Friday, November 1, 2013

Preserving Foods Q & A

Great feedback on our Preserving series.  We've had good discussions at local coupon clubs this month.   Here are some of the questions I received over the past 3 weeks.

Q: How do you store dehydrated foods once they are dry? 
A: I’ve used many things.  Once I had a fancy and expensive Vac N Seal.  The bags cost more than the food savings, so I started looking for a better option.  Now I use a Pump and seal kit. It’s a simple system that can use any jar.  Look at it at  You can use any jar you have.  I also use gladware containers, old peanut butter jars, and zip bags. 

Q: When Dehydrating, do you blanch the foods first?
A: Yes, I do blanch carrots.  The books with recipes will tell you the most firm vegetables will need blanching.  Softer items like onions do not need blanching. 

Q: Do you have a recipe you use to can chili beans?
       A:  Yes!  These are instructions I printed off the internet a few years back: Step #1 SEASONING MIX FOR CHILI BEANS  ~ makes about 1/2 cup of mix (enough for 8 pints of beans) I also just use it when making fresh chili mix.

2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 Tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 Tablespoon unrefined sea salt
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
**4 more teaspoons of the unrefined sea salt to add to the jars.

Combine all the ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Store in an airtight glass jar.

Step #2 How to prepare the beans
For 8 pints of home-canned chili beans, you will need 2 pounds of dry kidney beans. Or pink beans!  Sort and wash them well.  Drain.  Place in a large glass or stainless container and cover with water, at least half again as deep as the level of the beans.  Add 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.

Allow to soak for 24 hours.  Drain.  Rinse.  Cover again, as before.  Allow to soak for another 24 hours.
Drain and rinse.  Cover well with clean water and bring to a boil.  Boil gently for 30 minutes, skimming off the foam that rises to the surface. 
I tend to just boil them for about 30 min to just tender them, then let them finish in the jars. 
A: When you fill your pint jars for canning, fill them only about 3/4 full of beans and top off with the cooking liquid or boiling water. Leave 1 inch head space at the top. Leave plenty of room, do not over fill, the beans will still expand, and you do not want your jars to explode.  I would say 2/3 way full.   Add 3 teaspoons of the seasoning mix to each jar and 1/2  teaspoon salt.  Process in a pressure canner for 75 minutes at 11 pounds pressure. 

Q: Where do I find the freeze ahead meals on Pinterest?
A: Best thing to do, is just follow County Market Coupon News on Pinterest.  Log into your account.  In the search section type in our name.  Then Select FOLLOW.  Every time I pin a savings idea, or freezer meal, you will be able to see it in your account.  Simple and easy.  I pin about 20 things per week from organizing to thrifty tips, to meal prep.  If you like my suggestions, you can repin it to your boards. My personal Pinterest under LeAnn Moyers has other stuff like Kids, quilting, scrapbooking, so be sure to look at CMCN for food. 

Q: Who should I ask for at the store about large quantities of produce for canning?
A: Ask to speak to the produce manager.  They will know what is coming into the store.  Let them know you are a canner and you’re interested in  a case of fall apples, or brown bananas for freezing.  Brown bananas are best for bread during the holidays, and those freeze just fine.  They may have suggestions for you that were not on your radar. 

Q: Do you really save money with all this work?
A:  Yes.  Not a ton of money, maybe only $500 per year.  But I save hours and hours of time in meal prep.

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