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27 January 2010

Simple Living Series - Food storage

I believe today's topic is one of the most important practical things we learn about in our homes - food storage.  I hope you join with me to share what you do because I am always open improving what I do and looking for new methods.  So let's get down to it, why is it so important and what should we be doing?

Buying food is usually a never-ending expense in the household budget. If you can save money on your food bills, you'll generally save big money over the course of your life.  So it makes sense that not only should you look for bargains, buy local and get the freshest food available, you should also store your food so it doesn't deteriorate before you eat it.

I've written before now on the differences in how the northern hemisphere, particularly north America, preserves food in jars.  Canning meat, fish, beans, soup and other high protein foods is quite common there but not in Australia.  Here we tend to preserve relish, chutney, jams, tomato sauce, tomatoes and fruits that do well in a sterilsed jar with lemon juice added.  I think we follow the UK tradition, but I may be wrong.  Here we tend to commonly freeze our meat and fish if it's to be kept for a long period.  I am not going to write about freezing or preserving/canning here, I've done it in the past and it's a subject of its own, but here is a link to one of my preserving/canning posts and to a post on freezing.

Like most things in this simple life, we will all do things the way it best suits our way of living.  Hanno and I grow a lot of our own food so our methods may differ from those of you who buy everything you need.  Basically, we freeze our meat which we buy in bulk, we also freeze small amounts of fish when we buy it at the co-op.  Excesses of vegetables are frozen after blanching and stored in the freezer for up to three months.  Always bag your frozen food well., freezer burn will ruin your food if it's not wrapped correctly.  Don't think that freezing will preserve your food indefinitely.  Freezing stops the fast growth of bacteria, but the sooner you can eat the food, the better.  Long term freezing is not good for any food.  Generally three months is a good rule to work by, and that is the length of a season, so if you're freezing to see you through winter, the three month rule should work well.  Also be guided by your freezer manual though and always take into account the number of times you have power outages.  If they're frequent and long in your neck of the woods, freezing large amount of food might not turn out to be so frugal after all.

I have a food stockpile and a pantry.  The stockpile is in a separate cupboard and it contains all the unopened packets, tins and jars of food that will see us through an emergency and help us save money.  The pantry is in the kitchen and that contains food we are currently using.   As soon as a bag or container of food is taken from the stockpile and opened, it is decanted into a container and stored in the pantry.

We store a lot of grains, flour, nuts, seeds and dried goods.  Everything goes into the freezer for a period when it first comes home from the shop.  This will kill any bugs or larvae lurking within.  I try to use glass containers for these things but for the larger amounts I use food grade plastic.  I got some food grade plastic buckets for storing flour from my local baker.  These are really handy, but recently I found some Decor square buckets capable of holding 10 kgs (22 lbs).  If you can get square buckets, they'll fit in the cupboard and use the space you have more efficiently than round buckets.  Beans, chick peas, lentils, dried fruit, salt, rice, sugar, coconut, polenta etc are all purchased in bulk, if possible, and stored in large mason jars in the pantry.

We buy olive oil and rice bran oil in large tins when it's on sale and that is used for cooking and making soap.  Always check the 'use by' or 'best before' dates when you buy something you know will be stored for a while.  Look through the items to see if any have later dates, if they do, choose those.  When you bring new food home, make sure the older food is eaten first and place new food at the back, bringing the older food to the front of your cupboard or fridge.

We use the fridge for short term food storage.  Fruit and vegetables, either bought or grown in the backyard, we usually stored in the fridge.  Lettuce, capsicums (peppers), eggplant, beans, cucumbers all are stored in the vegetable crisper.  Celery is washed, the top removed, and wrapped in foil.  It will stay crisp like this for two months.  Nuts are placed in small jars and kept in the fridge.  Herbs are picked as we need them.  Food such as tomatoes, avocados, peaches, bananas, passionfruit do not benefit from refrigeration, and give off gasses that accelerate ripening in other fruit and vegetables, so I store them on the kitchen bench.  None of them last long and they're fine for their short life in a bowl on the bench.  Leaving them on the bench for a week will also allow them to develop their full flavour.  Potatoes and onions are stored in baskets at the bottom of the pantry in the dark.  If you buy potatoes or onions in plastic bags, take them out when you come home because the plastic will make them sweat and they'll rot. They both need air circulation in a cool dark space.

We buy milk when it's needed and store that in the fridge.  But you can easily freeze milk.  We always have powdered milk in the cupboard as well and I usually cook with powdered milk, not fresh.  Bread is usually baked daily, with the leftovers fed to the chickens and dog.

Learn how to use what you keep in the pantry in a variety of ways.  Experiment with your stored food and keep learning.
This is an important subject because food needs to be healthy and safe to eat every time you eat it.   One of your jobs as a homemaker is to learn about how to safely store food in the way most suited to your climate and way of living.  If you get this right, you'll save money because you'll rarely have to throw food out and your family will eat only safe food.


I could go on forever about food storage but it's time now to wait for your comments and see what's happening in your kitchen. I'm looking forward to reading them.

58 comments:

  1. Thank you for that info! I am really into homekeeping. I recently found your blog and I have to say it is a wealth of great information and I am learning so much from it. I added your blog to my favorites list.
    ~Lara

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  2. Ah, if only winter really was 3 months long! :-)

    I don't actually know anyone who can't non-acidic things (meats, stews, fish). In Canada, we seem can the same things you do because it's easy and you don't need a pressure cooker. I always freeze things for a lot longer than you do. If I don't want to rely on produce imported from Chile or California, I plan to eat my own frozen veggies from Sept - June when I might start seeing my first spinach and rhubarb again. I'm sure that it's not ideal from a nutrition standpoint to freeze things for so long, but in the interest of eating locally there isn't much choice.

    I love the way you stare so many dried goods in Mason jars. I have started to do that myself, preferring glass to plastic. And you can see everything too.

    Good post!

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  3. Hello Lara and welcome to the blog.

    Evelyn. I would love to experience a cold snow-filled long winter. I had two winters in Germany, but with not much snow. I guess being part of the Commonwealth, you've developed the same traditions as we have. I find that really interesting. You mention that you freeze your food much longer than we do. That's what I meant about doing things to suit our own ways of living - you do what you have to do. I see no problem with that and I applaud you for freezing and eating your own produce.

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  4. I've read about canning meat, but I'm not sure I could do it. Making jam seems safer than putting meat in jars and sticking them on the shelf!

    I use large food-grade plastic buckets for big storage items in my kitchen(wheat, sugar, rice, beans, oats, flour) with Gamma Seal lids- they're fabulous, I love them! Water, air, but tight, but they twist off so you can get to your food.

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  5. I store food in much the same way. I love the beauty of my dried beans and rices in their mason jars. This summer, I'm going to give canning a try with fruits and veggies from our local farmer's market and those we've grown (still very much a beginner when it comes to gardening).

    Not much into canning meats and fish here! I only remember my mother canning tomatoes, peppers and jams and putting away blanched beans, peas and corn in the freezer. Although you probably could find a jar of pickled pig's feet in some small town here. Just not at my house!

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  6. All useful as usual. I will be moving my nuts tot he fridge!
    I certainly have the British fear of canned meat. Fruit & veg is fine but fish and meat straight in the freezer. I would also like to explore drying food more.
    Lizzie

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  7. We have been practicing food storage for a few years now. I have been writing about it this month on my blog as I ponder eating only from food storage this winter.

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  8. We've just discovered a catering wholesaler that will sell to the public. This month we bought 20 litres of white vinegar (half the price per litre compared to the supermarket) and 3kg of bicarbinate of soda for cleaning (not sure how much we've saved yet, but it's a lot). Ok, so that's not food; we intend to buy a 20kg sack of basmati rice next month; just over £1 per kg, whereas the supermarket is about £3 a kg; we eat a huge amount of rice; any tips on how to store it, please?
    Our general idea is to spend about £10 or £20 each month on something big that will last yonks and save us in the long run and the challenge is to find a place and method of storage that will safeguard the investment. We are very blessed in that DH has a job in a budget supermarket and we get 10% off everything, but even so, bulk buying at the wholesalers could save us loads. Another month, we may buy tinned tomatoes.

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  9. When storing potatoes and onions is it okay to put a cloth in the bottom of the basket/bin to catch any dirt or sloughing off(onion skins) in leiu of plastic bags? I like to have something in the bottom, but did not realize the plastic speeds up rot. Thanks for the information you write. It's so refreshing and positive.
    -Centralchick

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  10. I would like to explore 'canning' meat a little more. I run a couple of beef cows and eat my own chickens and ducks so the freezer is a very important part of my storage system. But I do wonder what would happen if, for some reason, we lost power for a week or two. We have a generator for emergencies, but it would be good to know how to safely store meat in other ways. So I'm adding it to my research list!

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  11. Not much to add that would be more useful... I do save all glass jars (from pickles, jelly, spices etc.) and re-use those to store dried goods. It makes the pantry looks so much more organized! This year will be my first attempt to garden and can. I have been collecting mason jars from thrift stores. I get them for about 25 cents each. I am working on a stock pile, but we are new to this whole/ natural/local food scene and I am trying to budget accordingly. This site has been an inspiration! Thanks!

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  12. I realized long ago, that when you say "bench" you mean what we call a "counter" in the US, but I still find it fascinating. I wonder what it is called in the UK....

    Mostly, I want to mention that last summer my son talked me into buying a dehydrator with him. At first I really resisted this since I feared it would be another unused kitchen gadget, but we dehydrated all manner of fruits, vegetables, mushrooms etc. and even tofu and we store all of it in glass mason jars. It works well, and we use this food in the winter.

    I don't can meat, but my sister in law used to can a Hungarian meat dish which is high acid because of having a lot of sauerkraut with it. This they took camping, and never had a problem. But it needs pressure canning which I've never done. I freeze meat, and we now have local organic meat available which you can buy in large amounts and freeze. I have to manage using it up in time, better, however. Marking the packages as to when I froze them is essential.

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  13. In my part of the U.S., canning homemade salsa a very popular. Tomatoes,green beans,jams, jellies,and marmalade, too. I've only known of one woman who canned meat. Don't know anyone who's canned fish.

    I'm trying to convert all of my plastic storage containers over to glass ones. I'm getting more and more aware of just how many chemicals we are constantly exposed to.

    I like the idea of a storage closet separate from the pantry. Freezing the items when brought home from the store to kill the bugs is a great idea. Never thought to transfer food items to glass containers once they're opened.

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  14. WOnderful post today Rhonda, saving money on food is such a practical way to make your dollar strech further.

    I have been reading about a Hunger Challenge recently in several US blogs about trying to live on $7.00 a day (the welfare amount for that area) and how to cook good wholesome food on that budget.
    THis is one of the sites:http://glutenfreegirl.blogspot.com/ But I am sure that there are many others that encourage us to think about the unnecessary amount we spend on food.

    Thank you Rhonda for encouraging me to think more pro-actively about the way I spend my family's money. If we don't spend it, we don't need to earn it.

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  15. I was wondering if you seal your canning jars the way my friend from Germany dose? After she fills the canning jar with say jam she simply turns the jar upside down and it seals on its own.This is verses the way I do it which is to put the filled jars into the canning kettle and process for the time I need.
    Canning meat kind of scares me and the home canned meats I have seen never look very tasty.We use the freezer for all meats and some fruits and vegs.
    I also do a lot of canning with teen boys in the house.

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  16. I am learning so much from your blog! I had no idea that leaving potatoes and onions in the plastic makes them rot faster. I am also going to try wrapping the celery in foil. I hate throwing out bad produce! Thanks so much for sharing such wonderful information.

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  17. I too store all of my pantry food in glass canning jars - it keeps any bugs or pests out and keeps everything fresher... I prefer the squared off ones as they make better use of space in the cupboard and they are prettier to look at!... Since purchasing the larger canning jars with the clasp can be more expensive, I have found all of my square jars at the local thrift stores... Gotta love the thrift stores :)

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  18. Thank you for sharing. I live in Nth Qld and when cyclone season comes around we normally stock up on non-perishables but since finding your blog I have started putting together a stockpile pantry.
    Cupboard space is limited in my kitchen so I have chosen to use 2 shelves in our linen cupboard.
    Will need to keep an eye out for the square containers for the flour. Thanks again.

    Manola :)

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  19. Hi Rhonda,
    I was wondering how long you leave your flour and other dry ingredients in the freezer before you decant them.
    I really appreciate the time you put into your blog. I have learned so much these past few weeks and look forward to learning more. You are such a blessing to all of us!
    Quin

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  20. I did not know that wrapping celery in foil would keep it longer. Will give it a try. My husband was told by the man we bought out produce from that cilantro will keep for several weeks wrapped in foil, and it works! Just thought I would pass that along.
    ~Elaine

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  21. When I found your blog last year I read through quite alot of the archives and came across your idea of the seperate store cupboard and pantry. It was such a great idea for us!

    I emptied out a shelf in the hall closet and moved anything unopened to that shelf - now it has been 7 months and I have food stored on every shelf and toiletry supplies in baskets on the floor.

    I do up my fortnightly meal plan and shopping list and then go "shopping" in the hall cupboard first before I go to the shop - then I replace what I "bought" and depending on sales etc.. add a few more to the stash. I have found that this is an easy way to help with keeping things rotated.

    I have a chest freezer and fridge top one - at the moment we have free bread being supplied to us and the chest freezer holds that for the fortnight. Freeing up that money has really helped us build up our store cupboard supplies slowly each week.

    I also rotate my frozen meat quite regularly making sure there is room for any bargains I may find.

    By changing the way we do things we have saved money, have the security of a stockpile, and we use more wisely what we have. It has been a real blessing in our lives.

    regards & thanks for your inspiration
    Suzanne

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  22. I really haven't heard of many people here in the US canning things like meat or fish themselves (at least no one I know of...I suppose you can buy it at the store, though). I think most people do the high acid foods like tomatoes, etc. at home and freeze meats, like you described. That is my experience at least!!

    I love this blog, thanks so much for sharing your experiences!

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  23. Hello Rhonda Jean :)

    As Evelyn mentioned our winter is longer than 3 months and necessitates longer freezer storage. Our beef, lamb and chicken seem to last very well for 6 months or more, with no noticeable difference in it's quality, taste etc. We tend to wrap our meat in very heavy brown butcher paper that is heavily waxed on one side. Our lamb is seal packed in very heavy plastic.
    Pork, however, does not keep for more than a few months in the freezer before I notice a difference in taste.

    I have canned homemade beef veg soup, and pasta sauce with ground beef. I don't very often mostly becuase it is so much easier to just freeze prepared meals. Canning meat or fish requires scrupulous handling and processing with a pressure canner and is best left to more experienced canners.

    I could go on and on about food storage as well. when done well it's such a huge benefit not only to the pocketbook but also in the quality and variety of food you can make available to your family.

    Thank you for another inspirational post!

    Hugs to you, my friend.
    Keep well,
    Niki

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  24. The information about celery was fantastic. We can't grow it and we don't buy it as we are never able to eat it quickly enough. We will certainly give this a try. Thanks

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  25. I have never talked with anyone here in Virginia who cans meat. I once had a friend from North Carolina who's grandma canned sausage and other pork products, but that seems to be a really old country habit.
    I have canned green beans, corn, tomatoes, etc and of course fruits and jams. I just don't like the taste and texture of veggies in the freezer. I have tried my hand at dehydrating in the last few years and had good luck with tomatoes in particular. The figs turned to rock! I will have to read more on the subject.

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  26. While I don't find the idea of caning meat, fish, and other non acid things that require a pressure canner very scary, the cost of a proper pressure canner is pretty high. (I'd love to be able to can string beans) I only know two people personally who do pressure canning, (one of them, her husband loves to fish, and she cans the excess to have it all year) but I know lots of people who buy meat in bulk and freeze it and lots of people who do regular hot water bath canning. Though I didn't grow up in the preserving food tradition, we had a freezer, but I never remember my Mom canning, I really find it satisfying to "can my own"

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  27. I haven't tried putting celery in foil. So that makes it last longer than the little plastic bags the grocery store sells it in? Cool!

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  28. This is such a fun topic!! I could go on and on but I won't. haha. We live in northern climates with long winters so we dry, can, pickle, and freeze a lot of produce.

    We can't quite go six months without any fresh herbs (and so far growing them indoors has proven unsuccessful for us) and so we occasionally buy parsley and cilantro. I cut the the bottom inch off the stems and put the bunch upright in a pint glass of water. I change the water every other day and that keeps them fresh for well over a week. Bonus - they don't get lost in the crisper so I remember to use them up!

    Oftentimes I zest an orange or lemon before eating or juicing it. I freeze the zest in a small container and use it in baked goods. yummy!

    I also keep a couple of bags of bones in the freezer (chicken in one, pork in another) and use them for stock or bean pots as needed.

    When the milk is too ripe to drink, I make yogurt or bread from it. If we already have fresh bread, I freeze the rest. Works very well for us, and a great way to repurpose items headed for the bin.

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  29. I store foods much as you do - I have made light muslin bags for lettuce and such in the refrigerator and for the potatoes and onions, which hang in the dark in the pantry closet. I freeze all nuts and keep whole grain flours (such as whole wheat and rye) in the refrigerator. Everything else is in the pantry in glass jars or in the freezer. I also dehydrate a lot of foods - I make beef jerky and dehydrate some veggies and herbs. I also make fruit leathers and can many of the same things you do - salsa from homegrown tomatoes, tomato sauce, apple, pear and pumpkin butter, jellies, jams and such. Thank you for the tip on storing celery - it is one I had not heard before! I always find something useful on your blog! Karin in AZ, USA

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  30. I wondered how to keep celery crisp in the fridge - now I know. Next time I buy some I will wrap it in alfoil. Thank You.

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  31. Reading your blog this morning I read that you trim off the tops from leaves of the celery before storing it away. Did you know that these leaves is the most falvoursome part of the celery. I use it in all my soups, caseroles, fried rice etc. I don't know why this is discarded. Perhaps it is thought to be unedible when it is in fact the most nutritious part of the plant. Not being picky here, just an observation.

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  32. Before actually accumulating a stockpile I went through my recipes and spoke with my husband about the foods we eat most often.
    From there I wrote out a list of ingredients including spices and such.I then prioritized the ingredients and
    when shopping we bought the most used item (s) first with one or two extra's, then so forth until everything was purchased. I am happy to say after several months of planning and shopping we are at a 3 month supply of canned foods organized on shelving in our basement.
    My husband laughs when I ask him to go to the store for me, he knows that means the basement.
    ~~HUGS~~

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  33. This is not really long term preserving but stops wastage of half used tubs of tomato paste - pour a layer of olive oil over the top before you cover with cling or a lid etc. This stops the oxygen getting to the tomato paste and it wont go mouldy. Then you can use the oil in the cooking when you next use the tomato past and it has more flavour.

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  34. Thank you so much for your blog, Rhonda. You are doing such a service for homemakers, as many of the skills needed in this role are ones which just weren't taught as we grew up.
    I think I was pretty lucky in my situation as I had to learn a lot of homemaking skills early (my mum is disabled) so I've had many years to work things out. But, it has still been a steep learning curve and for a lot of it I haven't had role models who had these skills for me to watch, ask and learn from.

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  35. My mum and grandfather lived for some time in Yukon Territory and my mother learned to can everything up there; moose, bear, elk. So if I needed to can meat, I know how to do it, but it does require a pressure canner and a bit of know-how. I actually don't can much now - the only thing my son is interested is pizza, so canning tomato sauce is about as elaborate as I go. Excess fruit is either frozen or turned into wine, excess veg is dried or frozen, and I don't dry my herbs, but put them in bags unblanched and freeze them - quick freezing keeps their oils intact which is what you want in herbs, even if it cooks down fast.
    I just started stockpiling (sprog eats his own weight in ketchup) and will add things as the summer comes. I'm really hoping to get a freezer so I can buy meat by the box from our local farmers and can save myself many a market trip

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  36. I heard about foil being good for celery last year, along with another tip: If your celery has already gone limp, you can refresh it completely by cutting off the root and standing the stems in ice water for several hours. I tried this overnight, and had lovely crisp celery again in the morning. I wrapped the stems in foil and they kept well for another couple of weeks!

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  37. Food storage is great an my hierarchy is as follows :
    the garden - where everything is kept fresh and in season.
    eating seasonally
    fridge and freezer
    canning
    canned goods
    I can goods because I like the idea of not using too much electricity.

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  38. We do a lot of the same as you. -I'm in the southern U.S. I usually can tomatoes from the garden in a couple of ways. I make pasta sauce, and an italian mix with tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic & fresh basil & can that. It's great for soups & stews. Mostly I just can them plain though as it's less time consuming. We also can our own english peas & green beans. The rest we usually freeze. As far as meats, we have pork, fish, venison, & chicken in the freezer.
    The only problem we seem to have here is we're in what they call the deep south. We get tons of humidity so as far as being able to store things outdoors at all, we can't. I have 3 free-standing white pantry cabinets with doors in my kitchen & that's where we have all of the cans, onions, & potatoes.
    For dried goods I have some square plastic containers that are stackable that I use for most of it. Then jars for the rest.
    I grind my own flours and keep the wheatberries in large 5 gallon buckets with tight-fitting lids. I have a very small kitchen & so those have to sit stacked in a corner of the room.

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  39. Wonderful post today*
    My grandma would can meat and fish, the fish being cold water carp that my dad would get during the winter by bow hunting. But it had to be (cold winter) carp only.
    My grandparents did not have electricity in the house for a number of years, as my grandpa was an electritian for REA (Rural Electric Association) and was busy putting in electricity in Nebraska USA all over the state during the depression, and poor grandma had to use oil lamps and go without electricity so she canned outside with a hugh pressure canner on an old grumpy gas stove out side in a kitchen shed. Our town had natural gas, but it wasn't too modern so grandpa ran a pipe to outside where she could work.
    Like the other post, to can meat, it has to be ultra clean and no smudging or shortcuts on anything, but this was the only way that my grandparents could store meat. My grandmother also did sausage and I remember it hanging in the kitchen shed and the garage where it was dry and cold, and smelled of wonderful herbs and spices that my grandma grew in a small kitchen garden all summer.
    I too, will try the alum. foil for celery.
    I thank you Rhonda, for your wonderful blog and post, I am glad that you are trying to help young ladies who are new to the homemaking scene, I check your posts daily, as you help bring a bright star to my very cold and icy winter, I can hardly wait til spring here. I run cold frames and will be starting soon with greens and lettuces.
    Vicki S

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  40. I'll try the celery in foil tip on my next celery bunch. It's too late for my current one, which draped itself over my hand when I got it out of the fridge this morning.

    I freeze everything. I just don't seem to have the time for canning, plus I can't stand the heat and we have no AC. My MIL canned everything, even meats (she smoked a lot of meats too), and all that really sticks in my memory is how unbearably hot the whole house got.

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  41. Hello, Enjoy your posts..this is the way I think about buying on sale...it is like getting the interest on your money that the banks won't give you anymore.If you can same 10, 20, or sometimes even 50% on groceries that is like getting the same percent interest if you had left the money in the bank...As long as you keep up with rotating what you buy and not buying what you don't really need it is a win-win situation...

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  42. I live in a little apartment, so I don't have an abundance of storage space, but one thing I do to keep things organized is write the date on the tops of all my canned goods when I bring them home. That way I make sure I am eating things
    in "first in, first out" order.

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  43. I cannot stress enough how important it is for my family as well to have a stockpile. And after Simon was made redundant in Sept last year we have really relied on it to whip up meals 'for free' :D We luckily had worked extensively for weeks building a larder room and now anytime people see it, they love it. They say it looks like its own little country store. Here is a link to my blog with pics: http://homemattersmost.blogspot.com/2009/02/larder-pantry-room-build-part-2.html

    and when it was completely finished here:

    http://homemattersmost.blogspot.com/2009/03/larder-pantry-room-build-is-finished.html

    Jennifer
    HomeMattersMost

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  44. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  45. I have only heard of a couple of people who have canned meat here in the US. Most of the people I know can jams, jellies and salsa.

    I personally do a lot of canning, more than most. This year I canned Tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato juice, tomato soup; Chili sauce, green tomato relish and salsa. I also did potatoes, Apples in cinnamon syrup, peaches, apple butter and apricot butter. For Jams I made raspberry jam, strawberry jam, apricot jam, apricot jelly, apple jelly, apple syrup and aprictot syrup.

    I did about 200 quarts and 200 pints of food this fall, enough to keep us fed November through April or May until we can get the garden producing. Our winters last a good 6 months, we are frozen most of that time, so "winter" gardens are impossible.

    As you can see there a lot more variety here in the US than simply meat and beans.

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  46. I love seeing your pantry photos every time you post them. :) I too store in glass and food grade plastic buckets. I would love to find square ones!! I water bath can jams, jellies, salsa, tomato sauces, applesauce, and pear sauce every year. We also dehydrate some things. We freeze our meat and some other things are also stored in the freezer. We also have a pressure canner but I haven't done meat with it yet. Not sure if I want to as canned meat is usually not very tasty, but I will pressure can stock next time I make it. Our goal this year is to eat only out of the garden once the season gets going and also to see how far into winter we can get with what we have preserved this year. I am excited to try it and cannot wait to plant my new garden this year!!

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  47. This series is nice to read. Love the celery "trick" in the foil. I will try that one.

    My big question is about whey and how long it will last in the fridge? I do not bake bread every day, but only when we need it. I try to drain the yogurt and use the whey to make bread at the same time, but that doesn't always work. I guess I could bake the bread and freeze it. I just don't want to waste the whey by letting it go bad. Bread is the only thing I use it in, I don't bake a lot of other things. Maybe there are other way to use it that I don't know about. Thank you for all that you share! Emily in So. TX

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  48. Hello everyone:

    I have been canning meats, stews, soups etc for almost 2 years now... I joined up with a group called canning2 on Yahoo, and they have a lot of experts that can all this and more.
    ( http://groups.yahoo.com/group.canning2 ) You will have to sign up to join the group, but its free and everyone is so helpful.

    I had my pressure canner for about 8 or more years before I got brave enough to try it... and armed with the Ball Blue Book of preserving, I set to making small batches.

    I can't tell you how nice it is, to open up a jar of homemade chili, or homemade soups, or even shredded pork to eat on a bun. I have canned boneless, skinless chicken thighs and/or breasts, and the flavor is so fresh.

    I've been following this blog for awhile, and I must sincerely thank Rhonda Jean for all her expertise in all things.

    Lynn

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  49. I hit upon a beautiful way to store the grains that I buy in bulk but not large quantities (like spelt, millet, quinoa, amaranth, bulghur wheat, couscous, rolled oats, and each type of lentils). My husband is an alcohol snob and buys really nice scotch and tequila, which come in bottles that are too beautiful to toss. So I started using the clean bottles afterwards for storage, and now I have a beautiful artistic display in my kitchen. Unfortunately the necks of the bottles are too narrow to be practical for dried bean storage and we buy more than 750 mL of rice and steel cut oats so they are in cannisters.

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  50. I am currenty collecting jars of all ki\inds for storage and for canning of jams etc I hope to make later in the year.
    I have a question though, I soak the jars to remove the label (in very hot water), but how do you remove the glue left after it. I have two jars that I hate to throw out, but they have sticky glue all over them. Any ideas would be appreciated....thanks

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  51. I love canning! I try to add another recipe every year. My hubby and his family hunt so we get alot of venison and game meat. I can that too. It is really not that hard and it saves a ton of room in the freezer and fridge. It's also nice if we get unexpected company or have to run the kiddos a bit longer. No thawing and I can have dinner in less than 30 minutes!
    I had been afraid to try the pressure canner but it is alot safer now than in the "old days". I can beets, beans, corn, potatoes, soup and meat. I also do the water canning. I don't by jam or jelly at the store I have that all made through the summer. Tomatoes, salsa, pizza sauce, relish, pickles, peppers, apple pie filling, peaches, apple butter and a few other things I can't remember right now. I love it. I never grew up preserving food, sewing or mending or learning about housekeeping. It's all learning on the go for me and I love my Ball Blue Book for canning! And I look for other people who know what they are doing and ask how it's done. Thanks so much for this blog!

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  52. The celery in water trick works! Fantastic! Many thanks! Now it's wrapped in foil.

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  53. Thanks for all the useful information, Rhonda. I keep a notebook with all the neat tips and advice I've leanred from you.

    I have always stored my celery (cut into chunks and washed) in a glass jar covered with water in the refrigerator. I change the water every few days and it stays crisp and fresh for weeks, although we eat a lot of celery so it usually doesn't last that long.

    I also use the tops of the celery rather than discarding them. I just wash them, chop them (leaves and all) and store in a container in the freezer. Then I just take out what I need for soups and stews.

    Also, when something is starting to go off, such as parsley, cilantro, fresh basil, etc., I simply puree it in my blender with a little water and freeze it in an ice cube tray. I can then store it in a freezer bag or some other freezer appropriate container and take it out as needed. Freezing bananas that are getting too ripe also works and they make amazing smoothies when frozen. Peel, throw in a freezer bag. Waste not, want not!

    Blessings, Patti

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  54. Simplymum, try rubbing oil on the jars to get the glue off. It takes some elbow grease, but it is the best non-toxic method I have found for glues that don't come off with soap/water or rubbing alcohol. Any oil will work.

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  55. Someone said to use vegetable oil to remove label glue. This will work for some, but not for others. The very hard, thick glue is difficult. I've found that really hot water run over the outside or a hair dryer will work on that type. Oil may take off the last of it.

    If you happen to let them get away from you, freezer-burned foods generally do just fine in stew.

    My mother-in-law used to can mushrooms in a water bath. Yes, I know, people have died from that, but I'd eaten them any number of times in cabbage soup before I knew about it. She never made anyone ill that I know of, but I'd never do it.

    Too funny - your Corningware pattern is the same as the one I received as a wedding present 35 years ago, and I still have it. (Mother-in-law also had one of the cornflower tall stove-top coffee pots that were recalled years back because the ceramic body would separate from the metal neck ring. She refused to turn it in.)

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  56. quin, it depends on how much room I have in the freezer but about two days will kill the bugs.

    BTW, I don't throw away the celery tops, they're put in the fridge and eaten that night.

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  57. As far as I can remember back to when I was a child and my grandmother did a lot of bottling - vegetables weren't done so much was because of the risk of botulism.

    Fruit was bottled, there were pickles, chutneys, jams and jellies made - as you say - using acid in the shape of vinegar and/or sugar.

    Runner beans were salted down.

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  58. I know this addition is long after this original post but I know you read them all!

    Pressure cookers are actually very easy to use and save a lot of energy in cooking. They are very safe these days and simple to use. I use mine to make large batches of pinto beans (refried beans here in the US) and I make large roasts and the like. It speeds up cooking by about %60. So I can make a roast from a frozen piece of meat in about 2 hours, as opposed to a crock pot or in the oven/stove top which would take up to 8 hours. We are going to can meat very soon actually. Our large freezer in the garage is going to heaven soon, so we will have to can our meats to store them for the mid term. Thankfully we're at the end of our cow! At any rate, I strongly suggest your readers from the US look up canning videos on youtube or through their county extension office that can provide information about canning in their area. It's safe to can and it doesn't require more energy to store like a freezer does. Just my 2 cents! Thank you for your blog!

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