Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Put em Up...

All the fruits and veggies from your garden or the farm,farmers market,or wherever you get them from.

Now that you planted,watered and nurtured,your garden all summer long,it is time to harvest all that goodness!  How can you possibly eat all of them before they spoil though?  Not to worry,that is what preserving/canning was invented for!

                                                                  And you can too!

I have been canning/preserving for at least 15 years now,the first time was not only exciting,but also a little scary.  However,there are so many resources at the tips of your fingers,you could be a pro in no time.


When deciding to give preserving a go,this is the book that helped me to have a successful first attempt!  Not to mention many,many more there after,and it is still my go to book.  I would highly recommend it for the person just starting out,and the seasoned home canner alike.

There are two methods for canning ~ Water Bath & Pressure Canners ~  Both methods heat the food,thus killing any microorganisms that might grow,as well as creating a vacuum seal in the jar.  This prevents any air contact with the preserved food,as well as cell growth which would cause the food to spoil.

~ Basic Supplies/Utensils Needed to get started water bath canning ~

  • 21 quart capacity water bath canning pot with canning jar rack
  • Jars,Ball or Mason brand
  • Lid wand (for tightening hot lids)
  • Wide mouth canning funnel
  • Jar lifter (for lifting jars out of the canner)
  • Bubble remover (you could use a butter knife for this)
  • Ladle (for filling jars)
  • clean cloth (for cleaning the jar rims)
~ The Process ~

The first step in canning is to sterilize your jars,to do this,wash them in very hot soapy water.  Then place them in a boiling water bath for ten minutes,after which time you can remove the jars.  Update,please click the link below to read about some NEW Changes in PROCESSING...

NEW CHANGES In Canning Lid Procedures 

When canning make sure to use only wooden,glass,or plastic.  Iron,Aluminum,and Copper can discolor your  produce.

~ Prepare your produce ~

For the best results,use only fresh ripe produce,the longer it sits,the less vitamins,and nutrients remain.  Wash,peel,core,slice,dice.  Lemon juice,or Fruit Fresh can be used to keep fruit from discoloring.

~ Filling Jars ~

When filling your jars,remember to only fill to the specified amount of head space listed in your recipe.

Each ridge on the jar represents an amount of headspace (see above photo).  Produce expands during the canning/boiling process,so it is Important to leave adequate headspace.  Once jars are filled,use the bubble remover to remove any air bubbles from the jars.  Lastly,before placing lids and rims on jars,wipe down the rim and sides of the rim with a clean damp cloth.  This will remove any spilled/dripped food or liquid,and help assure a good seal.

~ Processing Jars ~
It is best to preheat the water in the water bath canner,for hot produce,the temperature should be 180 degrees F.  For cold produce the water temperature should be 140 degrees F.  After all jars are placed in the canner,the water level should be 1-2 inches above the tops of the jars.  If using a pressure canner,refer to the manufacturers directions.  Mine came with a small booklet on how to use it,and also had recipes.

Carefully add jars with your jar lifter,making sure that they do not touch each other,so that there is adequate water flow around them.  Place the lid on the canner and bring water to a boil,before starting the timer.  Each recipe will list the amount of time required.  Make Sure that you Check to see the amount of time listed for Your Altitude,as times vary depending on what altitude you are at.

~ Removing your Jars ~

After the boiling time has elapsed,carefully remove the jars from the canner,using the jar lifter.  Place them on a kitchen towel in a draft free place.  As the jars start to cool,you will hear them pop,as they seal.  When they are completely cool,you can push in the center of the lids with a finger,to check the seal.  If if pops back it is Not sealed.  To be certain my jars have sealed,I remove the rings,and gently tug on the lid,if it holds I know it has properly sealed.

If any of your jars did not seal (this has happened to me a few times) just place the un-sealed jar in the refrigerator  and use within the next few days.

~ Labeling and Storing ~

Some jars come with little sticky labels that you can write on,some do not.  You can do a google search and find free labels to download and use also.  Or,you can make up your own.  Store in a cool,dry,dark place.

Next week we will can something!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

and Finally a Finish..! (Soda Pop Love)

It seems like the more the year progresses,the more I am struggling to meet my monthly sewing goals.  Even though my goal for this month was only three bags,here it is the beginning of the last week of the month,

and to date I only have one finish!  I burnt the midnight oil last night,and then was up early again this morning to get this one finished up.

This tote was made using the Soda Pop bag pattern from Sara at Sew Sweetness.  This is the first pattern of hers that I have sewn a bag from.  Let me just say that it was such a great pattern,even for me!  Usually I struggle with patterns,not so with this one!

The instructions were so easy to follow,and there were plenty of photos as well.  At the end of each set of instructions,she has included helpful hints or tips!  There are pockets on both the front and back of the bag,which you can customize to whatever size you want.  For one pocket I just divided it in equal parts,the other has three separate spaces.  The last being only about an inch and a half wide because,I hate having to dig around for a pen!

I am not going to  tell you that this bag was a piece of cake to sew,attaching the bottom of the exterior of the bag with all the bulk of the fabric,interfacing,and the Soft and Stable,make it a bit of a challenge. However it is very doable,if you just follow the directions and sew slowly.  I just pinned the heck out of  it,which guaranteed slow sewing,because of stopping to remove pins.

My favorite part of this bag are the extra large grommets!  They were super easy to install,and just make the bag!  Although you can not really tell from the photos,the exterior of the bag is quilted :)

My goal for this month was three bags,that is obviously not going to happen :(  When the garden is ready to be harvested,it will not wait for sewing...since we enjoy the results of preserving all the goodness for winter,I am okay with not meeting my goals this month...sewing can wait.

Speaking of preserving,I hope to have a canning/preserving basics post up by mid ~ week.

Linking up at these parties this week:

Sew Many Ways (Sew darn Crafty Linky Party)

The Chicken Chick (Clever Chicks Blog Hop)

Stitch by Stitch: (Anything Goes Monday)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A polka dotted basket...

A little basket sewing,and some canning as well.

A few weeks ago I purchased the divided basket pattern from Noodlehead's pattern shop this is the first basket made from that pattern.   Although the dot lining and binding appear to be different shades,it is in fact the same print!  The next one I make will either have a shorter front pocket,or I will use the print for the pocket.

A look inside.

Once the divided basket was under my belt,I couldn't stop!  So these three were made using some scraps left from a baby quilt made earlier this year.


On to the canning,this is the Peach Chipotle jam made this past weekend.  The batch actually yielded 7 half pint jars.

Three of the 6 jars of Caramel Apple jam,also made this past weekend.  This one took a long time,because as the recipe directed,the caramel was made from scratch,a first for me!  This jam is delicious,but a Lot of work.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Its Here,Its Here!!!

So,remember the Triple Zip Pouch Swap I joined?  Last week I posted about the Color Me Retro pouch for my partner.

Today,after work when picking up the mail,the neighbors probably thought,she has lost it!  LOL!  As soon as the return address was visible,I was jumping around and shrieking with happiness :)  Although there was not a single pouch that I would not have been proud to call my fingers were crossed that this one was going to show up in my mail box!

Look at all the yummy goodies that were inside the three zips...Swoon :)

The inside of each zip is just polka dot city,Love :)

Ahhh,the strap is more polka dot sweetness,and just the right length for use as a cross body bag,Yes!  Emilee really did a Great job of Stalking me ;)  This Triple Zip could not be any more perfect!!  Thank You Sew Much Emilee,you have made a cra*** Monday turn out on such a SwEEt note :)

I will be showing this off tomorrow at work...

Be back tomorrow or Wednesday with some sewing and canning for you.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A couple new (to me) things...

Since my Soft and Stable did not ship out until yesterday (really?),I have been working on some other new patterns purchased recently.

Remember the strips of batik fabric from last week,well this is what they became.  The pattern is from indygo junction by,Amy Barickman (IJ909).  It is called Cinched Patchwork Satchel.  There are directions for making the bag from re-purposed menswear,or batiks.  Having batiks on hand,that was the obvious choice for me!

The pattern called for attaching the handles with grommets,but I mis-understood the directions,so had to just sew my handles on and leave the grommets off.  There are pockets on the front and back insides of the bag.  I love how roomy this bag is and am really happy with how it turned out,even with the mistake.

How about the two extra birdie blocks I made for July?  This simple cross body bag is the "plans" I mentioned in that post .  For the second one I will change up a few things,like adding zipper tabs,and using something other than cording for the strap/handle.  Adding a second zip was a thought,but then I would have to cut up the birdie.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Preparing Green Beans for Freezing

Today there were things to be done in the kitchen so,instead of sewing I spent my free time preserving some of the goodness from the garden.  For a while now I have been toying with the idea of doing a series on preserving/canning/freezing...

Here is the question,would you peeps be interested in something like that?  Please let me know in the form of comments if that is something you would like to read/learn about.  I am not an expert by any means,but,am happy to share the knowledge acquired from my experiences!  With that in mind here is a sample...

How to prepare Green beans for Freezing:

Blanching (scalding in boiling water for a short timed interval) partially cooks,sets the bright green color,stops enzyme actions that can cause loss of color,flavor,and texture

What you will need:

  • Green Beans (of course)
  • A large pot,for Blanching the beans
  • Ice,I just bought a small bag at the connivence store
  • Freezer bags
  • a metal steamer basket,(you can do without this,but it is Much easier if you use one)

First you will need the green beans,these are from our garden,there is just under two and a half pounds. I have already washed them,snapped off the ends,and also snapped them into bite size pieces.(you can also cut them,but I prefer to just snap them).

So,wash your beans,and either cut or snap them to the desired size.

If you live at a high altitude like we do here,you will want to put your water on to boil before preparing your beans,as it will take a while to reach the boiling point.  You should have 1 gallon of water per pound of beans. (I had to do mine in two batches,as my pot was not large enough to accommodate the correct amount of water and beans)

Bring your water to a rolling boil.

While waiting for your water to boil prepare your Ice water bath.  You can use a large bowl or another large pot.  Or,you can use the kitchen sink.  I prefer to do the latter,as there is plenty of room to work,and the sink will hold a lot of beans.  Which is great if you are preparing a large amount of beans.

The amount of blanching time will depend on the size of your prepared beans.  For small,or bite size pieces you will need to blanch for two (2) minutes ~ for medium size pieces,you will need to blanch for  three (3) minutes ~ for large size pieces,you will need to blanch for,four (4) minutes.

As you can see I am not using the metal steamer basket,because I do not have one.  So I have to use a slotted utensil to remove the beans from the pot.  Which I would Not recommend if you have little ones!
Once you have Carefully added the beans to the pot,place the lid back on,so it can return to a boil as quickly as possible.  Once it has returned to a boil,start your timer for the correct time,for the size of your beans.

After the blanching time has elapsed,Carefully remove the beans from the boiling water and immediately plunge them into the waiting Ice water.  Be sure to cool the beans in the ice water for the Same amount of time as you Blanched them for.

When the beans are done cooling in the ice water remove them to a towel,or place where they can air dry.  In the photo the beans are in a pile,you need to spread them out in a single layer to air dry.

While waiting for the beans to dry,prepare your freezer bags.  I am using bags that you can remove the air from,but regular freezer bags will work just fine.

When your beans have air dried place them into the freezer bags,in meal size portions that are appropriate for your family.  For Mr. P and I that is a half cup serving,or one (1) cup of beans per bag.

Thats seven (7) servings of green beans for us to enjoy this winter!

The sources I consulted for this post are as follows:
National Center for Home Food Preservation

How to Freeze Fresh Green Beans

You can find a lot of useful information at the first link,the second one is just how to freeze green beans,but there is also a link to a recipe for lemony green beans there.

Enjoy your week!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Polka Dots,churn dash & Nutcrackers too

Although normally those three things have nothing at all in common,they do in this post!

Remember my July finishes post where I said that you would just have to trust that I had fabric cut for a couple Christmas projects?  Well last night there was actually a little sewing progress!

The polka dot fabric was purchased last year (I think)at Joanns,the Nutcracker fabric is from a couple years ago,and the white/Holly print has been in my stash since the late nineties!

These batik strips are for another project in progress,which I hope to have finished by Friday night.

Monday, August 5, 2013

August ALYOF Goals

After the crazy busy month July was for sewing around here,I decided that this months goals would be countable on one hand!  So here are the three items/goals for this month...

All three of the following photos are courtesy of Sew Sweetness Pattern Shop Where I purchased (and you can to) the three bag patterns from.

This first bag is called Aeroplane Bag,because it makes a great travel bag,there are two different sizes included in the pattern.  The regular size,and the long size.  I have yet to decide which size I will be making.

The second bag is called,Soda Pop Bag (love the name).  It features a rounded bottom and also has large grommet windows so you can show off bits of your favorite fabric!

The third pattern I purchased is the Lapin Nori Bag,which you can use either as a long handled tote,or a carry all,because it has not one but two handles!

Now I have to decide on the fabrics...

Linking up with Sew BitterSweet Designs

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A little Color Me Retro...

It has been a busy first few days of the month around here,with not much sewing to show for it...

I did have time however to get another pouch sewn up for my partner!  Since she is the Silent type and has not said much,I am hoping that she will like this one...because I will be shipping it this next week.

I am so happy that Stephanie over at Quarter Incher put this swap together.  It has been so much fun!

Of course I did put my own little twist on the pouch,and changed it up just a bit.  You should head over to Flickr and check out all of the Awesome Triple Zip Pouches in this swap,they are amazing!

They say,"All good things must come to an end"  and so it is with the first round of Stash Bee.  As this is the last month.  This month we (in hive #1) were asked to sew the cross/plus block,so here is the one I will be dropping in the mail this week.

A parting shot for you... Mr P. is 5'9 as you can see the sunflower he is standing next to is a good four feet taller.  It is even taller than the roof of the trailer!  All of the sunflowers in the garden this year are volunteers,they are scattered throughout the garden.  Courtesy of the same resident squirrels,who keep depositing the peanuts all over the garden!  Of course if one of the neighbors didn't keep them in peanuts...

I will be back tomorrow to post my Goals for the month.