It’s Canning Season

Canned Tomatoes

Canned Tomatoes © Flickr user Suzy Morris

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Canning season is my favorite chore. Yes, it’s hot and yes, it’s time consuming, but each morning when I bring down another case of filled jars, I can admire my work. Throughout the winter season, I can also go to the pantry and see all our family’s favorites waiting for me to open them. All the work is worth it when we get snowed in on grocery day and we just don’t care.

Are you canning anything this year? Right now, the farmer’s market is overloaded with produce as the vendors are bringing in the last of their summer foods and turning their thoughts to the fall gardens. When you are there, ask if the farmer has any canning tomatoes, sometimes called “seconds” that they would be willing to sell you. If so, make arrangements(usually before or after market time) to pick them up and can away!

If something is tedious, like carrots or peas, I usually don’t can. I do love to tomatoes though. They are my favorite vegetables to can just plain or maybe with a touch of basil. We use jar after jar of plain tomatoes all winter long, and no matter how carefully I plan, we always run out.

After making some jams-not a trillion jars, but roughly enough for 1 a week, I only seem to have the desire to can things that make sense; sauces and soup bases and of course relishes and spicy mixes. The basics seem to make the rest of my meal planning much easier. If you are just starting out canning, try this simple recipe for plain tomatoes. They are easy and you can use them for so many tasty dishes.

Simple Canned Tomatoes

From Canning and Preserving For Dummies 

12 Pounds whole tomatoes

Bottled lemon juice

Canning salt

Boiling water

  1. Prepare your jars and two piece lids according to the manufacturer’s instruction. Keep the jars and lids hot.
  2. Wash and peel the tomatoes. Make this easier by dipping them in boiling water for 30 seconds and then into cold water. The peels will curl up and can easily be removed. After peeling, cut tomatoes into halves or quarters to fit them better into the jars.
  3. Place tomatoes into prepared canning jars, pressing them to relase their juice. To each pint jar, add 1 Tablespoon lemon juice or 1/4 tsp citric acid and if desired, 1/2 tsp salt. To each quart, add 2 Tablespoons lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon citric acid and if desired, 1 teaspoon salt. If there is not enough juice to cover the tomatoes, add boiling water, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Releaase any trapped air bubbles with a wooden skewer or other plastic or wooden handle.
  4. Process the filled jars in a water-bath canner for 35 minutes(pints) or 45 minutes (quarts) from the point of boiling.
  5. Remove the jars with a jar lifter and place on a clean kitchen towel. After cooled, test seals and remove rings before labeling and storing.

 

 

If you have any questions about this or any other canning and preserving technique, please send me a message on Facebook. I would love to help!

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Spring in Maine Looks Like This

Spring looks different up here

Spring looks different up here

It was a balmy 50 degrees yesterday. Perfect for a spring walk! I hope you are feeling the change in weather. Soon we will be talking about starting seeds! It’s been a long winter of snow, snow and more snow. The funny thing is, last year we had mostly ice and lost power for days at a time. This year, tons of snow and only a few hours at a time by candlelight.

We are anxiously awaiting our new goats to add to our farm. We have two, and that is not nearly enough. :-)

I’ve been making things with a gluten free flour that I was asked to try out. It’s been wonderful. Last night, I was even able to make homemade flour tortillas for the GF son and they were perfect. Here is a pic of them:

These Gluten Free flour tortillas are amazing!

These Gluten Free flour tortillas are amazing!

The flour is Steve’s GF Flour Blend and it’s great stuff. The best flour blend since needing to go gluten free almost 2 years ago. I’ve made cookies, tortillas and believe it or not, noodles! Such a great product and my new go-to. Hope it helps you make a GF choice!

 

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Gluten Free Pancake In A Mug

gluten free pancake in a mug

GF Pancake in a mug

Snack should be delicious and easy. This recipe for Gluten Free Pancake in a mug is both. We use a pre-made pancake mix, so it is safe for everyone in the house. The results are soft, moist, and just about perfect. My gluten- free son deems them even better than my regular GF pancakes. I think it’s because he is making them on his own and not having to wait until I get a platter full for the table.

I made this one in a huge mug, and this photo of the finished pancake sitting on a saucer.

Here is the recipe:

Gluten Free Pancake in a Mug

4 TBSP gluten free pancake mix. I use Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix

1 egg

2 Tbsp milk

1 TBSP coconut oil

Pinch of cinnamon and salt

3 TBSP maple syrup (for moisture and flavor, but substitute milk or water if needed)

Instructions

Spray a mug with nonstick spray and set aside.

Combine all ingredients and pour into mug.

Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.

Invert onto a plate and top with your favorite toppings, or leave right in the mug for a portable snack. Be careful. The mug is going to be really hot! Some ideas beyond maple syrup and butter:

Cinnamon and sugar

Brown sugar and butter (a very old style pancake topper)

Nutella

Bits of breakfast sausage or crumbled bacon

Making food in mugs is one of the basic cooking techniques that my kids learn at a young age. We can make manageable sized recipes, and they can measure, stir, work with timing, see cause and effect..the list goes on. Everyone remembers the lesson when it ends in food.

We use food in mugs when the kids are gathered around the fire, listening to me read. It also makes a non traditional snack to help them warm up after a long day of playing in the snow. Add a cup of hot chocolate or dandelion chai, and they are in heaven.

Ok, back to the woodpile! Thanks for all the welcome back messages. I am so excited to show you all that I have planned for The Farming Wife this year.

 

 

 

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Filed under farming kitchen, home cooking, pantry pancakes frugal breakfast, recipe, Uncategorized

Herbal Cupboard: Organizing Your Stash

Calendula in a jar

Part of my Calendula harvest for 2014

Welcome back! After a summer long hiatus, my blog is fixed and I can start sharing once again. I missed you!

On the farm, organization is key. It’s great to feel very free and flexible, but the people who get things done, have a plan. I organize my cupboards, my homeschool room, my pantry , and my upcoming meals. This frees up time for me to continue to write as much as I do. My herbs are organized as well. There is nothing worse than having a sick child and not being able to find the elderberry tincture. Let’s talk organizing. Here is what I use. Hopefully some of it is helpful to you.

I like to harvest in handfuls all summer. This means I have numerous bits of herb in various stages of drying. When the herbs first come in, I try to keep them together in the dehydrator so I don’t forget what things are. They then move to my favorite container; glass. I try to use big gallon jars whenever possible so I use less of them, but they are impractical to store in my tiny kitchen. I use quart jars for upstairs storage.

How to choose what to save and what to let die back? That is easy. I think about the things that my family deals with; upset tummies, sleeplessness and the winter cold/cough. We rarely (if ever) get the flu and I am a believer of supporting the immune system so the body can heal itself, so I keep a lot of herbs that are tonics-herbs that provide mineral health we may not be getting from our food. Healthy bodies heal themselves for most illnesses that I would try to heal at home.

So, for dried, whole herbs, use glass jars with labels, and out of the sunlight.

I use tinctures the most of all my herbal remedies. I also like single tinctures that I can combine as needed. To store them, I also use glass jars. Since my herbal business is family first-community second, I have been successful making my tinctures in quart jars. Hopefully someday I will have enough clients and need to make gallons, but who knows? For convenience, I buy my tincture bottles in 1 ounce sizes from Sunburst Bottle. I’ve used them for over 10 years with no broken bottles and everything of the highest quality. As you can see from my gallon jar above, I also use recycled glass. As long as the jar lid is good, I use the jar. This stems from needing jars for goat milk, Kombucha, and herbs.  You sued to be able to get glass jars with metal lids from sandwich shops, but you had to tell them not to punch a hole in the lid(so they could open them easier). Then, many stores switched to plastic and you don’t want plastic. It may be worth checking into though.

I use a DYMO LabelMaker 450 Turbo thermal printer, and address sized labels. I can type in directions for use, names and harvest dates..it’s simple but effective. Find one used on Ebay if you can. They are well worth it.

That’s it! Keep it simple and label everything. Make simple lists of what you have in stock, the remedies you make up ahead of time, and even a short list of what you are running out of. Tape it on the inside of the cupboard door so you always know what’s available.

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My Gardens Are Alive!

chives

Chives

After an epic winter, it’s wonderful to be overwhelmed with the sights and sounds of growing gardens. This is a chive plant that actually survived the ice storms and mountains of snow. Isn’t she lovely? It won’t be more than a day or so, and this will burst into flowering glory. Then, I can make beautiful Chive Blossom Vinegar. The hot pink color is striking, but the fresh chive flavor is really what urges me to make this easy recipe every year.

Are your chives blossoming? Pluck off all the blooms you can spare and place them in a quart jar. Pour white vinegar over all, and place in a dark, cool location. After two weeks, the most shocking hot pink color will develop, and the vinegar will smell beautifully like chives.

The color will fade if stored in sunlight, but the flavor remains. Use it in your favorite salad dressing or marinade. It’s unlike anything you can buy in the store.

Chives are a must have for the beginning gardener. It’s a fast grower, and grows in clumps-so no worries that it will take over the garden. Harvest the leaves by cutting close to the ground, or you will have stubby leaves with brown tips all season long. Cut them back and freeze whole for winter use. When you want to use them, snip the frozen leaves directly into your recipe. I like chives in my stir fry dishes too. My kids dislike bites of onion, but they don’t mind chive bits in their dish.

In other news, my job at the newspaper means I have plenty of newspaper to mulch the garden with. If you get a chance, use sheets of newspaper to block weeds from growing. Top it with your choice of mulch, and  your garden will thank you! Just avoid using the colored inserts, but the rest of it is a great resource. Earthworms just LOVE newspaper!

Have a great week.

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