Oh, how I love new toys. I'm a sucker for gadgets that are well-crafted and designed to help accomplish a multitude of tasks which one could never hope to tackle without them.
This past Thursday, the UPS truck (I love UPS almost as much and the toys they deliver) brought us a lovely new All American pressure canner. The giant aluminum vessel looked more like it was destined for outer space than my kitchen and although I found it and the accompanying instructions more than a bit intimidating, I was determined and eager to take it for a test drive.
We have harvested and frozen so much food from the garden that we now have no room for the whole hog and the 25 free-ranged chickens that are due to be processed for us in November...and the harvest continues.
Our new toy will allow us to can low acid veggies, meats, soups, etc. and thereby reduce the amount of food taking up space in the freezers.
For the first test, we picked what I suspect will be the last of the green beans (frost is expected next week) and were able to can four quarts of green beans.
They seemed to turn out well and are beautiful in their jars. I wish we had done this sooner because I really prefer the taste of canned beans over frozen.
While the beans were cooling, we
harvested over seven pounds of broccoli,
soaked it for 30 minutes in salt water to eliminate any bugs,
fed the few worms that were revealed during this process to the baby quail (who fought over which of them would claim these delicacies),
and froze it into meal-sized portions.
This harvest yielded about seven bags of broccoli and we bagged up the thick stems to use when making broccoli soup this winter. Hmm? Maybe I can find a broccoli soup recipe to can in my handy dandy new canner. This was the first of our fall broccoli and we expect to be eating and harvesting broccoli from the garden well into November.
Next we decided to try canning up some chili. We eat quite a bit of chili during the winter. Some we make from scratch, but all too often we decide to have it at the last minute and run to the grocery store to buy a few cans. We figured this would be a good way to use more of our jalapeno bounty, get some ground beef out of the freezer and forever say goodbye to store-bought chili and all its unwanted ingredients. We initially made just three quarts to see if we liked the recipe. We did.
14 Quarts of Spicy, Homemade Chili
So last night we set nine cups of dried beans to soak, took 9 lbs. ground beef out to defrost, and chopped 24 cups of tomatoes. We woke up early this morning to make and can 14 more quarts (the max our canner will process at one time) of chili. It was a long process - but they turned out beautifully.
What's next? Chicken soup? Beef stew? Green tomato relish? We plan to put this new toy through its paces!