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Posts Tagged ‘shelf-stable’


IMG_2940I am really excited to announce that I will now be a contributing writer for the blog at ModernHomesteaders.net.  I have been a fan of theirs for awhile and being asked to contribute was very flattering and exciting.  I am scheduled to write for them once a week.

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I will be talking about my road to prepping and the accomplishments I have made.  I hope to show how anyone, even if you are on a tight budget, how to start and build up emergency supplies and equipment.  But as importantly, I will be teaching alternative cooking methods, food preservation and other great DIY projects to help save you money.  I will share product reviews and a host of other things that should help you develop your own plan or hone in on the plan you have to move you ahead.

I’ve seen many things happen in the way of disasters.  Things like hurricanes, tornadoes, super storms, terror attacks and an economic system teetering in the brink of decline.  I see families displaced, left without a home to live in or even clothes on their backs.  I see these people at the mercy of charities and government agencies for their very survival.  I don’t want my family to be like those families we all see on television after such a big event. I hope you will follow me as I contribute to the great work Shane is doing at Modern Homesteaders.  If you don’t already subscribe to Modern Homesteaders, please click this link and visit them on Facebook by clicking here.

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I am always excited and look for ways to build my shelf-stable pantry with inexpensive food.  But inexpensive sure does not mean inferior.  Especially when it comes to the topic I address today.

If you are new or have never pressure canned anything, chicken is the single simplest food to start with.  It’s the first thing I canned and highly recommend it.

You may or may not have heard of a company called Zaycon Foods.  Rather than explaining it to you, here is a great video to explain it all.  In short, it’s cheap, fresh and healthy!

Having been introduced to Zaycon, I’m a devoted advocate and client.  To learn more, please click here

But having just purchased 40 pounds of their chicken breasts, I had to get them processed as quickly as possible.  I set out to pressure can most of it.

Supplies

 

 

Start by gathering all your supplies.  You need your jars, rings, lids, jar lifter, sharp knife (for trimming your chicken), pressure canner, saucepan (large enough accommodate the lids and rings you will be sanitizing).

 

 

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Before you start anything, inspect the rubber ring in your canner (if you are using a canner with this), inspect the vent to make sure there is no obstructions, making sure there is no blockage.  I hope you can see here the blue color in the center of this photo.  It is your view through the vent in the lid of your canner.

 

 

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I begin by getting my jars ready by washing them in hot, soapy water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Get into the habit of checking each jar for any imperfections.  While I wash my jars, I run my finger around the rim to feel for any cracks or other anomalies.

 

 

 

 

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Also, do a visual inspection of each of your jars.  While new jars rarely have cracks or other imperfections, they sometimes do.  And if you are re-using jars, the risk is higher so be sure to use only those jars that are pristine!

 

 

 

 

 

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You have several options for keeping your jars hot while you prepare your chicken.  You can keep them in a large stockpot covered with simmering water or you can do as I do, keep them in a warm oven.  I set mine at 200 degrees.

 

 

 

Canner

 

 

 

Now I put about 3 quarts of water and about 1/8th of a cup of white vinegar in my pressure canner over a low flame (or heat if you are electric).  The vinegar is not necessary if you have soft water.  Mine is a little hard and this will prevent lime buildup in my canner and jars.  It is completely optional.

 

 

 

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After washing your lids and rings, place them in your saucepan over a low simmer.  You do not want to boil them.  Just warm enough to soften the wax or rubber ring.

 

 

 

 

 

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One-by-one, I pull out a hot jar and trim and cut my chicken and put them into my jars leaving a 1” headspace.  Whether I am handling raw meat or removing food from my dehydrator, I wear gloves.  In dehydrating, I don’t want to transfer my oils onto the food I just dry.  For raw meat, it is a level of safety.

 

 

 

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I immediately place the filled jar into the canner.  I do not put the lids or rings on them yet.  This will keep the jars hot which is important so they don’t break when the canner comes to temperature.

 

 

 

 

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Once my canner is full of jars, I will put a pinch of salt in each jar.  I use Pink Himalayan because it contains every bit of its’ minerals.  But you can use canning salt.

 

 

 

 

 

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This step is critical in all canning projects.  Never, ever forget to wipe and clean your rims before adding your lids.  When I can meat or food that is particularly oily, I use white vinegar which cuts the greasy residue.

 

 

 

 

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I use metal lids when I use new jars.  But they are good for only one use.  When I buy replacement lids, I purchase either Tattler or 4ever Recap lids.  If you are interested in these lids, here is a video to help you see their value.  I would post one for 4ever Recaps, but could not find one.  But they are essentially the same.  One thing I love about 4ever is that it is a woman owned company.  Hey, it’s personal.  I respect women entrepreneurs.

 

 

 

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As you can see, the same metal rings are used with these lids and can be used several times.

 

 

 

 

 

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With the jars all inside the canner and the lid securely in place, increase the heat under it to build pressure.  In this picture, you can be (behind) the vent where you will place the weight.  In the foreground is another vent on my specific Presto canner.  Not all canners have this.  But if yours does, as pressure builds this element will rattle and shake until stem builds up.  When enough steam builds, this vent will rise and shut allowing the pressure to continue to build.  When this happens, the vent that receives your weight (the one shown in the background) will begin to spew steam.  I allow this to build for 10 minutes before placing the weight on it.

 

 

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This batch contains pint size jars.  I processed it with 10 pounds of pressure for 75 minutes as per the Ball Complete Book.  After 75 minutes, you will turn off your heat and allow the pressure to level out.  This takes about an hour in most cases.  Once the vent in the front drops back into its’ normal position, it will be safe to remove the weight as shown in this photo.  But you must still use caution because your metal canner is still very hot and can cause serious burns.   But you can now remove the canner lid.

 

 

 

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After you remove the canner lid, you will begin taking your jars out of the canner and placing them onto your counter using your jar lifter.  Please, never try using anything but a canning jar lifter.  This can be quite dangerous if you try using tongs or anything else not specifically designed to safely handle boiling hot jars.  The foods in these jars are still boiling aggressively.

 

 

 

 

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You will not allow your jars to set out on your counter overnight to allow them to completely cool down.   You do not want them to be moved or disturbed while they cool and the rings set on the rims.  When using metal lids, you will begin hearing a distinctive “ping” as they seal.  Music to your ears!

 

 

 

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The following morning, I removed all the rings from my jars and tested their seal.  To do this, you simply lift the jar by the rings.  If it sealed as it should have, they will not release.  Now they are ready to be washed because the jars will be oily and a bit icky.  Just wash them in warm, soapy water, rinse and allow to dry.

 

 

 

 

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Once the jars and lids are completely dry, label then with content and date.  In large batches, it’s easy to just print out labels.  If it’s just a few cans, just use a permanent marker to write it on the lids.

 

 

 

 

 

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My yield for approximately 25 pounds of chicken was a dozen pints and six 1 ½ pint jars.  You can store them all in the boxes they came in.

 

 

 

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But I have a canning pantry that beautifully shows off my healthy food and keeps it all readily available for my regular menu planning.  This antique cabinet has two glass-front doors so all my company can see and covet my invaluable prepping skills.

 

 

 

As you can see, following standard practices for sanitation and canning, chicken is quite easy to pressure can.   If you are just beginning to try your hand at pressure canning, this is one of the absolute easiest recipes you will find.  Buying in bulk is cost-effective.  Having your investment safely stored in canning jars requires no electricity and is shelf-stable for up to two years.

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Finally, just to show you that having a jar or two that does not seal only allows you to eat it sooner!  I had one jar that did not seal properly.  But the food inside is still perfectly fine.  I simply added barbeque sauce and we had sandwiches for lunch.   I always plan on how to incorporate whatever I can into a meal within about a week.  And by having this happen to one of my jars allows me to show you how beautiful the canned chicken is.  As you can see, it’s much like canned tuna.  You can see how moist and flaky it is.  You can use this for chicken salad, on green salads, in soups and stews, enchiladas.  Just use your imagination.  It has so many delicious uses.

 

 

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Soup, whether it’s winter or summer is a regular rotation in my meal planning.  With a side of bread and or salad, it’s a healthy way to get in a well-balanced meal.  This happens to be one that my family loves so I decided to make it into an easier recipe using my food storage.  I have worked inside and out all day and when it came to dinner time, I needed something fast.  I’ve cooked with my THRIVE for so long, it’s just a natural “go-to” meal for us.  Tonight I decided to convert our favorite Stuffed Green Pepper Soup recipe in to a convenient Meal In A Jar recipe.  No cutting veggies (which I didn’t have fresh anyway), no frying up ground beef (THRIVE is already cooked) and virtually no cleanup.  I was so pleased with the result that if you love the convenience of boil and serve Meals In A Jar, I knew you would love this easy recipe, too.

Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

Meal In A Jar Newsletter

Prepping Jars

Stuffed Green Pepper Soup
Recipe Type: Soup
Cuisine: American
Author: PrepperPenny
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 35 mins
Serves: 6
This recipe converts my standard soup into a meal in a jar. It’s an excellent soup!
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup THRIVE Tomato Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Garlic Granules or Powder
  • 2-3 Tbsp THRIVE Beef Bouillon Powder
  • 1 Cup THRIVE Freeze Dried Ground Beef
  • 1/2 Cup THRIVE Freeze Dried Onion
  • 1/2 Cup THRIVE Freeze Dried Tomato Chunks
  • 1/2 Cup Instant Rice
  • 1/2 Cup THRIVE Freeze Dried Green Pepper (Or Red/Green Bell Pepper)
Instructions
  1. Layer ingredients as I have listed them. You may need to shake (or pound) your jar as you fill it to make sure it all fits.
  2. Top with a 100cc Oxygen Absorber if you are not going to cook this for more than a few days. Or you can use you vacuum seal system to draw out the air.
  3. To Cook: Boil 10-12 cups of water and empty contents into it. Reduce boil to a simmer and cook (stirring frequently) for 20-30 minutes. You can add more water for a more brothy soup or cook to reduce for a thicker soup. Salt and Prepper to taste, serve with a side of sourdough bread and salad, enjoy!

 

To purchase any THRIVE Freeze Dried ingredients, please visit my store by clicking below!

For any THRIVE food, please visit my store by clicking here

For any THRIVE food, please visit my store by clicking here

 

 

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Finished MIJ ChiliI am married to a Texan.  A few things I learned to cook when we were married was bbq brisket, bbq beans and chili.  He really is a chili snob.  So I felt really challenged when I set out to make a dry version from the ingredients we have in our food storage.  After all, preparing for hard times is being affected as little as possible.  Having your favorite foods will make the hard times much easier and healthier to face.  It took a few tweaks, but I put a recipe together that he is very happy with and is regularly rotating into my menu.

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Add and adjust your personal preference in spices. Sprinkling a dash of red pepper will add some heat

As with any meal in a jar, they are quite pretty sitting in my glass front, antique cupboard.  But I have to say, these make adorable gifts, too.  I have given away many and always get great reviews.  With a decorative tag where you write or print the cooking instructions on and a mini-bottle of tabasco, they are a fun gift to give and look even more pretty in your cupboards.

For more information on freeze-dried food, I have put information in this document to answer questions you may have.   Meal In A Jar Newsletter.  For safely preparing your jars, I have put together this document  Prepping Jars

Chili Meal In A Jar
Recipe Type: Soup
Cuisine: American/Mexican
Author: PrepperPenny
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 35 mins
Serves: 4-6
Layer your ingredients in the order listed. You may have to lightly pound you jar on your countertop to get the ingredients to settle and fit in your 1 quart jar. If you have a vacuum seal system, use the attachment to draw out all the air. If you do not have one, you will need to add a 100cc oxygen absorber which will draw out any air.
Ingredients
  • 1/2 Cup THRIVE Tomato Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Chili Mix
  • 1 Tbsp Beef Bouillon
  • 1 Cup THRIVE Instant Red Beans
  • 2/3 Cup THRIVE Freeze-Dried Ground Beef
  • 1/3 Cup THRIVE Freeze-Dried Sausage Crumbles
  • 1/4 Cup THRIVE Freeze-Dried Onions
  • 1/2 Cup THRIVE Freeze-Dried Mixed Bell Peppers
  • 1/2 Cup THRIVE Freeze-Dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 Cup Celery
  • 1/4 Cup THRIVE Freeze-Dried Green Chili Peppers
Instructions
  1. Bring 8-10 cups of water to boil. Empty ingredients into the boiling water and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30-45 minutes.
  2. Adjust salt, pepper and preferred spices to taste
  3. If you like chili mac, simply reduce the amount of instant beans and replace with the pasta of our choice. Or you can simply add pasta when you cook this meal.

 

For any THRIVE food, please visit my store by clicking here

For any THRIVE food, please visit my store by clicking here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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photo copy 6Something to keep in mind about minestrone is that, much like meatloaf, it’s a great way to cook and use up leftover vegetables and no two recipes are the same.  This is a recipe I would be proud to set in front of you at my dinner table.  But you may like more pasta and less potatoes.  You may want vegetables in it that I don’t put in mine.   Mine is a great flavor for how my family likes it.  You can make the adjustments you wish with the basics in this recipe.

This recipe is all adjusted and based on freeze-dried food.  You can use your own or commercially produced dehydrated vegetables, but you will need to adjust your cooking time and amount of water.  There is a significant difference in how they rehydrate and the amount of time and water it will take.  For information about this, please follow this link where I try to answer any questions you may have. Meal In A Jar Newsletter

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Add 100cc oxygen absorbers before closing

While these look beautiful in canning jars, if you want yours in vacuum sealed bag and in mylar, they are perfect to take camping or to keep in your bug out bags.   With these points in mind, here is the recipe.  Below the recipe will be links so that if there are any ingredients you wish to purchase, you can.

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You will need

  1. measuring cups
  2. measuring spoons
  3. canning funnel
  4. 100cc oxygen absorbers
Minestrone Soup Meal In A Jar
Recipe Type: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Author: PrepperPenny
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 4
Layer the ingredients in the order by which they are listed. The 1st five ingredients are the base for your soup. You can add whatever vegetables you prefer, but keep in mind that there is about 1 1/3 cups of vegetables total. Keep this in mind as you will need to fit all the ingredients into a 1 quart canning jar.
Ingredients
  • 2/3 C. THRIVE Tomato Powder
  • 1/2 C. THRIVE Freeze-Dried Onion (You can use your own dehydrated flakes)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder or Granules
  • 1 Heaping Tbsp Beef Bouillon
  • 3/4 Cup THRIVE Freeze-Dried Ground Beef
  • 1/4 Cup THRIVE Freeze-Dried Sausage
  • 1/2 Cup THRIVE Instant Red Beans
  • 1/3 Cup THRIVE Freeze-Dried Corn
  • 1/3 Cup THRIVE Potato Chunks
  • 1/3 Cup THRIVE Freeze-Dried Green Beans
  • 1/4 Cup THRIVE Freeze-Dried Mixed Green/Red Peppers
  • Top With Pasta of Your Choice
Instructions
  1. Prepare your 1 quart canning jars, lids and bands by sanitizing them with hot, soapy water. You absolutely must make sure all pieces are completely dry. To ensure this, after washing my jars, I put them in an oven at 250* for 30 minutes. Moisture will cause your food to spoil.
  2. Layer these ingredients in the order listed. I purposely didn’t include the option for salt and pepper. I chose to add those and other spices as I cook the recipe. This recipe serves 4-6 adults
  3. If you are making these to keep longer than a few weeks, you MUST place an oxygen absorber on top before you close it and/or use your vacuum seal system to remove the air. These stay fresh and stable for 9-12 months. Wipe the rim of the jar to get a secure, airtight seal.
  4. Bring 8 cups of water to boil. Empty ingredients in and reduce to a simmer for 30-45 minutes. Add water or beef stock for a thinner soup or continue to reduce to thicken it according to your own preference.
Home Store

For these and other THRIVE Food or emergency supplies, please click here to visit my online store.

 

THRIVE F-D Ground Beef

THRIVE F-D Sausage

THRIVE F-D Corn

THRIVE F-D Green Beans

THRIVE F-D Tomato Powder

THRIVE F-D Potato Chunks

THRIVE F-D Red & Green Bell Peppers

THRIVE Instant Red Beans

Oxygen Absorbers

FoodSaver Vacuum Seal System

Small Mouth Jar Sealing Attachment

Wide Mouth Jar Sealing Attachment

 

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Finished Red BeansI don’t have any fresh produce harvest to satisfy my urge to do some canning, so I decided to can some red beans I had in my home store to create another use for them in my home store.  Canning from bulk, dry beans saves you a good amount of money and is healthier and tastes better.  Having these beans ready for my red beans and rice or chili makes them very convenient, too. I do not add any spices to my beans, not even salt.  I prefer to spice them when I decide on which dish I am preparing.  However, if you like, you can add spices to yours.

I started out by washing and carefully inspecting them, removing any bad beans or pebbles.  Once this step was done, I put them in to soak in a large container overnight.  Step 1 - Adding Beans

I then dumped that water, washed them again and ladled them into hot, sanitized quart canning jars.

Remove Air Bubbles

Here you will add boiling water and using a plastic or wood utensil, remove any trapped air bubbles from your beans.  Check your headspace and adjust the water level to have a 1″ (2.5 cm)headspace.

Wiping Rims

Never, ever forget to wipe the rims and check for chips or cracks.  Forgetting this step could cause your batch to fail.

Lids and Bands

After cleaning the rims of each jar, center the lid on jar.  Screw band down until it is finger-tip tight.  Here, I am using white Tattler Lids and standard bands.

Beans in Canner

Place jars in your pressure canner.  Adjust water level, lock lid and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Vent steam for 10 minutes, then close vent.  Continue heating  to achieve 10 pounds (69 kPa) pressure and maintain this pressure to process for  75 minutes for pint jars, 90 minutes for quart jars.

Diagram of Canner

Jars in canner

Once the time is up, turn off the heat source and allow canner to cool down and relieve the pressure.  Once the pressure is diminished, remove the lid and allow them to sit for approximately 10 more minutes.

Removing Jars with Lifter

Using a rubber jar lifter (please don’t try using anything else), carefully remove your jars and place them on a towel and leave them undisturbed for 24 hours.

Finished Red Beans

After 24 hours, remove the bands and check all the seals. If any did not seal correctly, put them in the refrigerator and use them within 2 weeks.  Wash your jars, label and date them.

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Sourdough in CrockOne of my favorite books for pioneer recipes is Cookin With Home Storage by Peggy Layton.  I keep this book on my desk, compared to most which are on a bookshelf.  I’m starting some sourdough and thought I would share what I learned in Peggy’s book.

Sourdough Starter – It wasn’t until the Danish people immigrated to Utah that years was brought to raise the breads.  Before then, they made a started which they called “Sourdough.”  It was made by combining flour, salt and enough warm water to make a spongy dough.  This was put in a crock with a loose lid and kept warm for several days, during which time it bubbled and formed it own yeast.  These breads weren’t as light as yeast breads but the wonderful flavor made up for it.  Sourdough was a favorite of the sheepherders in Sanpete County and still is.  It was used for breads, biscuits , and pancakes.

Dehydrating Your Sourdough Start

You can dry your start and store it for later use.  Spread a very thin layer on a piece of plastic wrap.  Dry it in a dehydrator or allow it to air dry.  When one side is dry, turn it over to allow it to dry on that side.  When it is completely dry, break it into pieces and grind it into a powder.  Store in an airtight container in your refrigerator.  To re-start it, just add water or milk until you get it back to the original consistency.  When using a reactivated starter, allow it to set at room temperature for 8 hours.

Sourdough Starter
Author: PrepperPenny via Peggy Layton
Prep time: 5 mins
Total time: 5 mins
Almost any recipe can be changed to use sourdough. To make it work you have to control the leavening and keep the thickness or moisture the same. If the recipe calls for baking powder, leave a teaspoon out. If no but your results are too heavy, put a little baking powder in it. You may need to experiment a little.
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 C Warm Water
  • 2 1/2 C. Flour
  • 1 tsp Active, dry yeast
Instructions
  1. Stir together and allow it to set for 3-5 days in a warm place to ferment.
Notes
Save 1 cup from every batch to add more flour and milk to keep your starter going. Use in pancakes, biscuits and breads!

 

 

 

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