I get many emails a year from people amazed at the amount of food I preserve each year. It seems like a huge amount of food for a family of 3. What many do not realize is that we eat out of that pantry and those freezers almost every single day. Many times 3 meals a day. Very rarely does a day go by that I don't cook something out of my pantry. Once those jars are emptied they are washed and recycled when possible. I learned long ago that it takes the same amount of storage space for a full jar as it does an empty one. So why not refill that jar before you put it back on that pantry shelf. Now I may not always have enough produce but you would be surprised during the winter months what can be put into your empty jars.
For me this week it was beans! Just plain old pinto beans. These were purchased dry and cost me $8.88 for an 8 pound bag at the supermarket. They will become the makings of chilli, taco soups, refried beans and casseroles over the next few months.
That 8 pound bag became 14 quarts and 6 pints of canned beans. Sure beats buying those little cans of beans at the grocer. So while the snow is blowing I am still canning and restocking my pantry.
You can find a tutorial on canning beans at the page below
Look around every time you go to the supermarket or get a sales flyer for anything on sale. Carrots are usually marked down this time of year and make great additions to the pantry. Also remember for those of you with a dehydrator that they dry wonderfully and make great additions to soups and baked goods.
Don't forget that citrus sale around the holidays. I love canned grapefruit in a very light syrup. Try adding oranges and throw in a few cherries for a citrus combo.
Lemon and orange peelings soaked in vodka make a great lemon extract for baking.
My excess fruit is frozen many times when it is coming in faster than I can process it. Once winter sets in is a great time to pull that fruit back out and make an extra batch of jam or jelly for those peanut butter sandwiches or as a filling between layer cakes.
And what goes on sale for St. Patricks Day? Cabbage....
A batch of coleslaw or freezer slaw has been known to happen around that time to get us through the cold weather if we are running low.
Potatoes in jars also make great fillers and tend to go on sale around St. Patrick's Day as well.
Or try dehydrating them. They make a great casserole
Rehydrate those potatoes and add some of that leftover Easter ham for a great potato casserole.
And perhaps the most useful suggestion of all. I have begun filling empty spaces in my canner when I don't enough of something for a whole cooking with jars of water and reusing old lids to store water. I process the jars of water along with my jars of food. Believe it or not I have not lost one lid. I keep this water on hand in case of a pipe break or such. If I lose the seal nothing lost as I will just water the plants with it. It's a great way to use up those old lids. Fill your jars with something and have water in emergency situations. If you need the jars later simply dump them and use for cooking, washing dishes etc.
Hope this gives everyone some useful ideas!
Blessings from The Holler
The Canned Quilter