Monday, 25 November 2013

Canned turkey and vegetable soup.

We love soup, in  every shape and form. I grew up in a fairly large household as did my husband, where there was always a big pot of soup on the stove to feed the hungry hordes. At our house it was mainly  mutton, as that is what there was plenty of  and occasionally it was chicken if we had a feral rooster or two to get rid of. Mum always grew a big vegetable garden and the soup was always thick  wholesome and yummy....always brings back good memories of home.
When  I learned that you could pressure can meats,I started to pressure can  my soups, also mainly chicken and lamb. We only recently made a batch up the farm and canned it. I have included this into this post just to show how i usually made it.

We were lucky to find a bargain at our local chicken factory sales shop, they were selling massive turkey wings for $2.00 per kilogram.It was for sale in 12 kilogram boxes. We chopped these into three sections each, the meaty end we used for the soup pots ,the mid pieces we put into the smoker and the tips were doggie treats.
I placed the turkey into the pots with pre- prepared chicken stock and cooked until the meat started to fall off the bones,I then removed the bones and added  pre-canned tomatoes and corn,chopped carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, herbs, and salt,pepper, garlic and any sauces I could find.
This then simmered on the stove for an hour or so until all flavours merged and vegetables cooked.

after this I removed them  off the stove and cooled a little, I then  filled all my hot jars, debubbled, wiped rims with paper towel and white vinegar, placed pre-simmered lids on and screwed on the bands finger tight. These were then processed at 75 min 10lbs for pints and 90 min 10lbs for quarts.

After the first batch of 14 quarts was complete, I removed them and then processed a second batch of pints to give to my elderly  mum  for handy quick meals for her. She finds them invaluable.
So , when we came back home  to the coast we thought that the turkey was such a good buy that we would purchase some more. his time after having seen so many raw packed  soups on the canning sites, we decided to give it a go as well.

This time,  Brian sat and trimmed the meat off the bones(which we froze for the dogs) while I prepared  the carrots, onions, celery and potatoes ready to layer in the jars as follows.

We had purchased 12 kilograms of turkey wings, the meaty end pieces that we used with bone in weighed about 6 kgs, it produced enough trimmed turkey to do two full canner loads of pints (38 altogether)

After layering the meat and vegetables, I added garlic, mixed herbs, chilli,pepper,( BBQ sauce to the first batch and Home made tomato sauce to the second batch), and filled the jars to about 1 inch from the top with chicken stock(I used stock powder dissolved with water this time),de-bubbled and adjusted liquid, wiped rims clean with paper towel and white vinegar, topped with simmered lids and screwed on the bands finger tight.We then once again used our new brilliant outdoor  propane set up to process the soups.

We processed the pints for 75 minutes at 10lbs pressure for our altitude, and then turned off the gas, cooled the canner down  and removed the lid. The two of us then  carried the canner inside to unload the jars onto a bath towel covered bench top to cool overnight.
Next morning, I removed bands, checked seals, washed jars and bands, stored the bands away with the rest of the multiplying hordes  labelled the jars and stored in the pantry.

This is a brilliant way to make soup, quick and easy, also a heck of a lot cheaper than my old way(unless you do the first cook on the wood stove), and the final product  was amazing. This will be many,many quick meals for me when Brian is away working or we just want a lazy hot  meal, and as we are trying to watch our weight this also helps with portion control.
Will I do this again, Yes  I most certainly will.
I am learning so much every day from all the amazing people from all over the world that I meet  on the canning and  homesteading sites that I have contact with, and I am sure making many life time  acquaintances.
We live in an amazing time in history and I for one  am loving it.
So my friends,
until we have the pleasure of meeting again,
Cheers for now,

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Green Beans and carrots.

I have preserved food in one form or another for about 30 years now. When my Mum first passed me on her Fowlers vacola preserver and her bottles(jars) I mainly did peaches, plums and apricots along with tomatoes. One year we grew a bumper crop of green beans and I preserved those too, the only problem was that to do green beans in the Fowlers vacola System you had to Water Bath them in a brine solution for about an hour and  then 48 hours later re-water bath them again for 45 minutes. The outcome was a very soft, very salty jar of beans.
We haven't grown a lot of beans over the last 20 years, just enough to eat fresh or freeze a few, but this year Brian has grown another lovely patch or three of green beans.
We picked three buckets full about two weeks ago and  took them up to the farm and pressure canned  them, great result.
We brought the canner home the other day as we knew we would have a lot of canning to do over the next couple of weeks before we get a chance to return to the farm.
Early  this morning he picked me another bucket of beans , and I prepared them  ready to can.
I also had  a heap of carrots left over from some soup I had been making(I had got the carrots on sale at Harris farm) I chopped them up two and was going to do half the canner  load of each.
Brian then suggested that it may be a good idea to mix the two in each jar. I agreed that this would be very practical, as there is just the two of us, it would be sensible to be just able to open one jar and have both vegetables.So I filled the jars half and half approximately  with the beans and carrots.I did not add any salt to mine but some people do, and I then filled  with water  leaving about 1 inch headspace, I then de-bubbled and adjusted the water levels in the jars.

I then wiped the rims with paper towel and white vinegar,placed on my lids that i had previously simmered in hot water and screwed on the rings finger tight.
After they were all lidded and ringed, I then put them in a double layer seperated by the rack into my pressure canner. Up at the farm I have a gas (propane) stove, but down here on the coast I have a flat glass topped stove  which I am unable to use as I have a  Big 930 AA canner and  it is not recommended  to use it on it.
So we have purchased a gas burner designed for cooking crabs and prawns ect, and decided to use our canner on that outside in a sheltered spot .
We found that this worked brilliantly, although we had to keep a fairly close watch on it to keep to the required 10lbs pressure. We  processed the bean /carrot mix to the carrot  times as they required the longest preserving time.After the  25 minutes had elapsed, we turned the gas off and allowed the canner to cool down, removed the weight, waited a few more minutes and removed the lid.
The result was 19 lovely colourful pints of green beans and carrots.
I have left the jars  on the towel on the bench to cool completely overnight, each one made that sweet ping to tell me that it has sealed and in the morning, I will remove the rings, check seals,wash the jars and rings and store the rings away for future use, label the jars and store them away  in my pantry.
It  always feels good to put a little away, These little jars will be a very handy item to have in my pantry. There is nothing better than  having your own home grown produce  on hand.
I am very tired as I type this, we have had a few very big days of canning, some of which will be included in another entry soon, and I am  nearly ready to call it a night,
So until we meet again,

Thursday, 14 November 2013

veggie protection in our hot Aussie summers

About 5 years ago we had this great idea of making a hoop shade house to protect our plants in the  extremely hot summers we have here in Australia.
We built the shelter with just three hoops. 2 inch poly agricultural pipe over metal star pickets forming the skeleton. We then covered it with nylon bird mesh to keep out birds and other  nuisance animals and then covered it with high density  shade cloth.
We found that this was totally impractical as it was too shaded and the plants went spindy  and leggy and  didn't thrive.
We removed the shade cloth and just left it for several years with just the mesh.
Recently I had a whole pile of potatoes sprout  and I suggested to Brian that we plant them up at the farm in those garden beds, As they would have no protection we mulched them heavily with sugar cane mulch .It has been extremely dry up here  and the mulch has helped greatly.
So yesterday I suggested to Brian that we really needed to put some cover over the potatoes or they just would not survive the next  couple of months and we would loose them.
So we decided to revamp the  hoop  structure a little.
Where we originally had three poly hoops we now have five.
We then screwed in  three horizontal rows of metal as   strenthening supports to the structure.
For this we used some old metal tent poles that we had been hoarding for years for no particular reason but knew they would come in handy one day.
We then made a very lucky phone call to enquire  about the price of shade cloth . We first rang our next major town  which is 32 miles away (thinking that our little local place wouldn't stock it. The price in the bigger town was $13.90 per metre for 3.6 metre wide cloth.
We decided  just to check  our local fellow (6 miles away) to be really surprised that he quoted us $5.60 per metre for the same width. We went in immediately and purchased  the required amount , double checked the price, paid and made a  very quick exit as that was super,super cheap.
We attached the shade cloth  ,making it higher up on the back side of the cover as the sun is more prominent on the  front side most of the day.
On the side where it is hanging down we attached a 7.5 metre long 1 inch diametre plastic pipe so that we could use the overhang as a roll up blind, that we have up for most of the year and just roll down when the heat is extreme.

We think that this amount of shade will be the right amount and that hopefully we will grow  lot's of healthy vegetables under here. Our blue Cattle dog Tilly certainly seemed to be enjoying the shade as she barely moved from laying in one of the gardens for the whole day while we were  working there, even today she has spent a few hours under there9 even though there is plenty of other shade for her.)
So here's hoping this works,I will update you all at a future date to check on the progress and see how it goes.
So a cheery farewell to all,

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Apple Pie Moonshine.

I belong to a few canning sites and see often that  many people put up wonderful photos of Apple Pie Moonshine.
They always look so lovely and have often been tempted to ask for the recipe but it wasn't until the other day  when a girlfriend had passed me on some beautiful preserving jars that she no longer needed(she only used them to store dry goods in her pantry) I started to think about what  i could do with them. I always say yes to free jars and then think about it later.
These were the jars, the four on the right are beautiful Italian ,one piece lid jars each holding  just shy of 2 litres and the smaller ones on the left were cheaper style  Coles supermarket  once piece lid  preserving jars. They all have lovely raised patterns on them  and are really pretty.
Soon afterwards I happened to see another canner who I am friends  with Bev Dobson, put a recipe that had been slightly adapted from the original American  to a more Australian way using readily available products that we can access easily.
Firstly It called for 8 litres of Apple juice,
I just used the regular home brand supermarket juice, next time I may try a different brand.
Next I added 2 cups of light brown sugar.

I then added 5 apples, peeled, cored and diced.

Next the recipe called for 5 cinnamon sticks broken in half and 1 grated nutmeg to be placed into a spice ball and added  to the mix. I decided to add straight to the mix instead as these are both flavours I love  .

I also added 2 teaspoons of  vanilla extract.
this was then placed on the heat and slowly brought up to a simmer  making sure that all the  sugar is dissolved. I divided it into two smaller pots as my large pot was up at the farm. I had to use a small portable stove we have as my glass top was out of action  awaiting a visit from an electrician.
After removing from the heat and allowing to totally cool, I then added  700mls of vodka.  used the cheapest I could find at my local bottle shop, I have heard since that you can use vanilla vodka and similar flavours to add even more depth to the mix.
I then bottled up into my  jars, adding some of the diced apples and a half cinnamon stick into each jar, and then capped with my lids. It then just needs to sit at least two weeks(if you can wait that long) in a cool dark place.Bev said that you can  also choose to omit the apples and use them with cream or ice cream as a dessert.
This does not  require processing as the alcohol acts  as the preserver. This will store 12 months on the shelf.
I haven't tried mine yet, and I can hardly wait, I am not normally a big spirits  drinker, but this smelled like heaven as it was being prepared, so I hope the taste matches that.
So maybe the next time we meet I may have indulged....time will tell.
Cheers to all,
and thanks again Bev.