Friday, 5 February 2016

Preserving the Bounty

It's that time of year again when preserving/bottling or canning  hits you full force in the face and knocks the wind right out of you .
We stripped our rosemary bushes that we had to pull out for the plumbing re-route, air dried them in  an old  net curtain
 I then decided that I would  put half of the rosemary  through my magic bullet and powder it up.
It's been really handy, I have already used  it several times in various dishes I make and as we  eat a lot of lamb it goes so well with that.
Brian had grown a row of Nicola potatoes, the same  variety we grew last year down on the coast  with prolific results, unfortunately  they were not quite as productive here, but we still dug a respectable amount.
As tomatoes don't keep that well here in our hot climate, I decided that they would be best utilized  being canned and kept in the pantry.
We  find the canned potatoes  really good, for quick mashed potato, potato salad, and quick put together stews and casseroles.
We had a terrible tomato crop this season and decided to use up what we could salvage
off the plants, so a few weeks ago I picked enough to can  just 6  small bottles of crushed tomatoes. 
On the last pick as we pulled the bushes out,  I  decided that I would make Quetta, a lovely old recipe for a  spicy tomato  relish that has sultanas in it ,.

So I peeled the tomatoes by nicking the skins with a knife, blanching in boiling water and then dropping them into iced water  so that the skins slip off easily. This just makes a nicer finished product, but doesn't affect the taste.
The tomatoes are then  cooked with onion, herbs, garlic ,chilli and sultanas until reduced and then bottled.
The recipe for Quetta is below.
This is  really delicious on cold meats  and with sandwhiches.
At the end of our two week babysitting stint we arranged to  meet our daughter in Newcastle  to swap the children back over, so we took  advantage and took with us out  portable fridge/freezer to go to the  chicken  factory outlet shop to purchase some bulk chicken.
We brought home 24 kgs of chicken drumsticks and 12 kgs of chicken thigh fillets.
The drumsticks we packed raw into number 31 Fowlers Vacola  preserving jars, four to a jar, then added various herbs and spices I had on hand, half filled them with chicken stock, sealed and pressure canned for 1 hr 15 minutes at 15 lbs pressure.
The fillets, we chopped and raw packed into smaller Fowlers number 20 jars, added salt only, no liquid as it makes  it's own under pressure, sealed and pressurecanned 1hr 15 minutes at 15 lbs pressure also.
Canned chicken is delicious, I usually refrigerate the jar  if we are going to use it cold.
below is a jar of  dumsticks  after opening, the juices combined with the marrow bone set into a tasty gel.
This is so lovely to have with salads, or to heat and serve with gravy or other sauces, we have found it invaluable  as a pantry item, wonderful to always have cold meat on hand.
A few months ago  when we slaughtered a steer between us  and the neighbours I had the bones in the freezer to  make stock out of at a later date.
I decided to make  up a batch of beef and red wine stock a couple of weeks ago, so I roasted the beef bones with  garlic and  other seasonings, put  them into a big stock pot, added  celery, onion and carrots, sauces, red wine,water  and practically anything I could find  on hand and then  simmered it away on the stove for many,many hours until  I was happy with the taste.
I then drained all the vegetables and bones off( fed them all to the chooks when cold) and poured the stock into containers and refrigerated them  for two days.

When I removed them from the fridge, I scraped off the set fat layer( which was minimal) and poured the stock( which had jelled slightly in the fridge) back into a pot and heated it up again.
I then filled my hot jars with the hot stock,
They were then capped and sealed and  placed in the pressure canner and processed to meat time at 15 lbs pressure.

After 24 hours when the jars are cold, I  remove the rings, check seals, wah bottles and store in the pantry minus the rings.
This  beef stock I will then use as the base for many other soups and stews that I cook for both eating straight away and canning, it just adds such a wonderful flavour to them.
It has been a big preserving few weeks with more that I will add later.
I have found that the new kitchen works really well for processing and canning  the  wonderful bounty of food that we have been fortunate enough to receive and that my pantry shelves are beginning to  fill up again   and be a great store for us to shop in as needed.
Take care everyone until we meet again down the track,


  1. all your canning simply amazes me, i find it hard to fathom sometimes with so many things that you can actually can! what a lovely stocked pantry you must have too! would have to be the best way to go, must save you so much money.
    thanx for sharing

  2. I used to only water bath fruit and tomatoes, growing up here in Australia, I had never heard of pressure canning. One day when I ordered some new Fowlers Vacola jars the company I was buying from slipped in a ball mason jar and a little bit of info about pressure canning to see if I was interest.... I googled pressure canning and there began my addiction.
    The options were nearly limitless and I have loved being able to can up what we have been able to produce in the garden and raise in the paddocks. It's not everyones cup of tea, but many of my friends and acqaintances have now realized how amazing the process is and have also began preserving more than they used to. It has been costly to set up, but the more you use it all the cheaper it becomes and we know EXACTLY what we are eating.
    Nothing beats fresh, but this is next best in our eyes.
    Take care Selina

  3. I enjoyed reading about your canning. I'd never heard of pressure canning before, but it looks like a very tasty way of keeping food. You must have an enormous larder to keep all those jars. I am well impressed. Well done you.

  4. I was the same Lisca, I had never heard of it either until about 7 years ago. I just love it, so much variety that can be done, and safely.
    I am just about to sit down and update , and will include a photo of the pantry in it,
    Take care