My Home Canned Food Storage Method

My Canning Cupboard

My Canning Cupboard

Home canned food storage is a big puzzle for many people. My canning cupboard is where I keep my jars of home canned food. The cupboard on the bottom is where I keep my canners. This is not my whole supply of home canned food. This cupboard is a convenient place to store the jars of food so when I am cooking, I can just grab a jar quickly. For now, the rest of the jars are upstairs in Rubbermaid containers. I cannot store them in my root cellar or pantry until those rooms are finished. For now, this is what I have to do. About once a month, I have to go upstairs and carry down jars of foods that we have used up. Today I carried down potatoes, carrots and green beans. 

Canned Food Storage

Canned Food Storage

The one question I am asked the most is what to do about home canned food storage. I had the question myself and resolved it by using the containers for the jars. Since the food canned in jars is inside the containers, they stay clean and no bugs or pests can get on them. Another plus about this method is that just in case a jar does open or break it will be contained inside the container. Not all over your floor or shelves. Easier to clean up. Though I have never had a jar open or break in storage. Don’t stack them and they should be fine. As I empty the containers of the filled jars of food, I start putting the empty jars that have been used and cleaned in the Rubbermaid containers. It is an easy method. The containers can be stacked on top of each other as long as the one on top is not too heavy. I put thick cardboard or sometimes, plywood on the lids if I am going to put something on top of it.

Canned Food Jars Inside

Canned Food Jars Inside

In case of emergencies, like flooding or something of that sort, your home canned food storage may help your jars to survive by being inside the plastic containers. If they were swimming in flood water, I would not feel safe using them, even if they were still sealed. Flood waters are very dangerous to consume. The jars of food are easier to transport in the plastic containers rather than cardboard boxes. You would just have to wrap the jars with newspaper or clothing to insulate them from breaking. I will eventually keep my food supply in my root cellar, but they will stay in the Rubbermaid containers. Now that I have put this in place presently, I see it is the best way to keep them. 

Label Each Container

Label Each Container

Always label each jar and each container with what is inside. That way your home canned food storage can be easy to use.  All you have to do is to look at the outside to know what is inside. When you empty a container and put empty jars inside, you can double stack those. Just put a thick piece of cardboard between the layers. I put each jar in the container upside down and it seems to keep them cleaner. Be sure to label the outside of that container also. If you put more than one variety of food or empty jars in a container, note that on the label. I put another label on for each variety. Then when I have taken all that type out, I can remove that label. This method keeps the food supply constantly moving. Use up the old and can up some new! 

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Copyright © 2015 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2015 Kathleen G. Lupole


Canning Yellow Squash

Pressure Canners on stove

Pressure Canners

This year, I have been very busy canning yellow squash. I told you in my last “From the Garden to the Table” post, that I would share with you the way I can summer squash. This year, my zucchini didn’t come up, so I only did the yellow squash. If you did not read the previous post, be sure to do so now. I showed how I get it ready for canning in that post. That post is really the first step, so be sure to read it.

Keep Jars Hot

Keep Jars Hot

The actual process of canning yellow squash is not that difficult. Fill a stock pot with the chunks of squash and add water to the top. Heat until boiling and let boil for about five minutes. Meanwhile fill your clean canning jars with hot water so they are hot. I have mine standing in a sink of hot water as well. Or you can have them simmering in hot water on your stove. I can’t do that because I do not have enough room on my stove, even though I have a big one. Get your lids and rims ready, and put them in hot water to wait until you need them. After it has boiled for about five minutes, take it off your stove. Put your pressure canner (NOT a pressure cooker……..there IS a difference!) on the burner with about 3″ of water in it.

Canner Exhausting

Canner Exhausting for 10 minutes.

You can put 1/2 – 1 tsp. of salt in the jar before you fill it, if you want to. Salt is just for taste. I don’t use it anymore when I am canning yellow squash. Fill a jar with the squash and add enough hot water to go to 1/2″ from the top. Then wipe the rim of the jar and put a dry rim and lid on. Put the jar in the canner and do the rest of the jars the same way. After it has exhausted for 10 minutes, put the regulator on it, and bring it up to pressure. In my case, it is 10 lbs. pressure for 45 minutes for quarts, or 40 minutes for pints.

Home Canned Yellow Squash

My canned yellow squash


After the time is up, I turn the burner off and the pressure will drop. Do not try to open it or take the regulator off before the pressure is at zero! I wait till I hear a little noise from the exhaust, then I still wait about five minutes more, before removing the regulator or the lid. Always lift the lid away from you so you don’t get burned. Then I let the jars sit about five minutes more with the lid off. Then I take each jar out with the jar lifter, and set the jar on a doubled towel in a spot where they can sit for 24 hours undisturbed. Do not attempt to remove the rims until the 24 hours is up. I always wash the jars after I take the rim off. Then label the lid before putting them away in your pantry or root cellar. You have finished canning yellow squash! This product can sit in your pantry for a long time before you use it. Longer than frozen and you won’t lose it in a power outage or if your freezer breaks down.

Squash Casserole

Squash Casserole


One of our favorites is my famous squash casserole. Canning yellow squash is perfect for casseroles. I can skip the step of cooking it first, because it is cooked in the jars, and is already soft. I have other casserole recipes that I use for the squash too. It is just as good, boiled in a pan, as you do when you prepare it fresh. It smells and taste just like the day you picked it.

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Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole

I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click or products I recommend may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that.


Home Canning Is Essential To A Self-Sufficient Life

Canning With 2 Canners

Canning With 2 Canners

Home canning is essential to my homesteading life. It appears as if home canning is becoming the in thing now. Do you think it has anything to do with GMO foods? Maybe it has to do with so much sugar and related products in everything we buy. Then again, it could have something to do with the economy. I have noticed, and I am sure you have too, that food packaging has been getting smaller and smaller. Pretty soon, we will be paying for an empty package! 

Ball Wide Mouth LidsFor over 125 years, Ball® and Kerr® canning jars have been made in the USA. Whether you are new to canning or a seasoned preserver, shop for the tools you need.

The link above will take you to Ball’s Fresh Preserving store. I am thrilled to have just become associated with Ball’s Fresh Preserving Store as an affiliate. I use their products, so I may as well promote them to my readers. Canning as much as I do, I have come to rely on products that do what they are supposed to do. Nothing is worse than spending my money on canning products that cause me to lose my harvest!  

Right out of the canner!

Right out of the canner!

I have been  home canning for years. Ever since I got interested in being self-sufficient. Canning is a big part of that life. In the beginning, I was scared to do it. My father taught me how to make grape jelly and to can grape juice. Then he showed me how to do pickles. That is basically what he and my mother canned. They froze everything else from their garden. I took to canning very quickly. I loved it and still do. There are some days, that canning is all I do. If it can be canned, then I will try to do it. 

Green beans In garden.

Green beans In garden.

One last point I’d like make about canning your food, is that if you put all your food up in your freezer, you can lose it. Not only if the power goes out, but if your freezer malfunctions or someone leaves the door open accidentally. In the case of an emergency, believe me, you are not going to stop what you are doing to can all the food in your freezer. You may not even be home to attend to it. Please consider learning to can if you don’t know how. It can mean the difference in how your family will survive in the future. 

katlupe

Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole


Fill The Pantry With Home-Canned Foods You Like

Homesteading On The Internet

Canned Chicken Breast

This year I am making some big plans on our food supply. I have a lot more canning jars empty at the moment, rather than full. So I need to get them filled up and put away. I am hoping we get some major changes done on our house. Then I will have the space for the jars. Ever since my root cellar has been torn apart, I have not been able to use it the way it is meant to be used. Between the root cellar and the pantry, the food supply should be easy to get to, and the right climate for the stored food.

Homesteading On The Internet

Canned Pumpkin

This year I am concentrating on low carb vegetables, since now my husband has embraced this food plan gladly. That is no problem, as there are many low carb vegetables to choose from! I will also be canning a lot of different meats, cheeses, butter and bacon. The more food I have in jars, then I can rest easy, that none of it will go to waste. Living without a refrigerator means you have to make sure you can store whatever food you grow or buy. Canning and dehydrating assures me of that fact. 

Homesteading On The Internet

Canned Cheese

Canning cheese, bacon and butter is a controversial subject. I had backed off it for awhile. But I have read new information on it. Jackie Clay, my favorite author from Backwoods Home Magazine has done it. If she can do it, so can I. I do it safely and if I suspect anything is amiss……..in the garbage it goes! I have found new guidelines on canning bacon and will try it first. If I like it, I will tell my readers here all about it. After all, they sell canned bacon in the stores, so it means it can be canned.

Homesteading On The Internet

Home-Canned Hot Peppers

Figure out what you eat based on whatever diet you eat, and make your list from that. Grow or buy those foods. Make your main dishes that you eat often, the mainstay of your pantry. It is not hard to do. Don’t grow anything you don’t eat or like. If it is something you want to try, just plant a short row of that plant to see if you like it or not. 

Homesteading On The Internet

Last Corn From Daddy’s Garden

Eating low carbs means we don’t eat corn, potatoes or beets. After we have been on our plan awhile, we can have one or two of those vegetables a week. Not a huge helping of mashed potatoes and gravy though! The corn  I have left in my pantry is the last from my father’s garden. The last I will ever have of anything from his garden. I am not sad though! He instilled in me the need to garden. Then he taught me how to can food. So that knowledge will always live with me. Thanks, Daddy! 

katlupe

Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole


The Way I Save Money Starts In My Kitchen

 Fall Sky At Peaceful Forest

Everywhere I go I hear people talking about the increase in food, gas, utilities. How do we live when there is so many expenses going up, but incomes are going down? Is that what is supposed to happen? Will we starve? Will we be homeless? What will we do? The cry is real. People are indeed, scared. How could they not be? Many people lose their jobs and can’t find another one. They hear the sad reply, “there aren’t any jobs.”  And that is the truth! If I had to tell you what to do to survive this economical depression, this would be my best advice. Mainly, I know this only because this is what I do, what we do.

Raised Beds With Bush Beans

Grow a garden and learn to can your produce. Do not use a freezer. The reason I say this, is because you could lose the food in a power outage. The other reason is that, if you have to cut expenses, cut the freezer. Refrigeration and freezers are very big energy draws on your electric system. Your electric bill is a good place to cut back expenses.

katlupe's Zucchini Lasagnakatlupe’s Zucchini Lasagna

If you must buy food, buy in bulk. Buy foods on sale. Find recipes that extend the meat, such as casseroles instead of a piece of meat for each person. Besides, how do you expect teenager boys and working men to eat only one piece of meat anyway? Fill them up with other foods and make the meat a small portion of the meal. I hate to say that since I eat low carbs, and meat is a big portion of that. But I find ways to make it work for me.

katlupe Pouring Eggs

Cook from scratch, as in homemade, instead of processed foods. When you buy processed foods, you are paying for someone to process it for you. Homemade food is healthier and you can cut the sugar or salt or whatever, to make it even more healthy. Instead of chips, soda and sweets for snacks, offer soups, homemade puddings, or homemade sweets with less sugar.

Cooking On My Wood Cook Stove

I heat and cook with wood. We find heating with wood to be much cheaper than other fuels. It is a warmer heat and in my opinion, nothing compares to it. Plus you can find ways to get wood in tough times. Not like the other fuels. You can cook food all day on it and it only gets better. Saving money starts in the kitchen! And building a fire in the cook stove in the morning, is the way I start every morning.

 

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Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole

 


Top Ten List For A Productive Garden

Seed Packets

 Plan What Seeds To Buy Before You Are In The Store!

 

 1. The first step in preserving your food is not at harvest time. It is when you first plan your garden and decide which seeds to buy. Buying the best quality seeds for your area is the most important step. Regardless of whether you can it, freeze it, dehydrate it or just store it, you must have a plan in mind when choosing seed varieties. Choose plant varieties that are known for storing. The seed companies know which seed is good for what.

 

Heirloom Seedlings

Heirloom Squash Seedlings

2. Build your seed supply of heirloom seeds that you can save. Those seeds will provide your future gardens. Save a few of your best plants, don’t harvest them. Let them dry up and save the seeds. If they are green beans I let them just about die then harvest the seeds inside of the pods. If they are plants like tomatoes, pumpkin, cucumbers or squash, I save the seeds as I prepared the vegetable for cooking or eating. Dry the seeds really good and then put them in a jar that has a tight top, like a canning jar. Put a label on the jar so you know what it is and when you harvested it.

Fresh Yellow Summer SquashFresh Yellow Summer Squash 

3. Plant foods that produce a lot. I know, some people will tell you that you don’t need that many zucchini, yellow squash or green beans. I have found that by canning a large amount of those foods, in the winter or even years later, that food as been essential in keeping us fed. If you have a time where money is tight or someone looses their job, this canned food will feed your family. I advise people to can as much as possible. A freezer can break down or a power outage for an extended amount of time can cause you to lose all that food.

 Salad Greens Bed

 Salad Beds

4. Set up a couple of nice beds that are waist high for your lettuce and salad greens garden. That makes them easy to harvest quickly for a nightly salad. Being up higher, they don’t get so dirty in a rainstorm. Most important little critters like rabbits or chipmunks don’t get into them so much. Mine are critter free.

Strawberry Plants Strawberry Plants

5. Plant a few beds of plants that are annuals. Meaning that once you get them going, they come up every year and you don’t have to plant them. Like asparagus, rhubarb or strawberries. Less work is always welcome at gardening season.

Butternut SquashButternut Squash

6. Plant vegetables that can be stored fresh in a root cellar or other cooler room. Cabbage, carrots, potatoes, winter squash and others can be stored to be eaten fresh. Even green tomatoes can be harvested late in fall just before your first frost. Wrapped in newspaper and stored in a cool room they will ripen slowly. Just be sure to check them at least once a week.

Almost Ripe BlackberriesAlmost Ripe Wild Blackberries

7. Plant some berry bushes instead of decorative hedges around your home. Berries can be canned as jam, jelly or juice. But they can also be dehydrated as well as frozen. Again though, I like to remind people, do not put your whole amount of berries or anything else for that matter, into a freezer. Just in case.

50 lb Bags of Potatoes

 

Potatoes In 50 lb. Bags 

 

 8. Potatoes can be grown very easily also. If you do not grow them, buy them from a local potato grower, produce market or even a local restaurant supply store (where they are available in fifty pound bags). I like to buy two bags if I haven’t grown any myself. If I grew some, I still buy one bag and can them, in slices and cubes. That way I have them for quick meals or to add to stews, soups or casseroles.

 

Tomato PlantsTomato Plants

9. Tomatoes are of course, an important food to grow and can. They can be used for so many recipes. If you have a lot of tomatoes coming, my method is to can them all as whole tomatoes. Make sauces, salsas, ketchup, stewed products later on when you aren’t so busy. I usually grow some and buy some, since we need a lot to get through the year.

Chives and Lemon BalmHerbal Bed with Chives and Lemon Balm

10. Herbs are expensive in the store. It is so easy to grow them at home in your garden. Bring some inside in pots for fresh herbs in the winter. I like to dry a good amount for cooking and for making teas and infusions. Wild herbs such as dandelion, burdock, plantain and various fruit leaves are good for teas or infusions as well. They can be found growing wild. Take a walk around and I am sure you will find many foods growing right near you.

 katlupe

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole