Monthly Archives: April 2012

Canning Dried Beans

Beans, beans, the musical fruit
The more you eat, the more you toot
The more you toot, the better you feel
So eat your beans at every meal!

Any post with the word “toot” in it has to be a good one, right?  I for one, love beans.  I would work them into every meal if my husband would allow it, but alas, beans are permitted only once a week or so.  Regardless, I buy a lot of beans.  I eat chickpeas in my salads, sneak white kidney beans into soups and pride myself on my bean-packed homemade chili.  (“Homemade” = opening cans of tomato sauce, beans, and a spice packet.  Yeah, I’m amazing.)  Well, recently I have become aware of the existence of BPA in canned foods, and am working towards eliminating canned foods in our home.  I took a “before” picture of my pantry, and I’m hoping that by this time next year, my “after” picture will contain only canned-in-jars food!  Beans is a big step towards that, since one whole shelf is dedicated to them!

I chose to can red kidney beans, black beans, and chickpeas this time around.  I’ll hit up some other varieties at a later date.  The process is the same for any dried variety, so feel free to shake it up!

Canning Dried Beans

What You Will Need:

  • 4 lbs Dried Beans = 13 Pints
  • Pressure Canner (beans are a low-acid food and MUST be pressure canned.)
  • Canning tools
  • Canning salt – optional.  I did not use any, but I will tell you how to use it if you choose to.

Directions:

Wash and sort your beans.  Discard any discolored or diseased-looking beans.

Place beans in a large pot, fill with water and bring to a boil.  Boil 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat and let soak while you wash your jars and sterilize them.

How to sterilize jars:  In a 20-qt pot or your pressure canner, sink your jars in enough water to completely cover them.  Bring to a boil and boil 10 minutes.  Let the jars sit in the hot water to keep them hot until you are ready to fill them, one at a time.  

If you have a dishwasher, just run the dishwasher to clean and sterilize them and leave them in your dishwasher until you are ready to fill them.

Out of my 4 burners, only my two little ones and one of the big ones works, so I had to sterilize my jars on the burner that worked before I could start heating up my canner.  If all 4 of your burners work, add an inch of water to your pressure canner and start heating it up.  Once your jars are sterilized and you begin to fill them, you can use the hot water from that to add to your pressure canner so you have 3-4 inches of water.

Meanwhile, get a kettle of water boiling in your teapot or another pan.  You will need this to fill your jars.

If you are as slow as I am, or as distracted by children as I am, this has probably taken you a good hour to get your jars ready.  That is good timing, because your beans should be pretty well soaked by now!  Drain your beans, rinse them one more time and set near your filling station. (A towel on the counter next to your pressure canner.  Keep all your tools handy on the towel.)

One at a time, gripping your jar firmly with the jar lifter, remove the jar from the sterilizing water, dump the hot water into your pressure canner, and set the empty hot jar on a towel.  Ladle beans into the jar.  You’ll probably want to use a funnel to keep the beans from making a mess.  Or maybe you are more coordinated than I am…  I needed the funnel.

If you want to add canning salt, this is the time to do it.  1/2 teaspoon to each pint (1 tsp to quarts).

Fill the jars with hot water from your teapot to a 1″ headspace.

With a plastic knife or tool, carefully stir the beans to make sure any trapped air bubbles get released.

WIPE YOUR RIMS.  Don’t forget this very important step!  If you don’t wipe your rims, and somehow a particle of bean is left on the rim, your lids will not seal correctly and you will have a jar of rotten beans!

In a small pan, bring your lids and some water to an ALMOST boil.  Just so the water is hot, not quite boiling.  It’s ok if you are just now doing this step, your bean-filled jars will stay hot while you do this.  Once your lids are hot, use your magnetic lid-lifter to lift them out of the water, place them on your jars and screw the bands on.  Fill your pressure cooker AFTER making sure you have at least 3 inches of water!  (I played it safe and put in 4″)  If you have a pressure cooker like mine, you can do 2 layers of pint jars.  I have been dying to try this out!  I think it’s the coolest thing ever.

At this point, I was completely ready to lock my canner and crank up the heat, but I still had a ton of beans left!  (I had only started with 9 pint jars)  So I found 4 more pint jars and quickly washed and sterilized them (while keeping the other jars hot with the lid on the canner)

Anyway, YOU won’t do that, because YOU are learning from my mistakes.  4lbs = roughly 13 pint jars.  Obviously the teeny tiny black beans won’t take as many jars as the big kidney or chickpeas will.  Next time I will just wash and sterilize 14 pint jars, which is all that will fit in my canner anyway.  If I don’t use some, no big deal.  At least I won’t have to scramble at the last minute like I did this time!

Processing Dried Beans

(Yes, I am boiling more eggs!  Those pickled eggs were awesome!)

On medium-high heat, allow the canner to vent for 10 minutes.  Process pint jars 75 minutes at 10lbs psi, and quart jars 90 minutes at 10lbs.  Allow gauge to return to zero, (this could take an hour.  Be patient) then wait 10 minutes, remove weight, then remove the lid.  Place jars back on the towel and allow to cool.  Stick around to listen for the “pop”!  Once the jars are cool (at least an hour later), remove the rings and test the seals.  Just use your fingers and apply medium pressure.  They should not budge.  If any failed to seal, refrigerate the beans and use in the next few days.  You *can* reprocess them, but it’s not recommended because it alters the flavor.

I have to tell you, my jars of beans have been sitting on my counter for three days now because I’m so satisfied with myself and I just like looking at them.  I’m no longer dependent on canned beans!  I don’t have to try to remember to soak beans the night before!  Muwahahaha!  I feel powerful, which is a little ironic since my actions are actually a regression from technology and convenience.  But that’s okay.  My homemade canned beans cost about a third of store-bought canned beans and I’m not getting any nasty toxins.  It’s worth it to regress!

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Categories: Beans, Canning, Low-Acid | Tags: , , , , ,

Follow-up Verdict for Pickled Eggs!

If you missed the post on Pickled Eggs, you can read it here!

Well, let me just say I now understand the fierce debate surrounding pickled eggs.  Yowsa!  Are these babies good!  My big plan for today is go buy another 2 dozen eggs to get them marinating because we’re more than halfway through the THREE JARS of eggs in my fridge.  I can understand the urge to can them, because if 5 days in the fridge has made them as delicious as they are, then a month in the pantry invites an image of my husband crouching, Gollum-style in a corner clutching a jar of hot pickled eggs screeching “My Precious!” at us.

Here’s the breakdown:  Out of the three different recipes I made, I like the beet eggs the least.  I use “least” loosely, implying that in the event of a fire, I would still save them, but if they slipped out of my arms and crashed to the floor I would wipe a tear and keep running.  These eggs were fantastic on a salad, but require a little salt on the yolk when eating as is.

My husband likes the hot ones the best.  They are the most flavorful, and the yolk is permeated all the way through with delicious garlic and jalapeno essence.  I have actually put poor Ty on a ban from the eggs for a few days, or until we get new windows that open all the way.

True to form, I like the pickle juice eggs the best.  They taste just like pickles!  I highly recommend adding the garlic cloves to the brine, it really pumps up the flavor.  I do NOT recommend biting into one of the garlic cloves to see what pickled garlic tastes like, though.  Not unless you want to taste garlic the rest of the day, that is.  For the record, it just tastes like fresh garlic and not like roasted pickle garlic, which is what I think I was expecting.

My Dad loved all three equally, and sent me a text telling me so.  I still think it’s funny that my parents text now.

So there you have it.  If you were in doubt about making your own pickled eggs, or whether or not you should consider trying a pickled egg, you now have your verdict.  Go boil some eggs!

Categories: Eggs, Leftovers

Pickled Eggs

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter!  Our weekend was full of coloring eggs then taking turns hiding and hunting them over and over.  My oldest daughter got the biggest kick out of playing “hide-and-seek” with the eggs, and eventually I realized the eggs needed to go back into the refrigerator so we switched to plastic eggs.

We had about a dozen and a half eggs left over.  The remaining half-dozen were either devoted to deviled eggs or are still being steam-cleaned out of the carpet due to some tiny, unmonitored fingers.  (Lesson learned.  Babies should not be alone with eggs.)  I already knew I wanted to try making pickled eggs with my leftovers and scoured the Internet for good recipes.  I narrowed it down to three that I wanted to try.  I’ve only ever tried the kind pickled with beet juice – and love them – but I’m curious to try a few other kinds.  I actually ended up buying another dozen eggs so I could have enough to do experiments with!

One of the tidbits of information I learned whilst looking online for recipes, is that canning eggs is not recommended.  There’s mostly arguments against canning them (for fear of botulism), and one fairly determined man out there in favor of canning them who has posted in Canning’s defense on several site forums.  I included links below if you are interested in deciding for yourself what to do, but I am choosing to skirt around the issue myself and simply refrigerate them.  If they are as tasty as the recipe-creator’s claim to be, then I won’t have to worry about them lasting very long!

Argument in favor of canning eggs – Summary: “we’ve been doing it for years, botulism is a risk for anything you can, why are eggs different?  There is only one case ever of someone dying from botulism of canned eggs, and he had it coming.”  (The first link is a different source than the second link)

Argument against canning eggs – Summary: “Eggs are too dense to can safely, you will die.”

I am being a little snarky regarding the issue, but truthfully, all the resources above have fairly valid points.  I, however, don’t consume enough pickled eggs to enter wholeheartedly into this fierce debate.  (Who knew so many people are that passionate about pickled eggs?)  Therefore, the top link will direct those of you interested in canning pickled eggs to a blog that will give you detailed directions in doing so.

These recipes are for refrigeration only.

If you don’t already have hard-boiled eggs, the first step you need to do is get some!

This picture is silly.  Of course you can probably visualize eggs in a pan on a stove.  But then you wouldn’t assume that since I clearly use brown eggs, that I *must* be an expert on all things natural and organic.  (Sigh, ok.  They aren’t organic.  But they also weren’t $4.99/dozen like the organic ones were!  I am so going to start raising chickens.)

Anyway, on to the interesting stuff:

My mother’s tried-and-true method for boiling fresh eggs is to put them in a pot, fill it with water, put the burner on high.  When the water begins to boil, set a timer for 9 minutes.  When the timer goes off, drain the hot water from the pan and rinse the eggs for a few minutes under cold water, then put them back in the fridge.

Once you have some hard-boiled eggs, you can make pickled eggs!  These three recipes are the ones I tried, and spent less than 30 minutes making all three kinds.  Also, as you will note from my pictures, you can get a plastic, reusable lid for your canning jars!  These are really cool, and can be used in the freezer as well.  (They obviously can NOT be used for canning though…don’t try it!)  You can also write on the top with a dry-erase marker.   I recommend using wide-mouth jars for pickling eggs for ease of reaching in to snag one, or any glass jar with a lid that seals tight.

Hot Pickled Eggs- recipe from the Kuntz Family Website



Ingredients:

1 dozen hard-boiled eggs
2 cups vinegar (5% acidity)
2 Tablespoons canning salt (non-iodized)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dill seed
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1 clove garlic – sliced thin
1 jalapeno – sliced thin

Directions:

Combine all ingredients except eggs and bring to a boil.  Boil 3-4 minutes and remove from heat.  Strain the pepper and garlic from the brine and place in the bottom of quart jar.

Pack peeled eggs on top of the pepper and garlic slices, stir the brine well and pour hot brine over the eggs until they are completely covered.  Place lid tightly on jar and shake.  Refrigerate 1-10 days before eating, occasionally shaking the jar to keep the brine from settling.

I cut that entire recipe in half and just used 6 eggs so I could store them in a pint jar.

Beet Pickled Eggs

Ingredients:

1 cup red beet juice (I actually needed two small jars of canned beets)
1½ cups cider vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
a few canned whole tiny red beets (or several slices of beets can be used)                         1 dozen hard-boiled eggs

Directions:

Bring all the ingredients except the eggs to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Pack one dozen peeled, hard-cooked eggs into a quart-sized jar.  (I ended up with only 11 eggs because my pint-sized helped peeled an egg and immediately consumed it.  It turned out serendipitous though, because I don’t think the 12th egg would have fit in there anyway…) Pour the hot brine over the eggs in the jar, cover, and refrigerate immediately.

Note:  In classic Chelsea style, I learned belatedly that these are better packed loosely.  See the white part?  It would be prettier and better tasting if the entire eggs made contact with the brine.

Pickle Juice Eggs

(Or “Pickle Eggs”.  Or “Pickled Pickle Eggs”.  I thought of about 4 more…  I’ll stop before I make you close this tab!)

Ingredients:

Pickle juice                                                                                                                           3-4 garlic cloves                                                                                                                      1 dozen eggs (I only used a half dozen)

Directions:

I saw this one in a comment section on a forum, too.  I thought, “Hey…I LOVE pickles, I ALWAYS have leftover pickle juice!”  Another commenter said she uses her leftover pickle juice for pickling fresh veggies, too.  Someone else said they like to throw some garlic cloves in there, and since I am never one to turn down garlic, I did that also.  Someone else advised bringing your pickle juice to a boil to kill off any bacteria left from dirty hands that may have reached in to get pickles.  Guilty of this every single time I obtain a pickle (or 2, or 5), I agree.  SO, once you eat your last pickle, bring the juice to a boil for 3-4 minutes then pour over peeled eggs in a jar. (You can even reuse the pickle jar if you want!)  If you like blasting people with garlic breath as much as I do, add a few freshly peeled cloves to your jar, too!

Aren’t they pretty?

Another Note:  In an effort to pass on knowledge about healthy eating, I should warn you that I discovered while pickling that I’ve never read the label on my Vlasic pickle jar before.  Boo, hiss!  I’m sorry I did!  This isn’t the healthiest pickling option out there, unless you are using pickles with a healthier brine than Vlasic’s.  This one contains preservatives and food coloring.  I don’t know for sure, but perhaps pickles from the refrigerated section are a healthier choice.  (Do you see the size of my pickle jar?  This is going to have to be a weaning thing for me, giving up my Vlasic’s…)

Hotter Pickled Eggs 

Here’s a bonus recipe for you!  I didn’t make this one, but I saw it on a forum and thought it looked pretty good!  I didn’t have any sherry in the house and didn’t want to run to the liquor store.  Next time I come across a recipe that uses sherry, I’ll remember to make these eggs!

Ingredients:

3 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp seasoned salt
4 Tbsp tobasco sauce
1 small can hot peppers
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
1 can sliced beets
1/4 cup dry sherry
2 or 3 bay leaves
2 dozen hard boiled eggs, shelled

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a large glass jar and let sit for 3-4 days refrigerated before serving.  (These directions did not say to boil the ingredients first, but I’m guessing she omitted it by accident.)

Verdict

I actually don’t have a verdict yet.  All these recipes say to let the eggs “marinate” for several days before eating them.  I just made these yesterday, so I haven’t tried any yet.  (Well, ok, I confess I did pull one of the beet eggs out to “test” it.  It was pretty good, but I am going to wait another day or two before trying another one.)  I will let you know which recipe I like best in a few days!

Happy pickling!

****UPDATE********  We have a verdict!  Click HERE!

Categories: Eggs, Leftovers

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Since I did not put as much chicken into my quarts as I should have when I canned chicken soup, I had lots of leftover chicken to use up.  This is hardly a problem around here, and when in doubt, into soup it shall go!  I decided to freeze what we didn’t eat to show you an easy way to preserve foods by freezing.  (Ok, truthfully, I hadn’t even cleaned out my pressure canner yet, and was kind of dreading doing so!  It’s heavy!)

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

What you will need:

Directions:

Chop veggies and add to pot.  I also added more chicken since I didn’t have enough in my quarts that I canned.                                  

Add the quart of chicken soup and bring to a boil.  Add base, and several handfuls of washed spinach or arugula.  No need to chop the spinach, it will naturally shrivel up to bite-sized pieces in the hot soup!  I’ve made this with spinach and arugula, and I would say the arugula lends a better, peppery flavor.  

In a separate pan, bring the orzo and about 2 cups of water to a boil.  You don’t want to add uncooked pasta or rice to your soup because it will soak up all your lovely stock! 

Cook it in water (or different stock or broth) and add it once the orzo is tender and the remaining water has been drained.

Bring back to a boil, add generous amounts of lemon juice.  I would say it needs about 1/2 cup.  I would start with 1/4 cup, taste it, and decide what it needs.  If it needs more lemon, add more juice.  If it needs more salt, add more base.  Add base by 1/2 teaspoons at a time, because too much base is difficult to fix!  (Learned that on lobster bisque – DOH!) Add a little pepper, and voila!  I served this on our date-night with homemade garlic bread.  (Quick recipe: leftover hamburger buns opened, spread with butter, liberally doused with garlic salt and broiled in the oven at 500 degrees until they’re browned.  Browned, not burnt to a crisp.  I almost always burn them to a crisp.)           

There was enough for four 2-cup servings from this batch.  The girls were off at the grandparent’s house and frankly, after cooking two whole chickens and making tons of soups from them, we are little tired of soup.  (*Gasp!*  I said WHAT?)  Freezing the rest of this soup was a better option!

Here is my favorite way to freeze soups:

Grab a freezer baggie.  I used a quart-sized one.  Write the contents and the date made on the baggie BEFORE filling it with soup.  (Learned that one the hard way, too)

Ladle soup into the baggie, seal it closed as close to the top of the soup as possible to eliminate as much air as you can.  Now for the clever part:  (I’m being a little ironic.  You probably already know this trick, but it took me about 6 years to figure this out.)  Clear a spot in your freezer so you can lay the soup flat.    

Once it is frozen, you can turn it upright and file it neatly under “soup”!  This is a definite space-saver!

I hope you all have a lovely Easter tomorrow!  Don’t fret over all those leftover hard-boiled eggs…  Hang on to them and stay tuned for an excellent way to turn a carton (or cartons!) of color-tinged eggs into finger-lickin’ treats!

I may have staged this shot, but he still loved the soup!

Categories: Freezing, Low-Acid, Poultry, Soup

Versatile Chicken Soup

What can you do with two whole chickens?  Make a TON of soup!  Two chickens will net you over 7 quarts of chicken stock and around 3 quarts of shredded chicken.  Two chickens will also conveniently fit into my 921 All-American pressure canner/cooker!  It’s kind of cool that I was able to make stock and then turn around a can it all in the same container.  Although I will admit I had a bit of a head-scratcher trying to figure out where to put all that stock while I washed the canner and prepared everything for canning.  I probably dirtied more dishes than necessary, and next time will probably save the canner for canning.  It was a satisfying experiment, anyway.

I decided to can just stock and chicken, so that I could use them as a base for any chicken soup.  I make a few different chicken soups and usually the only common ingredients are chicken and stock.  At the end of this post are a few of those recipes.

Canning Chicken Soup from Two Whole Chickens

Makes 7 Quarts
(Plus a little extra for immediate consumption!)

What you will need:

  • Two Whole Raw Chickens
  • 2-3 Carrots, washed and cut into chunks
  • 2-3 stalks of Celery, washed and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Salt
  • A Pressure Canner – NOTE: You can NOT use a water bath canner when canning low-acid foods like poultry.  You must use a pressure canner!
  • Canning tools: a plastic ruler, a jar lifter, a lid lifter.  You can get a handy little set that includes all these things in the canning aisle at most grocery stores.

Directions:

First, rinse your chickens well.  Make sure there aren’t any remaining feathers (ew) and be sure to rinse the cavity on both ends as well.  I admit, cooking with whole chickens is not for the weak.  Just take a deep breath and focus on the prize.  Once your chickens are rinsed, place them in a 20-quart pot and fill 2/3 of the way with water.  Add carrots and celery.  You don’t have to be precise with the veggies, just hack them up and throw them in there.  They’re just in there to round out the flavor of your stock and will be discarded at the end.  Add a few dashes about 1/2 tsp, of onion salt, and bring the water to a boil.  Let boil for about 20 minutes, and then check the chicken.  It will fall apart easily when it’s done.

While this is boiling, wash your jars and rings.  Jars should be kept hot.  Either leave them in your dishwasher until you’re ready to fill them, or fill a large pot with water and keep your jars in that.  The water does not need to be boiling, just hot.  According to my canner’s instruction manual, foods that are going to be processed in a pressure canner do not need to be pre-sterilized.                                    

Once your chickens are done, remove the meat from the bones.  Again, not for the weak-stomached.  This works the best when you work with hot or warm chicken.  I don’t recommend letting the chicken get cold before trying to remove the meat.  It comes off much easier when it’s warm.  I attacked mine while it was still hot with two forks.  It took about 20 minutes to clean both chickens, and once the bones were safely deposited in the trash, I was able to start enjoying the rest of the process. Store all the chicken meat in a bowl and set it aside.                                     

Now it’s time to skim the stock.  Place a strainer over another large pot (or several medium pots, in my case) and ladle cups of stock through the strainer.

Discard the contents of the strainer, wash your canner (if you used it to make the stock) and let’s can!  (Did anyone else start singing Moulin Rouge?)

I experimented here.  Everywhere I read said NOT to add noodles to the canning process, and to add them when you’re ready to serve the soup, but I wanted to try adding noodles to see how it would turn out.  (See: Noodle Verdict below)

I chose to add noodles to just two jars to experiment what the canning process would do to them.  In case it completely destroys them or generates botulism or something, I will only have wasted two quarts.

Next, fill the jars with chicken.  I didn’t do this correctly.  I actually put some of the chicken back into the stock which, in hindsight, was dumb because later I wished I had put MORE chicken in each jar.  So, “learn from my mistake”.  (I have a feeling that will be a recurring theme in each post.  Eventually I’ll probably have a whole page dedicated to Do What I Say, Not What I Do”.)  In your empty jars, fill them about halfway with chicken.  Add the stock LAST.  Fill the jars within 1-inch of the top.  The books recommend measuring it with a ruler to be fairly exact on that 1-inch margin.  Once the jars are full, swish a plastic spoon or ruler around in there to release any trapped air bubbles.

Next, wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, wet rag or paper towel.  This is a really important step.  If there are any food particles left on the rim, it could cause the jar to fail to seal correctly, which in turn will allow evil air to get into your stored jars, botulising them and killing off the lot of you.  (I know botulising isn’t a word, but it worked in my sentence and hopefully terrified you into always remembering to wipe your rims!) 

Canning lids are supposed to be heated in hot (not boiling) water before use.  This sterilizes them for use.  If you have a jar lifter, use that to remove them from the hot water.  If not, drain the water, use your fingers and move fast!  (Or I suppose you could use tongs if you’re a giant wuss or something…)   Just set the lid on top of the jar, and screw on the rings.  You don’t have to use superhuman strength or ask your husband to do it, just use your own girlie strength to tighten the rings. 

Before adding the jars to your canner, make sure there is 3 inches of water in there.  After this project, I invested in a 47-cent plastic ruler to keep in the kitchen, so you don’t have to tease me (much) about using a tape measure for this.  The water level is important because during the canning process, the water turns to steam, which is what is cooking your food.  If you don’t have enough water, you won’t get enough steam, and ultimately you’ll destroy your canner if it goes dry.  So always check your water level before adding any jars, and make sure there is a good 3 inches in there.  It said all that in my instruction manual, just worded more professionally and with less commas. 

Add the rack and then your jars!  Getting excited yet?  I sure was!  Don’t forget to put the rack in there, though!  The jars are not supposed to sit directly on the bottom of the canner!                                                        

When you put the lid on, you’re not supposed to lock one screw at a time.  You’re supposed to lock two at a time, opposite each other.  It’s also important to make sure the pot is facing forward as well as the lid, so that both warning labels are facing you.  (Guess who didn’t do that until her husband pointed it out?)  Turn your stove on high and wait.  It takes a surprisingly long time for the water to boil, and even longer for it to start venting.  For chicken soup, you let it vent for 10 minutes before putting the weight gauge on.  After 10 minutes, set the gauge to 10 lbs pressure.  Then it takes another 10-15 minutes for it to build pressure.  Once the pressure reads 10 psi, the vent will start steaming, hissing, and the gauge will rock a little.  Turn the heat down if the pressure continues to climb and find the level of heat needed to keep the pressure level close to 10 psi.  The vent will continue to hiss, and the gauge will occasionally rock.  Little drops of water will occasionally leak out of the vent, which is normal.  At this point, start the clock.  90 minutes for chicken soup! 

Check back periodically to ensure the pressure is holding steady at 10 psi.  Once the timer goes off, turn off the heat.  Don’t touch the gauge yet, wait for the pressure to drop all the way to zero.  This took almost 20 minutes for mine to do.  Once the pressure hits zero psi, you can remove the weighted gauge.  USE A HOT-PAD!  Then you can remove the lid.  Be sure to lift the back end of the lid first because there will still be steam in there and you don’t want that to blast in your face.  Wait 10 minutes, then you can lift the jars out onto a towel.  As they cool, you’ll hear a distinctive “pop!”, which is the sound of success!  Let the jars completely cool, then take off the rings and check the lids.  Just use your fingers.  Apply medium pressure and try to pry the lid off.  If it pops right off, it obviously did not seal.  You should not be able to pry any of the lids off, but if any of them did not seal properly, just store them in your refrigerator and consume within a week.  You can try to process them again if you want to, but it’s not really recommended because it may change the flavor or whatever of the food. “Quality of the food will not be as good after reprocessing”, straight from the manual.

Aren’t you so proud of yourself?  You just made chicken soup that doesn’t have to be frozen or kept in the fridge.  Make sure you label the date on the top and store it in your pantry!  You rock!

  (You can see I didn’t put enough chicken in the jars.  I wish I would have doubled it.)

The Noodle Verdict:

Ok, I waited a week before opening one of the jars that I canned with the noodles.  I warmed up the soup on the stove before serving it to my pint-sized taste-testers.  Cozy, my 4-year-old picky eater, ate about 6 bites out of habit before announcing, “This soup doesn’t taste very good”  (I personally tasted it before serving it to her, it tasted great).

Me: “It doesn’t taste good?  What don’t you like about it?”  (I had a hunch)

Cozy: “The noodles are melty”

Well, she had me there.  The noodles were melty.  Soggy doesn’t even begin to describe the outcome of the noodles.  They were downright disintegrated.  The good news is that it’s completely salvageable.  The flavor was delicious, so with the rest of this quart and the other quart I experimented with, I’ll just add fresh noodles. So apparently the rest of the world is right.  No noodles in the jars.  Huge bummer!  How does Campbell’s DO it?  I must learn their secret.  When I do, I will pass it on to you!  And if you know it, help a sister out!  Here’s a picture of one of the jars with noodles, you can see that they’re pretty mushy:

Here’s a couple of recipes to use your non-noodled chicken soup with:

Little Ball Soup

Part of my reason for wanting to learn to pressure can in the first place was because I wanted to eliminate Campbell’s soups in my cupboards.  Now, Campbell’s has been a longtime favorite of mine, and definitely a favorite for my 4-year-old.  There isn’t an easier lunch than opening a can, slopping it into a bowl and microwaving soup for 2 minutes.  But there also is very little nutrition in that lunch, so I’ve gradually stopped buying Campbell’s and started making and freezing my own soups.  I got a bit of protesting at first from the peanut gallery, but once I started making “Little Ball Soup”, all protests end.  This is the simplest chicken noodle soup you can make from scratch, and it became an instant classic in our house.

What you will need:

  • 1 quart Versatile Chicken Soup
  • 1 cup Acini de Pepe noodles (hence the little balls) if you didn’t already include them in the quart jar.
  • 1 tsp Chicken Base (I use Better Than Bullion, which also comes in an organic option)

Directions:

That’s it.  3 ingredients.  You can add carrots or celery or whatever else you like in chicken noodle soup, but I can’t.  My picky eater likes carrots, but only if they’re raw.  Sometimes I puree cauliflower or carrots or celery to add to the soup, but usually I’m lazy and just do these 3 ingredients.  The Base is absolutely necessary, it’s what makes the soup taste like Campbell’s, and what makes my daughter who can talk and my husband declare that I’m the best cook ever.  My 1-year-old daughter would say it too if she could talk.  So now you know my secret!  Boil the quart of Chicken Soup in one pot, boil the noodles in a separate pot.  Once the noodles are done, drain them and add them to the Chicken Soup.  Stir in the teaspoon of Base, and done!

Chicken Soup with Wild Rice and Beans

What you will need:

  • 1 quart Versatile Chicken Soup
  • 1 tsp Chicken Base
  • 1 can Cannellini Beans (white kidney beans), or 1 pint of home-canned beans (stay tuned for that recipe!)
  • 1 cup Wild Rice uncooked
  • Carrots, celery, mushrooms, all optional

Directions:

Cook the rice according to package instructions.  Bring the Chicken Soup to a boil, add the beans and any veggies you desire.  When the rice is done, add that too.  Bring to a boil, then serve!

Stay tuned for Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup!  I’ll also discuss how freezing foods plays an easy, important role in food preservation!

Categories: Canning, Low-Acid, Poultry, Soup

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