Homemade Maraschino Cherries: Easy, Delicious, Fun!

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I decided to try out a recipe for homemade Maraschino cherries for my summer beverage and dessert enjoyment. Who knew it was so easy – and soooo delicious? Continue reading

How to Bake Pumpkin Bread In A Canning Jar

 

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Just in time for pumpkin season, here’s an amazingly versatile recipe, shared by one of our longtime staff members. Use 8 canning jars (wide-mouth pint size) and bake this moist, spiced pumpkin bread right in the jars! After they come out of the oven, screw the lids and bands on tightly and the hot jars will vacuum seal themselves. Sealed jars of bread keep for up to one year. That’s right – ONE WHOLE YEAR. Makes a fantastic “oh-my-goodness-I-forgot-about-that-potluck-today” bread AND a creative gift for those on your Christmas list (piano teachers, bus drivers, babysitters, mail carriers, neighbors, etc.) who deserve a little something special. Variations included in the recipe to make other types of bread in a jar, too! 

Pumpkin Bread in a Jar
Yields 8
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Ingredients
  1. 2/3 c. shortening
  2. 2 c. pumpkin
  3. 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  4. 1 tsp. ground cloves
  5. 2 2/3 c. white sugar
  6. 2/3 c. water
  7. 2 tsp. baking soda
  8. 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  9. 4 eggs
  10. 3 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
  11. 1 tsp. cinnamon
  12. 2/3 c. chopped nuts (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar; beat in eggs.
  2. Add pumpkin and water.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
  4. Add to pumpkin mixture.
  5. Stir in nuts, if using.
  6. Pour mixture into greased wide-mouth pint canning jars, filling them each half full.
  7. Bake at 325° F for 45 minutes.
  8. When done, remove one jar at a time and wipe off sealing rim with a cloth.
  9. Screw lid on tightly with band. The heat will vacuum seal the jar. Makes 8 pints.
Notes
  1. Variations: Substitute one of the following for the pumpkin: 2 cups shredded apples; 2 cups shredded carrots; 1 can cranberry sauce; 2 cups mashed bananas; 2 cups chopped peaches; 2 cups applesauce; 2 cups shredded zucchini; 2 cups fruit cocktail; or 1 3/4 cups applesauce plus 1/4 cup raisins.
Lehman's Country Life http://blog.lehmans.com/

Editor’s Note: This post was first published in November 2010.

Water Bath or Pressure Canners: What Works for You?

Ball Blue Book Food Canning Guide

Ideal for beginning or experienced home canners–The Ball Blue Book has the best and most up-to-date home food preserving information. Available at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

When folks new to canning start out, one of biggest questions asked is this one: which kind of canner should I use? And the answer most often heard is this one: “Well, it depends. What are you canning?”

As frustrating as that might be, that fuzzy answer isn’t out of line.

It really is important to know what you’ll be canning. Depending on the acidity level of the food, different processes and methods are used. Continue reading

Crazy for Canning Jars

Turn canning jars into durable sippy cups (for you and the little ones)! BPA-free plastic lids are dishwasher safe.

Turn canning jars into durable sippy cups (for you and the little ones)! BPA-free plastic lids are dishwasher safe.

Trust me when I tell you that I am seldom ahead of the curve when it comes to the latest craze. In fact, I am a bit of a cultural illiterate when it comes to things like TV shows (the Walking What??), fashion and food fads. I never feel the need to update my wardrobe or my décor to keep up with a trend. If you are looking for a poster child for stuck-in-the-mud and stodgy, then I just might be your girl. So it gives me no small amount of pleasure to realize that when it comes to Mason jars I was way cool before anybody else.

Our candle hooks turn your favorite jar into an emergency lantern or a simple, stunning centerpiece. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Our candle hooks turn your favorite jar into an emergency light or a simple, stunning centerpiece. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

I had long ago realized that Mason jars are far better first cups for kids than any

bright colored, ergonomically designed vessel. The small size fits a child’s hand and they are virtually unbreakable. Add in that they now make dandy lids so drinks aren’t wasted, and you have a winner. The new lid inserts that hold straws are nice if not essential.

Store homemade sauces and dressings easily and serve with no drippy mess! Store and Pour Caps at Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Store homemade sauces and dressings easily and serve with no drippy mess! Store and Pour Caps at Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Years ago, I cut my own lid inserts out of cheesecloth for seed sprouters, and I always had jars of lacto-fermented vegetables going. The lids that hold airlocks are a real improvement on my method of setting the jars on plates to hold the overflow brine.

Plastic containers? I laugh at the notion of purchasing them. Glass jars don’t hold flavors or odors and as long as you don’t overfill them are great for freezing leftovers. I like the straight-sided, wide-mouth jars for things like a few cups of soup. I freeze them and when I want to make a quick meal for one or two I run them under warm water and the food slips right out.

Purple canning jars and classy stainless steel straws give this brunch table a pop of color and style. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Purple canning jars and classy stainless steel straws give this brunch table a pop of color and style. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

New toppers let me transform my jars into dispensers for everything from homemade lotions to dishwashing detergent. As someone who makes nearly all of her household cleaners and personal care products, these toppers are a game changer.

Pretty labels turn ordinary jars into practical gifts. I have filled them with soup and baking mixes, simple sewing kits and herbal tea blends. I store seeds in them and use them as candle holders during power outages. There is nothing else in my home that is a versatile.

Straight-sided, 1.5-pint jars are ideal for teacher gifts, freezing leftovers and make perfect drinking glasses, too. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Straight-sided, 1.5-pint jars are ideal for teacher gifts, freezing leftovers and make perfect drinking glasses, too. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

New toppers let me transform my jars into dispensers for everything from homemade lotions to dishwashing detergent. As someone who makes nearly all of her household cleaners and personal care products, these toppers are a game changer.

Pretty labels turn ordinary jars into practical gifts. I have filled them with soup and baking mixes, simple sewing kits and herbal tea blends. I store seeds in them and use them as candle holders during power outages. There is nothing else in my home that is a versatile.

This week a friend was moving and he dropped off boxes of jars he no longer has room for. They are old and dusty and some of the lids are rusty. Who cares? A scrub in hot, soapy water and a good rinse and the jars will be good for decades more use. Canning jars could be the logo for reduce, reuse and recycle.

Click here for more ideas on creative uses and accessories for canning jars.

Lehman’s Hacks: Christmas Canning Jar Craft!

Beeswax tealights, Ball® canning jars

Lit with tealights, the jars really sparkle! Find tealights and jars at Lehmans.com.

The first thing we did was look at Pinterest.

In retrospect, that may have been a mistake.

After all, we’re writers and editors here at Country Life, not semi-professional crafters.But we had a great time making our “disco ball jars” as writer Sarah christened the project, and we hope you will too.

Continue reading

In a Pickle…and Those Darn Tomatoes!

Try pickled beets in the Perfect Pickler! It's available now at Lehmans.com.

Perfect Pickler: large size fits your 1 gal to 2-1/2 gal wide mouth jar; small size fits your 1/2 pt to 2 pt wide mouth jars.

Beyond Pickles I have always made a lot of pickles. We eat something pickled nearly every day. Pickled beans and beets are our favorites with carrots and cauliflower nearly as popular. We like bread and butter pickles too but by now, last year’s are are getting a bit soggy and nobody likes a soggy pickle. Lately, I have been making a lot more lacto-fermented pickled than traditional canned pickles in brine. We can make a ½ gallon of pickles and eat them over the course of a few weeks and then just make up another crispy batch. The process is really simple too. All you need is a sharp knife and a cutting board and some ½ gallon jars. Almost any vegetable can be fermented although a few things don’t appeal to me. I have tried pickled greens and found them, well…odd is all I can say about them. Continue reading

How Do Canning Jar Lids Work?

Canning JarsHow Canning Jar Lids Work Canning jar lids work by forming a vacuum seal during processing. The sealing compound on the lid sits against the jar and forms the all-important seal with the screw band holding it in place.

As the food in the jar is boiling during processing, oxygen is pushed out of the jar. As the food cools the lid will be sucked down and the rubber seal will form a tight seal keeping out air and protecting the food from any further contamination until the lid is removed. Standard canning lids are not reusable. The screw band part can be used over and over but the flat lid is a one-time use. After use the sealing compound will become indented which might interfere with a new seal. Continue reading

Is “Oven Canning” of Dry Goods a Safe Way to Preserve?

Freezer Storage Container boxes

Airtight freezer containers are equally at home on the pantry shelf. In stock now at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

Have you heard about ‘canning’ dry goods to ensure long-term storage? Today’s piece comes to us from The Ohio State University Extension in nearby Wooster, Ohio, and deals with that very topic. OSUE’s Linnette Goard, Associate Professor/Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, tells us below how to handle long-term storage of staple goods safely.

First, let me say that “oven canning” is not a safe way of preserving our food.  According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, “oven canning can be dangerous because the temperature will vary according to the accuracy of oven regulators and circulation of heat. Dry heat is very slow in penetrating into jars of food. Also, jars explode easily in the oven.” Continue reading

Homemade “Fast Food”

Ball Blue Book

The Ball Blue Book Guide To Preserving. Available at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio. (Want one now? Click on the photo. )

During the summer months, I do a lot of canning. We have been fortunate that the garden has done well for the last 2 years. We thank the horses for that!  They keep us in clean, organic fertilizer. With the abundance of produce, I have had the opportunity to experiment with canning partial or entire meals. We try not to buy processed foods. I try to make everything. Condiments, sauces and everything else.

Meal Bases

We canned a lot of stews (vegetarian) and soups last summer in anticipation of these cold nights when I would be just too exhausted to cook. I packed stew vegetables and broth in jars with seasonings and pressure canned them. Squash, beans, potatoes, carrots, corn, and peas all went into the jars. If desired, for a more complete meal, pasta or beans could be added when the jars were opened. We made pasta sauce, barbecue sauce, salsa and spreads along with the usual pickles, kraut, jams and jelly.

When canning vegetables for stew, I don’t typically use a recipe. Since it’s just vegetables and seasonings, it’s pretty easy. Using a pressure canner, just about anything can go in.

Essential Glass Pie Plate

Essential Glass Pie Plate, available at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

We don’t eat meat and although I know meat is often canned, I don’t know about canning it with vegetables. I think I would prefer to add it at the time of cooking.

When making soups for canning, I don’t use very much water. Making my soups really thick and then adding a jar of water when cooking means twice as much soup when it’s cooked. I sometimes use recipes just as a place to start. I like the Ball Blue Book of Preserving for that. It’s full of information on canning, freezing and drying food as well.

Dessert

What about dessert?  If I could make pie filling and can it, then we would have fresh pie in the winter, without much fuss at all. Apple seemed like a good start. Most of the recipes call for cornstarch. Canning cornstarch just doesn’t sound like a good idea to me. So I made my pie filling without it. A note on the jar to add the starch when I make the pie keeps me from having a very runny pie.

Proper Preparation Pays Off

Now, it’s finally winter. There are the normal chores, but I am also writing again and taking some online classes. I’m really busy and often too tired to cook. Those soups and stews are coming in handy and so are the desserts. Yesterday, I made an apple pie. Using the usual crust-lined cast iron skillet, I heated the pie filling and added the cornstarch. I filled the crust and baked it for 40 minutes. It was easy and fresh!

Although we grow a good garden and have a lot of canned food, we still purchase some fresh vegetables during the winter. We always look for sales and purchase a little extra to go into the freezer. Usually it’s vegetables I didn’t grow, like eggplant or didn’t grow enough of, like bell peppers. I found red bell peppers on sale last week and made roasted red peppers, packed them in canning jars, added olive oil and a little garlic and froze them.

I cook a few times a week. Always making more than we can eat, we freeze the leftovers so that we don’t have to eat the same thing for days. Freezing meals really helps out around here. Frozen “fast food” allows us to have more variety in our diet and keep a good supply of winter “comfort food” like sweet potato soup and chili. Freezing Canning Jars

I’m sure most of you know this, but I only found out this year that some canning jars can be FROZEN! (Click this list to see if your jars measure up. Not all jars are freezer safe. –Editor)

I pack our leftovers into jars and into the freezer they go! This keeps those canning jars in use all winter long. The LIDS* can also be re-used for freezing. I know they can’t be reused for canning, but now we get more than one use out of them by freezing them!

Since we try to reuse or repurpose as much as possible, this was a huge discovery for me!  I don’t have a big freezer, but the jars seem to fit better than other containers and there is a lot more food in my freezer. In case you didn’t know, here are the Ball/Kerr jars that can be frozen-

  • 4, 8, or 12 oz. jelly jars.
  • Wide Mouth Pints or Pint and a half- (I think they are 24 0z).
  • Don’t freeze the regular mouth jars or the quarts.

Pre-Mix Baked Goods

Another really good way to keep those canning jars working in the winter is to store pre-measured dry ingredients for cake, bread, cookies or other baked goods. I mix the dry ingredients for a few items and store them in canning jars on the shelf. Then when it’s time to bake, mix in the wet ingredients, add the dry mix and bake. It’s as easy as getting it out of a box, but it’s all homemade goodness. Canning jar lids can be reused here, too.

Just about any food can be made into “fast food. ”  It can be canned or frozen or prepared and stored. It does take some extra work, but it sure pays off in good, healthy meals that can be prepared quickly and easily. It takes the pressure off when there’s no time to cook. That’s important to me. Besides, we live 35 miles from town and we work here, at the ranch. That’s 70 miles to go to pick up a pizza.

Nobody delivers.

*Lehman’s doesn’t recommend using standard lids and bands in the freezer. Plastic Storage Caps for Canning Jars are safe for use in the freezer or refrigerator.

Save Seeds, Plan Ahead: How B. Girard Does Garden 2014

Tasty fall harvest!

Tasty fall harvest!

Our seed order has been placed and major braggathon on the frugal me. This is the end of the fourth year of gardening for us, and in true form I have gone big already for year five!

And by go big I don’t mean that I am growing a garden that would feed the masses, since I don’t, and don’t intend to. This is about us, after all and about being frugal and sustainable, which I am learning are two things that are so completely intertwined in so many ways that they are practically impossible to separate. Continue reading