Friday, August 5, 2011

Making Life a Little Easier

If not life in general, then at the very least, canning.

Last year we did all the tomato sauce by hand; peeling, coring, chopping, and squeezing out the excess liquid before cooking it down. For Christmas last year, I asked my mom for a Roma food mill. I love it. We just washed and chopped the tomatoes and ran them through the food mill. It took a bit longer to cook down because there was more liquid, but the time savings in the prep work more than made up for the additional cook time.
My largest stock pot, filled to the brim.
Some of the sauce is behind the peaches.
Don't ask me why the picture looks pinkish - I think cameras hate me.
One of the things we used some of the tomato puree for was barbeque sauce. I got to cook, and taste, and cook, and taste some more until I liked it. We don't use barbeque sauce much, but I'll like the fact that we'll have homemade on hand whenever we want it.
We also finished up our diced tomatoes for the year by making our homemade version of Rotel. What made canning the diced tomatoes extra special this year was that we raised all of the tomatoes we used for the plain diced and the Rotel ourselves. Even the peppers we used were homegrown - most from my younger brother, but some from our own garden as well. We used a mix of red and green cayennes from my brother, and poblanos and black hungarians from our garden. I think it'll be a bit hotter this year - I can't wait to see.

Tomorrow the plan is to make some blackberry jelly, and some blueberry and mixed berry jam. Yummm. I love canning.
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  1. I just found your Blog- It's wonderful and exciting at the same time. I too live in NC- central NC GSO. I see that you are canning and I see your stove is smooth surface. I was told that you can not can of this type of surface we are getting ready to replace ours but I am having a hard time deciding which kind that I want. Please eloborate on this subject. I think that you are doing a great job also of the blog. We are in process of adopting 6 children at one time and Well I know what you mean about looks! Thanks

    1. Thanks for stopping by and for the lovely compliments. It's nice to "hear" from someone else that lives here in NC.
      While I cannot officially suggest canning on a smooth top stove - because it is not recommend by the "specialists", I can tell you that I can on mine all the time. I did a lot of checking into it when I first wanted to can because, although I did see that people said you shouldn't do it, my best friend has had a glass top stove for 18 or more years and she cans on it every year. It seems that the biggest concerns for canning on a glass top stove are:
      1) The heating elements under the eye turn off and on to keep the eye at the proper temperature without overheating the glass. This can make it difficult to keep you canner at the right temp. Or so they say. Maybe it depends on your particular stove, but mine hasn't ever lost it's boil because of the element going off and on. It's not like it stays off for several minutes; it clicks off and on constantly.
      2) Breaking the glass top. This can be because the canner overhangs the eye and the surrounding glass is not made to take the same heat as the eye (this is what I've read), or because of the weight of the canner, especially once it's full.
      So far I've only ever water bath canned on my stove. I didn't get my pressure canner until Christmas, and I haven't had a chance to try it out yet. I do have to admit to a little trepidation with regard to the weight of the pressure canner (because mine is large), but the pressure canner won't have to be filled with water, so the resulting weight of the canners once full may be about the same. I'll have to check it out soon.
      My water bath canner is one of the biggest, so it does overhang the eye, probably by more than the recommended inch, but I've never bothered to check it, and I haven't had a problem. It is very large, and once full of water, it is quite heavy. I've never even tried to lift it full of both water and jars since there's never a need to, so I'm not sure how heavy it actually gets while it's sitting on the stove. I do have a very large stock pot though (it's pictured in this post, and while it's not as big around as the canner, it's taller) and I figured that if the stove could handle that, it would probably do okay with the canner - so far, so good.
      To be honest, hubby and I have been batting around the idea of buying a new stove - not because there is anything wrong with mine, but because I don't particularly care for it. It was already in the house when we bought it, and when we replace it, we will either get one with a standard, coil element cook top, or maybe a gas range.
      I hope this helps. If you have any other questions though, I'll be happy to answer them if I can. And congratulations on your adoption.