On non-marathon food preservation

Thought I would tell you about an evening of “putting things by” around here. I find it’s a lot more manageable if I fit it into the rest of my life, and not try to set time aside to do it.

One, pick what’s ready, but also what you can manage:

Boothby’s Blonde cukes are ready! They’re practically a food group with the kid. She probably won’t even share. But these are about 10 pounds of Bellstar Paste tomatoes and a couple of Hillbilly Potato Leaf/Flame tomatoes too, as well as a pepper, celery and an onion and some marjoram and thyme for sauce. There’re pole beans (Blue Coco, Rattlesnake) at the bottom that’ll go in the freezer.

Core tomatoes, quarter, stick in saucepot and cook to soften. Put water on for pasta. Chop onion, celery; brown in 2nd pot. Cut up pepper, add garlic, add to onions. Drain pot of tomatoes into food mill above onion mixture. Add pasta to boiling water.

Mill the tomatoes into sauce. Ladle into jars, cap. Drain pasta, toss with leftover sauce, add salt and pepper and keep warm for dinner. Add water into bottom of pressure canner, then add jars. Set lid and weight on top and turn on heat.

While waiting for the thing to come up to pressure, tip and tail beans, put in small pot to steam. Pressure is achieved when the dial says 10 pounds AND the weight is jiggling; lower heat, put timer on for 15 minutes. Beans are almost done; peel and slice cucumbers for dinner, call family to eat. Sauce processes during dinner; I get up when the bell rings to take the pot off the heat and wait for it to come off pressure.

Go to beach and swim, then come back and play with chickens and geese/turkeys/chicks/ducks.

Come back and tip/tail the rest of beans, blanch in boiling water 2 minutes, chill in ice water, then put in sealing bags. Label and put in freezer. Wait until next day to put tomatoes away.

Now, go outside and catch lightning bugs.

Note: Of course, when I am going to blog about it, for the second time in my life, a jar has broken in the canner! Yep, 10 years and countless jams/pickles/veggies/fruits/sauces later, it happens. Oh well.

12 responses to “On non-marathon food preservation

  1. I just used my pressure canner for the first time the other day, and I’m still an intrepid newbie, so thanks for the post! The water went out from the jars, and while I understand the reasons for it, and the future preventitive measures……are the beans okay for storage with only 1/2 a jar of liquid left in them?

  2. Yep. They’re sealed, but you need to eat them more quickly. You do need to fasten the jars down more for pressure-canner batches than you do for the boiling-water baths. I tighten as far as I can then I take a partial turn back. Seems to work! Glad to hear you’re living life under pressure, Ang!

  3. Your canned tomatoes look great!

  4. You are just cool, that’s all there is to it! I love to maximize my time like this.

    I have five children and the youngest is a firecracker of three year old boy, but I’ll be brave enough to can in a couple of years when he is better about doing what he is told to do and not doing what he’s told not to do. He has a nice burn scar on his chin from sneaking a hot busciut off a just-out-of-the-oven sheet after being told not to touch because it was hot. Just the thought of canning with him in the house gives me a slight panic attack. πŸ™‚

    Of course I could just set time aside and ask my husband to take our little guy out for a while, but that defeats the purpose of this time maximising post!

  5. Thanks, Mrs GH! It was pretty tasty.

    Jennifer, wow, multitasking must simply be the way you need to do things: I confess I do try to overlap tasks, but on this particular day I just wanted to get to the beach! I guess you’re lucky he’s not your first child, huh? πŸ˜‰

  6. You say non-marathon, but I feel exhausted reading this! πŸ˜‰

    Question: why do you prefer using a pressure canner for tomatoes?

  7. Good question Liz! Yes the ratio of tomatoes to non-acidic stuff like the peppers and onions and celery in the sauce was fairly high, but I play it safe with the pressure canner on anything but straight tomatoes. Oh, and the pressure canner is NOT AS HOT as a boiling-water bath steaming up my kitchen in the non-air-conditioned summertime here. It’s on, it’s off, it keeps its steam to itself (thanks). So that is why. (I also find it easier and less, uh, scary than the boiling water. Know people fear pressure canners but, well, I don’t.)

  8. Hi El,
    I spotted a post of yours back in June about laying a sheet of plastic over your soil for a poor girl’s greenhouse. I’m wondering how anything grows….doesn’t the plastic keep it down? You know, squashing it?
    Eliot Coleman is still changing my life but I’m at the scratching my head stage!

  9. Hi Kathy: it was an inadvertent greenhouse, actually. I had the piece of plastic from erecting the greenhouse, and Thanksgiving was coming and I was hosting 13 people and I knew the snows were coming so I stuck the plastic over the last of the lettuces outside. I held it down (not kidding) with a few rocks and an old shovel. I had enough lettuce for Thanksgiving and then I ignored it, but noticed that the darned things were not dead sometime in March! Wow. So, that’s my story. Yes, the plastic hit the top of the plants and somehow they still froze and kept on growing. I am not sure if it is a repeatable experiment, but it included the biggest head of Bibb lettuce I have ever grown. It makes me think I will try it again though with the last of this year’s outdoor lettuces!

  10. True about the heating up of the kitchen bit. I switched from a water bath to a steam canner a couple of years ago for acid foods (including, yes, tomato sauce & salsa. Living on the edge, that’s me!). The steam canner is so wonderful…. I will never go back to that big cauldron of boiling water (which took for-ev-er to heat, anyway, on my wimpy range). I always love hearing the “why”, so thanks! πŸ™‚

  11. Liz, so you have a steam canner as opposed to a pressure canner? So, that gets things as hot as a boiling water bath or does it get things as hot as the pressure canner (240*+)? But yes I haven’t heard canning people talking much about the heat issue and it’s always been a no-brainer for me: it’s cooler, less messy, less scary so that’s why I get out the pressure canner. Yes it does remove good stuff through the heating but that’s okay as I supplement with other fresh foods.

  12. Nope… steam canner as opposed to boiling water bath canner. It’s not meant for low acid foods, and the USDA doesn’t approve for high acid, but I say, screw you USDA. What do they really know about food safety, anyway? *cough* Olestra *cough*

    I answered you in more depth over at Flickr. πŸ™‚

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