Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving 2020


On behalf of myself and my family we would like to take the time to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. 2021 has been a difficult and eventful year with many changes and challenges. It is time to put those aside for the day and to celebrate the many blessings that we have enjoyed also. From the Over the Back Fence Forum and Hickery Holler Farm blog I want to let you all know that you are all counted as one of our many blessings. May your holiday be safe and your table be bountiful. Happy Thanksgiving.

The Canned Quilter and O Wise One

Monday, November 9, 2020

Old Friends


It's that time of year. Before the first frost I cleaned up my houseplant and brought them in off the back deck where they had flourished under the shade of the large trees along the deck railings. The plants all are precious to me not because they are anything special but because they were all gifts from people that I love. The plant above was a gift from O Wise One long ago and started out the size of a pencil. Now it towers at about 5 feet. 

But perhaps my favorite are the Thanksgiving and Christmas cactus. Presents from loved ones in a myriad of colors from pale peach to a bright fuchsia. They always remind me of my mother and my childhood. She always had these blooming during the holidays as well as windows of African Violets. 

Above is a pale pink one looking almost white.

I also have several of the more common fuchsia color.

This big one holds a special place in my heart because it was a gift from my best friend from many years ago.

In the winter when the world is brown I have my old friends providing me with that gardening fix until spring again shows it's lovely face. Each plant sparking memories of the people I love. 

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

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

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