Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Canning Applesauce

So, my mom gave me this awesome birthday present. It's just what any aspiring Domestic Goddess would want, right?

I promptly went out and bought 3 half-bushel boxes of apples (and the salsa screen for next year's salsa making!!) By the way, you can also get the pumpkin screen, the berry screen, the grape spiral. Want a Victorio? See

If you are in Utah County, they are sold at the Bosch Kitchen Store in Orem. If you are in the Ogden area, they are sold at Kitchen Kneads.

Using the applesauce recipe in the Ball Blue Book, first I quartered the apples, popped them into some water-filled pots, and cooked them until tender. By the way, I used a combo of Red Delicious and Jonagold and the sauce was sweet enough that I didn't add any sugar.

After the apples cooked, they were dumped into Kat's 45-quart bowl (Jealous? Want one? Kat will take care of you over at Ram Kitchen Supplies). Seriously, people, I love Kat and I love Kat's bowl.

Next came the ooey gooey part, which the family loved. Unless you are an octopus, it would be helpful to have the following helpers: The Crank Turner, The Plunger, The Chute Filler, The Scraper, and The Boss (that's me!)

The Crank Turner had to crank so much that his arms hurt. No pain, no applesauce, I guess.

The Ball recipe required me to hot pack the applesauce, which meant I had to put it back into a pan, bring it to a boil, and simmer 5 minutes. Then I packed the applesauce into clean jars, affixed hot lids and rings, and processed according to published instructions.

Sorry. There is not pic of the finished product. But I did get 15 quarts from the apples I had bought (although the family had eaten quite a few before we started, so I would have gotten more).

I can't wait to do it again.

P.S. Want a tip straight from the School of Hard Knocks? I learned that if you cook the apples until they are REALLY mushy, they go through the food mill SO much easier and you get a bigger yield. I think my first batch wasn't quite cooked well enough, which meant there was a lot of muscle-hurting crankin' to do. Live and learn, yes?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Canning Peaches

I'll admit that I'm a rookie at canning peaches. This is only my second go-around, but I decided to document the process.

My first attempt (years ago) was not successful because I chose a good eating peach, not a good canning peach, and I think they were too ripe. I had used Angelos on my first attempt and will never do that again.

This year I selected O'Henries. I would have preferred to have bought Lemon Elbertas, but it was too late in the season by the time I got around to it (you know what they say about snoozing and losing....) Whatever peach you decide to get, make sure the pit is free (freestone) and not a cling. You'll hate yourself if you get cling peaches.

Also, I used Ball's Blue Book for instructions and processing times, adjusted processing times according to their elevation chart, and elected to use an extra-light syrup.

I like to do as much prep work ahead of time as possible, because once the skins come off the peaches, they begin to brown. So, I prepped two recipes of syrup and had it ready to go.

Also, I always wash my jars ahead of time, and I keep my lids and rings in a pot of hot water on the stove. Also, I wash all the fruit before I begin.

Next, I filled one side of the sink with COLD water and put a strainer in the other side (for skins and stems).

Using several pots of scalding hot water, I blanch the peaches for about 1 minute (the skins will begin to wrinkle or split). You don't want to cook the peaches so it is important to get them out pronto.

The blanched peaches then get dumped into the sink of cold water, and if you are lucky, you can get your kids to skin them for you!

Quickly pit and slice into halves, quarters or smaller slices (more can fit into the bottles if the peaches are sliced smaller). Some people scrape the reddish brown inner part of the peach out. Whatever. Do it if you want.

I fill a bowl of cold water with fruit fresh in it so that the peaches won't brown too much. Then I fill jars, shaking/twisting the jar occasionally to settle the fruit into the bottom. Some people painstakingly arrange the slices in pretty layers. Whatever. Do it if you want.

Don't forget to get a pot of syrup on while you are slicing and filling bottles. When it is ready, fill each jar, wipe the rim, and affix the lid and ring.

Then process according to process method and instructions. This recipe called for water bathing. Just as a reminder, you begin counting the processing time when the water is at a rolling boil. And, of course, the lid should be used!

After processing, let them cool and wait for the ***POP*** When totally cool, check each seal, wipe them down, remove the rings, date, and store. Then eat.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Green Smoothie

1 Granny Smith Apple
1 Seedless Orange
2 Cups Fresh Baby Spinach
3 Cups Frozen Mango Chunks
1/4 Cup water

Core and slice apple. Peel and slice orange. Place both in blender and blend together for a few seconds. Add spinach, mango & water into blender. Blend until smooth.

Monday, August 31, 2009

How to Make Salsa

The purpose of this post is to show you the basic preparation steps to make your own salsa. What you won't find here is a recipe. That's because the first rule to safe home canning is to use a tested recipe and to follow its processing instructions exactly.

Companies like Ball have tested their recipes and have altitude charts for processing, so you can be assured that if you follow their instructions, your product will be safe.

So, once you have your recipe and understand how to process it correctly and safely, you'll probably go through a process similar to this.

Step 1: Getting started. You'll need the following supplies:
  • At least 3 very large bowls.
  • Two to three pots for blanching
  • Hot pads & apron
  • A large slotted spoon
  • A couple of plastic sacks
  • A pairing knife
  • Stock pot
  • Pressure canner or water bath canner, depending on recipe

Step 2: Pick and wash your tomatoes. Make sure you select firm, ripe (but not overly ripe) tomatoes. Discard any diseased tomatoes.

Step 3: Stem and prep the tomatoes by cutting out any bad parts. I like to stem before blanching because the fruit is firm and it's less messy. One time-saving tip I learned is to put all the stems and discarded parts into a double-bagged sack in the adjacent sink. This really helps minimize the mess.

Step 4: After all the tomatoes have been washed and stemmed, set them aside in a large bowl. It's now time to prep for blanching. Quickly scrub out your sink again and fill one side with COLD water. Also, keep that double-bagged sack handy. You'll need it again for the skins.

Step 5: Blanching means to dip the tomatoes into very hot, nearly boiling water for a minute or two so that the skins will crack and will easily slip off.

I've learned a few tricks to blanching. First, I've found that it is better to use more than pot so I can blanch several loads at once. Also, it takes longer to heat up a really full pot than 2-3 or partially full pots. Second, I've found that doing step #3 and step #5 at the same time, in an effort to multitask, is chaotic unless you have someone helping you.

So, get your water nice and hot first and then pop the tomatoes in.

Step 6: Using your slotted spoon, pull out the tomatoes when the skins begin to crack.

Step 7: As I pull the blanched tomatoes out of the hot water, I place them into a large bowl and then quickly transfer the tomatoes to the sink filled with COLD water. You don't want the tomatoes to continue cooking and to get mushy; that would make skin removal more difficult.

Step 8: As soon as the tomatoes cool enough that they can be handled, begin slipping off and discarding the skins. Once again, using the double-bagged discard sacks is handy. I take this time to look over the tomatoes one more time, looking for any defects that need to be removed.

Step 9: Before you begin the salsa-making part, scrub out the pots you've used and clean out your sink again. It's much easier to deal with the mess as you go than to deal with it all at the end.

Now the tomatoes should be ready for salsa making (or bottling them if you just want stewed tomatoes). Here's a tip: Don't waste your time chopping them up. With clean hands, just squish them to oblivion. It won't matter in the end.

Step 10: Now follow your tested recipe exactly. Proper acidity needs to be maintained, so you shouldn't add or omit ingredients, change quantities, or make substitutions. Doing those things could alter the acidity and make the product unsafe. If you don't like the way a recipe tastes, find another recipe; don't try to fix it.

Step 11: My recipe calls for cooking the salsa. I really need to invest in a stock pot, but I've found that using my roaster over two hot elements works fine.

Step 12: If you want to thicken the salsa more quickly, dip a strainer into the pot and spoon off some of the juice. You can freeze it and use it in taco soup later.

Step 13: When the salsa is nearly ready to be put into jars, warm the rings and lids in a pot. Don't boil them.

Step 14: Fill your jars, wipe the rims, and affix the lids and rings.

Step 15: Process according to the proper method and for the proper time. Pressure canning and water bathing are NOT interchangeable methods. If the recipe you are using calls for pressure canning, do it! Most likely your recipe will call for water bathing, though. Be sure to adjust processing times for elevation as per the published instructions.

Step 16: After processing, make sure they have properly sealed before you store them. The lid, when sealed properly, should not make a clicking sound when pressed. Don't stress out if the lid is still clicking after you've pulled them out of a water bath canner. It sometimes takes a bit before they seal. You'll hear a **POP** when it seals, and after it does, the lid will no longer click when pressed.

If the jars are completely cool and the lid didn't seal, you either need to reprocess immediately or store the jar in the refrigerator and use its contents soon. Jars that have not been sealed properly should not be stored at room temperature.

After the jars are totally cooled and lids checked for proper seal, the rings can be removed and the jars stored at room temperature. Be sure to date and label each jar.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More About Steam Canner Controversy

Jodie posted about the controversy regarding steam canners. I found a tidbit of info that unfortunately does not clear anything up (how helpful, eh?)

I happen to own the Back to Basics Steam Canner, a popular product sold in Utah stores. I have the 2008 instruction manual which includes this statement on page 2:

"Research scientists at Utah State University have tested steam canning and pronounced it as a safe and effective way for processing fruits, jams, tomatoes and other high acid foods."

However, the Back to Basics Steam Canner 2009 instruction manual does not contain that statement (at least that I could find).

NOTE: Utah State University Extension center has weighed in on this topic with a position statement against the use of a steam canner. It also explains the confusion regarding the statement made by the Back to Basics company.

Steam Canner Controversy

Well, I was all set to buy a steam canner when a friend of mine told me that they are not recommended. Have you guys heard this? Maybe some of you have but, being new to canning I had not. She recommended that I call the Utah State Extension office and ask them ( I had not heard of them either but now it's my new favorite place for all my canning questions).

They did say that they do not recommend them. I will quote now from a paper I got at their office.
" Steam canners are not recommended because processing times for use with current models have not been adequately researched . . . Due to the lack of definitive research into the safety of steam canning the Utah State University Extension program currently agrees with the USDA and National Center for Home Food Preservation recommendation against using steam canners. For those who still wish to use steam canners we: firmly advise against steam canning any low acid (e.g. vegetable) or borderline acid foods (e.g. tomatoes). Under processing these foods can lead to botulism food poisoning. For acid foods like fruits, jams or jellies we recommend following Dr. Mendenhall's six steps to successful operation of a steam canner. "

Here are his steps :

1. Place appropriate amount of water in the base. Place the perforated
cover over the base and bring water to a low boil.

2. Pack and fill jars. Secure lids firmly, but not over tight. Set each full
jar on the base and allow it to warm up while packing and filling
enough jars for one batch.

3. When the last full jar has warmed up for 1-2 minutes, place the dome
on the base and slowly(4-5 minutes) increase temperature setting of the
stove untill a column of steam 8-10 inches is evident from the small
at the base of the dome.

4. Begin timing the process, maintaining the column of steam following the
water bath canning adjustments for your altitude. Do not reduce
temperature setting of the stove. The dome should not bounce from the
base during processing.

5. When processing time is complete, turn off the stove and wait 2-3
minutes before removing the dome. Remove the dome by turning it
away from your face and body to avoid burns.

6. Allow jars to cool and seal. Remove metal bands and store jars in a
cool dark place.

I know this is a lot of information. Like I said some of you may already know this, but it was new to me. If you have any questions about this you can call the Utah State University Extension office. The Provo office number is 801 851 8460. The web address is

They also teach classes about canning and lots of other things. You can even call about lawn questions. It's a really amazing source of information.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Great Salsa Recipe for Canning

1/2 Bushel Ripe Tomatoes (Roma's work best)
8-10 Yellow Gems or Banana Peppers
2-3 Bell Peppers
3 Tbl Crushed Chili Peppers
10 Anaheim Peppers 6-8"
6-8 Jalapeno Peppers
3 Large Onions
1/2 Cup Salt
1 Garlic Head

Scald and peel tomatoes. Dice all ingredients and add to large Stainless Steel Stock Pot. Simmer on low heat 2 hours or until sauce has thickened. Mix occasionally. Pour into pint jars and seal and process according to manufacturers guidelines and local requirements for Hot Water Bath.

* For mild salsa remove all seeds from Anaheim and Jalapeno Peppers. For hot salsa include all the seeds.
* ALWAYS follow local guidelines for canning times and methods. To find out requirements for your area contact your local extension service by following the link.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New Contributor

My new friend and neighbor, Jodie, will be joining as a contributor. By way of intros, let me give Jodie the rundown about the other contributors on this blog:

Debi and Ted are my sibs.
Lisa and Jana are by cousins.
Angie is my sister in law.
Kat is my good friend from Roy.

Debi and Angie have been working on meals and recipes. Ted has been working on water storage and fuel, and Lisa and Jana have posted yummy recipes. Kat likes to bottle and can and also owns a kitchen supply business. Jodie has been building her food storage by using Deals to Meals and is learning to can.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

White Wheat At Walmart

It's June 18th 2009 and today I spotted 50 pound bags of white spring wheat at Walmart for $16.00. That's only slightly higher than the LDS Cannery/Home Storage Center's price of $7.40 per 25-pound bag.

Quick math: Walmart's price is currently $1.20 more per 50 pounds than the LDS Cannery.

Of course I bought ANOTHER bag. Shush, don't tell Dave. I'll just slip it into the storage room and he'll never know.

Some people collect stamps. I collect wheat. You should too 'cause you can't eat stamps!

(There is nothing that makes me giddier than buying bulk food. It's been a good day :-)

Oh, and one more thing.... Walmart doesn't always have this product, so if you want it, get it now. Even the LDS Cannery sometimes runs out of it, too.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Conversion Chart for Dry Pack Canning Bulk Product

The Springville LDS Cannery (aka Home Storage Center) has a wonderful list which helps you plan how many #10 cans or pouches you'll need for dry packing. So, I give them credit for putting this information together.

Beans (black): 25 lb. bulk = 4-5 cans or 3-6 pouches.
Beans (pinto): 25 lb. bulk = 4-5 cans or 4-6 pouches.
Beans (white): 25 lb. bulk = 4-5 cans or 3-5 pouches.

Dry Nonfat Milk: 25 lb. bulk = 6-7 cans or 5-7 pouches.
Rice: 25 lb. bulk = 4-5 cans or 4-6 pouches.
Sugar: 25 lb. bulk = 4 cans or 3-5 pouches.

Wheat (red): 25 lb. bulk = 4-5 cans or 3-5 pouches.
Wheat (white): 25 lb. bulk = 4-5 cans or 3-5 pouches.
Apples: 15 lb. bulk = 11-12 cans or 9-10 pouches.

Carrots: 25 lb. bulk = 8-9 cans or 8-10 pouches.
Macaroni: 20 lb. bulk = 5-6 cans or 4-5 pouches.
Oats (quick): 25 lb. bulk = 9-10 cans or 8-9 pouches.

Oats (regular): 25 lb. bulk = 8-9 cans or 6-7 pouches.
Onions (dry): 35 lb. bulk = 12-13 cans or 10-12 pouches.
Potato Flakes: 25 lb. bulk = 13-14 cans or 10-12 pouches.

Spaghetti: 25 lb. bulk = 5 cans or 3-5 pouches.
Refried Beans: 25 lb. bulk = 10-11 cans or 8-9 pouches.
Hot Cocoa Mix: 25 lb. bulk = 4-5 cans or 3-5 pouches.

White flour: 25 lb. bulk = 5-6 cans or 4-5 pouches.
Fruit Drink Mix: 25 lb. bulk = 4 cans or 3-5 pouches.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stock up on White Wheat

For several months during the fall and winter, the Springville LDS Cannery had been out of white wheat. Today I went and found out that they have plenty, so I bought 75 pounds. I don't really need it now, but I will later this fall and winter, and I don't want to run into the same problem I had last year.

The cannery is currently selling it for $7.40 for a 25-pound bag. Some months ago I found it at Walmart for a comparable price, but I haven't seen bulk sacks of white wheat at Walmart since then.

Lesson learned: Stock up on white wheat when you see it for a decent price because it isn't an item that you can readily get year round, unless you want to pay dearly for it.

Side note: I have liked using white wheat better than red wheat for homemade bread. Red wheat gives the bread a wheatier taste and makes the loaf heavier. Also, I have a bunch of red and white wheat stored in #10 cans, which I intend to just leave on the shelf and NOT rotate due to the expense of putting it in cans. That will be for my long-term storage. I intend to buy fresh wheat each year, left in bags or in a bucket with a GammaLid, to be used for breadmaking throughout the year.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Jam Making (with photos)

Welcome to Jam Making 101, with an emphasis on the cooked method (with photos). I'll explain step by step instructions as well as go over some basics of water bath canning.

When making jam, you'll have to decide if you want to make freezer jam or cooked jam.

Difference between freezer jam and cooked jam: The basic difference is that cooked method requires that you water bath the filled canning cars so that they'll seal properly and so that they can be stored on a shelf at room temperature for long periods of time. The freezer jam method does not include water bathing, which means that the jam-filled jars must be stored in the freezer and cannot be stored at room temperature. I personally think there are some taste and texture differences between the two methods. Try both to see what you like.

Advantages/Disadvantages of freezer jam: The preparation goes a lot faster because you don't have to process the filled jars in a water bath canner. I think freezer jam is a little runnier than cooked. Also, you need to think about the space in your freezer to see if you want to have jars in there.

Advantages/Disadvantages of the cooked method: Preparation takes a lot longer because of the water bathing. Jars can be stored for several years. I think the jam is a thicker set than freezer jam.

Whether you choose the freezer jam method or the cooked method, you'll need to use pectin. Pectin helps the jam form. You'll use one box of pectin for each recipe you want to make, so if you want to make two recipes, buy two boxes. Inside of each box of pectin is a list of recipes for both freezer jam and cooked jams. There are recipes for various berries and fruits. The recipes will tell you how much fruit to buy and what other ingredients you will need. Lemon juice and sugar are two common ingredients.

Pectin can be bought in boxes at grocery stores or at Walmart, although it can be hard to find during canning season. Pay attention to the type you are buying. Some is used for sugarless or reduced sugar recipes and some is not.**TIP** Buy a few boxes ahead of time and stash them away so you don't have to hunt for it. I've seen Walmart carry it year round.


Pay attention to the guidelines for fruit buying and preparation given in the recipe. Usually overly ripe fruit is not a good choice for jam because it can affect the way the jam sets up. Pick ripe, firm fruit and prepare it according to directions. Here I have washed and stemmed my strawberries.

Since the recipe indicated that the strawberries be mashed (not pureed), I saved myself some time and let my machine slice them up.

I don't have a potato masher, but if I did, I would have used it. To accomplish the mashing, I used a large cup and smashed them well.


I wanted to make 4 batches. I measured everything exactly according to the directions. Since proper jam formation depends on the ratio of fruit, sugar, and pectin, you don't want to mess around with the recipe. Prepare and measure the ingredients as instructed, otherwise your jam may not turn out. Also, keep each recipe separate if you are doing muliple batches. You don't want to mix it all together because you want each batch to retain a proper acidity level (from the lemon juice).

Making the process easier:

Making jam is messy. So sticky. It seems I am always reaching for another spoon, or plate, or washcloth. One trick I've learned is to rinse along the way. Instead of throwing the sticky items into the sink to be dealt with later, rinse them quickly with hot water. This will especially help if you are doing multiple batches one right after another.

Another tip is to do as much prep as you can before you start the cooking process. Slice, mash, stir, measure, etc. before you turn the stove on. And, make sure all bottles are washed and ready, and that rings and lids are handy. Once you start cooking, the pace quickens and it's much easier if you have everything lined up in an orderly way.

Keep several hotpads handy. They can get sticky and wet, so you'll probably go through several of them.

Reread the directions before beginning so that you are very clear about what to do. This will save you a ton of trouble.

Cook according to instructions:

Cook the jam according to the instructions. This recipe called for 4 minutes of a rolling boil with constant stirring. It is common to see foam form on the top. Be sure to use a large pot and expect that the foam will rise up. If you are using an electric stovetop, be cautious about setting the temperature all the way up to High. If the heat is too great and it boils up too quickly, you won't be able to adjust the temperature down as quickly as you need to and you'll risk a boil-over. It's better to start with med-high and slowly work up in temperature on an electric stovetop.

Live and Learn:

I thought I'd brilliantly manage two pots at once, which was a dumb idea in and of itself. To complicate matters, this pot was not big enough AND I had the temp too high. The result: a boil-over and a big mess. I've decided that managing one very large pot at a time on a slighly lower temperature is the way to go. After salvaging most of this recipe, switching to a bigger pot, and cleaning up the stovetop, I was back in business.


The recipe might call for skimming the foam. Once the jam is fully cooked and removed from the heat, the foam will rise to the top. If you let it sit for a minute or two, you can easily skim it off with a spoon. If you want, you can keep the foam in the fridge and use it just like jam. It will even set up a little. Underneath the foam is the dark red liquid jam. I think skimming is just a way to keep the appearance of the bottled jam dark red, pretty, and uniform.

Filling Jars:

First of all, make sure your jars are appropriate for use. Ball, Mason, and Kerr jars are the standard brands of canning jars. Do not use old mayo jars or other commercially used jars. They are not intended for reuse. Do not use cracked jars.

Most likely you'll put your jam into one of three sizes of canning jars: pint, half pint, or jelly jar size. I've never seen anyone bottle jam into quarts. Just keep in mind, the smaller the jar, the more jars you'll have to use, thus more batches of water bathing. I like pint size best. Wide mouth is easiest to fill, but regular mouth is manageable as long as you have a funnel.

The jam will be very hot so be careful. I always put a plate underneath to catch drips and use a funnel to make filling easier.

Carefully wipe the jar with a clean, wet cloth. You don't want anything to prevent the lid from properly sealing onto the jar during processing. So, a clean lip is important.

Lids and Rings:

Because the jars are now filled with hot jam, the glass will heat up. Therefore, the jar is at risk of breaking if cold rings or lids touch it. Most likely the recipe you use will ask you to warm up the lids and rings. Don't overly tighten the ring. It needs to be finger tight but not cranked on there. **TIP** If you buy a set of canning jars, lids and rings will come with the set. But, if you need replacement rings and/or lids, buy them early. They can be hard to find at times. Walmart is known to carry them year round and I buy them off season and stash them away.

Water Bathing:

Supplies: You'll need three things to water bath: 1) A water bath canner with a lid, 2) an internal rack that holds seven jars, and 3) canning tongs (not shown) so you can remove hot jars. Usually a canner is sold with the rack inside, but most likely you'll have to buy the tongs separately.

Gas or electric: The advantage of a gas stovetop is that you can control the heat so much better. You can water bath on an electric stovetop, but temp control is more difficult. I've heard that you should not water bath on those flat electric stovetops because you run the risk of shattering the glass surface. Other options include a large gas camp stove like a CampChef, or side burner on an outdoor gas grill (that's what I used and it worked great). If you use a camp stove or gas grill burner, make sure the water bath canner fits nicely on over the element and is stable.

How to:
Most likely the recipe you choose will include the following water bathing principles. First, you want the water to be warm before you put the filled jars in. Remember that the jars are still hot with hot jam, so you don't want them to break by putting them into a pot of cold water. Second, you want to make sure that all the jars are covered by 1-2 inches of water. They need to be completely submerged. Next, processing time does not start until the canner reaches a rolling boil (big bubbly boil). I took the photo without a lid so you could see, but I always process with the lid.

Altitude adjustment: Most likely your recipe is going to ask you increase the processing time to account for elevation. The instructions will tell you how many additional minutes you need to add to the processing time, based on your elevation.

Caution: When processing is finished, turn off the heat and let the boiling subside. You don't want to try to remove the jars while it is still boiling. Also, be very careful as the jars will be extremely hot. Keep the hot jars away from cold things, even drafts, so that they won't crack.

Next batch? If you are going to process a second batch right after the first comes out of the canner, check the water level because some of the water may have boiled out. Add hot water if needed. Even with additional water being added for the second go-around, the water bath canner will come to a rolling boil much more quickly than it did the first time.

Letting them set and seal:

Once the jars have been removed from the canner, they need to sit for while so the jam can set up and so that the jars can seal. You'll hear popping sounds as the lids seal to the jars. Do not take the rings off at this point. Doing so may loosen the newly sealed lid. Also, the jars will be very dirty from having been in the water. Do not try to clean them off while they are hot. I usually let them sit over night and then remove the rings and wipe them down.

After the jars have completely cooled, I check each lid for a proper seal by pushing down on the center of the lid. If I hear a clicking sound when I press down on the lid, that means that the lid failed to seal. In that case, I could choose to do one of two things: either open the jar for immediate use or place it as is in the freezer until I am ready to use it. An improperly sealed jar should not be stored at room temperature because its contents will spoil.

After the jars have cooled, rings have been removed, and the seals have been checked, they are ready to be dated and stored. Once a jar is opened for use, it ought to be kept in the refrigerator.

You may notice that the fruit will have floated to the top of the jar. I have not yet found a solution to this other than to give it a good mix when I open a jar to use it. If you know a trick, leave me a comment!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Food Storage Calculators

I found this food calculator site and it is more comprehensive than others I've seen. I do not know the reasoning or the method behind their calculations, but I thought I'd pass it along.

And, the following is the one available on the Provident Living site.,11666,7498-1-4070-1,00.html

Monday, April 20, 2009

Laundry Soap

I received this recipe for laundry soap. The dry ingredients are easy to put in storage and you can mix it up whenever you need.

Items needed:
* A 5 Gallon Bucket to store detergent in
*1 Bar Zote Soap (may also use Fels Naptha)
*1 1/2 Cups Arm and Hammer washing Soda
*1 1/2 Cups Twenty Mule Team Borax
*Lots of water

Heat 12 cups of water in large pot. Grate Zote soap and add to water. Stir until soap melts. Add washing soda and Borax--ingredients will foam--stir until everything is dissolved. (Approximately 5 minutes). Remove from heat. Heat 8 cups of water in separate container and place in 5 gallon bucket. Add soap mixture and stir. Add 2 gallons plus 12 more cups of water and stir. You may add 1-2 oz of essential oil for scent if desired.

Cover and let set for 24 hours. Stir a few times over the first few hours of sitting so mixture does not thicken too much.

Use 1/2 cup per load of laundry. Great for sensitive skin. Detergent will not be sudsy in washing machine. Total cost is approximately 1 cent per load.

Products can be found in most grocery store laundry aisles. In Utah, Macey's stocks all the items. Even if you don't use it on a daily/weekly basis it is a handy recipe to have on hand in case of an emergency. You can store dry ingredients indefinitely. Make sure to buy multiple Zote bars to go with one box of of other items.

My disclaimer is that I have not yet tried this out, but it appears from the ingredient list that it would probably work quite well. If someone gets around to trying it before me let us know how you like it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ham Fried Rice & Cooking Rice in the Oven

Melissa taught me how to make rice in the oven, and I don't think I've ever had it turn out better. So, I used her technique tonight while making a Ham Fried Rice recipe. I'll pass both her technique and the recipe along.

3 Tablespoons oil, divided

4 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup chopped onion

3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed (I think I used more)

1 cup chopped cooked ham (I think I used more)

4 cups cooked rice (3 to 3 1/2 would be better)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

dash pepper

2 Tablespoons soy sauce or to taste

  • STEP 1:
    Using an ovensafe pan, bring rice to boil on stovetop (also turn oven on to 375 degrees). After it reaches a boil, cover with tinfoil and put into hot oven for 12-15 minutes. While this is cooking, prepare step #2.

  • STEP 2:
    In a large skillet, use 2 T. oil and scramble eggs. When finished, set aside on plate. In same skillet, use the other 1 T. oil and cook onions. Add peas, ham and seasonings. Stir fry. Add scrambled eggs. When all warm and cooked, add cooked rice and mix all together.
This is a good food storage recipe because it could be made from all canned items, although frozen peas and fresh ham are certainly better.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Botulism & Canning Practices

I have recently learned about two canning practices, widely explained on the internet, that are totally unsafe and can lead to serious illness or death via the botulism toxin.

1) The baking of bread or cakes in glass canning jars.

Unsafe practice: A batter of banana bread, zucchini bread or similar cake or bread is spooned into glass canning jars and baked. After baking but while jars are still hot, a canning lid and ring are secured. As the jar cools, the air is removed from the jar and the lid is vacuum-sealed into place.

2) The sealing of butter or margarine in glass canning jars.

Unsafe practice: The butter or margarine is melted and then placed in a glass canning jar. Once again, a canning lid and ring are secured while the jars are hot, and a vacuum-seal is created as the jars cool.
_ _ _

In both cases, an environment supportive of botulism growth is created. In order for botulism to produce its deadly neurotoxin, it needs three things: no oxygen, low acidity, and a tiny bit of moisture.

If a botulism bacteria is placed in a this environment, it begins to produce a neurotoxin, which if consumed, begins to paralyze muscles. Victims often need antitoxin drugs to deal with it; others need life support when they can no longer breathe on their own, and others succumb and die.

Improper home-canning methods are a major culprit of botulism poisoning.

Canning Rules to Live by:
  • Use a recently published canning book which contains tested recipes. Do not get canning recipes from the internet, old books, word-of-mouth, etc. Do not make up your own recipes.

  • Follow the recipe and instructions exactly. Do not substitute or omit ingredients. This can change the acidity of the product.

  • If the recipe says to pressure cook, do it! Pressure cooking and water bathing are NOT interchangeable methods. A pressure cooker is designed to bring low-acidic food up to higher temperatures.

  • Process according to the appropriate time and pressure.
More Info:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What a One-Year Supply Looks Like

I liked this post (with photos) showing what a one-year supply of basic food looks like. Check it out!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Crockpot Chili

I've been playing with this chili recipe. It's a good recipe because it can be made completely from stored items, assuming you have meat in the freezer.

3 cans pinto beans and 1 can kidney beans (I drained and rinsed 3 cans).

1 quart home-bottled tomatoes AND 1 small can diced tomatoes (could use 1 lg and 1 small can diced tomatoes if you don't have any home-bottled quarts).

1 small can of tomato sauce

1 pound hamburger, cooked with onion (I used dried onions)

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon minced garlic

4 teaspoons chili powder

1 bay leaf

more dried onions (about 1/4 cup)

water, amount to be determined once everything is in the crockpot.

Instructions: Put all ingredients in a crockpot. It will be a little thick because it won't have much fluid in it. Add water to reach desired thickness. Cook on low setting for about 6-8 hours.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Bread Pans

I've been needing to buy 2 more bread loaf pans. I chose an expensive pan (Abt $15 each) sold at my local Bosch kitchen store. I couldn't be happier with what I chose. The bread cooked evenly, browned a little on the sides and bottom (but not too much), and came out easily.

This is an aluminized steel pan, NOT a non-stick pan. It is heavy duty and has a 25-year limited warranty. And, it can go in the dishwasher.

It's called Chicago Metallic Commercial. Here are the specs on the pan from

(I think Chicago Metallic also makes a nonstick pan, as well as a lot of other baking items. I'm happy enough with it that I'd buy again!)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tip Abouty Oxygen Packs

I've learned a lesson from the School of Hard Knocks, and I thought I'd pass it along.

As you know, an oxygen pack has to be used in each #10 can when dry pack canning (except in those cans which contain sugar). The last two times I have bought my dry pack canning supplies at my local LDS Cannery for use at home with the home canning machine, I have made a HUGE mistake.

The mistake is that I had the volunteer vacuum seal ALL the oxygen packets in ONE of those airtight dry pack pouches. Once that pouch had been opened, the oxygen packs needed to be used quickly or they would have been rendered useless by having been activated. Thus, I was forced to can all my stuff at one time even though I had use of the home canner for 3-4 days.

So, the lesson I learned is that when doing large amounts of dry pack canning at home, I will ask the volunteer at the cannery to divide up my oxygen packs into smaller bunches and then seal each bunch in a separate pouch. This will allow me to open each pouch as needed and spread my canning out over the 3-4 days that I have use of the at-home canning machine.

Brilliant, eh?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Vital Wheat Gluten in Bulk

I have been very happy with the way Vital Wheat Gluten makes homemade whole wheat bread very light and fluffy. Initially I started using it as an experiment, so I only purchased it in small containers. Now that I know that I like it, I'm ready to buy in bulk.

I have found two places that carry it in bulk.

50-pound bag for $78.99 from Kitchen Kneads (Ogden, Utah).
50-pound bag for $91.03 from Blue Chip Group (Salt Lake City, Utah).

I'd like to find it in a 25 pound bag, if possible, or split and order with someone. My bread recipe calls for 2/3 of a cup, so even 25 pounds will take a while to go through.

What I don't know is the shelf life of the product or how well it would can in a #10 can. I do know that milled grains have a shorter shelf life than whole grains. I may opt to put it in a bucket with a Gamma lid.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Corn Muffins & Egg Powder

I just got whole egg powder at the preparedness store. I thought it would be a nice thing to store. I wondered if it would change the quality to recipes. So far I have tried a cookie mix and corn bread from scratch. Both have turned out great. What kind of powder have you bought and do you like it?

Corn Muffins

1 cup flour

4 tbsp sugar

4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup corn meal

1 egg or (1 tbsp of egg powder with 3 tbsp water)

1 cup milk

¼ cup vegetable oil


Sift flour with sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in corn meal. Beat egg slightly. Add milk and oil. Combine with dry ingredients, stirring until moist.

Bake at 425’ for 10 minutes

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dry Packing with Kids

The last time we dry packed at home, the kids wanted to help a lot. That was fine, except we had sugar everywhere (that's the point at which the kids got banished from the kitchen!) I got smarter this time and planned some kid-friendly tasks!

Putting the can inside a wheat-filled bowl allowed Abby to scoop the wheat into the can without getting wheat everywhere. She was happy, and I was happy.

Abby's job was to put the labels on all the cans.

Abby was a very good box organizer. She'd line empty boxes up for her dad and hold down the flaps for me while I taped up the boxes. She really did help a lot that day and she made the job go by faster.

Monday, March 9, 2009


My mom has been experimenting with sprouting. She has a sprouting kit but she told me I could do it with a canning jar, a canning ring, and a clean cut-up nylon. I got online and found this site. And, I've been trying it out.

In one jar I used 1/2 cup white wheat (soaked overnight in water beforehand) and in the other jar 1/2 cup dry lentils (soaked about 4-5 hours in water beforehand). I only soaked the lentils about 4-5 hours because they started to crack open and I wondered if they had had enough water.

I've been rinsing them twice a day as instructed. The nylon assists with draining the water.

My mom told me to cover them up to limit sunlight.

Here are the lentil sprouts after 12 hours. After 2 days, their tails were about 1/2 inch long.

The wheat didn't progress as quickly as the lentils (photo at 12 hours). The wheat tails were about 1/4 inch after 2 days.

What I've learned so far:
  • After 2 days, the lentils have expanded and now fill 3/4 of the canning jar. I suspect that my initial 1/2 cup of dry lentils was too much to begin with. They are not finished sprouting yet, so I anticipate that I'll have to remove some.

  • The lentil sprouts taste a lot like the typical salad sprouts that you buy in the store (alfalfa?) I like the taste and want to try using them on salads or in wraps.

  • Wheat sprouts taste like wheat. So far I'm not too impressed with their taste.

  • Mung beans are the type of sprouts used in Chinese dishes. So, now I'm on the hunt for mung beans. Blue Chip Group sells them in bulk (in Salt Lake). I am hoping to find a distributor closer, maybe at a specialty store.

Mom's Homemade Granola

I decided to make granola today but didn't have all the ingredients to experiment with Debi's new recipe.

So, I just went with the one I've always used. This is my mom's recipe, and I've always liked it. You can certainly improvise if you want by substituting your favorite items in it.

Put dry ingredients in a very large bowl and mix together:
14 c. rolled oats (use mainly whole oats but a few cups of quick won't hurt)
2 c. wheat germ
2 c. oat bran
8 oz. package sliced, unsalted almonds
(If I am out of wheat germ and oat bran, I just use 18 cups of oats; you could also use seeds or whatever else you wanted to try).

In a separate bowl, mix the following together:
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon each of salt and vanilla
3/4 cup oil (I use canola)
1 1/4 cup water
1 cup honey or molasses (I use honey)
Almond extract. Amount used depends on how much you like the flavor of it. I have found that 1 Tablespoon gives the granola a hint of flavor, 1 1/2 Tablespoons gives more than a hint, and 2 Tablespoons makes the flavoring pronounced. I tend to stick with 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons.

When the wet ingredients are all mixed together, pour over and mix into the dry ingredients. Spread onto 2 cookie sheets. Bake at about 285. I rotate the pans from top to bottom about every 20-30 minutes and stir the granola each time. Total baking time is about 2 to 2 1/2 hours; You want it golden and a little crunchy but not dark.

Other ideas: I have put about 1 pound of raisins in AFTER baking. I have found that baking the raisins makes them too hard. You could experiment with dried apples, coconut, Craisens, or other nuts and fruits. Debi put Craisens in her batch and I really liked it, so I am going to try that as soon as I buy some!

Update: This is the second time I've made this granola since moving into our new house (thus a different oven). I think it bakes differently in an electric oven than in a gas. I'm almost 2 hours into baking and it's looking almost done and I've just dropped the temp to about 240 degrees. So, if you make this recipe, watch it closely and adjust cooking time and/or temp if you feel it is needed, and stir more frequently as it nears the end.