Tuesday, January 21, 2014

4Ever Recap Lid Recall

There is currently a voluntary recall on 4Ever lids. Since most people don't 'register' their lids or sign up to get emails from companies like this, I thought it would be a good idea to spread the information as well as I could.

Attention valued customers:  Please note that there is currently a voluntary recall on red silicon seals due to a higher than anticipated rate of seal failure while in storage when used in pressure canning and water bath canning.  

If you have used these seals for pressure canning or water bath canning, please check all jars.  Silicon seals are being replaced by nitrile seals at the customer's request.  For more information, please email us at 4wardindustries@gmail.com .   

Note:  The silicon seals are fine to use with lacto-fermentation, storage of dried goods and freezer "canning."  We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your cooperation and understanding.

I don't use the resealable lids but I know others do. If you used some (especially the 4Ever brand), please go check your seals. People that I know of are experiencing a 40% - 60% failure rate. It takes a few months for the seals to break, so now is a good time to check.

You can find the information here:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mini-Crock Pot Keeps Lids Warm!

My kitchen is a good size for our family. It is not huge, however.

Especially when I'm canning.

I usually have to play a sliding puzzle game while I'm preparing the food to go in jars. Trying to keep a small pot on the stove to heat the lids has been quite a challenge with some recipes.

I remembered a small crock pot I had tucked away in the closet and brought it out. I filled it with hot water and turned the setting to high. I put in the lids I would need for this batch of grape juice, and started the juicer.

By the time the first jar was ready to be covered with a lid, the mini-crock pot had the lids simmering nicely!

Here it is with a few small lids inside.
You can't tell from the photo, but the water is steaming and is keeping the lids very hot, even when I turned it down to low.
I will be using this little gem again! It saves me a burner on the stove, and I can put it in a spot that saves me some counter space for food preparation.

Friday, November 1, 2013

New England Clam Chowder

This is our favorite New England Clam Chowder recipe.

1 lb hickory-smoked bacon, cooked, drained, and crumbled (save 2 Tbl grease)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped (optional)
1 BIG can clams (51 oz can. I use SeaWatch brand Chopped Sea Clams from Costco)
1 quart Half and Half
1/2 cup Ultra Gel thickener
4 medium potatoes, cubed and boiled
4 oz cream cheese softened in the microwave
1 Tbl basil
2 tsp salt

Drain clams and reserve the liquid.

Peel, cube, and boil 4 medium potatoes until tender. Drain and set aside. I use a 2 quart pot.

While the potatoes are cooking, fry (or oven bake) bacon, crumble or cut into pieces, set aside.

In a large Dutch oven, saute onion in 2 Tbl bacon grease (or use butter) until onion is translucent. (You can saute 1/2 cup chopped celery with the onion if you like celery). Leave in the pot.

In a blender, mix reserved clam juice with 1/2 cup Ultra Gel thickener until thick. You might have to adjust the amount of Ultra Gel to your likeness.

Add the clam juice to the sauteed onions and garlic.

Add 1 quart of Half and Half,  salt, basil, and the softened cream cheese. Heat until the cream cheese is melted.

Add the cooked potatoes.

Add enough Half and Half until you like the thickness of the chowder.

Just before serving add the clams and bacon. If you add them while the soup is cooking they will become rubbery (yuck!)

*****************  Notes *****************
You can add milk if the soup is too thick, or add more Ultra Gel if it isn't thick enough.

We usually serve corn bread along with our Clam Chowder, especially on Christmas Eve. This is our traditional Christmas Eve dinner.

If you have teenagers, you can cut down on the amount of bacon in the soup by leaving the bacon on the counter. They will come along and snack on a few pieces to save you the calories!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Bottling Rhubarb

Whenever I teach canning I always teach about canning small batches. I love small batches!

Don't get me wrong, I love big batches, too.

There are advantages to small batches which include trying a new recipe or being short on time or being short on produce.

Today I canned 2 quarts of rhubarb. That's it, just 2 quarts. I didn't have to get out my big pots, which is also a nice benefit to a small batch.

2 Quarts of rhubarb took me about 1 hour 20 minutes, including harvesting the rhubarb.

We'll be using this for pie at Thanksgiving so we don't really need that much. If I had more, I would have bottled more because the pot I used would have held another quart or two and it wouldn't have added more than 5 minutes to my time.

Here is the recipe I used. It is from the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning and is found on page 2-22. You can find the entire guide at the above link. It's a great canning resource, and it's free!
I trimmed the leaves from the stalks before I cut the stalks from the ground. You can clip the stems and then trim the leaves, but I wanted to make sure there was no oxalic acid backwashing into the stems. We've had that problem before and it was no fun!

Here is my pile of leaves ready for the trash. Here is a great tutorial on how to harvest rhubarb.

Washed stems ready to cut into 1" or 1 1/2" sections.

Chopped and ready for the pan. This is about 8 cups of rhubarb, which will be about 2 quarts.

Add 1/2 cup sugar per quart of rhubarb. Let it sit until juices appear. That will take about 30 minutes or so. After the juices start flowing, slowly bring the pan to a boil.

Quickly fill hot quart (or pint) jars with rhubarb and juice. Leave 1/2" headspace (that's what the green thing is for.) It's important to have the right amount of headspace to insure a good seal and prevent the food from spilling out over the top. I didn't have quite enough liquid so I added a little bit of very light syrup to make sure I had the right amount of headspace.
Screw on the hot lids and bands so that the bands are finger tip tight.

Since this isn't my normal canning pot, I use an old cake stand in the bottom of the pan to keep the jars from touching the bottom.

As long as the pot is deep enough to cover the jars with 1"-2" of water, you can use the pot for canning. I use my headspace measurement wand to make sure that the water is at least 1" above the top of the jars.

This is the pan I use for small batches. It is filled with water that is already at 140˚F.
Bring the water to a boil and start your timer. At my altitude, I process the rhubarb for 20 minutes.

Pull the jars out with a jar lifter and sit on a towel on the counter. If your kitchen is cold, then cover the jars with a towel so they will cool slowly and not crack.

All done and ready for the rings to be removed and the labels to be put on!
You'll probably notice that my liquid level is low. This usually happens when my water is boiling too hard as I'm processing the food. It was this time, I was out of the kitchen and when I came in to check, I had to turn down the heat. The only thing that will happen is that the food above the liquid line will discolor, there isn't anything wrong with the food itself. Since these will be stored in a dark, cool room and they will be used within 6 weeks, there may not be any discoloring at all.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Snowman Dish Towels

One of our favorite things to do is to help out. My friend's church is having an old fashioned bazaar and quilt show November 7, 8, and 9th. They are raising money to replace their crumbling stained glass windows. Here's a link to an article about the fundraiser.

This beautiful church was established in 1877. It was used as a mission church to Utah Valley, and it has been the center a center for worship for the Presbyterian Church for 135 years! It has also been used as a school and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

I love hearing the bells strike every hour. It doesn't matter what the weather is, if I'm close to the church and hear the bells ringing, I roll down my car windows.

I've got a few things planned to donate. Here is the first batch.

You can find these free snowman designs along with many others at Charming Station. Join their Yahoo group, too! It's a wonderful group of machine embroidery enthusiasts!

If you live close by, be sure to stop in to their Quilt Show and Old Fashioned Bazaar on November 7th, 8th, and 9th. (75 North 100 East in American Fork) Just in time for the holidays!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Grape Juice

I've been bottling the last few weeks. Today I'm processing grape juice. I have a juicer that my mother-in-law gave me many years ago. I've used it almost every year. That's the kind of investment I like!

Here are the directions I use.
Grape Juice

I USED to use the open kettle method of bottling grape juice. Open kettle means that you put the hot product in a hot jar, put a lid and ring on the jar, and call it 'done'.

Not done! "True home canning is when the food is heated enough to destroy or sufficiently acid enough to prevent growth of all spores of Clostridium botulinum (that causes botulism) and other pathogens during room temperature storage on the shelf."

I process everything properly after learning more about botulism. I met a woman last week who is a nurse. When she lived in Idaho she took care of 3 members of a family that died from botulism from eating home canned food.

I rinse the grapes and make sure there are no spiders and no grapes with mold on them. Then put them in the steam juicer.

I add lids and rings and let the jars sit in the hot water until I have gotten all the juice from one juicer load of grapes.
At our altitude I process the grape juice for 20 minutes since I don't sterilize the jars before I start (although they have been washed in the dishwasher).

It's important to keep the juice hot since the processing time includes the juice beginning at a higher temperature.

I usually get about 5 quarts of juice from one juicer load of grapes.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Fixing the Solar Light Post

We seem to buy new solar lights every three years or so because the plastic piece that attaches the light to the post gets broken.

I thought about what I could use to fix it and came up with this.

I removed the screw and the broken plastic piece from the bottom. I drilled a hole in a PVC cap, and screwed it to the bottom of the light using the original screw.

I haven't spray painted the cap yet. I did manage to spray paint the PVC pipe, which ended up being almost exactly the same color as the light itself.

Next I'll cut the PVC pipe to the size I need, and place the pipe on the rebar we have pounded in the flower beds.

Those little plastic spikes don't work in our rocky soil so we've been using rebar or 1/2" electrical conduit pounded into the ground instead.

The best part about the rebar and conduit is that they stay straight, the plastic spikes never did keep the light upright.