Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Oven canning dry goods

A few months ago I read an article in the Countryside magazine about oven canning dry goods. When properly sealed these canned items are good for decades. I thought it was a great idea and tried it. I canned flour and rolled oats...but you can do any DRY good...beans, rice, cereal.
I bought a 50lb. bag of rolled oats for $25. I filled 12 half gallon jars(twice, plus some on the counter), packing them tight by "stomping" the jar on a folded towel. Didn't want to break the jar. The next step is to place the open jars in a preheated oven(200degrees F)for one hour. When the time is up, open the oven and start placing the lids and rings on the jars. It's hot so be sure to wear an oven glove or use hot pads. The OV glove works best because I had my fingers free. Once the lids are snug, take the jars out of the oven and place on a towel lined counter to cool. As the jars cool, the lids seal. This process kills any larva or critter that may have been in the oats or flour. Ever open a bag of flour in the back cupboard only to find tiny black bugs? ick. I usually store my flours and oats in the freezer...but that takes up space I need for meat.
I have been using the oats and flour... they are great. The only thing I have found is that I need to sift my flour before using it. since it is packed down in the jars it seems clumpy and I like it nice and fluffy.
I save money buying in bulk, it is sealed and I don't have to worry about bugs or rancid flour. Plus, with the shaky economy, I have a stock pile to help get through the winter.
Now, I have friends who oven can food, but I don't trust that method. I either water can or pressure can my foods. Since I didn't grow up learning how to can, I stick to the proven safe methods. I would hate to go through all the prep work and expense of buying the products only to have it spoil due to poor storage methods.
But the dry goods seems pretty safe and as I said I have been using them without any issues.
I hope this inspires someone else to try it. It took about 2 and a half hours total time investment filling the jars and heating for an hour and cooling .

Monday, January 14, 2013

Planning and Dreaming

This is the time of the year when I sit back with a good seed catalog and plan my spring garden and dream of all the harvesting and canning I will be doing. I generally leave out all the work, digging, weeding and planting. For some reason that always comes as a shock come spring and I end up not planting everything I dreamed about in the winter months. Anyone else do that?
Hubby and I were sitting with our evening coffee discussing what and where we were going to plant. He wants to make the garden area we already have established, a potato garden and establish a new garden area in the side yard outside my kitchen door. While I see it in my head...skipping out to the garden in my apron to select fresh veggies for that nights delectable dinner...I'm leaving out the hours of breaking new ground and all the hard labor that goes into composting and weeding the area. I focus on the end result and not the journey to get there.
You learn so much about life when you think about gardening. I know I do anyway. I see in my mind the future I want, the garden, the herbal business, the booming contracting company...but I have to keep in mind all the work involved and am I willing to do it to get the end results. Or do I need to rethink my goals and make them into something I can manage and am willing to devote my time.
My imagination tends to run from reality.
BUT we will try it. Maybe work it in small sections so that by the end of the summer we will be ready for more next year.
We also discussed what is the most efficient veggies to plant. An example Hubby brought up was to plant cherry tomatoes but purchase canning tomatoes(Amish farms near by sell them fairly cheap by the bushel), plant beans, buy carrots, grow broccoli buy cabbage...
He has a dream of growing a strawberry patch...we tried it before, but all our plants died. We had bought bare roots (200)that is a lot of planting and a very frustrating failure. Maybe if we plant in a different area it will work...more digging.
I suggested horseradish and he asked me why I would plant that, I don't even use it...I think it was just the seed catalog high talking...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Goals for the New Year

I think just about everyone makes up some sort of resolution or goals even if it's to say I'm not making a resolution...see still resolving not to make a resolution.
I've decided that I'm going to list my goals to help me move forward to my dream of being closer to the Proverbs 31 woman.

Goal number one is to rely on GOD for everything. To trust in Him and to LISTEN for what He needs me to do. Because seriously, I fail on my own all the time.

Goal number two is to stop being so negative about myself. I need to stop doubting myself, I need to stop being so critical of myself. I am worthy of success and need to stop fearing it. I'm actually a pretty cool chick if I would stop comparing myself to others or trying to be something I am not. I'm chatty and easy to talk to, creative, resourceful, honest and open, passionate in my interests, loyal to my family and friends and I am able to adapt to life's ups and downs without too much mental trauma.

Goal number three is to focus my main energy into raising my family. Whatever my dreams are for the future, I cannot allow them to interfere with my job as wife and mother today. My children will grow up too fast for me to have regrets later that I focused on my soaps and salves instead of my children. If I can find a way to have it all work together that would be great. But if it came to a choice, family first.

Goal number four is to research the herbal world. I want to take a few classes on herbs and their uses and to be able to identify them in the wild. I can always keep learning and growing.

Goal number five is to learn to finish what I start. If you have read my blog before...you know what I mean. Intentions are nothing without actions.

So those are my goals for 2013

I'm excited for this new year