canning with kids!

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by DammitJanet, Jun 19, 2014.

  1. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Monkey came over on Tuesday afternoon without much warning. I had been thinking of having her do some freezer jam with me the next time she was here but since it appears that she will be here through the weekend I decided to get brave.

    We did a whole batch of strawberry freezer jam and then went for broke and made apple butter. I wanted to do cherry butter but they arent on sale yet. Im a bit confused though about my apple butter. It tastes wonderful but it isnt as thick as I think it should be. It is sorta like a slightly thicker applesauce. Of course this stuff didnt say to put any pectin in it either but I wonder if I should have just known that. Or maybe I should have done the whole water bath thing but I thought I didnt need to if I was putting it in the freezer.

    But anyway, I am now dedicated to canning what I can. Most likely I will have to start with just the acidic stuff that only needs a water bath because I dont have the money for a pressure cooker and unless someone on freecycle comes through, that may be next year. I think canning is the way to go here because our big freezer is over at the other house. And yes Tony thinks I am nuts but I can do this sitting down and you can use the crock pot for so many things.

    Anyone got some old canning stuff they dont want? Im going through and finding recipes and boy am I gonna need a whole bunch of jars!
     
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  2. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Janet, you can can any fruit or veggie without a pressure cooker, acidic or not. Meats require a pressure cooker. The only reason many people use pressure cookers is to cut cooking time. Heck, for that matter there are a few brave (foolish) souls who can meat in a regular canner. This is NOT recommended because a certain pressure needs to be maintained to kill bacteria ect.

    The water bath part is to make peeling easy and for some things to help prevent color change........like apples and potatoes.

    I've not tried apple butter yet but I know what comes in the store when I can find it or from the Amish is about the same consistency as apple sauce.

    If you really want to get into canning, purchase the ball canning book. There are also endless resources online, but often it's easier to grab the book. That book says it's not safe to can meat, but I've known too many folks who have done it for years without issue , some generations, as long as the pressure cooker is used.
     
  3. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    This is one of my best memories of summers with my mama.
     
  4. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Go to the Ball site online. It's were I got my first canning recipes. Everything you need to know is on the website with no need to make a purchase.
     
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  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thats where I found my recipes. I love freezer jam. That is the easiest thing on earth but this year I couldnt find the little plastic freezer jars they had the year before last when I did pear jam. I had to use glass jars.

    I looked online to see if I could find jars cheaper but I think Walmart is just about the cheapest. I got 12 pint jars for 8 bucks. I am going to get half gallon jars to use for canisters because they will be easier to clean. Plus I like glass. If I am only canning tomatoes and fruits and maybe pickles the I think pint jars would be the right size though I did see they sell some that are between a pint and a quart. Now if I made pickles, I could make quarts of them and Monkey would happily eat them all...lol

    Its funny and Tony is so darned confused. Suddenly I want all these kitchen tools and gadgets because I am actually enjoying cooking. For the first time in my life I can experiment with something besides spaghetti and hot dogs. I want a mandoline. I want a food processor. I have a hand held grater and I now grate my own cheese. He just shakes his head like I have lost my mind.
     
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  6. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    He may shake his head like you've lost your mind but I bet he's enjoying the results. lol

    It's hard to experiment and add variety to meals when there are people in the family who flat out refuse to try anything new, especially if the budget is tight because it winds up wasting perfectly good food. It took years to break Fred of the phrase "I don't like....." whatever it happened to be that he had yet to taste. That was his response to anything new. I just informed him that it was the menu, take it or leave it, the rest of us would eat it. Discovering to his wonder that he liked most of the "new" he stopped saying it so much.

    Katie drives me nuts. All I hear is that her kids won't eat this or that.......which of course is always something from scratch or healthy. I gently remind her they sure don't have a problem eating them at family gatherings. Alex is the pickiest. Evan did a complete about face and loves fresh fruits and veggies......one thing our school district actually did right was to add one of each to school lunches. (because the rest of the meal is disgusting 99 percent of the time)

    I love to cook ect. I just don't love the clean up part. And as the old saying goes........great cooks are messy cooks. lol
     
  7. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    When I was at Walmart buying glass jars last summer, they had all those Ball plastic freezer jars on clearance. I wonder if they stopped selling them? Look on their website and see if they still carry them - you can order off their site as well.

    I actually made sugar free freezer jams last year and used regular plastic containers - the ones with the blue or red screw on tops, I think they are either ziplock or glad. They work great because you have three sizes to choose from and they stack really great. I use those screw top ones for all my freezer stuff like soups and sauces. I just put a pice of paper taped on the top with what's inside! I had bought the Ball ones two years ago but didn't find their lids to be user friendly at all - the lids kept popping off after I put them on!
     
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    LDM, I bet they did discontinued them. I have looked all over the internet including the Ball website. You know how stupid I am, it never even occurred to me to use regular plastic containers with screw on tops...lol. I actually have 3 in my cabinets right now that I havent ever used because I am saving them for something I need a tall thinner container to store something in. What is really hard for me right now is I dont have a microwave so reheating things is a pain.

    I am still going to be attempting to find the pressure cooker but Im going to do stuff I can do in the water bath first. I want to do diced tomatoes because I use a lot of those during the year, I am going to do spaghetti sauce or actually a simple marinara sauce which I can use on spaghetti or pizza, more strawberries, peaches, pears if my tree bears well this year, I think I will do that jalapeno jelly because everyone but me loves it, I will also do pickles and picked peppers. I just have to figure out how many jars I will need and how much produce I will need. In a little while I will go online and look at the recipes again to see how much each makes and do a list from that. I am trying to think closely about how much I actually use of each thing each month. I know tomatoes will be the biggest thing. Also pickles and pickled peppers will be next. I wonder if you can do different kinds of mustard? I am doing my own vanilla this year because I use so much of it now that I am cooking. My beans should be here today or tomorrow then I just need to go buy some vodka. I have been collecting all the glass bottles we get for things like vinegar, BBQ sauces and those type things to put the vanilla in.

    I have asked Tony to ask all the guys on his work van to ask at home if anyone has a pressure cooker they want to get rid of because sometimes people get them for wedding gifts and then they never use them because they are scared of them. I never had a wedding shower so I never got presents...lol. I need to ask my daughter in law too...who knows, maybe her mom had one and its just sitting around somewhere.

    I have no idea where this domestic side of Janet has come from!!!!!
     
  9. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Our krogers also has the jelly jars but our walmart carries them too. Since berries are coming ripe about now I'm guessing this is prime jelly / jam season so they may just be sold out temporarily. I meant to add to my last post that usually krogers is cheaper for jars then walmart as all season they have them on sale and coupons are not that hard to find. Our walmart has a off brand canning jar that is just fine and is a tad cheaper too.

    Be careful with 2nd hand pressure cookers. Make certain that the rubber gasket seal is in good shape and that you have all the parts.
     
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I dont have a Krogers near me or I would go look. I did check my local food lion but they are more expensive than Walmart. I did see online that Ace Hardware has some that look to be at least as cheap and they have a bigger selection so I will go check there. I did a calculation today as I went through and printed out recipes (not including peaches because I dont know if I will get those this year) and I need: 12 quarts, 24 pints, 11 half pints! So really that will be 12 half pints because I am not buying them singly...lol. Im sure I can find something to put in the last one.

    Tony and I are arguing over canning collards. I dont think you can with a water bath. I think that takes a pressure cooker. He seems to think I am an idiot.

    Oh, I was looking online just to find me a large stockpot because I dont have one and I found the most wonderful canning invention on earth...well next to the pressure cooker. Its a steamer pot so you dont have to put all that water into a huge pot, use tongs to get them out, etc. You have this smaller pan on the bottom and then it has the wrack that you can put up to 7 quart jars on and then you put the lid on and it steams the jars at the right temp. You just have to watch the time. You can use pot holders to move the jars. I ordered it. It was only like 30 something dollars and they wanted right around the same amount to get a cheap enamel pot with all the supplies. I think thats good..at least for me. I also ordered a mandoline so I can cut things into slices easier. I am absolutely horrible with a knife.
     
  11. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Let me know how that steamer canner thing works. Maybe I'll try one myself. And I have no clue what a mandoline is......but if it makes slicing even and easier, then I'm going to check one of those out too. Dehydrating is super easy.......but I have issues keeping the slices the width I want / need.

    I'd look around online, but I don't know why a pressure cooker would be needed for collards, unless perhaps you're including bacon. We use a pressure cooker with the green beans but only when adding in bacon. If no bacon, we do them water bath method.

    Canning peaches was super easy. However easy child found a recipe that excluded the pectin to keep the color. I won't be doing that next time. The peaches are still just fine and dandy and I'm still eating them but they don't look so hot. If I didn't know how to tell if something was bad, I'd think they'd have gone bad in the jars. I told easy child next time there will be none of my peaches done in quart jars either. Sure, the process goes faster but Travis and I can't eat a whole quart jar of peaches before they go bad in the fridge. This year it will be pint jars and pectin. If I want to make a pie or cobbler I'll just use more jars.

    I'll tell you what, though, I'm still using canned tomatoes from 2 yrs ago and I put a couple of quarts of them into my beef/veggie soup......OMG it profoundly altered the taste to utterly AMAZING. This was a super delicious recipe to begin with as it was mother in law's family recipe but those canned garden fresh organically grown tomatoes took it to a completely new level. Makes me glad that Nichole has tons of tomato plants that are all doing really well this year. :)

    I swear it makes me wonder just how much we've altered the taste of the food we eat during the processing and preserving to have it stay fresh in the store. I bet if more parents could get involved with gardening and or canning / dehydrating children would be more attracted to healthier choices. My grandkids love fruit snacks, but they'll choose dehydrated fruits, pumpkin bread, or zucchini bread over store fruit snacks every time. lol We had carrot cake cupcakes for Easter dessert that were a huge hit. :)
     
  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I went out in the middle of the night to get pickling cukes and some half pint jars. I dont have a pot big enough to do anything but the half pints at this point. As tired as I am I am fixing to go in and clean the kitchen from top to bottom and then start on the cukes.
     
  13. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

  14. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Uh oh....Tony and I may end up at war over those stupid eggs you see in jars. Someone has given him a couple of the gallon jugs with the juice junk in it and all he thinks we have to do is boil some eggs and throw them on the counter. I am reading it may not be that simple. In order to not fight I asked him to go to our local extension office next time he has a day off but I know he will just argue.
     
  15. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh good lord...I have finally found out the answer as to "why can they just have jars of pickled eggs for sale in stores and why cant I just boil some eggs and throw them in the old juice?" question. Well, for one thing the reason people are giving him these old jars is because they dont refill them! If you buy these huge gallon jugs of them from a store then they have gone through a manufacturer of some type and they have done the whole pasteurized/nuked/etc process. In order of us to "can" eggs we just have to wait until I get my water bath thing and do them in quart jars. You CAN put some jars that havent been opened in cool, dark spaces until ready to use but once they are opened, in the fridge they go.
     
  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    My canning memories are quite exciting. We were at my aunt's one year and she had a ton of tomatoes to can. I was 10 maybe. Her husband grew huge gardens - had almost 1/4 acre in tomatoes alone that year. No, NOT kidding. I got the super fun job of peeling them after they had been dunked in boiling water. I didn't like tomatoes before then. Tomato juice burns about 15-20 min after you start soaking in it, esp if it is hot and your skin is scalded from pulling peels off of them.

    A few years earlier my mom and her bff (the aunt up above) wanted to can spaghetti sauce. They did not include me, thankfully! I don't know what happened, but something did and my aunt dropped a 5 gallon pot of spaghetti sauce. It was HILARIOUS to see the aftermath.

    At some point between these 2 escapades, my mom and her bff decided to try to make grape jelly. Surely the spaghetti sauce explosion was a fluke, right? Right?? RIGHT!!??!!!

    As mom was carefully carrying the jelly to the table to pour it into the jars, my uncle decided to surprise her. He came up behind her and startled her.

    Did you know that a pot of grape jelly will bounce when you drop it? and that it will hit the standard sized ceiling an look like a splash in a pool of water, but upside down, if you get a chance to ever see that. It looked so dang awesome, and was soooooooooo funny!

    My mother will never can again. Ever. My uncle had to help clean up, but when e oved year later we found grape jelly behind the stove, fridge and even the cabinets! It is HARD to clean back there!

    I make freezer jams and I freeze instead of canning.

    Janet, homemade apple butter will thicken as it cools. Homemade apple butter is often not as thick as store bought, but it tastes soooooooo much better! Apples have pectin in them so it isn't always needed as a separate ingredient (depends on the recipe). If it is too thin or you don't want to have to attend to it often, you can do apple butter in the crock pot. It is super easy, esp if you have a food mill (saucepan shaped thing with a fine colander like bottom and a gizmo that pushes the food against the bottom so that all the peel, seeds, etc are separated out and the rest of the fruit is smooth. they are wonderful.

    As for a mandolin, there are all sorts of them and all sorts of prices. Ask carefully about what you are getting and the safety features. Those things can hack you up really easily if they don't have the right guards (or you don't use the guards).

    For food processors, I absolutely ADORE my cuisinart 14 cup. I had a cuisinart 7 cup that was a wedding present. It was a total workhorse, able to do almost anything I wanted. I used it instead of a mixer for years if we were in small apartments. It was a wedding present and worked even after the replacement until one of the kids dropped it because he didn't want to do the dishes.

    When you get a food processor let me know. I can recommend some incredible books using it. Well, you can use them with-o a food processor, but it does speed things up to superfast!

    I know I have mentioned this book a lot here, and Hound Dog can tell you why I totally rely on it, but The Compleat Tightwad Gazette (by Amy Daczyn) has some really helpful sounding tips and ideas for canning. A reference my aunt swears by is Putting Food By, but I don't know the author.
     
  17. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well my apple butter has turned into freezer apple butter because I didnt know you had to can it in a water bath...lol. Oh well. I only made about 7 quarts of the stuff and we love it so eating it wont be an issue. I doubt it takes us long. Monkey loves it so much she took two jars home with her...lol

    Now I am trying to find out what to do with jalapeno jelly. I correctly canned 6 half pints of that stuff last night but I have no clue what to do with it. I thought it would be spicy since it is made with..duh...jalapeno's but no, its not.

    Tony and I are still having a bit of a disagreement over the pickled eggs. I see his point because you do see these huge jars of pickled eggs, pickled sausages, and pickled pigs feet in all these little stores and bars all over the place. They sure arent refrigerated. However all I can find online says to do it at home you need to can them in the water bath. I dont see why that is such a difficult thing because it would be me doing it anyway...lol. I told him the internet also says we should use small eggs too instead of large or extra large eggs. Unfortunately he already bought 2 dozen eggs. Maybe I can get the store to take them and exchange them.

    I will be glad when my steamer gets here. Thankfully it holds quarts so I can get started on all I want to do. Everything should arrive this week and it will be like Xmas for me...lol. I got the mandoline because I am so horrible with knife skills. I cant slice anything well at all. I want to be able to slice tomatoes, potatoes, onions, all sorts of things. I also want one of those choppers that will dice things up because I want to can diced tomatoes. I use at least one or two cans of them a week. I have been thinking hard about what exactly we do use a lot of because that is where I should use my energy. Once I get the pressure cooker Tony says I should just can lots of venison chunks so we can decide after we open the can what we want to do with it and I agree.
     
  18. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I was looking for some more jelly/jam recipes online tonight and I found one for root beer jelly. It has rave revues. I am going to try it along with cherry coke jelly and mountain dew jelly. oh and cream soda jelly. Easy as pie and supposedly extremely good.
     
  19. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Janet, we enjoy jalapeño jelly around here and, if you clean the seeds out before canning it is not as spicy. Actually, because of the drought out west, most of the jalapeños this year have been spicier than usual (I buy a bunch every week and chop them up and put them in a container in the fridge to sprinkle on salads and sandwiches and veggies, etc. during the week).

    When I make the jelly, I always leave the seeds in my jalapeños and finely mince a few thai red chills (really small but tons of punch) and add those while cooking since we love it spicy! One of the things on my list this summer is to experiment with sugar free or sugar sub jalapeño jelly since the recipe calls for sooooooooo much sugar.
     
  20. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well I dont like spicy and this stuff was like green sugar jelly...lol. No heat at all. We used it tonight, well, Monday night, to slather all over a pork roast and it was wonderful.

    I was going to make several jars of Soda Pop Jelly tonight but my dog got hurt coming in from the rain so that got nixed. She wanted me to lay with her in bed instead. Poor puppy. She was outside when the bottom fell out and I didnt realize it for a little bit. When I let her in she was soaked. She hit the floor running full speed and somehow her feet slid out from under her. I heard her in my bedroom whimpering so I went to see what was wrong and when she jumped up on my bed I noticed she was bleeding. I think she tore one of her toenails. This is one of the worst places for her to get hurt because she wont let anyone touch her feet much less her toes. I wasnt getting near them with her hurt. I had some pain medicine left over from when she got fixed so I have been giving her that. Now she is all cuddled up beside me not moving at all. She thinks she is the worlds largest Chihuahua.
     
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