Thursday, February 3, 2011
Ask your average American when people can up food to preserve it and most will probably answer summertime.
And our family does can up some summer produce. We'll often can up the excess from our garden and I'll pick up some seasonal fruit to put up as well.
But I'll admit that winter canning is probably my favorite! For starters it's much, much cooler in my kitchen in the dead of winter. It's also a slower easier canning season. The foods I can up in the winter are usually being canned for convenience's sake. There isn't as much of a rush to can them up before they spoil. And I'm not needing to tend to my garden in the wintertime.
So what do I can up in the winter?
This January I canned up:
25 pints of mixed beans - we use these just as you'd use the store bought variety - in soups, bean & rice dishes, etc.
8 jars of raspberry jam - the raspberries were from our summer harvest but I got so busy at the end of the summer that I froze these for later use
4 quarts and 21 pints of beef stock - this was the end result of a combination of beef shanks (from the 1/2 steer we purchased), onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and spices. (some are in the picture at the top of the blog post)
4 pints of canned meatballs - these are my normal meatballs cooked and then packed in beef broth and pressure canned
9 pints of beef packed in beef stock - this is actually the beef that was cooked off the shanks during the process of making beef stock. We trim it and pack it in jars with beef stock and pressure can it. Later on we'll use it to make beef stew or soups.
And here are some of the canning tutorials I've written up in the past. These are all good winter canning projects.
Pressure Canning Chicken
Pressure Canning Turkey Stock
Pressure Canning Pinto Beans
Pressure Canning Venison
Pressure Canning Ham & Bean Soup - Part 1
Pressure Canning Ham & Bean Soup - Part 2
Pressure Canning Beef Stock - Part 1
Pressure Canning Beef Stock - Part 2
I enjoy canning and consider it one of my hobbies. But that's not the only reason I can up food. I enjoy feeding my family organic and natural foods. I like knowing that the food is as pure as I can get. The home-canned stocks, meats, and beans I feed my family are produced for mere pennies compared to what I would pay for their organic counterparts in the supermarket or health food store.
By buying our beef in 1/2 steer bulk purchases I can get humanely raised organic beef for only $3.17/lb. In that mix were the shanks I used to create the beef stock and canned beef pictured above. The hamburger I used to make the meatballs was also from that steer.
We buy our dried beans in in bulk and I soak and cook up large batches throughout the winter as time permits. Then I can them up and have convenient jars of cooked beans ready to add to my cooking. Not all of the beans in my dry storage are organic, but as we locate new sources of bulk organic foods I'm able to add more organic beans to our food storage stocks and eventually our dry bean storage will be exclusively organic.
The other reason I like canning is the comfort it gives me to know I have meals for family already prepared and sitting on my pantry shelf. If we have a busy evening I don't have to stop and buy dinner at a fast-food restaurant. In ten minutes I can pull ingredients out of my pantry and have a hot nutritious meal on the table for them. We couldn't even drive to a restaurant that quickly!
Do you do any winter canning? What foods do you like to prepare?
- A 40 something mama meandering through life with an eclectic 21 year old boy-man (the boy), an 8 year old girl (big girl) who is a ball of lightening, and a 4 year old girl (baby girl) who brightens our lives with her smiles. I'm grounded by my 40 something husband and partner (the hubster) whose quirky mannerisms brighten my days.
I've been a single mama, married mama, divorced mama, career mama, SAHM, and WAHM. There was a short time of my life when I wasn't a mama, but that was a LONG time ago!
I hold an AA, BS, and MA and most say I'm wasting them by devoting my intellectual capabilities and energy in the nurture of the wee ones that I've been entrusted to raise, but there is nothing else I'd rather be doing these days. :)
I love hearing from readers, so please share your thoughts and leave comments, too!