Showing posts with label home canning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label home canning. Show all posts

Friday, August 9, 2013

Home Canning Grape Juice

home canned grape juice
Home Canned Grape Juice
Black seedless grapes were on sale this week for $.89 a pound and while filing through Pinterest I saw a picture of home canned grape juice that took me back to my Tennessee grandma's kitchen. She had a grapevine outback and she canned grape juice all summer long. I just had to have some. The method we used leaves the juice a little cloudy with some pulp in it. That is what I grew up drinking, I think it had to do with the grapes she used too. Anyway, I love it this way but if you want a more clear juice then you will want to pick up some cheese cloth and give it an extra strain. If you ever have trouble finding cheesecloth in your area, try and auto parts store. This is a little tip I picked up from my hubby. Cheese cloth is used when painting cars so they sell it at most Auto Zones.

Okay, so we started with about 10 pounds of grapes, washed and pulled from the stems. I boiled the grapes in three times as much water, we used filtered water, until they began to fall apart. Then I spooned the grapes into a strainer and squeezed out the excess juice. I threw out the pulp feeling very guilty thinking that is probably what my grandma used to make jelly but I don't know and I'm going to have to find out. Moving on, once the grapes were strained I strained the remaining juice and put it all back in the pot. To the large stockpot I added 3/4 cup Florida Crystals evaporated cane sugar. This is something you do to taste depending on the sweetness of the grapes. Start small you can always add more but you can't take it out. Once the sugar was added I cooked it on low for a few more minutes and funneled the juice into large canning jars. I processed my cans in a water bath for 10 minutes and presto, grape juice just like Nannies.

strawberry preserves
Home Canned Preserves

We also did a few jars of strawberry preserves this week, a few more cans of pears, tomato sauce, a few cans of salsa and we tried a homemade enchilada sauce recipe that I will be canning next week so watch for that. Finally, we worked on filling the freezer some more with pre-made twice baked potatoes. I use Pioneer Woman's recipe and then instead of baking the potatoes the second time I wrapped them individually and stored them in a freezer Ziploc. I am so excited about these because about two years ago we paid $10 for a four pack of these at Costco. They were so great to have in the freezer and now I have eight of them ready to go and I saved $20 on my freezer stock to boot!

PS. My little boy took the pictures for this post. Didn't he do a great job?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Finding Foods to Home Can

home canning
Canning Rescued Produce
Now that I am getting a little more versed at home canning I don't know if I can wait until January. January is citrus season in Arizona and my neighbors and husbands coworkers shower us with lemons, grapefruit and oranges. I had no idea that there were so many things that you could do with citrus. I am just dying to make lemon curd, it looks just like the lemon pudding that my mom used to send in my lunchbox. I am also wondering why I never thought of home canning grapefruit juice.

Can in Season

Start with seasonal fruits and vegetables and research recipes that appeal to your taste buds. If your neighbor has an olive, fig or orange tree, don't be afraid to ask if you can pick. Most homeowners will be more than happy to share, as it saves them the trouble of landscapers. You may also find that someone at church or school is willing to make a trade, perhaps you have lemons and they have grapefruit? Make a trade.

Find a You Pick Orchard

We had the most fun at a local you pick apple orchard and I can't wait to go again. There are farms and orchards in every part of the country that are set up for open picking. You sometimes pay a picking fee and other times you pay per pound for what you pick, either way they are a better deal over the grocery store and the produce is better too.

rescued pears
Find a Wholesaler

Rescued Produce

We have a local coop in town that offers boarder rescued produce for a fraction of the cost. This produce is often a little over ripe and very unsightly however it makes great canned goods. The last time I purchased rescued produce I bought 60 pounds of tomatoes and zucchini for $10. I was able to can that produce right away and we had enough tomato sauce for a year. It was a great deal.

Some other ways I have found great produce for canning are by shopping wholesalers, coops and watching the local farmer's market ads. Local farmers markets and grocery stores will usually have one produce item marked down to a ridiculous price every week and that is the item I can that week. If it is a screaming deal and I have cans, you can bet I'm going to buy extra and put it back. I also found a local wholesaler that will sell to the public through word of mouth. I have to buy by the case but when I can afford it it is a great deal. Finally, I have had some good experiences with coops but lately I have found them to be a hassle. When I used them, they were a good deal usually offering a laundry bucket of produce for $15 to $25 dollars.

You may also like Rescued Produce Makes Great Canned Goods or Getting Started Home Canning.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Canning Pears

slow cooker pear butter
Slow Cooker Spiced Pear Butter
I spent my morning canning pears that I bought on sale at Sprouts this weekend. Canning pears is incredibly simple. I make pear butter and apple butter in my Crock pot to ensure the best flavor. Here is the recipe.

Slow Cooker Spiced Pear Butter
Fresh Pears (Enough to fill the Crock pot)
1 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 Cup Florida Crystals
Peel and quarter pears and put them in the Crock pot; add spices and sugar and give a good stir. Cook on low for about a day. I cook the pears until I can easily mash them and then I cook them until the butter is thick like butter. Next I sterilize my canning jars in water and fill the jars with the pear butter. I process the filled jars for 10 minutes. This butter makes the house smell so yummy we can hardly stand it.
canned pears
Home Canned Pears
Canned sliced pears are also very popular at our house. They take a bit more preparation but they are worth the work. I start by sterilizing my jars and making my syrup on the stove. For my syrup I mix three cups water with three teaspoons Fruit Fresh and 1/2 cup Florida Crystals. You will want to judge the Florida Crystals by taste, we like light syrup and for a more natural alternative you can use fresh lemon juice instead of Fruit Fresh. I bring the liquid to a boil and cook it until the sugar is dissolved. Now working with a few pears at a time I peel and quarter the pears and stuff them in the jars making sure to fill each jar with the hot syrup in a timely manner so the fruit doesn't turn brown. Finally I process the filled jars in a hot water bath of boiling water for 20 minutes.

You may also want to read Getting Started with Home Canning.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Emergency Preparedness/Storing up for Hard Times

Canning is a past time that is making a comeback and not to soon if you ask me.  I remember when I was little my grandmother and her sisters (sister in laws actually) would can every summer and this not only took care of the food store for each family for the year but it also served as Christmas and wedding shower gifts.  We knew that if someone in the family were getting married Aunt Clara would be bringing a box of canned goods and dish towels; for Christmas she gave us jam, very yummy jam. 

When beginning a food storage pantry many people's first question is "but what should I store and how much?"  Well, this is going to depend on your family size and what you eat.  In general though, there are some guidelines to follow.

How much food store to have...

When women canned they usually stored up a years worth of food.  I think that is a pretty fair amount for the most part although my husband and I were out of work for nearly two years.  So, you need to decide for yourself.  If financial analysts' recommend having at least 6 months income in the bank then I would say have no less than 6 months food storage.  Food is perishable, so more than two years may be useless, and you will want to rotate your food store.  Perhaps donate to a local food kitchen or your church pantry.

What to store...

The first thing about what to store is that it has to be based on what you eat.  Another thing to consider is what you could cook in an emergency and finally, store items that go together.  So all this being said following is my list.

Water (multiply 1 gallon per day times 3 days times # of family members)
Bottled juice
Organic Canned Corn
Both Dried and Canned beans
Home Canned fruit
Canned tuna, salmon, chicken and clams
Home canned cream soups
Home canned sweet potatoes and pumpkin
Home canned soups
Canned Organic Ravioli
Honey (Did you know that honey is rich in vitamins and non-perishable?)
Natural Peanut butter
Flour (Wheat is good but how do you plan to grind it if the electricity is out?)
Organic instant mac and cheese
Dried Gravies and Sauce mixes

When considering how much of this food to store up I consider how much I use in a month and take that number times 12.  So if I use 2 cans of corn per month that means 24 cans should be in my pantry.  I suddenly feel the need to go to Costco and buy more corn.

Many people understand the need to store food up for hard times like job loss and disaster but they don't really know what to store.  Below are some helpful links for deciding what to store up in your pantry.  There are two general rules of thumb to follow.

1.  Store what you eat.  It won't do you any good to have a stock pile of Spam if you don't eat pork.

2.  Store foods that are easy to cook with in an emergency situation.  For example, you may want to have some store of dried foods but what if there were a water need canned goods too.

"Top foods you should store in an emergency"

Emergency Dude on "Emergency food."


If you are trying to build up your food storage on a small budget, you may consider taking up home canning or devoting just $5 out of each paycheck to storage items.  You will be surprised at how fast your storage fills up.

How I became Considering frugal

Fueled by the growing list of pollution related allergies my family suffered from each day, and inspired by my 97 year old grandmother who could recycle ANYTHING before recycling was cool, back in 2011, I decided (in the spirit of the Julie/Julia Project...) to embark on a journey to see just how much one family could do to change our planet. I didn't consult any other parties before I launched this idea. Thankfully my husband, daughter and son are usually my biggest supporters. Here is the catch; as I'm normally very thrifty (you can note from early blog posts), I was looking for ways that I could reduce our carbon footprint and make socially responsible purchases without increasing our spending. Mmmmmm. We succeed in changing some of our habits a bit and finding ways to reduce our footprint. There were lots of fun epic fails alone the way too! But the biggest change we have made over the course of the last six years, was to move from the mega city of Phoenix to Wyoming. You can read my full bio on my About Me page.

Legal Disclaimer

While it is true that I am working on a PHD in Psychology and very smart and frugal, I am not a medical doctor, criminal, personal or accident lawyer. I do not sell insurance nor am I an accountant or mortgage advisor. While some of my posts may offer good ideas on home, health and business solutions, I am not personally responsible nor is Considering frugal for any advice, ideas, recipes or menu plans that you decide to use. This blog is intended to be helpful and fun. Any products you purchase from my Amazon store or any other retailer advertised on my blog must be returned to them. I may sometimes endorse a product that I love. This is simply my opinion, you must try all products at your own risk. While I personally do not use tracking cookies or share information, my affiliates are third parties and they may do so. Please click, travel and purchase at your own risk.

frugal advice

"...for your Father knows what you need before you ask." Matthew 6:8