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Family Favorites...Home Canned Green Beans

Clockwise, Bottom R: Draining washed beans, 5 gallon buckets of beans,
Canners ready to go, Happy Results!
One of our favorite home canned vegetables is green beans.  They are easy to grow, usually produce abundantly, and don’t require peeling.  We often sit on our back porch to trim and cut our beans.  Be sure to wash them well – I use a plastic dish pan that fits my sink. 
I encourage you to pick and can the same day.  The quality is the best this way.  Picking and canning every day or two during the heavy producing season is easier than big batches.
 Don and Bonnie let us pick beans from their big country garden for these beans that we will enjoy all winter.  This is a simple recipe from Practical Produce , an excellent book on how to use your garden bounty; it is basically the same as the one in the Blue Book.  
I prefer to raw pack beans, although you get more in a jar if you hot pack.  Remember that low acid vegetables like beans must be pressure canned.  Review your equipment and refresh your methods by clicking HERE.
Green Beans
Raw Pack:  Wash and trim.  Cut into 1 or 2” pieces.  Pack tightly.  Add ½ tsp. salt to pints and 1 tsp. for quarts.  If desired, salt may be eliminated.  Cover with boiling water, leaving 1 inch head space.  Remove air bubbles.  Adjust lids.
Hot Pack:  Wash, trim and cut as above.  Cover with boiling water, boil 5 minutes.  Pack hot beans into jar with slotted spoon.  Add salt as above.  Cover with boiling cooking liquid, leaving 1” head space.  Remove air bubbles.  Adjust lids.
Process in a pressure canner; pints 20 minutes and quarts 25 minutes.
Process at 10# pressure for elevations up to 1000 feet above sea level, 15# pressure for elevations above 1000 feet above sea level.  
I use about 4 ½ to 5 pounds of beans for 8 pint jars or about 8# beans for 7 quart jars.
I use about 3 ½ quarts of water for 8 pints and 6 ½ quarts of water for 7 quart jars.

Drying Thyme

  I have a very healthy pot of French Thyme growing and need to use more than we are picking right now. Instead of freezing it with butter or in ice cube trays, I dried some.
  This is very easy to do, requires minimal work on your part and yields some nice dry thyme leaves for nothing as opposed to buying the French Thyme at the store, which rarely has the French Thyme type dried.
  No recipe, just directions needed, pick your thyme in the morning, after the dew has dried off. Rinse if dusty and dry carefully. If it is wet it could mold. Spread the thyme out on paper towels on wire racks and cover with cheese cloth or more paper towels. I have done it both ways. 
  After two to three days, check for dryness. It should be easy to get the dry leaves off of the stems. If not dry enough, just recover and let dry another day or two. 
  When dry, strip from the stems and store in a glass jar with a good lid on it. It should keep until you are ready to pick fresh again another year. This is a passive way of drying herbs with not much work. The herbs with more moisture in the leaves are not a good candidate for this type of drying.
  You can also try tying it in bunches and hanging to dry, though I have not had a lot of success with doing that. There is also drying it in your oven if you have a gas oven, the pilot light should be enough to dry it overnight. Again, I burnt some this way and the flavor is not as good as the air dried. 
  Thyme is a  perennial and I am going to leave it in the pot this fall and see how it does over winter.
Try your dried thyme in these recipes:

Freezer Herbed Tomato Soup

This is a recipe from the “Fix & Freeze Cookbook" that I have made for a number of years as something a little different to use garden tomatoes.  I have modified the recipe over that time to suit our tastes – I am giving my version here, multiplied to make it worth my while.  We usually have our own tomatoes and fresh basil and thyme, so it’s fairly inexpensive to make.  I have one of those stick blenders, which makes it fairly easy to puree; I don’t do ours really smooth.  If you don’t have the blender stick, puree in your blender or food processor in smaller batches.
You can also can this if you don’t want to spare freezer room.  I included those directions at the bottom.
This recipe brings back that taste of summer any time of the year.             
                        Freezer Herbed Tomato Soup
  1          pound  onions -- thinly sliced
     1/4   cup  olive oil
  6          pounds  tomatoes -- peeled and quartered
              Water, Add to Tomatoes to Make 13 Cups for 6 # Fruit
  2          cans  tomato paste -- (6 oz)
     1/4   cup  fresh basil -- snipped
  1          teaspoon  thyme -- crushed leaf type
  2          tablespoons  Chicken Base -- or bouillon granules
  1          teaspoon  Sugar -- or Splenda
  1          teaspoon  salt
     1/2   teaspoon  hot pepper sauce
Cook onion in hot oil until tender.  Stir in all ingredients.  Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 40 minutes.  Puree mixture with blender stick.  Cool, pour into freezer containers or quart freezer bags (laid flat on a tray until frozen) and freeze.  2 cups makes a meal for 2.
To serve, thaw, cover and cook until heated through.  If still frozen, cook as directed over medium heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
12 Servings or "6 Pint Jars"
Per Serving: 116 Calories; 5g Fat (37.4% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 375mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 3 Vegetable; 1 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.
If desired, simmer only 3-5 minutes. Puree mixture with a blender stick.   Can in pint jars for 25 minutes in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure

Freezing Blueberries

  Blueberries are one of the easier summer fruits to freeze. If you freeze them following these directions, they will freeze loose and you can remove just as many or as few as you want from the bags. 
  Freezer bags work best when freezing this way as containers can leave air pockets which will lead to freezer burn. Just be sure not to wash them till you are ready to either freeze, can or eat them. Blueberries have a natural protection, which appears whitish on the berries, which washing will remove.

  •   Pick through your berries, removing any soft or bruised fruit, stems and leaves.
  •  Measure how many you have and get your freezer bags labeled and ready to go.
  •   When you are ready, fill a large bowl or your sink with cold water, swish around quickly and drain in a colander. Place on paper towels and pat dry with more paper towels. You want them as dry as possible. 
  •   Cover a large cookie sheet with plastic wrap or wrap of your choice, and add one layer of berries. Try to have them not touching if possible. Now place the tray in the freezer and freeze until firm. Mine usually take about 20 to 30 minutes.
  •   Quickly place the frozen berries in your labeled freezer bags and return to freezer.
  • Making sure they are as dry as possible allows them to freeze separately and you will not have as much trouble with freezer burn.
  TIP: Do not thaw the berries before using if you are going to bake with them. They will soften and turn your batter blue.  
Try your frozen blueberries in these recipes:

Blueberry Lemon Cream Bars

Blueberry Pie

Blueberry Streusel Cake

Michelle’s Salsa

My daughter-in-law Michelle, who’s a great cook, has been canning up a storm from her very nice raised-bed garden.  She made this great salsa last year using a recipe she got from the Pick Your Own website.  She did a great job of getting a nice, thick, tasty homemade salsa.  My husband really loved this!

Michelle’s Salsa
3 cups chopped onions 
6 jalapeƱo peppers, seeded, finely chopped 
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
2 six-ounce cans tomato paste (adds body) 
2 cups bottled lemon or lime juice or lemon juice (see this page for an explantion 
1 teaspoon black pepper 
1 tablespoon ground cumin (optional) 
2 tablespoons oregano leaves or chopped cilantro (optional) 
15 pounds (before seeding & skins removed) tomatoes (I used mostly small round tomatoes with a few Roma's to equal 15 pounds) 
  1. Wash your hands then squeeze each tomato and use your finger or a spoon to scoop and shake out most of the seeds.    Drain and chop the tomatoes, you need about 3 quarts altogether.  Start with the chopped tomatoes in the pot...
  2. Add the seasonings and bring to a gentle simmer, just to get it hot (180 F, if you have a thermometer) there's no need to cook it; only to get it hot enough to ready it for water bath processing to kill any bacteria and enzymes.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  
  3. Fill jars to within ¼” of top.  Adjust lids and place in a water bath canner, with boiling hot water 1-2” over the tops of the jars.  
Process pint jars for:
 15 minutes at 1000 feet elevation or less
 20 minutes for 1001-6000 feet 
 25 minutes for over 6000 feet elevation.
Comments from Michelle:
  • I got 8 pints of salsa with this recipe. 
  • I followed the directions for getting the seeds out after I removed the skins. 
  • I use the boiling water/shock chill method when skinning my tomatoes.
  • Michelle says she used a mixture of large onions and green onions from her garden.

Here is the link to the website:
Pick Your Own Salsa Recipe

Sunday in Iowa

Chicory wildflowers grow along road and highway edges all over in Iowa...this gravel road is in Madison County between De Soto and Winterset
Chicory flowers and young leaves are edible, and the roots can be dried and roasted and used as a coffee-like beverage.

Family Favorites...Home Canned Split Pea Soup

Click on photo to enlarge it
This soup is one of our absolute favorites to can.  Perfect to serve on a busy day; just add bread or crackers and some fruit.    I make sure I never run out…I usually double the recipe so I cut my mess in half. 
To get a head start, I assemble my canners, clean jars, other equipment, and cut up my veggies and put them in the refrigerator the night before.    I have to ask for ham shank at my grocery store meat counter; if you can’t find one, try ham hocks or just 2 cups of ham, diced.  
You don’t have to soak the peas, a real timesaver.  I actually don’t add the vegetables to the pea mixture as the Ball recipe calls for; I add them raw to the jars, and then cover the meat and veggies with the hot pea soup mixture.   Be sure you remove bubbles from the mixture if you do it this way, by stirring it with a plastic knife or chopstick.   
Home Canned Split Pea Soup
  1          Pound  Split Peas -- dried
  2          Quarts  Water
  1          Ham Shank-- (1 1/2# shank) (2 cups chopped meat)
  3          Ounces  Onion -- chopped
  4          Ounces  Celery -- 1/2" slice
  8          Ounces  Carrots -- 1/2" slice
  1          Bay Leaf
Combine the  peas, water and hock; bring to boiling.  Cover and simmer 1 hour, remove bay leaves and hock; trim off and chop meat and return to soup, (or keep it to divide among your jars).  Meanwhile, add vegetables (or save them to divide among the jars) and continue cooking 15 minutes or until peas are just tender.  The consistency will be thin.
Wash jars, heat in boiling water for 10 minutes, keep in simmering water until filling.  Heat lids in hot water for 10 minutes until ready to use.  DO NOT BOIL LIDS.
Divide ham and vegetables among jars if they are not in your mixture.  Pour hot mixture into hot jars, leaving 1-inch head space.  Remove bubbles with plastic knife and wipe jar rim carefully with hot wipe before sealing.  Cover and seal, place in pressure canner (with about 3 quarts simmering water), exhaust steam 10 minutes, process in pints 1 hour and 15 minutes at 10#.  Let pressure drop of own accord (30 minutes), open canner, remove jars to clean towel and let cool and seal, setting apart to allow air to circulate.  Remove rings and wash jars carefully.
Equipment:  Stock pot or Dutch oven, chopping board, pressure canner, 13 x 9" pan with paper towel for jar filling, jars, lids and rings, funnel, lid magnet, jar lifter, plastic knife, 2 cup measure for lids, 4 quart measure for water, clean towels, stock pot to keep jars warm if necessary.
To serve, add 1/4 cup water to emptied jar, rinse jar and add to soup.  If desired, add some shredded fresh spinach just before serving.  Heat and eat.  Each jar makes two 1-cup servings.
Cost in 2014:  75¢ per pint or $4.47 per canner load.
  "2006 Ball Blue Book"
Yield: 6 Pint Jars

Home Canned Boston Style Beans

Myrna and I both grew up eating Boston Style or “Molasses" Baked Beans.  The brand we were used to isn't available around here anymore, so when someone gave me some extra dry beans, I had to try this recipe.  I did find salt pork locally and bought some to use, you can also use ham or chunks of bacon.  I used the beans in molasses sauce from a recipe in the "Better Homes and Gardens Canning Book  1973" but needed almost twice as much sauce as their recipe called for.  That is closer to other recipes I found on the internet, but we like this one that uses some brown sugar - it is tasty and less expensive.  I am giving the sauce amounts I have found that I need.
I keep these on hand; the recipe calls for pints, after the first time, I started canning them in half-pints (for the same time); so the two of us didn't have any leftovers.  We often eat them with sandwiches instead of fatty chips, they don't need any "doctoring" to be excellent.
I like canning beans – no peeling, pitting or chopping!  I like home canning – as I know where my ingredients come from! 
                            Boston Style Beans

 2           Pounds  Navy Beans -- 4 cups
  6           Quarts  Cold Water
  2           Teaspoons  Salt
     2/3    cup  Molasses
     2/3    cup  Brown Sugar -- packed
     1/4    Cup  Vinegar
  2           teaspoons  Dry Mustard
  1           teaspoon  Salt
  5           Cups Reserved Bean-soaking Liquid
     1/4    Pound  Salt Pork -- cut in 14 cubes
7 pint jars, lids and rings
  1. Rinse beans; add to 4 quarts cold water in an 8-10 quart kettle.  Bring to boiling; simmer 2 minutes.  Remove from heat; cover and let navy beans stand 1 hour.
  2. Add the 2 teaspoons salt to beans and soaking water; cover and bring to boiling.  Drain, reserving 5 cups of the liquid. (If you can’t get 5 cups, add water).
  3. In a large saucepan combine the 5 cups of reserved soaking liquid, molasses, brown sugar, vinegar, dry mustard and the teaspoon of salt.  Cover and bring to boiling; simmer 5-10 minutes.  Keep sauce hot.
  4. Divide hot beans into hot jars, filling jars 3/4 full (around 1 1/2 cups each).  Add 2 pieces of salt pork to drained beans.  Fill jars with hot molasses sauce; leave 1 inch headspace.  Remove bubbles.
  5. Adjust previously simmered lids.  Process in pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure for 65 minutes for pints (75 minutes for quarts Above 1000' can at 15 pounds pressure).
 (Times from nchfp.uga.edu)  Recipe adapted from "Better Homes and Gardens Canning Book  1973"

Equipment needed: 8 quart stock pot for beans, 3 quart pot for sauce, 10 quart or larger Pressure canner, small saucepan for lids, jar lifter, plastic knife or tool for removing bubbles, lid magnet, strainer to drain beans, slotted spoon, and ladle. Pan with cloth or paper towels for filling jars.  Tray or two with folded towels for setting cooling jars. 7 each pint jars, flat canning lids and rings.
2014 Cost:  $4.68 or 67¢ per pint if using purchased beans and salt pork.