Showing posts with label summer can and freeze. Show all posts
Showing posts with label summer can and freeze. Show all posts

Monday, August 19, 2013

Canning Red Enchilada Sauce/Oven Roasting Peppers

Hatch green chilis
Don't Forget to Wear Gloves!
We added a few items to our summer can and freeze this weekend. We found Hatch green chili's on sale for $.50 per pound so we oven roasted, peeled diced and froze four pounds. That is about a years worth of green chili's for us. Warning! Use rubber gloves! Although the green chili is one of the mildest peppers to use in a recipe, the pepper skin houses much of the pepper oil and it will attach itself to your hands! Ouch!

I roasted the peppers on a foil lined baking sheet under the broiler. Roast them for about 5 minutes on each side and then place them in a sealed plastic bag for 20 minutes to steam. Peal, seed and dice! Remember the rubber gloves!

Sweet Berries Ready for Smoothies
We also froze four pints of fresh raspberries that we bought on sale for $.99 per pound. YUM!!! Wash, drain and freeze flat in a plastic freezer bag.

Red Enchilada Sauce

Finally, we canned Red Enchilada Sauce. My daughter loves this recipe so much that she eats it like soup. I tried to pass off a store bought sauce so she would leave the homemade stuff alone...she figured it out!! Seriously, blind tastes test...she chose this recipe. So here it is.

Red Enchilada Sauce
12 ounces of home canned tomatoes crushed and cooked down to a paste
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup red chili powder
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried cumin
1 tablespoon oil
Once you make a paste of your tomatoes then add the flour and oil and make a quick rue before adding the chicken broth and spices. Stir and simmer over medium heat for about an hour. We poured into canning jars and processed in water bath for 20 minutes.

You might also want to check out my Mushroom Enchilada Recipe.

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, August 6, 2013

Filling the Freezer/Saving on Groceries

saving on frozen foods
Frozen Foods Can Add Up
Avoiding the frozen food section of the super market is vital to saving money on groceries. We shop the frozen food section last, not just because we live in Arizona where everything melts fast but because frozen foods are convenience foods and they fill up the cart and empty the bank account. For every box of frozen foods you put in the cart you can count on adding another $5 to $10 to your bill. That doesn't mean that we don't buy an occasional pack of pizza rolls or a box of Breakfast on a Stick, but we have found that it is quite easy to make some of these foods ahead in bulk and save money.

Use Gallon Zip Locks

I like to use my Food Saver for packaging meats and a few other things but for convenience foods I buy gallon size Zip Lock freezer bags. Sometimes we will make chicken nuggets ahead and freeze them in these bulk re sealable bags and other times it might be fresh fruits. This week I am making a double recipe of egg rolls by request. They are healthy and ready to go for any night of the week and you can snatch the recipe below.

Plan Ahead

I also like to buy bulk berries and freeze them for smoothies. I can buy a case of strawberries for under $10 and usually get three gallon bags full for the freezer. These bags of fruit run $12 per gallon for organic frozen berries at the store so by taking a little extra time to do it myself I am saving approximately $26. If you can just knock a few things off your frozen foods list you can save quickly and you will be eating healthier to boot. Other ways we like to fill the freezer are by making double batches of pancakes or enchiladas.

Home Style Egg Rolls
1 package large Won ton Wrappers
1/2 head of cabbage
1/2 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 peeled carrots
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
2 stalks celery
1 egg
The trick to a great egg roll is in chopping the vegetables evenly and preferable a good chop that will wrap well. I like to precook my mixture to control the moisture content but we actually had some egg rolls at the local Asian festival that were made with uncooked cabbage and they tasted great. My point is this is kind of a no fail recipe in that you can try it and it will taste good and then you can adjust it to taste for the next time. Once I have chopped my veggies I cook them down in a little oil and let them cool. In a small bowl I mix a little bit of water with the egg and set aside. As you stuff and roll each egg roll you will want to seal them shut with the egg mixture. I oil a cookie sheet and place the egg rolls about 2 inches apart as I get the rolled. Don't put them too close to each other or they will steam instead of crisp. Once you have a pan full, brush each egg roll with the egg mixture and then back until slightly crispy turning once; 375 degree oven. I freeze them in gallon Zip Locks in one row and then reheat in the oven at 375 for about 15 to 20 minutes. Sometimes in the summer we will reheat on the grill and they are great that way too. If you would like a variation you can add cooked organic sausage or chicken and we have also tried them with shredded cheese and they were yummy.

Read how to Make Your Own Organic Chicken Nuggets and how to make pizza crust.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Getting Started with Home Canning

home canning
Start with High Acid Foods
I recently had a girlfriend ask how she could get started with her first canning project and I had the thought that some of my readers might also have the same questions, so I'm turning it into a post. First let me start by telling you why I love canning and freezing, it isn't for the money I save. In fact, if you do the math, you would have to make canning and freezing a big hobby to really save a lot of money. It is the quality of the food that canning and freezing supplies and the satisfaction of a job well done. That being said, home canning and freezing is a great way to supplement your pantry and save some money. When you make canning and freezing part of your routine, you can buy fresh produce on sale and preserve it for later. This week I bought pears on sale at Sprouts for $.48 per pound and I made pear butter and canned sliced pears for the pantry. I also stocked my freezer with frozen blueberries and sliced peaches for smoothies.

Beginning Canning Supplies

One of the best ways to save money with home canning is to start small. After all the point is to save money, so although you can expect an initial investment, there is no need to buy everything brand new on the first outing. To get started with basic home canning you will need one box of pint jars which will come with lids and seals and a large stockpot. That is it. That is all you need to get started. If you would like to purchase an older cookbook with canning instructions then that might be helpful and some large canning tongs with a wire canning rack will come in handy. You don't need a pressure caner until you are into more advanced things like soups and meats so don't buy one until you decide whether or not you enjoy home canning. You can get started with a simple water bath method.

canned jam
Make Fruit Butter in the Crock pot
Beginning Canning Foods

Basically, the higher the acid content of the food, the easier it is to can. So, tomatoes, strawberries and anything pickled is going to be the best foods to try first. Vegetables are going to be preserved with salt unless they are pickled and fruits will be preserved in a light syrup and Fruit Fresh unless they are made into butter or jam. When preserving tomatoes and salsas you are going to put half a teaspoon to one teaspoon of salt in the bottom of the jar, when canning fruit you will mix a solution of sugar syrup and Fruit Fresh to pour over the fruit. This solution recipe can be found on the Fruit Fresh container. A beginning pickle spice mixture can be purchased in the canning supply section of your super market. The pickle spice mixture will have vinegar and produce specifications on the package. Simple fruit butters and jam recipes can be found on the web; I prefer to make them in the Crock pot to avoid burning.

Foods that Can Well

Salsas and Tomato Sauce
Fruit Butters and Jellies
Anything Pickled
Green Beans
Foods that Freeze Well
Avocados (preserved with Fruit Fresh)
Peaches and Berries

For the More Advanced

Items like chicken soup or meats of any kind; foods that are high in starch like corn are going to be more difficult to can. You may either want to consider freezing these foods or purchasing a pressure caner if you are enjoying home canning and ready to try something a little more difficult.

Finally your going to need one really good resource for preservation and processing measurements and times. When you can, you are going to follow these steps: prepare your food for canning (salsa, sliced peaches, sliced pickles etc.), fill your jars, put the lids on and then boil the filled jars for a specified amount of time. So then, depending on what you are going to can, you will want to resource an amount of preservative (salt, fruit fresh, vinegar solution) and the amount of time to boil the filled jars. After preservation and processing you will know your canning was a success as you hear each jar pop as it cools. Off the Grid has a great chart for processing times and Bella Online is also a great resource.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer Can and Freeze/Preserving Basil from the Garden

freeze basil
My Homegrown Basil
So last week I started my own little challenge to can and preserve every week this summer in an effort to become sustainable by the end of the year.

One way to become sustainable is to grow your own produce.

I grow my own basil in the backyard. It is incredibly easy to grow...literally grows like a weed. You know those expensive herb pastes that you can buy in the fresh herb section? I made my own by blending fresh basil and olive oil. I froze the paste flat in a plastic freezer bag and it is still soft so I can just chip off what I need for a recipe. It is still green too. I also preserve guacamole this way for quick defrosting and sometimes grass fed ground beef if I buy it in bulk. Whoo hoo! It isn't a stock pile but it is preservation. I'm also planning on preserving strawberry jam and a few crock pot freezer meals later today.

I found a fantastic new blog called Homestead Revival! She has great advice and opinions about sustainability and storing food. You may want to check it out.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Prepared and frugal/Summer canning plans

Home Canned Peaches
Canning Summer Peaches
Keeping your cabinets stocked saves money and provides sustainability. We take different routes to storing up canned goods, sometimes we stock up the freezer with organic meats we buy on sale using our Food Saver, other times we garden and sometimes we buy wholesale produce and spend a week canning and freezing. This summer I'm planning to do things the old fashioned way, by canning a few pints a week. This week I canned 6 pints of diced peaches purchased on sale at Sprouts for $.69 per pound.

Last week I canned 6 pints of pickles and the week before I canned 9 pints of tomatoes. It might not sound like much but with approximately 12 weeks of summer we will have about 72 pints of produce stocked up by winter.

Canned Tomatoes
Home Canned Tomatoes and Pickles Yum!

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