Recently I’ve been getting questions regarding canning. As we gear up towards the time of the year when people tend to do more canning I imagine I will be getting more questions. If you have a question, feel free to post it in the comment section.

People have been canning for generations. Although it is no longer a necessity to can our food it is an opportunity to take control of the food you and your family consume. Abundant fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, and seafood can be enjoyed all year. You’ll always be certain of the quality and freshness of the food in your pantry. You can take advantage of the growing season when fruits and vegetables are fresh from harvest and fill your pantry with your own canned produce.

home canning, prudent living, applesauce

Home canned applesauce.

 

The key to successful canning is understanding the acidity and spoilage factor of food you wish to can, as well as the acceptable methods to process those foods. There are two types of food, categorized as low acid (vegetables, meat, poultry, and seafood)

home canning, beans

Home caned green beans.

and high acid (fruits and tomatoes).

home canning, prudent living

Salsa, pickles, relish and pickled beets.

home canning, prudent pantry, prudent pantry

Home canned tomato sauce.

Pressure canning successfully cans both. Pressure canning is the only method recommended safe for canning low-acid foods according to the United States Department of Agriculture. The boiling water method is another recommended way of processing, however this method is only acceptable for some foods. Always follow the processing method stated in the recipe.

pressure canning, home canning

Pressure canner.

 

Invisible microorganisms are present all around us. Vegetables, meat, poultry, seafood and fruits naturally contain these microorganisms. They are not a problem unless food is left to sit for extended periods of time, causing food spoilage.

There are four basic agents of food spoilage – enzymes, mold, yeast and bacteria. Canning will interrupt the natural spoilage cycle, so food can be preserved safely. Molds, yeast, and enzymes are destroyed at temperatures below 212 degrees F, the temperature at which water boils. Therefore boiling water processing is sufficient to destroy these agents.

home canning, water bath canning

Water bath canner.

Bacteria, however, are not as easily destroyed. The bacteria, Clostridium botulism produces a spore that makes a poisonous toxin, which causes botulism. This spore is not destroyed at 212° F. In addition, bacteria thrive on low acids in the absence of air. Therefore, for a safe food product, low-acid foods need to be processed at 240° F. This temperature can only be achieved with a pressure canner.

The question I received was whether or not a Portuguese Soup with sausage could be processed in a water bath canner. Portuguese Soup would be considered a low acidity food. So the answer is no, anything with meat in it or even beans must be processed with the pressure canner.

Feels like winter has returned to Vermont. I feel sorry for all the bulbs that have pushed their way to the surface and the little leaves that are popping. Anxious as I am to get out in the garden I am going to have to be patient. I do have some seedlings to transplant so that will have to do. In the meantime enjoy this video. I thought it was worth sharing. I hope I will still be gardening when I’m this age. Ruth is a real inspiration.

[hana-code-insert name=’Ruth Stoat’ /]

Kale Chips have been around for a while but I never tried them until yesterday. They are so delicious! I am definitely going to try them again, soon. They are very easy to make and in just a short amount of time you can have a bowl of kale chips to munch on. And they are much healthier for you than potato chips!

Take one bunch of curly kale.

kale, snacks, frugal tip

Curly Kale

Tear the leaves off the thick stems into bite size pieces. Set the stems aside for your compost or for your chickens.

greens, chickens, compost

Kale stems.

Soak the leaves in a bowl of water to clean and then dry off in a salad spinner.

kale, snack, prudent living

Rinse kale in water.

Spread the leaves out on cookie sheets. Spray with some oil (I used spray Pam). Sprinkle with salt or any seasoning of your choice, we have a favorite seasoning called “Nantucket Secret Spice” which I used.

raw kale, snacks

Raw kale on a cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, until the edges are brown and the kale is crisp when moved in the pan.

Enjoy‼ My husband even said “Hey these are GOOD!”

baked snack, kale

Baked Kale Chips.

 

This post is linked to: NourishingTreasures, Frugal Tuesday Tip.

This recipe is light, quick and easy – and so good! Feel free to use any other vegetable if you are not an asparagus fan.

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
¼ cup water
3 Tbsp cornstarch
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp soy sauce
½ tsp rice wine vinegar

Bring a small pan of water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Drain in a colander. Rinse under cold water, drain and set aside.

green vegetable, soup, prudent living

Boil asparagus in water.

In a separate pan bring the chicken broth to a boil. Whisk together the water and cornstarch in a cup until smooth and whisk into the broth. Simmer until the mixture thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.

Reduce the heat until the broth barely simmers. Slowly drizzle the lightly beaten eggs into the soup, while stirring in a circular motion. Cook about 1 minute. Gently stir in the soy sauce and vinegar. Add the asparagus and serve.

asparagus, soup, homemade

Asparagus Egg Drop Soup

Makes about 4 servings.

This post linked to Frugal Food Thursday.

 Cheap Recipes and Money-Saving Tips

I debated whether or not this would actually fall under the category of Prudent Pantry. However just as it is important to keep a well stocked pantry in is also prudent to keep an eye on our finances. In this world where identity theft is an ever-growing problem and can take years to clear up if it happens to you, it is a good idea to keep a close eye on your credit reports. You should request a copy of your credit report periodically and review it for accuracy. Most experts recommend an annual review.

There are three major credit report companies you can request a free report from each of them every year.

The three companies are:

Equifax
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
www.equifax.com

Experian
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013
www.experian.com

TransUnion
Consumer Disclosure Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022
www.transunion.com

You do not need to pay for this service so beware of companies that try to charge you. A good way to keep a steady eye on your credit report is to request a report every four months from one of the three companies. That way you have three different reports coming in during the year and can quickly notice if anything is amiss. If you want your credit score you will have to pay a nominal amount. Your credit report is free.

Go to this web site for your free report: www.annualcreditreport.com

On the first page you come to you will have to enter your state and then click the button that says, “request report”. On the next page you will have to fill in information that verifies who you are, including your social security number. On the following page you will have the choice to pick one or more of the following nationwide consumer credit reporting companies to request your free credit report. As I mentioned I do this three times a year, every four months and each time requesting from a different company.

If you find errors in the report, notify the credit bureau in writing, including evidence to support your claim if possible. The credit bureau then has 30 days (a general rule) to correct its report if the information you provide is confirmed.

Good credit reports can open doors for you. A bad credit report can close them. It’s that simple and that important. Most information older than seven years automatically drops off your credit report and is replaced by new information. Seven years is along time to have negative information on your credit report, and it is often difficult to re-establish credit.

What weather we’ve been having here in Vermont! Much warmer than normal. As a gardener I don’t mind because I love the chance to get outside and play in the dirt! Inside the house I have been focusing on making my own laundry soap, my own lip balm, my own hand lotion but now that I’m getting ready for the gardening season I decided I’d better focus on non-toxic and homemade remedies for the garden. Once you start looking on the Internet you can find numerous recipes. These homemade remedies are inexpensive and best of all; you know what is going into your garden. Many homemade sprays have been used with good results to control harmful insects. They usually involve noxious (but non-toxic) ingredients such as garlic, cayenne or stinging nettles, which are diluted in water and blended to be sprayed on the plants. Here are a few simple formulas.

Weeds:
Use vinegar instead of Roundup, same results and much better for the environment.

Grubs:
For lawn or garden grubs, there is a natural remedy called Milky Spore. The granules are spread on the soil and cause the grubs to contract a disease that kills them. This natural control affects only the grubs, leaving the beneficial organisms unharmed. Milky Spore multiplies over time and will sit inactive, waiting for grubs to infect. One treatment is said to last 40 years. The grubs are actually the larvae of Japanese beetles. So, when you kill the grubs you kill the beetle.

Soft bodied insects (mites, aphids, mealybugs)
Mix one tablespoon of canola oil and a few drops of ivory soap into a quart of water. Shake well and pour into a spray bottle. Spray plant from above down, and from below up to get the underside of the leaves. The oil smothers the insects.

Mites and other insects:
Mix two tablespoons of hot pepper sauce or cayenne pepper with a few drops of Ivory soap into a quart of water. Let stand overnight, then stir and pour into a spray bottle and apply as above. Shake container frequently during application.

Fungal diseases:
Mix two tablespoons of baking soda into quart of water. Pour into a spray container and spray affected areas. Repeat this process every few days until problem ceases.

Powdery mildew:
Mix equal parts milk and water and spray on infected plants. Three treatments a week apart should control the disease.

This is a good start for the gardening season. I definitely have problems with grubs in our lawn and will use the Milky Spore granules, and I will try the pepper spray on my potato bugs.

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