Using the Portable Canners from the Home Storage Centers

Monday, October 31, 2011
So, we survived the Great Dry-Pack Adventure of 2011...barely! ;)

Who knew I had SO much stuff downstairs needing to be canned? That's what happens when you don't keep up on your inventory...ha ha!

Using the portable home canner from the LDS Home Storage Centers is a great way to preserve additional food items for food storage that are not available at the cannery locations, or for preserving items that you've been able to buy in bulk for really good prices.

The canner comes in a big red plastic crate that weighs maybe 50lbs or so. I've wrangled one into and out of my car by myself before without too much trouble; however, don't even think about trying it when you're pregnant! (The folks at the storage center will usually put it on a rolling cart to take out to your car and will help you load it up.)

You will usually need to call ahead to reserve a canner - each location has a limited number of canners available - and it is free to use. The few times that I've called the Murray location, the waiting list has been 1-2 weeks. I've almost always been able to pick up one same-day if I'm willing to go out to Magna. The one I have this weekend came from Sandy and I was able to reserve and pick it up the next day. Each location will vary depending on how many they have, how many are working at the time, and how much local demand there is at the time. Some of the locations have asked for photo id when I've picked the canner up; some have not.

You will also need to buy enough empty #10 cans, lids and oxygen absorbers for all of the items you plan to package. A can, lid and absorber will run you $1.00 right now. You will need an oxygen absorber for all items except sugar. If you are going to can items that are the same as what you would be able to purchase from the cannery, you can ask for labels for your cans (they're free). You will also need to know what items are acceptable for dry-pack canning, and what items are not.

And of course, you'll need to have the "stuff" to can.

From the Random Sampler article "Is Dry-Pack Canning for You?" in the August 1996 Ensign, the following items are NOT appropriate for dry-pack canning:
  • pearled barley
  • milled-grains and cereals
  • cornmeal
  • whole wheat flour
  • granola
  • nuts, roasted or raw
  • brown rice
  • yeast
  • baking soda
  • baking powder
  • bouillon
  • mixes containing leavening agents (like biscuit or pancake mix)
  • oil
  • spices
  • brown sugar

Once you've got everything you need, it's time to set up the canner. You'll need a counter or table with overhang. The canner will come with two large c-clamps to secure it. You'll also need access to a 3-prong electrical outlet or a heavy-duty extension cord (one of those orange ones).

There is a foot-long handle that extends out to the right of the canner - it will be clamped to the side when you pull it out of the plastic crate. Un-clamp it and secure it to the red triangle at the top right of the canner. There are two lines and a pressure guage on the end of the handle, to show you have far to pull and push the handle. DO NOT push or pull the handle past those lines or you will risk breaking the machine (and they are not cheap to repair or replace). However, you DO want to get fairly close to the lines - too far away and your lid won't seal all the way down.

The canners that I've used have had the instructions printed right on the top, and then other canning guidelines posted on the front column, so everything you need to know is right there. If it's your first time renting the canner, let the service missionaries know and they will usually pull one out for you and walk you through using it and setting it up.

You'll want to fill your cans with your product, up to about 1/4" from the top. Gently shake the can a few times as you fill it to get the stuff inside to settle.

Once filled, you're ready to add oxygen absorbers and lids and seal them up! You'll want to work in small batches because you don't want the oxygen absorbers exposed to the air for too long. I found working in batches of 6-8 was pretty manageable on my own, and we could do 10ish when there were two of us (one running the canner and the other prepping cans).

Place one oxygen absorber in each can, on top, and then stick a lid on your can.

Make sure to seal the oxygen absorbers back up in between batches.

Take your can and lid and place it on the white silicone circle base of the canner. Raise the red handle underneath to clamp your can down - it's a little wobbly so you'll need to make sure you center the can and lid as it meets the top of the sealer.

Start the sealer by pushing on the button at the bottom front. PUSH the handle AWAY from you, and hold in that position as the can makes THREE revolutions around (look for the seam line on the can, or a date stamp on the bottom edge, or a label if you're using them - make sure that goes around FOUR times, which will equal THREE revolutions of the can). Then let the handle go back to "neutral" and then PULL the handle TOWARDS you until it reaches the back line, and hold for another THREE revolutions. Once done, release the handle back to neutral, release the button to stop the can from spinning, and lower your can back down. Take your can off the sealer and check to make sure that you have a nice, tight, curved seal on the bottom edge of your lid. If it is "wrinkled", run it through the sealer again and make sure you are getting the handle close to the push and pull lines.

That's about it. Make sure you label your cans with the contents and packaging date! Now just keep doing this, over and over, until you've gone through all your cans! ;) Here's what it looked like when all was said and done this weekend:

We ended up doing a total of 108 cans that included steel-cut oats, flour, sugar, powdered sugar, calrose rice, long-grain rice, black beans, white beans, and pasta. And I've been informed that I'm not allowed to buy any more long-term food storage stuff until I have a current inventory list and can prove that it's a necessary purchase...he he he! ;)

Dry-Pack Canning Update 1

Saturday, October 29, 2011
Well, the canner is set up, and we've filled 47 cans so far. That held 50lb steel cut oats, 25lb black beans, 25lb white beans, 100lb calrose rice, 65lb extra long-grain white rice and just under 2lb powdered sugar. Lids are going on, then they're taking a spin on the canner and we'll be done with the first batch...

You'd think that would be a lot, wouldn't you? But no, we had to go BACK to the home storage center today to get 70 (yes, you read that right) more cans...I had NO idea I had stockpiled so many loose packages of rice, sugar, flour, etc. downstairs that were waiting to be sealed in cans. It was a lot more than I first thought! (See, this is why I should be keeping a better inventory of what I actually have down there in my food storage...)

Dry-Pack Canning at Home

Friday, October 28, 2011
So, I have been collecting some long-term food storage stuff downstairs over the last year that really needs to get put into more permanent storage containers. Only, with the move last year, and then the struggle to finish our old basement and get our house sold, the canning of that food sorta went to the bottom of my priority list.

Thanks to a few purchases from the recent case lot sales, I'm running out of room on my storage shelves and I need to rearrange stuff so it's not in piles on the floor, or on boxes, or spread throughout the house. And I can't really rearrange the shelves until I have most of the long-term stuff accounted for in #10 cans. So I finally bit the bullet yesterday and called to see if I could get my hands on a portable canner.

One trip to the home storage center, one portable canner, 40 #10 cans, lids and 35 oxygen absorbers later (along with two 25lb bags of dried beans) and I'm all set to do some dry-pack canning this weekend and get my food storage "room" back under control! :)

Stay tuned for a step-by-step how-to post on using the portable canner. I'll be dry canning some beans, rice, white flour, sugar, powdered sugar, steel-cut oats and LOTS of various pasta!

Family Emergency Preparedness Guides - Resources

If you are on the lookout for a handy emergency preparedness guide, check out a few of these free resources! Family Emergency Preparedness Guide - Salt Lake Valley Health Department Family Emergency Preparedness Book - Bozeman Montana LDS Stake Family Emergency Preparedness Handbook - Lexington County WA Homeland Security Committee

The importance of shelter...

Thursday, October 27, 2011
The recent earthquake in Turkey has brought about a serious humanitarian crisis for many in that country - it is cold and wet, and many have been left homeless.

Article from Los Angeles Times

Tents and other forms of shelter are in very short supply. Aid is on its way, but it takes time.

Because Utah is in an earthquake zone, we could very easily face a similar situation here, especially were something to happen in the colder months of the year.

And keeping a tent around is not just for earthquake-prone zones. Tents would be very helpful for any situation in which your main residence could be damaged and unusable - hurricanes, tornados, etc.

I would highly recommend including a tent and sleeping bags in your emergency preparations. They don't have to be kept exclusively for emergencies - if you have some you use for camping, then you're good to go already. But if you don't have a tent or sleeping bags, put them on your list to purchase. It doesn't have to be anything fancy - they could even be used.

Try to store your tent and sleeping bags in an area of a carport, shed or garage that would be fairly easy to access were there to be structural damage to your home. Maybe even a front hall closet - somewhere that you could get to without too much trouble, even if you had to dig under a little bit of rubble to get to it. (A basement would not be an ideal place, because it could be rendered impossible to access.)

With the end of summer now, you might be able to find some great clearance deals in the store. A couple of years ago we were able to find a camping "bundle" that came with a 4-person tent, chairs, sleeping bags, mess kits and lantern all packed in a wheeled case. We do use it for camping, but we also consider it to be part of our emergency supplies, as well.

I can't find the same bundle we got, but here are some similar examples:

Ozark Trail Camping Value Bundle, at Walmart (free shipping)

Stansport 2-person Camp Set, at Walmart

Classic Series Camping Kit, at Cabela's

Recipe: Pumpkin Bread

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This is one of my all-time favorite treats for fall! I love this stuff, especially when it is topped with a beautiful layer of cream cheese. :) The best part about it is that the recipe is completely food-storage friendly!

Pumpkin Bread

3 1/2 cups flour
3 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3 eggs (or 3 Tbsp powdered eggs + 6 Tbsp water)
1 cup oil
2 cups canned pumpkin

Combine all dry ingredients. Then add wet ingredients and mix until blended. Pour into prepared loaf pans. Bake at 350F for 1 hour.

Makes 2 large loaves or 3 small ones.

For today's batch, I used part white and part wheat flour, because I had some leftover wheat flour from making bread last week. I also used half sugar and half Splenda because, well, I felt like it (and I had Splenda that needed to be used).

I also used powdered eggs - so I added 3 tablespoons of powdered dry eggs to the dry ingredients, and then added 6 tablespoons of water to the wet ingredients.

The pumpkin is a strong-enough flavor that you could easily disguise plenty of wheat flour in this recipe if you're just starting out adding to your family's diet.

I give you fair warning though - this stuff will NOT stick around very long, it is THAT good!!!

Food Storage Recipe: White Bean Chicken Chili

Monday, October 24, 2011
All this cooler weather has definitely put me in a fall kind of mood (finally)! On the menu for dinner last night were two great options that came directly from food storage - hooray!

White Bean Chicken Chili

4 cups chicken broth (I had some leftover from canning chicken, but you can also use canned/boxed or bouillon)
3 cups cooked shredded or chopped chicken
3 cans great northern or white beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup dehydrated minced onions
1-2 4oz cans diced green chilis (my family likes about 1 1/2 cans)
4 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano (ground or crushed is best)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Place all ingredients except cheese in slow cooker. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. (Or you could do this on the stovetop and cook for 30 minutes or so.) About 10 minutes before serving, add in the cheese and stir until melted.

Serve. You can add toppings such as sour cream, chives, Fritos, extra cheese, etc., if desired.

We paired our chili last night with Awesome Cornbread (also made from food storage).

Counsel: We need have no fear if we are prepared.

Friday, October 21, 2011
I have to tell you, I read this quote when I first started in my calling with food storage, and I thought it was fabulous! But then I promptly lost it and have been unable to remember where in the world I first found it.

I was looking up this particular talk this morning because of another great quote and promise in it, and much to my surprise, ran right into the quote that I have been looking for!

We've had a few lessons in our new ward that have brought up this topic, and I know of several people who have expressed similar concerns. We are told over and over again to prepare, but the reality is that not everyone does. After seeing some of the widespread disasters over the last few years, and the devastation and destruction they can cause, and the ensuing panic among affected residents, it is easy to question what our obligation is to those who have not prepared. It is easy to be concerned that there will not be enough to go around. I know there are mixed feelings about this, and lots of differing opinions, so I hope this will be taken in the correct spirit in which it is meant.

Here is what Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone had to say on the matter while he was serving as second counselor in the presiding bishopric:

I should like to address a few remarks to those who ask, “Do I share with my neighbors who have not followed the counsel? And what about the nonmembers who do not have a year’s supply? Do we have to share with them?” No, we don’t have to share—we get to share! Let us not be concerned about silly thoughts of whether we would share or not. Of course we would share! What would Jesus do? I could not possibly eat food and see my neighbors starving. And if you starve to death after sharing, “greater love hath no man than this …” (John 15:13.)

Now what about those who would plunder and break in and take that which we have stored for our families’ needs? Don’t give this one more idle thought. There is a God in heaven whom we have obeyed. Do you suppose he would abandon those who have kept his commandments? He said, “If ye are prepared, ye need not fear.” (D&C 38:30.) Prepare, O men of Zion, and fear not. Let Zion put on her beautiful garments. Let us put on the full armor of God. Let us be pure in heart, love mercy, be just, and stand in holy places.

I KNOW that what Elder Featherstone said is true! I know that the Lord will not abandon those who have followed the commandments and have done what they can to prepare. He will not leave us helpless! The important thing is that we follow the commandment to prepare, and once done, we trust in the Lord and leave the rest up to Him.

We have been blessed on a couple of occassions to be able to give some of our food storage to those who needed it more than we did at that time, and EVERY SINGLE TIME, without fail, the Lord replaced what we had given with an overabundance in return! We've sometimes joked that our food storage is our "magic pantry" because no matter what we take from it, it seems to multiply somehow on its own and we can barely tell we ever took something from it in the first place! I KNOW IT WORKS!

Here is another wonderful promise from that same talk:

The Lord will make it possible, if we make a firm commitment, for every Latter-day Saint family to have a year’s supply of food reserves...All we have to do is to decide, commit to do it, and then keep the commitment. Miracles will take place; the way will be opened, and ... we will have our storage areas filled. We will prove through our actions our willingness to follow our beloved prophet and the Brethren, which will bring security to us and our families.

Elder Featherstone even goes into exact details in his talk of the steps you should follow to get your food storage, and home to complete each one. He even tells you how to go about finding the means to accomplish this goal! It is an excellent, excellent talk that I highly recommend!

"Food Storage" Vaughn J. Featherstone, Ensign, May 1976

Don't Get the Wrong Idea!

Thursday, October 20, 2011
I was at lunch with some family this week, and one of them mentioned seeing some of my posts on Facebook about canning all the peaches and pears and other stuff. She asked what other kinds of things I had canned this summer and I went down the list. She seemed a little incredulous and commented, "Wow, how in the world do you fit all of that in? That's amazing!"

It's not the first time that I've gotten that type of reaction when I tell people about some of the stuff I do. However, every time, it makes me pause.

I think people get the wrong impression. They tend to think that I am some type of domestic goddess.

I must set the record straight - I AM NOT!!! In fact, I am so far from it that if you all knew the truth, you'd die laughing! :)

What you don't see in all those canning posts and pictures, is the mountain of laundry that didn't get done for nearly two weeks - we literally had no more clean clothes in the house and my son went to school in dirty, re-worn socks for two days because I still hadn't gotten around to laundry and he was totally out of socks (among other things).

What you don't see in all those posts and pictures is the disaster that is the rest of my house sometimes - my toilets haven't been cleaned in about a month. The upstairs shower was cleaned, oh, last year just after we moved in, and hasn't been touched since. And I haven't yet been brave enough to post pictures of the disastrous mess that is left in the kitchen AFTER the canning is done, and which my loving husband cleans up for me over the next several days (yes, it really takes that long sometimes).

What you don't see in all those posts and pictures is the bazillion boxes down in the basement that are still unpacked from our move - many of them have been opened and stuff is spread out ALL over the floors, and you can barely walk around downstairs without tripping over stuff, and it's impossible to find anything anymore.
We have a path cut to get to the food storage shelves, but that's about it.

What you don't see in those posts and pictures is that I'm posting them while sitting at my computer, in my pajamas, with no makeup, no hair done, and I probably haven't had a shower in a few days. ;)

The reality is that I don't always fit it all in - in fact, that's probably the case almost all of the time. I rarely have it all together. So no being jealous, okay? ;)

Murray Cannery - Wet Pack Opportunity

Tuesday, October 18, 2011
From the Murray Cannery:

We are in need of volunteers to help with our Welfare Cream of Mushroom Soup Assignment on Tuesday October 25th, Wednesday October 26th and Thursday October 27th.

You may start signing up on Wednesday October 19th starting @ 8:00am.

For those who come and volunteer you will be able to purchase while supplies last:
  • boysenberry syrup
    ($6.00 per half gal 1 case max)
  • chicken chunks
    ($46.80 per case 1 case max)
  • pork chunks
    ($57.60 per case 1 case max)
  • cream of mushroom soup
    ($24.00 per case 1 case max)
  • cream of chicken soup
    ($24.00 per case 1 case max)
  • corn
    ($14.40 per case 1 case max)
[Please note there is a max of 3 cases per person and a max of 1 case of any one product.]

The shifts are 2 ½ hours
· 9:00am-11:30am
· 11:00am-1:30pm
· 1:00pm-3:30pm

You will need to sign up on line. Click on the link(s) below to see the signup sheet for each date and to schedule a shift:

Sign-up for October 25

Sign-up for October 26

Sing-up for October 27

How to Pressure Can Chicken - A Step-by-Step Guide

Friday, October 14, 2011
There are two types of canning methods approved for preserving food.

High-acid foods are processed in a water-bath canner. The natural acidity in the food helps to prevent bacterial growth. These canners reach an internal temperature of about 212F, the boiling point of water, which is hot enough to kill most molds, yeasts and some bacteria.

Low-acid foods don't have that same acidity to help protect them, and so must be processed at a higher temperature to ensure that all bacteria is killed. The only way to do that is with pressurized steam, which can reach 240F and is hot enough to kill the nasty little stuff.

Most vegetables and all meat/fish/poultry fall under the category of low-acid foods, and so must be pressure canned in order to be properly preserved. It sounds scary, but it's really not.

Having canned vegetables and meats is an awesome way to supplement your food storage, especialy since commercially canned meats can be VERY expensive.

I can chicken whenever I can find the 40lb boxes of boneless, skinless chicken breasts on sale for about 1.30/lb, which is usually about every 6 months or so.

For canning chicken, start by gathering all your supplies. You will need:
  • pressure canner (this is NOT the same as a pressure cooker)
  • chicken
  • jars
  • lids and rings (lids must be new, rings can be used)
  • salt
  • boiling water

You'll also want to have some tools handy. Here's what I use:

  • ladle (for filling jars after chicken is in)
  • wooden chopstick (for removing air bubbles from jars)
  • jar lifter (for moving jars into and out of hot canner)
  • tongs (for taking lids out of simmering water)
  • hot pads or hot mitts

Start by preparing your jars. Wash and dry them. For chicken, I add 1/2 tsp of salt to each jar. (The official instructions say to use pickling salt, but I've used regular kosher salt in the past with no problems.)

Then get your stove and pots all situated. You will need your pressure canner with the appropriate amount of boiling water (and vinegar to help reduce water spotting) - check your canner's instructions for how much water you need. You will need another pot with boiling water (for adding to the jars), and a smaller pot with simmering water so you can heat the lids.

Here's what my stovetop looks like on chicken-canning day:

Next, time to prep the chicken!

The big 40lb boxes pf boneless, skinless chicken breasts come with 4 bags inside. The breasts are butterflied, and have a little bit of fat on them which you'll need to trim off.

Cut the breast halves apart and trim any remaining fat. Keep the fat and trimmings in a separate bowl (you can use them to make chicken stock).

Cut each chicken breast into smaller chunks - doesn't have to be precise, just so they are easier to stuff in the jars.

Pack the chicken pieces semi-loosely into the jars, leaving 1-inch of space between the top of the chicken and the top rim of the jar.

You don't want a lot of big empty spaces, but you don't want to smash it flat beyond recognition, either. The chicken will expand while processing, and then shrink. If you pack it too full, you may prevent the lid from being able to seal (more on that later).

Next, add boiling water (or you can use chicken broth if you'd like) to within 1-inch of the top rim of the jar. Pour some water in, poke around the sides with a spatula, plastic knife or chopstick, to help remove air bubbles, and then fill a little bit more once the air bubbles are removed and the water has settled.

Once filled, take a clean wet rag or towel and wipe the rims of each jar to make sure they are clean and there is nothing there to impede the seal. Take a hot lid from your simmering pot, and place it on the jar, make sure it is centered, and then put on your ring.

Because the pressure canner uses steam that fills the entire container, you can double stack your jars in a pressure canner. Make sure the water in your canner is now at boiling. Place your jars in your canner according to the manufacturer instructions. Mine says to place the second layer of jars offset by half a jar, so the top jar rests on the edges of two bottom jars.

My particular model of canner can fit 16 pints jars at a time.

Once all your jars are in, put on the lid and process according to the instructions. (It's basically a process of: create steam, let it vent for 10 minutes to get all extra air out, put on stopper/weight, bring to pressure, then hold at pressure for specified time, turn heat off after time is up, let pressure reduce to zero naturally, wait ten minutes, then open the lid and carefully remove jars.)

For chicken, the processing time is 75 minutes for pints, and 90 minutes for quarts. (One pint jar holds about 1lb of chicken, and a quart jar holds about 2lb.) You'll need to look up in a canning book or in your canner manufacturer's instructions to find out what pressure to can at - here where I live it is 13 psi. You must keep your pressure at that amount (or higher) throughout the processing time - if it dips below that, you're supposed to start the time all over again. Because of that, I usually end up processing at 14 psi, because for the first little while the pressure will fluctuate as you get the heat settings figured out, and that way I have a few moments to adjust the heat before dipping below the 13 mark.

Once the jars are in, and you've vented the canner and brought it to pressure, there isn't much to do but sit and wait. I usually bring a book with me and just sit in the kitchen so I can keep an eye on the pressure. You will need to adjust your burner settings periodically, as the heat and steam builds up and the pressure increases. I start out at high for getting to a boil, venting and getting to pressure. Once at pressure, I can turn down to med-high, then turn it down little by little every 10-15 minutes or so, until by the end I'm down to med-low for the last half hour or so.

Once your jars are out of the canner, leave them alone for 12-24 hours and then test for seal. Press the middle of the lid - if it flexes down, it isn't sealed. If you can barely move it, then you've got a good seal. Any jars that don't seal can be reprocessed (with a new lid) or moved to the refrigerator to be used soon. After 24 hours, you can remove the rings, wash the jars, label the lids and add your canned chicken to your food storage!

[For specific instructions on the actual canning process, which I have not gone into here, I recommend the Ball Blue Book or the National Center for Home Preserving's web site at

Royal Crest Camper 16-function Pocket Knife - 2.99!

Thursday, October 13, 2011
If you live in the south end of the valley, and have time to stop in at the Seagull Book location in The District shopping center, they have a TON of clearance and outlet deals.

Among them I found these little beauties:

Marked down from $14.95 to $2.99!

These are great to keep with your 72-hour kits and car kits. They are packaged in a small gray box, about 1x3x1 (at The District location they were on the first of the clearance table along the far wall of the store across from the entrance door, just left of the clothing, next to a pile of pashmina scarves).

Other Seagull Book locations may have some, but it you don't have a Seagull Book nearby, they are also available for that price online (althougth you'll have to pay shipping).

Royal Crest Camper 16-function Pocket Knife

Canning: Apple Pie Filling

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This was a fun one to can, but boy did it ever make a HUGE mess in my kitchen! :)

You can find the recipe at the Ball "Fresh Preserving" site:

Apple Pie Filling Recipe

This was my first time working with Clear Jel. It is a modified corn starch that can be used in canning (normal corn starch is no longer considered safe to use). It is not the easiest stuff to find, so you may have to hunt around for it a bit or order online.

I found some at Orson Gygi in Salt Lake, however, what I didn't notice was that the container I picked up said it was "Instant Clear Jel". Come to find out, there are two types - Instant and Regular (sometimes called Clear Jel A). The end result of both is about the same, but the application is VASTLY different!

For the pie filling, you want REGULAR Clear Jel. If you're in the Salt Lake valley, you can find it at Kitchen Kneads. I don't know whether Orson Gygi carries the regular stuff or just the instant. The batch above was made with the instant stuff, but it was my second attempt - the first batch was an utter disaster!

Why? Because the instructions assume you are using regular Clear Jel, which needs to be dissolved in liquid and then heated before it will gel. The instant stuff, however, doesn't require heat and will gel INSTANTLY when mixed with any liquid (yup, hence the "instant" in the title). So here I was following the instructions, not realizing that my Clear Jel was the wrong kind. It basically said to dump everything for the filling (except the apples) into a pot, mix, dissolve and then heat until thickened. So that's what I did. The Clear Jel was measured into the pot on top of the sugar. Then the apple juice was added. And INSTANTLY there were clumps - NOT a good sign! (And from many bad experiences with gravies and corn starch in my past, I know that once you get those clumps, you're pretty much done for - ain't no easy way to save it, baby.)

We boiled, we whisked, we strained - but no luck. So we had to toss the batch. (Thankfully we had not added the apples yet.)

We paused and I spent a few minutes looking up some Clear Jel instructions online, and found that I could use the instant stuff, but that to prevent it from clumping, I would need to mix it together with all the dry stuff FIRST, before adding any liquid, and then would need to whisk as the liquid was slowly added. So that's what we did, and it worked just fine.

So far it is holding up in the jars just fine, but some sites said the instant Clear Jel can tend to break down after being canned, or darken, so most of them suggested sticking with the regular Clear Jel (Clear Jel A) and skipping the instant stuff. That's what I would suggest, too, if you have the choice.

Moral of the story? Make sure you have the right ingredients for your recipe... ;)

[There was a little bit of pie filling left that didn't fit in the jars, so we dumped it into a pie plate and after dinner I made a crumb topping, sprinkled it on top, and baked it in the oven for a few minutes to make a psuedo apple crumble - DELICIOUS!!!]

Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup

Monday, October 10, 2011

[Please look past the awful picture - I really need to take some photography classes. I assure you the soup is fabulous; however, the picture is not!]

This is a great recipe from the Lion House restaurant here in Salt Lake City. It tastes fabulous and is SO easy to modify for food storage!

I made this last week, and pulled all the ingredients from food storage - it took less than 15 minutes to come together and made for a terrific fall meal.

Here is the original recipe (not modified for food storage):

Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup

2 tsp. chicken bouillon
3 c. chicken stock
2 c. chopped carrots
2 c. chopped celery
3/4 c. chopped onion
2 cans (10.5oz) cream of chicken soup
1/4 c. evaporated milk or 1/2 c. whole milk
roux (2 c. flour + 1 c. melted butter, whisked together until well blended)
2 c. cooked diced chicken
4 c. cooked noodles
salt and pepper to taste

Heat chicken bouillon and stock together. Add carrots, celery, and onion, and simmer until vegetables are tender. Add cream of chicken soup and milk. Thicken with roux as desired, then add cooked chicken and noodles. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 2 1/2 quarts, or 10 1-cup servings.

Now, here is the version I modified to use all food storage ingredients:

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

2 tsp. chicken bouillon
6 c. canned chicken broth
1-2 cans sliced carrots (or you can use dehydrated carrots from the cannery)
(I omitted the celery because no one in my house will eat it)
1/4 c. dehydrated minced onions
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1/2 c. milk (used shelf-stable Gossner's milk - you could also use powdered milk here very easily - 1 1/2 Tbsp dry powdered milk + 1/2 c. water)
1 pint jar canned chicken, drained
4 c. noodles (didn't pre-cook mine; I used a mixture of egg noodles and rotini because I ran out of egg noodles before I got to 4 cups)
salt and pepper to taste

I added the bouillon, broth, onions, soup, chicken and carrots to a large dutch oven on the stove to heat. When it reached a boil, I added the noodles and let cook until noodles were tender. I then turned down the heat, added the milk, and let cook until thoroughly warmed. I tasted and added salt and pepper as needed. That was it. I left out the roux part.

Of course, you don't have to use all food-storage items for this. Sometimes I make this with fresh carrots. I just happened to have some canned carrots that I wanted to try, and seeing as how I doubted anyone in my family would eat them straight out of the can, I figured this was as good a chance as any to use a few cans without sparking a family-wide food revolt... ;)

More Canning

Saturday, October 8, 2011
I ended up doing some apple pie filling yesterday - quite the adventure (and QUITE a mess)! I will post pictures, and details, and the recipe soon.

While I was out at the store finding the *correct* version of Clear Jel for my second batch of pie filling, I just *had* to stop at Ream's for their 40lb box of boneless, skinless chicken breasts - on sale this week for $1.30/lb (makes it $52.00 for the box). And that meant I wasn't quite as done with the canning as I thought...

So, this morning was spent canning chicken. Stay tuned for a detailed step-by-step how-to for canning chicken - it is much easier than you think - I promise! I've posted about the canned chicken before, but this time I remembered to take pictures of the various steps along the way! :)

[I have been making updates to the Prepare Every Needful Thing page on Facebook, in between batches of canning, but just haven't had time to do the full blog posts yet - feel free to susbscribe to the page on Facebook if you'd like.]

Another Adventure in Canning

Wednesday, October 5, 2011
This one got a little dicey...I had one of my quart jars explode in the canner! Bottom blew right out of it! ARGH!!! Oh well - no harm done except to my nerves. :) I don't know what caused it - the bottle was still quite warm when I put it in, so I don't think it was thermal shock. Perhaps I had a large air bubble still that I hadn't gotten out? Or maybe the jar just had a weak spot - it broke right at the seam where the sides attach to the bottom. At least it was a clean break and didn't shatter.

We stopped in to Utah's "Fruit Way" in Brigham/Perry this weekend on our way home from a trip, to pick up some peaches and pears.

We ended up with 1 full bushel (two boxes) of peaches and 1/2 bushel (1 box) of pears. Together with a bag of grapes and 2 jars of maraschino cherries, I ended up with:

24 quart jars of sliced peaches
10 quart jars of pears (minus the one that exploded)
13 pint jars of fruit cocktail

I ran out of quart jars after the peaches. Apparently everyone else is canning this week, because there are NO wide-mouth quart jars in stock in ANY store within 20 miles of us!!! Thankfully, I was able to scrounge up enough to finish the pears by taking the ones I was using for storing vacuum-sealed chocolate chips, moving the chips to a FoodSaver bag, and then washing out the jars for pears.