Chicken Fiesta Rice: Freeze Dried Ingredients

Chicken fiesta Final CopyDid you forget to lay that meat our for dinner aaaagain? No worries. I have a recipe that will save you and taste like you spent  quite a while making it, but in reality, it only takes 10-15 minutes to make and you do not even have to use a skillet. Interested yet? 🙂

I am going to show you how to make a Chicken Fiesta Rice bowl  that can be stored on your shelf for months without going bad if it is stored properly. (Please read all directions on how to store at bottom of article.) To prepare it, all you have to do is add 1 1/2 cups of boiling water to it and you’re done. Yup,that’s it!

I have put together a short video to guide you in preparation and a list of the ingredients are listed below it. This meal is created using NuHarvest Freeze Dried Foods and I have to admit, once it is re-hydrated you really can’t tell that is what it is. It tastes so fresh and good. My husband and kids couldn’t tell and my husband even let some of the guys at work try it and it was a hit.

Ingredients: 

Makes 2 full cups of Chicken Fiesta Rice. You can double up the ingredients or even triple them if you have a large family. I can feed four people (2 adults, 2 teenage girls) when I double it up.

Freeze Dried Ingredients:

Spices:

  • 1 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/8 to 1/4  tsp salt, optional
  • 2 tsp Chicken Bouillon or Granules
  • 1/4 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Freeze Dried Cilantro OR 1/8 tsp regular dried Cilantro

Optional Ingredients:

To Prepare:

  • Mix everything together in a bowl that will hold at least 2 cups of water.
  • Boil 1 1/2 cups of water
  • Pour water into bowl and stir so that all ingredients get wet and spices are blended well
  • Cover and let sit for 10 minutes

It is that easy. The only thing to wash are the bowls and spoons. 🙂

Storing Meal in Mason Jars:

If you are going to store a few of these already prepared meals in jars on the shelf it is imperative that you use an Oxygen absorber to seal the jar or a vacuum sealer (Jar Sealer Attachment) so the meat does not go rancid and make you sick. Eat within 3 months.

If you are making some up in baggies then you will need to store them in the refrigerator and use within 3 weeks. If you store them in the pantry they should be used with in 10 days.

 

Chili In a Jar

chili in a jarThis is a quick simple recipe for home-made chili for your food storage.  You can added more or less of the spices such as chili powder, garlic etc if you want. It is all about your taste. This is just a general recipe.

Tools you will need:

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in your washed and dried quart size jar making sure your powdered ingredients are at the bottom.
  2. Put the lid on and seal with your vacuum sealer attachment OR use a 50cc oxygen absorber.
  3. Screw on your ring and your all done. 🙂
  4. We also like to store freeze-dried cheese to put in the chili when its done cooking, but we leave that in its original can until ready to use.

To make:

Pour contents of jar into a stock pot and add 2 full quart jars of water. Let cook for about 15-20 minutes. If the chili is a little souper than you would like, add 3 tsp of potato flakes (instant potatoes) to thicken it up. (A trick I learned on you tube 😉 )

Don’t forget to tape the cooking directions and the date to the outside of the jar.

(Note: You can choose to use regular red beans but just know that the cook time will be considerable longer and in a SHTF situation time can be important.)

Creamy Tomato Soup ~ Meal In a Jar

Grilled-Cheese-Tomato-SoupI LOVE tomato soup with a hot grilled cheese sandwich. Especially in winter!! So when a friend of mine (Phinecia Ham) sent me this recipe I had to share it with all of you. The recipe below is for one pint size jar of soup, however I like to think beyond that.
We have about 3-4 months of cold weather per year so I am going to incorporate this into our winter meals. So about 17-20 of these pre-made up would allow us to eat this wonderful soup once a week for 4 months. Of course if you want to eat it more than that you can just double up. Sound good?
If you wanted to add more calories you could also store crackers or boxes of jiffy cornbread mix right along side of your soup. (Ingredients are below the video)
 Cooking Directions To Print For Jar:
  1. Add mix to 4 cups boiling water. Reduce heat then simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle cheese on top when serving.

Directions:

  1. Layer all ingredients in jar except cheese.
  2. Place cheese in a sandwich baggy and fold tight.
  3. Put cheese on top of mix in jar.
  4. Wipe rims and place lid on the jar.
  5. Use vacuum sealer and attachment to seal the jar. Then screw on the ring. (Or use oxygen absorbers.)
  6. Print/Write cooking directions and attach to the jar along with the date.
  7. All finished!!!
(Serves 4 people and makes approx 1-2 cups per person. Only you can figure out how much it takes to fill up your family.)

Goodie Gifts For Canners

autumn preserves

Pic Source: Confessions of a Prepper

Whether you know an expert canner/dehydrator or someone just starting in the art, we always need supplies but are not always easy to shop for. So for this holiday season I have put together a list of over 30 of the tools I have found to be very effective when it comes to canning, dehydrating and cooking in general.  Many people have some of these tools and others do not. For those who have the basic tools you may find something here that catches your eye. There are a lot of other items to pick from. Have you ever tried fermenting? If not, the tools are listed here to.  So please, share this article with friends, family and new canners all around and get your Christmas shopping done early!! No matter what your budget is, there is something on this list for you!!

Canning/Dehydrating books are ALWAYS needed!! Below I have listed the books I can’t live without:

hdratelerA dehydrator is a great way to preserve fruits, vegetables and meats. It’s very simple and saves a lot of food or helps to build a great food storage reserve. If you know anyone who loves dried bananas or beef/deer jerky this could be a perfect gift. I sprung for the Excalibur 5 tray Model

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If you are going to make fruit leather, (fruit roll ups) then you can always add these to the stockings to go with the amazing dehydrator!! These are a special Non Stick Dehydrator Sheet needed to pour the puree fruit onto the tray.

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There are two basic things all canners need to start out. A Pressure canner and a water bath canner. (PC are for things like, meats, fish, poultry, vegetables and low acid foods.) Granted a good pressure canner can cost a little more, but in the end it is well worth it. I choose to use the All American 15 -1/2 quart pressure cooker for several reasons. Aside from the fact they are all Made in the USA, the main reason I choose this brand is because of their “metal-to-metal” sealing system for a steam-tight seal; no gaskets involved. That means no replacing worn out gaskets in the future. Positive action clamping locks align the cover to the base, forming a steam-tight seal. Since the seal does not use a gasket, the cover can be easily opened and closed, providing an extra margin of safety over conventional rubber or composition gasket cookers. You can choose any size you want however this model holds 10 pint jars or 7 quart jars. For a cheaper option, the Presto 23 quart aluminum pressure canner is often good for beginners who are not sure if they like canning.

410ls2guNaLThis Stainless Steel Rocking Mezzaluna Knife with silicon handle is essential for any cooks kitchen. At just under $12.00, for quick chopping jobs this is perfect. When a cook likes his/her kitchen gadgets they tend to use them more often.

,

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Water Bath Canners are for your jellies, jams and higher acid foods. While this is technically nothing more than a large stock pot, the water bath canners come with a jar rack to help lower and lift jars in and out of the water. I find the rack FANTASTIC for blanching tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables.

71NOfVsRIOL._SL1500_Pretty much every canner probably already has these tools, however, there’s never any harm in replacing them or adding more to your collection. More than once my jar funnels have disappeared only to be found months later in the kids toy box, closet or buried under their beds. This beautiful 7 piece canning tool set  I am listing is not only beautiful, but very durable because it is not plastic. It comes with a steel canning rack that holds 7 pint or quart-size jars, a sterilizing rack holds 12 lids, 2 stainless-steel funnels, magnetic lid wand, jar lifter, and cheese cloth.

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For those who love canning cherries, the Cherry Pitter Device is ahhhmazing! It quickly de- pits multiply cherries to speed up your job and is easy for kids to use to!

One thing I can not stand is getting my hands all sticky when canning jams or jellies. This Prepworks Ladle from Progressive has a unique angle that’s shape easily gets into the corners of a stock pot; eliminates need for tools to scrape the bottom of pot. Its large capacity scoop fills entire 1/2 pint in 1 scoop and pours from both sides for left or right-handed use. The clip keeps scoop from slipping into pot and withstands heat to 400. It won’t stain and is dishwasher safe.

canning ladle

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Props to Prepworks again. They have come out with another nifty little tool. Sometimes I have problems getting the head space accurate when filling my jars. This wide mouth and regular mouth funnel comes in very handy for those of us that need it. 🙂

71pni06wMFL._SL1500_I have had my Bella Bullet Blender for two years now. I got it for $10.00 on Black Friday but you can still get it at a great price of $25.00 on amazon. I use this primarily for turning dehydrated foods such as tomatoes, onions, cayenne peppers, kale, etc into powders. It also blends up smoothies great. Its small and take up very little counter/cabinet space.

91qrUJsEagL._SL1500_For those bigger blending jobs I like to use the Ninja Ultima Kitchen System. This is a little bit pricey but this one gets all jobs done, you will get rid of all other blenders and it will make your kitchen guru very happy. It’s an 8 cup blender verses a 2-3 cup. Any serious canner knows and hates chopping up cups and cups of green peppers, jalapenos, onions etc for those delicious jar meals and will be so happy and grateful for this machine. Less time in the kitchen means more time with the family. Mmmmm perfect for large batches of home-made salsa!!

81BH76MBTTL._SL1500_As a cook and a canner I am always in need of a clean dish towel. With many different colors to choose from this makes another perfect gift to go along side of a new canner. Utopia Cotton Kitchen Towels come 12 to a set for a great deal at $15.00.

71k-it4cEEL._SL1500_The Victorio Food Strainer and Sauce Maker is great for any project that requires you to use cheesecloth. (Something I personally hate doing) It is wonderful for making all the sauces, purees, juices and jams you love without painstaking peeling or coring. It quickly separates fruit and vegetable puree from unwanted skins, stems and seeds. Optional electric drive motor. Don’t forget the 4 piece accessory kit with it so you can do even more. 🙂

816COBVtPDL._SL1500_Another small pet peeve of mine is small measuring cups. Most canning recipes call for more than 1 or 2 cups of any ingredient and any given time. When your mind is racing with everything to do sometimes its hard counting cup for cup and much easier to only have to measure once or twice. I have lost count more than once when it comes to sugar or vinegar in a recipe. I recently purchased this and am very happy with it. It is a Pyrex 4 cup measuring cup.

Ball Collector Jars seem to be a hit among those canners who love to take pictures of their work or use nice jars on their counter tops. There are several different kinds so I will list a few of them.

ball 1

The first is a Quart size Heritage Green tinted jar. It also comes in pint size as well. Any canner would love this and appreciate the thought.

ball 2The second most popular Vintage Heritage Jars are the beautiful blue tinted class jars. This link leads you to a case of 6 pint size jars with lids and rings.

fermenyThe Perfect Pickler Fermenting kit. If your family loves sauerkraut or anything else fermented then this might be the kit for you. Odor-free fermenting! Wild fermentation – no cultures to add and seals out air to induce a naturally pro-biotic world. Self-pressurizes to lock out airborne microbes.

61NRMk2nHqL._SL1500_If you have a vacuum sealer then this is a MUST!! This is a nifty little attachment that attaches to your mason jar lids and vacuum seals them air tight. Perfect for anyone who likes to dehydrate their own foods or makes meals in jars for their food storage.

61311pXeWNL._SL1500_If you do not have a vacuum sealer yet and its been on your *to get list* then now is the perfect time. We use The Food Saver V2244. We have had it about 4 years now with no problems and have never had to replace a part.

616Fz0ZAFkL._SL1500_Recap is a great idea for those regular mouth jars. We often store our fresh ground herbs and dried foods in our mason jars and opening and closing them every time can get old. With this invention one simply has to flip the lid open. 🙂 (For a four pack of all sizes, click here.)

41hNSB6bEcLMade to fit the Recap lids listed above, this Farmcurious Mason Jar Fermenting kit comes with everything you need to ferment your vegetables. This little set locks out the air and all the yeast and mold that come with it. Carbon dioxide escapes through the top of the airlock but nothing is allowed in. Attach the set to any wide mouth mason jar – fits a half-gallon jar for larger batches and down to a half pint for tiny little test batches.

Includes two full setups – two ReCAP lids, instructions and recipes, two stoppers and two airlocks so you can make two batches of yummy lactose-fermented goodies at once!

fermenting jarIf you would like to take fermenting to the next level then surprise your partner or treat yourself to the wonderful 2 Gallon (10L) Fermenting Crock Pot with stones. Harvest stoneware Fermenting Crocks from Czech Republic feature a traditional old world design that has proved highly functional for 100+ years. Harvest crocks were designed by the maker of the Harsch Crock and are handmade in the classic kiln process for stoneware. Fermenting crocks are excellent for pickling vegetables, making delicious sauerkraut or Kimchi, and even making wine. Fermentation pots have been used for hundreds of years as a way of naturally allowing foods to preserve in a salt and water brine. The lids on these fermentation pots are vented and once in place do not need to be removed as long as you keep the water level in the rim channel above the vents.

Dehydrating Tomatoes

Dehydrating tomatoes is very easy. Pick some nice big tomatoes from your garden or the store. You can season them and have dried tomatoes for a salad or snack. I also put them in my bullet blender and make home made tomato powder for flavoring, tomato paste, creamy tomato soups, or a base for a vegetable or minestrone soup.

dehydrated tomato

Below are the tools I use:

Mandoline:

  • mandalineA Mandoline to create evenly sliced pieces. Making sure to get any fruit or vegetable that you dehydrate uniform in size is important so that they all dry fairly easy and in the same amount of time. You will always have a few that need a little longer, but slicing or cutting your food evenly helps the process. The Mandoline I listed is the kind I use. (Informative Video. This mandoline rated as the number one favorite.) I have tried several different one and this seems to be the easiest to use and clean as well as the safest I have found. I have never cut myself. (knock on wood.)

Dehydrator:

  • 417WlMFWdmLA good dehydrator is always needed eventually, weather it is for fruit, vegetables, fruit leather or beef jerky. I bought the Excalibur 5 tray dehydrator about 3 years ago and I have not had to replace anything on it and it still works fabulous.

Directions:

  1. Wash your tomatoes and pat dry.
  2. Using your Mandoline, slice your tomatoes using the thicker slicing tool. If you do not have a slicer feel free to use a sharp knife if you are comfortable doing so.
  3. Gently push the seeds (guts) out.

guts of tomato    4. Line the tomatoes on the dehydrator tray and turn its settings to Vegetables. (125°F/ 52°C) Most articles I have found say dry them for 4-6  hours, but I have found the temperatures really do vary. You have to feel the tomatoes and judge for yourself. After I think they are dry I turn the machine off and let the tomatoes sit in there until the next day. Next, I put them in a mason jar and screw the lid on. Then I keep an eye on it for the next 24 hours and look for signs of condensation. If there is some then they go back in the dehydrator.

temps

tomatoes

At this point it is up to you if you want to keep them whole or turn them into a powder. When I turn it into tomato powder I put it in my blender and then store it in a mason jar that is dated.

 Keepin It Spicy,

Jalapeño Gal

Canning Jalapeños

jalapenos finalThis is one of the many, many recipes I have used to preserve jalapeño’s from the garden and gotten good reviews on so I am sharing it with you.

Warning: Anytime you are cutting jalapeños or any hot pepper please wear gloves. (Especially if you wear contact lenses.)  They are .97¢ at walmart in the pharmacy section for 8 vinyl gloves. I store them IN my canner because the kids never look there. Seriously though, unless you want the fiery gates of hell to bare its wrath in your eyeballs then wear gloves.

Ingredients and Tools Needed:

Add ingredients below to each hot sterile jar before adding peppers and brine:

Directions:

  • Prepare your jars for processing by washing them in the dishwasher and leaving them on the heated dry cycle while you work. If you do not have a dishwasher then please wash them by hand and follow normal water bath procedure. Keep jars warm until its time to use them.
  • Prepare your work station and put on your gloves. Slice your freshly washed jalapeños about 1/8 of an inch and then toss the stems in the trash bowl.

jalapeno final 2

  • In a sauce pan add your vinegar, water and sugar. Heat on medium high until it just starts to boil.
  • While your brine is heating up, place your jars next to the stove and add your pickling salt, bay leaf, garlic clove, coriander, cumin and black peppercorns to each jar.
  • Pack the sliced jalapeños into the jars as tightly as you can get them without crushing them, leaving about an inch head space at the top.
  • Using your canning funnel and canning ladle, start pouring the brine slowly into each jar until there is 1/2 inch head space left.
  • Now here is the fun part. Tap your jar gently on the counter/towel until you see all the bubbles float up to the top. I use a spoon and push the peppers down gently as I do this, but it’s not necessary. For some reason air seems to hide well in-between the peppers. You can do this with a wood chop stick or skewer as well. Which ever floats your boat. 🙂
  • Once the air is removed, use a paper towel dipped in vinegar and wipe the rims clean.
  • Place lids and rings on snugly and put jars in the WBC. Process for 12 minutes AFTER the water returns to a boil. After 5 minutes remove jars and place on a towel. Allow to set undisturbed for 24 hours. You can eat them right away, but it is better to let them cure for 4-6 weeks before opening.
  • For any jars that may not seal, store in the refrigerator and eat them first. Sealed jars have a shelf life of one year.

I hope you have fun canning and if you have any comments or questions please feel free to leave them in the comment box below.

jalapeno final 3

 

 

 

 

 

Canning Blueberry Pie Filling

DSC_0166I found a pretty good deal on blue berries at Sam’s Club. They were selling them two pounds at a time for $4.98. So I thought to myself that some dehydrated blueberries would be good to have on hand….and then I thought about pie and blueberry cobbler and thats all she wrote. 🙂

So as I am canning this delicious blueberry pie filling I got to thinking. If I canned 12 quarts each of Apple Pie filling, Blueberry Pie filling, Peach Pie filling and Cherry pie filling that we could have 4 pies a month for a year if we wanted. (You could change it up and do blackberry or something also if you wanted to.) The holidays would be great because I wouldn’t have to buy the ingredients. I would just have to make the crust. Please feel free to leave pie ideas in the comment section.

The recipe I am sharing will get 3 pint size jars out of it. This is the first time I have done a large amount all at once and I personally did them in batches based on the recipe ingredients. I didn’t try to cook all 6-7 pounds of blueberries at once.

 

toolsTools you will need:

 

 

20140803_081605Ingredients:

  • 7-8 cups of blueberries (2 1/2 – 3 pounds of blueberries)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar, I use Zulka pure cane sugar because I love the taste and flavor of it but any granulated sugar will do.
  • 2/3 cups of Clear Gel. I use Ultra Gel because its non GMO and Gluten free and does the same thing as regular Clear Gel. Clear Gel is a modified corn startch and an absolute MUST for any canning recipe that contains corn starch. If you read a recipe that tells you to use cornstarch then look for a diff recipe. I made that mistake once. 😦 (Why Can’t I *Can* that?)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • A dab of Wiltons’ Violet food coloring, optional. Berries tend to lose their vibrant colors during cooking processes so I add a little bit of the food coloring to enhance the appearance of the pie filling. You could also use regular blue (8-12 drops) and red (2-4 drops) food coloring to make purple as well.

Directions:

  • You will want to follow your basic water bath canner instructions for setting up.
  • Wash your berries and lay them out on a paper towel. Pick any stems off of them that may have been missed.
  • Fill one of the large pots about half to 3/4 the way full and bring water to a rolling boil. Pour in the blue berries and blanch for one minute. Remove from heat and pour into strainer. Pour berries back into the pot and put a lid on them to keep them warm. Make sure they are not on a hot burner.

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  • In a separate pot, pour your sugar, clear gel, and water. Whisk it together until very smooth and there is no clumps. Make sure to take a spoon around the edges to get any that may have clumped there.

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  • Add food coloring at this time if you are using it.

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  • Put pot on stove set to medium high heat. At this point, you do not want to walk away from your stove. You will need to stir constantly to prevent scorching. Expect the mix to start to thicken and maybe even clump pretty fast. Just keep stirring. The goal is to get a somewhat gel consistency that you can still stir smoothly. Once it gets somewhat stiff, add the lemon juice and stir it in.

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  • Add your berries and fold the gel into the berries. Remove from heat.
  • Use your canning funnel and ladle to add the mix to the jars one at a time. Leave a one inch head space.
  • Use a dip stick or anything that is not metal to scrape the sides to rid the jar of any air bubbles. This is a very important step, don’t skip it. I use a kabob stick for mine.

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  • Next, using a cloth or paper towel, dip it in white vinegar and wipe the edges so they are clean and free of any of the mixture. This is another important step in making sure the jars get a good seal.
  • Place lids and rings on jars finger tight.
  • Put jars in rapidly boiling water in your water bath canner for 30 minutes then remove and place on towel.
  • Do not move for 24 hours
  • After 24 hours take a sharpie or label and write the date on the jar as well as what it is.

20140803_103247 To bake a pie you would need two of these pint jars for one pie. We choose to can them in smaller jars because we often use them to top ice cream, cheesecake and many other yummy desserts. You can always can these in quart jars as well by doubling up on the recipe for however many quarts you desire. There are several different recipes out there, but I really hope you enjoy this one. Our family does!!

Keeping It Spicy,

Jalapeño Gal 🙂

The list below is a different recipe I got from canningusa.com, but is just as good. 🙂

Ingredients 4 Quart Jars Per Quart 6 Quarts 8 Quarts 10 Quarts 12 Quarts
Blueberries 5 cups 30 cups 40 cups 50 cups 60 cups
Granulated Sugar 3/4 cup 4-1/2 cups 6 cups 7-1/2 cups 9 cups
Water 1 cup 6 cups 8 cups 10 cups 12 cups
Lemon Juice (Required for Canning) 1 Tbsps. 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsps. 1/2 cup 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsps. 3/4 cup
ClearJel® 1/4 cup 1-1/2 cups 2 cups 2-1/2 cups 3 cups
Salt (Optional) 1/2 tsp. 1 Tbsp. 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. 1 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. 2 Tbsp.
Cinnamon (Optional) 1/2 tsp. 1 Tbsp. 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. 1 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. 2 Tbsp.
Nutmeg (Optional) 1/4 tsp. 1-1/2 tsp. 2 tsp. 2-1/2 tsp. 1 Tbsp.

 

 

Uses For Sweetened Condensed Milk In Your Food Storage

dulce de lecheIs your Sweetened Condensed Milk in your food storage about to expire? Is the can starting to rust? Recently a question was posed in a group I am in on Facebook. A wonderful lady has asked,

“I have about 16 cans of sweetened condensed milk that I need to get used up asap as the cans are starting to rust. Any suggestions?”

So this lead me to research the uses of Sweetened Condensed Milk when you have a large amount you want to use. My first thought was Caramel and Dulce de Leche, so I thought I would share my secret with all of you. Yummy!

Have you ever made Dulce de Leche in a crock pot? It is so super easy its not even funny.

All you need is:

  • 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 half pint canning jars with lids and rings (jelly jars)
  • A Crock-pot

Yup, thats it!! 🙂

Directions:

  • Divide the sweetened condensed milk evenly between the 3 canning jars and place rings and lid tightly on jars so none of it leaks out.
  • Place jars in the crock-pot and completely submerge in water AT ALL TIMES. This is a very important step if you want it to turn out right. The jar MUST be completely submerged in water.
  • Turn crock pot on low for 8-10 hours adding more water if you need to.
  • Once done, let the Dulce de Leche cool on the counter at room temp before opening. The jar will appear to be sealed but these are NOT shelf stable. They MUST be stored in the fridge. Sorry guys. 😦
  • Warm before using (optional)

You can also make this recipe without the jars and simply place the cans in the crock pot. However, I would not recommend doing it with rusty cans. This recipe can be used as a topping or dip for just about anything you can imagine.

caramel topping

 

Now for the delicious Caramel Sauce Recipe using your food storage ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • Heavy bottom sauce pan, 2-3 quart should be fine
  • 3/4 Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water (in the pot)
  • 1/4 cup of light corn syrup
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons Powdered milk
  • 3/4 cup water (to mix with the powdered milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Pour 3/4 cup granulated sugar into your sauce pan being careful not to get any sugar up on the sides. It will look like a sand pile in the middle of your sauce pan.
  • Pour 1/2 cup of water into the center of the sugar, again making sure there is none splashing up on the sides of the pan.
  • Add 1/4 cup of light corn syrup.
  • Turn on medium heat. Don’t stir or mess with it to much. You do not want the mix to come up on the side of the saucepan or you will get clumps of sugar in your caramel. Should this happen, take a basting brush and dip it in a little bit of water and gently push the sugar down off the side and back into the mixture.
  • While the mixture cooks, mix 3/4 cups of water with 4 1/2 tablespoons of powdered milk. Whisk together until smooth.
  • At this time, you are going to let the mixture cook for a little bit until it turns a dark amber color. Do not leave unattended. As soon as this happens, remove from the heat.
  • SLOWLY, I cant emphasize this enough, pour a small amount of milk into the sauce at a time, whisking as you pour. DO NOT add all the milk at once. This is very important. The mixture is going to foam up as you pour it and whisk it. You dont want it to come up over the sides so if it does your adding it to fast and to much at one time.
  • While mixing add your vanilla extract.
  • Continue to mix until all ingredients are blended. It is going to be somewhat thin at this time. Once its all mixed up put it in the refrigerator so it can set.
  • Serve on top of ice cream, dip your apples in it or use it for whatever your heart desires. 🙂

I haven’t forgot that this article is about using up your sweetened condensed milk thats in your food storage before it goes bad. So I am including a recipe link I found at Southernplate.com for some yummy caramel candy chews. I hope you all enjoy these recipes and please feel free to comment.

Canning Asparagus

Grilled AsparagusOne of the reasons I do not grow asparagus is because it takes 2-5 years to produce. Maybe I am just lazy in that aspect, but it is just easier for us to buy it in bulk and can it from home.  Recently my neighbor brought us a big box of frozen asparagus. The tips and ends already cut. I don’t know about other canners out there, but seeing a box of vegetables like that is like Christmas morning for me! I get super excited.

Below I am going to walk you through the steps I use to can asparagus for our family and our food storage.  If you have any questions or tips, feel free to leave them in the comment section. (Links added to article are the equipment I personally use and am satisfied with.)

Safety First and Following your manual~ If you lost your manual and have not read it, I suggest doing so before doing any canning. Safety always comes first.Presto Canner Instruction Manuals.    All American Instruction Manuals. (I personally own and use the All American Pressure canner. I have never had to replace it.)

Tools Needed:
  • Pressure Canner ~ Not a water bath canner! Asparagus, like most other vegetables, does not have enough acidity in it to prevent the growth of bacteria. The temperature of a water bath canner does not get high enough to kill the bacteria spores. (Note: If you are pickling the asparagus then a water bath canner is safe to use.)
  • Canning Utensils ~ For grabbing hot jars etc…
  • Large Pot ~ For boiling water.
  • Ladle ~ To spoon boiling water into the jars.
  • Canning Jars ~ I use pint-sized jars but you can also use quart size jars if you have a larger family. We have 2 adults and 2 kids in our home and the pint size seems to work fine for portions.
  • Salt ~  One teaspoon per quart size jar or 1/2 teaspoon per pint. Salt is optional.
  • Asparagus ~ 10 pounds is a guess as to what we had and it made ten pint size jars.
Directions:

Preparations ~ In other words, get your work station ready!! Wipe down and sanitize all counter tops, tables and stove tops.  Fill your large pot with water and set it on low heat so it can begin to boil as you get your jars packed. Put 2-3 inches of water in your pressure cooker and set that to low as well so it doesn’t boil down dry. If it does boil down simply add hot tap water so your water level is at 2-3 inches again. Place your jars in the dishwasher to clean and sanitize your jars. Leave them in there on the heated dry cycle so the jars stay hot.  If you do not have a dishwasher then you will have to do it the old-fashioned way.

IMG_20131109_074225

Prepping your asparagus ~ Wash your asparagus with cool water. Break/cut off the tough bottom piece of the stem and then wash again.

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Cut~ Using a sharp pair of kitchen scissors, snip the asparagus into 1 inch pieces similar to the size of canned green beans. Another option is to cut them into spears to fit your jar making sure to leave 1 inch head space.  (Tip: I usually turn up the water at this time to get the rolling boil process closer to done.)

IMG_20131109_083144

Packing your jars~ Fill your jars with the raw asparagus leaving one inch head space.  There is no need to cook these before hand. The temperature from the pressure canner will do that. Tap the asparagus down on the table to get a tighter pack. You can also push it down as well. Just make sure not to squish it to tight.  Add Salt to the jars at this time.

IMG_20131109_090646

Adding water~ Ladle boiling water into each jar still leaving a one inch head space.

Seal the jar~ Put on your lids and rings tightening the seals finger tight.

Add to pressure canner~ Your water level should be at 3 inches before doing this and if not add some hot tap water.  At this time, assuming your water is still boiling,  use your jar tongs to gently place the jars on the canner rack.   Once your canner is full, place the lid on and twist into place leaving the regulator weight off at this time. Turn on high heat. Let canner vent steam for a full ten minutes. Begin timing when it is at a full steady stream of steam.

granny miller photo

After Venting~ After the full ten minutes, add the weight regulator to the valve on ten. Allow pressure to build to 10 pounds or the pounds according to the chart below for your area.

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Below is a process chart to follow according to your area:

table asparagus

Once the gauge hits 10 pounds, (or recommended pressure by chart) start your timer going for 30-40 minutes. Make sure to adjust the heat level to maintain the amount of pressure suggested. Once you are adjusted, your gauge should rattle once or twice every minute.

When Processing Is Over~ When your timer goes off, turn off the heat under the cooker and let your canner cool until the pressure drops to zero by itself.  This could take up to an hour. Do not open the vent!! If the pressure drops to fast you will lose liquid from the jars. (I made this mistake a lot before I learned that trick.) Once the pressure drops to zero, begin opening the canner by lifting the lid from the back first away from your face.

IMG_20131115_080912Remove the Jars~ After removing the lid, use your jar lifter to remove the jars carefully and place them on a towel making sure not to touch/bump the jars together.  Do not touch until completely cool. (usually over night) Once your jars are cooled you can check to see if they sealed by pressing down on the middle of the lid.

DSC_0532If it pops up and down then the jar did not seal properly. If a jar did not seal, that is ok. You can place it in the fridge and use that jar with dinner or as a snack. 🙂

IMG_20131109_091320Voila! All Finished! I hope this article makes canning asparagus as easy for you as it can be. Any comments or suggestions are always welcome in the comment section below.

Canning Meat Loaf Balls Safely

meatloaf-making-4-300x225Mom’s Meatloaf Ball’s

(Note: Please be sure to read my Friend Stephanie Dayle’s note posted at the bottom of the page after reading this article. It goes into detail about canning eggs and milk.)

Canning meatloaf balls can be a pleasure to add to food storage.  In the long run, it can save you money when the price of meat sky rockets and its easy to grab a jar if your hungry or want to make meatloaf balls for dinner.

There are a few different ways to make meatloaf balls out there.  The way I do it is a little different from your basic recipe, but tastes delicious.  Keep in mind, if you prefer the traditional way, then please do that way.

Ingredients:

  • 6-7 pounds of lean hamburger (I use Angus 90/10)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups whole wheat bread crumbs (or plain)
  • 2 sweet yellow onions, diced (about 1 1/2 cups when finely diced
  • 2-3 teaspoons salt (to taste)
  • 2-3 teaspoons black pepper (to taste)
  • 3/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce (original)
  • 1 cup powdered milk, prepared
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil for sautéing onions and garlic

For the Glaze:

  • 2 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (original)
  • 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients to make the glaze.  Mix well and set aside.
  2. Adjust your oven rack to lower middle position.  Preheat oven to 350° F.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a pan on medium-high heat.  Sauté the onions and garlic until onions are caramelized and golden brown.  (about 5 minutes string occasionally.)  This will bring out the sweetness of the onion.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, combine your wet ingredients;  Eggs, milk, Worcestershire sauce, and half of the glaze you made earlier.  Use a fork to mix well.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine meat, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, browned onion/garlic mix, and wet ingredients.
  6. Using your hands mix ingredients quickly.  You don’t want to overwork it but you want everything distributed evenly.
  7. Form mixture into 2 inch round balls and place on 2 baking sheets.
  8. Bake at 350° for about 25 minutes or until balls are firm.

While your meatballs are baking, get your pressure canner and supplies ready.  Put your extra glaze in a sauce pan and get warm, but not boiling.  You may even want to make another batch of glaze at this time.  It really depends on how much glaze you want to add to the jars.

After your meatballs are cooked:

  1. Using wide mouth quart jars, place your meatballs in the jar and fill about half way.
  2. Spoon in your glaze sauce until jar is about half full.
  3. Fill jar the rest of the way with meatballs leaving a generous 1 inch head space.
  4. You can add one or 2 more tablespoons of sauce on top of those meatballs if you want, but it isn’t necessary.
  5. Remove air by gently tapping the jar on a dish towel or using a plastic utensil to push the meatballs around.  Be careful not to smash them or cut them.
  6. Wipe your rims with a clean paper towel dipped in white vinegar.
  7. Put on lids and ringers and screw it finger tight.
  8. Place jars in your pressure canner, add water and 2 teaspoons white vinegar (to avoid rusting or mineral buildup) and vent for 10 full minutes.
  9. Bring to 11 pounds of pressure and process quart jars for 90 minutes.  (pints for 75).  If your manual suggests a different time and pounds of pressure, then follow your manual for canning ground beef.
  10. When processing is complete, let pressure drop completely.  Remove jars from your pressure canner and wipe with a hot soapy dish cloth.
  11. Label the contents and date.

Pressure Canner I use This canner is a little more expensive. The reason I bought it though is because its has metal on metal seal and never requires you to replace gaskets or seals. They last forever though.  Ive talked to women who have canners like this that were passed to them from their grandmothers, so for me the investment is worth it because I get my kids in on the action when we can around here. :)

Cheaper pressure canner

This recipe has made me a wonderful meal on many occasions, especially if I didn’t feel like cooking. ;)   I hope you enjoy it for many years to come.

Keepin It Spicy,

Jalapeño Gal

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More articles on preparedness

Stephanie’s reply when asked about canning eggs and milk. (And shes very very experienced and done tons of research!)

Canning eggs themselves is not recommended (water bathed OR pressure canned) and can be dangerous. Canning ‘things with eggs in them’ – it depends on what it is. In this case I would say its harmless as the eggs is mixed in with the meat balls and is not left in solid form. The heat from the pressure canner will have no problem penetrating the egg in this way and cooking it to the appropriate temperature. The only thing I would be cautious of would be the milk and bread crumbs – both of which are not recommended ingredients to can with. The theory behind the bread crumbs is that like rice, they expand. The theory behind the milk is that milk and butter are low acid products that “support the outgrowth of C. botulin and toxin formation in a sealed jar at room temperature. Fats in milk can protect botulism spores and toxins from heat if they are in a product during a canning process. So it’s all up to each person how much risk they want to take while preserving food.

To clarify this even further the information regarding milk – is mostly in regards to canning milk solely and using milk in condensed soup recipes. Both of which are a NO NO for canning for that reason. In my opinion using milk as a ‘binder’ like what was done in this recipe would be ok. Especially since shes cooked it in the oven first. There is always going to be some percentage of a risk when you can anything, I do not believe using milk in this manner would increase that marginal risk any more than usual. Hope I haven’t needlessly concerned anyone with my nerd-dom regurgitation of information. And I do apologize if I have. Long story short – I would can meat balls. But like JG said – not for a long period of time.

15 Bean Soup & Cornbread

15 bean soupI have used this recipe for close to 15 years now. I can not recall where I got it, but over the years we have added and taken away to make this soup delicious. As with all recipes….make it to suit your family!!

(Note: I have added links for dehydrated or freeze dried foods used on the ingredients list.  I added these links for your convenience if you prefer to prepare freeze dried meals in jars as I do.)

Ingredients:

  • 1- Package 15 Bean Soup (Ham, Cajun or plain is fine)
  • 1 lb. ham steak (diced into 1/2″ squares), ham hocks, or smoked sausage (You can store canned ham or beef stew meat in your food storage to add the meaty flavor and calories as well.)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 15 oz. can diced or stewed tomatoes (dehydrated tomatoes)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • Juice from 1 lemon.  This is a very important step, it really brings out all the flavors. (Crystallized Lemon for food storage)
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup beef bouillon
  • 2- Jalapeño’s, seeded and diced (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar, (Tip: This is not for flavor. Adding a cap or two of white vinegar locks in all the different colors in soups, stews or what ever your cooking.)

Directions:

  1. The night before:  Place beans in a large pot, cover with 2 quarts of water. Allow beans to soak overnight, or at least 8 hours.
  2. After soaking, drain excess water, and add 2 quarts of fresh water and meat. (Sometimes I forget this step and then have to go strain it and add fresh water, but only if its when I just start cooking it.)
  3. Bring to a rolling boil, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 2.5 hours.
  4. After simmering, add onion, tomatoes, chili powder, lemon and garlic. Simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
  5. Add contents of ham packet, (optional) 1 to 2 minutes before cooking is completed. Salt and pepper to taste.

Corn Bread:

  • One box of Jiffy cornbread.
  • Add about 1/4 cup of sugar and cook as directed. (optional)
  • Serve with honey.

Canning Peas

canning peas 5As many know, I am into the art of canning food for our food storage pantry. My latest venture is canning peas. I see a lot of articles out there about canning pea soup, but hardly any on canning the actual peas for later use and consumption. Botanically speaking, the pea pod is a fruit since it contains seeds from the ovary of a flower. In our cooking world however, it is a vegetable. Aside from being rich in protein they are also high in vitamins and minerals. Here are some of the nutritional benefits of the pea according to Lifestyle,


Health & Nutrition Benefits of Eating Green Peas
  • Being low in calories, green peas are good for those who are trying to lose weight.
  • Green peas are rich in dietary fiber, making them good for those suffering from constipation.
  • Studies have indicated that green peas might prove beneficial for those suffering from the problem of high cholesterol.
  • The high amount of iron and vitamin C in green peas has been found to help strengthen the immune system.
  • The lutein present in green peas helps reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
  • Green peas slow down the appearance of glucose in the blood and thus, help keep the energy levels steady.
  • Green peas have been found to aid energy production, nerve function and carbohydrate metabolism.
  • Green peas provide the body with those nutrients that are important for maintaining bone health.
  • The folic acid and vitamin B6 in green peas are good for promoting the cardiovascular health of an individual.
  • Being rich in antioxidants, like vitamin C, green peas can help keep cancer at bay.

Green peas can be prepared in a variety of different ways or recipes. The most common is to boil them and add butter and salt. They are also used in soups, casseroles, rice or mashed.

Ingredients and canning supplies needed;

  • Fresh Peas: You can grow them yourself all winter or you can buy them fresh in the store. ( 30 pounds = 1 bushel and yields 13-20 quarts / 14 pounds = 7 quarts / 9 pounds = 9 quarts )
  • Ball or Kerr Jars; these can be picked up at your local Wal-mart, Lowes etc…
  • Canning Supplies kit
  • Pressure Canner, not to be confused with a water canner. Most vegetables have low acid and always need to be pressure canned verses water canned. Water canning is for high acidic foods. My personal favorite and among canners is the All-American brand pressure canners. While they are a little more expensive they are definitely worth it and have lasted lifetimes, being passed down from grandmothers to daughters for decades. Another brand I see used frequently is Presto. (I have no personal experience with this brand.) If you plan to can your foods on a regular basis then a pressure canner is worth the investment.
  • Large boiling pot
  • Ladles and a large spoon
  • Salt (optional)

Steps to canning your peas;

1.) Preparing your supplies:

  • Wash your jars and lids. You can do this using the sanitize cycle of your dish washer and leaving them in there until ready for use. If you do not have a dishwasher, then place your jars in a pot of water and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. I put the lids and rings in a smaller pot so I can easily lift them out with the magnetic lid lifter. (The lid lifter comes in the canning supply kit listed above, but if you do not have one you can purchase one here.)
  • Get the largest pot you have and fill it with water. Turn on heat to bring to a boil. This water will be used to pour over the peas once you pack them into the jar.
  • Rinse your pressure canner out well and place the rack in it. Add 2-4 inches of water in the bottom unless your manual says otherwise. (Note: You should always follow any instructions that came with your pressure cooker for your own safety, no matter what anyone says.) Place your canner on the stove over low-medium heat to get the water hot and ready for canning.

2.) Preparing your peas:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Hulling your peas: Using your thumb nail, press it between the seam of the pod and it usually opens right up allowing you to push the pea out with your finger.
  • Raw pack your peas into each jar. ‘Raw packing’ is when you do not cook the food before putting it into your jars. When you cook it first, it is referred to as “hot packing.” Pack the peas tight into the jar leaving a 1 inch head space for expansion.
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to pints and 1 teaspoon per quart. (optional)
  • Using your ladle, pour your hot, boiled water into the jars, again, leaving a one inch head space. The peas should be completely covered. Take extra care in this process to not burn yourself with the water or the jar. Both will be extremely hot.
  • Wipe the rims clean with a paper towel or dry cloth.
  • Use your magnetic lid lifter to get a lid and put it on each jar one at a time. Then screw the ring down finger tight.
  • Using you jar lifter; place the jars into the pressure canner carefully. If the water has boiled down to less than 3 inches then add more hot water. Once all your jars are in, place the lid on and lock it in place.
  • Do not add the weight gauge at this time. You have to let the valve vent for ten minutes.
  • To vent your canner, turn the heat on high and once you have a steady stream of steam coming out of the valve then set the timer for ten minutes. This process gets rid of all air that is in the cooker.
  • After the full 10 minutes, place the gauge on carefully and let the pressure build to 10 pounds of pressure. (I usually hold the gauge with a dish towel so I don’t get burned by the steam.) Set timer to 40 minutes for quarts or 40 minutes for pints/half pints. (Refer to the manual your canner came with to adjust for altitude, links below.)
  • Once at 10 pounds of pressure, lower your heat until the gauge jiggles about 2-3 times per minute. The gauge must maintain 10 pounds of pressure at all times.
  • After the timer dings, turn off the canner and let the gauge return to zero before attempting to open the lid or removing the valve. (This is very important for your safety and those around you.)
  • Remove jar from the canner with your jar lifter and set on a towel to cool for 24 hours. Do not shake them or bump them. After 24 hours, test to make sure they sealed properly by pressing down on the center of the lid. If it pops up and down then it did not seal and you will need to either re-process or put in the refrigerator to be eaten soon after. (within 3 days)
  • Label your jars with the date you canned the product.

Manuals: Both Manuals contain instructions and recipes.

All-American Pressure Canner Manual

Presto Product Manuals

No matter what you can, always remember to have fun doing it!!!

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Cinnamon Pancakes – Meal In A Jar Recipe

pancake in jar 2Who doesn’t like pancakes? It is definitely a comfort food and a great breakfast food to add to your food storage.  There are a lot of different pancake mixes out there to choose from and of course, making your own from scratch. I prefer Bisquick. Below is the recipe for the pancakes we prepare for food storage.  This recipe will feed 4-6 adults.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Bisquick Pancake Mix
  • 4 tablespoons Milk Powder
  • 2 tablespoons OvaEasy Eggs
  • 5-6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2-4 tablespoons of cinnamon (You will need to experiment making the pancakes to see how much cinnamon your family likes in their pancakes. Mine likes a lot!)
  • 2 cups of dehydrated or freeze-dried fruit of your choice. Some that we use are; strawberries, blue berries, bananas, pineapples, raspberries. (If you want to omit the cinnamon and add the fruit in the pancakes you must rehydrate fruit first. We just top them with fruit or have the fruit on the side.)

Directions:

  1. In a quart size jar layer Pancake mix, milk powder, eggs, sugar and cinnamon. Shake the jar a little to pack it down.
  2. Add the fruit of your choice in a sandwich baggie and put on top of dry ingredients.
  3. Seal Jar with Vacuum sealer using jar attachment or with an Oxygen absorber.

Cooking Instructions For Label:

  1. Remove dehydrated fruit and place in a bowl. Add just enough water to rehydrate fruit.
  2. Add 2 cups water to jar and replace lid. Shake until mixed well. If mix is still to thick, add water a teaspoon at a time until desired consistency. (We like ours thick for thicker pancakes.)
  3. Heat skillet and spray with cooking spray. Cook as you would normally make pancakes.

Idea for a complete breakfast:

In a separate quart size jar you can add hash-browns and some Ova Easy eggs in a baggy so you can have eggs and hash-browns to go with your pancakes. 🙂

If sealed properly these will last 1-2 years in your food storage. The fruit will last longer. Please feel free to share your pancake ideas in the comment section below. 🙂

Canning Jalapeño Salsa

jalapeno salsa 2Salsa is one of my favorite things to can. In fact, the entire reason we grow tomatoes, onions and peppers is so we can make our own salsa without having to purchase a lot of things from the store.

Below is the directions for making a delicious jalapeño salsa that is a hit with everyone I know.

For this recipe you will need your water bath canner and not your pressure cooker. (Using a water bath canner) Unlike a pressure canner, you will not spend hundreds of dollars if you need to buy a water bath canner. They only run about $20.00. (Link above) You will also need a canning utensil set to avoid burning yourself and to make canning easier. Now lets get started!

Jalapeno Salsa 1Ingredients: This recipe makes 3 pint size jars. I often double the batch. When doubling the batch I only use 4 cups of jalapeño’s OR I use the recommend 3 cups and add 2 cups of a combination of red, green and yellow sweet peppers. Not only does it make it more colorful, it takes some of the heat out. We have found that doubling up the jalapenos on a double batch is to hot for most people.

  • 3 cups chopped, seeded, peeled, cored tomatoes. (I have also used diced tomatoes and it comes out nicely.)
  • 3 cups chopped jalapeño peppers, more or less to taste
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1-2 cup combination of sweet red, green and yellow bell peppers.

jalapeno salsa 3Directions:

  1. Get water bath canner and jars ready.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Ladle hot salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space.
  5. Wipe off the rim of the jar with a paper towel or rage dipped in vinegar to make sure the jars seal properly.
  6. Place lids and rings on jars and process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.

(Source: This recipe came straight out of a Ball Blue Book magazine. It is 100% safe if done correctly. The recipe in the magazine does not call for sweet bell peppers, that is my own add in.)

Baked Ziti In a Jar

baked ziti in a jarOne of my families favorite meals is Baked Ziti so I set out on a hunt for a basic recipe for my food storage, with a twist of course to my families specific needs. I like to stress that you can play with any Meal in a Jar recipe and make it your own. Have fun with it!! 🙂

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Start with all your powdered ingredients on the bottom of the jar. This will insure you do not suck any of the powder into your vacuum sealer. (Attachment for sealing jars.)You can also opt to use an O2 absorber if you do not have or want to buy a vacuum sealer. I have found that in the long run, purchasing a sealer is cheaper than continually buying O2 absorbers.
  2. Next add, in this order, onions, meat, noodles, and mushrooms. You might have to press the ingredients down some for it to all fit.
  3. Last, top it off with your cheese in a sandwich baggy.
  4. Seal jar with vacuum sealer or O2 absorber.
  5. Attach cooking instructions to outside of jar along with the date you made it. Sealed properly, this should last many years in your pantry as all ingredients are freeze-dried or dehydrated.

Cooking Instructions for the label:

  1. Add five cups water to all ingredients, bring to a boil on med/high heat.
  2. Reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes or until noodles are done and it is semi thick.
  3. Re-hydrate cheese while this is cooking by spraying cheese with a little bit of water using a mister or spray bottle.
  4. Serve with cheese on top and enjoy!!!

(Note: The base recipe I used for this was created by Chef Tess and altered to fit my families likes.)

Minestrone Soup In a Jar

minetrone soupI use to hear Minestrone Soup and think “Oh jeeze, what all goes in that?”  Well, unknown to me, the reason all minestrone soup seems to be different is because it is generally a soup that is created out of this and that around the kitchen. Now that I know that….it is much easier to make.

This particular recipe is going to be another pre-made, meal in a jar recipe that you can grab, add water and let cook for dinner. I firmly believe in food storage for multiple reasons and this is another great recipe that can be added to that pantry. 🙂

The key to a good Minestrone soup is the tomato base. In any meal in a jar you create, it is a good idea to put the powders in the bottom so you do not clog your food saver.

General tomato base recipe for all minestrone soup in a jar that I create: (Note: This tomato base recipe I got from Perbain.)

Ingredients:

Some alternative ingredients can be Lima beans, chick peas, potatoes, green beans, diced tomatoes, celery, spinach, lentil beans, the possibilities are endless.

(Note: I want to stress that you can make this mix with any vegetables you want to add as long as you have your tomato base recipe in the bottom. You do not have to follow this to a tee, however, you might have to play with your recipe until it fits in your quart jar accordingly. Should you come up with a successful recipe you would like posted, feel free to email it to me at jalapenogal77@gmail.com. You will receive full credit.)

Directions:

After adding all your ingredients to the jar and pressing down so it will fit. Place Oxygen absorber on top and seal with your vacuum sealer. Voila!! All done and will last years on your shelf.

(Writers note: When vacuum sealing your jars, you do not HAVE to add an Oxygen absorber as the vacuum seal sucks all the air out. I do it just to be safe and for my peace of mind.)

Ready to cook instructions: (Tape these directions to outside of jar with date of creation.)

Pour contents of jar into a large pot with 8 cups of boiling water. Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until noodles and beans are done.

Tips:

  • You can add more pasta, salt or bullion if you so desire.
  • If I have a beef, vegetable or chicken broth I will substitute a cup of water with a can of these just for added flavor.
  • If I am adding more pasta I will add more broth or water.

vac sealer

wide mouth

Note: Reseal leftover absorbers in a jar to keep them good.

Note: Reseal leftover absorbers in a jar to keep them good.

Buffalo Spice Mix

IMG_20130531_090255Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

Note: The ingredient list above is for one serving. Not for a complete Quart Jar

Canning Apple Pie Filling

DSCN4032-300x225This is one of my favorite things in the world to can!! Who doesn’t like apple pie right? 🙂 This recipe is great for apple pie but we also use it as a warm ice cream topper as well.

You always hear of people canning peaches, and meats, jams or jellies, but I never heard of canning apple pie filling until a woman at my church suggested it. So I rushed home, excited to have something new to can.

Everyone has their own special recipe for baking their delicious apple pies so my advice would be stick to what you know or if you would like to try my recipe to see how you like it please feel free.  You can always go stock up on canned apple pie filling, but I think in the long run, making your own is always better and might even save you some money. One of my favorite things about canning apple pie is when the kids come home from school, or the husband comes home from work and they rush to the kitchen expecting to see an apple pie ready to eat. Then they round the corner and find that the kitchen looks like a tornado hit it. My daughter always moans, ” I am NOT cleaning this up mom!” Then I open the oven and she sees the pie and starts helping lol. Kids are great. 🙂 So back on topic now, here are the things you will need:

Tools Needed:

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 cups white sugar, or 3 cups white sugar and 1 1/2 cups brown sugar. Which ever you prefer.
  • 1 1/2 cups clear gel. This is used instead of corn starch as CS has been proven un-safe for canning recipes. Clear gel is not to be confused with sure gel. They are not the same thing.
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon clove (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 10 cups of water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6 pounds of apples*

*Using the right kind of apples is important when it comes to the flavor of the pie. A crisp, tart apple such as Jonagold, Empire, Rome, Macintosh, or Granny Smith is important to attain proper flavor. I personally would never use Red Delicious, it is strictly an eating apple.   Directions: While putting together the ingredients, begin sterilizing your jars, rings and lids.

  • In a large pan, mix sugar and spices in 8 cups of hot water; stir until it is dissolved and then place over low heat. Bring to a slow boil and cook until thick like syrup.
  • Mix 2 cups of water, 3 tablespoons lemon juice and clear gel; set aside.
  • Peal, core and slice your apples. This is much easier and less time-consuming with an apple slicer.
  • After you have the apples peeled, sliced and cored, pack apples into hot sterile jars leaving an inch of head space.
  • Bring sugar mix to a boil and cook until thick like syrup. As it begins to boil, whisk in the water/lemon juice/clear gel mix. Whip/stir quickly until there are no white lumps.
  • Once the lumps are gone, ladle over your apples leaving 1/2 inch head space.
  • Using a plastic knife or utensil, remove air bubbles from jars. (Metal can make the jars bust during processing.)
  • Place rings and lids on jars and put in a water bath processor for 20 minutes.
  • Using your jar tongs, remove the jars from the canner and place on a dry dish towel to cool. Allow to cool for several hours before checking the seals. You should hear the little ping when they do seal. That’s it! 🙂

American-apple-pie-150x150

Basic Homemade Taco Seasoning (mild)

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chili powder
  • 1/2 cup ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup onion powder
  • 1/4 cup crushed red peppers (more if you want a spice taco seasoning)
  • 1- pint mason jar

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in jar, seal and shake well to mix. Use according to taste with ground beef, ground turkey or chicken.

This recipe will give you approx a pint jar full and we use around a quarter cup of the mix per 1 pound of hamburger. You could use a quart size jar and mix up a large batch for your food storage or personal use.

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A Plan for a Year’s Worth of Food

moneyIn the beginning, we all struggle to wrap our heads around the idea of having enough food in our food storage to last our family for a year.  It can be very overwhelming.  I have learned through multiple sources how to break this project down to make your long-term goal more attainable AND controllable.  Organization is the key to getting your storage done faster and more effectively to ensure your family has a 3 month supply of food, and also a years worth of food.

This article will show a different way to go about collecting food storage, by having a set goal and plan in mind versus just buying this and that all the time and then wondering, “Just how many meals do I have here?”  So much space is wasted on food storage because a plan is not laid out and followed and you never really know how many meals you have on hand.

The plan:

The first thing you’re going to do is sit down and come up with a meal plan for two weeks (14 days).  That will include breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Everyone’s will be different based on your family’s needs.  We have four people in our family so my examples/numbers will be based on that.  You can change the numbers based on the amount of people you will feed and their dietary choices.

Now comes the math.  Based on your meal plan, you will have to figure up the amount of servings each family member would eat according to the package directions.  Once you have that figured out, multiply it by 52  to see how many servings of that product are needed.  (Or 13 weeks if starting with a 3 month plan)  Then  multiply it by the amount of each family member in your household.

It would look like this:  These figures are based on eating the product once a week.

  • Amount of Servings x 52 Weeks in the Year = Total amount needed for one person.
  • Total amount x 4 =  The complete amount needed to eat that product once a week for one year.
  • If you were to eat that product twice in one week you would then multiply the complete amount x two.  (And so on)

Here is an example of one of our breakfast meals and one of a dinner meal so you can get an idea of how to work the math.

Breakfast For 1 day:

Sausage:

  • Honey Ville #10 canned sausage holds 24 servings of sausage.  One serving is half a cup, but re-hydrates to 1 cup.  Based on that, I count the 1/2 cup servings as one cup of sausage. (Or you can opt for TVP freeze-dried sausage, this is considerably cheaper, but it is textured vegetable protein verses real pork)
  • 1 cup of sausage x 52 = 52 c
  • 52/24 (number of servings) = approx 2.1 cans
  • 2 cans x 4 people = 8 cans of sausage
  • 8 cans = sausage for breakfast once time a week for an entire year.

Water amount to re-hydrate the meat.  One cup of boiling water to a 1/2 cup of sausage.

  • 24 cups of water x 8 cans of sausage = 192 cups of water
  • Conversion: 192 cups of water = 12 gallons of water to prepare these meals.

Eggs:

  • Honey Ville Powdered Eggs #10 can = 78 tablespoons
  • One egg takes 2 tablespoons of powdered mix.
  • 8 eggs = 16 tablespoons  (2 eggs each)
  • 16 tablespoons x 52 = 832 tablespoons for 2 eggs each, once a week, for one year.
  • 78 tablespoons x 11 cans = 858 tablespoons
  • 11 cans = 2 eggs, one time a week, per person for a year with a little left over.

Water amount needed: To reconstitute 1 egg, add 4 tablespoons of water.

  • 8 eggs x 4 tablespoons of water = 32 tablespoons water
  • 32 tablespoons water x 52 weeks in a year = 1664 tablespoons water
  • Conversion: 1664 tablespoons = 104 cups of water which = 6.5 gallons of water

Conclusion: To eat this meal once a week for a family of four, we would need;

  • 8 cans of Honey Ville freeze-dried sausage.
  • 11 cans of Honey Ville Powdered Whole Eggs
  • 18.5 gallons of water.  (This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to add that to your water storage. These small amounts can be used out of each person’s gallon of water per day.)

Dinner for 1 day:

Spaghetti Sauce and Noodles:

  • 1- 32 ounce jar of Classico spaghetti sauce x 52 = 52 Jars
  • 1- pounds package of noodles x 52 = 52 packages of noodles
  •  1- Packages of Bisquick garlic rolls that you just add water two x 52 = 52 packs

Conclusion: To eat spaghetti once a week for a year you will need;

  • 52 Jars of spaghetti sauce.
  • 52 packages of noodles.
  • 52 packages of Bisquick garlic roll mix.

OR you can go with the simple pre-made entrees in # 10 cans.  For example:

Mountain House #10 Can of Spaghetti With Meat Sauce:

  • 10- 1 cup servings per can
  • 52/10 (number of servings) =  5.2 cans (We will say 6 cans.)
  • 6 cans x 4 = 24 cans of Spaghetti and meat sauce.

As you can see, putting together the meal plan for a two-week meal plan takes a little time and a bit of basic math, but it will be worth it in the end.  It will save you money and give you comfort knowing that you have daily meals for 3 months or 1 year.  I recommend starting off with a 3 month supply of regular daily meals and then build upon that with your staples.  (Meaning 5 gallon buckets of flour, beans, wheat, sugar, powdered milk and things of that nature.)  That does not mean you can’t add other items like spices or snacks if you have the means to.  For us, having a plan and sticking to it according to our budget has really helped keep things in order and accomplish our goals.

We set aside $50.00 a week to use directly on our meal plans.  Make a list and start at the top.  Once you have completed your first item, move on to the second.  Before you know it, you will be fully stocked with your first 3 months.  🙂

Please feel free to ask me any questions or add input in the comments section.  If you need to speak to me on a more personal level about coming up with a plan, please feel free to add/message me on face book.

Keepin It Spicy,

Jalapeño Gal

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Emergency food Storage and Survival Handbook; This book is a good book for beginners and is full of the basics. It seems to go a long with a lot of what the LDS church teaches about food storage.  Again, this is geared for beginners.

Source: Wendy Dewitt