Saturday, August 25, 2012

Canning Butter

Canning Butter

After doing a LOT of research, I believe there is a SAFE way to can butter for long term use. There is much information on the internet about canning butter in your oven. DO NOT buy into it as it will only keep for about 6 months and it is not safe. Various home canners have reported to me that they have tried that method and within 6 months, a thin layer of black mold begins to grow on the butter. Others have tried a BOILING WATER BATH with only a slight improvement in the product.

Butter is a LOW ACID food; therefore, it will only get hot enough to kill all bacteria in a pressure canner. I found a few people who have said they found satisfactory results with canned butter that was dated 1999, however it WAS pressure canned.

I experimented with three methods of preparation.  All methods require vigorous shaking of the butter as it cools to keep it from separating.

First, I did one jar by simply filling it with soft butter. That jar (it was brand new) broke in the canner. Perhaps I didn’t leave enough headspace. I don’t know . . . 

Second, I melted the butter and stirred it well before filling the jars. This appears to be a satisfactory method, although I wouldn’t be surprised if the texture is not as smooth as the third method.

Third, and preferably, I melted the butter and brought it to a boil in a large pan. Allow enough room for it to foam up within the pan.  I continued cooking it at a slow boil for a minimum of 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. The last thing we want is a burnt butter flavor.

Fill the jars leaving standard headspace. Be sure to stir the butter well and scoop up from the bottom of the pan. Wipe the rims and place the lids and rings on tightly. Pressure can for 10 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure for ½ pints or pints.

After you remove the jars from the canner, allow them seal and to cool a bit before shaking them. Shake about every half hour until the butter begins to congeal. You may sit them in the refrigerator to speed up the process.

I assumed that I would need ½ pound of butter for each half pint, however, it required a bit less than that.  I ended up with two pints more than I had planned and still had an extra pound of butter left over. I had purchased 12 pounds of butter with the intention of ending up with 24 ½ pints. 

Butter was on sale at a good price ($1.99 per pound). Though I store butter in the freezer, I wanted some shelf stable butter as well. It’s great to take camping with you!

The next time I can butter, I plan to make some garlic butter and perhaps experiment with a few other herbs and spices as well.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pressure Canning Dried Beans, Baked Beans & more . . .

                                     (Before Processing)

Pressure Canning Dried Beans, Baked Beans and more . . .

Food prices are skyrocketing with no end in sight.  Storing dried beans long term is not always successful UNLESS you want to grind them into flour. They become so hard that no amount of cooking makes them tender.

My inventory of empty canning jars was good thanks to the severe drought this summer (our garden pretty much dried up).

You must use a pressure canner but the cost is much less, I can ‘de-gas’ them which is my biggest problem with buying them already canned and you can make them the way YOU want them. Have you checked the price of canned beans in the grocery store lately? They are rising at an alarming rate.

I just spent $17.88 on dried beans. Not counting the cost of new lids and the electricity required I now have:
4 quarts baby lima beans @ $.89 per quart
8 quarts of kidney beans @  $.62 per quart
2 quarts, 7 pints & 2 half pints of black beans @ $.195 per cup
6 quarts of baked beans (from navy beans) @  $.78 per quart (instructions to follow)
1 BONUS quart of mixed beans for soup or bean salad @ FREE!
1 BONUS 3 servings of  mixed beans for immediate use @ FREE!

The general process is easy.
Sort the beans and rinse. Cover with lots of water and bring to a rolling boil. Continue cooking for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse very well. (This will remove the gas and who would have thought it could be so easy!)

Place pickling or Kosher salt in the jars at 1 tsp. per quart or ½ tsp. per pint.

You may also add any other seasoning you would like. One friend adds 1 Tbs. per quart of taco seasoning for pinto beans, then mashes them after opening the jar. A favorite refried beans with NO ADDED FAT.

Fill the jars leaving a full one inch of headspace. Cover with water or brine (see below). Wipe the jar rims, seal, and pressure can at 10 lbs. of pressure:

75 minutes for pints
90 minutes for quarts

That’s it! It’s very easy and at quite a savings I would say even over sale prices!

PORK & BEANS – use tomato juice, 1 Tbs. sugar per quart and a piece of fatback, bacon or your preference to cover the beans with. Process as above.

BAKED BEANS – I made a ‘sauce’ of tomato juice (about 1 cup per quart), brown sugar, garlic powder, dehydrated onions, molasses, mustard, bacon (diced, fried and drained well) and a couple of drops of hickory smoke flavor per quart).
I don’t use measurements because everybody seems to have their own preference for baked beans. We prefer them a bit sweet and savory. You may use almost any baked bean recipes simply mix all the ingredients except the beans and pour over the pre-cooked beans. If you don’t have enough ‘sauce’ you may add more tomato juice or water.

I still plan to put up pinto beans, refried beans and garbanzo beans for making hummus and other things. Try this soon. I know you will be pleased with the tasteful result and the savings!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mosquito Repellents

Easing the Bite of those Pesky Mosquitoes 
 To control mosquitoes and
There are many remedies to prevent attack from mosquitoes . . . those pesky little critters who can make being outdoors miserable. 

At stores you will find many 'chemical' remedies to this problem but they abound with questions about whether or not they are good for us to inhale and frankly some of them seem to do a better job of attracting them than anything else.

I have tried many suggestions. Two that work for me are Skin So Soft bath oil from Avon. Just put it in a spray bottle and squirt liberally. It is a bit greasy and is terrible for your drains so I like this use better.

The second one is my preferred one: Listerine. I buy the generic for it at the Dollar Store and keep a small spray bottle handy. It works every bit as well as the Skin So Soft, but it does NOT leave that greasy feeling on skin and possibly stain clothing.

Here is a link to a homemade remedy for insect repellent. It may work really well . . . .

It seems a bit pricy to me when I consider how inexpensive a bottle of generic Listerine is, but suit yourself.

Hopefully, I will get back into regular posts . . . it's been a while, and I've been a little bit out of pocket but I'm anxious to start helping you get prepared for any possible disaster, store food (the price continues to rise - so everybody best be putting a little bit by), grow, produce and preserve some food, and a few other hints about how to stretch a dollar.

See you real soon!
 Mary Lou