Applesauce

Do you remember my 5 boxes full of apples?

The kids and I spent 2 long afternoons turning them into applesauce.

apples in WaterThe first step was to wash every apple – we used a solution of Fit and water.  This was Buddy’s job and he did it well.

Apples cut

From there the apples went to the table where Dagmar and Angel Girl were waiting. They carefully cut each apple into quarters – removing any bad spots. Notice that the skin and cores are still present? We’ll take care of that soon – I promise.

When we had a pan full of apples, I added some water and put it on the stove to cook. Make sure you stir it occasionally or they will scorch! (Ask me how I know that! 🙁 )

on the stove

Notice the back pan – it’s cooked down just right. The front pan is just starting. Oh dear – there’s a bruised spot the girls missed! Oops!

Hot Apples

These apples are cooked down and ready to be sauced. Notice how the skin has released and you can see already see sauce forming?
Apples Smushed

Now it’s time for the super- duper wonder machine! I LOVE my Victorio Strainer! One child scoops the hot apples in the top while another child spins the handle. The core, skins and seeds came out one side to be discarded (chicken food here!) and hot applesauce comes out the other.

Voila!

We bought my Victorio 17 years ago and it paid for itself the very first year. It’s saved me money every year since.

Apples

Now come the fun part – tasting! If you think it’s sweet enough – go ahead and package it. If not – add the sweetening of your choice.

My whole crew gets involved in this step – everybody has a spoon and an opinion! (For the record – some of them never think it’s sweet enough!)
Done!!!!Once you have the desired taste, you can put the finished sauce in containers and freeze it – or put it in sterilized jars and give it 20 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.

We repeated the process until we had used up all the apples – and now have 100 quarts of perfectly sweetened applesauce sitting in the pantry waiting for a cold winter day.

And that’s a might good feeling!

I’ve linked this post up at Tempt My Tummy Tuesday At Blessed With Grace, Tuesdays at the Table at All the Small Stuff and Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

How to Can Green Beans

We did it!

For the first time in 3 years we outsmarted the bunnies, overcame the weeds, and even avoided the bugs – and we finally have green beans. LOTS of green beans.

I dusted off my pressure canner and started in.

First you need to pick the beans.  This is a good job for the young-uns.
Green Beans 002

Young, tender beans work the best. Make sure you get the entire stem end when you pick, then the plant will produce more beans.

(Unless of course you are up to your eyebrows in green beans – in which case – don’t worry about it!)

Green Beans 008

Once the beans are harvested, it’s time to snap and sort them. This is another good job for the young’uns.  I put a towel or sheet down on the living room floor and let them watch a movie while they are snapping. It works so well – I actually have kids volunteer for this job!

We only snap the blossom end off – leaving the tail. It tastes great and saves time, so why take it off?

snapped green beans

When the beans are snapped and sorted (throw out any that have spots or marks, and any that are too big or too small), you need to wash them well.

Now you are ready to can.

Canning green beans

You will need clean canning jars (either pints or quarts), a jar funnel, a ladle, a jar lifter, salt, canning rings and your washed and snapped beans.

I should add here that it is important to only use real canning jars when pressure canning. Old mayo jars just aren’t strong enough to take the pressure.

canning flats

You will also need to put your canning flats in water and boil them slightly to soften the rubber.

All American canner

And of course – the most important piece of equipment is the canner. I love my All-American Pressure Cooker/Canner with the explosion proof top. After receiving a severe burn as a newlywed with a borrowed pressure canner, my husband bought me this canner and it has seen a lot of use!

Read your directions carefully before beginning. A pressure canner is a wonderful tool – but it can be dangerous!

I put mine on the stove with about a quart of water on the bottom.

Now we’re ready to fill those jars.

First I fill them with boiling water and let them sit for a minute to sterilize them.

Canning green beans

Then I pour the water out and use the canning funnel to fill the jars with beans. I add 1 teaspoon of salt to a quart jar or 1/2 teaspoon of salt for every pint.

Green Beans 047

Then I carefully ladle in boiling water, stopping 1/2 inch from the top of the jar (that’s called the head space).

canning green beans

This next step is very important! Take a clean damp cloth and wipe the very top of the jar. If there is anything on the jar, even a small grain of salt, the flat may not seal. Then carefully place one of the softened flats on the top of the jar.

canning green beans

Then I place a ring on the jar and tighten slightly. This jar is ready for the canner!

canning green beans

Using my jar lifter, I put the jar carefully in the canner and repeat the process until my canner is full.

Green Beans 060 Once the canner is full it is very important that you carefully read the instructions for your canner.

You will need to carefully put the top on and seal it.

pressure gauge All American canner

Watch the pressure gauge carefully. The beans need to be at 10 pounds of pressure.

Once you reach the 10 pound mark, set your timer for 20 minutes if they are in pints and 25 minutes if they are in quarts. Adjust the heat under the canner to maintain the correct pressure.

Watch that valve very carefully! If too much pressure builds up – the canner can blow!

After the time is up, turn the burner off under the canner and let it cool. DO NOT TOUCH THE LID!

Wait until the pressure gauge reads 0 pounds of pressure. Then release the lid according to directions and carefully remove the jars using the jar lifter.

Green Beans 072
I let them cool on a clean towel out of the way on my counter for at 24 hours without moving them.

To store, I just remove the ring, wipe down the jars and date them. Then they are carefully carried down to the cool, dry pantry were they will be appreciated and enjoyed all winter long!

Waste Not Want Not – Cherry Peach Jam

Jam Our cherry crop this year was dismal. We harvested a small amount of very small cherries – hardly enough to do anything with.

But I adore cherries and was not about to let them go to waste!

Dagmar came to the rescue – deciding to turn them into jam.

They were too small to pit – so she put them whole in a saucepan with some water and boiled them until the pits came out.

Then she measured out the juice that was left – but there wasn’t enough for a batch.  So she headed to the freezer and dug around until she found a package of frozen peaches.

Perfect!

She added the peaches to the cherries and viola! She had enough for a batch!

Great taste and no waste!

A real winner!

Cherry Peach Jam

1 pound tart red cherries
1 1/4 pound peaches
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 – 13/4 ounce package fruit pectin
4 cups of sugar

Sort, wash and remove stems from the cherries. Pit and coursely chop them, measure 1 1/2 cups. (We used the juice and whatever cherry parts we could salvage from the pits.)

Peel, pit and coarsely chop the peaches, measure out 2 cups. (We used the frozen peaches from the freezer – we just thawed them and rough chopped them.)

In an 8-10 quart kettle or dutch oven combine the fruits and lemon juice. Add the powdered pectin and mix well.

Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Stir in sugar. Bring to  full rolling boil again, stirring constantly.

Boil hard, uncovered for one minute.

Remove from heat and quickly skim the foam from the top with a metal spoon. (This is harder than it looks – the fruit floats to the top as well and gets stuck in the spoon with the foam – just do your best. A little foam on top of your jam is not the end of the world!)

Pour at once into sterilized canning jars, seal and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. Or put into freezer safe containers and freezer.

Makes 5 half-pints.

Dehydrating Onions

Here’s another great idea from Nana!

Onions

We grow several rows of onions in our garden. They are a “staple” for us and are used in so many recipes! We also like them raw in salads and on burgers.

In the fall we harvest the onions and then hang them up to dry. After they have dried awhile, we check them over. The firm ones are put in a box for over-the-winter use & stored on a shelf in our garage.

The softer ones we slice and dehydrate.

I make sure our clothes closet door is shut tight. The fragrance of onion #5 turns heads in church! But really compliments whatever we are cooking at home!
We have an electric Food Dehydrator which makes the process quite simple! But you can also use your oven. Spread them on a cookie sheet. Dry at 120 degrees for 24 to 30 hours until brittle. Stir occasionally during the day. (I would not leave the oven on overnight, but would leave the pans in the oven.)

Store them in a tightly covered container.

This year I discovered that I could grind the dried onions in my ever-faithful 15 year-old little Black & Decker coffee mill. It makes onion powder that can be sprinkled for flavor when you don’t want the chunks of onion or when you are practicing the “art of subterfuge“! Recycle an empty glass spice container and you’ll even have a “shaker” top for dispensing!

Until next time!

Nana

Mixed Fruit Jam

My Mom (otherwise known as Nana) is my guest blogger today and once again shows us that creativity in the kitchen is the key to frugal living…

Mixed Fruit Jelly

Snow flakes are flying past our window, but melting as they touch the ground. Papa & I decide that today would be a good day to defrost the freezer.

To be honest, the reason we defrost is to be able to get reacquainted with the contents! All summer and fall we bring in produce, pack it in freezer bags and stack it in the freezer.

It is a gold mine that needs to be “dug” out occasionally.

Today we found a small bag of raspberries (the last picking before frost), a small bag of cherries that did not fit in the quart bag after last picking, a container of strawberries from a year ago, and another last of the season bag of rhubarb! On the counter was a basket of home-grown pears that are getting ripe.

Now what do we do with them? How about jam!

We followed the directions in our box of Surejell using an average amount of sugar listed for the fruits we had in the pan. Delicious!

I wonder if that’s why you have “mixed fruit” jelly on the restaurant table? Could it be the last little bit of all the flavors mixed together?

Until next time,

Nana