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The Taste of Summer And How to Preserve It By Canning

September 4th, 2013

Olives

Oh, the taste of summer. Who doesn’t love dipping a crisp tortilla chip into fresh tomato salsa, or enjoying a bite of corn on the cob smothered in butter or sprinkled with lime? With memories like that, canning vegetables and fruit is becoming a popular way to preserve the taste of our favorite seasons all year long.

Interested in preserving the taste of summer, but have never canned before?

Essentially, canning the taste of summer requires placing the sweet taste of seasonal fruits and vegetables into prepared jars and heating them to a temperature that microorganisms are unable to survive in (and it’s easier than you think!).  If done effectively, canning vegetables and fruits can prevent unnecessary waste with tasting results, save money, and provide a summer bounty for your family all year long, as well as in an emergency situation.

There are two main options for home canning the taste of summer: one is water bath canning and the other is pressure cooker canning.  While both effective, this post details water bath canning as it is user-friendlier for first time canners. We’re covering everything you need to know in this post, from what you need to get started, to a step-by-step guide to effective canning.

Water Bath Canning

Selecting The Correct Jars Mason and Bell jars are the two safest and most effective jars to use for canning the taste of summer because they are designed to heat at high temperatures, and come with a two-piece self-sealing lid.  Do no use commercial mayonnaise, baby food or pickle jars, as these are not suitable for high temperatures.

Supplies Needed Much like with any hobby, the start up costs for canning the taste of summer can seem daunting.  Yet as each year passes, count on saving money as you can reuse jars, canning racks, and other food preserving tools through the years. There are also several canning kits that are available on the market, but you can also purchase these items separately:

*A large traditional cooking pot, specialized canning pot, or pressure cooker to place jars in. Whichever you choose, be sure it has a secure lid to prevent spills.  The pot should also be large enough to fit in each jar with room at the top for water to flow. Check that it is no more than 4 inches wider than the burner for an even temperature.

*A jar rack works well to guarantee water flow, and to space the jars properly; which will prevent cracking.  If a jar rack is unavailable, some choose to use sanitized cotton cloths to separate and cushion each jar.

*Jar funnels helps to easily ladle food in, and prevents fingers from touching the jar lid.

*Several Mason or Ball Jars with two-piece self-sealing lids.

*Other Useful Supplies: Mixing bowls, saucepans, clean towels, a timer, measuring cups, tongs, a ladle, and a cutting board will all help ensure a smooth canning process.

Basic Step-By-Step Water Bath Canning This process is ideal for canning the taste of summer: pickled carrots, a cucumber-turned-dill-pickle concept, unwashed berries, jams, preserves, jellies, pickles and tomato sauce, and can offer intense flavor even after many months.

1. Sanitize all jars and lids by dishwashing them first, and then adding them to a large pot of boiling water.  Allow all jars to soak for at least 5 minutes.  Remove each jar with sanitized tongs, and place them on a clean towel.

2. Using sanitized tongs for larger pieces of food, or a jar funnel for sauces and jams, gently ladle or funnel the food into each jar.  Leave approximately ¾ of an inch at the top for the lid. Be sure to use fresh and seasonal produce for optimum taste and expiration life.

3. Seal each jar by placing the small metal disc on the lid of the jar, and twisting the circular piece until securely fastened

4. Place the jar rack inside a large pot of boiling water, allowing the handles to come up from the top.  Carefully lower each filled jar into the boiling water, until all jars are set and carefully spaced. Using the jar rack handles, lower in the jars and fold the handles inside the cooking pot.  Allow the jars to soak for approximately 30 minutes.

5. Carefully remove the jars using tongs, and allow them time to cool off.  Jars should be stored in a cool, dark and dry place to preserve the jar’s contents.

Bonus tip: Looking for a great recipe to get your canning off to the right start? Tomato sauces are excellent choices for first time canners.  The Producer includes the Rose Tomato, an heirloom variety with a beautiful, deep rose pink color. Meaty and flavorful, these tomatoes are perfect for tomato sauces.

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

 

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Five Tips For Prepping

June 5th, 2012

Major life changing events can and do happen. Definitely most occur without surprise, and can affect small, remote areas or major cities. Others are more obvious and one, so attuned, can make the best of preparations. Regardless, they can happen slowly or very quickly, causing insignificant to long lasting deterioration even after the worst is over. Such changes can take on many forms, from hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes, dangerous spills, flu outbreaks, and especially severe economic events. Knowing this, “prepper’s” are taking great measures to ready their homes and families for endurance, trying times, or just plain survival. With that said, they are also sharing with neighbors, establishing neighborhood gardens, and taking to social media to sound the alarm so to speak by writing about survival, prepping, and the cyclical nature as to why this is prudent.

Many wonder if government agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can truly provide everything we need in an emergency?  Since 2003, FEMA is largely in command of planning and responding to disasters of all varieties.  However, when Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana in 2005, the FDA reported residents were without basic needs like adequate food or clean water for days, even weeks for some. They also reported that crop supplies and processed goods were completely submerged under water, and exposed to contaminants like chemicals and sewage, forcing residents to fear the very essentials necessary for survival: food and water.

Below are five ways you can better prepare your own food and water supply in the occurrence of a disaster. These tasks should be prepared before a disaster strikes, and with your own location, climate, physical health and family needs in mind.

1)   Store a variety of ways to cook and heat up food.  Depending on whether you’ll have access to electricity, batteries, or even the outdoors – ready.gov suggests that a few different modes to cook a meal can make a real difference.  If you have access to the outdoors, there are now a variety of survival stoves to choose from.  However, survivalists recommend that the stove heat up to at least 1,200 degrees F.  Furthermore, a stove that can run on rechargeable AA batteries, and equipped for a DC Out Plug and/or a portable solar charger can all prove useful in a survival situation. Along with a survival stove, you can keep food warm by using candle warmers, chafing dishes, and fondue pots. Keep in mind that charcoal grills, a fireplace, a campfire and eating food right out of the can are also options.  In the chance you need to change locations, ensuring some cooking devices are light, portable and easy to use should also be considered.

2)   Begin purifying and storing water sooner rather than later. FEMA suggests that families should store ½ gallon of water, per person, per day in the chance of a disaster.  Yet, keep in mind that children, the elderly, and those with health issues may require more than the ½ gallon to stay hydrated.  Medical emergencies and hot temperatures can also quickly deplete a water supply.  Many disaster preppers aim to more than double FEMA’s suggestion, storing at least one gallon of water, per person, per day. Furthermore, it’s important to consider your own climate, family needs and common sense to build an adequate water supply.

Many choose to store bottles of water for easy access.  Yet, boiling water and using one of the many water purification systems out there are also safe ways to attain water when done properly.  If water is running short, learning how to chlorinate or distill water is incredibly useful in an emergency, and can save lives. Also, avoid carbonated, alcoholic and caffeinated beverages in an emergency – as these can dehydrate the body and lead to more water consumption than planned for.

3.) Store seeds that offer a wide range of nutrition in airtight, long-term packaging. In severe weather, drought, or in the unpredictable nature of any disaster – ensuring your seeds stay fresh and viable can play a major factor in survival.  While there are a wide range of seed packages and storing opportunities to choose from, The Producer  is a great investment and trade. For a around $5.00 a pack, you get a seed kit that offers bulk fruit and vegetables in 26 varieties of non-GMO and non-hybrid seeds, including certified organic and heirloom varieties packaged for long term storage. Seeds are packaged in re-sealable Myler® bags, then stored in waterproof, rodent proof container that is also FDA approved for long-term storage.  Whether you choose to grow your seeds now or later, The Producer ensures a nutritious food supply.

4) Build Your Own Survival Garden. There are never any guarantees that our grocery stores will continue to be stocked full of food, or that a natural disaster will allow us safe roads to drive to the store on. Many emergencies are such that there is no time to start growing a garden, or just begin gaining experience at growing food. Perhaps that knowing this, you have already started a survival garden of your own.  But the only question remaining is, “how do I keep a survival garden thriving all year long?” To learn more about sustaining your own survival garden, this post offers detailed instructions on planting and maintenance.

5) Learn how to can your own food. First invented during Napoleon’s time as a means of feeding troops healthfully during a march, canning is used today as a useful method to preserve garden fresh fruits and vegetables. Never canned before? Canning entails placing fresh or cooked produce in jars and heating them to a temperature that microorganisms are unable to survive in.  If done effectively; canning can prevent unnecessary waste, save money, and provide healthy food for your family all year long, as well as in an emergency situation. Essentially, there are two options for home canning: one is water bath canning, and the other is pressure cooker canning.  View this post for detailed instructions on the canning process, and how to store cans long-term.

If canning your own food for disaster preparedness is something you aim to try, consider canning a variety of nutritious foods.  Canning fruits like mangos, cantaloupe, and passion fruit can offer B vitamins, which are essential for energy, cell production and body growth, whereas pineapple, brussel sprouts and butternut squash have high amounts of vitamin C, which plays a significant role in building the immune system, protecting body tissue, and warding off free radicals.  Be sure to pack at least (2) can openers in your disaster supply kit, and consider opting for low sodium canned food to prevent dehydration.

So, as the old English proverb goes; “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst” is something worth taking to heart given the current state of the world. We thank you for support of this blog and here is a thanks to you, 20% off at check out for any seed kit by using the code: HSBLOG20

You might also like ~ Survival Gardening: How To Boost Your Disaster Preparedness

 

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Canning and Preserving 101

February 1st, 2012

First invented during Napoleon’s time as a means of feeding troops healthfully during a march, canning is used today as a useful method to preserve garden fresh fruits and vegetables. Never canned before? Canning entails placing fresh or cooked produce in jars and heating them to a temperature that microorganisms are unable to survive in.  If done effectively; canning can prevent unnecessary waste, save money, and provide healthy food for your family all year long, as well as in an emergency situation.  Essentially, there are two options for home canning: one is water bath canning and the other is pressure cooker canning.  While both effective, this post details water bath canning as it is slightly more user friendly for first time canners.

Selecting The Correct Jar: Mason and ball jars are the two safest and most effective jars to use because they are designed to heat at high temperatures, and come with a two piece self-sealing lid.  Do no use commercial mayonnaise, baby food or pickle jars, as these are not suitable for high temperatures.

Supplies Needed for Canning: Much like with any hobby, the start up costs for canning can seem daunting.  Yet as each year passes, count on saving money as you can reuse jars, canning racks, and other food preserving tools.   There are several canning kits that are available on the market, or perhaps think about purchasing these items separately:

*A large traditional cooking pot, specialized canning pot or pressure cooker to place jars in. Whichever you choose, be sure it has a secure lid to prevent spills.  The pot should also be large enough to fit in each jar with room at the top for water to flow.  Be sure it is no more than 4 inches wider than the burner to ensure an even temperature.

*A jar rack works well to ensure water flow, and to space the jars properly; which will prevent cracking.  If a jar rack is unavailable, some choose to use sanitized cotton cloths to separate and cushion each jar.

*Jar funnels helps to easily ladle food in each jar, and prevents fingers from touching the jar lid.

*Several Mason or Ball Jars with two-piece self-sealing lids.

*Other Useful Supplies: Mixing bowls, saucepans, clean towels, a timer, measuring cups, tongs, a ladle, and a cutting board will all help ensure a smooth canning process.

Basic Step-By-Step Water Bath Canning: This process is ideal for canning acidic foods like fruit, jams, preserves, jellies, pickles and tomato sauce.

1. Sanitize all jars and lids by dishwashing them first, and then adding them to a large pot of boiling water.  Allow all jars to soak for at least 5 minutes.  Remove each jar with sanitized tongs, and place them on a clean towel.

2. Using sanitized tongs for larger pieces of food, or a jar funnel for sauces and jams;  gently place the food into each jar.  Leave approximately ¾ of an inch at the top for the lid. Be sure to use fresh and seasonal produce for optimum taste and expiration life.

3. Seal each jar by placing the small metal disc on the lid of the jar, and twisting the circular piece until securely fastened

4. Place the jar rack inside a large pot of boiling water, allowing the handles to come up from the top.  Carefully lower each filled jar into the boiling water, until all jars are set and carefully spaced. Using the jar rack handles, lower in the jars and fold the handles inside the cooking pot.  Allow the jars to soak for approximately 30 minutes.

5. Carefully remove the jars using tongs, and allow them time to cool off.  Jars should be stored in a cool, dark and dry place to preserve the jar’s contents.

Looking for a great recipe to get your canning off to the right start? Tomato sauces are excellent choices for first time canners.  The Producer includes the Rose Tomato, an heirloom variety with a beautiful, deep rose pink color. Meaty and flavorful, these tomatoes are perfect for tomato sauces.

Classic Heirloom Tomato And Basil Sauce

(Will make enough sauce for 2 jars)

 ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, diced

½ medium carrot, diced

½ stalk celery, diced

3-4 large garlic cloves, sliced

3-4 pounds of very ripe heirloom Rose Tomatoes

2 cups fresh basil, remove stems and coarsely chop

salt and pepper to taste

Method: Peel off the skin of each tomato using a small knife.  Or for easier peeling, cut a small “x” at the bottom of each tomato.  Then blanche them in hot water for about 30 seconds, and rinse under cold water. Once cool, squeeze the tomatoes to remove the seeds and juice, and reserve it for later. Use a potato masher to mash the tomatoes into small pieces.

Heat a large pot to medium high, and add the olive oil, onion, carrot, celery, and garlic cloves.  Add a few pinches of salt and pepper, and allow the vegetables to soften for 10 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and basil, and turn the heat to medium low, allowing the mixture to come to a gentle simmer.

Allow the sauce to simmer for 45 minutes, stirring ever few minutes.  If the sauce is becoming too thick, slowly add the reserved tomato juices until it is the consistency you prefer.  Preserve this flavorful sauce by using the step-by-step instructions above.

What are your favorite sauces, jams and produce to can? 

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