Sunday, September 25, 2011

Canning season is here

I started canning this season in early July... Thankfully the fruits and vegetables staggered themselves enough that until this weekend I've been able to keep up.  My husband and my youngest are great about using the Kabota tractor and the large wheel barrow to haul stuff to the back patio for me to work as much as possible outside to save heating up the house. I am also doing all my water bath processing on a propane burner as it heats up the water faster and doesn't use electricity.. My husband filled the tank for me and said, " Let's see how far that gets you then we will decide if we fill it again." I'm still on the first fill and nearing the end of the processing.

In an effort to save money and feed my family healthy foods I decided to fill our pantry with as much home canned produce as possible. I planted 13 tomato plants, 8 cabbages, 2 zucchini, a row of beets, a row of broccoli, Swish Chard, cucumbers, and lettuce.  The zucchini has been steadily producing fruit for over 2 months now and we have been cooking it in a variety of different ways, I also made 2 batches of pineapple zucchini.  I joined our local county gleaners program and have been blessed with blueberries, lots of cauliflower, cabbage, some corn, lots of yellow zucchini, corn, and a nice bag of garlic (not sure on the variety but it is smaller than the elephant garlic and a little zippier.). I was also able to purchase a little over 40 pounds of peaches at a discount through Gleaners so I filled jars with peaches in light syrup , dried a bunch , and froze some.  Until tonight I had been storing my empty jars on the top shelf in the pantry.  Tonight I pulled down the last 4 quarts and 3 half gallon jars in order to fill them with pears from my Parent's trees. I moved some of the jars around and put some over flow on top (extra vegetable relish and chili sauce). I will probably store the apple juice I made last week in half gallon jars up there as well.  I have a batch of sauerkraut on the middle shelf tucked back in the darker area fermenting (I checked it tonight and it appears to be doing quite nicely.)  I didn't get a picture of it , but I have 24 quarts of tomatoes (sauce, stewed, pureed) on a center shelf ready to make just about anything. I also processed 9 quarts of salsa for cooking and put it on the top shelf.  I have searched online for new recipes to try and always seem to return to the basics. I try and keep it simple with things I can water bath process. I love my steam juicer for fruit juice. The boys love the juice and if I end up with too much, I can make jelly during the winter. I am working toward a grocery bill reduction.. The goal being we only need to buy meat and dairy and get the bill down to $50 a week except for non food items and then watch for really good sales and coupons.

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