Saturday, October 8, 2011

Winter Dinners in a Jar

The reason I mention heritage fruits and vegetable is that with items such as tomatoes, you will not need to add another acid to your mix. However if you choose to buy your fruits in the grocery, you will need to add some lemon juice to your mix. The rule of thumb here is two tablespoons lemon juice or teaspoon citric acid into each quart of tomatoes, added before you fill your jars.With spring around the corner, farm markets and road side stands are getting ready to offer you a wide variety of organically grown heritage food stuff. Now is the time to start thinking about your foods for the summer and next winter. And canned dinners is a good place as any to begin.Planning dinners so far in advance can seem not only time consuming, but a daunting prospect. The simplest thing to do is to go into your cabinets and see what store-bought goods you already have there. Most of us havespaghetti sauce,pizza sauce,baked beans and BBQ sauce -great for sweet and saucy ribs. And if you have children, canned pastas seems to be the mainstay.

There is very little information on canning your own pasta dinners out there. Yet the major companies as well as homesteaders have been doing this for years. The problems occur with what types of pasta you want to can and how much of it you stuff into a jar. You will need only enough to loosely fit into the can/jar, never jam pack it in, or fill it to the brim. As with any home canning you need to leave at least inch of head space. Elbow macaroni, shells or spaghetti noodles are the easiest. It is not recommended that you can pasta because dense foods are harder to heat all the way through during processing.Homemade pastas are simple, and something that everyone should try their hand at. And you can add your own twist, or flavoring, to the noodles, like beet, spinach or Parmesan. Once you have your noodles, forming them into shapes is simple, pack them into the jar, loosely and then add your sauce. Kids love meat ravioli, spaghetti and meatballs, and beef and macaroni. Processing takes the same amount of time as your meats do, 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts at 10 pounds pressure, unless you live at an altitude more than 1,000 feet; consult your canning manual for directions for increasing your pressure.

Soups, like chicken noodle soup, are a wonderful item to always have on hand. Any of the soups you buy at the store can be modified to your taste, removing or adding certain vegetables, seasoning, and salt . If you have meats in your stock, processing time will take longer then a plain, chicken, meat or vegetable stock. Stews, like roast beef, are the same.And speaking of meats, canning your own meats, poultry, fish and seafood is very rewarding. These items are cooked and stewed in their own juices creating an extra tender meal in a natural stock. Canned Beef strips make an excellent stroganoff. Canned chicken works wonders as a quick chicken with almond rice, while canned salmon makes an irresistible salmon and raisin pie.Which ever dinner tempts your the most, remember that healthy eating requires that you know what is in your food, that you follow all the canning instructions carefully, never eat anything that isn't sealed properly, and throughly cook all your foods. And most importantly, enjoy.

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