Wednesday

Canning Green Beans

It’s great to preserve some of your garden's bounty to use during the cold winter months.  There is nothing like pulling a jar of preserves from the pantry shelf while the snow’s falling and the wind’s howling and getting a little whiff that takes you right back to summer.

For the best green beans, pick fresh tender pods first thing in the morning. Growing and picking from your own garden is always best, but purchasing from a local farm market will be just as good.
You will need about 1 pound of green beans for each pint jar and 2 pounds of beans for each quart jar.

Please Note: 
When canning green beans you must process them in a pressure canner.  There is a higher risk of botulism when canning low acid foods, such as green beans.  Pressure canning is the only recognized safe option. 

Check the directions that came with your pressure canner to determine how many jars your canner will hold.  I like to can my green beans in wide mouth pints jars. They’re easier to fill and easy to remove when cooking.  My canner will hold 12 regular mouth pint jars or 10 wide mouth pint jars. 

Green beans can be hot packed or cold packed. A cold pack is also called raw pack.  I prefer to hot pack my green beans and is the method explained here but I will also include the cold (raw) pack method. 

Garden fresh green beans

What You'll Need:
  • Approximately 1 pound per pint and 2 pounds of green beans per quart
  • Canning Salt, (optional)
  • Wide mouth jars with lids and bands
  • Jar lifter, pots, bowl, spoons, knife, and various canning tools
  • Pressure Canner

My daughter Dawn helping prepare the green beans for canning

How To Hot Pack:
Prepare the pressure canner by following the directions that came with your canner.
Sterilize jars and keep them hot. Place lids in simmering water until ready to use. Do not boil lids.
Remove string and any bad areas on green beans and trim off ends.

Wash the beans
 
Wash and rinse beans thoroughly.  Break or cut freshly gathered beans into 2-inch pieces. The beans look better when finished if they're the same size, but don't worry about it. It's OK to have different sizes unless you're entering them in your local fair.

Break or cut beans into 2 inch pieces

Place beans in a large pot and cover with boiling water. Boil for 4 to 5 minutes.
Pack hot beans tightly into hot jars leaving a 1 inch headspace.

Pack hot beans into hot jars
Add ½ teaspoon of salt to pints and 1 teaspoon of salt to quart jars.

Add salt

Ladle boiling water over beans leaving 1 inch headspace. Remember to remove air bubbles.

Add boiling water

Wipe jar rim and apply the 2 piece lid.  Tighten to finger tip tight, meaning turn just until you meet resistance.  
Put 2 piece lid on jars

Process filled jars in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure 20 minutes for pints and 25 minutes for quarts, adjusting for altitude.
Place jars in pressure canner

When the pressure canner has cooled down, remove jars and allow to cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
Label and store in a cool dry area or pantry.

How To Cold (Raw) Pack

Cold pack is a little quicker but you don’t get as many beans in each jar as you do when hot packing.

Prepare pressure canner, sterilize jars and simmer lids.
Pack hot jars tightly with raw green beans, cover with boiling water, leaving a 1 inch head space.  Remove air bubbles.
Wipe rim and apply the 2 piece lid to fingertip tight.
Place filled jars in pressure canner. Process pints for 20 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure and quarts for 25 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.
Let canner cool then remove jars.  Check lids for seal.  Store in a cool dry area or pantry.

Finished !


Here’s a handy chart to adjust for altitude or if you have a Dial Gauge Pressure Canner

Adjustments for Pressure Canner
Altitude in Feet
Dial Gauge Canner
Weighted Gauge Canner
0-1000
10
10
1001-2000
11
15
2001-4000
12
15
4001-6000
13
15
6001-8000
14
15
8000-10,000
15
15

What have you canned, frozen or preserved from your garden so far this year? Do you have a favorite family recipe for canning certain garden vegetables?  I'd love to hear about them,

Elizabeth


My work area:  I love my vintage funnels and measuring spoons
Other Recipes:

Homemade Sweet Pickle Relish

Natural Tomato Soup

Canning Rabbit Meat



Thursday

Restoration of Original Chicken Coop

Tobacco Barn July 2014, exterior repairs finished
Restoring The Original Farm Coop
Our little farm was once a much bigger property with a white clapboard farm house, a hand well pump and many outbuildings and barns.  The original old farmhouse burnt down in the 1950’s and the property set neglected for many years. 

In 1967 the property was divided up and sold at auction.  A builder bought the current property and built a custom brick ranch on the exact spot where the old white clapboard farm house used to be.

The new house overlooked a large pond and pastures. He also built a large pole barn and raised cattle.
After 25 years, the builder divided up the property a little more and sold more land and then sold the house too.
The second owner stayed for approximately 20 years.  While here he drained the pond and built another pole barn for horses.  We are the third owners.

Somewhere along the way many of the original outbuildings must have decayed, so were removed or torn down.  We have found old foundations, antique bottles and old farm tools while digging and planting.
But lucky for us, one small barn has lasted through all the changes; the original chicken coop.  We call it the Tobacco Barn because of the painting on one side.
The Tobacco Barn in desperate need of repair
The Tobacco Barn was nearly past saving when we purchased the property, and according to many WAS past saving because it was in such poor condition.  The remnants of old nesting boxes were still in place but termite eaten and the barn was full of junk, rotting boards and trash from years of neglect.
Interior condition of the Tobacco Barn before repairs 
I converted another building into a chicken coop, but I am somewhat of a romantic and can just feel the past years of joy this little barn provided for the original farm.  I can picture in my mind’s eye the old farm wife going out early each morning to collect eggs and talking gently to her hens.  I just really really wanted to save this little building.

One of the previous owners, thank goodness, had braced the outside back wall of the little barn with large beams and added support beams to the inside. It’s very likely those support beams saved the barn.
The old Tobacco Barn as backdrop for my vegetable garden
The bottom frame of the structure was completely rotted and gone and all the wall studs had rotted so much so that the barn was short and leaning terribly.
Our first step was to shore up the entire building, add a bottom frame and install new studs all the way around.
The support beams that kept the little barn from falling
We also wanted to move the Tobacco barn just a little,  and because of needed repairs we had to remove all the added support structures.  The scary part?  We didn't know if the whole barn would fall once the supports were removed, yikes! It did not fall!
We used a car jack to raise the Tobacco barn up enough to install cinder blocks all the way around the base.
We raised the barn off the ground so we could rebuild the frame.
This gave us enough room to attach new studs to the old oak studs, raising the barn by about 12 inches.  We also tried to straighten out the lean as best we could, raising one back corner a little higher than the rest.
After rebuilding the bottom frame and attaching new studs to the old, we  used the jack to again raise the building a little at a time all the way around and remove the cinder blocks.
Then we lowered the building a little, rolled large PVC pipes underneath and then lower the barn onto the pipes.
Resting the barn on PVC pipes for moving
Using the PVC pipes allowed us to move the barn to a more desirable location, (only about 8 to 10 feet over to the right and closer to the pasture fence).  We wanted to hide a satellite dish from view.
We moved the Tobacco Barn on PVC pipes

Once we had the barn in the desired location, we again raised it enough to build a foundation underneath.  For the foundation, we decided to use treated railroad ties.  The ties have a distressed look and are black so would blend well with the barn.  We did not secure the railroad ties together just yet. Once the foundation was in place, we slowly lowered the barn onto the foundation.
Setting the Tobacco Barn on top of railroad ties

That took some maneuvering!
Because the little barn had rotted and was leaning so much it was not perfectly square.  The railroad ties had to be moved around, slightly right or left, to allow the barn base frame to set squarely onto of the ties. Once the barn was setting on the foundation, we attached all the corners and sections of the railroad ties together with metal brackets. We then secured the barn to the railroad ties by screwing the barn’s new base frame to the railroad ties.
Securing the railroad ties together for the foundation
Many boards on the outside had to be replaced or new added.  The door frame had to be rebuilt and a temporary door installed to keep out the elements.  The door I installed was salvaged from an
old 1800’s barn.  I also installed a small window just to give the Tobacco Barn a little character.  Real working windows will be installed at a later date.
Temporary window added for character and the door frame rebuilt
Later in the year we had a new metal roof installed, completely removing the old rotted tin roof. The old tin I am saving for some other project, possibly as the roof for a small pig shelter.  I try not to let anything go to waste around here.
New metal roof being installed

The next steps of restoration will be to add working windows, build a floor out of salvaged bricks and finish the inside walls, using feed sacks as the barrier/insulation.  I also want to install a bed frame and add electric.  Landscaping has begun, but I want to add an herb garden to the left of the Tobacco Barn, with maybe a little walk and a seating area.

How the Tobacco Barn looks so far.  This photo taken July 4th weekend

I have different ideas for what the purpose of the Tobacco Barn will be:  Maybe a camping cabin with a bed and small pot belly stove.  Maybe the sugar shack I need for my maple syrup making.  And my son really wants a smoke house.  The Tobacco Barn may be a combination of all these ideas. 

Elizabeth


Other Farm Related Links:

Building a Chicken Coop

Maple Syrup Making

Starting a Chicken Flock

Keeping Goats

 Additional Photos:




Saturday

Sauerkraut In Mason Jars


Homemade Sauerkraut In Mason Jars

Cabbage History
Cabbage is one of the oldest vegetables and is believed to have been grown in gardens for 3000 years. 

The Roman writers Cato and Columella are the first to mention preserving cabbages and turnips with salt. 
It is believed to have been introduced to Europe in its present form 1,000 years later by Genghis Khan after invading China.

Sauerkraut (sour rout) is chopped cabbage that is salted and then fermented in its own juice. The word, which in German means "sour cabbage," was first mentioned in American English in 1776.  
The dish has long been associated with German communities in the United States.

Monday

Canning Rabbit Meat

Canning Rabbit 
Rabbit is quickly becoming the new white meat.  Prices in stores vary greatly but I have seen prices range between $10.00 to $18.00 per pound!
Rabbits are efficient meat producers meaning they provide good meat without high cost or much waste.  Also efficient in that rabbits, using the same amount of food and water that a cow needs to produce a pound of meat, can produce six pounds of rabbit meat.

Rabbit meat is mild flavored, tender, high in protein, low in fat, low in cholesterol, low in sodium and low in saturated fatty acids. 
And, comparing it to beef, pork, lamb, turkey, veal and chicken, rabbit has the highest percentage of protein, the lowest percentage of fat and has the fewest calories per pound, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Thursday

How To Make Grape Juice

Ripe grapes in Michigan
Homemade Grape Juice
A few years ago my daughter's mother-in-law Julie gave us 2 cases of grapes.  I decided to come up with something to do with all those grapes besides just eating them and making grape jelly, so I made grape juice.

Recently I have been getting grapes from our neighbor’s vines for free but I noticed this spring they removed all their vines and the trellis they were hanging on.  My heart sank. 

To have our own supply I have planted 5 grape vines in the last 3 years. Three are doing very well; two are struggling, but hopefully we will have our own grape harvest.

Wednesday

Lemon Ice Box Pie


An old-timey favorite, simple to make and simply delicious. This is a great summer dessert to share at BBQs and gatherings.    

Fluffy and creamy smooth with a refreshing hint of lemon and the tropics, this will become one of your summer time favorites.

Lemon Ice Box Pie is considered by many to be a southern dish, but I can remember my mother making the most wonderful Lemon pies when I was little in central Ohio.  

Ice boxes date back to the days of ice harvesting which ran from the mid-19th century to the 1930s, or until refrigerators were introduced into the home. The Ice box had hollow walls and were packed with blocks of ice to keep food cold. It is most likely this pie recipe was created around that time.

Sunday

Strawberry Schnapps


Homemade Strawberry Schnapps
Its strawberry season in many regions and sometimes we pick more than we know what to do with.  And we’re not the only ones.  On a couple blogs and pages I follow there is always a question posted as to what to do with all these strawberries!  The usual answers are posted; make jam, jelly, flash freeze for desserts, and use in smoothies.  I added why not make Schnapps?  I got many replies asking me to please post the recipe, so here it is.
This schnapps has a delicate, aromatic taste and a beautiful red color.
For the best results and flavor, use fresh fully ripe strawberries. You can use store purchased strawberries, but farm fresh have a richer sweeter flavor and aroma and just produced a better end product.