Naturally Treating a Yeast Diaper Rash

A few days before Christmas, Connor and Caelyn came down with croup. Caelyn has croup each winter because of her asthma, but it was Connor’s first encounter with the joyous viral illness. At the same time, the doctor said his ears looked infected.

Yay! Just what any mother wants to have is two sick kids over Christmas break. Typically, I would try to treat an ear infection myself before turning to antibiotics, but desperate times, folks! I didn’t want a miserable baby over the holidays. So, she prescribed us some medications and off we went home.

She prescribed a stronger antibiotic than I typically use for an ear infection, but I didn’t think much of it. However, two days later, I noticed a rash developing on Connor’s butt. Being a mom of three kids, I know my diaper rashes. Instantly, I told Andrew he had a yeast rash. I stopped giving him the antibiotics immediately and started treatment.

Yeast can be hard to kick! There are times when you will need a prescription cream. I’ve had to use those before as well. However, some yeast rashes will respond to natural treatment options. Here are some things to try!

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How to Naturally Treat a Yeast Diaper Rash

Lots of Diaper Free Time

First, you want to give your baby plenty of diaper free time. Connor is almost two years old; he loves to be naked. Yeast loves warm, moist environments, like your child’s diaper. Diaper free time dries their butt and helps get rid of that yeast-prone area.

Frequent Changes

Babies can’t be naked all the time. Connor wishes he could be, but that’s not practical a toddler not potty-trained. If you put a diaper on your baby, make sure you change him often! Every hour to hour and a half is ideal. You want to avoid that moist, warm location as much as possible. Cleanliness is crucial for ridding your baby of yeast.

Bleach Your Cloth Diapers

I know; I’m breaking some cardinal rule to cloth diapering. I’m a rebel, but hear me out. Yeast can live in cloth diapers. I’ve done it several times where I would treat the yeast rash and it would keep coming back. The diapers weren’t helping the issue. Add some bleach to your first rinse cycle to kick that yeast!

Reduce Sugars and Carbs

Yeast also loves sugar. Don’t we all? If your child is on solid foods, consider his diet. It is wise to reduce carbs and sugar for the next few days.

Probiotics

Your child will benefit from a probiotic. If you are breastfeeding and the child is not eating solids, you should take the probiotic! They sell gummy probiotics which make it even easier for your child to take them. Also, give your child some probiotic yogurt, just make sure the sugar content isn’t too high.

*You can also use yogurt, plain with probiotics, as a cream on your child’s butt! It might seem strange, but it’ll feel great.

Avoid Chemicals and Fragrances

Wipe your child with warm water and nothing else. It can lead to worse irritation. I made that mistake over Christmas and my son’s butt paid the price for my mistake.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is naturally anti-fungal, the best thing to get rid of yeast! You can use it plain as your child’s diaper cream. Another option is to mix a few drops of tea tree oil into the coconut oil, so long as your baby is over six months old and its very diluted! Tea tree oil is also anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, a double whammy for the rash.

 

If your child’s yeast diaper rash isn’t going away within a few days, consider a call to the doctor. Sometimes, yeast is so persistent that you need a prescription cream. However, starting a regime of cleanliness, air time and coconut oil should kick it before it gets bad!

 

Fluffy Homemade Pancakes in 15 Minutes

Pancakes are one of my favorite breakfast foods. You can customize them with different toppings. Strawberries and chocolate chips happen to be my favorite. I never said I eat healthy all the time!

Purchasing pancakes from the store is far from budget friendly. A large bag of pancakes costs around $5 in the store. While you do get between two and three dozens, those pancakes are flatter than.. well.. a pancake. I don’t know about you, but I love fluffy pancakes.

For the longest time, I didn’t make pancakes often because none of the pancake recipes turned out wrong. Then, they took forever. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have an hour each morning to make breakfast.

Finally, I found the perfect recipe over a year ago, and the pancake heaven doors opened. The pancake angels sang and I was finally able to make fluffy pancakes quickly for my kids. My recipe makes around 12, depending on the size you make your pancake. Large or small, these are amazing!

Print

Fluffy, Homemade Pancakes

The perfect and easiest recipe for homemade pancakes! 

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 2 TBSP Sugar
  • 2 TBSP Baking Powder
  • 1 TSP Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 Cup Milk (might need a bit more for consistency)
  • 1/4 Cup Cooking Oil

Instructions

  1. 1. Whisk together all of your dry ingredients. 

    2. Add in the eggs, milk and cooking oil. Whisk well. Don't worry too much about clumps, but ensure everything is thoroughly mixed.

    3. Heat up your pan or griddle and spray with a non-stick spray. Medium is perfect to avoid burning.

    4. Ladle the batter onto the griddle. I use a 1/4 cup measuring cup because I think it makes great sized pancakes! 

    5. Cook each side until golden brown, which is usually a few minutes for each day. 

    6. Serve and enjoy with syrup and all of the toppings of your dreams! 

Looking for some other great recipes? Check out amazing banana muffin recipe. The kids love these for breakfast too!

7 Veggies Beginning Gardeners Should Grow

When you first start gardening, you might wonder what vegetables are the easiest to grow. My first year, I assumed everything was easy. Soon, I realized that I was wrong. Many plants have different requirements that I wasn’t ready or prepared to give to them. In fact, I had no idea plants could require anything other than sun and water.

There are seven veggies that I recommend for all beginning gardeners. These plants are easy! Most of the time, they grow abundantly and will help you feel more confident to expand your choices during your second year of gardening.

Here are my top picks for Veggies Beginners Must Grow!

Peas

I love growing peas. They made the cut my first year gardening, and I’ve been growing them every year since. Peas tend to be hard to mess up, at least in my experience.

Peas are a cooler-weather crop, so you will plant them two to three weeks before your final frost date. They can handle the cooler temperatures. Peas also make a great choice for a fall garden! Kids can learn how to plant peas as well. I line the peas up for my kids in the area I want, then watch as they push them into the ground with their fingers and cover back up with soil. Weeks later, I find my kids picking the peas off the vine and eating them fresh!

Lettuce

Do you love salads? If so, don’t skip the opportunity to grow your own lettuce. Lettuce is an ideal choice if you want to learn how to use succession planting, which will give you a fresh, continuous harvest throughout the growing season.

Most lettuce and greens grow very easily. The hardest part is thinning out the seedling – those seeds are small! Also, lettuce prefers cooler temperatures, so they can go to bolt during hot weather. The ground has to stay moist.

Lettuce is another plant that you will plant prior to the final frost. Plant a new row or two every two weeks to give yourself a continuous supply of fresh greens!

Radishes

Radishes tend to be an underrated choice for gardeners. Many people don’t like them unfortunately. Radishes are delicious baked or shredded into a salad with that fresh batch of lettuce.

Depending on the variety you pick, radishes can be ready to harvest in less than three weeks. That’s impressive! They make an awesome choice for kids who are impatient to see a harvest.

Just like peas and lettuce, radishes are a cooler-weather crop that you can start before the final frost.

Green Beans

Finally, a warm weather crop! I love green beans. My kids don’t love when I have pots of fresh green beans that need the ends snapped off. Little hands help lighten my load for sure.

When growing green beans, you can select between pole and bush beans. Pole beans are fantastic for those who need to save space. However, in my experience, bush beans produce a better harvest. I dedicate an entire garden bed just to green beans.

As soon as the final frost date has passed, you can plant your green bean seeds. There is no reason to start the seeds ahead of time; just plant them right into your garden. Read the packet to ensure you are spacing them appropriately. Some people plant a row week to stagger the harvest, allowing them to better preserve the green beans.

Zucchini

I’ve never had a bad zucchini harvest. In fact, it seems as if I always end up with too much zucchini on my hands.  I end up having to give away zucchini to everyone who will take some off of my hands. There is only so much zucchini bread, chips, and boats I can create! Plus, I can only freeze so much shredded zucchini before my husband tells me to stop.

Some people like to start to their zucchini seeds inside. You can do so if you want a seedling ready for planting by the final frost date. Start them two weeks before that time. You don’t want to start them any earlier because zucchini become root-bound easily. I prefer to start the seeds right in the ground!

Cucumbers

Do you love pickles? Cucumbers are your go-to choice them! Cucumbers should be planted right into the ground once the danger of a frost passes. I love vining cucumber plants. All you need is a trellis or a make-shift fence that allows your cucumbers to grow upwards. Cucumbers grow very well vertically!

Tomatoes

My last pick for beginning gardeners is tomatoes! Yes, tomatoes can be a bit finicky at times. They don’t like standing water. They don’t like too much water. They don’t like cooler temperatures. However, if you have a hot summer with normal amounts of rain, you should have a successful tomato harvest.

Tomatoes, to me, can be a bit tricky starting from seeds, so I typically tell my friends to first try started seedlings from a trusted nursery. After that, you can dive into starting them from seeds. If you have a successful tomato harvest, you will have tomatoes coming out of your ears! Tomato sauce, salsa and diced tomatoes are in your future.

If you are beginning gardener, what do you plan to plant this year? Experienced gardeners, what do you recommend for newbies? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Homestead Tasks Month-by-Month

The new year has arrived, and it is time to start preparing! I know I am ready for 2018; 2017 brought a lot of pain for us. We ended our year with a small house fire that displaced us for almost a month. We are ready for the new year.

Part of the new year involves making plans for our small homestead. Each year, we try to find ways to expand and grow. Something that keeps me sane is creating a month-by-month plan with the tasks I know need completed then or rather soon. Your task list will look different than mine, based on the animals or things on your homestead.

Right now, we have large garden, a small fruit patch, herb gardens, maple trees to tap and chicken flock. If you have other animals, your list will look different.

So, let’s take a look at the tasks you may want to complete each month if your small homestead looks like mine!

January

January is a month of renewal for us. We are in the dead of winter right now with temperatures reaching into the negatives. This month is a time of relaxation after the crazy holidays.

  • Look at seed catalogs and make selections
  • Make sowing and succession calendar
  • Create a transplanting schedule
  • Try your hand at indoor sprouts
  • Turn your deep litter method
  • Continue upkeep of compost
  • Work on your crafts
  • Pick up a new skill such as cheese making or baking bread!

February

February brings us closer to gardening season, which makes me happy! The tasks list will start to grow soon and I know it.

  • Make sure you ordered your seeds!
  • Depending on your gardening zone, you might start some seedlings.
  • Prepare your greenhouse
  • Try some indoor herbs!
  • Keep working on your crafts while you have extra time!
  • Pick another skill to develop this month.
  • Purchase baby chicks or make plans
  • Prepare brooder
  • Prepare to tap maple trees

March

March begins the mad dash to start the garden in our zone! March is also when we are going to have a new baby this year, so it should be a fun year!

  • Sow in greenhouses or under heavy-duty hoops
  • Start a majority of your seeds inside
  • Build your new garden beds
  • Get more baby chicks because you never can have too many!
  • Might be able to clean chicken coop if weather if warm.
  • work in compost to soil if workable!
  • Tap maple trees and boil down sap.
  • Plant fruit trees!

April

For people in zone 5, April really starts gardening season. Finally, things can be planted outside, and it feels amazing. Here are some tasks.

  • Sow spring crops such as lettuce, peas, carrots, and more.
  • Plant potatoes
  • Continue taking care of your chicks and introduce to existing flock
  • Start any seeds left based on your calendar you made in January!
  • Dandelions and violets tend to pop up. Time to make dandelion infused oil, dandelion jelly and violet jelly!
  • Clean out your old compost and start new.
  • Consider what organic mulch you want to use.
  • Harden seedlings that will be planted in May.

May

May is when most of your warmer weather crops can go into the ground. I love May! You can typically ditch your hoodie and catch some nice sun rays.

  • Start squash, pumpkin, and melon seeds.
  • Sow more greens based on your succession planting plans!
  • Make sure you get most of your seedlings into the ground including warm weather crops like tomatoes, peppers, corn and more!
  • Integrate chicks if you’ve yet to do so.
  • Develop a watering schedule.
  • Create a weeding schedule that works for you.

June

June typically brings the first harvests of your work. Nothing is better than the first time you can bring crops inside from what you planted. I love that feeling!

  • Harvest crops that come up such as carrots, peas, beets, and lettuce.
  • Preserve the harvest!
  • Preserve strawberries – time to make some strawberry jam!
  • Continue succession planting certain crops.
  • Start fall garden seedlings inside.

July

July is such a fun month. Our son’s birthday falls on the 4th of July, and there are several birthdays this month, including mine!

  • Raspberries, blueberries and blackberries may be ripening. Time to make jam!
  • Give zucchini to everyone you know, because it overproduces every single year!
  • Continue to harvest as often as you can, especially green beans!
  • Harvest some of your herbs and dry.
  • Remove your pea vines. Plant lettuce, spinach or another fall crop there.
  • Put your fall brassica crops outside. It may be too hot, so consider hoops for shade. Keep the ground moist.
  • Preserve as much of the harvest as possible!
  • Sow fall root crops

August

August is the final month of summer, in my eyes, even though we know it doesn’t technically end until September. That might be because of all the years I dreaded returning to school in August.

  • Transplant all of your fall crops into the garden beds.
  • Continue to harvest and preserve like a crazy person!
  • Stop watering those dry beans so they actually dry up.
  • Tomatoes will eat up your time this month.
  • Harvest, dry and preserve herbs.

September

September is when things slowly, and I said slowly, start to slow down. School is in full swing around our house and we can enjoy some cooler evenings.

  • Create herbal teas and tinctures with the dried herbs you’ve harvested.
  • You can direct sow some fast growing crops, like lettuce or radishes.
  • Build some cold frames to keep growing lettuce longer.
  • Plant your cover crops.
  • Cure and store your harvested pumpkins. Get ready for Halloween!

October

October brings the first frost for many areas of the United States. That means a lot of your crops are going to be done and things start to slow down. You might be singing hallelujah and that’s ok!

  • Use row covers as needed for crops still growing.
  • Sow in your cold frames.
  • Now is the time to make homemade vanilla extract!
  • Prepare and plant your garlic. Mulch the beds.
  • Prepare your beds for the upcoming winter. Lay leaves or other mulch that will decompose over time.
  • Prepare the deep litter method for your chickens while it is still warm.

November

By November, all of your plants will be out of the ground, unless you have lettuce growing in those awesome cold frames.

  • Time to relax. You’ve been at it for awhile. Enjoy those jars of canned goods!
  • Reflect on your gardening season.
  • Make sure everything is harvested including kale and brussel sprouts.
  • Manage your chickens. Remember to watch temperatures and freezing water.
  • Start crafts and projects for Christmas.

December

We made it! The end of the year. December is a beloved month for us. Advent is close to our hearts.

  • Make crafts with the family.
  • Create your own Christmas ornaments and gifts.
  • Pick veggies from cold frames.
  • Start your garden plans for the following year. It’s never too soon to plan!

Where I Have Been

I have been absent for over three months. That was never in my plans! I love writing, and I cannot wait to get back into the swing of things. My plans are extensive. However, we had a bit of a surprise….

Our family is welcoming another addition coming in March 2018! To say that we are over the moon is a simple understatement.

We discovered that we were expecting shortly after July 4th after we returned from our cabin trip to the lake. Shock gave way to excitement. Some of you might know that we lost a sweet baby in March of 2017!

So, the first few weeks of the pregnancy were scary for us. We told no one, even our parents, that we were expecting. The thought of experiencing another miscarriage shook me to the core. It was truly horrible.

In early August, we had a wonderful ultrasound that showed a healthy growing baby. We waited until the end of August to announce to outside friends.

The first trimester and a majority of the second trimester has been difficult for me. The first trimester was mostly full of extreme nausea, food aversions and extreme exhaustion. Exhaustion isn’t a great thing for a mother with three other kids underfoot.

The second trimester has been slightly better, but I can say I’ve never been this tired during a pregnancy ever. Plus, I still have the worse gag reflex and bouts of nausea.

Did I mention we know what we are having? Oh I didn’t? Let me show you!

Baby #4 is a GIRL! Bring on dresses, sweet bonnets and flowers. Mama has another girl. That means we will have even teams – girl, boy, boy, girl! Chances are this sweet baby will be the final addition, so we are so excited (and surprised as you might tell from my husband’s face in the picture above).

Anyway, I have plans for the horizon. We have around 16 weeks until sweet girl makes her debut. Keep an eye out for some great things coming your way!

9 Reasons Why Your Hen Stopped Laying Eggs

Raising chickens is a huge learning experience. My husband and I thought we had it all figured out. They’re just chickens after all! Then, one day, the nesting boxes were almost empty. We thought it was strange but figured it was a fluke. The next day proved it wasn’t a one-time event.

I was pretty baffled. Why did my dependable girls suddenly stop laying eggs? We needed those eggs, so we had to figure it out quickly. What did I do? First, I called my grandma who raised chickens on a farm for half of her life.

Then, I turned to Google. Google is everyone’s friend. There were the answers I needed. I was surprised that there are multiple reasons a hen stops laying eggs! Let’s take a look so we can solve the problem fast!

Reason 1 – Winter Causes Lack of Light

So, if it is wintertime, you’ve already figured out your issue. Many breeds continue to lay through the winter, but the production slows down greatly.

A hen needs 14 to 16 hours of daylight to lay a single egg. In the dead of winter, she may be lucky if she receives 10 hours. It is a natural period of slowing down. Many people like to add supplemental light, but I also pick not to do so. I believe that chickens are designed to have this decrease. Ultimately, not supplementing with light allows the chicken’s egg laying to span over more years.

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide if you want to supplement. Just keep in mind that changes in weather and light can lead to a decrease in egg production.

Reason 2 – Temperature

Temperature, just like the light, is a huge factor in your hens’ egg production. If you have a sudden spike in temperature, hens can stop laying eggs. Our girls tended to dislike anything about 90 degrees really. I don’t blame them!

Likewise, really cold days can cause a decrease in egg production. Your hens have to adjust to the temperature.

Reason 3 – Diet Issues

If it isn’t wintering time, your next step should be to consider your feedings and supplemental choices. Chickens need a steady diet of fresh food and water. If you forgot to feed your chickens for a day or two (humans do these things), hens can stop laying altogether.

If your feeding schedule wasn’t disrupted, another good step is to make sure that your hens are eating quality food. They also need to have regular access to greens and foraging for bugs. Even though it is fun, avoid giving too many treats. It can stop them from eating their healthy food. Instead, send the kids to pull weeds to feed to the chickens. That’s being productive!

Chickens need a balanced diet, just like you and I! They need to have appropriate amounts of protein, calcium, and salt. Remember, fresh water is crucial for egg production.

Reason 4 – Broody Hens

I love a broody hen, but that broodiness stops egg production. Instead of laying eggs, your hen is now focused on defending and hatching those eggs for the next 21 days or more.

You can try to break a hen of her broodiness, but I prefer just to let her go. Broodiness is a great way to create a self-sustaining flock. Also, it can take days or a week to break the broodiness. Letting her hatch the eggs is less work for you!

Reason 5 – Molting Time

Do your girls suddenly look just plain ugly? It might be time for molting. Molting is normal, but they often look as if they had hard few days. It isn’t a time when your chicken flock looks the best.

Molting is when your chickens shed their old feathers and grow new ones. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of energy and time for a hen to grow new feathers. Sometimes, to compensate for the energy sucker, hens will stop laying eggs.

Don’t worry; molting will be over soon, and eggs will start again soon! Molting often goes along with season changes. Our chickens tend to molt around fall or late summer.

Reason 6  – Age of Your Hens

Hens won’t steadily lay eggs for their entire life. At some point, they enter chicken retirement, or so I call it. Hens lay steadily between six to nine months (depends on breed) up to 2 years old.

Don’t worry; chickens do lay eggs after they are two years old, but it does tend to slow down. It isn’t abnormal for chickens to lay up to 7 years old. We have chickens that are four and five years old still laying steadily, but not daily.

It is up to you whether you want to keep chickens who entered egg-laying retirement. If you only have room for a small flock, it can be hard to keep a chicken that isn’t productive. It is an individual decision; there is no right and wrong answer!

Reason 7 – Pests and Diseases Invade

Another major reason that your hens stopped laying eggs is that there is a pest or disease bother your flock. The two most common issues are lice and mites. A really bad infestation can stop a flock from laying regularly.

There are some signs that your flock is sick. Here are some things to identify:

  • Abnormal poop
  • Not laying eggs
  • Coughing or making strange noises
  • Quits eating or drinking
  • Chickens are unable to stand up

Colds in chickens often produce slim in their nose area. Chickens will breathe with their mouth open due to nose blockage. You might notice their combs turning pale or constant itching.

Reason 8 – Changes in Routine and Life

Chickens are like kids; they love routine and habits. If you change their routine, egg production could change. Changing or redesigning their coop can disrupt production. We added an addition and moved their run; our chickens didn’t like that for a few days!

Another change could be when you introduce new chickens to the flock. Sometimes, hens will go on a strike and stop laying eggs. How dare you add new chickens! Luckily, chickens will adapt if you give them a few days or week.

Reason 9 – Predators

There is a chance your girls are laying eggs, but a predator is eating them. Predators love fresh eggs as much as we do. Snakes are famous for eating eggs. It can give you a startle to find a snake in your nesting box.

If you think this is your issue, the best step is to figure out how predator-proof your coop. Try to add more hardware cloth, extra netting and close up any holes where they might enter. These predators are small and smart!

For us, our issue was that we disrupted their routine. We changed their coop design and added new members within days of each other. Our girls apparently were protesting all of the changes! They started laying again within days. Our breakfast table was thankful for the start up again!

6 Reasons Your Tomatoes Aren’t Ripening

Tomatoes are my arch nemesis. I work hard each year to plant enough tomato plants to provide the right amount of tomatoes I need for canning. Without fail, something goes wrong. Sometimes, my tomatoes don’t turn red. One day, blight infected my tomatoes. It’s always something.

For me, I like to find the answer to my questions. Why is something happening, or not happening in this case? In the case of tomatoes not turning red, there are some definite reasons.

Why Tomatoes Turn Red

There is a whole, scientific reason why tomatoes turn red, but let’s sum it up to make it easier to understand.

Lycopene is a chemical naturally found inside of fruits and vegetables that cause them to develop their color. Lycopene isn’t just found in tomatoes; it is in watermelons, apricots and more. Almost 80% of the lycopene you need in your diet is found in tomato products.

Believe it or not, your body processes lycopene better when it is heated. Sources such as ketchup and tomato sauce are perfect for getting lycopene into your diet!

Why do you need lycopene? It is valuable in the fight against heart disease, as well as some cancers (colon, pancreas, bladder, ovaries, and breast to name a few).

6 Reasons Why Your Tomatoes Aren’t Turning Red

One: Longer Time to Maturity

On each seed packet, you will find an average time for maturity for every vegetable you plant. You might be tempted to overlook this date, but I encourage you to pay attention! Certain varieties take less time to mature.

If you have a shorter growing season, you will want to select varieties with a shorter maturity time. It is a good idea also to plug in some longer growing varieties. You can rest assured knowing the shorter varieties will at least yield some fruits for you.

Two: Temperatures aren’t Hot Enough

Tomatoes love warm temperatures, which is why you can’t plant them until well after your final frost date for the season.

Unfortunately, our weather in Ohio has been rather unpredictable, and chilly summers are becoming an issue. As I write this, it is the beginning of August and the high for the day barely touched 80 degrees. That is insane!

Sometimes, you will notice your tomatoes turning pink but never reaching the redness needed to indicate ripeness. They lack in flavor, but they will typically ripen if you leave them on your countertops.

Three: Temperatures are TOO Hot

On the flip side, your tomatoes can be too hot for your tomatoes to ripen. High temperatures happened a few years ago, leaving my harvest in ruins. Yes, they love the heat, but they don’t want to roast on the vine.

The ideal temperatures for ripening are 70 to 75 degrees F. Once the temperatures go higher than 85 to 90 degrees F, the plant is unable to produce the correct amount of lycopene to create the right pigments. The green ones on your vine will stay green for a long time.

Four: You Picked Tomatoes That Aren’t Red

If you grow heirloom plants, there are a lot of varieties that aren’t red. You can buy tomatoes that ripen to pink, yellow, white, orange, purple, and green! They make great additions to the dinner table and farmer’s market stand.

It is easy to forget what varieties you plant. You need to mark each variety, so you know what to look for in ripeness. For example, we always grow Brandywine tomatoes. Brandywine ripens to a beautiful pink, but they never turn red. If I forgot, I would let the entire harvest go to waste waiting for red tomatoes to arrive.

Five: Blossom End Rot

Do your tomatoes have black lesions on them, small or big? If so, you have blossom end rot. It is a disease caused by low calcium in your soil. It is highly suggested that you add natural sources of calcium to your soil during the growing season.

Blossom end rot also forms from uneven watering. If you have frequent downpours of rain, blossom end rot can result.

Six: Plants Don’t Receive Enough Sunlight

Another possibility is that you selected a bad location for your tomato plants. Tomatoes love heat and sunlight. The plants need at least seven hours of direct sunlight per day.

You might have picked a great location, but planted them too close together. Tomato plants need at least 18 inches to two feet apart, depending on the variety. Large plants, like the Brandywine, need two feet apart to receive adequate sunlight.

 

If all else fails, you can take some of your green tomatoes and put them in a cardboard box with a few ripened tomatoes. It should encourage the tomatoes to turn red! I know how it feels to have dozens of plants full of green tomatoes and end up with a pitiful harvest.

Canning Healthy Chicken Broth: Simple Instructions

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Chicken broth has dozens of nutritional benefits. Instead of purchasing cartons and cans from the store, learn how to can chicken broth at home!

We often make batches of chicken broth for soups. I try to make homemade chicken and dumplings at least twice a month. It is a great, easy meal and allows me the chance to make extra chicken broth.

To make homemade chicken broth, you first need to cook a whole chicken. Some people like to roast a chicken for dinner then put it in a pot to boil once the meat is picked off. I have a different method!

In a large pot of water, I boil:

  • a whole chicken
  • 2 to 3 large, diced carrots
  • 3, large stalks of celery
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • half of an onion, sliced
  • 2 TBSP salt
  • 1 TBSP pepper

I boil everything together for typically three hours. At this time, I take the chicken out of the water and pull off any meat. From this, we typically make soup or chicken and dumplings.

Then, I put the carcass and new vegetables into the crockpot. You want to leave it on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 8 to 10 hours. The chicken broth will be delicious!

At this point, you could simply enjoy the broth for soup that day, or you could can the chicken broth, which is my usual choice.

Canning chicken broth is very simple.

First, take your jars and wash them. This step seems silly, but inspecting your jars is important. Any imperfection or crack could cause your jars to break or explode in the canner.

Chicken broth is a low acid food, so you have to use a pressure canner. Don’t worry; using a pressure canner really isn’t that hard! Every pressure canner comes with a manual for detailed instructions.

Once your jars are washed, fill up your pressure canner to the indicated line inside of your canner. Your chicken broth should be simmering. Before you put the broth into the jars, you will want to strain out the fat. Some will still make it into the jars, but you do want to try to get as much out as possible.

Then, ladle the chicken broth right into the jars. You should leave a one inch headspace in your jars. Make sure that you wipe off the rims of the jars before putting on the lids and rings! If there is anything on the rim, your jars won’t seal correctly.

Now, it is time to put those jars into your canner. At this time, refer to your manual instructions. You want to make sure you are using the canner correctly. However, most require you to turn it to medium high heat and let steam vent out until the lid locks. You then cover the valve and let the pressure build.

Process the jars at 10 pounds of pressure for 20 minutes if you are using pints. For quarts, process them for 25 minutes.

After, take them off of the heat and let the pressure decrease naturally. Don’t remove that valve cover! If the pressure decreases too rapidly, your jars can break.

Freezing vs. Canning Chicken Broth

I know plenty of people who prefer to freeze their chicken broth. I understand that. It is easy. Just stick the broth in bags or plastic containers. There is no need to process anything.

I prefer to see lovely jars of canned broth on my shelves because it reminds me of being self-sufficient. Plus, I don’t have to worry about losing power and losing all of my hard work! You can freeze it if you are short on time. It will take the same in the end.

Do you can your homemade chicken broth? We love to have jars available for when sicknesses hit. There is nothing like warm chicken broth when your stomach hurts, or heating up a jar for quick soups during the winter time.

   

 

Canning Green Beans: Raw Pack Method

We are in the middle of prime green bean season, where our plants are overflowing. Canning green beans allows you to put them up for casseroles and easy side dishes later in the year.

Canning green beans is different than canning jams and jellies. You will need a pressure canner; a water bath canner cannot safely can green beans. Green beans are a low acid food, which means botulism can grow faster.

If you are new to pressure canning, canning green beans is a great introduction. I prefer the raw pack method. What is a raw pack method? It means you will put the raw veggies in clean jars to the indicated headspace and fill the rest of the jar with boiling water. The pressure canner does all of the cooking for you.

Sound simple? Well, it is! Let’s get to it!

How to Can Green Beans – Raw Pack Method

First, you want to snap your green beans. You have to do this whether you plan to freeze or can these veggies. Snapping green beans can feel like a never-ending task. Kids help make this job easier and quicker!

After the ends are snapped off, you will want to wash them thoroughly, removing any dirt. At this time, put a pot of water on the stove to boil. You also will want to clean your jars. When you use a pressure canner, there is no need to boil or sterilize the jars beforehand. Just clean them and inspect for cracks and chips.

Once cleaned, it is time to fill up your jars! The jars fill better when the green beans are between one and two inches long. Fill the jars up, leaving one inch headspace at the top. Headspace is important for pressure canning!

You will want to add salt to the jars. I tried no salt before and the beans were bland, consequently those beans were great for casseroles, but not side dishes. Try 3/4 to 1 TSP of canning salt per jar.

Now is the time to put the indicated amount of water into your canner (check your manual), and turn the canner on medium to start heating up the water. After you add the salt, ladle in the boiling water, leaving the one inch headspace! After filled with boiling water, use your included tool for checking headspace or a wooden skewer to move around the jar, popping air bubbles.

Wipe off the rim of the jar and put on the lid. Your jars are ready to go into the canner!

Processing the Green Beans

Put your jars into the canner and close the lids. At this point, it is best if you follow your canners instructions. However, most of them follow the same type of instructions. You need to allow the canner to gain heat, and it will push out steam until the lid is locked. You need to put the valve over on top, allowing it to gain pressure.

Green beans should be processed at 11 pounds of pressure for 20 minutes for pints or 25 minutes for quarts. Your manual should have specific times; make sure that you double check! You need to process them for the correct amount of time to ensure any bacteria and spores are killed.

Once the jars are processed, turn off the heat and allow the canner to de-pressurize on its own. It can take up to 30 minutes for this to happen. Once unlocked, make sure that you open the lid AWAY from your face. The steam could burn you!

Lift the jars out of the canner and place them on a dry towel. Doing so helps to avoid breaking from the shock of the temperature change. Let the jars set for 24 hours.

Canning green beans couldn’t be easier! We had a small batch this time, but by the end of the season, our shelves will be lined with jars.

What do you prefer – frozen or canned green beans? Let me know in the comments.

 

7 Dangerous Canning Mistakes You Are Making

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Each day, I see articles floating around encouraging dangerous canning mistakes that could cause someone to get sick. If you happen to make one of these mistakes, you might regret it.

Canning is fun and exciting. There is something so refreshing and rewarding about seeing shelves of brightly colored jars. It feels even better when the jars are full with produce you grew throughout the year. A lot of hard work goes into those canning jars.

The last thing you want to do is make a dangerous canning mistake that could lead to you or a loved one getting sick. So, I want to go through some of these canning recommendations that I see frequently.

Before I get started, I know someone will think or say “well, my grandparents did it and they lived.” That is probably true. Chances are your grandparents and great-grandparents did some of these dangerous canning mistakes.

But, we know better now.

Scientists, through extensive studies, have created safety recommendations that ensure what you are canning doesn’t contain dangerous bacteria. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is one of those research institutes that are taking the time to make the safety recommendations.

Cases of poisoning and death from bad canning is rare; that is true. But, it happens! In 2015, an Ohio church potluck experienced a botulism outbreak that caused one death and 20 illnesses. The outbreak was due to badly canned produce. It happens, and you don’t want it to be you or your family that falls victim.

So, let’s take a look at the mistakes you want to avoid.

Mistake # 1 – Flipping Jars Upside Down to Seal

Unfortunately, I still see people recommending this route for sealing jars. It is true that your lid will probably seal, but that doesn’t guarantee it is a solid and secure seal. The jars might seal at first, but later come unsealed. Then, the food will spoil without you realizing.

The biggest reason you don’t want to make this mistake is that the liquids aren’t at high enough temperatures to kill off dangerous spores in the food. One of the reasons that you immerse the jars into a canner is to kill off bacteria. You want the temperature to be so high that no mold can continue to grow.

Mistake # 2 – Reusing Lids that Are Meant for One Use

I know; no one wants to buy lids for each jar. However, the lids you buy from Ball or Wal-Mart aren’t meant to be reused. There is an exception to this rule – Tattler Lids. These lids are more expensive, but they are meant for multiple uses and worth the investment. If you use the wrong lids multiple times, your seal won’t be secure, and your food could spoil. Seriously, no one wants that to happen.

Mistake # 3 – Canning Untested Recipes

Developing your own canning recipes is hard and risky. Using old recipes is also dangerous. You want to make sure you have the right level of acid, the right headspace, processing time and more. I highly recommend that you use reputable recipes. When I first started canning, I purchased the Ball Canning Book. Their new book called – The All New Book of Canning and Preserving – has 300 recipes. It is a wonderful resource with safe canning recipes.

Mistake #4 – Using Paraffin Wax to Seal the Jars

Please, if the recipe tells you to use wax to seal the jars, walk (or close it) away immediately. I understand the idea behind it. The wax is supposed to create a secure seal to keep air out and stopping the growth of bacteria, supposedly. I know that my grandmother talked about doing this when she was younger.

Just like flipping the jars, using paraffin wax doesn’t destroy the bacteria and spores already inside of the food. You can’t guarantee the food is safe, so stick to the lids and rims!

Mistake #5 – Canning Milk, Butter and Flour Products

You might see cream of mushroom canned in the stores and assume you can safely can it at home. The answer is a huge NO. Why? It is because companies create their canned goods at a much higher temperature than we could ever generate in our homes.

One of the most common mistakes I see is an article floating around recommending canning butter by ladling melted butter into jars and flipping them over. There is a whole lot of wrong going on there.

Butter is a low acid food, which means it has to be pressure canned! Botulism loves lower acid, so it can thrive in that environment. The same goes for milk. You cannot safely can milk by heating it and putting it into jars. As it stands right now, there are no safe ways to safely can milk and butter.

The same goes for flour products. You might want to can chicken noodle soup, but it isn’t possible to do at home what they do in large factories. Instead, opt to can chicken soup and add the noodles later.

Mistake #6 – Not Checking for Air Bubbles

It might seem like a silly step. Do air bubbles really cause a problem? The answer is yes, they do. You can run the tool included with your canning set in your jar or use a sterilized butter knife. Air bubbles can give space for spores and bacteria to thrive and live. The step takes 30 seconds, just do it!

Mistake # 7 – Using a Water Bath Canner for Low Acid Food

The last mistake might be the biggest and most dangerous. It is a pet peeve of mine. There are dozens of foods that you cannot safely can in a water bath canner. The difference comes from the acid in the food. The higher amount of acid, the less likely botulism can survive. Foods that have a pH level of 4.6 or HIGHER need to be canned in a pressure canner.

This means your produce in the garden, such as green beans, carrots and corn, must be canned in a pressure canner. If you are canning soups or meat, a pressure canner is necessary. If you opt to use a water bath canner instead, the temperatures will not be high enough to kill off the botulism spores. Even if you boil the jars for hours, it still isn’t enough.

Jellies, jams and pickles are meant for water bath canning, not your produce, meats or soups.

 

I hope you aren’t making one of these 7 dangerous canning mistakes. If you are, remember that once we know better, we do better. Now that you know the method is unsafe, you can change and ensure your family eats only safely preserved foods.