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.

Why Does Acidity Matter for Canning?

While canning jellies and jams are one of my favorite activities, it is important to understand how to do so correctly. There are a lot of misunderstandings about what is safe for canning. Today, we are going to look at why acidity matters for canning.

The Role of Acidity in Canning

I get a lot of questions from friends and family about canning. Many people don’t understand the role of acid in canning. The fact is that you cannot can every single fruit out there if you plan to use a water bath canner.
To be considered safe, the fruit you selected must have a pH scale of 4.6 or lower. The lower the number, the more acidic! Why is acid important? Botulism cannot grow and thrive in an acidic environment. To safely can your fruits in a water bath canner, the acid must be present.

Foods that are lower in acids, such as meat or vegetables, must be canned in a pressure canner. Their pH level is higher than 4.6. A pressure canner heats the food to a higher pressure, ensuring all bacteria spores are killed, including botulism.

When canning jellies and jams, acid plays another role. It helps to set and gel. If you want to have an enjoyable, safe jelly or jam, you need acid!

What Fruits Aren’t Safe?

Luckily, most fruits are acidic, such as apples and strawberries. The fruits you cannot water bath safely due to low acid are bananas, figs, melons, dates, and papayas.

Tomatoes, which comes to a surprise for many people, can be borderline. They are considered a low-high acid food. If you don’t want to can your tomatoes in a pressure canner, try adding a form of acid, listed before.

Can You Increase the Acidity?

Sometimes, fruits will vary in acidity. For example, an overripe apple has less acid than an under-ripe one! There are a few ways you can fix your pH level.

·         Add some under ripe fruit to your recipe. For example, if you are making applesauce, add some under ripe green apples. If you are making strawberry jam, add some under ripe strawberries, which also contains more natural pectin!

·         Try adding 1 TBSP of lemon juice for each cup of fruit. If you are making strawberry jam with overripe strawberries, you would need 4 TBSP of lemon juice for 4 cups of strawberries.

If you are curious about the pH level of your selected fruit, click here for my free chart! It contains the pH level of most fruits.

 

 

6 Homesteading Skills that Save You Money

When the homesteading whim hits you, there is a chance you won’t be in the prime location for it. Perhaps you are stuck in an apartment in a large city. Or, you might live in the country but are lacking the financial means to create a homestead.

That’s ok! You can practice homesteading skills ANYWHERE. The best thing about developing homesteading skills is that they can save you money. Who doesn’t LOVE to save money, right? Most homesteading skills lead you towards a more self-sufficient lifestyle, no matter your location.

I could list over a hundred homesteading skills, because I want to learn them all. We still in the suburbs! There are so many skills I want to learn like how to milk a cow and how to raise goats. I don’t know those skills yet, but it might happen one day.

Instead, I focused on skills that you can do no matter your location that will start leading you towards the homesteading life. Remember, these skills typically take practice. You won’t try it once time and master the skills. Everything takes practicing.

6 Homesteading Skills that Save You Money 

  1. Bake Your Own Bread

If your purchase bread, you might not know the amazing taste of homemade read. Nothing beats it. When you put the loaf of bread in the oven, the smell fills your house. It’s intoxicating.

Beyond the taste,  baking your own bread is more economical. I can easily bake loaves for under $1. Plus you can sell your own bread at farmer’s market, priced easily at $3 to $4 per loaf.

2. Grow a Vegetable Garden

There is nothing like growing your very own vegetable garden! It is a major step towards self-sufficiency. Gardening reduces how much you need to rely on the supermarkets.

At first, you might want to start buy purchasing seedlings at the store. Over time, you will want to switch to starting the seeds at home. Then, you can learn how to save seeds at home. There are so many gardening skills to work on developing. I think that’s why I love gardening; it is a never-ending learning experience.

3. Learn How to Can Produce

Once you start gardening, you want to learn how to can produce. You don’t even need a garden to start canning! Head to a local u-pick fruit patch, pick a huge bundle of strawberries, then make a batch of easy strawberry jam.

At first, you will want to start by using a water bath canner for easy things such as pickles, jellies and jams, and tomato sauces. Once you feel confident, learning how to use a pressure canner allows you to preserve your other harvests like green beans and potato soup.

4. Using Medicinal Herbs

Homesteading means using the things that you have around you. Growing herbs is typically easier than growing vegetables. You can grow herbs on your window  sill or in the middle of your kitchen table.

Pick a few medicinal herbs to grow for homemade herbal remedies. Some of my favorite choices are:

  • Chamomile
  • Lavender
  • Echinacea
  • Feverfew
  • Sage
  • Calendula

Once you start growing your own herbs, you can learn how to make infused oils and salves. We love making homemade salves for sore muscles or abrasions.

5. Basic Sewing Skills

When you have a hole in your shirt, what do you do? The answer isn’t to get rid of it. The answer is learn how to sew and mend your own clothing. You don’t need to create an entire wardrobe yourself! Instead, learning basic stitches so you can close holes or add patches to your clothes is a great skill because not only does it save money, but it also is a means of making money! People will pay for a seamstress!

6. Make Your Own Soft Cheeses

Cheese is a favorite food group in your house! The kids think cheese is comparable to candy. Try diving into learning how to make soft cheeses such as mozzarella or ricotta cheese. You can learn how to make your own cream cheese and sour cream as well. This skill doesn’t seem important, but once you have your own cow or goat, it is necessary!

I could include several more homesteading skills that can save you money, but it is best to start small! Many of the skills start in the kitchen, which is the heart of the home.

Do you have skills you are working on as a new homesteader? I would love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments!

The Easiest Strawberry Jam Recipe

Strawberries signify June in our house. Our small strawberry patch goes crazy, and strawberries come out of our ears. After years of practice, I found my favorite strawberry jam recipe.

I typically need to make 12 to 24 half-pint jars of strawberry jam to last our family one year. We eat PB&J sandwiches a lot. I also like to give away jars of jam and jelly for gift baskets. I make a lot of different jams; strawberry just happens to be our favorite.

I once tried freezer jam, and that didn’t work for us. Our power went out, and I lost five jars. I was so sad. After that incident, I decided to stick with what I knew. Canning strawberry jam is just something I love! I use the easiest strawberry jam recipe I know, and it’s perfection. If you are looking for a recipe to can for the very first time, try this one!

strawjam

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of hulled strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 3 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 box of low sugar pectin

Directions:

  1. Prepare the strawberries by hulling and cutting up into pieces. Put strawberries and lemon juice into a pot. Turn on medium-high heat. Allow them to heat up. As the strawberries heat, I use my spoon to mash them as they get soft.
  2. Mix 1 cup sugar with the box of pectin. Once the strawberries are boiling, mix in the sugar and pectin. Stir well. Add the rest of the sugar to the mixture.
  3. Bring to a boil. It should be a rolling boil that doesn’t slow down if you are stirring. Allow to boil (as you stir) for one minute. Remove from heat.
  4. Ladle the jam into prepared jars waiting for you. Use a water bath canner and process the jars for 10 minutes. Let the jars sit for 24 hours before removing rims and labeling the cans!

Everyone seems to have different methods for making strawberry jam. I wanted mine to be as simple as possible. The results are always the same – amazing and delicious. If you are looking for some other strawberry canning recipes, check out a few creative recipes I listed.

Do you have a favorite recipe for strawberry jam? If so, please share it with us in the comments!

5 Creative Ways to Can Strawberries

strawberries

It is June, and your strawberry patch is probably overflowing. Strawberry fields are blooming. There is a good chance you have strawberries coming out of your ears. If you don’t, there are hundreds of u-pick strawberry farms you can visit throughout the country.

Besides freezing strawberries, I always try to can our strawberry harvest. Our family uses 12 to 24 half-pints of strawberry jam per year. I also like to find some creative recipes and ideas. Here are some of my favorite ways to can strawberries. Your mouth might water!

strawlemon

  1. Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate
    Remember those frozen cans of juice concentrate your mother would make throughout the week? You can make your own varieties right at home with your canner. I love to make strawberry lemonade concentrate. It is easy. To reconstitute, you just mix equal parts water. It is so easy and delicious!pie filling
  2. Strawberry Pie Filling
    Do you like to make strawberry pies? I do! I actually prefer pies with graham cracker crusts, but that’s just a personal preference. It is easy to can almost any pie filling. We can apple pie filling each year!strawberrybasil
  3. Strawberry Basil Jam
    Sometimes, you want to make a unique type of jam. Most people don’t typically include herbs in their jams. Basil has a delicious flavor that pairs well with strawberries. You can definitely taste the basil, but it won’t overpower the sweet and tartness of the strawberries. This would make a great jam for gift baskets.strawberryjam
  4. Strawberry-Lime Vanilla Jam
    As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it. I’m a huge fan of vanilla. The strawberries and lime pair well together. The lime adds a hint of tartness while the vanilla keeps it sweet. It is divine over top of some ice cream. We’ve added it to unsweetened yogurt in the morning with some granola. Yum!strawsauce
  5. Strawberry Sauce
    Everyone needs to have a few jars of strawberry sauce (or syrup) on your shelves. It is the perfect treat. We use it to sweeten our yogurt. You can top your ice cream with it as well. Best of all, you only need a few cups of strawberries to make this recipe happen!

Do you have a favorite way to can strawberries each year? I would love to hear (or see) your recipe! Let me know in the comments.

Watermelon Jelly

Watermelon

Summertime is here. When I imagine summer, I think of my blooming garden, hours swimming at the lake, picnics, and watermelon. Watermelon is, by far, one of my favorite fruits. It is juicy, sweet, and messy, the perfect combination for a treat.

A year ago, I knew I wanted to preserve watermelon, but how? You can’t can watermelon slices; it just won’t work. Then I realized, why not make a jelly out of watermelon? It is amazing.

You do need a juicer or at least a way to get the juice out of the watermelon without the pulp. That could mean blending and straining the watermelon. We just happen to have a juicer, making the process easy. Start to finish, it takes me less than an hour to make watermelon jelly.

watermelonjelly

*It is important to note that watermelon is higher on the acidity scale, which means you must add acid to the recipe to safely water bath this recipe.

Watermelon Jelly Recipes

Ingredients

  • 4 cups watermelon juice (typically one half of a watermelon)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 box of low sugar pectin
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Juice the watermelon or blend then strain the mixture. Put the juice into a pot and turn on medium/high heat to boil.
  2. Allow the watermelon juice to below, stirring frequently. Since watermelon contains so much water, you need to cook it longer than normal.
  3. Next, Mix the box of pectin with one cup of sugar. I use low sugar pectin because 8 cups of sugar for the regular pectin is just too much. You’ll lose the flavor of the watermelon.
  4. Stir in the pectin and sugar mixture. Then, slowly add the rest of the sugar, stirring well after each cup. .
  5. Let come back to a rolling boil and boil for 1-2 minutes while stirring continuously.
  6. Remove from heat and ladle into jars. You will typically get 7 to 8 half-pint jars with one recipe.
  7. Finally, Water bath can for 5 minutes.

Have you ever tried watermelon jelly? It is a top seller for me because my friends and family love it for its unique flavor.

Most of all, let me know if you try the recipe and what you think!