Saturday, October 17, 2020

Canning Jar Shortages and Alternatives

 I have mentioned several times on this blog about there being an issue with the supply chain as far as canning supplies. Jars, lids, pressure canners, canning salts and pectin as well. From the information I am seeing from the company there will not be canning supplies again until after March of next year. Now I do have a small supply of lids that I try to keep at all times. I also recently ordered 100 of the reusable lids and gaskets. 

On a positive note  as I try to use my lids sparingly I have used other methods of preserving. Many of my beans that I grew this year I actually dried and stored as dried beans. I put them in Gatorade jugs with oxygen absorbers. Why Gatorade jugs? Because I drink gatorade all summer out in the hot garden. So I had plenty on hand. Throw in a 300cc oxygen absorber and it reseals the bottle. The perfect size to fill up my crockpot for beans.  

With an increase in the size of my garden this year freezer space was also at a premium. Many of the things like flour and grits are put in the freezer just long enough to kill any bug larvae and then they were removed to store in Mylar bags until needed and put into dark containers.

Some grains like this winter cereal rye  were stored in large half gallon jars but capped with used lids that had been removed from other jars when cooking. I think for that they are safe to reuse. 

I have also relied on fermenting as opposed to canning more. I find that we prefer the taste and texture and enjoy the health benefits of fermented foods.  

I can also honestly say that I have used my dehydrator more this year than in a long time. Storing food I think is so much easier with the dehydrator and takes up so much less storage room. Once dehydrated it can be stored in canning jars with reused lids and oxygen absorbers or in reused commercial glass jars, in mylar or even vacuum sealed in bags and stored in buckets or other containers. 

Also to conserve freezer room I have turned some of my butter stash in the freezer into ghee. Shelf stable it allows me to store butter in a cool and dark shelf as opposed to requiring freezer space. 

So my advice to you all would be to get creative. A lack of canning jars and supplies does not necessarily mean that your food preservation has to be over. 

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Friday, October 9, 2020

Ideas and Experiments


Even with the garden winding down and the temperatures cooling off life is still busy here in the holler. I guess it isn't over till the fat lady sings and I'm not singing yet. I did want to share some things that I have been up to lately. I will start with my tomato powder. 

I made the last of the powder the other day and discovered that when I put warm water in the blender to clean it made a thick and wonderful soup or tomato drink. Then it hit me I love V8 tomato juice so I am going to dry some mashed carrots and dehydrate and make some celery powder and experiment with powdered V8. It would be very convenient and take much less storage space. 

On the downside it is a very dense powder and wants to clump so store in smaller jars. Another thing I have discovered that helps is rice. Like adding rice to a salt shaker to keep it from clumping you can do the same with powders and spices for the same reason. 

I ordered small tea bags from Amazon. Got like 400 for under $10.00. Fill with a teaspoon or two of rice and drop in jar to absorb that moisture and keep things flowing. 

Here it is in some powdered chicken soup base that I buy from the Mennonite store. Same problem with compacting and clumping. These rice desiccant bags are working great. 

As an added bonus I have plenty of bags for my herbal tea blends since I am stocking bags anyway. Pictured above is lemon balm already dried for teas. I'll do some more posts on teas another day. 

I like to air dry my herbs if possible so as not to apply any heat. So notice in the picture above simply sprigs of lemon balm wrapped together with a rubber band and then a paper clip bent for a hook. They are hanging from my dining room chandelier. My house smells wonderful!

Or maybe the lemon balm, basil and mint sprigs hanging from my fireplace mantel. Simply allow to dry out naturally and store in a dark and dry place. 

I love hot herbal teas through the winter and hope to have several different options dried to last through the winter months. I have elderberries in the freezer to dehydrate yet for tea and I want to do some orange tea and some apple spice teas which I love. But those are posts for another day.

Well that is enough for today. Hope everyone has a safe and healthy weekend. See you over the back fence.

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Friday, October 2, 2020

October Surprises

October is here and not sure where September went. I celebrated another birthday on the 20th. All the love was nice.

We have already had temperatures the last night or so dipping down into the high thirties. With a nip in the air it is looking like a possibility of an early frost. The leaves are turning now and beginning to fall around the house and the hickory nuts are all over the back yard. The squirrels are busier than ever taking advantage of the harvest.  I have been venturing out daily to pick a few figs and eating them right off the tree but looks like the bulk of the crop will not have time to ripen. There is always next year. Severe winter temperatures last winter killed them all the way back down to the ground and they had to recover from that before they could ripen fruit. Even packing in straw and wrapping did not help. 

Dessert last night was watermelon. We continue to pick a few things but most are gone now. Still a few plum tomatoes and some shell beans drying out there. Okra is just about done. 

O Wise One went and picked me some pears the other day and I canned 18 pints canned pears in a light syrup. I think next is apple sauce. 

And of course in 2020 my elderberry are blooming AGAIN in October. I have been picking the flowers at the suggestion of Sonic over on the forum and freezing to use in baked goods with gooseberries. She says the combo is really good. I will let you know. 

I continue to top off my pantry regularly because I am unsure of how this winter will go and I continue to can what I can find locally.  I will say I am ready to see the end of 2020 and all that comes with it. Maybe we can get a new start on a new year. 

My pantry and stores continue to increase but soon I will just stop and call it a year. 

I found this canning poem on facebook and thought I would share. 

Canning Time

The cucumber is dilled. 
The chili is chilled. 
The canning is done for the season.
By the stove I have toiled
The jars have been boiled.
Good food from the garden's the reason. 

It's a comforting feeling, 
When I hear the jars sealing, 
And each jar is filled to the top.
That sound makes me smile.
Says, It's all been worthwhile.
When I hear all those sealer lids Pop.

All that peeling and chopping,
and constant brow mopping. 
Hard work is all part of the bargain.
There's no time to be bored, 
And I thank the Dear Lord,
For each blessing that comes from our garden. 

Cause when winter comes calling,
And the North winds are squalling,
And we suffer from lack of the sun.
There'll be no lack of food,
To darken our mood.
Cause in August the canning was done.

By Joann vanDam Lucknow

I hope everyone is safe and healthy and enjoying the beautiful fall weather. 

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The CQ Parade


Everywhere I go on the property now is a parade because we all know mama has the good stuff I seem to always be throwing them a bug or vegetable of some sort. I do love my quackers!

Just some samples of my continuing ongoing collection of dehydrated goods. Peas and carrots, sweet peppers, okra, shredded potatoes, onions. sweet corn and mixed vegetables.

Dehydrated tomatoes and tomato powder along with canned tomatoes and okra and tomato sauce. 

Dehydrated Mushrooms

With 2 freezers full and the garden winding down I thought I would show you some of the bounty. Much of this I will bag up in mylar bags and they will go into buckets or blue totes to further protect from sunlight and be stored until used.  

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Monday, September 14, 2020

Another September

  September is a rough month for me. September 4th was my Dad's birthday, September 9th was my younger brother's birthday and September 15 was another younger brother's birthday. All now deceased.  The brother who's birthday was the 9th I was especially close too. It was hard to say goodbye. Sometime in the future I want to put up a stone or meditation area in my gardens somewhere for the loved ones who have passed. Someplace to pray with a bench and maybe a small statue of some sort. 

  On a different note I look forward every year for the colors of Autumn. O Wise One and I take a yearly trek through the mountains with a picnic lunch and cameras just enjoying the beauty of where we live. I'll take plenty photos for you.

  As to what I have been up to. Hip deep!! The temperatures have cooled and the rains have returned. Every day now we are starting to pull up and clean out the gardens. Friday we woke up to the sound of a big truck and this.

  Yes Indeed the Good Lord does provide. The County has been cleaning around the power lines. So as we clean around the blueberry bushes and such we can refresh the mulch as well. We sent all the county workers away with fresh eggs, rhubarb strawberry jam and tomatoes and cucumbers. They all left happy. It's a win win situation. 

  The abundance of the month is eggs. All the pullets and the ducks are laying now. They are all such over achievers. Leroy the hen pecked rooster is now mating with the mean old hussy hens. He is strutting pretty high with his harem. And what are we doing with our egg over abundance. 

  Six eggs are scrambled and poured into a ziploc bag and the air removed as much as possible with a straw. Then they are stacked on a sheet pan and frozen. They make thin eggs discs. When ready to use they can be taken out and scrambled or added to recipes. Simply take out the night before you want to use them and allow to defrost in the fridge on a plate. 1/3 cup is equivalent to about one egg in recipes. So when the chickens slow down laying this winter I have a stash of eggs in the freezer for breakfast and baking.

  I have also been freezing these. Simply spray a muffin tin with Pam or grease. Add the filling of choice to each cup. These have sausage, onions, green peppers and cheddar. Then fill each cup to about a 1/4 inch from the top of the cup with scrambles eggs mixed with a little milk and salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes. They keep in the fridge for about 4 days. I put them on a baking sheet and freeze then put in vacuum seal bags of 4 and store in freezer. Again simply take out the night before and allow to defrost in the fridge or even frozen just put in the microwave. They are like little quiches without the crust. You could add broccoli, or maybe chopped asparagus and ham or even chopped tomatoes and parmesan. My stash is growing and with 10 hens laying I am averaging about 6 dozen eggs a week.

  The other thing I am doing is using my eggs as trade goods. The farm wife down the road lost her chickens to a fox. So she came down and asked if we would trade fresh eggs for homemade goats milk soap. A bar for a dozen. She has an over abundance of soap. Should have plenty of soap for awhile. 

  I also ask that you please keep my granddaughter Graci Kate in your prayers. She was diagnosed over the weekend with Covid. She is 18 and was living in the dorm at college where she and 2 roommates caught it. 


She has had a rough year. She had to have knee surgery her senior year for an injury that she sustained playing basketball. Then she did not get a graduation because of Covid or a senior trip. She started college 3 weeks ago and now has Covid. Bless her heart she is hanging in there though. 

Well that is my rambling for the moment. Hoping to see you all at the back fence.

Blessing from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

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