Monthly Archives: August 2011

Revisiting the idea of Canning and “The Canner”

In an earlier post, I mentioned that you don’t have to go bankrupt to preserve/can your food and make it shelf stable (a lot of people don’t have a ton of freezer space). You can only process/can high acid foods with a water bath canner – that would be dilled veggies, jams/jellies, fruits in a sugar syrup, salsa (provided there is acid introduced too) and tomatoes. “dilling” makes the environment acidic. Search “Water bath canning” and “High acid foods to can”. I have gotten by with my water canner for several years. I only graduated to the pressure canner this year due to the fact that my kids eat a lot and I’d like to grow and can beans, and possibly corn and soups/stews (maybe meat/fish in the future).

By the way, jams/jellies and such make GREAT gifts to anyone. Who wouldn’t love to receive something they can use and was hand crafted? Great teacher gifts, coworker gifts, hostess gifts, and especially family gifts.

Where I live, NOW is the time to goto Walmart and purhcase a canning pot. In the Boise and surrounding areas, lots of people can/preserve and the pots (which is a big enamel coated pot with a jar rack inside) costs $20. Here is the link for the 21.5 Quart, Granite Wear, Canner pot with Rack – Do not spend more than about $25 for a water bath type canner. You could also just order a separate canning rack to insert into your already owned deep stock pot (measure diameter and that pot has to be deep enough to have 1 1/2 inches of water over your tallest jar). You could also zip tie a bunch of “bands” that part that screws onto the lid of a jar. The important thing is to have the jars slightly elevated off the bottom of the pot. (I do recommend the canning rack though, it has handles).

It is also wise to get a funnel and a jar lifter (and obviously jars). Jars with lids/bands are a slight initial investment. Jars and bands may be reused year after year – you have to use a new lid/seal each time you process. Each year I have to go and purchase a few boxes of lids (pks of 12 for less than $3) and maybe a couple of cases of smaller jelly jars that I give away as gifts ($8 or less per case of 12).

Pressure Canners are much more expensive and I’d only recommend purchasing one if you have a larger family, don’t have a lot of freezer space and you really are going to can/preserve green beans, corn, meats, soups, etc., OR you are going to do high volume canning of many high acid fruits/vegetables (only water bath jams). The pressure canner takes up a lot less time during the canning/processing stage. However, if not doing some mass volume and you have the freezer space for those beans and corn, it is easier to freeze those. You must blanch the veggies before freezing though – look up process for each one separately.

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Posted by on August 30, 2011 in Canning/Preserving


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Wild Idaho Huckleberries

The last few weekends our family has gone out foraging for wild huckelberries in the mountains northeast of boise.  We have picked about 8-10 cups worth over the last 2 weekends.  It’s quality family time and teamwork and a good workout as you will hike up and around the local hillsides enjoying wildlife and nature.


Huckleberry Syrup:

3 C Huckleberries, 5cups of sugar (if you want a thicker syrup – reduce to 4/12 cups of sugar and add 1/2 cup light corn syrup).  Crush berries on bottome of heavy, deep, stock pot – I also add about 1 cup of water too.  Add the sugar and stir constantly over med-high heat until sugar melts and then starts to boil.  Get it to a high boil then turn off and remove from stove.  Do not over boil.  Can in jars and water bath process for 10-15 minutes for pints and less.  Do not pressure can.

I use huckleberry syrup in cocktails and add a couple of tablespoons to a cup of regular maple syrup to pour over pancakes.  This is potent stuff, so use sparingly. start small and add more.  A favorite is a huckleberry cosmopolitan, yum!  I also add berries to those pancakes mentioned above for a super huckelberry treat.

Huckleberry Jam:

4-5 cups of huckleberries, water, lemon juice, one package of pwdred pectin, 7 cups of sugar.

I am rough with the amount of huckleberries, because you crush them and then add enough water to bring measured amount upto 5 cups.  It’s fine – when you are out picking you can’t measure…..In a deep stock pot, crush berries,add, water, 2T lemon juice (which you NEED in order for the pectin to gel as Huckleberries are not high in natural pectin and acid helps to “gel” with pectin).  Cook, stir constantly over high heat and bring to boil you can’t stir down then add all the sugar at once and stir constantly until you bring to a constant rolling boil.  BOIL for ONE MINUTE.  Then remove from heat.  Put into jars, and waterbath only, 10-15 minutes for pints or less.  You can freeze too if you.  You can also, jar and keep in fridge for a few weeks, sugar is a natural preservative (if you are planning to hand out for immediate use).


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tomato sauce or marinara recipe for canning/freezing

The tomatoes are starting to really come in – but not enough to do some big batch of canning.  Instead I think I will make a batch or 2 of tomato sauce or marinara.  If you make tomato sauce I’d recommend using the smaller, 1 cup size jars (8oz), as you will likely use this size most often for recipes (or even less – then you can save to use later in the week).  For marinara I recommend using quart size jars as they will cover a pound of pasta.

For a basic sauce:  Tools:  Blender, Food mill/sieve, big stock pot.

Put tomatoes into blender (I have one of those vita mixes) and blend into juice. Pour into food mill to strain out seeds/skin then pour juice into pot.  I pour about 4 blenders full of juice into a basic stock pot and boil down to my prefered thickness for sauce.  I don’t add anything else.  I then put into jars and can – you can use either waterbath or pressure can for tomatoes. Waterbath about 45mins-60min – Pressure Can 20-25 mins @11lbs.

For Marinara, use steps above, but add in desired amount of sautéed onion(sautéed in olive oil), crushed/minced/chopped garlic, chopped flat leaf parsley, and basil, throw in a couple of teaspoons of italian seasoning.  You could even put in wine if you want.  Again, boil down to desire consistency and process in quart size containers is water bath for 60-70 mins or pressure can 25 mins @11lbs.

Super easy!  Really.  And if you are not comfortable (or have not yet graduated to canning) you can easily fill jars/plastic bags/or other containers and freeze.  NOTE: if freezing, remember to leave enough head space for expansion.  Jars can and will break as they do not have much give to them.

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Posted by on August 29, 2011 in 2011 Vegetable Garden


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Late August Harvesting

Here is an updated photo of my garden.

My Garden August 2011

As I said way in the beginning, it is absolutely ghetto fabulous!  My garden is functional and not beautiful.  My husband can’t stand it how it looks, but he LOVES the produce from it.  We headed out of town for the weekend and I harvested a little bit before we left- not even 10 minutes worth of time.  Here is a picture of what I harvested to take with us out of town:

Thursday or Friday 8/18 or 8/19 harvest before the weekend.

Tonight, I went out there to catch up after the weekend.  Here is my bounty:

Tues., August 23rd

another view 8/23/11

A lot happens in just a few days.  When I say I pick a colander of beans, this is exactly what I mean.  Lot’s of paddy pan squash – those are those light green/white looking saucer things in the back left. Bell peppers, a random cucumber fo the one plant that lived, a striped zucchini, lots of crook neck squash, 7 cantaloupes, and quite a little bundle of heirloom tomatoes.  Too much for me to eat.  I think I will can the beans and work on the tomatoes this week, but take the squash to the food pantry at church and give to friends/neighbors.  My husband will be thrilled about these first cantaloupes — I have to keep the eagle eye on the dog now – she sees the sweet tomatoes and smells the cantaloupe!! Plus the boys fed her a wedge of one and she has the taste of it.  Watermelons still growing along as pumpkins and still more little bell peppers, beans, squash, cantaloupe and tomatoes.  Oh, I harvested several onions too as their branches got crushed – so I need to let them cure a couple of days outside to let the skin form and then bring them into the dark to store as I did with the potatoes (which we are still eating from). YUM!

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Posted by on August 24, 2011 in 2011 Vegetable Garden


Gem County (Emmett, ID)Orchard Map – DIY picking

I always lose or misplace things (especially when I need them the most).  In June, my family attended the famous Cherry Festival where maps were provided showing local farms, produce grown, and which ones you could pick yourself.  I knew that by the time I really needed this map handy, I would not be able to find it.  I contacted the chamber of commerce to ask if they would have it available on their website. Below is their response:  Gotot the home page and click on Events Tab and Choose Cherry Festival, scroll down to the bottom and note the “download attachments” section.

I read your comment on our website…Gem County Chamber of Commerce…, the Orchard Map is posted on the page is listed as
2011 Gem County Orchard Map. Let me know if you have any questions
email me at
Thank you!! :)

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Posted by on August 10, 2011 in Canning/Preserving


Keeping your Canner(s) at the Ready!

Each day I am harvesting a large colander full of beans (green & wax together), at least 2-3 squash, and a few tomatoes.  I prefer to keep my canning equipment handy (jars, lids, bands, pots, pressure canner, other canning tools).  This allows me to collect my produce and process it rather quickly in smaller batches so I don’t feel so overwhelmed.  I tend to do this is the morning right now because I am up before the kids and am busy with kitchen duties anyway and it takes about an 1 – 1 1/2 hrs of my time (to cut up the goods, get jars, fill them, process)

I am liking my new pressure canner.  The beans I’ve collected since Sunday night (and today is Tuesday)  have made 5-6 pint jars with plenty left over to eat “fresh”.  I did a combination of cutting them up into more bite size pieces and some trimming the tops so the entire bean fits into the jar – looks prettier that way.  I fill the jar within 1/4 ” from the top with water – I don’t add anything else.  Then I process in the pressure canner at 11lbs for 20 minutes.  These must be processed in a pressure canner only as they are a low acid food.  I also made a freeze ahead green bean casserole to take up to the cabin or have at a moment’s notice. I don’t have the crispy onions, but you use those to top off anyway; so I don’t need them now.  Might make more of these casseroles while the beans are coming.  Again, doing it this way makes it less overwhelming.  If you dill these then you can use a water bath canner because it will be highly acidic with the vinegar.

I also canned a couple of jars of chopped tomatoes.  I blanched them in boiling water to peel the skin off, chopped them up and put into jars.  I didn’t need to top off with water because of their own juice within 1/4 ” of top of jar.  You can process with water bath OR pressure can.  There is enough acid in the tomatoes to do either way.  Pressure canning is 20 minutes at 11lbs. And water bath is about 60-80 minutes depending on quarts or pints.

I keep the jars and pots stashed in a somewhat inconspicuous place in the kitchen to encourage me to preserve my home grown food to last throughout the entire year.

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Posted by on August 9, 2011 in 2011 Vegetable Garden


Quick Pickling Recipe for Beans or Pickles

Below is a recipe I use for “Dilly Beans” and pickles.  Do not cook the veggies; put them in raw.  I usually put the spices/herbs in first on the bottom of the jar and then pack in the veggies.  I cut the tops off the beans to make them fit.  Water bath (if you need more direction on water processing, leave a comment for me) for 10 mins or if higher than 3000 feet add 5 more minutes.  Here in Idaho I process for 15-20 minutes.  Notice there is a variance in the spices – do it to your taste.  Let sit for a month or more before you dig in to let the flavors steep.


2 lbs. stemmed tiny green beans

Pack lengthwise in jars leaving 1/4 inch headroom:

1/4 tsp. Red pepper Flakes
1-3 clove garlic (you can shave in too)
1 head of dill or 1 1/2 tbsp. dill seed OR 1-3 t of dill week dried

Add above to each jar.

2 1/2 c. water
2 1/2 c. vinegar
1/4 c. salt

Bring to boil, pour over packed jars, leaving 1/4 inch
headroom. Seal jars and process 15 minutes in boiling water

Makes 4 pints. Can use cucumbers for same recipe.