Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Goals to get ready for Canning Season

Last year I didn't do much canning and no gardening. Instead we took our kids on a month long cross country trip.

Great memories to hold with us always.

So this year I'm very excited about gardening and canning.

So here are my goal to get ready for canning season.

1. Clean out and re-organize my pantry  Done

It took me two whole days to clean everything out of my pantry and put it back organized. I have come up with a different arrangement for my pantry. One I hope will make it easier to get empty jars out and put them away. When my daughter empties the dishwasher, if she can't easily find where the jar goes she just puts it anywhere in the pantry. So needless to say I found empty canning jars in all kinds of strange places.

2. Take Inventory of Pantry  Done

As I cleaned out and re-organized my pantry I sorted, counted and wrote down every empty and filled canning jar I had in the pantry.  I have pretty much every size Mason Jars come in. Because I have never count my jars, I was very shocked when I add them all up. Empty jars 329. Filled jars 255. That's a total of 584 jars! 
I didn't just inventory my home canned items, I also inventoried the store bought items, too.

3.Use up what I still have

I need to think of different recipes or ways to use what I have left.

Last year before we went on our cross-country trip I found recipes for canning soups, stews and chili. We took several jar with us. What I found was they weren't flavorful enough for us. So this year I will go back to canning the ingredient separately. It will still be easy to make soup/ stew and I can season it the way my family likes. 

4.List to Can

(I'm sure I will think of more as the season goes on.)
-Veggie Mix                                                    
-Stewed tomatoes
-Salsa Verda (tomatillas)
-Dill pickles relish
-Dill pickles (need to find a good recipe)
-Pickled veggie mix
-Chili Beans
-Stew meat
-Chicken breast meat
-Strawberry jam
-Raspberry jelly
-Blueberry jam
-Blueberry pie filling
-Salmonberry jelly (try something new)
-Thimbleberry jelly(also new)
-Spiced Apples

How much vegetables and fruit I can of each, will depend on how much my garden produces. Hopefully I will have a bumper crop.

Linked to:
Country-fair-blog-party June-16

Monday, May 30, 2016

Strawberry Jam

My all time favorite jam is homemade Strawberry Jam. This weekend my grandpa bought a box full of Strawberry from a road side stand. We ate our fill of fresh Strawberries and I made Strawberry  Jam with the rest. I like to use Mrs. Wages Lite Fruit Pectin because I'm able to decide how much sugar I want to add. I use less sugar because then I'm to be able to taste the strawberries in my jam, not just sugar with a little strawberry flavor.

Less Sugar Strawberry Jam

5 cups Strawberries, washed, stemmed, and diced
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1 box Mrs. Wages Lite Fruit Pectin

1. Prepare home canning jars and lids according to manufacturer's instructions for sterilized jars. I put mine in the dishwasher. Make if you use the dishwasher, that the heat is on to dry. This will keep the jar warm.

2. Put measured fruit into a 6 or 8 quart saucepan.

3. Mash strawberries with a potato masher until they are very mashed and there is lots of juice. If your strawberries are too firm and don't release much juice add a 1/4 cup of water.

4. Stir in pectin and LET MIXTURE SIT 5-10 MINUTES. I set the timer for 10 mins. and got my sugar, lids and rings ready.

5. Then bring to a full boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Remember a full boil is when you stir the jam it stay at a full boil.

6. Add sugar. Return to a full boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Don't overcook pectin as it may break down and prevent gelling.

7. Remove from heat (if using gas stove that means just turn off burner). Then skim off foam. Save foam for later to eat when cooled, Yum.

8. Quickly ladle into hot jars. Leave 1/4-inch head space. Use a clean damp cloth to wipe the top and threads of jars. Cover with hot lids and tighten rings firmly.

9. Set hot jars on rack in canner of boiling water. Water must cover jars by 1 or 2 inches. Cover canner and return to  boil. (200dF)  Boil for 5 mins. Begin time when water temp. reaches 200d.

10.Remove canner form heat,(again gas stove turn off burner) remove lid and let jars sit 5 minutes in canner. Remove jars from canner, set on a cutting board covered by a clean towel.

11. Listen for the POP as the jars seal. If a jar doesn't seal eat that one first.

What is your favorite homemade jam?

Linked to:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Homesteaders reuse and re-purpose

If you are a homesteader or striving for self-reliance or just plain frugal you reuse and re-purpose. I'm not always good about reusing or re-purposing everything but here are a few from around my home.


This is an old blanket chest or hope chest. I wasn't using it in the house, so I re-purposed it as a planter for my Lovage, Parsley, and Chives.

Used Bricks

We have a bunch of used red brick around the house. Among other things I like to use it in the garden for bed borders. 

Damaged Water Bath Canners

I pick these up usually in the free piles at garage sales. The small ones work great for growing peppers and the big ones are great for tomatoes. In my area I have to grow pepper and most tomatoes in my little greenhouse.

Grass Clippings

My favorite mulch is grass chippings. I have used it for many years in my garden and between rows. It is easy to come by and works well at keeping weeds at bay. Not to mention it adds nutrients to the soil.

Tattler Lids

This is a reusable item. With all the canning I do each year I love using these reusable tattler lids. I have used them for several years and had very good luck with them.

What are your favorite things to reuse or re-purposed?

Wide Mouth
Regular Mouth
Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop