Just a’Canning

Another Hatchett Job, creative commons, writing, typing, typewriterAnother day of repetition around here.  Today, I began putting up the second large stock pot of turkey bone broth and some leftover turkey meat.  It feels good to put a bit of quality food back in the pantry for use later.  I like that I know what goes into my jars, where I might not be entirely certain when I purchase products.

Today’s tally is 15 quarts (actually 13 quarts and 4 pints, but it all adds up the same) of turkey bone broth and 5 pints of turkey meat that was packed tight with  a bit of bone broth added in to fill the jars.  Not too shabby, if you ask me.

It turned out to be a lovely day to work on canning chores.  Hubby’s car requires a new fuel pump that has been ordered, so he needed to use my van to go to work today.  Being at home allowed me plenty of time to cook and chop and process with minimal interruptions.

I still have more bone broth to process tomorrow at some point.  Maybe a 7 quart canner canned food on shelvesload, more or less.  But, it will wait on low heat overnight until it is time to get started.

My lovely cousin gifted me with 5 big bags of collard greens from her food co-op this week and I will get those ready for the freezer.  It’s time to get off of my sore, broken feet for tonight and it can wait a few hours more.

All in all, a good productive day that has included this blog post and the start of an article for my magazine editor and a mad search for a previous one I had written (she found it first, thank goodness).

What have YOU been up to today?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

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Homemade Bone Broth

Another Hatchett Job, photo by Jan Hatchett, bone broth, nutrition, canning
Quart jars cooling after coming out of the pressure canner.

One of the familiar aftermaths of all of the Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations for our family is pulling at least one (often more than one) stripped turkey carcass out of the freezer to start the process of making good, homemade bone broth.  Nutritious and tasty, this broth is canned and used like chicken stock for a good portion of the year (we do make chicken stock also, but a good turkey carcass makes so much at one time!).

It’s a great thing to do on a dreary, cold Winter’s day.  I can work on other projects while the broth simmers away, filling the house with warm, inviting scents.

To learn more about making your own bone broths, click here.

What is your favorite dish to make with bone broth?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Chicken Bone Broth

Another Hatchett Job, creative commons attribution, chickenMost home cooks that I know use chicken broth or stock from time to time.  Some even make it from scratch or at least save the liquid from boiling a chicken to flavor another meal.  It’s good stuff and it adds flavor to any dish.  Our family enjoys soups, rice, noodles, and other dishes made with chicken broth.

But, have you noticed just how pale that commercial chicken stock is?  I thought this was normal until I started making my own and noticed that it was a darker amber color and far nicer tasting than any I had ever purchased.  I still purchased some if I ran out of home made stock in the freezer, but mostly used what I made.

Then I graduated on to canning low acid foods with a pressure canner and realized that I didn’t have to tie up my freezer space with stock that could sit in a cupboard in a canning jar.  At this point, I began making more broth than ever, even taking our family’s turkey carcasses (we usually cook two and freeze the leftover meat) to make tens of quarts over a weekend to use throughout the year.  It was good stuff.

This continued and I began looking at various articles and blog posts from others who did similar things for their families and learned that the words “stock” and “broth” really aren’t interchangeable.  Broth is made by including bones (which I usually did) and simmering them for longer lengths of time.  Now, I might let a stock pot of turkey carcass broth slowly simmer all day, but I had never really let any of my broth go for longer amounts of time and didn’t feel great about leaving the stove on unattended while I slept.

As my children were growing, I became more and more interested in nutrition and how I could feed them food that they would enjoy, but would satisfy my need to keep them nourished.  As my youngest child and I have asthma, I was also looking for anything to improve our immune systems as viruses and colds become bronchitis far too easily for us.

This brought me to read up on Bone Broths.  These broths were made and canned or frozen very similar to the way that I had been doing mine, but reportedly had greater health benefits.  The greatest difference between bone

Another Hatchett Job, canning, bone broth, healthy living, frugal living, crockpot recipe
Deep, rich chicken bone broth.

broth and mine is that the bone broths cooked for 24 to 72 hours on low heat with a splash of vinegar to help leach out minerals from the bones.  The promise of greater amounts of calcium was a big lure as hubby and younger son are lactose intolerant and don’t drink milk.  It gave me one more way to get more minerals into our diets, which, in turn, should enhance our immunity.  Plus, broths are super to have on hand for when sickness strikes.  Broths are gentle on the stomach, hydrating, and easy to consume.

Once I tried it in my crockpot (which I am okay to leave on overnight), I was amazed at the difference in richness and taste!  This was the completely gourmet version of what I had been making before and total light years away from the grocery store version.  This stuff makes food an event!

The photo of canned broth is from my last batch.  It  is such a deep, rich, amber color that it almost matches grocery store beef stock.  And the smell and taste is incredible.  It’s totally worth making for the taste alone.

It’s totally simple to do:  put chicken bones or mixed poultry bones in your crock pot.  Add an onion cut in half (stud with cloves if you like), a couple of limp carrots, celery, some garlic, about 1/2 cup vinegar (any kind is fine, you won’t taste it).  In fact, you can keep bags in the freezer for stock with bones left over from your family’s meals until you have enough.  You can even save veggie trimmings, celery leaves, onion skins, garlic skins and cloves too small for peeling, any scraps will do fine).  Fill to the brim with cool water and turn on low.  I left this batch for about 32 hours before I got a chance to strain and can it.  The longer it cooks, the more nutrition works out of those bones.  I do check the water level daily and add more boiling water to keep it full.   It’s the ultimate frugal canning–using items destined to be thrown out anyway.

My large crockpot yields one full gallon of stock (I generally can in pint jars for convenient use) plus almost a pint to refrigerate for immediate use.  Not bad for a big nutritional punch with very little hands on time.  No wonder Grandma’s chicken soup is a remedy for the common cold.  I’d put money that many Granny’s and great Granny’s made  their own bone broths to soothe their sick kiddos!

What is your go-to remedy for colds and flu?  Share with us in the comments!

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

 

 

Pale Pickled Beets

Another Hatchett Job, photo by Eddie Hatchett, beets, peppermint beets, pickled beets, frugal life, frugal recipe, canning
Colorful “peppermint” beets in the pan awaiting pickling.

Mom, Dad, and I love pickled beets. Hubby will eat some. I don’t even mention them to the boys. Sigh.

I grew up eating these sweet and tangy beets straight from the canning jar! They always seemed like a treat with any home cooked meal.

The kind we enjoy are somewhat similar to a “Harvard Beet” with a thinner sauce. They can be canned and kept on hand for years, ready to eat. That makes them a great candidate for finding at a great deal and putting up enough for several meals at a time.

A local warehouse store in the closest town to us occasionally has foods that were cleaned and packaged for restaurant use, but not sold quickly. With this, I was able to score three big bags of cleaned and chopped, fresh beets, ready for pickling for, get this, 49 cents per bag. Each bag held over one gallon of beets with no cleaning, peeling or chopping needed. It was a pickler’s paradise!

Even better, these were “peppermint” beets and simply looked like little chunks of peppermints in the bag. Okay, it’s silly, but I think they are totally cute that way! They taste like regular beets, but inside the beet root is made of rings of red and white flesh. If you cut them horizontally, they look like a bullseye. When you chunk them up, they look

Another Hatchett Job, pressure canner, pressure canning, frugal cooking, frugal life
Trusty pressure canner.

like candies.

The process is totally simple. I simmered two bags of beets on the stove, just covered with water until just barely tender. Then, I drained the water off and returned them to the pan with enough brine to cover. The brine is a ration of 2:1:1 of apple cider vinegar, sugar, and plain water. So, I added 4 cups of apple cider vinegar, 2 cups of sugar, and 2 cups of water twice to make sure I had enough to cover generously.

Once brought to a simmer for 5 minutes, carefully ladle into hot, prepared canning jars (prepare them by adding 1 cinnamon stick broken in half, a pinch of cloves, and 2-3 whole allspice berries), make sure you have 1 inch head space remaining in your jars. Clean the lids with a clean towel dipped in hot water and rung out. Add lids and place in pressure canner for 30 minutes for pints at 10 pounds of pressure. Remember to check your altitude to know if you need to adjust times and pressures for altitudes over 1,000 feet. It’s important.

Another Hatchett Job, pickled beets, canning, frugal canning, frugal life
Pickled and tasty, but without the characteristic red color.

Sadly, our beets lost most of their lovely pink stripes in processing. They look like pickled golden beets, but will taste just as delicious as their redder cousins. They will sit for at least 4 weeks to let flavors come together before we open up a jar.

If I can continue to get them at this price, I will keep on canning them up. Home canned foods make lovely gifts and if I preserve enough, I won’t have to purchase full price beets for a couple of years. It’s a total (and tasty) win-win for me!

Do you enjoy preserving foods?  Share your favorite recipes with us!

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

A Perfect Pear-ing!

Another Hatchett Job, pear blossoms, creative commonsOne of the first things my parents did after we built our log cabin was to plant 2 trees each of pear and apple. Our apple trees never produced well, but most years, the pear has given us (and the deer, squirrels, crows, and even the occasional coyote) more pears than could possibly be consumed.
This year, though, our production is way down and the pears are very small. We are not in a horrible drought, but we didn’t necessarily get rain at the best times for the ripening fruit. But, when we saw a squirrel running across the rail on our back deck with a small pear in it’s mouth, we were pretty sure they were ripe!
I took some to a friend who had been sending over all of her excess produce for me to can up for Winter and then kept a good sized bucket (4 gallon maybe) heaped up for us.

The pears are small and hard with thick skins. Older varieties that were often grown on old farms and homesteads are often hard and grainy. These traits keep the fruit from turning to mush when canned for Winter use.

And canning pears is totally worth the effort! Pear crisps, pies, and other desserts are delicious on a cool day. Pear sauce is tasty and a nice change from apple sauce. We even mix some pear and apple together when we have an abundance.Another Hatchett Job, pears on tree branch, creative commons

But, add a few spices and the pear sauce totally transforms into an absolute country delicacy…pear butter. Mmmmm, mmmmm! Just different enough from apple butter to be a touch exotic, it is the best way to use up small, hard pears.

Here is how I make mine:

Wash the pears in cool, clear water and sit aside.

Rough chop them with a large knife and place in crock pot.  Don’t peel or core them.  Just cut off any obvious bad parts or insect damage (save those for compost).  The smaller the pieces, the faster they cook!

Add about 1 cup of water or fruit juice and a tablespoon or two of lemon juice.  Place lid on crock pot and turn to high.

When the pears are cooked and have released all of their juices, use a slotted spoon to put them in a food mill or sieve to make a pear sauce, while leaving hard bits of core, skins, and seeds behind.

Another Hatchett Job, cooking, canning, salsa, frugal life, frugal gifts, photo by Eddie Hatchett
Water Bath Canning

Strain liquid through a sieve and store in refrigerator (it is tasty to cook oatmeal in it or just to drink it…or use it for the liquid in your next batch of pears).

Return pear sauce to crock pot (I usually refrigerate mine overnight and deal with it the next day) and add sugar (at least 1 cup, possibly more), cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and ground cloves to taste.  Just remember to use more cinnamon than any other single spice and you will be fine.  If your sauce is runny, let it cook on low all day with the lid a bit ajar so that steam can escape.  If too thick, add some pear liquid, just a bit at a time until it is the consistency you would like.  If it is just right (and Goldilocks would approve) just let it heat on low for a couple of hours so that the flavors come together a bit.

Then, you can freeze it or can it for later use.  I am assuming that there are enough simple water bath canning (and pressure canning) video examples and blog posts to cover the rest of the story.  If not, let me know and I can do a post on how to can the pear butter.

Do you preserve summer fruits for Winter eating?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Garden Bounty

Another Hatchett Job, creative commons, green beans, gardening, harvest, canningThis year, we have had a lot of veggies to can up for Winter eating.  But, we didn’t grow most of them ourselves.  A few we have purchased, but mostly, as we didn’t have the time needed to have a really successful garden this year, friends have given us their excess garden produce.  We have been very fortunate to have friends who have shared excess banana peppers, squash, zucchini, corn, green beans, basil, rosemary, and literally almost 2 bushels of tomatoes!  We have either eaten fresh or canned for Winter eating from all of these wonderful foods.

We plan to move a lot of our raised garden beds to a different place on our property so that they may get more sunlight than where they are now.  Leafy greens, like basil, do really well in that spot, but tomatoes, hot peppers, and beans just don’t seem to take off like they should.   I think a couple of extra hours per day of sunshine may make a big difference.  Of course, the fact that I spread a very thick layer of “poopy hay” from the riding stables and didn’t leave quite enough time for it to break down, didn’t help my situation a bit.

But, live and learn and I learn a little more of how not to garden every year!  Of course, the best garden I have ever had was in old tires filled with purchased compost and rabbit Another Hatchett Job, cooking, canning, salsa, frugal life, frugal gifts, photo by Eddie Hatchettmanure.  Oh, the peppers and tomatoes were stunning and plentiful.  Oh well, I don’t think that the tire garden, no matter how structured and orderly, is going to make it past my parents.  As I am not inclined to put them in an early grave, I tend to abide by most of their aesthetic desires for the yard.  But, that being said, Patrice over at Rural-Revolution has a hugely productive tire garden!

Not to mention that my Mom isn’t really big on canning, but she is always game to help out, snap beans, prepare tomatoes, and just be my buddy in the kitchen.  Canning tasks seem so much easier with an extra set of hands and some good company!

So, have we canned enough that we won’t need to purchase any veggies this Winter?  No, but it ain’t over yet!  There are still collards, kale, cabbage, and others that I may come up with or purchase.  Plus, canning dried beans make fixing a quick meal so easy.   At the end of a long day canning, it is so nice to see rows of jars, cooling on folded dish towels.  No matter what kind of day it was, just that sight can remind me that it was a truly productive day.

Have you preserved much food this Summer?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

It’s Good to Have Like Minded Friends!

Another Hatchett Job, Creative Commons, canning jars, empty jars, canning, preserving the harvestThis week, I am writing a few posts in advance, because my oldest son and I are at the State of Georgia Regents Pediatric Epilepsy Monitoring Unit in Augusta, Georgia for a few days.  It’s almost 3 hours from home and I have been so remiss in posting lately, that I didn’t want to drop the blog ball yet again!

So this week, I am feeling really grateful and want to give some credit where it is due and to acknowledge that while I enjoy gardening, canning, cooking, sewing, crafting, and quilting, I don’t do any of them in a vacuum.  I am surrounded by family and friends who offer moral support, free materials they no longer need, and lots of love!

A sweet lady that I have gone to church with, offered me some canning jars that she no longer needed.  I went and picked them up and they were all nice and clean and in great condition!  It wasn’t a huge amount, but I am grateful that she thought of me enough to know that I would put her jars to good use.  Right now, about 9 quarts of green beans have been canned in these gifted jars and they couldn’t have come at a better time.  I am sure it won’t be long before I have filled them all and put them on my canning shelf (which is a good story for another day).

I love receiving gifts like these.  They don’t cost the giver much of anything monetary, but receiving an act of good will and kindness always brightens my day!  I remember her kindness as I work with filling the jars and I am sure that each season as I ready my jars for filling, I will remember this kindness, as well as the kindness of others.

Do you get excited about receiving “new to you” canning jars?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett