Post #1985: In which I confess to purchasing canning supplies over clothing……

I had $200 set aside to buy myself some new clothes this paycheque and instead I took that money and spent it all on a bulk order of canning lids – enough to last me through two canning seasons (about 800 lids – they come by weight, so piece number of approximate). I’m not sure whether that says that I am meh about buying new clothes, or fanatical about being right on the cusp of another canning season – but it’s probably a mix of both.

I’m meh about the clothing because 1) I mainly only purchase the boring kind of clothes – underwear, jeans, yoga pants and t-shirts (and try to make the rest) and 2) I am at a heavier weight than I would like to be at the moment and actively working to change that.

I’m stoked about the canning because – omigod I got to fill the basement with food again! Also, we really ate down our canning in a serious way this year and I’m proud of the fact that after years of canning, we are actually eating most of what we can (it’s taken me years to get realistic about what and how much we actually need in the canned goods department).

In any case, it’s not quite BC canning season – so all that excitement is currently confined to reading canning books and pressure canning the odd batches of broth and beans (4 quarts of bone broth, 16 pints of beans this weekend) to satisfy my larder. I’ve found a couple new-ish books recently (both modern and practical) that I’m quite pleased about  – I will write reviews in the near future – but since this post isn’t a book review I’m going to leave those alone for now.

Point being that I found a recipe for blood-orange and meyer lemon marmalade in one of those books on the weekend that got me all hot and bothered – not because I love marmalade so much but because the idea of red citrus in the grey of March is oh-so-pleasing to me. And so I added the ingredients to my Saturday shopping list – only to discover that while blood oranges are everywhere right now, I could not get meyer lemons in any of the local shops (I swear I saw some earlier this week at Donalds…..)

So instead I settled on blood oranges alone and turned to the Internet to find a different recipe – one that called for the oranges alone….. and of course I was pretty much instantaneously rewarded with a Small Batch Blood Orange Marmalade recipe over at Food in Jars. Of course I decided to double it – three jars never being enough of anything for me (well except the sage flower jelly, I sure never needed six jars of that, although it does look pretty on the shelf). This recipe is particularly nice because instead of removing all the white pith, the process calls for soaking the oranges and rinds overnight in water which softens things up and evens out the bitter flavours. I did the orange prep on Saturday and yesterday when I returned from the zendo, I set those two pounds of chopped oranges to cook with five cups of sugar. Because I was doing other things and didn’t want to risk burning or boiling over I set these to simmer on low heat over many hours (five or so) before they met the gelling test (frozen plate, temperature @ 220, sheeting off spoon) and I put six half-pints the colour of a sunset into a pot of boiling water for sealing.

The picture at the top of this post is, of course, proof of my patience and I’ve set a task for my husband and step-daughter this week: find the perfect scone recipe to go with this beautiful jam!


Post #1969: The Soup Project

Just because I’ve posted here now two days in a row, don’t think I’m making a habit of writing here everyday or anything. It’ll be at least another few months before I have anything approximating time for writing (but the completion of my graduate studies is only six months away now!)

As I mentioned yesterday, the news lately has been a real bummer to me – so I have decided instead to do a combination dinner/canning project that involves 8 weeks of soups. I love soup! But because it can be ingredient and time-heavy, it’s not a go-to for a quick after-work dinner in our house. So my plan for the next 8 weeks is on one of my days off (Sat, Sun or soon – Mondays!) I will make a large pot of soup for dinner and either 1) pressure can half of it for future eating, or 2) make a pressure-canning version of the same, or a different pressure-canned soup stock that can be used at future meals. The reason that I am not simply making soup and then pressure-canning the recipes directly is because pressure-canning itself does a lot of the cooking and there are many soup versions that go into the cans “raw” and are cooked in the process. Also, pressure-canned soups cannot contains grain-starches or dairy – which means that one is often making a “base” to be added to when it is opened and reheated later.

I canvassed my Internet friends yesterday and got some ideas – and here are the recipes I’ve chosen to go along with those ideas:

Week One (November 2): Turkey Rice Soup and Canned Chicken Stock

Contrary to my starting pitch, this first week is aimed at getting rid of some turkey soup stock that has been in my freezer since last Christmas. Yes, it’s still edible, but it has to go – so I’m going to pick up some turkey legs and boil them up to get some soup meat happening and otherwise add some rice and veggies and cook it up. I’ll use this week to put the extra effort into pressure canning a big batch of chicken stock.

Week Two (November 9): White Bean and Chorizo Soup

Because there is lots of kale in the garden right now, a soup with beans, chorizo and kale seems particularly appropriate so I’ve chosen this recipe to pull it off. I plan to double it and pressure can half. A bit of an experiment, but the worst thing that can happen is the beans will be mushy which doesn’t matter so much in soup.

Week Three (November 16): Chicken-Bacon Corn Chowder & Chicken Corn Chowder Base

This is a two recipe week with mostly the same ingredients. Bacon isn’t a great thing to use in pressure canning because high-fat items can go rancid – and I found a canning recipe that essentially cooks the soup in the jar. I like the idea of not twice cooking the chicken. Stovetop Recipe. Pressure Canning Recipe.

Week Four (November 23): Red Lentil Soup and Beef Stock

These items are totally unrelated to each other, but I’m in need of some beef stock on my shelf for the upcoming entertaining season (gravies and so forth) so I figured I should get that in here while I can. Red Lentil soup on the other hand, is one of my favourite foods. This is the lentil soup recipe and I do plan to double and can. As for the beef stock this recipe looks like a good one.

Week Five (November 30): Really the best chili I have ever made

I made this No-Bullshit Chili Recipe with some moose meat that a friend gave us after his hunting trip last month and it is probably the best chili I have ever made or tasted. One batch makes a lot, so I plan to make this one again and can half of it (or more) for easy winter heat-ups. Also, use whatever meat you want!

Week Six (December 7): Potato-Leek Soup & Potato Leek Soup Base

This Julia Child recipe was recommended to me and it looks fabulous, but is full of dairy so no good for pressure canning. On the other hand, this recipe is meant for pressure canning, and when later-served can have dairy added into it for extra depth. I’m trying both in week six.

Week Seven (December 14): Vegetable-Beef Soup two ways

In this week I will try two new recipes. Here is the stovetop version by Williams-Sonoma, and here is the canned version by Canning Homemade! which cooks in the jar.

Week Eight (December 21) – Roasted Root Vegetable Soup

For the final week I’m only making one recipe, will double and then pressure can half of it. This Roasted Root Vegetable Soup by The View From Great Island looks like a fabulous cap to 8 weeks of eating and canning!

By the end of it all – if I really get through all the weeks, this plan will provide for about 16 meals (considering leftovers) and 30 jars for the pantry to be used at different junctures through the next year!

Post #1968: Canada is making me unhappy, so….. Soup!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABecause I am downhearted about the Canadian news in the last week – the shooting, the scandal, the tawdriness of the responses to both – I’m setting up a new little project for myself this morning. One that involves nutritious, healing food – and canning! For the months of November and December, I am aiming to make one batch of soup per week – which will be one of our weekly dinners – but additionally, I plan to make enough so that a few jars can be pressure-canned for future eating also. This fundamentally means the soups have to be free of grain starches (flour, barley, rice) and dairy – but pressure canning does allow me to use meat ingredients. I also have a hankering to make some fresh batches of stock and to pressure can those also as it’s much more convenient than freezing (we are running out of freezer space in our house).

I am currently using my social network and the NY Times Recipe Box to compile my list of upcoming soup projects – and will post here when I have determined and idea/theme and recipe for each week. We’ll see how far I get with this – but as it meets two needs – immediate dinner satisfaction and food preserving for dinners/lunches in the future – I feel like it’s something I can do for the next several weeks. Also, I made an absolutely, incredible chili recently, and will include that in one of my upcoming weeks as a thing to can so I can share the recipe.

Stay tuned people! I’m about to use a food project to get happy…… (I loves me a project!)… and I’ll share the process and results with you!




Post #1959: Even if the apocalypse doesn’t arrive….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese cans are full of sockeye salmon from the Johnstone Strait – my first go at pressure canning after years of extensive water-bath canning. My basement has a special corner just for preserved foods – jams, pickles, wine, liqueur, spiced fruits and many other fabulous things. I got into food storage in a serious way because I was preparing for the urban collapse I was sure would one day arrive. Now I do it because I love having so much great, well-made food on hand year round. Love is a much better motivation than fear, and we eat really well around our place.

Post #1957: In which I acquire a pressure canner

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHaving wished often for a pressure canner over the last few years I finally bit the bullet and ordered one on Amazon a few days ago. It arrived last night and we intend to use it soon. Tonight maybe even. Brian is afraid of such devices because he was warned away from the family pressure cooker too many times as a kid – so I guess it’s up to me to learn about this thing.



Alchemy in jars


Happy yeast!

This post rightfully belongs to Tuesday, but I’ve been a bit preoccupied with work things, social things and other things – and so it’s now Thursday and I’m finally getting around to posting on phase two of the Blueberry-Pomegranate Wine which I completed on Monday afternoon – that is the activation of the yeast (one packet of red wine, dissolve in one cup of the wine-juice and let stand until it froths), and the addition of said yeast to the primary along with 2 teaspoons of acid blend, 1 teaspoon of yeast nutrient, 1/2 a teaspoon of pectic enzyme and the same again of tannin. My airlock is currently bubbling away which means my ferment is happy and active. I expect by Monday it will have died down and be ready for the secondary. Initial hydrometer reading is 1.020 which you might note is much lower than the initial mead reading of two weeks ago. I’m thinking that after this batch of wine goes into the secondary, I am going to try a second batch of mead – but a dry mead this time to compare to the fruity version I’ve got going already.

Also on Monday night, I started two batches of mustard seed soaking which I will grind up into a paste tonight when I get home. I’m trying two different recipes below – a basic yellow mustard with horseradish added for kick, and a beer mustard which uses both yellow and brown mustard seeds.


There is something endlessly appealing about things in jars on the counter becoming other things – the alchemy of cooking, canning, fermenting, brewing.


The Rhubarb Ketchup Recipe

Since I first discovered it two years ago, Rhubarb Ketchup has pretty much become a staple condiment in our house. It works as both a ketchup and a sauce for meats and involves two ingredients I always have lots of in the spring: rhubarb and canned tomatoes (from the previous year’s canning). So really, this combination is a bit of a no-brainer


My alterations to the recipe that I originally poached off the Internet are typical ones for me – the addition of apple cider vinegar and a couple cloves of garlic – to punch up the taste a little bit:


4 cups of rhubarb cut into one-inch pieces
1 large yellow onion, chopped into one-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, diced
3 cups of canned tomatoes (with juice)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 good shake of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of pickling spice tied in cheesecloth

Throw all that together in a pot and it will look like this:


Bring the mixture to a boil and the put it on simmer for an hour to two hours (I like to cook it down a fair bit). Once the consistency is where you like it, remove the pickling spices and blend with an immersion blender. As you can see, this doesn’t have the colour of Heintz – no dyes or chemicals in this pot of awesome sauce:


Process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes and you’re done. Makes four pints and the recipe is easily (and safely) doubled.

Another day, another brew.


This afternoon has been a putter-around-the-house-until band practice kinda space – particularly as 1) I drank a little too much at our bbq last night and 2) It’s raining outside.

The first rhubarb ketchup of the season is simmering away on the stove as I write this, and I’m plotting two kinds of mustard to start soaking after I get this post up – I am definitely feeling the start of a new food season upon us as I pulled the last of the blueberries from 2013 our of the freezer and weighed them for the Blueberry-Pomegranate Wine I have been thinking about for the last couple of weeks. Again, this recipe comes from True Brews and makes a one gallon batch. According to the book, this comes out the most like red wine of any of the fruit wines so I’m curious about that.

Before I go any further I want to point out the picture up top – which is the blueberry-lavender mead I posted about earlier this week. As you can see from today’s picture, the mead has  clarified a lot, and there is now quite a bit of sediment at the bottom of the jug. If I age this beyond 1 month, I will siphon it again before letting it sit – purpose being to clarify the liquid as much as possible with each racking.

Anyhow – today’s recipe calls for 3 pounds of blueberries, 2 cups of pomegranate juice, 5 & 2/3rd cups of sugar and 12 cups of water to start out (plus a Campden tablet).


I started with the blueberries frozen and weighed them on the kitchen scale. I have read elsewhere that using frozen blueberries in liquor-making is optimal because the freezing and then thawing of fruit brings out its sweetness – think ice wine. I’m not sure if this is true, but I’m pretty sure that using frozen fruit can’t hurt the process in any way.


I thought I had several mesh bags to secure the fruit in, but it turns out – I had none – so I wrapped my blueberries up in cheesecloth instead (note to self – buy more cheesecloth and mesh bags). I keep quite a bit of fabric in the kitchen these days for just such eventualities.

imagePomegranate juice isn’t something that I normally buy – it’s rather expensive ($9 for a bottle) and a bit tart for everyday drinking. I just grabbed the stuff from Donald’s market that was not blended with other fruits. There was no way that I was going to purchase enough pomegranates to make my own pure juice – I figured this was the next best thing.

The process for making the wine is very straightforward: After sterilizing all the tools you are about to use, combine the sugar and water on the stove and bring to a simmer. Don’t boil it, you are essentially just heating it until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is combined, take the pot off the heat and let the mixture cool down to room temperature.


Combine the sugar-water and pomegranate juice in the primary and then add the bag(s) of fruit. Using clean hands or a sterilized potato masher, get as much juice out of the fruit as possible . Once everything is mixed together, crush a campden tablet and snap on the lid with an airlock. (You can take your original hydrometer reading before putting the lid on, but I forgot so I will take mine tomorrow when I add the yeast).

And that’s it! For about $10 in ingredients I have another 3 bottles of wine on the way.

Blueberry Lavender Mead Step Three

imageOn the Mead front: After one week (in my case 8 days) of sitting in the primary (the plastic bucket) – it’s time for racking the mead. First I sanitized my siphon hose and pump and the 1-gallon jar. Removing the bag of fruit from the mix, I siphoned the liquid into the gallon jug and capped it with the airlock. Now it sits in my basement (you want this stored in a cool/dark place) on the shelf awaiting its maturation process. This can be bottled after one month, or it can sit and age for six months. This part will depend on how impatient I get with the process. Next up? Blueberry-Pomegranate Wine.