Leftover week is going quite well so far. Last night I made a delicious pot of soup using leftover crudite veggies, turkey, wild rice and frozen corn on the cob. Lunch the last two days for the kiddos has been leftover BBQ cocktail sausages wrapped in biscuit dough- kind of like pigs in blankets. Tonight’s leftover remains to be seen. I really want to do something creative with the mashed potatoes, but so far I’m not coming up with anything too exciting. If I don’t come up with something soon, it will be squash pancakes for dinner with applesauce and cranberry sauce on the side.
One of my goals for 2013 was to overcome my fear of pressure canning. Early in the year I splurged and bought myself a Mirro pressure canner. What frightened me the most about pressure canning was food safety. With water bath canning you use high acid foods like fruit and tomatoes and add even more acid to ensure their safety on the pantry shelf. With pressure canning, you are relying on pressure to force out all the air that can trap bad bacteria. You also have to be insanely precise with recipes- you absolutely may not deviate from a given recipe for pressure canning. Any deviation to the left or right can cause big bad nasties to grow in those sealed jars. That’s a little scary to me! Last winter, however, I took a free food safety and canning course through the National Center For Home Preservation and by the time I was finished with the course, I was ready to attempt pressure canning.
It took a little trial and error to figure out exactly how my canner worked, and I honestly could not have figured it out as fast as I did without the help of a few master canners at the Gardenweb forums. The first thing I pressure canned was a batch of chicken stock, followed closely by a batch of baked beans. I was instantly hooked! Except shortly after that our lives were plunged into chaos, and once the garden season emerged, it was back to pulling out the boiling water canner.
But a few weeks ago Andy came down with a rather yucky cold. At the time, I wished I’d had some good homemade chicken soup on hand, and apologized as I reached into the cupboard and found a lone can of store bought chicken noodle. Andy was grateful for that, but the more I thought on it, the more I decided I needed some home canned chicken soup on my pantry shelves. An entire Thursday afternoon was devoted to that process, but I was insanely excited to have 16 pints of homemade chicken soup in the pantry!
Fast forward to this week, and my turkey carcass made a fabulous tasting turkey broth. I used some last night for soup, but I determined that today I would can up the rest of that delicious stock. It is cloudy, which I suspect is a result of the apple cider used in my brine. I can’t think of what else would cause that, but the first batch came out of the canner just a short while ago, and I couldn’t be happier!
I have four more pints in the pressure canner as I write this. I’m also eyeing up the leftover ham and considering making a ham and bean soup of some kind to put in the pantry as well. Pressure canning does take considerably more time than firing up the water bath canner. The stock pictured above needed to be held at pressure for a full 25 minutes- and that doesn’t include the time to get up to pressure, and the cooling time. A batch of baked beans holds at pressure for a full 90 minutes!
But it is fun, and armed with a pressure canner, all I need now is an endless supply of canning jars and few more reliable sources for recipes for pressure canning.