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.

 

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.

 

 

20-Minute Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

*This post contains affiliate links at no additional cost to you.

Our family LOVES biscuits. I’m sure that my kids consider biscuits a separate food group. If I make biscuits for breakfast, lunch or dinner, they disappear off of the table before anything else. Buttermilk biscuits just happen to be a huge favorite, above all other choices.

Years ago, I made it my quest to discover a homemade buttermilk biscuit recipe that I loved. Purchasing the refrigerated cans in the store is expensive, and it is full of unnecessary ingredients I don’t want to feed my kids.

Finally, after a lot of trial and error (which my kids appreciated), I found the perfect recipe. The baking time was short, so I could pop them right into the oven while cooking dinner. I didn’t have to knead the dough for hours, and there was no rising time since it is a yeast-free recipe. Whenever we have the urge for biscuits, I can make these in a jiffy.

20-Minute Buttermilk Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/4 TSP baking soda
  • 1/2 TSP salt
  • 1 1/2 TBSP Sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk - if you don't have buttermilk mix 1 TBSP of white vinegar with one cup of milk. Allow it to stand for a few minutes. Perfect substitution!

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Mix all of the dry ingredients together, which are flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.
  3. Cut the butter into small cubes. Put them into the dry ingredients. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until it forms into a coarse-like crumb.
  4. Stir in the buttermilk.
  5. Once thoroughly mixed, turn the dough out onto your floured countertop and knead gently. Roll the dough out, ensuring it is 1/2 inch thick. Using biscuit cutters, cut out the biscuits. You may have to roll the dough out again a few times.
  6. Place the biscuits on a greased baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Eat warm!

9 Ways Amazon Prime Saves You Money

Amazon and I have a serious love affair. I’ve been a Prime member for at least three years, and I have no desire to go back to live without Amazon Prime.

Despite being a member for so long, I never knew I was missing so many ways you can save money with Amazon Prime. Of course, Amazon is always coming out with new ways as well. One of the reasons I love Amazon so much is their constant development and improvement.

Aside from the obvious two-day shipping benefit, you can save even more money with Amazon Prime. Let’s take a look!

9 Ways Amazon Prime Saves You Money Try Amazon

Prime Pantry
I recently began to use the Prime Pantry and I love it. A little known tip is to select free 5-day shipping at check out for your other items. You have to wait longer for your book, but you get a free-shipping credit for your Prime Pantry purchase.Why do I love Prime Pantry? The prices are similar to other supermarket stores in my town. I can shop from my couch without having to dress myself or the kids. Best of all, Amazon now includes Prime coupons. With those coupons, many of the items I purchase are brand name and WAY cheaper than the items I would buy in the store.

Lower Prices for Prime Members
When you view an item listed on Amazon as a Prime member, you get special prices on many items. Sometimes, you pay significantly less than other people because of your membership! These lower prices will help you save money on every day items, from books to toilet paper!

Free Lending Library + One Free Book
If you have a Kindle, you have access to thousands of books on Amazon’s lending library. You also get one free e-book each month if you are a Prime member! No more driving back and forth to the library, which saves you gas. Plus, e-books generally are cheaper than regular books anyway!

Prime for 30 Days for Free
When I signed up years ago, Amazon didn’t offer a free trial program, but now they do! The best thing about Amazon’s free trial is that you aren’t limited. Many programs limit what you can do with their free trial. Amazon doesn’t.
You have full access to EVERYTHING, from the free Kindle lending library to their Prime music account. Having full access to their membership lets you determine if you would actually save money. You might be surprised! Pick 10 things you might purchase for gifts. Calculate the shipping you would pay. You might be close to the $99 yearly membership fee already!

Amazon Prime Streaming
Why do you need cable if you have Amazon Streaming? Each month, I am more impressed with their streaming. They off hundreds of choices for children, along with movies and TV shows. You can purchase or rent movies, as well as purchase entire TV series if they aren’t free. They also have opt-in programs such as Starz and HBO. Seriously, with Amazon Prime Streaming, you can cut out cable. There is no need!

Early Access to Deals
Amazon has lightning deals, especially during the holiday season. Amazon Prime members get early access to these deals before other shoppers. Sometimes, the items sell out in that 30 minute window of early access. That’s how good some of these deals are!

Free 2 HOUR Shipping
If you are lucky enough to live in an area with free 2-hour shipping, you can get your groceries and other items in a flash. By using this offer, you save money by reducing gas and impulse spending!

Dash Buttons
Is there an item you typically need but forget to order on a regular basis? Then, you need a dash button. They cost $4.99. All you need to do is press the button and you order the item you need. They have so many dash button choices like Bounty, Tide, cat litter and dog food!
Dash buttons do save you money because you don’t have to run out and make a purchase. Whenever I head to the store because I forgot something, I purchase things I really don’t need. I like to reduce my gas usage and reduce the amount of time I spend in stores.

Subscribe and Save
I love Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program. It is simple to understand. You select items you need on a regular basis, like toilet paper or disposable diapers. They offer a variety of choices for delivery schedules, so pick the one that works for you. Each month or week, you are automatically billed for that item, and it is sent to your house.
The money saving takes place when you schedule 5 or more items on the S&S program. Then, Amazon reduces the costs by 15%! Therefore, not only are you saving on gas, you are saving even more money on the items themselves!

Amazon Prime, when used in the wrong way, could cause you to want to spend TOO much money. You have to learn to control yourself, easier said than done!

How do you use Amazon Prime to save money? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments!

How to Garden When You’re Broke

Gardening

Gardening is meant to save you money, but the beginning start up costs can feel overwhelming. Or, you might have a tough year and not have enough money to start up for the year.

Either way, there are some ways for you to garden when’re broke. You don’t HAVE to spend hundreds of dollars for a beautiful garden. In fact, there are plenty of ways to do it on budget. Some of these require that you gardened before, but otherwise, most of these tips can be used from the start.

  1. Use Pallets: Some pallets are treated with chemicals, so you need to look at the markings. If it has an HP stamped on it, that means it was treated with heat rather than chemicals and are safe for usage. If you are short on cash, pallets are a great way to make raised beds on a budget.
  2. Composting: Everyone should compost; it is free! Composting reduces the amount of trash you toss out each day. Brown materials such as grass clippings, dried leaves and weeds can be added to your compost. Green materials such as eggshells, veggies and fruit scraps and coffee grounds are great additions. Over time, they will break down into compost, a perfect addition to your garden. It comes in handy for…

    Soil

  3. Homemade Potting Soil: If you need to fill raised beds, the cost of potting soil gets pricey fast. Or, you might want to just add in some extra soil to areas that need filled. I use a similar recipe I found from the Prairie Homestead, except I use peat moss. A bag of peat moss may be around $9, but you get a lot of material.

    seedorder

  4. Save Your Seeds: It is essential to save your seeds. We grow a strictly heirloom garden because we want to save seeds. If we had to purchase all of those seeds again each year, it could cost over $170 a year. Saving seeds is a skill. Start off small and save the easiest ones first such as peas, beans and zucchini.
  5. Start Seeds Cheaply: There is no reason to run out and purchase tons of things to start seedlings. You can plant the seeds in eggshells or cheap, Styrofoam cups. While the nice looking pots at the store are nice, they are not a necessity to start seeds. I also germinate my seeds in my oven and then later set them under a few lamps.
  6. Use Homemade Fertilizers: Fertilizers play an important role in your garden. They aid and encourage the growth of your plants. You don’t have to go to the store and purchase bags of fertilizer. There are things around your house that work just as well.
    • Coffee grounds add nitrogen, potassium and magnesium to your garden.
    • Tea bags have very similar nutrients to coffee grounds. Tomatoes love tea bags!
    • Egg shells are a source of calcium. Dry and crush them up, then sprinkle where you plant tomatoes.
    • Grass clippings are a free source of nitrogen for your garden!
    • Fish scraps can be pureed with water and milk for an excellent fertilizer. You can also use the water from your aquariums to water your plants.

      garden

  7. Free Mulch Sources: Mulch is beneficial for your garden. It helps to retain moisture and deter weed growth. Organic mulch also adds nutrients back into the soil as it decomposes. My favorite mulch choice is grass clippings. After my husband cuts the grass, I layer some throughout my garden beds. You could also use compost or dried, shredded leaves.

These are my favorite ways to save money while gardening. I want to save as much as I can so that I profit even more from my surplus. How do you save money while gardening? Let me know in the comments!

5 Awesome Ways to Save Time with an Instant Pot

Every now and then, I find a product that changes how I work in the kitchen. The Instant Pot is that new product. Never heard of it? You are in for a treat, my friend.


An Instant Pot is essentially a pressure cooker, but it does so much more. You can use it to brown meat, as a rice cooker, yogurt maker, and a pressure canner. Instead of having multiple devices, you just need the one.

Why Do I Love the Instant Pot?

IPP

There are few times that I say I LOVE a product. The Instant Pot is true love. Because we are focused on saving money, I would never share it if I felt that it wouldn’t benefit your family. Here are the reasons why I love it so much.

  • It saves me money. I can cook a dinner in 25 minutes. As I started to write this post, I considered calling for pizza. Our night was busy with an EMT class, soccer, and a Montessori meeting. Take out sounded great, right? I made a dinner in 20 minutes in the Instant Pot, a shorter time than pizza!
  • It’s great for summer. You know those hot summer when you can’t stand the idea of standing in front of a stove or oven? Put your dinner into the Instant Pot! While it does heat up, it won’t heat your entire kitchen.
  • It’s portable. Are you heading to the beach and want to save some money? Make dinners in the Instant Pot. It weighs close to 5lbs, and it isn’t huge. You can easily put it in the trunk of your car and use it.
  • It replaces other devices. I love my slow cooker, but I’ve rarely used it since I purchased an IP. Who needs a rice cooker or yogurt maker now? I don’t! If you plan to pressure can, the IP can do that as well.

My 5 Favorite Ways to Use the Instant Pot

  1. One Pot Meals: The very first time I used the IP, I followed a recipe for a Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole. I was totally skeptical. Hello, I was putting UNCOOKED pasta into this thing! 25 minutes later, I was blown away by the amazingness on my plate.

    Since that time, we have been known to toss a variety of ingredients into the IP, creating tons of one pot meals. Chicken stir fry, chicken and wild rice, spaghetti, roasts with potatoes and carrots. There are so many great recipes.

    rice.jpg

  2. Rice Cooker: I can honestly tell you that rice and I used to not be friends. It always had that crunchy texture, even after I cooked it exactly what the directions told me to do. I love rice, so disappointment typically followed. The IP changed my relationship with rice. Every time I use it in a dinner, it is always perfectly cooked! Even my rice-cooking challenged husband succeeds.
  3. Baked Potatoes: I LOVE baked potatoes, but they can take an hour to cook. If you know me, you know that I tend to forget everything. I can’t tell you how many times I forgot to put them into the oven. You only need 25 minutes in the Instant Pot to create the perfect baked potatoes.eggs
  4. Hard Boiled Eggs: Hard boiled eggs are a favorite in our family. My husband takes a few to work each day. I add them in my salads and chicken salad. With the IP, you only need 7 minutes to perfect hard boiled eggs! You can see directions here. It really is simple.
  5. Cooking Whole Chickens: One of the top ways that I save money is by purchasing whole chickens instead of all boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I typically would roast or boil a whole chicken, but I always forget when I needed to put it into the oven. Are you holding onto your seat? You can cook a whole chicken in 30 minutes in the IP. Did your mouth fall open? Mine did the first time I read it and then tried.

The Instant Pot has truly changed my kitchen. Do you have one in your kitchen? Let me know your favorite ways to use it!

+I may receive compensations from items linked in this post. It doesn’t influence my opinions on the products listed.

How to Make Dandelion Infused Oil

Did you know that dandelions have a purpose? They do more than dot your yard with pops of yellow. My husband creates delicious bottles of dandelion wine each spring. Years ago, your grandmother might have sent you out to gather dandelion greens for a salad. There is even more.

Medicinal Purposes of Dandelion Infused Oil

dandelion2

Besides the delicious scent, dandelion infused oil has medicinal uses that can benefit anyone. You can leave it as an infused oil or use it to create salves and ointments.

  • helps ease aching muscles and joints
  • calming properties when combined with lavender
  • stress relieving properties
  • excellent skin moisturizer

How to Make Dandelion Infused Oil

Lucky for you, making dandelion infused oil is very simple. It is a cold infusion process that uses the heat and light from the sun to extract the useful properties. One thing to note is that, unlike other infused oils, you only let this set for two weeks due to the high moisture content in the flowers. If you allow it to set longer, you increase the risk of spoilage and molding. Here is the simple process.

dandelion

  1. Pick enough dandelions to fill up your selected jar. I use mason jars. You only want the flowers!
  2. Allow the dandelions to dry for a day or two. As they dry, they will shrivel up, taking less room in your jar. I collected a pint jar of dandelion flowers and only filled up a half pint once dried.
  3. Fill up the jar with olive oil. You want to submerge the dandelions fully. Poke with a spoon to eliminate any air bubbles.
  4. Put the lid on your jar and allow it to set for two weeks in a sunny spot. A windowsill works perfectly. It needs to steep to allow the properties to soak into the oil.
  5. Once the two weeks are up, strain out the oil with a coffee filter. Now, you can use the oil!

Ways to Use Dandelion Infused Oil

Unlike other infused oils, this is not meant to be used for culinary purposes. The best way to apply it is topically. You can apply it directly to your skin or use it in homemade products.

Have you ever used dandelion infused oil? I would love to hear if you have tried dandelions for anything!