Winter is Coming… Preparing your Pantry

The purpose of home canning and meal prepping is to prepare for times when fruits and vegetables and meats are not as abundant naturally.  When an item is in season, it is more abundant and less expensive, this is the time to prepare for winter, especially when you live in the northern and Midwest areas.  Winter can be harsh.  We believe in canning what is in season, naturally, to help with budget costs, health benefits and being more ‘God sufficient’ than man sufficient.  The other side point to preparing and budgeting your food storage is to better understand what a REAL portion of food is.  America has gotten really bad at ‘super sizing’ and over convenience everything.  We’ve gotten into the mindset of “getting our money’s worth” instead of planning and looking at what our body needs.  The sugar and preservative addictions are just as bad as the “bad addictions”.  Look at the rise of obesity, health issues, enabling etc.  If we are stressed, we head strait for the candy jar, if a child is crying we hand them a sweet treat.  I could go on and on about this subject, because I myself suffer from stress eating and weight issues.  I come from a long line of Southern Cooks.  I love my butter, gravy and I melt with Shrimp and Grits.  Which is all fine, IN MODERATION.

But, back to preparing your pantry.  Each year it is essential to take stock of what your family will need for the upcoming year until the next season arrives with more goodies.  Also knowing crop rotation years help too.  One year may be a great corn year, the next nothing.

Now the big thing I want you to really take notice of is the PORTION of each item.  If we ate this way, I’m willing to bet, the weight loss programs out there would loose a lot of money and we would have more in our savings!

The Canner’s Pantry Planner:
Food Times/Week Serving Jars/Person Jars/Family(4)
Meats, Poultry, Fish 4x week, 36 weeks 1/2 cup 36 Pints 144 Pints
Soups 2x week, 36 weeks 1 cup 18 quarts 72 quarts
Jams, Jellies, Preserves 6x week, 52 weeks 2 tablespoons 40 1/2 pints 160 1/2 pints
Relishes 3x week, 52 weeks 1 tablespoon 5 pints 20 pints
Greens, carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash 4x week, 36 weeks 1/2 cup 18 quarts 72 quarts
Pickled vegetables 2x week, 52 weeks 2 1/2 tablespoons 13 pints 52 pints
Juices and Tomatoes 7x week, 36 weeks 1 cup 63 quarts 252 quarts
All Other Fruits and Vegetables 14x week, 36 weeks 1/2 cup 76 quarts 304 quarts
Pickled Fruits, Pickled Eggs 2x week, 52 weeks 2 1/2 tablespoons/ 1 egg 13 quarts 52 quarts

Did you slightly freak out over the portions? Puts things into perspective doesn’t it? Here is the thing I have discovered, when you utilize the mentality of using what you have on hand, you waste less, you eat less, and you have that pride of providing. It’s amazing how the world’s perspectives dissolve when you start living like this.

There are other items to consider as well, the meat covers what you should have in your freezer as well as canning, but there are dry goods to consider:  Flour, Sugar, Baking Soda/powder, yeast, dried beans, rice, powders.  Then your wet goods such as honey, syrups, molasses.  Also your perishables, eggs & milk.  There is also cellar storage to consider, potatoes, sweet potatoes, hard squash, apples.  But all in all the portions stay the same.  Now my favorite:  Cheeses.  I love real cheese, love it!  But a portion is only 2 ounces.  That’s the size of 2 dice.

I credit the knowledge of this from my Grandma Inez and my go to book “The Encyclopedia of Country Living” by Carla Emery.

So learn to enjoy and appreciate what you have and you will find that your body and your savings will thank you!

Enjoy and let me know of your thoughts.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

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A Little Garden

The one thing I miss more than anything is having a huge garden and living in the country.  But really, you don’t need acres of land to enjoy home grown produce.  And for newbies, its super easy!

You know those pallets that are thrown out or you may even have stacked up somewhere?  These are great for little box gardens and can be used in the smallest of places.

On the open sides, you will want to tack in some wood to keep the dirt from spilling out. But other than that no building skills are necessary.   Place the pallet where you want it to stay, preferably over other dirt, lots of sun please.  Fill it with good dirt (maybe a few earth worms to help).  Now brush of the mess off the “Top” of the pallets.  plant your seeds and add your markers.  Water and care for and yes you may even have to pull out a few weeds, but that’s about it.

 

palletgarden

Then enjoy the earth’s bounty!  This is really great for radishes, lettuce, peppers, spinach, herbs, eggplant, pretty much anything that doesn’t vine or need support.

 

 

Let me know what you think and enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

 

Canning Basic Green Beans

A staple in our home is the basic green bean. I will say for the most part in this household we doctor up our green beans with onion, garlic & of course jalapeño peppers. However, the following is just your basic run of the mill green beans canning recipe. Enjoy. 

First things first. Green beans must be pressure canned. So be sure to understand how to operate, maintenance, care and clean your pressure canner. 

We get our green beans mostly from farm markets and always in season. A half bushel should give you approximately 13 quarts of snapped green beans. 

First wash and snap your green beans. 

I like to give the a quick blanch wash of three minutes in boiling water. However, some people don’t do this. It’s up to you. The argument is that cold packing keeps the beans crisper. I don’t notice a difference. 

As always make sure your glass quart jars are sterilized by boiling or dishwasher. 

Take your center lids and steep them in boiling water while you work on filing the jars. 

Now, I use quart jars because honestly, pint jars of green beans is rather skimpy for me, in size. Green beans warm up well with leftovers, so to me, it’s easier to put then up as quarts. 

Fill your jar to the base of the neck with your beans. 

Fill all your jars. 

If you add salt use a pickling and preserving salt. This will prevent a cloudiness in your beans. 

Add water to the jars but leave a 1 inch headspace. 

Wipe the rims with a clean towel. 

Place your rims on your jars. I use a magnet stick to pull my kids out of the hot water. 

Attach the ring to the lid. Tighten the lid but not so much that you strain something. 

Place the jars in the canner. Add water to your canner, per specification and size of your canner.  You can also add a tablespoon of white vinegar to the water in the canner to prevent calcium buildup. 

Put your lid on your canner and click it shut. Leave the stopper off. Turn on the heat. I generally start mine at 7 never full blast heat. 

Once you start to get a steady stream of steam from the vent set the timer to 10 minutes. 

When the timer goes off your button should be straight up. When the button is up put your ‘stopper’ on. 

Watch your gauge closely when you hit 11-12 lbs start your timer for 25 minutes for quarts (20 min for pints). 

Please watch your pressure gauge closely adjusting your heat appropriately to keep it at 11-12 lbs. Do NOT ever leave your canner unattended during this phase. It only takes a second to hit a dangerous level of pressure. 

When your timer goes off. Turn off the heat and leave the canner alone. Do not fiddle with the stopper, or the button and no matter what do NOT be a dork and open the canner. It will take a while, 30 min or so, to naturally cool down. 

When the button drops it will be safe to open your canner. 

There WILL be hot steam. Do not be careless while taking the lid off. Skin does not grow back easily!

Gently remove your jars and place them in a prepared place on a thick towel to cool. This place should be out of the reach of kids, pets etc. And will need to stay in this place for 24 hours.

Once your jars begin to cool you will hear that lovely sound. POP! This means a jar has sealed. There should be a pop for each jar. Don’t try to cheat and push the lids to make them seal, they won’t. 

If you have a jar that doesn’t seal, put it in the refrigerator & use it first. 

Never reuse your center lids. The only parts that can be reused are the rings & the jars. 

Mark your lids with contents & date & move to your pantry. 

Enjoy! 

Mrs. Kay L Rice