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Preservation Saturday

You'll never guess what we did this week! Went to our local supermarket and bought 50 lbs. of russet potatoes. Yup, the REALLY big bag. I have been getting the canning bug and wanted to make some canned potatoes for my pantry.

Canning is a really good way to save money if your already own your equipment. I've been doing this since 2010 and slowly building up my supplies over the years. Now my canning costs are mainly for jars, rings and lids. I keep the rings and use them over and over but the lids need to be replaced after each use. And the jars I can still pick up on Craigslist pretty cheaply. I also shop the "end of season" sales every year. 

So, I bet you are wondering just how many quart jars of potatoes you can get from 50 lbs of potatoes and the answer would be.... about 18 to 20 quarts. We're halfway through the bag and have done up 14 quarts leading me to believe it will be more like 28 quarts of potatoes in the end. That works out to .35 per jar. Now you are probably saying to yourself, "Why would I go through all that trouble to can potatoes when I could just buy them?" and that may be true for you. But... there are more potatoes in a quart jar than in a can that you buy at the store by double. Those cans are typically 16 oz. cans and a quartt jar is 32 oz. Again, a money savings. In addition, jars are reusable so less trash to put at the curb and landfills. And imagine how wonderful your pantry will look! Having preserved food available makes for meals in minutes. Imagine a stew with home canned meat, potatoes, carrots, celery and onion. All done up in less than half an hour and fork tender! Or maybe a great little chicken vegetable soup ready to come directly out of the jar into the pan. If you grow vegetables or fruits, you can pick the produce at the peak of their ripeness and make a lovely jar of jelly or jam, applesauce, dill pickles and even beans to put into chili. 

The skills are not difficult to learn and most counties have an agricultural extension that offers lessons to the public. As a matter of fact, I went to one at my local county extension office on Introduction to Canning. The demo was on making a very simple applesauce that was water bath canned and was it ever delicious! We have a little apple tree in our backyard and when the apples come this year, I want to try out a BUNCH of apple things in my canner. ( And make some vinegar, but that's for another day!) 

Needless to say, I was so excited I came home and decided to put some corned beef into jars and give it a try. We needed to make room in our freezer for the new corned beef as it goes on sale this upcoming week. I cube up the corned beef, give it a quick little fry in some olive oil mainly so the cubes don't stick to each other in the jar, put them in the jar with some hot water and a little salt and seal them up. Process for 75 minutes under 10 pounds of pressure and voila! We will have something for our lunch and for quick dinners. It ended up making 5 pints from a pretty large brisket round. Cannot wait to eat it! It will be so tender after its little cook up! 

Why not think about getting together some supplies and developing a new skill. You can start with fruit. The tools required are pretty economical and you may even get lucky and find some of the canning items at garage sales or thrift shops. These are some of the items I would recommend a brand new canner to get: 
  1. Water Bath Canner
  2. Ball Utensil Set for Preserving Now this is great because you get all the most common tools, a jar lifter, bubble remover / headspace tool, magnetic lid lifter and a jar funnel
  3. The Ball Preserving Book. Pretty much the "Bible" of how to can complete with recipes, time tables, tips
  4. Big Pots, Canning jars, lids, rings, wooden spoons and a good supply of fruit along with the recipes.
Canning is a great thing to learn and fun! There are many "How-To" videos on YouTube as well. 

My process....

  • Buy the potatoes of course...

  • Wash, peel, cube the potatoes  

  •  The Potato Washing Area
A place to peel the 'taters.... no not into the garbage disposal.... you will regret it. Of course our compost LOVED the addition!

  • Put cubed potatoes in a large roaster of boiling water to boil for 10 min. This helps to reduce the starchy water.

  • Put cubed potatoes into jars using a slotted spoon so you leave the starchy water behind. Here is my stainless canning funnel.

  • I will top the quart jars with 1 tsp of salt now while I can still see it. Take it from me, you don't want to make a mistake here! Add boiling water to prescribed headspace, non-chlorinated is best. We pick up a couple bottles of drinking or spring water from the store. Wipe the rims clean with a towel that has been wetted with white vinegar and place lid and ring.  Pop the completed jar into the canner. When the canner is full, in my case, 7 quarts, we put the lid on and wait for the canner to vent for 10 minutes before putting the weight on the top. Then it processes for 40 minutes under pressure and is allowed to come down to pressure with the lid on. You will more than likely hear the pressure pin drop. Remove the lid and let them sit for another 10 minutes or so to acclimate to to the temperature of the room some. Remove the jars to a towel without tipping them from side to side at all. You will probably see boiling continuing in the jars and that is normal and you will hear the POP of the lids as they cool, proof that the vacuum sealing has occurred. Allow the jars to sit for 24 hours undisturbed. Then you can remove the rings and label and put on the shelf for up to 1 year safely and nutritiously.

Voila!! Beautiful jars of canned potatoes! I hope you will give it a try and let me know how it works for you. Thanks for joining me today in my little preserving venture. 

By the way you guys, thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog. I'm hoping to get our YouTube channel up and running soon so the explanations, like today's, don't take so much reading. You can go over there now and subscribe and set up notifications so when we make our video,  you will be the first to know. 


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