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Canning Center Revealed – Simple Money Saving Tips DIY Canning

Canning Center Tips For Saving Money

Today was canning center day! I was so excited I woke up at 4am to be sure not to miss our 6am appointment even though the canning center is literally around the corner from where I live.

I have know about local canning centers for years, but for some reason always thought they only did number 10 cans and you had to be part of the local LDS Church to use them. So when my neighbor asked me if I would help her process her chicken and beans I was all over it.

Processing Beans at the Canning Center

The method for processing beans starts with buying your beans at the best price. We are having a case lot sale right now here locally. Case lot sales happen in the spring and fall around here. You can buy lots of canned items and staples in bulk. Generally it makes me laugh when I visit people who buy flour in 5lb bags. That’s like one loaf of bread! My neighbor bought a couple bags of red beans which she took over to the canning center last night to soak. The people who run the center turned on the heat early this morning. So by the time we got there to can them they were tender.

Preparing The Chicken For Canning

She bought her chicken for $50 ($1.38 a pound). These chicken breasts she then cut up into smaller chunks and put them in a couple plastic garbage bags. Then put the garbage bags in a cooler with ice over night. The cooler makes it easier to transport and keeps chicken juice from getting all over the place.

The Canning Center Step by Step

Once we arrived we checked in and got our number. Then we tried to guess how many of the two types of cans we were going to need. We used the smaller cans (#300 15oz) for the chicken and larger cans for the beans (401 28oz). We then collected some cafeteria trays and went and collected our cans off the pallet.

The next step was to write on the bottom of the can, the item, the date and our number. You need a sharpie pen for this step.

Then we got a basin of hot water and rinsed each can, putting them open end up on the trays.

Once that is completed we then filled the #300 cans with our chicken. Plastic gloves are a must. We filled the cans to 1/4 inch from the top and then took them over to the cooker. At this point they get commingle with other cans of chicken being canned. Water is added to cover the meat. Once the chicken is done cooking in the cans they get lids added.

On To The Beans Again

The beans once they are tender (she taste tested them) we drained a bit so that we could fish them out of the caldron. We used a small sauce pan for this effort and put the beans in the 401 cans, then added juice to get to the 1/4 inch fro the top mark.

We then moved them over to the lid application table and lids were applied.

Cleaning Up

We then needed to clean out the caldron and utensils we used. Supplies were provided to make this an easy process, but a spare kitchen rag or two should be part of your canning center kit. We used a five gallon bucket which included an apron – I wear overalls most of the time so didn’t need one – plastic gloves, sharpie pens, paper towels & nail polish remover.

You need the nail polish remover and paper towels to clean off the sharpie pen labeling of the cans you didn’t end up using. Once you get them cleaned off you return them to the pallet.

What Can You Can?

As far as I can tell you can can just about anything! From chili and soups to all kinds of meat, beans, potatoes & any veggies. The canning center people are a wealth of knowledge and can help guide you on what steps to take to prepare your food for canning. They also have a juicer! So bring those apples & tomatoes!

Tips For Cost Saving

Canning at the canning center isn’t cheap but there are a few things you can do to make it most cost effective. Buy your products on sale. We are in Idaho – potato country! We can get huge bags of potatoes for cheap this time of year. Potatoes can exceptionally well in my opinion. I’ve often canned them in jars, however, I did see lots of people canning them at the center.

Canning your harvest is another cost effective way to use the canning center. Grow a boat load of corn? Can it!

Things I learned For Next Time

Wear water resistant shoes and pants that don’t drag on the ground. The floor is wet almost everywhere. If you are canning beans try not to let too much of the water drain off before putting the beans in the can. We had to add more water and let it get up to temperature again.

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Dehydrating Potatoes – Get Stunning Results With One Simple Trick

dehydrating potatoes - get great results using this one simple trick

Why should we talk about dehydrating potatoes? Well for one thing I’m from Idaho. We are potato people. Which reminds me of a short story involving my family and, well, potatoes.

There we were sitting in a local diner in Idaho that specialized in burgers & fries. We are placing our order for, yes, burgers & fries, when the waiter informs us . . .

THEY HAVE NO POTATOES!

What? I thought we were in Idaho! My daughter leans in and suggests they might run across the road and grab some out of the field. Sigh that didn’t go over well.

Back to Why Dehydrating Potatoes

One can store potatoes in straw or sand or even wood shavings in a cool, dry, dark place. However, eventually, those potatoes are going to start growing. That tends to end up a big mess. To avoid the big mess, I like to dehydrate potatoes for long lasting yummy goodness. They do rehydrate quickly so you can do a lot with them. Of course one can can potatoes too, but that is a story for a different day.

The One Big Secret For Dehydrating Potatoes

The MUST BE PAR BOILED FIRST. The whole process goes like this. First you need to peel your potatoes (unless you want skins, in that case just wash them good) then thinly prepare them in the manner you wish them to be. I like slices, but shredding works too. Keep them in lightly salted water while you work.

Next you need to submerge the potatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds or so. If you miss this step you will end up with little black hockey pucks that work better out on the street than in anything you might want to eat. Just saying, cause we all know, I’ve done that.

Let The Drying Begin

Now that your potatoes are all nice and par boiled lay them out on the dehydrator trays. Let them hang out until they are dry and there is no mushiness about them at all. Read your dehydrator instructions to get the best results. As for me, my dehydrator is old, it has only one setting and I have to roll the trays around to get even heating.

Here are some good dehydrators for dehydrating potatoes.

Cooking With Dehydrated Potatoes

You can soak them in boiling water for a few minutes and they will then reconstitute. After that you can fry them or make scalloped potatoes (we call them funeral potatoes around here) or even add them to soups (don’t re hydrate them in this case). They are very handy if you over salt something too. Throw a couple chips in and as they re hydrate they will soak up the salt.

Go forth and dry your harvest.

If you don't do this one thing your dehydrated potatoes will be black hockey pucks that no one wants to eat. Just saying...
#hartnana #foodpreserving #homesteadhacks
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How to Grow Microgreens Indoors Without Soil – Winter Nutrition

How to grow microgreens indoors #microgreens #indoorgardening

Grow microgreens indoors without soil, or with very little soil, to boost your families winter nutrition. During the dead of winter, when the thoughts wonder towards next years garden, growing an indoor micro garden could chase some of those blues away.

You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to have a winter microgreens garden. Mostly you need some seeds, a colander or other tray with holes, a base to catch the water and artificial lights (in some cases).

My Favorite Winter Microgreens to Grow Indoors

My favorite microgreens to grow indoors are; sunflower sprouts, mung beans and pea sprouts. All of these grow fast and are packed with flavor. Of these I simply adore sunflower sprouts.

Sunflower Sprouts

Sunflower sprouts remind me of summer. They have a full sunflower seed flavor. Yet they are a green veggie! Personally I have a 50 pound bag of sunflower seeds that I bought last year. It is actually bird food, but hey, it sprouts and tastes GREAT.

Pea Shoots

Pea shoots are my second favorite microgreen. They too are packed with sweet goodness. And they grow fast.

Mung Beans – Bean Sprouts

Mung bean sprouts are the only microgreen that I truly grow without any soil. They grow FAST. In three to five days you can have more mung beans than you know what to do with. Kids love growing these.

Now that you know which microgreens we are focusing on growing indoors, let’s get down to specifics of how to do it.

How to Grow Sunflower Sprouts and Pea Shoot Microgreens Indoors

While you can spend a bunch of money to grow microgreens indoors, you don’t have to. The thing is, I’m cheap, and I like to recycle. So with that in mind, I like to re use old things I have around the house. You will need a container that holds about an inch of dirt. I don’t put drain holes in mine.

For this batch of sunflower sprouts I used an old “greens” container.

How to grow microgreens indoors on the cheap #microgreens #indoorgardening #growmicrogreens #gardeningindoors

The Steps to growing sunflower sprouts and pea shoots;

  1. Soak your seeds overnight – or about 24 hours
  2. Put about an inch of dirt in your container of choice
  3. Drain your seeds
  4. Dump them on top of the dirt
  5. Mix them into the dirt
  6. Cover them with a layer of foil or paper towels
  7. Put a bit of weight on them – dry beans in a plastic bag works fine
  8. Wait a couple days
  9. Take the foil or towels off
  10. Wait until you have a couple leaves on your sprouts
  11. Cut them close to the soil to harvest
  12. Store in the fridge wrapped in a moist paper towel – you can put them in a baggie but don’t seal it. Plants need to breath.

How To Grow Mung Bean Sprout Microgreens Indoors Without Soil

Mung beans aren’t technically microgreens – though you can grow them to the leaf stage if you want.

The Steps to grow mung bean sprouts;

  1. Soak your mung bean seeds for 24 hours.
  2. Place a paper towel in the bottom of a colander.
  3. Put the colander over a bowl.
  4. Pour your mung bean seeds into the colander.
  5. Put a second, wet paper towel on top of the seeds.
  6. Place a plate on top of the second, top paper towel.
  7. Use a can on the plate as a weight.
  8. Cover the whole shebang with a towel- they like it dark.
  9. Keep this near the kitchen sink as you need to run water over the seeds three or four times a day for the next four or five days.
  10. As the sprouts grow you can remove the top paper towel.
  11. Keep them in the fridge in a paper towel in an open plastic bag.
  12. Be sure to rinse the seed covers off of them before using.

Notes on Growing Mung Bean Sprouts

Mung bean sprouts are prolific. You only need a couple of tablespoons of seeds to get a HUGE crop. In the video they use about 2/3 cups of seeds – unless your family LOVES bean sprouts, start with couple tablespoons. You can always sprout more often.

She also is meticulous about putting the seeds in the colander, just dump them in, it will be okay.

Incorporating Microgreens Into Your Life

Growing microgreens is a lifestyle in the winter for some of us. We just incorporate it into our weekly chores. You can add these bits of deliciousness into soups, salads, meatloaf. It is a great way to get added nutrition to your families diet while the garden pickins are slim.

Get the kids involved. I find if the kids are part of the process they are more likely to eat the sprouts too.

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How To Preserve Eggplant – 3 Methods That Might Surprise You

How to preserve your eggplants - 3 mouth watering ways

How to preserve eggplant now as summer ends and fall hints at making her appearance. All these beautiful pieces of eggplant goodness, but really how many times can one eat eggplant Parmesan in a month? Let me clue you in on three ways to preserve eggplant that result in wow’s every time!

How to Preserve Eggplant With Olive Oil

One of my favorite ways to preserve eggplant includes lots of garlic and dried chilies smothered in olive oil. Simple yet delicious. You can choose to either cook your eggplant first or dry by salting. I believe it will last longer if you cook it however. This quick video shows you an overview of how to preserve eggplant with olive oil.


Canning Jar 5ozCanning Jar 5ozTulip Jelly JarTulip Jelly JarWide Mouth Canning JarWide Mouth Canning JarWide Mount 16 oz Pint JarsWide Mount 16 oz Pint JarsFilippo Berio Extra Virgin OliveFilippo Berio Extra Virgin OliveZoe Extra Virgin Olive OilZoe Extra Virgin Olive Oil


 

 

Ingredients Used To Preserve Eggplant In Olive Oil

  • Eggplant
  • Black pepper
  • Chili peppers
  • Wine Vinegar
  • Chives
  • Dill
  • Celery Seed

The Steps

Peel (or not)  your eggplant. Slice into smaller pieces. The smaller the pieces, within reason, the more area for the seasonings to be absorbed. Sprinkle with salt then let sit on paper towels for an hour or so. Dry and pack into jars with olive oil in them. She says 1/2 full, but I think you could put a lot more eggplant in using way less olive oil. Covering the eggplant with olive oil for preservation is the goal.

How to preserve eggplant - 3 mouth watering ways

A Little Twist

She also doesn’t cook the spices in vinegar before adding to the jar. This makes the pickling process take longer in my opinion. The way I do it involves putting wine vinegar in a pot adding the spices I like. Then plopping the eggplant pieces in for about 5 minutes. No salting or skinning in my world. Drain the eggplant. Put them in a jar packed pretty tightly and cover with olive oil.

It will keep this way for 3-4 months in your fridge so long as the olive oil covers the eggplant and hardens. If  you are only interested in it keeping for a couple weeks in  your fridge add some garlic cloves you used while pickling them in the vinegar. And also some olives are nice, maybe some parsley for color. Even bell pepper strips or onions added at the boiling stage could be incorporated into the jar.

DON’T KEEP EGGPLANT WITH OTHER STUFF IN THE JAR LONGER THAN A COUPLE WEEKS IN YOUR FRIDGE

Eggplant preserved this way tastes so good with crusty artisan bread and a little cheese.

How To Preserve Eggplant by Freezing

Freezing eggplant might seem a little like a no go but you would be wrong. Actually quite an easy process it only requires peeling, cutting, blanching then lay it out on a cookie sheet to freeze. How simple is that? Once they freeze solid put them in a ziplock baggie. I like to put a straw in the bag after sealing it most of the way, then suck out the rest of the air as I pull out the straw. This way there isn’t much oxygen in the bag before going back into the freezer. This method will give  you eggplant for another six months of so.

You might try freezing a variety of sizes of eggplant pieces. That way you can enjoy fresh eggplant Parmesan when you want it. Though still be able to make those lovely olive oil marinated with other veggies for gifts during the holidays. Nothing says I love you like homemade, right?

How to Preserve Eggplant by Pickling

Preserving eggplant by pickling makes for the most self stable form of preserving eggplant.

Theresa preserves her eggplant this way.

 

I was watching another video about canning eggplant but it was long and they used vegetable oil which kind of put me off. Vegetable oil is sooo bad for you. At any rate they did have a rather unique method of drying the eggplant. After rinsing the brined eggplant they put it in a clean pillowcase. Then ran it through the dryer on low. Or you could always just do it they way Theresa does.

The ingredients:

Ingredients for pickled eggplant

Make sure to use 5% vinegar for the cooking process. You also need to be sure to boil the jars and lids. That is what makes the sealing process work. These should be shelf stable for at least 6 months.

Let me know your results! As the Italians say Bon Appetitto!

Canning Jar 5ozCanning Jar 5ozTulip Jelly JarTulip Jelly JarWide Mouth Canning JarWide Mouth Canning JarWide Mount 16 oz Pint JarsWide Mount 16 oz Pint JarsFilippo Berio Extra Virgin OliveFilippo Berio Extra Virgin OliveZoe Extra Virgin Olive OilZoe Extra Virgin Olive Oil