Monday, September 1, 2014

Canning With Old Crown and Corona Jars

I bought this mixed box of old crown and corona canning jars this spring.  I had been wanting to try the old style jars for canning salsa, because no matter how much head space I leave, by mid winter my salsa tends to develop a tinny taste.  I had already removed most of the lids when I decided to take pictures.
12 complete jars, $3
I prepared the salsa for canning, then thought maybe I should read up on how to use these...  There's not a lot of info out there, and most of it says not to...  I asked Mom, and she said she never had good luck with them.  But I did find this, which said it's just like using tattler reusable lids.  Well, I read a couple of blogs by people who've tested the tattlers.  I went and read through those posts.  Ok.  I think I get the idea.  Just to be sure, I went and checked tattler's website.

I washed and sterilized the jars.
Jars ready to use
Of the 12, one jar had a bit of a dip in the rim.  It didn't really feel broken, but not quite right.  One lid had a small crack in the edge, and one ring didn't tighten- just kept spinning.
One 'broken' jar
 I scrubbed, then scalded the lids and gaskets.
Scalding lids
Uh oh.  My funnel is just a tad too big to fit inside the corona jars.  It just fit in the crown jars.  I removed the gaskets from the scalding water just before I started filling the jars.

Gaskets go on the freshly wiped rims.  I used a pair of tongs to lift the lids out of the scalding water and set them on top of the gaskets.
Setting the lids
I tightened the rings just finger tight, then loosened 1/4 inch.  Then into the canner.

4 quarts of salsa with old style jars, 1 regular pint.
As soon as they were done processing I tightened the rings as much as I could.
Out of the canner

There were a couple of interesting parts to this experiment.  I remember when I first started canning properly, instead of 'the way Mom did it'.  Mom and Dad would come over and see canning jars on the counter, and Mom would tell Dad, 'tighten those up for her'.  And I'd yell 'no' and rush to protect my jars, lol.  I'm guessing that was a remnant from the old glass lid days.  I think my grandpas must have tightened a lot of jars for my grandmas.  Dad always tightened moms jar rings after they had started to cool.  By the time I was old enough to remember canning Mom was only canning fruit and jams, freezing all the veggies- except for one tomato juice disaster that exploded all over the kitchen.

It's interesting that the gasket boxes say that the gaskets are for 'fruit jars'.  Most of the issues I read about involved pressure canning.  Perhaps they should only be used for water bath canning.

The other interesting thing, I think, is using 'new' technology to figure out the 'old' technology- the tattler lid method.  I'd still like to buy a few sets of tattler lids some day, but if the glass lids work for me, this is a much cheaper method of solving my salsa problems.


After cooling, I removed the rings and gently tilted the jars over the sink.
Finished product
First one was good (Yeah!).  Second one dripped.  (Ugh.)  Third one was good.  Fourth one dripped.  Hmmm...

I took the lids off the two drippers, wiped the rims, warmed the gaskets, and reprocessed.

When I took them out of the canner, the ring was TILTED on one of the jars.  Crap.  I straightened it and tightened it anyway.

This morning...  One sealed, one still dripping.  Not a big surprise.

I think the problem is the rings are worn out.  I will attempt marking them to tell which rings are on jars that seal, and if other rings repeatedly fail.  And I'll take a peak on amazon and see if I can get replacement rings.

As for the last unsealed jar, I will set it in the fridge and attempt reprocessing this afternoon with a batch of pickles.

Have you ever used these old style jars?  Is the method correct?  Any other thoughts about what might be going wrong?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Tools

 Barb did a lovely post about doing and fixing things herself and it got me thinking about how my skills have improved through the years, and the way I work around the things that haven't improved so much.

 I took shop classes in high school.  Tools and tables built for young (short) people.  I could use a drill press, a lathe, a variety of saws, hand tools, etc, to some degree.  In real life, tools tend to be big and bulky and built for men.

A few weeks ago I was putting some skirting on my mom's add-a-room for her, the drill slipped out of the screw and I did that lurch/crash into the wall thing. 

Mom said, "Don't hurt yourself!"

I said, "If you didn't want me to hurt myself, you should have given me a hammer and nails!"

I don't have a lot of strength in my arms, so to use a drill I have to put all of my weight into it.  Hammers are easier.  Every hardware store has a selection of hammers in various sizes.  Finding a hammer the right length and weight to swing comfortably is pretty easy.

Saws are funny.  I wanted to fix a deck on a rental place years ago, hated the handsaw, ran out to Canadian Tire and bought myself a skill saw.  It got the job done at the time, but for the most part, it didn't get much use until I met Husband.  I avoided cutting, because for me, it was awkward and uncomfortable.  I still tease him that I've had that saw longer than I've had him.

He came with a jig saw.  That was much easier for me to handle, but took forever to get anything done.  Eventually, we bought a band saw, and a table saw.  He still did most of the cutting.  It was still awkward and uncomfortable for me.

Then a few years ago, when my Dad was working on the trailer, I met and fell in love with a mitre saw.  Before long I had one of my very own.  For the most part, it lets me get the job done.  We use a lot of 1X3's, 1X4's, 2X4's, 2X6's and 1X6's.  No problem slicing through them with my mitre saw.  I work on the ground (I'm short, it's not that far away), so I don't have to lift heavy boards up and attempt to keep them balanced. 

But occasionally, I'm still confronted with the need to cut a sheet of plywood.  Ugh.  For the longest time, it was still a wait 'til Husband can cut it thing.  Occasionally, I'd get impatient and try the skill saw again- guaranteed for a crooked cut.  Obviously the answer was just to avoid plywood- which I do, but...  Sometimes you really need to use plywood.  There's just no avoiding it.

Well, my chain saw skills have improved well through the years.  Couldn't be worse than the skill saw, could it?  Nope, not at all...  For me, the chainsaw is a vital construction tool, with the added bonus of being portable and cordless.

I have mini bolt cutters that I use for all sorts of wire cutting from electric fence to hardware cloth.

After years of struggling with a staple gun, this is on my current wish list.  Wouldn't that be easier?  When was it invented, and why didn't anyone tell me?

Sometimes you just need to step back and take another look.  So what if it's not the way men have been doing it for years?  If it works for you, and gets the job done, then it's as right as it needs to be!

Friday, August 22, 2014

One More Batch

After selling the last batch, I put another 29 eggs in the incubator. Despite some temperature fluctuations this month, 17 chicks have hatched so far.
Chicks just hatched
Chicks moved into box with heat lamp
Most are happy, healthy, energetic balls of fluff.
The first black chick (barred rock cross)
We even have one black chick- bigger than most of the yellow chicks.  This should be a barred rock cross.

But then, there are a couple of chicks with issues, that are unlikely to survive.
Issues- this chick hatched with a dark goopy string across it's back.  It's smaller than the rest.  The goop is drying up, but I think it might be intestine or something not properly developed.
Issue #2- this chick has it's head stuck to a chunk of shell.  It's not walking and the others are picking at it.
Again, I will leave the incubator on today, but I think they're probably done.  59% hatch rate.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Princess

Separated from her mother, and finally tagged.  We were busy getting ready for the boys to leave for camp, garden, and firewood, etc.  Princess didn't get tagged until Sunday.
Princess, June 2014
She was a little harder to wrangle and tag yesterday, having gained a few pounds and a whole lot of muscle!
Princess, August 2014
She went to the auction yesterday morning.  The price of beef is running high, too high to even think about keeping her. 
Princess in the auction ring
I got $2.20/lb for her.  I probably could have gotten more, but I chickened out on the bidding.  At 190 lbs, I really can't complain.  She paid for her mother's hay last winter, plus a little profit.

Friday, August 15, 2014

More Rain

We had a short break in the rain this morning, so I ran out to water the greenhouses.
Weeds, and a few veggies, enjoying the rain.
Except when I got there, I had no water.  Back to the house- did I forget to turn on the hose?  Nope, it's on.  I turned it up a little.

Back to the garden.  No water.  Walk back, tracing the hose step by step.  No kinks.

Raining again.  Forget it.  Go shut the hose off.  Well, there you go.  I guess I forgot to switch the splitter from pasture to garden.  Maybe later...

After three days of rain, and a high of 9°C (48°F) yesterday, I finally gave in and lit a fire last night.  I hate wasting fire wood this early in the year, but shivering all night isn't likely to motivate me to doing anything productive today.

It's our anniversary today.  15 months since Dad died.  I'm ok with the word 'happy' now.  The first year every time someone said 'happy', I either cried or looked at them like they had sprouted another head.  Happy Birthday, Happy Mother's Day, Happy Hallowe'en, Happy New Year...  Seriously?  Happy seemed like such a cruel concept.

I'm still not happy.  But at least I'm not crying.  And I guess you only have one head now.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Pruning

Pumpkin Ville
The first week of August has passed.  I'm a bit behind.  Last year I started pinching off the suckers on the tomato plants on the first of August.  This year, I started yesterday.  We haven't had any frost warnings yet, so, so far, I'm not picking any tomatoes.

I cut the ends off the pumpkin vines.  So sad...  They were doing so great, and buried in the mass of weeds I've seen a few good sized pumpkins already.  Never the less, I need the plants to get serious about ripening the pumpkins I already have, not growing more vine.

I cut the ends off of some of the Far North Melons as well.  Some of them are buried in the pumpkin mess, and I have no idea how they're faring.  I love the sight of the little melons.  They look like tiny watermelons, with speckled skin.  So cute, lol.

I'm not holding much hope for the watermelons.  Still flowering, but I haven't seen any melons starting.  Not much time left now.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Inventory

Canning season is about to begin! 
Raspberries Ready to Pick
 And I haven't taken inventory yet of what's left in the basement, so here goes... 
Lots of empty jars

Ok, somebody slap me.  Did I cook at all last year?


Lemon lime Concentrate 17 1/2 pints (the boys don't care for it- too sour)
Lemonade 11 pints
Dill pickles 35 quarts (some are discoloured and I will toss out to the birds)
Tomato juice 7 1.36L cans (store bought, but if I get enough tomatoes I'll make my own to fill the shelf)
Beets 26.5 quarts
 
Mixed Fruit 22 quarts (really?  they could have helped themselves to that...)
Cabbage 1 quart (thought I was out!)
Pectin 11 1/2 pint
Tallow 9 quarts
Yellow beans 15 pints
Salsa 11.5 pints
Pasta sauce 11 quarts (store bought, but if I get enough tomatoes I'll make my own to fill the shelf)
Relish- dill pickle- 3 pints
Relish- sweet 3 pints (this turned out not too bad once it had a chance to stew in it's juices)
Pea soup - 10 pints
Cr. Of Celery- 2 pints
Stew- 4 pints
Ham and Potato soup- 8 pints
Cr. Of Mushroom- 6 pints (blech...  I liked it at first, but after a while, not so much.  Now I'm dreading having to use the rest of it up.)
Strawberry jam- 9 pints
Too blue raspberry jam- 7 1/2 pints
Pumpkin butter- 7 1/2 pints (I'm afraid to eat it now, and don't know how to get rid of it.)
Raspberry sauce- 16.5 pints
Mint jelly- 2 pints
Blueberry jam- 9 pints
Rosehip syrop- 4 pints (No pancakes all winter?)
Crabapple syrop- 3 pints
Watermelon jam- 6 pints
Chokecherry jam- 4.5 pints (I might as well toss these.  Too sour)
Crabapple jelly- 8 pints
Blueberry sauce- 8 1/2 pints
Crabapple sauce- 5 pints

Ok, so I did cook, just not particularly well.  I was still a little out of my mind last winter.  One day at a time.

Ok, so, I need more juice.  Wine is going well, but doesn't go with breakfast.  The boys enjoyed the grape juice, I thought it tasted like sugar water.  We mixed it with the crabapple juice and both disappeared.  So I could do another batch of those.

The Blueberry Limeade is a hit, so if I freeze enough blueberries I should be able to mix them with the lemon lime concentrate and use it up.  I'll try a jug and see if that sweetens it enough.

Rhubarb juice is a big hit, but we only get enough rhubarb to drink it through the summer.

I found a recipe for Watermelon Raspberry Juice, but I haven't tried it yet.  It would be a good way to use up the part of the watermelon that won't fit in the fridge.  I also found instructions to make berry juices, which I need to try, and rosehip juice.  Having a good supply of jams, sauces and syrops will leave me ample fruit to experiment with different juices.

I'll make more dill pickles, but quit when I run out of dill.

Cabbage- huge hit.
Salsa- 11.5 pints left from 49
Relish- need more plain boring relish, and maybe some more sweet relish too.
Mint Jelly- one batch will be plenty

Tomato sauce and juice will depend on how many ripe tomatoes I get this year.

Pincherry and chokecherry wine are on the to-do list.  I might try elderberry juice instead of wine.