ½ gallons lamp oil
4 Aladdin mantels
2 Aladdin chimneys
2 Aladdin wicks
6 boxes large kitchen matches
100 + or – book matches
Nappa soap
Plastic food storage bags for 3 years
Canning lids, bands & jars to last at least 3 lifetimes

Too Many Eggs & Impossible Pie

For people who keep backyard chickens or ducks, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing – especially in the spring.
That’s because this is the time of the year when small poultry flock owners are positively polluted with extra eggs.
But it’s a good problem to have.

A Slice of Impossible Pie

Impossible Pie

Early spring brings with extra eggs a wonderful opportunity to plan ahead.
When I have “too many eggs” I bake for the freezer or lay down eggs in a crock of water glass.
Pound cakes are one of my favorite ways to fill the freezer as are different types of cookie dough and baked cookies. Most cookie dough will freeze well and last up to 3 – 4 months when properly wrapped and frozen. Baked cookies when packed properly will store in the freezer about 2 -6 months without any change in flavor or texture depending upon the type of cookie.
So that means that the ginger snaps cookies I make this summer will be ready and waiting for me to defrost and serve at Halloween.



One recipe that uses eggs and is a favorite with my husband is Impossible Pie.
Impossible Pie is a quick mix dessert that is made in one bowl.
The recipe makes its own crust or bottom (not exactly a dry crust) and the center is a sweet custard with a coconut topping.

Impossible Pie reminds me a little of Coconut Cream pie or Rice Pudding made with coconut instead of rice.
It’s too sweet for my taste but many people like it.
Give it a try.
Maybe you’ll like it.
Either way you’ll be down 4 eggs – until you gather eggs again tomorrow.

IMPOSSIBLE PIE RECIPE

  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • In a large bowl combine

4 eggs
2 cups of whole milk
1 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup of melted butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 cup shredded coconut

  • Mix well with a hand beater or electric mixer.
  • Pour the liquid mixture into a buttered 10” or larger pie plate or casserole dish and bake for about 45 minutes or until a knife comes clean when inserted into the center.Don’t try to use a smaller pie plate or dish with this recipe, because you’ll be sorry when you’re cleaning the bottom of your oven floor. The “pie” will puff up while it is baking and if the plate isn’t large enough it will spill over the sides.

Remove the pie when done and allow it to cool. I think Impossible Pie tastes best after it has been refrigerated.

How To Restore Hard Honey

Raw, pure unfiltered honey will go hard or crystallize in storage. But it’s an easy fix. To return crystallized honey to its liquid form all you have to do is gently heat it. But beware.




If you heat honey at too high a temperature you will change the color and the flavor. Heating honey too many times will also reduce the quality.

Heating Hard Honey

Heating Hard Honey On A Stove

Once the honey is returned to its liquid state it’s easy to pour it into another Mason jar or honey pot using a canning jar funnel.

Hard Honey Restored

Pouring Heated Honey Into A Clean Mason Jar

All pure, raw honey over time will crystallize. The reason store bought honey doesn’t readily crystallize is because it was heated to a very high temperature before it was bottled.

Honey

Restored Honey

Honey naturally crystallizes at room temperature because the glucose molecules separate from the water. When this separation occurs the glucose begins to attach to “seed crystals” in the honey.
Once crystals are formed, the glucose and some of the other sugars in the honey are attracted to the crystals and rampant crystal growth begins.

The speed at which raw honey will harden or crystallize depends upon the source of nectar, the temperature that the honey is kept at and the seed crystals in the honey.
I buy raw honey in 20 lb. increments from a local beekeeper and use it in some of my cooking and baking.
Honey has marvelous antiseptic and soothing properties. I use raw honey mixed with fresh lemon juice to soothe a sore throat or mix it with whiskey for a dry cough. Honey has long been used as a folk remedy to treat skin aliments, burns and some digestive problems.

People swear by all kinds of honey and cider vinegar cures. Seems to me honey and cider vinegar is to human health, what WD-40 and duct tape is to household repair.
If honey is well sealed it has an indefinite shelf life.

How to Can Grapefruit or Orange Sections

Home canning grapefruit or orange sections is easy. It results in a superior product when compared to commercially canned grapefruit or orange sections.
Canning grapefruit or orange sections yourself  is a cost-effective way to increase variety in your long-term food storage.

 Red Grapefruit Sections

Home Canned Red Grapefruit Sections

Grapefruit, oranges and other citrus fruits are considered to be high acid foods.  High acid foods are safely canned by using the water bath method of canning.
Grapefruit can be home canned in a jar alone. But orange sections will taste better if canned they are canned with equal parts of grapefruit sections in the jar.

HERE’S HOW TO DO IT
First gather and assemble the water bath canner, jars, lids, bands, canning funnel, lid lifter, jar lifter, large tea kettle, sauce pan and white sugar for making a light syrup.
Begin to heat the water bath canner. Wash the canning jars and bands in hot soapy water and rinse well. Keep the jars hot.
Simmer the canning lids and keep them warm. Do not allow them to boil.
Wash and rinse the grapefruit in warm soapy water and rinse well.
Next the grapefruit or oranges need to be peeled. When canning oranges or grapefruit sections it’s important that all of the white and fibrous parts of the grapefruit and the seeds be removed.




Only the “heart” of the citrus sections should be used that’s because the white stuff on the grapefruit is bitter and pulpy when canned.

Grapefruit

Grapefruit Sections Being Prepared For Home Canning

When peeling large quantities of citrus fruit for canning I use a special serrated sandwich knife and a smaller paring knife.

I first make a cut in the rind and then proceed around the entire fruit until it has been peeled.

Easy Grapefruit Preparation

Cutting The Peel From A Grapefruit

I then use a small paring knife to free the individual wedges or sections.

Grapefruit Sections are Separated

Paring Knife Is Used To Separate Sections

Once all the sections are removed I squeeze out the empty fruit. The video below will help to more clearly illustrate the process.

There are a couple of different ways to fill canning jars with grapefruit.
Some recipes call for heating the grapefruit sections in light sugar syrup.
Others suggest filling the jars with cold grapefruit sections and then pouring heated light syrup over the sections.
Still others use heated orange juice or heated grapefruit juice poured over the grapefruit sections.

I usually pack cold grapefruit sections into a jar and use the juice that was made by squeezing the grapefruit when I peeled it. If I need more liquid I will pour a small amount of heated light syrup over the sections to achieve a 1/2″ head space.
To make light syrup for canning:
Dissolve 1 ½ cups of cane sugar into 6 cups of water. Heat the sugar and water stirring until the syrup is very hot and all the sugar is dissolved.

Add the grapefruit or orange sections into a clean hot jar. Next pour grapefruit juice, orange juice or light syrup to within a 1/2″ of the rim.

Remove all air pockets or air bubbles with a non-metallic object. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean wet cloth and apply a hot simmered lid.
Apply the band to the jar.

One by one as the jars are filled they are placed into the hot water bath canner on the stove.

Once all the jars have been filled and placed in the canner turn up the heat to bring the water in the canner to a full rolling boil.
This may take a while if the fruit was cold packed. It is normal for the water in a water bath canner to lose some heat while new jars are being added. It may take some time for the heat to build back up and the water begin to boil.

Processing time is counted from the time the water in the canner comes to a full boil. Once the water begins to boil put the lid on the water bath canner and adjust the heat if necessary to maintain a gentle boil.

Processing time for pints and quarts of grapefruit or orange sections in a water bath canner is:

  • 10 minutes  for altitudes of 1,000ft. sea level or less.
  • 15 minutes for altitudes between 1,000 ft – 6,000 ft.
  • 20 minutes for altitudes above 6,000 ft sea level

Once processing time is complete the jars are removed from the canner and allowed to cool undisturbed for 8 to 12 hours.

When the jars are completely cooled the bands are removed. Check the seals and wiped the jars clean with a damp cloth. Label and store in a dark cool location.

The 20 pounds of grapefruit will yield approximately 6 quarts or 12 pints.
Home canned citrus will store about 12-15 months before any noticeable loss of flavor or color. For best taste chill canned grapefruit or orange sections at least overnight before opening and serving. Enjoy!

The Home Canning Of Rabbit, Chicken & Small Game

Home canning meat, chicken, rabbit or small game can help families economically achieve sensible food storage goals. Raising a part of your own food is not complicated and a good amount of food can be produced yourself whether you live on a small town lot or in the suburbs.




Chickens and rabbits are usually the first meat animals that a new small holder or garden farmer will acquire. They are small animals and easily managed. Both animals are a good fit with backyard gardens. I’m surprised that more people don’t keep them. Rabbits and chickens require less daily care than 1 or 2 neurotic house cats.

Meat Chicken

Cornish X Rock Meat Chicken

While not all towns or municipalities permit keeping chickens, many people find a way to raise rabbits for food. Fact is your neighbors do not need to know that the rabbits in your basement or garage are for food and are not pets. Rabbits reproduce very quickly and can be harvested with little trouble several times in a year. By canning rabbit you can meet some of your food storage goals.

Meat Rabbit

A California Giant Meat Rabbit

For the most part, rabbit and chicken recipes are interchangeable except a rabbit has less fat than a chicken. Keep that in mind for recipes when you are cooking a fresh rabbit. Like chicken, if you cook rabbit too fast the meat can end up tough and stringy. Except for frying, try to use the slower methods when cooking rabbit. When using canned rabbit or chicken you don’t have to worry about tough meat. That’s because the meat was already pressured cooked and is very tender and moist. Canned chicken or rabbit on the pantry shelf is a tremendous time saver. I use canned chicken or rabbit in salads, casseroles, barbecue, in white gravies and sauces;  over biscuits and in any recipe that calls for cooked chicken. Chicken pot pie is one of my favorites as is rabbit stew. You can interchange rabbit and chicken in recipes. So a recipe for chicken soup becomes rabbit soup. White chili made with rabbit or chicken is very good and is easily canned. Pick any recipe that calls for chicken and use rabbit instead. The variations in recipes are endless and depend only upon the cook’s imagination and ingenuity.

Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad Made From Home Canned Chicken

There are a couple of different ways to home can chicken, rabbit or small game. You have a choice between the “hot pack “and the “raw/cold pack methods”, and a choice between “bone-in” and “bone-out”. I think best way to can backyard butchered rabbit or chicken is with the hot pack, bone-out method. Hot pack  bone-out produces a product that is ready to use right off the pantry shelf with liquid for gravy or sauce. It is the method that I most often use when I can whole rabbits or a whole chicken. When leaving the bone in the favor of the meat is just a bit stronger. I don’t notice it too much with rabbit but it is noticeable with chicken or squirrel.
The difference in flavor is not a bad difference – just different. To me it’s like the difference between mild, white meat chicken and really dark meat chicken. In certain recipes I don’t care for the stronger flavor from the bone-in method.

Bone-In Chicken

Canned Bone-In Chicken

The bone-in method is most often used in canning chicken, rabbit, squirrel and other small game animals where it may be too much trouble to remove the bones or when extended refrigeration is lacking. Canned meat is a quick and convenient food, but when I’m in a hurry I want to just open the jar, drain it and dump it. I’d rather do the work of boning while I’m canning and not later when I’m in hurry and cooking.
But no matter which method is chosen canning meat with the bone-in or bone-out is a pretty simple affair.
EQUIPMENT
You’ll need a good working pressure canner, canning jars, lids, a jar lifter, hot mitts and the usual kitchen equipment that you’d need for canning.

I find that wide mouth jars work best when canning meat. I try to can all my meat in wide mouth jars if I have enough available to me. That’s because wide mouth jars are easier to fill, empty and clean.
A wide mouth jar is easier to pack and this is especially important when canning meat with the bone left in it.
When bone-in chicken or rabbit is being packed into a canning jar, often you’ll have to fiddle with the pieces and sometimes rearrange them so they fit in jar without wasting too much space in the jar.
No sense packing just one chicken leg into a quart jar, when you actually could have fit a chicken leg, another thigh and two wings in the jar.

Also wide mouth jars are easier to clean after they’ve been used. Sometimes the inside of a jar becomes coated with bits of cooked meat and that makes the jar hard to scrub out even with a bottle brush. With a wide mouth jar it’s much easier to put your hand inside the jar and scrub it clean.
Meat sometimes will pack into a solid, dense mass when canned. With a wide mouth jar removing the meat is much easier. With a regular mouth jar it can be a real struggle to get the meat out of the jar.

YIELD

The number of jars that any given amount of meat will yield varies with the manner and method by which the jars were packed. The size of the meat pieces, whether or not a raw or hot pack was used; and or whether or not the bone was left in will be factors that determine jar yield and outcome. As a general rule of thumb, allow 2 to 2 ½ pounds of boneless meat per quart. When canning bone in chicken or rabbit, plan to allow for between 2 ½ to 4 ½ pounds of meat per quart. The bone is heavier than you’d think

A WORD ABOUT GIBLETS
If you are processing a large batch of rabbits or chickens and want to can the heart, livers or gizzards, set them aside to be canned in separate jars.
It’s also a good idea to can the livers in their own jar because the liver taste will transfer to the other giblets.
I always save the livers, kidneys, hearts and other bits when processing harvested animals. Even if I don’t eat those parts, my dogs and cats will. To my way of thinking it’s a sin to waste any part of an animal if another animal can use it.

HOT PACK METHOD

FOR CANNING CHICKEN, RABBIT or SMALL GAME WITH BONE IN or BONE OUT

BONE-IN METHOD

Cut the rabbit, chicken or squirrel into pieces that will fit inside the jar. Trim off any fat. You probably won’t have any fat on a rabbit but you will on a chicken,duck,raccoon and turkey. Place the raw pieces into a pan and cover with water or any hot broth of your choosing. The broth can be seasoned. But I would caution you to go easy on the spices and seasoning. Canning will intensify some flavors and not for the good.
Place a lid on the pan and cook the rabbit or chicken over medium heat until the meat just loses its pink color when cut at the meatier parts.

Par Cooked Chicken

Par-Cooked Chicken For Hot Pack Method Of Canning

Pack the chicken or rabbit loosely into a hot jar leaving a 1” head space.Place the big pieces in the center of the jar and fit the smaller pieces around it.

Fitting Chicken In

Fitting Chicken In Canning Jar

Add salt if you like:
½ Teaspoon for pints
1 Teaspoon for quarts
Cover the rabbit or chicken with boiling hot broth and maintain the 1″ head space in the jar.

Pouring Broth Over Chicken Pieces

Pouring Hot Broth Over Chicken Pieces

Wipe the rim of the jar.This is especially important with fatty poultry and some fall harvested small game animals.With rabbit or squirrel it isn’t usually a problem unless you added some type of fat in the broth. Grease on the rim of the jar may prevent a seal. Apply a lid and band to the jar.

Wipe Rim

Wipe Grease Off The Rim Of The Jar

BONE-OUT METHOD
Partially cook the animal just like the above. Remove the pieces from the broth until they are cool enough to handle. Pick the meat from the bones and discard the skin from the chicken (unless you want to can it separately for pets). Pack the hot/warm meat into hot jars, add salt if you like and cover the meat with broth leaving a 1″ head space. Wipe the rim and apply a lid and band.

PROCESSING & TIMING FOR BONE-IN MEAT
You will notice that the processing time for bone in meat is less than that of bone out. It is not a mistake.
This is because it takes less time for the inner core of the jar to reach 240°F when the bones are present. Bone out meat packs solid whereas bone in meat does not. Whether you use the raw or hot pack method for bone in meat the processing time is the same. Process jars at 10 pounds of pressure (240°F.) in a pressure canner for altitudes at 1000 ft. sea level or less.
You will need to adjust pressure accordingly for higher altitudes depending on the type of pressure canner system you are using.

The Amount Of Pressure Required To Reach 240° F

Sea Level-2,000 ft. 11 lb.
2,001-4,000 ft. 12 lb.
4,001-6,000 ft. 13 lb.
6,001-8,000 ft. 14 lb.
8,001-10,000 ft. 15 lb.

PROCESSING TIME FOR BONE-IN HOT PACK
Pints – 65 Minutes
Quarts – 75 Minutes

PROCESSING TIME FOR BONE-OUT HOT PACK
Process jars at 10 pounds of pressure (240°F.) in a pressure canner for altitudes at 1000 ft. sea level or less.Processing time for bone-out is:
Pints – 75 Minutes
Quarts – 90 Minutes
You will need to adjust  pressure accordingly if you live much above 1000 ft. of sea level depending on the type of pressure canner you are using. When processing time is complete, remove the canner from the heat and allow the pressure to return to normal on its own. Don’t hurry the cooling or you may prevent jars from sealing or have a loss of liquid in the jars.
When pressure has returned to normal inside the canner, remove the jars. Place the jars on a dry towel or wooden board well out-of-the-way of drafts and allow the jars to cool undisturbed for 8 – 12 hrs.
After jars have cooled remove the bands and check the seals. Wipe the outside of the jar if it has become greasy.
Label, date, and store the jars in a cool, dry location out of direct sunlight.

RAW or COLD PACK BONE-OUT METHOD

For the most part, the raw/cold pack method of canning chicken or rabbit is identical to the hot pack method except you don’t pre-cook the meat or cover it with broth. This method is the preferred method for people who don’t have a source of home-grown chicken or rabbit.

Grocery Store Chicken

Grocery Store Chicken

During the fall months, boneless chicken breasts and thighs can often be found for a good price at the grocery store. Basically the raw pack method is just cold, raw boneless meat packed tightly into a canning jar, and then it’s processed in a pressure canner. It’s unbelievably simple. Learn to can it yourself and you’ll never have to pay outrageous prices for canned chicken again. Same for beef, pork, venison and fish.

RAW or COLD PACK METHOD
Cut the rabbit or chicken into jar size pieces and pack the pieces into a jar.
Add salt if you like:
½ Teaspoon for pints
1 Teaspoon for quarts

Leave a 1″ head space. Wipe the rim of the jar and apply the lid and band to the jar.

Jars Go Into Pressure Canner

Placing Filled Jars In Pressure Canner

Process jars at 10 pounds of pressure (240°F.) for altitudes at 1000ft. sea level or less. Don’t forget you may need an altitude adjustment.

The Amount Of Pressure Required To Reach 240° F

Sea Level-2,000 ft. 11 lb.
2,001-4,000 ft. 12 lb.
4,001-6,000 ft. 13 lb.
6,001-8,000 ft. 14 lb.
8,001-10,000 ft. 15 lb.

The processing time for all raw pack meat, poultry or fish is:
75 Minutes For Pints
90 Minutes For Quarts
Remove jars from the canner when processing time is complete.
Place the jars on a dry towel or wooden board well out-of-the-way of drafts and allow the jars to cool undisturbed for 8 – 12 hrs.
After jars have cooled remove the bands and check the seals. Wipe the outside jar if it has become greasy. Label the jars and store away from heat and direct sunlight.

  • The advantage to the raw pack method is that it is a time saver.
  • The advantage to the hot pack method is that there is plenty of broth to work with when you open the jar.

Choose whichever method you prefer according to the recipes you will use and your family’s food preferences.

Why A Canning Jar Lid Will Come Unsealed

A canning jar with a failed lid is something I’ll come across once in a blue moon. It’s a fairly rare occurrence and is always a rude surprise.




When I find a jar of home canned food in my pantry with a breached lid I dispose of the food carefully. Well out of the way of people or animals.

Unsealed Lid

A Failed Lid On A Jar Of Lentil Soup

After the offending jar is emptied, it’s thoroughly washed and then closely examined for nicks around the rim or hairline cracks. A Mason jar must be near perfect for a lid to make a good strong seal.

With a faulty jar the vacuum inside the jar is eventually breached and allows spoilage to occur. Bacteria and yeast will begin to grow inside a jar causing fermentation and gas. Sometimes the force of the gas will blow a lid off and sometimes knock the lid to the side of a jar.
Slime and  mold on top of any food product tells me that the jar has been opened for a while.

Failed Lid

The Lid Failed On This Jar

Usually if there is a sealing failure with a jar I’ll catch it with my “lift test” after the jars cool from processing.
My lift test consists of me lifting a jar about 2″ above a table or countertop by the rim of the lid. If the lid holds and doesn’t come loose the seal is good.

Lift Test

Testing A Jar Seal

There are many reasons for a faulty seal on home canned foods.

  • Sometimes jars will not seal properly if the rim of the jar is not wiped perfectly clean before the lid and band are applied.
  • Also if the one trip lids are not simmered long enough problems can occur. The red rubber lining on the lid must soften up a bit for a really strong seal. I simmer lids 3 -5 minutes.
  • If grease or some other material from the food product becomes forced under the lid while processing, many times the lid will not give a good seal. This past summer I had 4 or 5 quart jars of ham & bean soup, from 2 different batches, that gave that kind of trouble. Grease had been forced between the lids and rim of the jars and prevented sealing. When I get food that doesn’t seal or pass the “lift test” I simply freeze it. It’s too much trouble and a waste of LP gas or wood to re-process it.
  • Canning jars that have not been kept hot enough before packing or suffer inadequate processing time will sometimes cause a lid failure. This is especially true when processing cold pack food.
  • Sometimes there is an unseen hairline crack in the jar or a nick on the rim. This is I believe what happened to the jar of green beans above.
  • Often the reason will remain unknown and it can be a guessing game.

Oven Temperature Testing

Back in the old days great-grandma didn’t have a reliable temperature gauge on her oven. She wasn’t as dependent upon an exact oven temperature the way that today’s modern cooks and bakers are.
Great-grandma was a wiz in the kitchen  and even though she cooked on wood or coal fired stoves she managed to turn out perfect baked and roasted foods.

Cook Stove

A Tea Kettle On A Cook Stove

Great-grandma’s recipes were written different from ours are today and gave no exact temperature for baking.
Her “receipts” as she called them, suggested a “slow oven” or a “very hot oven”.
Sometimes you can still find these older recipes and it’s a good idea to know what they mean if ever you should have cause to try one.

Great-grandma used a used a few different methods to judge her oven temperature and I thought I’d share the ones I know about with you.
To check an oven for a good baking temperature place a tablespoon of flour into a piece of oven proof crockery or glass.
If the flour turns brown in 1 minute the oven is a perfect temperature for baking – between 325ºF and 350ºF.

My personal old-time favorite method is the bare hand into the oven for a count of 20.
If great-grandma could stand to have her bare hand inserted into the oven for a count to 20, the oven was hot enough to bake a cake or slow roast meat – about 350º.
If she could only take the heat to a count of 5 or 6 the oven was very hot oven – well over 475º.




Another way to check oven temperature without toasting your hand is to put a piece of white paper into the oven for 5 minutes.
If the paper turns a golden brown the oven heat is medium. If the piece of paper turns a dark brown the oven is hot.

Oven Paper

Paper Turns Light Brown

Here are some general guidelines for oven temperatures in case you do run into an older recipe but don’t want to bother with flour, paper or the flesh on your hand.

  • A Slow Oven: 250ºF. to 300ºF.
  • A Moderate Oven: 350ºF. to 400ºF.
  • Hot Oven: 400ºF. to 450ºF.
  • Very Hot Oven: 450º F.to 550ºF.
Pie

Pie Bird In A Pie

Crystals In Canned Grape & Jelly Juice

Sometimes when opening a jar of home canned grape juice or grape jelly you will find small sharp crystals inside the jar or in the actual food product. These crystals are tartrate crystals and are formed by the naturally occurring tartaric acid in the grape juice. The crystals are perfectly harmless and in no way affect the safety of the food product.

Tartate Crystals

Tartate Crystals In Grape Juice

Tartrate crystals in grape products are formed by sediment in grape juice or other grape based products like wine or jelly. Many canners and jelly makers don’t like them and sometimes novice canners are upset to see them sitting in the bottom of a jar of grape juice.




The way that tartrate crystals can be prevented in home canning is by allowing the grape juice to rest or sit overnight in a refrigerator so all the sediment can collect at the bottom of the container.
In the morning carefully pour off only the clear juice and try not to disturb the sediment.

By keeping the grape sediment out of the juice before it is canned, clear grape juice without little crunchy things floating around is almost guaranteed. And a beautiful and sparkling blue ribbon jelly is within your reach.

Basket Of Concord Grapes

A Basket Of Concord Grapes

In nature grapes are the richest source of tartaric acid. The kitchen helper known as Cream of Tartar is obtained from grape sediment and is made from byproducts that are leftover from wine making. All grapes contain tartaric acid but some varsities of grapes have more of it than others. Foods and wine from Concord grapes are notorious for forming crystals.
Cream of Tartar is a very old substance. In fact traces of calcium tartrate have been found in ancient pottery in northern Iran at the site of Hajji Firuz Tepe . This suggests that the art of wine making is at least 7,000 years old.
Because it’s acidic, Cream of Tartar will clean brass or copper the same way lemon juice or vinegar will. Cream of Tartar is used in the kitchen to help stabilize and give more volume to beaten egg whites. It helps to produce a creamier texture to certain candies and frosting because it retards the formation of sugar crystals. Often Cream of Tartar is used in the place of lemon juice or vinegar by to produce a lighter textured cake with a finer grain.
So if you should ever happen upon crystals in your home canned grape jelly or grape juice – don’t be alarmed they’re natural.