Showing posts with label canning and preserving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label canning and preserving. Show all posts

Thursday, July 30, 2020

How to make refrigerator dill pickles - no canning required!

This dill pickle recipe is so easy - I can't wait to teach you how to make it!

One of my favorite parts of tending a garden during the summer is a seemingly endless supply of fresh cucumbers! 

I grow regular salad cucumbers and a smaller, pickling variety because I love making fresh cucumber pickles for my family.

This pickled cucumber recipe is super easy. Because these are lacto-fermented dill pickles, you don't need any fancy canning equipment to make them.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Summertime is one of my favorite times of year.  The world is green (at least where I live), it is warm, and fruit and vegetables are readily available.  

I love making smoothies in the summer, but am always a little rankled by how expensive the frozen fruit is.  Adding fresh fruit doesn't give you the same cold quality, and adding ice waters your smoothie down, so I always prefer to use at least one kind of frozen fruit. 

A few weeks ago, I realized that I could buy extremely cheap, in-season, fresh fruit that would freeze terrifically and easily for a fraction of the cost of most pre-frozen fruit.  

It will take you about 10 minutes over two days, and a shelf in the freezer.  It can't get much easier than this.  

You can use the frozen fruit in ice creams, smoothie bowls and smoothies.  They are a perfect staple for your cool summer treats!


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Last summer, my family spent seven weeks in France.  While we were there, we ate a number of meals from farmer's markets that lined the rivers.  They had wonderful, fresh produce that we thoroughly enjoyed, but the most delicious thing we ate from the markets were the strawberries.  They were so ripe, juicy and definitely the best strawberries I have ever tasted.  

My parents came over for a visit while we were there, and my mom commented that she had never had a strawberry that was so red all the way through.  They were heaven on earth.  

Due to the way large growing operations grow, manage and pick strawberries, you probably won't find such fresh and luscious strawberries at your local large chain grocery store. Instead, head to your local farmer's market, farm or produce stand to find the ripest, juiciest berries this summer.

Regardless of where you shop for berries, here are my best tips for choosing the most delicious, juicy strawberries, and storing them so they stay fresh as long as possible.  


Saturday, September 7, 2013

The are lots of reasons we grow our own garden but the primary reason is to have enough tomatoes for canning. There are high levels of BPA in metal-canned tomatoes - higher than any other canned food product. This year my garden is doing even better than last year and I have a LOT of tomatoes (learn my secret about how to plant strong, healthy tomatoes here). Here are some great tomato recipes - both for your fresh tomato bounty as well as tasty things you can make with your canned tomatoes.

Antipasto Veggie Pizza from Creative Green Living
Crockpot Italian Pesto Chicken from Miss Information
Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarts from Richly Rooted
Pakistani Kima (Beef Curry w/ vegan option) from Whole New Mom
Pesto, Tomato & Goat Cheese Stuffed Portobellos from The V Spot
Chicken Salad Stuffed Tomatoes from Mom Endeavors
Zucchini Tomato Lasagna from Hydrangea Hippo


Monday, September 2, 2013

And so it begins. The season of tomatoes. The primary reason I moved to a community garden plot two seasons ago was to have the capacity to grow enough of my own tomatoes to can a year's worth of diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Last year, I succeeded but I also tossed the skins, cores and scraps of my first few batches because I didn't know any better!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Americans throw away nearly half their food due to spoilage. This means we are buying more food than we can use before it goes bad. The solution? Use more fresh fruits and veggies in your meals and become a food preservation ninja.

We use this simple trick to preserve our onions so that we never have to worry about whether or not they will start to mold before we can use them. PLUS it makes cooking later in the month SO easy.Whether I'm making a soup or mexican food, it's super convenient to have pre-chopped onions ready to throw into whatever I'm cooking.


Step 1: Cut each onion into quarters and remove the hard outer peel.

Step 2: Load the onion quarters into the food processor.

Step 3: Pulse the food processor until the onions are chopped to the coarseness you prefer.

Step 4: Fill a silicone muffin pan with 1/2 cup portions of diced onions and freeze. Once frozen, pop the onion balls out the muffin pan and store in a gallon size freezer bag.

Just keep your bag of onions in the freezer and throw your onion balls directly into whatever you are cooking. 

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

I've been thinking about making my own yogurt at home for quite some time. When I found a gallon of soon-to-expire organic whole milk on sale for just a little over $2 a few weeks ago, I figured it was a great opportunity to try without the risk or ruining a large quantity of expensive ingredients.

My only regret?  That I didn't do this sooner!

It was soooo easy! It's a great way to save money, too. A gallon of [non-clearance] organic milk makes about a gallon of yogurt and costs around $5. A quart of organic yogurt costs about $4. If your family loves yogurt like mine does, that's a huge savings! The savings is even greater if you normally eat Greek yogurt which is frequently sold for about $1 (or more) for 8 ounces!

Ingredients / Equipment Needed
  • Slow cooker
  • Food thermometer
  • Milk (whichever kind you prefer. I even hear this works with milk alternatives)
  • About 1/2 cup yogurt
  • Cheesecloth and strainer (if you want Greek style yogurt)
  • Fruit or sweetener of your choice (optional)
That's it!

A note about your starter yogurt:
Any kind of yogurt can be used to make homemade yogurt. Pick a yogurt you like the taste of. Keep in mind, though, that plain yogurt makes pain yogurt. Strawberry yogurt also makes plain yogurt (the yogurt cultures are what multiply. Strawberries, sadly do not.).


Step 1: Prep the Milk
Pour your milk (use at least 2 quarts but up to about a gallon) into a clean slow cooker. Put the lid on and set to low for about 2 hours until the milk reaches 180 degrees F. Keep an eye on it so the milk doesn't get so hot that it starts boiling or scalds. If this happens you will need to start over.

Step 2: Cool down
Turn your crockpot off and allow the yogurt to cool about an hour until it reaches 120 degrees F. If your crockpot is well insulated like mine is, you may need to crack the lid to help it cool.

Step 3: Add the yogurt
Take about a cup of warm milk from the crockpot and stir it together with 4-6 ounces of yogurt in a bowl. Keep stirring until the mixture is the same consistency throughout without any lumps (though "lumps" from any fruit that may have been in your starter yogurt are okay). Pour the milk/yogurt mixture back into the crockpot and give it a stir to distribute it evenly.

Step 4: Bundle up
The goal is to keep the milk in the 110 - 120 degree range for 6-12 hours. To do this, I placed my crockpot on top of a folded beach towel, then draped another double beach towel over the top and left the crockpot turned off. I did give it a 15 min blast on low right before I went to bed for the night to make sure the yogurt cultures stayed nice and toasty. The longer it sets, the more tart and more set up the yogurt will be. I found 10 hours to be perfect for me, personally.

Step 5: Drain (optional)
Once your yogurt is done, you may see some little pools of watery stuff in there with it. This is whey. You can save it to use in baked goods or lacto-fermented veggies. Or you can stir it back into the yogurt. Up to you. If you like "Greek" style yogurt, you can set up a colander lined with damp cheese cloth over a bowl to strain the yogurt.  Keep in mind that once refrigerated, your yogurt will thicken even more. I over strained my first attempt at Greek yogurt and ended up with something of a soft cheese consistency once it got cold. If you're making a full gallon of yogurt and you get more than 16 ounces of whey, you probably want to stop.

Step 6: Store
I stored my yogurt in clean glass jars. If you are re-using jars that once housed food from the store I do not recommend using jars (or at least the lids) that used to store tomato sauce or pickled products. The scent is hard to get out of the lid and may ruin your tasty new yogurt.

I also made some personal size yogurts by added chopped frozen fruit to the bottom of 8 ounce glass jars, adding a squirt of agave and filled the rest with yogurt. Then when you want a snack, just stir and eat! Yum!

A note about canning jars: If you actually use your canning jars for canning, I do not recommend using them for storing things that metal serving or eating utensils will enter in order to remove the contents. Why? The tiny abrasions they leave in the glass can weaken your jars over time and create messy canning accidents. Keep your canning jars for canning and re-use store bought jars or use your retired jars for food storage/serving.

I hope I've inspired you to branch out and try something new that will help you save money, too!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Back in November, news stations around the country were warning that peanut butter prices would skyrocket due to droughts and poor growing conditions in the areas of the country where peanuts are grown. That same week, my local grocery store had a 10 for $10 sale on 14 ounce bags of dry roasted (and salted) shelled peanuts. JACKPOT!

Making peanut butter is super easy and is a great way to save money....especially if you can find dry roasted peanuts on sale. You also have maximum control over what goes into can do salt or no salt, honey or agave or no sweetener at all!

Following this recipe, I made 16 ounces of peanut butter for approx $1.25. Even the super cheap, preservative laden peanut butter is $3 for 16 ounces. You will save even more if your family is used to buying Adams or another premium natural peanut butter.

Making peanut butter is super easy and is a great way to save money.

  • 14 ounces (by weight) roasted shelled peanuts*
  • 2 Tbsp pressed coconut oil
  • Agave syrup or honey to taste (optional)
  • Sea salt (optional, though you will probably want a bit if using unsalted peanuts)
*Either salted or unsalted will work. Unsalted gives you maximum control over the salt content. I just use whichever kind is on sale
Yields 16 ounces (by volume) of peanut butter
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How to Make Peanut Butter

Pour the peanuts into your food processor
How to make peanut butter in a food processor

Lock the lid and process on high approximately 2 minutes
Homemade chunky peanut butter

It may start to look finely chopped peanuts
Grinding peanuts into peanut butter
Keep Going
Making homemade peanut butter is easy

Check your peanut butter
How to make homemade smooth peanut butter

If it's not smoothing out very well, melt a couple tablespoons of coconut oil (which is solid at room temperature) in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Add to the peanuts and process 30-60 seconds.
Add coconut oil if the peanut butter isn't smooth enough

Add agave syrup or honey to taste  (I added a little less than a tablespoon of agave). Taste and add salt if desired when using unsalted peanuts.
How to sweeten your homemade peanut butter

Process another 30-60 seconds
Homemade DIY peanut butter

Stop here if you want chunky peanut butter
how to make chunky peanut butter

Keep processing if you prefer smooth peanut butter
Making smooth and creamy peanut butter at home is easy

Pack your fresh peanut butter into a 16 ounce jar with a lid.
Homemade peanut butter in a jar

Make the tastiest peanut butter and organic strawberry jam sandwiches ever.
Yummy PB&J sandwiches

Feel good that your kids are eating peanut butter with no preservatives or dangerous ingredients. Smile that you just saved money, too.
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Frequently Asked Questions:
How long will this keep? Does it need to be refrigerated?
Food safety standards recommend that you keep in an airtight container in your fridge for up to two months. Keeping in the fridge helps the oil stay suspended longer, too.

I will admit I am a bit rebellious and keep about 3 weeks worth in a sterilized glass jar in my pantry and nobody has gotten sick from eating it. If you choose to do this, do so at your own risk.

Can you can peanut butter?
Peanut butter is too thick to make it a food that you could can at home (the heat would not be able to permeate everything evenly). This process is so quick, though, needing to repeat it every 2 months or so isn't a big deal.

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I'm sharing my recipe with...
* Creative Juice at Momnivore's Dilemma * A Crafty Soiree at Yesterday on Tuesday * Cast Party Wednesday at Lady Behind the Curtain * Lil Luna Link Party at Lil Luna * DIY Thrifty Thursday at Thrifty 101 * Whatever Goes Wednesday at Someday Crafts * Wicked Awesome Wednesday at Handy Man Crafty Woman * Homemade Year at Blissful and Domestic * Pin Inspirational Thursdays at The Artsy Girl Connection * A Pinteresting Party at Tutus and Tea Parties *

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It's slow cooker week over at The CSI Project! I love to use my slow cooker for all kinds of things from dyeing yarn to making dinner.  So when I bought close to 50 pounds of Apples (and was then subsequently gifted about 10 more!), I recruited my slow cooker to help me make apple sauce.

It's not hard to do and if you like to can, it puts up really well using either a boiling water canner or a pressure canner.  Don't can? That's okay! It keeps in your fridge for up to a week and you can share the extra with a friend.

I make my applesauce without sugar because most of the time, the apples are plenty sweet without it. Plus my toddler inhales bowlfuls of this stuff and doesn't need extra fillers like sugar.  Adding cinnamon and nutmeg give the applesauce a great flavor but you can leave it out if it's just not for you!

Of all the times to invest in organic, any recipe using apples as the key ingredient is the time to do it. Conventional apple farmers use 56 or more different pesticides to keep those apples picture perfect and in 92 percent of apples tested this year, at least 2 of those pesticides remain on the apple even after they have been initially washed and brought to market (you can see more info about 2011 testing at What does that mean?  It means you use conventionally gown apples, you may be getting a side of poisonous chemicals with your fruit. If you're going to go through the effort of making homemade apple sauce - do it right and do it chemical-free.

  • About 10 pounds (or however many you have) of organic apples
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (optional) to help preserve color
  • Water as needed
  • 1.5 Tbsp ground cinnamon (more or less to taste)
  • 1.5 tsp nutmeg (more or less to taste)


1) Wash your apples - even if you bought organic - to get all the dirt and dust off.

2) Peel, core and slice your apples. I LOVE my apple peeler slicer corer. It clamps to your counter or a stand and peels, cores and slices your apples with the turn of a crank. If you spend any amount of time baking with apples, it's definitely worth the investment because of all the time you save!  Here's what it looks like...

So back to what we were doing...

Once you run the apples through this, you have a big long apple slinky (it's sliced in a spiral). Just cut the apple in half from top to bottom after running it through.

If you don't have one, just peel your apples and then core and cut into chunks or us one of those core and slice tools that you push straight down onto the apple.

3) Fill your slow cooker. As you peel and slice your apples, throw your slices into your crockpot. Just keep going until you run out of apples or space in your crock pot...whichever comes first.

4) Add Water. Add your lemon juice and some water to the crock pot. You don't need to cover the apples. For this full pot of apples, I probably added about 4-6 cups of water. If you add too much, you can always take the lid off and cook it down later, though that will add some time to the process.

5) Cover and Cook. Place the cover on your slow cooker and turn it on. If you set it on high, the apples will be ready in about 4 hours. If you're going to be away, set it on low and leave it to cook for 8-10 hours. You'll know your apples are ready when they are really soft and look about like this:

6) Blend or mash. Depending on what kind of texture you like for your apple sauce, you'll want to blend or mash your apples. I like to use an immersion blender and mostly blend it but leave it with some small chunks. Blend or run through a food processor until it's the texture you like.

7) Cook Down if Necessary. Evaluate how watery the applesauce is. If it's a bit too runny for your preferences, remove the lid and cook on high until it's the way you like it. Already like the texture? Move on to step 8.

8) Spice it up! If you're making spiced applesauce, now is the time to add your chosen seasonings. I usually add about 1.5 Tablespoons of cinnamon and 1.5 teaspoons of nutmeg for a full crockpot. Add what you like and keep tasting it until it's just right. If your applesauce isn't sweet enough for you, you can sugar at this point as well.  Allow it to cook for about 5-10 more minutes to allow the spices and sugar to fully permeate the sauce.

That's it!  You're done! 
At this point, you can can your applesauce OR just chill and serve.

If you're going to can....
(disclaimer: these canning instructions are targeted to those who already know canning basics and technique. If you are a canning newbie, check out's Guide to Canning or pick up a copy of the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving and then come back!)

If you're going to can your apple sauce, go ahead and prep your jars (quarts and/or pints), lid pieces and chosen canner type (you can use either a boiling water canner or pressure canner for this recipe).

My shortcut from prepping jars is to fill clean jars with about 1 inch of hot water from the tap and load them into my microwave. Then microwave on high until the water boils - and then for about 2 minutes beyond that. It helps sterilize the jars with steam and warms them up. Then you just leave them in your microwave until it's time to fill.

Once everything is ready...
Fill your hot jars with hot applesauce, leaving 1/2 inch head space.

Wipe the rim, add and adjust your lids and load into your canner.

Processing times for pint and quart jars of Applesauce
Boiling Water Canner: 20 minutes 
Steam Pressure Canner: 5 pounds of pressure for 8 minutes

Thanks for joining me! Now go fire up those slow cookers!

Want a printer-friendly version of this recipe without all the pictures? Check out the BakeSpace entry for this recipe here.

I'm joining these fabulous parties this week. Won't you join me?
* Mad Skills Party at Mad in Crafts * Get Your Craft On at Today's Creative Blog * Lil' Luna Link Party at Lil' Luna *  These Chicks Cooked Party at This Chick Cooks * What's Cooking Wednesday at The King's Court 4 * Show and Tell at Blue Cricket Design * Tutorial Tuesday at Newlyweds on a Budget * Creative Juice Thursday at Momnivore's Dilemma * Thrifty Thursday at Thrifty 101 * Strut Your Stuff Saturday from Six Sisters Stuff * Savvy Homemade Monday at Home Savvy A-Z * Inspire Me Fridays at The Joyful Stamper * Frugal Friday at the Shabby Nest * Flaunt it Friday at Chic on a Shoestring Decorating * Homemade Year at Blissful and Domestic *

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