Sunday

Canning Carrots

We love carrots in our house and eat them in many different ways.  There is nothing better than raw carrots dipped in Ranch dressing! I put carrots in just about all my homemade soups, chicken pot pie and we love them steamed or candied (brown sugar and butter).

I try to grow a crop of carrots every year, but some years I only get enough to eat fresh and not enough to can.  
This summer Ohio was reported to be the wettest in history, so I'm having a pretty poor crop harvest, and that goes for vegetables such as onions, garlic and green beans too, ugh. 

Carrots have become very popular as a quick snack for most kids (and adults too).  Parents love the petite size carrots because not only are kids eating their vegetables, they like them!

Recent rumors claim that baby carrots are not really carrots but some weird substance formed into small carrot shapes and dyed orange. 

Carrots pulled fresh from my garden

So What Are “Baby” (or Petite Cut) Carrots?
 A true baby carrot is a carrot grown to the "baby stage", which is harvested before the root reaches its mature size.
In the 1980's supermarkets expected carrots to be a particular size, shape, and color. Anything else had to be sold for juice or processing or animal feed, or just thrown away.

Today’s “Manufactured" baby carrots were invented in the late 1980's by Mike Yurosek, a California farmer, as a way of making use of carrots which are too twisted or knobby for sale as full-size carrots. 

Photo from Wikipedia 
Yurosek was unhappy at having to discard as much as 400 tons of carrots a day (yikes, what a waste!) because of their imperfections, and looked for a way to reclaim what would otherwise be a waste product. 

He was able to find an industrial green bean cutter, which cut his carrots into 5 cm lengths, and by placing these lengths into an industrial potato peeler, he created the baby carrot. Yea!
He made up a few test batches to show his buyers. One batch, cut into 1-inch bites and peeled round, he called "bunny balls." Another batch were peeled and cut 2 inches long, and looked like little baby carrots.
They transformed the whole industry.

These days, in order to create thinner vegetables, baby carrots are planted closer together than traditional carrots. In as little as 120 days from planting, the carrots are dug up and trucked to the processing house to be cut and peeled.
Most baby carrots sold in U.S. and U.K. supermarkets are really what the industry calls “baby cuts” – made from longer carrots that have been peeled and cut into a smaller size.

Baby carrots washed and ready for canning

Every once in a while organic carrots go on sale at our local grocery store. This week a 2 pound bag of petite cut carrots was $1.59.  It took about 4 ¼ pounds to make a canner full or 8 pints.

I prefer to use wide mouth canning jars.  Not only are they easier to fill, they closely match the size of a commercially canned product for recipes.

Wide mouth pint canning jars

Canning Carrots

What You’ll Need:
4 to 4 ½ lbs baby, petite cut or regular carrots
Kosher or canning salt, optional
Water
7 to 8 wide mouth pint jars with lids and bands
Pressure Canner and canning tools
 
First layer of carrots in the bottom of the canning jar

How To Do It:
Prepare your pressure canner to manufacture’s instructions.
Fill a saucepan ¾ full with water and heat, then allow to simmer until ready to use.  This will be the liquid you add to the jars after filling them with carrots.
Wash and sterilize jars, then heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. I just put the jars in the pressure canner to keep them hot.  But do not boil.
Wash lids and bands in warm soapy water and set aside. New lids no longer need to be hot or boiled. 

2nd layer of  carrots in a swirl pattern to keep them below the headspace

Small carrots placed in the center of the swirl pattern to fill space.


Wash carrots. If using whole carrots, peel and wash again. Cut carrots into slices or leave whole.
Pack carrots tightly into hot jars leaving 1 inch headspace.
When canning baby carrots, pack the first row of carrots into the jar standing up.  The top row of baby carrots should be tilted or placed in a slight swirl pattern so the carrots are below the needed headspace. 

Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to pints, (optional)

Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each pint jar, if desired.
Ladle hot water over carrots leaving 1 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band and adjust just until fit is fingertip tight.

Add boiling water, leaving 1 inch headspace

Process filled jars in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure 25 minutes for pints, adjusting for altitude. (Method and processing time taken from the newest addition of The Ball Blue Book)
Once done, remove jars from canner and allow to cool for 24 hours without disturbing. Check lids for seal, lids should not flex up and down when center is pressed.  If any jars did not seal, store in the refrigerator.

Wash exterior of the sealed jars and store in a cool dark location. 



PRINT RECIPE

I am in the middle of making sauerkraut with cabbage from my garden and making Peach Marmalade with peaches I picked up recently on a weekend trip to Virginia.
Tomatoes are finally coming in (all at once of course) so I’ll be canning those soon too, but I just can’t pass up a great deal on other organic vegetables.  Without calculating my time involved, I have about 40. cents in each jar of carrots I canned.  And it’s always great to open a jar of fruit or vegetables that I know exactly what’s in the jar!

Hope your summer has been an enjoyable one,
Elizabeth


Other Posts:
  






Tuesday

Corn Stock

I just finished canning Whole Kernel Corn and have dozens of corn cobs left.  I am a recycler and savager and hate waste anything if the item can be used again or re-purposed.  I feed all our leftover food scraps to our livestock so nothing goes to waste from cooking. 

Years ago I started picking up a few of the Martha Stewart books on cooking and entertaining, for cheap at yard sales and second hand stores.   In one of her books or magazines (I don’t remember which) she had a recipe for corn stock. And I must tell you, I was skeptical.  I am not a huge fan of corn on the cob (I know, weird right?) so was not really excited about doing more with corn.

But with a little thought, I realized corn stock can be used as I would Chicken Stock, to flavor soups, stews, sauces, risotto, casseroles and many other dishes. We love hot soup on cold winter days, and I found it’s really great added to my homemade Vegetable Soup or Sausage Corn Chowder.

Looking in the Ball Blue book, there are recipes for vegetable, beef and chicken stock, but no mention of corn stock.  I decided to follow the cooking times for vegetable stock which is a little longer processing time,  just to be safe.

Corn is a low acid food so corn stock must be pressure canned to avoid food poisoning or botulism.

Garden fresh corn on the cob

Variations:
There are many recipes for corn stock; some just with the cobs and water, some recipes add spices and vegetables like carrots, celery and onions. 
I prefer adding a few fresh spices and an onion. If you do not have fresh spices readily available just boil the cobs in water!  It’s good either way. 

This recipe can be cut in half for smaller potions to store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Corn Stock

Ingredients
12 to 14 corn cobs
4 quarts of water
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon thyme
2 cloves garlic, finely diced (optional)
2-3 dried bay leaves
1 medium onion, peeled and diced

 
Place cobs in a stockpot with water

Directions

Prepare pressure canner to manufacture’s instructions.
Wash and sterilize canning jars and keep hot. 
I keep my jars right in the canner to keep them hot.  Saves energy and no extra pot to clean.

Add spices, onion or other vegetables, if desired

Add corn cobs to a large stock put. I usually break the corn cobs in half, but it is not necessary.  Pour water into the pot and then add the parsley, thyme, garlic, bay leaf and onion. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and let the broth simmer for 30 to 60 minutes.

Pour the broth through a fine-mesh sieve to strain. A pot lined with cheesecloth works well too or use a mini strainer and strain as you fill each jar.
 
Pour hot stock into hot jars, leaving a 1 inch headspace

Working with one jar at a time, ladle hot corn stock into hot jars, leaving a 1 inch headspace.  Wipe jar rim.  Attach 2 piece lids, tightening just until finger tip tight. Place jar on the rack in the pressure canner.  
Wipe jar rim and attach lids

Process at 10 pounds of pressure for 30 minutes for pints and 35 minutes for quarts.  Turn off heat and allow canner to come to 0 pressure or the safety lock releases, depending on your type of pressure canner.  Remove jars from canner and allow to cool 12 to 24 hours without disturbing.  Check lids for seal.
Once cooled, lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
Do Not Tighten Bands.  
Bands may be left on or removed.

Wash off the out side of the jars, label and store in a cool dark location.
Any jars that did not seal can be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or frozen in freezer containers or bags for months.

Allow to cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours before checking lids for seal

Other Storage:
If you do not have a pressure canner, corn stock can stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or frozen in freezer containers or bags for months.

PRINT RECIPE (coming soon)

Once cool, wash the outside of the jars, label and store in a cool dark area
I recently read that this year we are having the wettest summer in Ohio since weather recording began!  I have very few tomatoes coming in and only 4 peppers so far.  
And, I’m afraid to check my potatoes, as I’m sure they’re rotting in the ground.  Some years are not as productive as others, just a fact and all part of the cycle of life.

Elizabeth



Into each life some rain must fall.


~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



Canning Whole Kernel Corn

It's summer and along with many other warm weather activities, canning the vegetables that are ripe and in season is something I do every year.

When corn first comes in, it can be a little expensive but as the weeks pass the price per dozen is alot of times greatly reduced.
When buying sweet corn in the husk, look for bright green color snug husks and dark brown silk.

Sweet corn is a low acid food so must be pressure canned to avoid food poisoning and botulism.

I preserve corn in pint jar to closely match the commercially canned size for recipes.

Monday

Pregnancy or Birth Announcement Idea

My son Daniel and his girlfriend Jennica have been living together for a couple of years and although they have talked about when they want to get married my son decided to make it official this year.
He is a hopeless romantic like his mother (me) so planned a dreamy romantic weekend by renting a lodge in a beautiful secluded area here in Ohio called Hocking Hills.  The weekend went wonderful and Jennica came home in a princess-dreamy-state all full of smiles, butterflies and happiness. 
The wedding is set for March 2017, a date they have had set all along because St. Patrick’s Day 5 years ago was the date of their first date.

Fast forward to April and Jennica sets me down in a teary eyed state letting me know she thinks she is expecting! 
After a visit to the doctor’s, it was confirmed they got pregnant on St. Patrick’s Day.  How fitting.


After the initial shock, Daniel and Jennica decided to send out announcements to immediate family and their closest friends.

Thursday

Moving a Shed

Moving a small gardening shed or other small building is not impossible.  There are a couple of ways to move a shed; one takes hard work and numerous people, but not for lifting. 
The second is to hire the work out.

We learned how to move a shed with PVC pipes and jacks from a guy who moved a shed for us about 20 years ago. The shed was sitting directly outside my kitchen window and in the center of the yard.  Eyesore!  It took the guy about two hours tops to move the shed and we were impressed!



Moving the Original Chicken Coop:
We are in the process of rebuilding our farm’s original chicken coop and turning it into a camping cabin (or maybe a smoke house).  It was quite deteriorated so to move that small barn we had to completely rebuild the entire base or bottom third of the structure.

Wednesday

Blackberry Cobbler (or One Cup Cobbler)

This is a really quick and easy dessert, made with items almost all kitchens have on hand.  And it quickly becomes nearly everyone’s favorite.  
You will get repeated requests for this dessert! 
A berry cobbler is very homey, a comfort food even, a dessert that’s not really fancy but gets nearly the same reaction every time:  Dessert Heaven.

Blackberry is our favorite berry to use but just about any fruit works well.  Our next favorite fruits to use are peach and cherry.  
The great thing about this dessert is it can be made when berries are fresh and in season, or use frozen fruit in the middle of winter for a taste just as good as in summer.

Tuesday

Black Bean, Tomato and Corn Salsa

We love salsa and pica de galla and eat both year round.  I have a favorite Honey Lime Chicken kabob that I grill during summer months and needed a new side dish to compliment the chicken.
Salsa of course came to mind, and although I make different kinds, like strawberry and peach salsa,  I decided to try a new version. 

This is way easy and super delicious!  We ended up eating nearly half of it with tortilla chips before dinner was even ready so factor that in when making this recipe.

I’m going to keep this recipe in mind for our occasional Mexican Dinner night.

Thursday

Strawberry Pie Filling

Strawberries are among the first fruit to ripen in the Northeast.  
In my area of Ohio, strawberries are ripe around the first week in June.  For me, strawberries mark the passage from spring to summer each year. And besides, making delicious fresh strawberry edibles gives me something to do while I eagerly wait for my garden vegetable to ripen.

In 2010, strawberries surpassed apples to become the third largest among fruits in agriculture crops in the U.S., after grapes and oranges. And strawberries are the fifth highest consumed fresh fruit by weight in the U.S. behind bananas, apples, oranges and grapes.  The health benefits of strawberries include antioxidants, folate, potassium, vitamin C and fiber besides just being so darn delicious!

Every year we make Strawberry Freezer Jam, freeze cut up strawberries to use during cold winter months and sometimes other things like Strawberry Schnapps.  This year I decided to try homemade Strawberry Pie Filling.   There is nothing better as a cool dessert on a hot summer day than a chilled strawberry pie.

Sunday

Propagating a Clematis Vine

I just love flowering clematis vines!  
There are so many different colors and types and all are beautiful growing up a trellis, over an arbor, up a lamp post, along a fence or just anywhere really. 
The best way to grow clematis is from clematis cuttings.
Propagation is pretty easy and you can have anywhere from a 50% to up to a 90% success rate.

The Clematis is in the Buttercup family and hundreds of species and cultivars of clematis exist around the world. The popular vine is available in single- and double-bloom varieties, in dozens of colors that often change as the plant grows, and in cultivars that grow as high as 30 feet or remain about 6 to 8 feet. 

Certain clematis vines are winter hardy even to zone 3, while others are hardy in zones 4 through 9. Clematis originated in Europe and Asia and the late 1800's brought about numerous varieties through breeding and cross pollination.

Wednesday

Wire Garden Orb

I have an older wire orb on a stick I've had for years.  It started out painted a pretty lime green color I believe but all the paint has faded and now it’s just a drab rusted looking orb.

I am in love with Alliums, which is a perennial bulb that comes up in the spring and has a huge purplish or pinkish round flower.

Allium is the onion genus and comprises flowering plants and includes the onion, garlic, chives, scallion, shallot, and the leek as well as hundreds of wild species.
The majority of Allium species are mostly native to Asia but a few are native to Africa and Central and South America

The Allium I have in my flower gardens and that are most commonly used as ornamental flowers include A. cristophii and A. giganteum.   These are used as border plants because of their beautiful orb shape flowers.