Preserve Green Beans from your Garden by Canning

I love green beans. It is one of my all-time favorite vegetables.  They come in all shapes and sizes and there’s nothing better than opening a can of green beans from your very own garden. Beans you started from seed, watched grow and picked just at the perfect time.

There are a couple of ways to preserve green beans. Some like to freeze them, others like to can them. It doesn’t really matter which way you preserve your beans. I personally like to open my cabinet doors and see jars and jars of green beans lining the front row!

Two schools of thoughts are used in canning green beans.

Raw packing and hot packing.

Raw packing means you pack the mason jars with the raw bean, add salt, pour boiling water over the top, remove the air and cover with lid and ring. You must still place a raw packed can in a pressure canner to complete the canning process.

Hot packing means you blanch the green beans before packing them in the jars. If you don’t know what blanching is continue reading, I’ll explain.

This post is going to focus on hot packing green beans.

First thing to do is wash those green beans! Give them a couple of good washes as the dirt likes to stick.

Next, you need to cut off all the ends. Also take this time to snap your beans in half or simply cut them in half if that’s easier for you.

Once you have them cut you’ll need to blanch them. Blanching is a fancy way of saying you cook them in boiling water. Each vegetable is blanched for a different length of time as they all have different physical properties. Green beans you boil for a full 5 minutes. Blanching does two things. It partially cooks the bean making them tender and shortening their cook time later when used, and it also kills any bacteria on the bean that might be lingering. When the timer beeps, pull the green beans out of the pan and immediately put them in an ice bath. This stops the cooking process.

Meanwhile, your pressure canner should be on the stove boiling 4 quarts of water and 2 tbs of white vinegar and your mason jars. The white vinegar will keep your pressure canner from browning during the canning process. I also throw my rings and lids in too, to sterilize them.

 

Take your jars from your canner and add 1/2 tsp of salt to each jar (If you’re using quart size jars use 1 tsp of salt). Fill your jars with those beautiful vibrant green beans! Leave one-inch headspace. Carefully ladle boiling water into each jar. Again leave one-inch headspace. Slide your plastic spatula between beans and jar pushing the beans toward the center. Do this all the way around the jar. This pushes the trapped air bubbles out.

Wipe the top of the jars with a tea towel and place the lid and ring on. Tighten ring fingertip tight. Place jars into canner.

Cover canner with lid.

Gently slide the lid turning it until the arrows line up. You should hear and feel it click into place. Make sure your burner is on high. You should let the canner vent (without the weighted vent cap) for a full 10 minutes. Once the steam starts coming from the canner set your timer.

Now that your pressure canner is closed and venting, place the weighted vent cap on and watch the pressure climb. Green beans need to reach 10 pounds of pressure.

Please note: if you live at an altitude 1000 feet above sea level your pressure and times will be different.

Start your timer. For pints process for 20 minutes. For quarts process for 25 minutes. Keep the pressure stable. If your canner pressure drops below the 10-pound mark, you have to get your heat back up, pressure back up and then start your timer over again once you’re back at 10 pounds. You’ll find pressure climbs fast so watch your gauge and adjust your heat accordingly.

Finally when your timer beeps, turn your burner off. DO NOT remove the weighted pressure cap. DO NOT open your canner. The pressure is too great and it is dangerous. Allow the pressure to decrease on its own. When the gauge shows zero pressure, then you may remove the weighted cap. Open the lid by turning it and lift it from the canner being careful to not burn yourself from the steam.

Pull your jars out and set them on a towel to cool. Let them cool for 24 hours and smile every time you hear them ping!

Line your cabinets with beautiful jars of green beans and take pleasure in knowing you are growing your own food, eating healthy and living the old way.

What is your best tip for canning green beans?

 

Please Share:
Facebooktwitterpinterest
Posted in Canning, Homesteading | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Tips to Successful Homesteading

Homesteading encompasses so many tasks and it’s hard to be successful at all of them. Everything from gardening to fence building. One thing I struggle with the most when homesteading is wanting to do it all. Right now. While my heart wants to own a milk cow, plow my garden with a tractor and build a second chicken coop, it’s just not feasible.

I have learned to enjoy what I’m working on at any given time while planning and plotting my next projects. Most parts of homesteading are symbiotic. The chickens fertilize my garden and give me eggs, while they keep the grubs from destroying my root vegetables.

When homesteading everything works together.

But since I don’t have the money or the energy to run out and purchase all that I need, I’ve learned that homesteading is a process. Here are a few tips I have for starting out to help you be successful at homesteading.

1. Start small. You can’t do it all at once. Gradual growth is more beneficial in the long run. Set one goal you will improve upon this year. Are you raising chickens for the first time? Want to grow your own food? Start there and don’t incorporate anything else into your homestead. Minor tasks like sewing or crafting are doable, but don’t run out and add chickens, cows, goats and horses all while starting your first garden. I found that to be too overwhelming.

2. Don’t go into debt. One of the things my rooster and I vowed to one another is to not go into debt when creating our homestead. We like to live the old way and that includes using cash for improvements and maintenance. Living on one income we are not wealthy. Our homestead is a small 3 acres and we use the cash made on the sale of eggs and veggies to put back into the homestead. We save like our grandparents did for major improvements and machinery. We scout for free wood and materials while we borrow tractors from close friends who will grade our driveway when needed.

3. Learn a maintenance routine. As you start to incorporate different items into your homestead you’ll find the upkeep of those tasks is daunting. Learning each endeavor takes time and for me, it took a while to find my groove. The routine of feeding chickens, gathering eggs, coop cleaning and predator proofing was all I could handle in one year. I found learning a maintenance schedule gives me a better indication of how much time and effort is needed before incorporating another homesteading aspect. Give yourself the time needed to learn basic upkeep of what you implement.

4. DON’T feel bad when you fail. Failing is a natural part of trying. My first garden grew 1 okra plant out of 16 and the squash bugs ate all of my squash. If you’ve read my other posts, you know I went through 3 (small) flocks of chickens before the coop became Fort Knox. Failing is part of learning what works and what doesn’t. Go easy on yourself. Grieve it, evaluate it and try again.

5. Enjoy the work. Homesteading is work. There are no two ways about it. Caring for chickens, cows, goats, fencing, gardening, composting, or canning is all hard work. I have found when I focus on my surroundings and look at the big picture of homesteading the work is more enjoyable. I’m creating something out of nothing. And the simple breeze on my face and the smell of hay enveloping my senses reminds me to remember why I homestead. So don’t forget to stop and smell the roses. The fruits of your labor are enjoyable.

For me, homesteading is a lifestyle, not a hobby or something I do once in a while. As I move from year to year I visualize what I want my homestead to look like and I make small doable goals to get there. How about you?

Do you have any tips for a new homesteader starting out?

Please Share:
Facebooktwitterpinterest
Posted in Homesteading, Stress-Free Living | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Great Garden Starts with a Great Seed

A great seed is essential for a great garden.

As a homesteader, my goal to grow enough food during the growing season to feed my family takes thought, research and planning.  I very much like to live off the land, so gardening is right up my alley. While it is hard work it serves a purpose and I get to see the fruits of my labor.

Literally.

I’ve discovered a great garden starts with a great seed.

In past years, I’ve purchased seeds from Wal-Mart and ordered through Gurneys. Good produce abounded, but some of my seeds never sprouted and I ended up having to plant a second round. Out of those still only 1-5 plants came up.

Now the seeds I purchased in the past had no special qualities about them. Meaning they were not organic or hybrid. The only known characteristic was that they were not genetically modified (non-gmo). Organic is a great option, but not always affordable. Hybrid seeds are not bad as they are cross pollinated to create a more resistant plant with the best quality of traits from parent plants going into a new plant. But this year, I want to try heirloom seeds.

What I love about heirloom seeds is that they are passed down from generation to generation through the seed saving process.Some seeds age back to the 1700s and 1800s! It absolutely amazes me that I can be part of the old world simply by the seeds I plant.

Smaller online companies, homesteaders and fellow gardeners at farmers markets grow from high quality heirloom seeds.

Like any seed, heirloom seeds have good and bad qualities.

What you see is what you get. You know you are planting what it says on the packet and not a genetically modified seed. As long as you purchase a seed zoned for your area it should grow as well as naturally possible. Heirloom seeds are true to nature. Meaning they have not been cross pollinated to draw out any higher qualities the two plants may have. They are pollinated naturally through wind or bees.

On the flip side, one of the bad qualities is that these seeds are not necessarily bred to withstand disease, weather conditions or bugs, like many hybrid seeds. Which means if you buy a seed that is not for your gardening zone, then any one of those items can keep your seed from growing into the plant and food you desire. And because all seeds are particular to soil conditions, etc. it is a risk that an heirloom seed may not germinate as quickly or as well if the conditions are not ideal.

In my research, I’ve discovered two websites that look promising to me.  Seed Savers and My Patriot Supply.

Seed Savers is a non-profit organization that believes in providing the best quality seeds of its members. 13,000 members insure a wide variety of seeds that are adapted to climate. This community exchanges the seeds they save to build up their seed bank. Then they sell these seeds to gardeners like you and me. The good news is your monies are going toward the process of the seed saving establishment, not into corporate pockets. AND you’re getting high quality seeds. You also have the option to become part of their seed savers community.

My Patriot Supply is a company devoted to emergency preparedness, self-reliance and food independence. Here they have many resources for all of those categories, but I focus on their heirloom seeds. It’s all they sell and they have much variety. Whether you’re looking for vegetables, culinary, medicinal, herbal tea, fruit or even wildflowers seeds they have it.

I plan to order from one or both of these companies this year. With tallied seeds in my wish lists I’m almost ready to purchase. If you are planning your spring garden this winter please let me know which type of seeds you purchase and why you like them.

What is your favorite type of seed and why do you like them?

Please Share:
Facebooktwitterpinterest
Posted in Homesteading, My Spoonie Garden, Stress-Free Living | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Banana Bread Muffins

Finding breakfast items is hard when you eat a low carb, low sugar diet. I love my chicken’s farm fresh eggs, but I can only eat so many eggs before I go insane. And what is breakfast without muffins?

When I started implementing a low carb, low sugar diet finding any kind of bread recipe proved challenging. Now that I have found a basic flour recipe, I’m expanding my horizons and baking all kinds of breakfast items. Today it’s muffins!

If you need less carbohydrates, more protein and limited sugar these banana bread muffins are for you!

When creating low carb and low sugar recipes I typically start with a basic recipe that I love. Then I tweek it to fit my dietary restrictions. The best banana bread recipe I found is here.

Here’s what you’ll need:

5-6 over ripe bananas

1 farm fresh egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup of Truvia

pinch of salt

3 cups flour mix (check out my low carb mix here)

2/3 cup coconut oil

To make these muffins requires very little energy as I use my mixer to do all the beating. First peel and throw bananas in mixing bowl. Whisk them until they are mushy. Throw the peels in your compost bowl, because here at the homestead we don’t waste anything!

Next add your melted coconut oil and Truvia

Follow up with an egg and vanilla.

Then incorporate your salt, baking soda and flour. Mix well for 2-3 minutes on medium speed. Once fully incorporated, pour into muffin pans. Your batter will be thick as the flour mixture is more dense then most. Fill the muffin pans 3/4 full. Your muffins will not rise much in the baking process.

Bake at 350 for 18 minutes. Now because I live in and old home with old appliances my stove bakes hot and uneven, so you may need to adjust your cooking time if you use a convection oven.

Let cool and enjoy with a big slab of butter! I hope you enjoy it and share it on  Facebook and Pinterest! Please comment and let me know what you think!

Question: What is your favorite type of breakfast muffin?

 

Please Share:
Facebooktwitterpinterest
Posted in Homesteading, Recipes, Stress-Free Living | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Essential Vitamins for Maintaining a High Spoon Count

essential-vitamins

This SpoonieChick rejected vitamins since I can remember. My mamma hen pecked me to death with them (or so it felt) and so I didn’t take them just to spite her. Little did I know she was only caring for her baby chicks.

When life ruffled my feathers and I started counting my spoons, I learned really quickly that vitamins were essential. By this point I’d seen so many veterinarians and tried so many medications, vitamins were all that was left to try.

As I researched my ailments and talked to other hens who counted spoons, I found certain vitamins kept reoccurring and I added them to my list. Of course, some are used for different purposes, but in the grand scheme of things…

Vitamins work together in maintaining a higher spoon count.

Vitamin C: It’s an oldie but a goodie. I take 3000 mg of Vitamin C a day. It keeps my sinuses cleared, my immune system up and I simply pee out what my body doesn’t need.

Zinc: I take 125 mg and it keeps my immune system built up from sickness. I seldom get the flu ,or a cold. Most of my ailments are directly related to my autoimmunity, not viral.

Selenium: As one who has hypothyroidism selenium is good for thyroid function. I take 200 mg a day.

B Complex: I used to take only B12 when I had deficiencies, but this complex covers all the basic B Vitamins. It helps significantly with my migraines.

Baby Aspirin: Technically this isn’t a vitamin, but it is over the counter so my little chicken brain plunks it in that category. I have thick clotting blood. My blood clots so fast doctors can’t get it to the lab before it starts to clot. Aspirin helps thin my blood and keeps my migraines at bay.

Magnesium: Did you know that our bodies use magnesium in like 90% of its functions? This is one I don’t do without. It helps with migraines and overall body function.

Vitamin D3: While I am no longer deficient in this during the summer, the winter season is another story. I take this to get me through those cold months of no sunshine.

NuDandle: An herbal supplement that banishes my fatigue like no other. It consists of Yucca and Brazilian Ginseng. I’m a bit embarrassed to buy it because the bottle states it’s good for increasing sexual desire (I’m sure my rooster won’t complain about that)! I have noticed it stabilizes my hormones. Whatever works right?

These vitamins are ones I found work for me. Always consult your doctor before implementing new medications or vitamins to your regimen. That is my non-medical opinion 🙂

Question: What vitamins work for you in maintaining a healthy spoon count? 

 

 

Please Share:
Facebooktwitterpinterest
Posted in Stress-Free Living | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment