Southwestern Chow-chow and Red Chile Corn Broth (2 ways to preserve corn)

20180821_153940 It is corn season!  I have put up two large bags of sweet corn from a farm ten minutes from here.  My neighbor came over on her lunch break for some coffee and I put her to work.  She had never shucked corn before but as we sipped our coffee she laughed as we removed corn worms and pieces of corn silk fell on her nicely pressed clothes.  Many hands make light work.  The more folks learn that those activities of old that take more time actually create a sense of peace of mind and calm that cannot be duplicated on social media, the more our generations will begin picking up a sewing needle, canning, and calling friends over to make soap.

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I put up ten pints of basic corn, ten pints of cinnamon sugar corn, and seven half-pints of Southwestern chow-chow.  “What is that?” you ask.  I have no idea, I made it up.  You see, I was going to make Amish chow-chow, apparently also a southern favorite, and went to following a recipe (not my strong point).  I had green peppers.  Then it called for red peppers, except my peppers haven’t turned red yet, but I did have a poblano and an Anaheim green chili in the garden.  So those went in instead.  I don’t love a lot of onion so I cut that amount down sharply.  No garlic?  Now, now, we must have garlic.  Three cloves.  By the time I was done I had a corn relish indeed, and it smelled heavenly, but it was made from a southwestern garden and it shows!

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Southwestern Relish (Chow-chow)

4 cups of corn

2 large green peppers, diced

2 poblano or green chili peppers, diced

1/8-1/4 cup of red onion, diced

3 stalks of celery, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3/4 cup of sugar

1 Tbsp sea salt

1 Tbsp smoked salt (optional)

1 Tbsp mustard powder

1 ts celery salt

1/2 ts of turmeric

2 cups of apple cider vinegar

Put everything but the corn in a good sized pan and boil for 5 minutes.  Add the corn and boil another 5 minutes.  Pour into 1/2 pints or pint jars leaving 3/4 inch headspace.  Clean rims, replace warm lids.  Water bath boil (in any old pot with water covering jars) for 15 minutes plus 1 minute per 1000 ft above sea level (I live at 4500 ft so I just round up to an extra 5 minutes.)  Makes 8 pints.

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Now we have a pile of corn cobs sky high on the counter.  The chickens love them but there is more to do to them before the chickies get ’em.  I already made several pints of plain, good, clear corn broth for soups and cooking throughout the winter but I want something in the root cellar with a little spunk.  So, I made several quarts of red chile corn broth.  And it is simple enough.

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Red Chile Corn Broth- Just pile up a large stew pot with corn cobs, onion, celery, a head of garlic, an onion, and a good helping of dried chili (red or green).  Add a bit of salt and pepper (you’ll add more seasoning as you cook with it so you don’t need much).  Fill it with water and simmer it for 2 hours.  Then ladle it into clean, warm quart jars leaving 1 inch headspace.  Clean the rim and replace the lid.  Pressure can for 25 minutes.  (10 pounds of pressure for most folks, all the weights for us high altituders.)

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Mama mia!  This is when I need an army of friends to help me clean up this kitchen!

 

Canning Soup for Instant Winter Lunches

I am terrible when it comes to lunch inspiration.  I despise sandwiches, don’t like wraps, not really into salads as main courses, don’t want processed foods, and have little time to make anything the night before or morning of.  My husband leaves at six in the morning and needs a packed lunch.  Sometimes I just have to feed myself, sometimes I feed three or four girls when I work at my shop.  I need lunch solutions!

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Enter the beautiful pot of soup.

I generally make at least one soup a week for a meal.  It doesn’t take much energy to make it a bigger batch.  I serve a delicious soup with homemade bread and vegetables from the garden for dinner then the next morning I can the rest of the soup in wide mouth pint jars.  Instant lunches through the winter.  Choose a soup, take it to work!  I always have bread made and with a side of fruit or canned applesauce, maybe some crackers, or carrots and dip, this is a great lunch.

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So long as the soup doesn’t have dairy or rice in it, this will work.  Pour soup into large mouth pint jars leaving an inch head space.  Make sure rim is clean and replace lid.  Put three inches of water into pressure canner.  Put jars in.  Secure lid and turn on heat on high.  Listen for lovely ticking sound from the shaker, turn down heat a little, and pressure can (10 lbs of pressure for most folks, all the weights all the time for us high altitudes) for 1 hour.  Anything with seafood goes 1 hour and 40 minutes.  Let steam release naturally.  Then remove from pot and let cool on towel on counter.  When the jars are cool and the you know the seals are set, label, date, and add to root cellar shelves.

Enjoy instant homemade lunch all winter.  I love this homesteading life.

 

 

Winter Canning

It might seem like a good time to put up the pressure and water canners but indeed this is actually a wonderful time to catch up on winter canning.  We’ll be picking up meat from our friends after harvest in a few weeks and the freezer needs to get cleaned out.  I save the green parts of leeks, the outer layers of onion, carrot ends, kale ends, heading to the edge veggies and store them in large freezer bags.  When it is time to make broth I stick them all in a large pot.  In this batch I did all the mushrooms I had in the freezer waiting for fried mushrooms that never came about.  Onion, and garlic cloves joined the bunch of veggies and large sprigs of rosemary were added.  3 hours on low and the simmering broth smelled delightful.  Rosemary and mushroom broth will make a delicious broth in rich dishes.  The next batch I will be doing will be made with a chicken carcass and all the corn cobs saved in the freezer from summer.

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The broth is strained  and poured into hot quart jars.  The rims wiped down, hot lids replaced, and the jars put into a pressure canner with three inches of water on the bottom.  10 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes for normal folks; we high altitude homesteaders just keep all the weights on at all times.  The 25 minutes starts when the top starts ticking.  Turn off the heat when the timer goes off. Do not open for a few more hours at least.  It is always nice to have broth at the ready and to know what is in it.

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I also took the opportunity to re-can the peach jelly..ahem, syrup.  If you have been reading my blog for a long time you know that I never get it right the first time!  I have had amazing high altitude homesteading jelly makers give me every tip in the book.  I suppose my problem is not following directions, ever.  It generally works the second time…one more box of pectin, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, 1 more cup of sugar, let it boil for longer than it says…we’ll see if I am giving peach jelly or peach syrup this season!  It takes a few weeks to know if I succeeded.

It is always nice to bake bread while canning since you are stuck near the stove anyways.  The warmth of the kitchen heals chaos and settles the spirit.  The root cellar in the house we are buying has large shelving that I look forward to filling.

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How to Can Beets

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“I dropped the beets!” one of the farm workers at the stand said.

“This is how you drop the beat!” Doug replied and promptly started beat boxing.  He had the rest of the folks behind the table curled over laughing.  I laughed thinking about it as I loaded my beets into a bag at the market.  It is beet canning week. (Now the beat boxing pops into my head every time I say the word!)

Having canned beets means quick Borscht, throw a jar into a blender with yogurt and cucumber and dill.  It means salad toppings.  It means an easy, pretty side dish at the table during any season.

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We have talked plenty about how to pickle beets but not about how to just can them as is.  First boil the beets after removing greens (save these for smoothies and other dishes you would use greens in.  They are delicious.)  Boil for 40 minutes.  Cool a bit then under water peel off skins.

Do put your apron on.  The beets want a complete red society and they are coming after your favorite white shirt.

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Pour boiling water from a kettle into jars.  Put lids in a bowl, pour boiling water over.  This is how I sterilize.  My jars are clean, I just need to get them hot and rinsed out good with boiling water.  Swish the water around and empty.  Put funnel on top and pour in diced beets to one inch from top.  Gently push down veggies or shake jar to make more room.

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Now here is where we can do fun variations.  In some of them I just did plain beets so I can improvise later.  In three of them I added a thick slice of peeled orange.  In the remaining one I only had enough beet to fill it half way so I added a diced apple.

They all get a 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  The fruit ones got vanilla salt, the rest got good sea salt.  A tablespoon of brown sugar went into the fruit ones as well as a splash of orange juice to enhance the flavor.

Heat that kettle up again and pour water into jars to 1 inch from top.  Use a knife to jiggle around the sides and the water will lower while releasing air.  Add more water to one inch headspace.

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Have a pressure canner with 3 inches of water heating up on the stove without lid.  Run a damp paper towel over the rims of the jars and replace lids.  Place in pot.  Put lid on.  Most of y’all are going to do 10 pounds of pressure but in our high altitude we have to use all the weights all the time.  When the thing starts sounding like a bomb, or salsa music, start shaking your hips and time 30 minutes plus 1 minute for every 100o feet above sea level you are.

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Always wait for pressure to release before opening the lid.  Remove stained glass-like jars and admire on a towel on the counter.  Enjoy whenever you want!

Pressure Canner (homesteading necessity, chicken stock recipe, and buying only what you need)

We are slowly building our life and items we need back up.  We just purchase what we need as cash allows.  Last night we joyfully added to the cart a few imperative homesteading items.  A pressure canner (when the lid is off it’s a water bath canner), jars, stock pot, and canning gear.

First things first, chicken stock.  I am shocked at how much organic stock costs.  Here is my recipe for it should you need it from a prior blog post.

Click here for recipe

I am heading to my Great Aunt Donna’s for rhubarb this weekend.  And the hunt is on for everything I can get my hands on to can.  Rows of organic canned goods are amazing to have on hand any time of the year, goodness without listeria, E Coli, or whatever the heck else is in our food system.  Great, delicious, wonderful home grown food….oh, I am getting carried away.  Stock, that is where I was at…

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Canning Sweet Corn

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to learn to can.  It seems that it skipped a generation and very few people my age even know how to can.  Folks think it is easier to buy food from the store.  I disagree.  How many hours does one have to work in order to buy food?  I would rather spend those hours in the garden or at the farmers market.  In just a few hours one can turn an entire bag of corn into several jars of delicious sweet corn, summer flavor locked in, to enjoy all winter.  It is a rather nice task with huge rewards.

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Not only do you know where your food is coming from, how it was raised, how long ago it was harvested, how big the footprint is, and if it is organic, but you also provide yourself food security.  Big snow storm?  No job?  Car broke down?  Can’t get to the store?  No problem.  The grocery store is in the basement.

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I am not growing enough to can yet.  Each stalk will produce 1-2 good ears of corn.  I got a big bag of corn from Miller Farms (they are not certified organic, but I know for a fact that they do not use pesticides, fertilizers, or any kind of herbicide.  They also use non-GMO corn) and went to work.

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1. Shuck a big bag of corn and cut corn off of cobs with a sharp knife.  Give cobs to chickens and ducks.  They love corn day!  Give the outer leaves to the goats.  They love them!  Save the corn silk in a paper bag for healing up urinary tract infections.  Just make into tea with a handful of cranberries and juniper berries and honey.

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2. Fill warm jars with corn to half an inch from the rim.  Add 1/2 a teaspoon of sea salt to pints, 1 teaspoon to quarts.  Fill jars to 1/2 an inch from rim with a kettle of hot water.  Wipe off rim and put on lid.

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3. Fill the pressure canner with three inches of water.  Put jars in canner.  Attach lid.  (Note: the new pressure canners are inexpensive and not our great-grandma’s pressure canners.  They do not blow up!  There is no fear using one!)  Turn on high and when the shaker starts shakin’ and it sounds like you ought to be belly dancing, then start timing.  55 minutes for pints, 85 minutes for quarts.  For high altitude canning, always use all the weights.  For the rest of the world use 10 lbs of pressure.

A burlap bag 2/3 full made 10 pints of corn and 3 quarts of corn.  I need thirty jars to get through winter (we love corn) so I’ll need another bag!