Sunday, September 2, 2018

Preparing For Winter and Canning With Rain :)


The Farmer's Almanac winter predictions are out...eegad, "cold, snowy" is not really what I wanted to see for this winter lol...but what else is new here in the mountains of Quebec?? Our first snowfall is usually mid-October. More reason to preserve food so we don't have to go out grocery shopping too much!!!


Alex and I went to that farmer's market last week and it was GREAT. We got 20 pounds of green beans, which took me almost two Jurassic Park's to snap. :) It was quite relaxing actually as I watched the movies! It was a great experience. We met the owner who brought us into the mini-farm and gave us a bunch of feathers! Alex is going to clean them up and we'll use them for our hats. So cool, I'll post a photo of them soon, very colourful from chickens, turkeys and roosters! :) We also scored in their cheese shop and brought home lots of fruits and veggies - all local and freshly harvested. :)


This is the first batch, I managed to get 30 cans of green beans canned and ready for winter! :)


Next on the list was spaghetti sauce. I'd already canned 80 pounds of tomatoes and I got another 60 pounds for the sauce and for salsa.


The most time consuming part of canning tomatoes is skinning them. First they are washed, then scored.


Then dipped into boiling water for less than a minute; dunked back into cold water, then peeled. It's the easiest way to peel them but it's quite a process.


I go the extra mile with the sauces, I chop, core and de-seed them as well - another really long part of the process. My 20 pound box had 96 tomatoes in it and it ended up making 16 cups of chopped tomatoes. 


I quadrupled and tweaked my Tomato Sauce For Pasta recipe (minus the wine) and I was all ready to blend the sauce a little and can it!


The initial investment for canning is steep I must admit, but I'd been saving for this for over a year now...the Mason jars will last a lifetime if I treat them well! I feel as though my investment has pretty much already paid for itself with the money I'll save this winter!


Alex bought me a water bath canner for my birthday a few years ago and I had these handy-dandy tools to go with it. Some women ask for jewelry, I ask for kitchen appliances! :)

I use the canning funnel because it fits the Mason jars perfectly.  You fill the jars according to the recipe you use, in this case, I had to leave a 1-inch head space. The next step is to work out any air bubbles with the second tool that I call the "bubble remover".  This tool is a great gadget because it also has a measuring unit on the bottom so I can measure head space. You wipe your jar and then top it with a round lid and a screw band to "finger tight". I love the magnetic lid lifter! Keeps things sterile!


I bought a Presto 23-quart pressure canner. The instructions say it holds 10 pint jars (20 if you have the extra rack), but I found 8 on each level is cozy enough! The canner did come with a metal rack that is meant to sit on the bottom of the pot. In order to take advantage of being able to can more than 8 jars, you need a second rack to make it a double decker. The second rack DOES NOT come with the canner and I'm happy I saw another video about this, I ordered the second rack at the same time. I got the canner on sale for $121 CAD...which I think is a good price. The second rack however was $24 - highway robbery I tells ya!!! It's a piece of metal with holes in it...but it sure does come in handy. I have to remember this is an INVESTMENT for my frugal future!


So I double decked my spaghetti sauce and began the process! I was nervous at first, but if you read the directions in your manual (a few times) and follow them to a T, you will have success!


I invested in two canning books. I love them both, they are so complete and helpful. They explain very well why you can some things in a water bath canner; and others in a pressure canner (here is a good online resource: Yes You Can: Canning 101). The manual that came with my canner also has a slew of recipes in it.


This is my water bath canner (note: didn't come with the rack either, we had to get it separately). There are a lot of canning recipes out there on the internet, but I wanted to start off with some tried and true tested recipes before I branch off to "winging" my recipes more. I follow a lot of canning blogs and You Tube channels, people can everything it seems!


I made a little video of the canning process, it's about a minute and a half if you want to check it out. :)


This canner has so many safety features and I'm pretty confident about using it, though I still get a little nervous about all the pressure in there! I took this photo after the one-hour canning time was up. A hard part of the process is taking the canner OFF the stove, it's darn heavy. But once it's off the stove, you have to wait for the pressure to drop before opening it. As you can see (about an hour after I removed it from the heat), the pressure gauge is at zero...but the air vent is still popped up, indicating pressure is still in the pot. Once that air vent is down, you take the pressure regulator off the canner, let it sit another 10 minutes, then it's safe to open the lid (away from your face!).


While the veggie spaghetti sauce was processing, I ground up 3 sirloin steaks that I had in the freezer and started the next batch of meat sauce for Alex.


Another great and necessary tool...a jar lifter. Those jars are HOT!!


Here is my first batch! I left them sitting on the counter for a few hours to settle and seal..I love that popping sound they make when the lids are sealing.


So here are more rewards of my efforts of the last few days...22 pints of spaghetti sauce (and one half-pint); and eight jars of salsa that I did yesterday in the water bath canner. Today I'm going to finish water bath canning my nectarines. We are using our front closet as a pantry for as much as we can fit in there, so I'll be organizing that today too. Then I'm doing NOTHING.  💤 💤 💤 

I'll leave you with a photo that I absolutely love! My garden through my office window. It's pouring rain today but the view is awesome. Look at my pumpkins!!! :)

47 comments:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

OMG that's SO much work! Good thing it's a passion of yours!

wisps of words said...

An awful lot of work. But worth its weight in gold.... Is the finished product. It will all taste so delicious, this winter.

Hugs...

Birdie said...

I want to learn to can but I M terrified of the pressure cooker. My grandma’s blew up once and I have been afraid ever since. I wonder if you can use an instant pot for canning?

jaz@octoberfarm said...

omg...look at your garden!!! the pumpkins!!! and all that canning. hey, i have a recipe on my blog for sauce and you don't peel the tomatoes. they cook for so long that the skins dissolve. we haven't seen rain in ages and are still in the 90's every day. i think i might have finally gone to hell.

Christine said...

You are amazing and that is a lot of hard work! Everything looks delicious.

Linda said...

Oh, RAIN!!!! I am in awe of you!!! You are making me want to can again!
And that view from your office window is amazing. How cool to look out on all that and know what bounty you have reaped from all your hard work.
I must say that I love hearing your voice.....it is beautiful!
Thank you for the inspiration!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Wow.. you are getting a lot done... it must feel so good! everything looks wonderful.

laurie said...

An investment you will never regret ours is going on 40 plus years and I have not had to replace much at all, good tools live a lifetime!! Beautiful satisfying tiring work Rain but so worth it, I always feel so complete when my preserve cabinet is full, I feel ready for winter and yes they're calling for another snow one, we aren't too far from you, let's not think of it, let's enjoy these fall days!!

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

That is so much work, but I know that even if you were exhausted afterwards, you enjoyed every minute of it.

Mama Pea said...

I LOVE the way you documented everything with your great pictures! Just think of all the groceries you WON'T have to go out for and/or lug home from the stores. And as far as nutrition goes, what you are creating at home is so, so much superior to that commercially produced.

You've jumped in to this gardening and preserving thing so quickly and have been so successful. But why not? You've done your research and are willing to expend the time and energy needed to succeed. And doesn't it do a lot for your own self-esteem and sense of self-reliance to know you can do it? You bet!!

Kristina said...

I'm still sitting around waiting to see if our tomatoes will give us enough for this winter. It's been a rough year, but I see some red ones out there. I just don't have an organic source to buy tomatoes around here. I love my sauce maker. I don't have to boil off the skins etc. It's been a lifesaver when it comes to canning anything tomato.

Ruth said...

Birdie, no, the electric pressure cookers are NOT considered safe for pressure canning in, even though several advertise themselves that way. As of this time none of them have been tested to be sure they will actually 100% kill botulism in every case. Here's a quick link with info: https://www.hippressurecooking.com/consumer-alert-no-pressure-canning-in-un-tested-multi-cookers/

The Instant Pot brand is supposedly working with the USDA to get their newest coming in model tested for canning use. I have yet to see any actual results of that testing. I personally contacted the manufacturer of a different electric pressure cooker that specifically advertises it as safe for canning in, asking if they could share the testing results that proved it to be safe. They refused to tell me ANYTHING about testing done and just kept repeating that it was safe. So no, please don't pressure can in your IP. Botulism kills. And all it takes is one jar that doesn't quite get heated properly and everyone you feed it to dies or is crippled for life. And no, thats not an exaggeration. Botulism isn't like salmonella. Botulism is nasty.

New pressure canners have much better safeties than the ones from years ago. They are much much much safer to use. Speaking of which, Rain, in most cases you don't actually have to move it off of your stovetop. Just turn off the burner. It may take it a bit longer to finish losing pressure due to the residual heat of the burner, but thats not the end of the world. A slower pressure release reduces siphoning problems anyway.

Rain, for your tomatoes. If you're planning on doing sauce, or other similar tomato applications, freezing the tomatoes first means you don't have to go through the boiling water/ice water step. Skins pop right off when you run the frozen tomatoes under the water from the tap! The downside being that they tend to thaw mushy, and so not as great for chopped type applications.

Ruth said...

Additional comments on botulism.

The next question commonly asked is how come all these people are canning in improperly and aren't getting sick. Cause yes, if you hit up youtube, never mind a bunch of blogs, there are a bunch of people out there doing unsafe things.

There's a few factors in play. Acidity makes a difference. How the product is used afterwards makes a difference. Where you are located makes a difference. What exactly you're canning makes a difference.

Botulism is less common in some areas than others. So in some areas there is less of a risk of it than others, its not a 100% thing, but it can help reduce the risk in some areas.

Heating the food to a rolling boil for at least 10 minutes kills the botulism toxin and temporarily deactivates the spores that produce the toxin. So taking a jar of improperly canned soup, and heating it to a rolling boil for at least 10 minutes makes it safe to eat (note, opening that jar may have spread the spores all over your kitchen, so I'm not recommending that practice, but it can help explain why some folks don't get sick).

Tomatoes are acidic, though not all tomatoes are acidic enough to prevent botulism, but some are, so if you're canning with tomatoes, and you get a particularly acidic batch, even if you do everything else wrong, you've gotten lucky and are at less of a risk.

If all the factors combine right you can get lucky and not kill everyone. But if you get unlucky today you're putting everyone at serious risk by doing so.

There are plenty of recent cases of botulism too. Just this last month folks were killed over in Europe from botulism in an improperly done jelly! Just a few years ago someone made potato salad from improperly canned potatoes and killed and injured a bunch of people at their church potluck.

Share my Garden said...

WOW, Rain, I am so impressed! A lot of work but very worthwhile. My thumbs are stained and cracking from so much plum and damson stoning, jam, chutney, baked and pulped. It's a great time of year for gorging!
Your veg patch looks super.
Rx.

Martha said...

HOLY MOLY! You are a pro at this. You are set for the winter :)

Nicole Thomas said...

Wow ... just wow. Look at your garden. That picture is so pretty and all your canning ... I am in awe :)

Rain said...

Thanks Debra :) It's a lot of fun! :)

Rain said...

Thanks Wisps of Words, I agree :) Lots of work! But I'm already thinking of those lazy days when winter sets in and I just don't feel like cooking! I'll have some things ready so I'm happy about that!

Rain said...

Hi Birdie :) I've heard horror stories about pressure canner blowing up, but honestly I feel 100% safe with this one. It has THREE safety measures on it. The more modern canners are much better for safety. As long as you keep it clean and follow the manual, I think you'll be okay. But the first time I was VERY nervous! I'm still a little nervous when I put the pressure regulator on! I'm not sure about the instant pot. The idea of pressure canning is to get the pressure and keep it at a certain temperature. You'd have to look into that!

Rain said...

Hi Joyce :) Yes! The pumpkins!! Only 2 but I'll take that! :) Oh I hope you make your way out of hell lol...I hope you get rain soon! I peel the tomatoes because I have a bad intolerance to all fruit/veggie peels...except potatoes. I can't eat grapes anymore unless I peel them...and honestly? I DON'T peel grapes lol...PS: The rapid rise yeast worked! My bread is FINALLY rising again!! :)

Rain said...

Thanks Christine :) I'm really enjoying this, it's very fulfilling! :)

Rain said...

Thanks Linda :)) I hope you get back into canning!! It's a lot of work, but so worth it! That view from my office...keeps me going in rainy weather! Actually that's the only sunny window in the house, so that usually houses all of my seedlings in the spring too...gets crowded!

Rain said...

Thanks Gwen :) It feel GREAT...I've been wanting to buy a pressure canner for years and I finally had enough savings to do it! I'm very happy about that! :)

Rain said...

Hi Laurie :)) You're right, it's tiring but satisfying! I find the tomatoes are the longest to do though. Oh yes, you are going to get blasted with snow as we are...my back is already aching from the thought of shoveling! Another reason I don't want to go out too much, so we don't have to shovel! I think that's more of a fantasy though ha ha! ;)

Rain said...

Thanks Starting Over :) Yes! You are right...I was exhausted and I enjoyed every minute!! :) Even the pressure regulator part lol...

Rain said...

Thanks Mama Pea :)) Well, you know how excited I am to be canning!!! :) I told Alex what you said, that we are creating our own "convenience food" and he loved that! It's so true! I love the feeling of being more self-reliant...and even more, I love that I won't have to spend $6 on 4 crappy tomatoes in February!! :)

Rain said...

Hi Kristina :) I hope you get some tomatoes! OMG I just watched a video for the Ball Sauce Maker...I WANT ONE!!!!!

Rain said...

Hi Ruth :) Thanks for your comments about canning and botulism, very informative! I didn't know about that trick for freezing the tomatoes! I'm going to try that next season for the sauces that I end up blending! The boiling thing is long!Thanks for the tips. I really think that it's important to follow food safety standards, but as long as you have a sterile environment, have a clean and well functioning canner/jars/tools, and really follow all instructions and tested recipes, there is no reason to fear botulism. That's just my opinion!

Rain said...

Thanks Rosemary :)) Oh gosh, Damson jam...that's something I've been wanting to make for a long time, but we cannot find those plums here!! I had to laugh when you said your thumbs are stained...Alex and I had orange hands for a few days from peeling, chopping and freezing 30 pounds of carrots lol!

Rain said...

Thanks Martha :) I'm not done yet!! We're heading back to the market mid month to try to get more booty! :)

Rain said...

Thanks Sis :) I'm so glad I can finally do some real preserving for the winter. But I have so much more to do. I have to be careful though, since we're moving next year, I don't want to accumulate too many Mason jars!!! :) I think a year or so after we're really settled down, I can take the preserving to a higher level where I do meats and meals too, like stews and chillis. :)

The Happy Whisk said...

WHOA!!!! You did great. Wow, wow. So fun. And looky all that food you have come winter. Not too shabby, Rain. Excellent work and I loved seeing the pictures of your stages. Thanks for this post and boogie boogie.

Rain said...

Thanks Ivy :) It was a lot of fun, but so much to do all at the same time! I look forward to doing more actually :)

Stefanie said...

Man, you were the superwoman of productive! I can't imagine buying 20 lbs of beans. I struggle with a 5 lb bag of carrots which we got sick of once we had finished it up.

Rain said...

Thanks Stefanie :) I have to admit, snapping those beans and getting them ready for the canner was long work...watching movies during it helped me!

Magic Love Crow said...

Wow Rain! I don't know what to say, but WOW! You should have your own cooking show! Seriously!!! Amazing!!! Big Hugs!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Super super impressive Rain! Well done!

RO said...

My goodness Rain, you really put in a lot of work, and kudos to you. Definitely makes sense to do this in advance to minimize grocery trips in the winter. Your garden looks so lovely. I can't tell you how impressed I am with all the things you do, and you share some great ideas! Hugs...and please send some snow this way!(lol) RO

Rain said...

Thanks Magic Love Crow :) I'm enjoying myself :)

Rain said...

Thanks TB :) I've been wanting to do this for a while now and I'm so grateful I have that chance! I want to do more!! :)

Rain said...

Thanks RO :) I really wish I could do food for the entire winter...but that takes a lot of planning...and MONEY! I'm doing what I can for now though. Oh gosh, you can have ALL of the snow that is on its way next month!!! :)

Susan Kane said...

Whoa. You are awesome. I hated snapping green beaning--it was slow going.

I grew on a farm, and Mom had a huge garden. Summer was one long canning experience! But at the end of it, Mom had lines and lines of canned food in the pantry, in closets, and upstairs in a nook.

In the fall, we made apple butter. Cooked in a big cauldron with copper lining, it was amazing.

I really enjoyed your blog.

Rain said...

Thanks Susan :)) What a sweet comment and welcome to my blog :)) I have to say I really look forward to a LONG canning experience!! :) This year I'm just starting with the pressure canner, so I hope in a few years I'll have a full pantry lined up too :) I make apple butter too, the apples should be in full season in a few weeks here I can't wait! :)

RO said...

Just stopping by to get a dose of coolness and canning and wishing you well! Hugs...RO

Rain said...

Hi RO!!!! :) Wishing you well too, everything is good, just really busy! :)

Guillaume said...

Yummy spaghetti sauce.

Sam I Am...... said...

You are SO brave! LOL! I am scared of pressure canners but as you say; there are many more safety features today. What a giant sense of satisfaction to see all those beautiful jars of homemade goodness lined up on the counter! It must be hard to put them in the closet after all that work I would want to display them where I could see them all the time. I loved your video especially with the arrows...it made it very clear and you're a good instructor! Your garden looks luscious! You just amaze me how far you've come since last year's garden....you are one determined lady! Congratulations!