Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Some thoughts about efficient home canning...

I started canning in 1976, the summer our second son was born.  I remember when he was 2-weeks-old, sitting in a chair nursing him, snapping green beans and watching the pressure canner all at the same time.  I was one determined momma! 

Here I am, 41 years later and that baby is, of course, 41 years old.  Still canning... 

I have learned how to do it in a way, that for me, is quite efficient.  If I can set up my system carefully, it makes it so much more streamlined and enjoyable.  I want to walk you through it.  Today I canned 14 quarts of my "World Famous Chili Beans."  ;)  I have had 27,168 hits on that page as of right now, so I think they must be world famous at least fairly popular.

Last night, I washed and picked over 8 pounds of red kidney beans to soak in my huge stock pot with water and a few glugs of lemon juice.  Then I went and retrieved the quart jars I was planning to use, washed them carefully and put them on a towel to drain.  I mixed up the seasoning mix, and gathered the lid rings and caps.  Everything was clean and ready to go.

So, today, I drained those beans (only a 24 hour soak - not as long as in the original recipe - I was in a hurry), rinsed them, put them in clean water in the stock pot and boiled them for 30 minutes

In the meantime, I got everything else ready, putting the spice mix and salt into the jars and heating up the caps.

The pads in the foreground are to set the hot pot of beans on.  Here are the caps and rings:

Here is a trivet and my magnetic wand for picking up the hot caps out of the water and also a clean, damp washrag for wiping the rims of the jars before applying the caps.

I then prepared the pressure canner by adding 3 quarts of water and a little vinegar and the rack for the bottom.  I filled the jars, applied the lids and put 7 jars into the canner, and since these are quarts, after exhausting for 10 minutes, I processed them at 10 pounds pressure for 90 minutes.

After sufficient cooling, I placed the finished jars of chili beans on a folded towel on the counter.

This is two 7-quart batches.  I had quite a lot of beans left over.  I think next time I'll just use 7 pounds of beans instead of 8... but don't worry, the leftover beans will get eaten with brown rice, home canned salsa and sour cream... oh yum.

My point is... plan your work and system.  First, wash, dry and put away all of your dishes and start with a clean kitchen.  Then clean up as you go.  It's so much more fun that way! 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

I love canning tomatoes and preventing early blight !!

Have you ever canned tomatoes?  It is so very easy to do.  This has been a wonderful year for tomatoes in our garden... partly because of burying blended kitchen scraps around the plants, and also, largely because I found a video on YouTube that said to mix 1 Tablespoon of baking soda and one crushed aspirin in a gallon of water and use it to spray the leaves, on the top and bottom of all the leaves, at least once a week and after a heavy rain.  It prevents early blight.  I have had trouble with blight for many years and this year... none.  I am very very grateful!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Sadly... before you know it, winter will be here, so I am re-posting this!

Replacing a Zipper in a coat/jacket

Here you can see a perfectly good jacket. The problem is, the zipper is broken! Replacing a zipper is really not difficult, but it is tedious and takes considerable time. If your coat/jacket is nice, and/or you love it, it is more than worth the trouble to replace the zipper.

Here is the zipper I ordered over the internet here. This company is wonderful. They have everything and excellent customer service!

A closer look at the invoice:

The zipper I purchased cost $6.03 including the shipping, and so for a nice coat, you can see that this would really be worthwhile.

Now, don't be afraid. Breath. Relax. Here we go.

FIRST ~ set your sewing machine to its longest stitch length. Sew a line of stitching along the jacket opening, far enough in from the edge that you do NOT catch in the existing zipper. This is to hold everything together nicely and make the reassembly easier. Do this on both sides of the jacket.

Here I am doing the same thing on the other side:

SECOND ~ take your little seam ripper and do (carefully and don't stab yourself) whatever it takes to remove the broken zipper:

Here I've gone a little farther in the process:

Here I am removing some stitching from the surface:

And here is what it looks like with the zipper removed. Now you will see the wisdom of doing that basting line of stitches so the jacket doesn't blow up and get all weird.

THIRD ~ carefully remove all the bits of loose thread:

FOURTH ~ Thread a sturdy hand sewing needle with a doubled thread and run it through some beeswax so it will be less likely to tangle while you are sewing. Rosin will work instead of the beeswax, too, or if you have neither, find a piece of candle or even hand soap to use!

FIFTH ~ I hope you took the time to observe how the old zipper was positioned. You are going to unzip the new zipper, and one side at a time, you will put the new zipper in, and pin it in place and then hand baste it in place:

See? Here is one side basted together:

And here is the other side:

Oh, yes, and it is very helpful to have a fuzzy cat walking around under your work table at this point:

SIXTH ~ Before you sew the zipper in with your machine, zip up the jacket to make sure it is going to work!

SEVENTH ~ Now, simply, using a normal stitch length, sew along the same line where the old zipper was sewn in like this:

Make sure to replace any seams or stitching you have removed:

Be sure to remove any basting stitches. On this one, there was the nice little tab on the old zipper, so I just transferred it to the new one:

That's all you need to do! Even if it doesn't turn out perfectly, it is better than throwing away a perfectly good coat.

Please feel free to ask questions if I can help.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

I canned the Chanterelles...

Since I've never eaten a Chanterelle mushroom before, I cooked up a small amount and ate them.  Very nice flavor and I didn't die.  After watching a few YouTube videos, I chose to pressure can the rest of them.

First, I divided them into smaller pieces and put them with 1 cup of water in my cast iron skillet.

Then, on medium - high heat, and stirring, I cooked them until they were cooked "down."  It only took a few minutes.

I packed them into two half - pint jars, leaving an inch of head space and covering them with the liquid from the pan.  Each jar has 1/4 teaspoon of salt as well.

They were processed at 10 pounds of pressure for 30 minutes.  (Consult a good canning guidebook.)

Here they are!  I am thinking that some day I will fry them in a little butter and serve with potatoes, some meat and green beans. That will be a special meal!

Chanterelle Mushrooms!

Last year, I saw these mushrooms growing near my woodland path and thought they were Jack-O-Lantern mushrooms, which are toxic.  I was out walking in the woods yesterday and saw them again, so did some research and found out I was wrong!  These are Chanterelles.  I brought in three quarters of a pound.  I'm very excited about it.  I've been collecting Oyster mushrooms for a few years here, and now I've found another edible mushroom.  If YOU find some that look like this, the first thing to do is break open a stem.  The inside of the stem should be a creamy white, NOT the same color as the outside of the mushroom.  Then, check the gills.  Chanterelles do not have true gills. Lastly, try pulling one apart lengthwise.  It should come apart similar to string cheese.  Don't take my word for it. Mushrooms can be very dangerous.  Do your own research.  Ideally, find a mushroom expert.  Be very careful, please.  These grow in hardwood forest on the ground, not on trees.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Tip for stained fingernails...

I work in the garden a lot.  I also do other things that make my hands look terrible.  I have discovered that if I want to remove stains from my fingernails and skin on my hands, all I have to do is soak them in lemon juice for a couple of minutes.  Voila! Obviously, the following picture is not of my hands, but you get the idea.  It really does work that well and that quickly.

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