It is hot in Virginia here at the end of June, but not too hot for berry picking, especially when blueberries are so tasty! We enjoyed a morning at a local orchard. The kids and I picked 12 pints of berries, and the kids ate at least as much as they picked! We will use these berries for pies, muffins, yogurt, and much more.
It took me four months to produce a finished calendar! All the pieces are cut out for March, April, May, and June, but it was not until July that I managed to velcro and laminate every thing. Family logistics are a wonderful thing. Thank you again to Sanctus Simplicitus for the templates and free printables!
Originally, I made this zucchini puree because I wanted to pressure can it, but I read the pressure-canning manual more carefully and discovered that pureed or mashed foods should not be pressure canned. This is due to the risk of those foods stopping up the pressure release valves, causing increased danger of a pressure canning accident. For caution’s sake, I decided to freeze the zucchini puree.
What can you use zucchini puree for? You can use this puree as a substitute for any recipe calling for pureed pumpkin or squash. We especially like to make pumpkin and zucchini bread, so having a ready supply of puree in the freezer is handy. Be certain to take the puree out in time to thaw!
We have added homemade sour dough bread to our list of DIY projects! Each week I take out some of our sour dough starter, feed it, and wait until the evening to mix the dough. The dough sits over night, and in the morning I form the dough into loaves to rise 1-2 hours. After they rise, we throw them into the cast iron and pre-heated dutch oven at 475 degrees Fahrenheit. After 30 minutes we have this beautiful bread! The loaves are large enough to last one week.
When to use this bread? It is great for grilled sandwiches and as a salad or soup side dish. Most of the children will eat it as is with some butter, but they all appreciate some marmalade as well.
Something very helpful to have lying around is vegetable broth. In the grocery store, you can pay up to $4 for 1 quart of vegetable broth; however, for a tenth of the price, you can make your own! Using vegetables from the garden further saves you money!
From the garden: 1 lb carrots, 2 celery stalks, 1-2 large tomatoes, 2 sweet peppers, 1 zucchini, 6 pepper corns, garlic cloves, 1-2 onions (+any other vegetables you like!)
Instructions: In a large pot, bring chopped vegetables and 8 quarts of water to a boil. Let simmer all morning. In the afternoon, drain the broth from the vegetables. Give the vegetables to the chickens. In the evening pour the broth into hot, quart-sized jars and can according to your pressure-canning manual. This makes about 7 quarts of vegetable broth.
When to use? Whenever you would like! We find that it is good to have around whenever we are swamped with work and homeschooling or whenever we are sick. We can simply grab a jar of vegetable broth to make a quick rice soup or other dish.
Up on the mountain, we always have grand hopes of having enough tomatoes to make spaghetti sauce. Alas, we normally have just enough to make EITHER salsa OR spaghetti sauce. We have chosen to make salsa over sauce, since salsa is typically more expensive in stores. Being in Mississippi, however, allowed us the luxury of both!
What went in?
- Tomatoes (pureed from Grandma’s MS Farm)
- dried oregano (from The Rolling Acres Farm)
We opted for a simple sauce with fewer smells and bells in hopes that this sauce will be suitable for pizzas, spaghetti, and more!
How did we can the sauce?
- Mixed all ingredients together (Apologies! We did not measure!)
- Brought to a boil, then simmered until a good consistency was reached.
- Poured the sauce into hot, quart-sized jars.
- Sealed jars with lids and rings.
- Pressure-canned for the specified time. (Note: These can be water-canned, but my mother only had a pressure canner large enough for quart jars.)
Pressure-canned potatoes were one of my favorite foods when I was a little girl. My Great Aunt Wretha canned potatoes and green beans together in once jar, and I could sit down and eat them cold right from the jar! (Of course, it is recommended that all pressure-canned foods be reheated to boiling before eating.)
While in Mississippi, my mother and I also canned potatoes, of which she had plenty. Into a few jars we added bell peppers, tomatoes, and onions for a touch of excitement.
How did we do it?
- Peeled and chopped potatoes.
- Boiled potatoes in water for a few minutes.
- Add the potatoes and water to hot, quart-sized jars.
- Sealed the jars with lids and rings.
- Pressure-canned for specified time.
This year we happened to be in Mississippi when the corn harvest was at its peak. We went to Charlie’s U-Pick for corn. We did not have to pick our own; there was a truck loaded with fresh-picked corn on the cob. We bought 2 1/2 bushels.
Grandma sat on the porch swing and shucked 2 1/2 bushels of corn within an hour while the children played in a little kid-sized pool. Grandpa killed a water moccasin behind the tomato plants in the meantime! With spare moments in the evening, all the corn was taken from the coolers and cut from the cobs by the next afternoon.
Canning was simple. We filled hot quart-sized jars with fresh corn, poured boiling water over the corn, then pressure-canned at 10 lbs for 45 minutes.
For the record, I would recommend having 2 pressure canners if you are planning to can more than 2 loads per day. There is at least an hour to wait in between canning loads.
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