Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"Home, Debt-Free, Home" Chapter 1

Chapter 1 

You Must Be Rich

I vividly remember sharing about purchasing our new house with cash 
and someone responded “you must be rich”.


I am not a professional writer, or a financial adviser. All I am able to do is tell you our story. I am going to tell this in a series of posts, which I hope you will enjoy following. This will be our true story, from start to finish (hopefully) of our "Home, Debt-Free, Home".
Many people dream of owning their own "Home, Sweet, Home" or piece of land for a farm. It still is the American dream for many. Especially for those of us who desire a more self-sufficient style of living. Sadly, that dream seems unattainable to a growing number of people.
The last few years has been interesting for my husband and I, we decided to get out of debt and stay out of debt. At the same time we decided we were going to purchase our retirement home, a little homestead in the county. We were striving for as much self-sufficiency as possible and the goal was to all of this with cash. At the end of this journey we also wanted to be debt free.
Let's set the stage. First my husband and I have been married for about 28 years. We started out in debt. His, not mine. I couldn't even get a credit card.
Like a lot of people we struggled to raise our family and pay our bills. We couldn't seem to make ends meet without credit. Our cars were financed. We put a lot of things on or credit cards, including to my abject horror now; food. It boggles my mind how we rationalized paying for food in a restaurant on a credit card, which we didn't pay off each month which was flushed down the toilet by the end of the next day.
Eventually, we were able to finance a home. Note that I didn't say buy a home. Most people assume when they get a loan to purchase a house, in their minds they believe they own their own home. The reality is the bank owns your home. Now I want that to sink in the bank owns your home. If you don't believe that ask the many people who have had to move out of the banks property when they hit financial difficulties and started missing payments. If you have a mortgage payment you do not own your home.
Admittedly this was ultimately an advantage we had, because though over the years the value of our home fluctuated we have managed to always make the payment to the bank. What helped is the economy has seemed to have rebounded and we developed equity in our property.
We both are college educated but have chosen blue collar jobs for it fits into our personalities better. He works as a mechanic and a weapons range master/instructor He has always worked at least two jobs, plus did side work on vehicles and taught classes. I've have done many things from working retail, I ran a little singing telegram business, I have been a paid storyteller, a personal assistant and my current job is as a perky barista at a fine purveyor of coffee.
Basically, we were hard-working people with debt up to our eyeballs. Then a friend had a conversation with us and handed us book that changed our thinking entirely. We sat down and had a talk and decided that we had to change our way of life before it was too late...


Feel free to join our community at Perky Gramma Teaches on Facebook. We have a nice little group of people and we share various vintage skills & tips. It's all about the journey of farming/homesteading.

I participate in the Amazon Associate program, where I receive a small % commission for linking products that I recommend. I only recommend products I personally used and like. Your support is very appreciated, anything you choose to purchase through my link, is helping me to be able to share more things that I do with you. Perky Gramma Teaches Amazon link.

"Home, Debt, Free, Home"
Chapter 1: You Must Be Rich

Contributor at the Homestead Bloggers Network

Review of the UCO Candlelier® Candle Lantern

I am constantly searching for products that I am able to use in the event of an electrical outage. Be it short-term or if perchance it becomes a way of life. 
Mr. Perky and I have had several chats about committing to simply becoming less dependant on electricity as a life style choice. I like finding products that use various types of fuel sources. I have tried several products that haven't worked as well as I would like. All that changed with my purchse of the UCO Candlelier® Candle Lantern.  This baby uses three 9-hour candles which I feel makes the Candlelier an excellent choice for home and emergency use. The Candlelier employs spring-loaded candle tubes, twist-lock base, aluminum body, and glass chimney. 

                                         

For me I really liked the amount of light it puts out. My big test was to see if I am able to read by the light emitted & I was able to with out any problems what so ever. Seriously, if the lights are out for a short time, I just pull out a great book to read.
It has a heat shield on the top which they said will produce enough heat to heat small amounts of liquid. Initially I didn't have it seated well enough on top, you sort of have to push it down inside. It does get hot, just ask my silly fingers that "tested" the heat. It definitely heated up some water.

The lantern comes with 3 regular candles. We purchased several extra packs of candles.
Now that I am comfortable with the product, I will be getting more candles and a citronella set of candles (to try out) for my storage. This is one product I love.

Feel free to join our community at Perky Gramma Teaches on Facebook. We have a nice little group of people and we share various vintage skills & tips. It's all about the journey of farming/homesteading.


        

I participate in the Amazon Associates program, where I receive a small percentage of purchase made from my recommendations. I only recommend items that I personally use (or something similar) and like. I always appreciate your help.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

DIY How to Make Vanilla Extract

Why do we put things off? My excuse is time, but this takes maybe 15 minutes max, when you have on the ingredients on hand.
Now, I know there are people that can not even have alcohol in the house  so I found a recipe that is alcohol free, gluten free, sugar free & vegan. I have the link at the bottom.


Making your own vanilla extract is so very simple.

1. Slice down the length of the vanilla bean and put the bean(s) in a bottle. I am making small batches here. Small bottles, I cut the beans in smaller pieces, so they would fit in the bottles. O.k. I am making myself laugh at the simple directions.  EDITED: I was using 4 oz. bottles and used one vanilla bean for each bottle.
2. Pour vodka over the beans. Not in your mouth. In the bottle. The beans need to be covered. Note: Personally I think the best type of alcohol for extract has a neutral favor. So go for it. Though I have read about using other types of alcohol which creates a different flavor profile.
3. Shake that bottle several times a week.
Here is a slammin song to shake to...


Love Israel Houghton. So do my dogs. I kid you not, I am playing this vid while writing the post and they all jumped and started dancing around. I tell you, I have a great life.
Step 4. Wait about 8 weeks. I keep tasting it, to check and see how it is doing. 
Then you will some delightful homemade pure vanilla extract. WAY better than the store bought. 

Update: The vanilla extract has reached it's 8 weeks extraction point & look...





I am planning on leaving the beans in there awhile longer to develop more flavor and a richer brown color. 
You are able to leave the beans in as long as they are submerged. The flavor just evolves.

If you will note, I have made my vanilla extract in dark amber bottles. I feel that this helps keep preserve the extract in darkness. If your pure vanilla extract is keep in a cold, dark location if should keep indefinitely.

Now, I know there are people that can not even have alcohol in the house, I found a recipe that is alcohol free, gluten free, sugar free & vegan. DIY Alcohol-Free Vanilla Extract by Desserts with Benefits.

The first time I used vanilla beans from Yoder's Market and got the smaller bottles from Amazon. I recently ordered more vanilla beans. They were incredible.
 
What you see here are things I try. If you like this article, please feel free to join our community on Facebook (Perky Gramma Teaches).
Items I have used in making the vanilla extract:

  
I participate in the Amazon Associates program, where I receive a small recent commission for my recommendations and there is no extra cost to you. Personally, I only share items I have used and like. Each time you use my store for any purchase it helps make a dream possible. Thank you.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Tiny Blueberry Memories...

We often don't take the time to notice the little things. There are tiny miracles all around us everyday.
Just a few years ago my grandchildren were picking blueberries at the Gold Hill Blueberry Farm, in Orange County, VA. They saw this wee little birds nest with one blueberry inside. They got so excited and they insisted that the adults come over to see their tiny little miracle.
Picture perfect moment, picture perfect day.
Berry picking is a great family adventure in the summer time. 
Fresh air, sunshine, laughter and memories built together. Let us adults not forget, that this time is so precious while they are young. Build some wonderful memories with your children this summer.
Make blueberry ice cream
Make a blueberry pie
Make blueberry juice
Stuff blueberries in your mouth
Follow us as we are going to be sharing some recipes to increase your summer fun and someday in the future you will be able to reminiscence about the days you spent at the farm
Last thought...take pictures...I'm glad I did.

How to Store Eggs With Mineral Oil...

When you are homesteading you have to plan ahead. If you can't get to the store because of inclemate weather or if your chickens are slowing down on their laying here is a way to store up those eggs during the high production season for use later by learning how to store eggs long term with mineral oil. 
The eggs I use most often are store bought (until I get chickens). Occasionally I get a dozen fresh eggs from a friend. Which I store in the same manner.
When you are working with fresh eggs; you want to wipe off the "schmutz", but don't wash the "bloom" off. This bloom actually provides a natural barrier for the egg. With fresh eggs, you are able to wipe them off and they will keep for days without refrigeration. Wash them when you use them.


How to Store Eggs with Mineral Oil:
1. Check your eggs against light for cracks and just use those first, don't store.
 




2. Take the eggs out of the little cups in the carton. Trust me you will appreciate that later. Otherwise things get a little slippery and it's harder to grasp them.


3. Warm up a little mineral oil. I do about a tablespoon for 18 eggs. The bottle will last for years.



Several people have asked about using other food grade oils.
Sadly, other oils will eventually go rancid. (* see note at the end about the new method I am trying)


4. Slather them with a little mineral oil.


5. Place them small tip down in the carton.


6. I found one with a slight crack & set it aside.


7. Afterwards I date the box with the month/year. If stored properly in a cool, dry, dark location the eggs should last about 9 months. I write 9 months, just in case I forget. Then put the carton away.
8. Once a month I turn the eggs over (flip upside down) to keep the yolks from settling.


I first started storing eggs this way in October 2012 and was still using the eggs one year later (1013) this is after being stored in my fridge. Here they are in my fridge.
This is a process for long term storage of eggs on the shelf up to nine months. As with any long term storage, the shelf life is dependent on keeping things in a dark, dry, cool location. The cooler the location, the longer it lasts.  I haven't actually kept them on a shelf yet. I choose to keep them in the fridge, since I have the space. BUT, if we lose power (short term or permanently), I have eggs stored for many meals.

* NOTE: I am now in the process of trying to use coconut oil for storing my eggs. At this point it is working well.

  
_________________________________________________________

UPDATE: In April 2013, I had a carton of eggs that I hadn't prepared with mineral oil. So I decided to compare some prepared stored eggs with ones not prepared. 
These are the dates from the cartons on the eggs.
The one on the left has been stored slathered with mineral oil, which extends the life of the eggs. See how round and firm the yolk is? The left one is 6 months old and still tasted delish...
The one the right, while still edible after about 6 weeks in the fridge, just wasn't as fresh looking.



When you are testing freshness of your eggs there is always the float test. Place the egg in a bowl of water, if it sinks it is really fresh. If the egg is still on the bottom, but is starting to stand up it is still good to use. If the egg floats to the top...do not use it, it isn't fresh.
But, the best test I have found is simply sniffing the egg as you open it. There will be no doubt if your egg isn't fresh. 

I participate in the Amazon Associate Program where I receive a small commission for products you buy that I recommend. There is no extra cost to you & I only recommend products that I used and like. If you use Amazon, your purchases through my store help fund the underwriting of my blogs. I really appreciate each purchase.
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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Why my friends love this thing called Zaycon...

But, what I wanted you to know is that I am not the only person who is crazy about this company. Here are some reviews from people like you and me about what they think about Zaycon Fresh.

Personally I have bought the Zaycon chicken breasts, bacon and ground beef & without a doubt all three products are far superior to what you would find at the store. The price is great, the meats are out of this world and fresh from the farm.

Tassi: Have only had the chicken and the hamburger, but they are sooooo good and everyone always gives rave reviews about their other items. If their other meats are as good as the chicken and hamburger you can't go wrong. I am planning to get bacon next time it comes around. Heck, I think if they offered wet sawdust it would be amazing, all their stuff is.

(This is a response from Missy at Zaycon): So funny you say that, because we are offering 40 lbs of wet sawdust next month. Ha ha! Thanks! And bacon is an absolute favorite amongst customers, so you can't go wrong there!:)

Susan: I have used the chicken, bacon and hamburg. By far it is the freshest and cleanest meat I have ever ate. I have also raised my own chickens and pork and they are comparably awesome in taste!

Paula: This is chicken I can trust and it is delicious
My husband will not eat it from the grocery store not after eating this chick
Thanks for turning us on to the chicken from Zaycon.

BJ: I purchased the chicken and also the bacon wrapped pork fillets and just love them both. Far superior than anything i have gotten from a store.

Nancy: I have gotten the chicken, and of course love it! I can it, freeze it, share it and eat it!
Next was the ground beef.....Oh my, Yes, it is the best I've ever had, don't want to be without it!
The bacon was next for me I think (order doesn't really matter anyway) I can't say enough about the bacon...I buy it by the 4 cases at a time method! I share, and my son-in-laws LOVE me for "my" bacon! 
BUT...the sausage links are unreal too! Once again, we've never had sausage links like these....they look different that any link ever bought at the store....they are succulent, kinda spicy morsels of deliciousness! My youngest grandson (8) who is picky, picky, picky, loves these!
We tried the Maple Chicken Sausage patties.....and I while I wasn't a fan, one daughters family loved them...she said they were great for really quick "sausage McMuffins, out the door without McDonalds!
The hot dogs really are the best ..thought we don't eat them too often, 
The Polska Kielbasa is excellent! Love those, and look for ways to use them....great alone, in a sandwich roll with sauteed onions, peppers and mushrooms..ummm. great in a creole rice dish....
The Pot Roasts....while I wish they were a little bigger....I can't wait for them to come around again! OMG.....best flavor, tender, succulent, juicy....not enough words...I NEED more...more expensive than the market...but so worth it. Plus, the are choice, if not prime meat.
Bought 3 cases of pork ribs.....delicious! Buy again!
The Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin Fillets.........words do not do these justice.....you take a bite, and are carried away with your senses to somewhere you've never been before. Daughters call me every time they fix them to thank me for the case I bought them. Once again, my youngest grandson even "graded" his moms 'chef skills' on this one!. He's so funny....she got an "A" not and "A+"....only because he wants her to keep making this good food, and wants her to have room to improve!!!! 
The salmon it spectacular! Beautiful big pieces of boneless meat, comes vacuum sealed to perfection.....our favorite way is still cooked with equal parts butter, brown sugar and lemon juice...on the grill, in the oven, a pan anything!
The Cod is sorta to die for.....Tons of it in that box, and it is excellent! Done tons with it....bake, sear, fish tacos, battered.....

Laurie: Chicken breasts, pork baby back ribs, and bacon. All wonderful.
Robbyn: They are based in my state which I thought was a plus. I have bought the chicken wings and boneless thighs, the bacon, and ground beef. The wings are huge and very tasty. We especially like the bacon. I appreciate the quality of the ground beef. I try to steer as many people their way as I can. It is worth it.

Hop over to their site and see what all this excitement is about: Zaycon Fresh (referral link)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Barbecued Jerk Zaycon Chicken Beasts

I have been to the lovely country of Jamaica twice in my life. Not to a vacation resort, but to chaperon our youth group who helped build a school and a home for unwed mothers on the streets of Kingston.
During my travels there I feel in love with some much of their food; but especially Jerk Chicken. I have mixed it up over the years & this is how I make my Jerk Chicken now. You need chicken breasts, your favorite barbecue sauce and Jerk sauce. This time I used Jamaica Joe's Jerk Sauce, but I really prefer 
Grace Jamaican Jerk Seasoning (Hot).


If it's your first time you might want to mix the barbecue and jerk sauce in a separate bowl, to get the heat level you prefer. I just tasted this brand of jerk to figure out I needed two heaping tablespoons of the jerk sauce. Mix it up and let it marinate for a couple hours.


Then throw it on the grill, add more sauce as you go until done. I'm not including a picture of my not-so-clean grill. Look how yummy and succulent this chicken turned out.


Note there are only three chickens breasts here. It was enough to serve both Mr. Perky and I (we are big eaters) & enough left over to make a huge amount of my Spicy Chicken Salad, which I will be making today and sharing the recipe. Personally I only use Zaycon chicken now a days. Zaycon is a wonderful company that delivers your meat fresh from a local farmer to an event location near you, where they just load it up in your car. Really great prices and a unique referral program. You can learn more on this blog post: How to Save and Earn money with Zaycon Fresh Chicken.
Living on a farm without chickens yet and I love packing my freezer with 40 pounds of quality chicken at a time.

Thank you reading one of my favorite recipes, hope you try it out. Feel free to join our Perky Gramma Teaches Community on Facebook, where we share our newest life journey of creating a homestead.

If you have problems finding the Jerk sauce in your local grocery store, here is an Amazon associate link below for the Grace's brand of jerk sauce.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Step by Step: FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer to the Rescue

As you get to know me you will learn I really enjoy pressure canning and vacuum sealing various meats. Vacuum sealing is really a great way to save meat for the long haul. It greatly increases the freezer life of food. The bags (although not cheap) really are worth the extra cost because they keep a lot more air out that standard bags. Less air, the longer the meat lasts.
As you may know, I also order a lot of meat from Zaycon because of the great savings & quality.

My girlfriend brought one of her vacuum sealers over, Here is her daughter going through the steps.

1) Square up the top of the bag


2) Insert the bag until your hear the sealer start to engage


3) Wait for the red light to turn off


4) Remove the bag & you are done. Ready to throw in the freezer.


Keep an eye out for City Mouse who seems to be popping up every now and again.


I used both quart sized and pints sized bags today. Vacuum sealing in bags is really that simple.

Please feel free to join our community at Perky Gramma Teaches on Facebook. Small but growing and learning as we go on this homesteading journey.

Amazon Links for Items Used Today:
       
I participate in the Amazon Associate program, where I receive a small percentage of the profits of items people order through links on my page. I only share links of products that I actually use and recommend & I really appreciate your support.


City Mouse, Country Mouse musings...

I have a story to tell. We are still transitioning between our old house in the D.C. Metro area suburbs to out in the back country.
I ordered my Zaycon Chicken back in early May. Thursday afternoon I got my alert text that the chicken event pick-up was this Saturday. Yippee! Oh, NO! We are mostly living in town (where the chicken event was), BUT my FoodSaver, bags and freezer are at the new house.
I quickly call my dear husband, who was at the farm and asked him if he could find the FoodSaver. He found it,, but not the bags. UGH! Usually I am far better prepared than this.
Now, I admit living in the city has some advantages. One is my Amazon Prime Membership.
I actually am one who takes their time in making decisions. When I am settled I jump in with both feet. I love my membership, since I do a decent amount of ordering from them, especially books. First I liked the free 2 day shipping. Next, I started to enjoy free movie and t.v. shows. Then they just introduced free same day delivery ($35 order) in my area.
I jumped online and ordered my bags. Woot! Woot!
They arrived on Friday (within 24 hrs.) as promised. This really is a good deal if you do a decent amount of purchases online. Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

Saturday, I headed out to Leesburg, VA.  I drove into the parking lot of a local church...

...and Ambassador Andy, the kind driver from Zaycon loaded my forty pounds of chicken in my car & took pictures with my City Mouse. I ran by 7-11 to get ice to pack the chicken with and then headed out to the farm, with my FoodSaver bags, camera and my mouse- since it is about a 90 minute ride.


 





When I got to the new house, my dear friend & her daughter came over and helped me vacuum seal all the chicken. Here is how to ---> (Step by Step: FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer to the Rescue).

I popped the completed bags in the freezer & then I loaded some of the chicken to take back to Northern Virginia.
This city mouse still has some learning to do.

If you want to learn more about Zaycon Fresh and How to Earn and Save Money with Zaycon
Feel free to join our community Perky Gramma Teaches on Facebook.




Perky: Just Having a Little Fun...

I realize that you mostly see the serious side of me here, but honestly I am a really silly creative person. I shared that I want to build a little "gnome home" in my new yard, but geared more for the Borrowers.  


I had a collection of tiny items that I gave to my grandchildren a couple years ago for Christmas, with their first "Borrowers" book. I pretended that my home housed a family of Borrowers named the Fireplace family. They were sending gifts to the Borrower family who then lived at my grandchildren's house.
There was a little Christmas card and a wee letter...

 

Here the children are reading the letter with the magnifying glass...


Here are some of the petite sized gifts that were given.



Then I made a passel of teeny, tiny books. If you would like to make these books here is the tutorial:  DIY Teeny, Tiny Books

 
It was grand fun as we spent the day looking into various places in the house to see if we could find the miniature family hiding.
Obviously, I need to start a new collection for my yard...

Thursday, June 18, 2015

One of the Finest Treasures...

It was Thanksgiving in the mid-30's I believe, the family and the Reverend were gathered around the dining room table on the farm in Southern, IL. There was Gramma & Grampa Hooppaw (that would be my great-grandparents), some mixture of their 10 children, spouses & some young children...
They didn't have a lot, but their hearts were full of joy. The bounty was abounding that day and each person signed a quilt square, including the preacher. 

My Grandfather Loammi Revis Hooppaw, Grandmother Dorothy Mae & my uncle.
Mom was added later. 

Afterwards, they always gathered around the piano & sang out of the old church hymnal. That tradition carried on for many, many years and to this day the cousins still get together to remember how we are all stitched together as family.

Later MY grandmother, hand stitched their names from that Thanksgiving long ago and turned that into a lasting treasure of memories with now graces my home. I am starting on a new journey. As I sort through these valued memories I am learning these are the "things" that mean the most to me. Who knew several generations later, I would be moving to start a little farm. I carry this quilt to my new home and along with the of voices from the past as I wrap myself up in one of my finest treasures.


 "Riches I heed not nor man's empty praise
Thou mine inheritance now and always
Thou and thou only first in my heart
High King of heaven my treasure Thou are"

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How To Pressure Can Chicken + 12 Nifty Tips I Have Learned

Patience is  virtue they say. I've blogged for many years on various topics & I am just getting this site up and running about the journey from being a city mouse to becoming a country mouse. Things at first will be a little sparse, but I will be sharing all sorts of wonderful skill and about our new life in the country.

After about 6 months of learning old fashioned skills, I realized I needed to learn about canning. Being a newbie, I fast realized there were so many things I didn't know to ask. Like, what is finger tight, what is a jiggle...

With that in mind, I want to share some of those "secrets" with you.



GETTING READY
If I am able, I try to get as much clean and ready ahead of time. 


Washing my jars. 
TIP: I often put my rings in a mesh zippered bag so they don't fly all over the place in the dish washer. I don't put my new lids in the dishwasher.
To find the mesh bags:
 (associates link)


I always hand wash
 my lids with warm water and soap, then rinse well.
TIP: ALWAYS use new lids for pressure canning. You may use those "used" lids for everyday purposes like vacuum sealing, storing in fridge & opened jars.



Start gathering the equipment for canning.
Vinegar, my paper towels are close by, clean rings.
My timer, the weight for my canner, which is kept in this red bag in the following picture.

TIPS: I have this little bag, that I keep all my canning utensils, manual, etc., during canning. Things that I use for canning. I have a little "S" hook to hang it on my metal shelf in my kitchen. I also have extra sets of the utensils in here. Remember "two is one, one is none".
When it is not in use, I store it inside my pressure canner.
Also Mr. Perky came up with the idea of putting clean rings on an old paper towel holder. It is very convenient.





I grab several clean dishtowels & a new dish cloth. I have my washed & sterilized utensils out and my canning manual.
I also have started using these simple dark colored placements to sit my hot jars on when processing. There were about a dollar (I think I got them at Walmart). New dishcloths are not cheap, so this was a good alternative.
For people who are preparing, I have three sets of canning utensils.
1) In case they break or wear out. (two is one and one is none)
2) I also have found it handy if I drop a utensil or it gets contaminated, I don't have to stop everything and wash and sterilize them again.
You can get the utensil sets on Amazon




Gather everything & get set up. You should have your pressure canner, utensils, vinegar, paper towels (or clean cloth), clean dish towels, wash cloth, timer, jars, lids and rings. Oh & your chicken...
I talk often about Zaycon chicken, I honestly believe it is the best deal going. you may find  better price, BUT, their quality is beyond belief. I mean, look at the size of this chicken breast.
I have other posts about Zaycon here, if you want to learn. Or just click here on the referral link (no obligation to buy) Referral Link for Zaycon Chicken


Get your pots ready.

Interesting the National Center for HomeFood Preservation statesEmpty jars used for vegetables, meats, and fruits to be processed in a pressure canner need not be presterilized. It is also unnecessary to presterilize jars for fruits, tomatoes, and pickled or fermented foods that will be processed 10 minutes or longer in a boiling-water canner."  I started implementing this recently. 

Pressure Canner: Please NOTE you MUST use a pressure canner when canning meat.
Check the vent hole on the lid of your canner. Make sure you can actually see light through it. If not, you can clean it with a pipe cleaner, or simply blow air through it.




TIP: Run your finger gently around the rim of the jar checking for nicks. It it is nicked, throw that jar away.




The sink...I wash my sink, then clean it with vinegar.




Wash your hands, well & often! This is raw chicken we are dealing with.




TIP: You actually are able to write on the lids with sharpie, before or after you wash them and the writing will stay on.



The Ball canning Jar Company has recently been talking about changes in processing their lids by NOT simmering you lids

EDITEDWith all new Ball canning lids, you no longer have to boil them & sterilize them. Just wash them well with soap and water. I personally still keep a small pan going with simmering water in case I accidentally drop a lid or it touches the meat when I am putting the lid on. It does happen. This way I don't have to stop and rewash what has been contaminated. 


Wash your chicken and start cutting.
First you trip off the excess fat, then cut into 6" chunks. 

TIP: Note the lines on the edge of the cutting board. I have marked it with a sharpie at 6” increments. I use that as a guide to cut my meat into chucks that will easily fit in the pint sized jars.



Reserve the fat scraps.



Then start adding the meat to the canning jars. Add a big chunk first. Then smaller pieces.
I also have smaller pieces (on the left) that I am able to slice up into slices to fill in extra spaces at the top.
You can either add salt to the bottom of the jar, or not. I prefer not to, since it turns out to salty for my taste.




While it is not needed; when processing chicken I prefer to add boiling water at this point, It helps create a little broth, which I like. I never have enough broth it seems.



Use a spatula or the green magnet/bubble popper, to release trapped air bubbles & allow the water to get inside the jar completely. Add more water if needed.



Do not fill over this line on the jar. (Last thread on the screw top) This is called "headspace".
What is headspace?
The unfilled space in a canning jar between the top of the food or liquid and the underside of the lid. The corrrect amount of headspace is essential to allow for food expansion as the jars are heated and for the formation of a strong vacuum seal as the jars cool.



If you fill it too full, use a spoon to scoop out the excess.



Wipe the rims of the jars with a towel and white vinegar. The rims of the jars must be VERY clean.



Place a lid and then a ring on each jar. If your lid touches the meat, wash that one again, or use a spare.



Tighten the ring to "finger tight". It just barely tight.
How tight is finger(tip) tight?
Use your fingers to screw band (ring) down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight.
Do not use utensil or the full force of your hand to over-tighten bands (rings).
Tightening a lid beyond this point could cause the lid or band to buckle during processing, and is therefore undesirable.



Back to those fat scraps. I save them up and fill a another jar about half way full with scraps and then add water. This gives me a few jars of nice broth (did I mention I never have enough both) to open up when I want to make chicken and dumplings. This last weekend I made 3 quart jars of broth.



Next, fill your canner with the required amount of water. My Presto, actually has a fill line, which is helpful.



Add your jars to the canner.
Yes, 8 wide mouth jars will fit.




Pressure Canning the chicken. O.k. Here is the part some people find scary. It will be o.k. Just follow the instructions.
Now, put your pressure canner lid on & turn up the heat to high. Stay with me here...



I set my timer to 10 minutes...



WHEN there is a steady stream of steam coming out of the vent hole on top (see the steam?)...



Then you start the timer. You want that steady stream of steam venting for 10 minutes.




If it sounds like it is going crazy inside the canner, you may reduce the heat. But DO NOT let that steady stream stop. This isn't dangerous, just if the stream of steam stops, you will need to start the timer over. Steady stream of steam for 10 minutes. Got it?
Make sure you are monitoring these stages,

When the 10 minutes are up, then you add the weighted gauge. Bring the temperature back up, until the weight starts to jiggle, spew or spit.



When that happens, set your timer for 75 minutes for pints (90 minutes for quarts) & start the timer. Then you reduce your heat, until the weight only spits, spews or jiggles 3-5 times a minute. This takes practice. But just sit there and lower your heat until this happens.
If you are using just a pressure gauge, you want to continuously maintain 10 or 11 lbs. of pressure through out the 75 minutes.




After you have done this awhile and you get to know our canner and stove; you will know just where to drop the temperature on your stove to maintain the proper pressure.




What to do while you are waiting for 75 minutes. Read a book, do a little dance, wash dishes, unload the dishwasher (mine is always full it seems)



Clean your counter really well. Remember you have just had chicken juice all over it.



When the timer goes off: turn off the heat and gently move the canner from the heat.
DO NOT REMOVE WEIGHT, GAUGE OR LID.



Let rest until the pressure gauge drops down or when the little button drops down. That tells you that all the pressure has been release and it is safe to remove the lid. Only then can you remove the weight.
I pay attention, because as soon as the button drops
I want to remove the jars to keep them from cooking even more.



Remove the weight & then remove the lid carefully, turning it away from you when removing the lid to avoid the steam burning you. It will still be very hot. TIP: I use a dish towel to better protect me from the steam escaping.


 


Then gently remove your jars with your jar lifter...



And set them on a dish towel or place mat to cool.
Then SMILE! when you hear those lovely "pings" as your jars start to seal.
Most canners will tell you that this is their favorite part.




I pour out the water from my canner and allow it too cool down. Then wash it to have it ready for the next time.



 
For some reason, this is my second favorite part of canning. You place a clean dish towel(s) around the jars to protect them from drafts. Some may not need to do this step, but it was what I learned and I feel sometimes my house is a little drafty.
I feel like I am tucking babies in for the night.
Check them every now and then to insure all the jars have sealed, by seeing the the button has popped in. If a jar hasn't sealed, then let it cool down and put it in your fridge and use it sometime this week.
That is it for today. Unless you have several loads to can. Now you let them cool down and rest for the night.




But, this isn't the last step. 
You put a lot of work, time and money into pressure canning food. When you are done canning, you just put the jars on the shelf, right? WRONG! I often say "there are questions that newbies don't even know to ask". I don't believe I have seen a list of the simple, yet very important steps to take AFTER you finish a batch to optimize and protect your hard work.  This post tells you what to do next: 
Testing 1, 2, 3...


               

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