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First baby picture. This is what I sent my husband when I visited the pound. “I think you need to meet this one” was my comment.

We have a new kitten! And I’ve become one of those crazy cat ladies where the vast majority of the photos on my phone are of my cat, lol. Read the rest of this entry »

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Kraut and Peserved LemonsSo, what seems like forever ago (but was probably 2011), I started following the Food In Jars blog. A nationwide resurgence of interest in home canning and preserving was happening, and Marisa McClellan was one of the main movers and shakers behind the renewed interest in this almost lost art. Her information was safe, accurate, and inspiring. Read the rest of this entry »

IMG_20160920_143854353_HDRwatermarkWhen I first started canning, I’d get overwhelmed with a particular item of produce that was available in abundance, and thumb through my canning books looking for recipes that used that fruit or vegetable. For instance, I once had an abundance of peaches, and had already canned plenty of them, so I made peach chutney. The problem? We don’t really eat chutney (this recipe excepted). So it languished on the shelf, beautiful but unwanted, and eventually, several years later, I opened the jars and fed it to the chickens. Read the rest of this entry »

Pineapple WeedThis one comes with a memory. I went to elementary/junior-high/high school in a small town in northern California. This was before the trend to make “middle school” sixth, seventh and eighth grade, so we had a sixth grade graduation, then went to junior high for two years, had had an eighth grade graduation, and went on to high school. The junior high and the high school were in the same building, and my graduating class in high school was about 40 kids. It was a very small town. Read the rest of this entry »

The Hot Chili Harvest

A mix of the last hot chilies of the year, picked two days before our first frost.

My husband is a hot sauce lover. I learned to like hot sauce while traveling in Mexico, and have been slowly liking it more and more as the years go on. As I’ve mentioned on here more than once, I LOVE growing chilies, and grow a lot of them. We dry our own paprika (smoked and plain), jalapenos (for pickling and for dried/smoked chipotles), and our own cayenne. We also do a lot of Hatch style green chilies for both roasted green chilies (on everything from eggs to pork stew to burgers) and dried when ripe for red chili sauce. Cool chili fact. Hatch is the name of a place in New Mexico, not an actual variety of pepper. Hatch peppers can be any number of varieties. This year I grew Joe Parker and Big Jim. They are all in the Anaheim group. I like serranos for Indian food of all kinds and occasionally added to a Mexican dish for extra bite. And of course, we make gallons of salsa every year. Read the rest of this entry »

Ripe SerranosThat moment when you realize you are almost out of garlic chili sauce. And then the dawning realization of “how hard can this be, really, to make?” given that you are staring at a pile of ripe serrano peppers on your counter. The ingredients on the side of the jar are chilies, garlic, salt and vinegar, plus preservatives to make it shelf stable. Read the rest of this entry »

ZestySalsa

For ALL canned foods, take off the metal ring holding the lid on after your product has cooled. This way, if the cap should come off in storage because the seal failed, or because something is fermenting in there and creating gas when it shouldn’t, you’ll know right away.

Original Ball Salsa Recipe

Original Ball Bluebook recipe.

We’re knee-deep into tomato season, and I’m putting up salsa 20 cups at a time. There are a lot of things you can do with home-grown tomatoes to preserve them for the rest of the year, from drying them to roasting them into fantastic freezer sauce to putting them up in pints and quarts to making barbecue sauce. But the number one thing we do with tomatoes (and chilies and onions) is make canned salsa. My husband thinks of salsa as a food group, so we go through a lot of salsa. Read the rest of this entry »

Ready for the Smoker

Ready to go into the smoker. Note the pork belly hangers are actually old wire hangers, trimmed down by my sweet husband at my request, so I could get 4 bellies in the smoker at once vertically, rather than on racks.

Way back in July 2010 (wow, I’ve been writing this blog for a while!) I wrote a piece on curing your own bacon. And its a good post, and reliable and solid advice. However, in the last 4 years I’ve amended how I cure my bacon a bit, after buying Michael Ruhlman’s book Charcuterie (Charcuterie is defined as all things relating to preserved meats). One of the things we noticed about the original cured bacon recipe is that it tended to burn easily in the pan. I attribute this to the large amount of sugar in the cure. I’ve also come to realize that a little bit of nitrite in your meat (like cholesterol) is not the end-of-the-world, cancer causing scourge we once were led to believe. See this fantastic rant by Ruhlman on the No Nitrite hoax in natural food markets or this more recent piece by Chris Kresser on why bacon isn’t the enemy. Read the rest of this entry »

Red Wine (L), Pear (R)

Concord grape wine vinegar on the left, pear cider vinegar on the right. Both in recycled whiskey bottles.

Vinegar, if you believe the natural living information feeds, can be used for everything from killing weeds to cleaning your windows to pickling your cucumbers to dressing your salad (all true). They also claim it can help you lose weight, kill heartburn, and remove warts (more hit and miss), and the true believers will tell you it kills cancer cells (well, in a test tube). Regardless, it’s a fantastic substance to have on hand. I generally buy it by the gallon during canning season, and have used it as a natural cleaner for years. Read the rest of this entry »

Homemade Mustard

Coarse beer mustard on the left, Dijon on the right.

I’ve talked about how learning to bake your own bread and make your own yogurt and granola are probably the gateway recipes when striving towards a more self-sufficient lifestyle. I think making your own mustard should be added to that list. It’s super easy, it’s almost impossible to mess it up, it doesn’t cost much (I recently bought about 2/3 cup of bulk whole yellow mustard seed for $2.25 – enough for 12 oz of finished mustard), there are about a million variations, and it can be really really tasty. Read the rest of this entry »

Jennifer Kleffner

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