Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Canning chicken

      Remember I said I would post about canning meat when it was on sale? Well Chicken breast was on sale last week at Reams for $1.39 a pound. So I bought about 12 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts and gathered together every half pint jar I had which was 15 jars. I had hoped for more when I bought the chicken, 15 jars would only hold about 7 and a half pounds. So the rest would have to be frozen.

     Home canning any food needs to be done according to a tested and approved recipe with proper tools.
You need to have a pressure canner to can any vegetable or meat safely because boiling alone will not get up to a high enough temperature to kill bacteria ( like Clostridium botulinum bacteria which causes botulism) that thrive in low acid, low oxygen environments. Meats and vegetables and some other foods are low acid, most fruits and tomatoes are high acid and may be safely canned in a water bath caner.

First you must clean everything thoroughly; the jars lids and canning tools can be washed in the dishwasher and the canner  must be washed by hand because it is too big to fit in the dishwasher. Next  put the canner on the stove filled part way with water and turn the burner to high. Also fill the water bath canner with water, turn the burner to high, and put all the clean jars into the water bath canner. Then fill a sauce pan with water and turn it to medium for the lids.

       Next cut the chicken into chunks to make it easier to fit into the jars. You can see I have four cutting boards set up, the one on the top left where the uncut chicken was set, the one below that was where I trimmed and cut the chicken, the green one to the right is for the cut up chicken and the clear thin one on the top right was for the trimmings and fat.

Yes I am left handed I know it looks odd.

 Next set everything you need next to stove: the chicken, the jar lifter, the lid lifter, the plastic spatula, the funnel, and the rims (in the measuring cup). Then fill each jar one by one lifting them out of the water bath canner, pouring out the water and filling them with chicken, leaving one inch head space ( the space between the top of the jar and the top of the food and liquid.), sprinkle a 1/4 teaspoon for halt pints 1/2 teaspoon for pints and 1 teaspoon for quarts, canning salt over the chicken and pour a little hot water over it. Then wipe the rim of the jar clean then lift a lid out of the sauce pan and place it on the jar, screw down the rim "finger tight" and place it into the canner.

Once they are all filled and placed into the canner put the lid on the caner. (I have a weighted pressure canner and at the altitude I live food must be processed at 15lbs of pressure to be safe, If you have a dial pressure gauge this part will be different.) Wait until steam comes out the vent on the top. Time ten minutes of steam before putting the weight on the vent. After the weight starts to rock gently start the timer for one hour and ten minutes for half pints, an hour and fifteen minutes for pints and an hour and thirty minutes for quarts. Stay where you can hear the sound of the weight rocking and adjust the heat to keep the weight rocking gently. Once the processing time has passed, turn off the burner and move the canner off the heat and wait until the pressure in the canner dissipates.

Once the pressure drops open the canner and take out the jars placing them on a clean towel to cool overnight.
 In the morning check the seals on the jars by pressing on the middle of the lids. If they pop up, refrigerate that jar and use soon. Clean and label the jars and store in a cool dark place for up to one year.
The white lids are tattler brand lids which are reusable, this is my first time using them.

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Years Resolutions

A New Year is upon us and although I have never been very good at keeping my new years resolutions I resolve that this year will be different.  ;-P

There are many thing that I want to improve on but there are a few that are more important to me right now.

My New Years Resolutions are as follows:
1. Stay within my $5 a day budget
2. Menu plan and stick to it (eat out less)
3. Eat healthier and get more exercise
4. Get more food storage and Emergency Preparedness items
5. Keep my room and house cleaner and more organized
6. Use a day planner to remember important dates and events

So far I am not doing too well on 1, 2 and 3 but 4, 5and 6 are going really well, I have a plan for buying food storage (not part of the $5 a day plan),  my room is more organized and I have been using my day planner since I bought it. 

What are some of your New Years Resolutions?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Lots of new toys

Well It has been quite a while since I last posted. Things have been going pretty fast around here and I can't seem to keep up. I have done a lot of things that I wanted to post about but I couldn't get around to it.

I wanted to talk a bit about some new toys I have acquired the last few months.

With great sales and Christmas gifts I have been blessed enough to now own many things on my wishlist.

The first toy is the L'quip Stick blender. I bought it on black Friday for $20, the regular price is over $70
This thing is so cool. I have mixed up a pumpkin pie with it as well as made whipped cream, walnut butter, and mayonnaise. I am really looking forward to playing with this more and finding more things this wonderful tool can do. 

The second new toy is a vacuum sealer, I bought about a week after Christmas. Once I had it I took the time to reorganize my freezer, making a list of everything I have in it and vacuum packing everything that needed to be, I ordered a jar attachment from to to go with it so I can Vacuum pack things that would be crushed if you tried to vacuum pack them in bags. I can seal bags without vacuuming the air out too, it should keep me from using so many ziplock bags since I can just reseal the bag it came in I have already used it a great deal and plan on using it a lot more.
The third new toy is a water bath canner. I havn't been able to play with it yet as there is no fruit in season right now but I did ask for it for Christmas and am very happy to have it, even if I do have to wait a while to use it. I already have a pressure canner  I bought near the end of last summer that I used as a water bath canner but it is too small to can quarts using the water bath method.
Zipper and I taught ourselves how to can last fall. Canning was a blast and I really want to get into it. I plan on entering my canned goods in the state fair in a few years. We had a great time and I will be posting a lot about canning next fall and maybe a few about canning meat when meat is on sale. ( I havn't canned any meat yet but I really do want to try it, that is why I bought the pressure canner in the first place.)
Waterbath canner
Pressure canner

The forth new toy is a pasta rolling machine. I have had one on my Amazon wish list for over a year. It was a Christmas present and I think my parents liked my reaction to it. I have made two batches of pasta, the second much better than the first and I can't wait to post about it. Home made noodles are so good.

Another Christmas present from my parents was a Cuisinart hand mixer. My old hand mixer( $10 and the grocery store) had burnt out on cookie dough. It went out with sparks and smoke. I didn't want that to happen again so I did some research and asked for the Cuisinart. A good sturdy hand mixer is a must for serious bakers and cooks. I look forward to using it for years to come. 

The next new toy is the Excalibur 3900 food dehydrator.
I bought it with my Christmas bonus, I dried a batch of pineapples the day it arrived. My roommates liked them but I'm not a big fan of pineapple it was just on sale.  Zipper and I have looked through the instruction book and made a list of what we want to try. This thing can do so much more than dry fruits and vegetables. Some of the things we are going to try are beef jerky, yogurt, cottage cheese, instant soup and proofing bread dough. You can take the trays out and run it like a warming box, you can also set the temperature so it wont get too hot to kill the yeast or yogurt cultures. I didn't get one with a timer but I don't think it would have been worth the extra money.

And last but not least I was given a hand me down grain mill. I don't know how old it is maybe 10 years or so but I checked it out, it works great and all the parts are there. They even gave it to me in the original packaging with instruction book and warranty. It is even the brand I was planning on buying with my Christmas bonus just an older model. It was used but I don't think it was used very much. I did need to clean it and I will be looking for a replacement filter because its bent and squished a bit  but other than that it was in great working order. Before now when I wanted to grind wheat I would either use my hand grinder( Christmas last year) or ask my roommate to take some wheat to her moms house to grind for me. I am so happy to have a mill I really look forward to baking with fresh ground whole wheat flour and other grains too. 

You can see a theme with my new toys can't you? You learned in my first post that I love to cook and bake. My Mom once told me that when I got married no one would know what to give us as wedding presents because I would already have every kitchen gadget out there, I love kitchen gadgets, I have spend hours wandering around stores like Spoons and Spice and Sur-la-table. 

I really look forward to the new year and all the new recipes I will try. I hope you will join me learning new ways to cook, trying new recipes and techniques. 

What toy would you like me to teach you about first?