Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summer Squash . . . Yes, You Can Can It!!!

Please, please be very careful about getting your information to correctly can things. I have been doing some research and some experimenting with all that lovely summer squash our garden is producing so prolifically.

You can use this method for yellow squash as shown or for zucchini. . . 

In the past I have dehydrated it (not my favorite because it loses too much flavor to me) and freezing it (also not my favorite since the water separates from it).

There are many dangerous methods of canning and preserving on the internet. Here is what I have discovered is the safest and best way to can it. You can do the little yellow crookneck summer squash or zucchini using this method.

Wash and cut the squash into the shape and size you desire. Bring it to a boil with not quite enough water to cover it. (I first tried it without precooking and it cooked down in the pressure canner and so I ended up with jars not filled to the headspace). The jar below on the left was not precooked. 

Prepare your jars, add one teaspoon of Kosher or canning/pickling salt per quart and one half teaspoon for pints. Do NOT use table salt for any canning. Fill the jars leaving about an inch of headspace. If you need to add more water to cover it, please do.

Wipe the rims and place the lids and rings tightly on the jars. Pressure can at TEN POUNDS of pressure for a minimum of FORTY MINUTES. Squash are a low acid food and you want to be sure that they are safe to eat.

I'm looking forward to making some Squash Casseroles and Squash Bread this winter though our favorite way to eat it is still fried like this: Dice 3 or 4 slices of bacon and fry until crispy. Remove the bacon and add one sliced onion. Saute for a minute or two and then add one quart of drained squash. No need to salt but you can season it with pepper or other spices to taste. When it is thoroughly heated and browning well, add the reserved diced crispy bacon and serve immediately.

Squash Casserole! Much of my store of canned squash will go toward making this yummy concoction... 

2 cups summer squash (I'll use one of my pint jars, drained... or maybe two!)
1/2 chopped onion
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 beaten egg
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded cheese
8 ounces seasoned stuffing mix
1/2 cup melted butter

Mix ingredients together and bake in a 9x13 baking dish at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until onions are tender. Sometimes I add shredded carrots to the mix, just to change it up a little. Delicious!

Or... maybe I'll try a new recipe, like Summer Squash Bread...

3 eggs, beaten
2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 cups shredded summer squash (I'm thinking one of my canned pint jars, drained well)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, grease 9x13 baking dish. In large bowl, using an electric mixer to beat the eggs until fluffy, beat in sugar, oil, and vanilla. Gradually mix in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg, fold in squash. Transfer to prepared baking pan. Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Emergency Candles from Used or Rancid Oils & Fats

Emergency Candles from Used or Rancid Oils & Fats 

No matter where we live in this great country, emergencies happen. The power goes out and winter or summer you may need light and a little heat. When we lived in Michigan each member of our family had one of these candles in the trunk of their car.  If you got stranded in a snow storm, you could light it and keep yourself warm inside the car. *(Never abandon your car in a snow storm). You can even use it to heat a can of soup.

This candle is easy to make and will burn for up to 48 hours.  It is made primarily from things you would throw away with the exception of a good wick. You can substitute a heavy thread or twine but experience has taught me that they do NOT burn as well as a good wick. You can buy them wherever you buy oil for lamps/candles/etc.

This one is an old coffee can but a 46 oz. juice can works equally as well. We don't drink coffee so I have friends save their coffee cans for me . . . 

You will also need old and used candles, crayons or paraffin
                              saw dust
                              a dowel, pencil or other similar item

Once you select your can, measure the wick to be just a bit longer than the height of the can. Attach one end of the wick to the bottom of the can with a thumbtack, bit of putty or any other creative way so that it will stay in or near the center. Attach the other end to the dowel, pencil, etc. and lay the dowel across the top of the can. 

Melt the wax (candles, crayons, etc.) slowly over low to medium heat. Watch it closely so it doesn't burn. Stir it occasionally until it is all melted. Stir in some saw dust (about half a can full) and before it begins to set up, pour it into the can keeping the wick as straight and centered as possible.

Let it set up (overnight is good) and then remove the dowel or whatever you used. You can do as I did and spray paint the exterior of the can if you wish. You can even add scent but make sure it is an oil since water-based scents will not emulsify with the wax.

Below is a link for directions to make 'Everlasting' Candles from Crisco. You can also use lard.
This is an excellent use for used (and filtered) shortening that has been used for frying or if for some reason you stored it too long and it turned rancid.