Food Preservation May 21st-May 27th

There was a typo initially in the title that read as ‘May 275th’ and to be honest I’m not even sure that’s incorrect.

It’s hot here right now. It’s supposed to break soon but right now it’s inside of an oven, I know why people have outside kitchens hot. It coincides with a very short week and the funds to get stuff done, so I am working projects as long as I can stand to be in the kitchen and then moving on to other things for awhile and working like that on a cycle.

I have some projects that will be long term large size stockpiles this summer. My husband will eat as many dilly beans as a person puts in front of him and I finally hit the bottom of my 7 year old dried hot pepper stash. Both need to be as large as I can get them by the end of season. Same with the raspberry lemonade concentrate. It’s his favorite non-caffeinated beverage right now and I use to it make Italian sodas and rehydration drinks (add a little pink salt when you mix it). Same with tomatoes, I’m home canning my own and buying a can every time I do groceries. Even if we don’t go sideways this summer I still need to face Buffalo winters and my heat allergy.


Pandemic commentary or heat allergy? You decide

Food Preservation May 21-May 27th

raspberry coffee syrup-canned

raspberry lemonade concentrate

heirloom salsa

produce box pickles

produce box relish

dilly beans

pickled asparagus

dried jalapenos

dried peaches

dried apples

dried bananas

dried green beans


The Return of Produce Box Pickling-Pickling for Food Waste Prevention

The pandemic is making us all do weird things. I mean I think it’s expressing itself on all of us in odd and interesting behaviors.

In my case I’m afraid of touching everything in a grocery store. I don’t mean in that I worry about other people any more than I have ever been, but I feel like I personally am under a microscope more than I might have been in February.

What this means is that when I pick something up I feel a moral obligation to buy the damn thing, to probably a greater extent than they actually mean by the statement ‘don’t touch what you won’t buy’. It only really bothers me when it comes to produce.

Because I end up holding a half spongy cucumber being like what the $%^! am I going to do with this now. I would NOT buy this cucumber in pre virus world but here I am feeling like…produce guilt because it’s now My Cucumber.


Produce box pickling is a term I did not invent (I don’t think I did anyway) that is framed around grabbing everything that’s starting to get sad and lonely in your fridge and mix batching your pickles. So it’s being flexible with what’s going into your pickles instead of straight running a single vegetables.

So I brought home the sponge-umber,  cut off the worst of the sponge, and sliced it with a summer squash, a zucchini, and a single jalapeno. I chopped the vegetables into matchsticks and heavily salted the mix, and let sit in a colander in a bowl for a few hours to pull out the fluids.

After a few hours I made my base produce box brine (in the canning page link) with a dill seed variation and let the produce cook down in the brine for about 15 minutes. I ended up with just short of 2 pints of relish and sponge-umber found a use in life.

Yes, I am aware that I didn’t HAVE to bring the cucumber home. However I’m also sure that with it being as soft as it was it would have been tossed. I only lost about a quarter of the cucumber and ended up with a shelf stable product for future use.

A couple project notes: I used white vinegar for this run instead of ACV because that’s what was open, left out any dried hot peppers I might normally use because I used a jalapeno (though my household doesn’t think of jalapenos as hot necessarily), used a heavy hand on dill seed, and didn’t salt the brine because I really did lean into the salt because I used table as opposed to pickling cucumber and they tend to run much more wet. I do hot pack my relish as stated above and I had little to no left over relish post processing. I processed for about 10 minutes in half pints and a 12 oz jar.


Reusable Canning Experiment-Phase 1

I think my canning stockpile is getting to where I feel more comfortable using the traditional two part lid system. I have been picking up lids every time I find them, though never more than a box or two, and I check jar prices every few days and hit decent sales when I find them.

However I have been moving into a mindset where I want to get into more reusable methods because I know me. We’re only at the end of May and my concerns on food waste have me microbatching a lot more than I might on a normal year. Factoring in the things I normally can heavily on a normal year and I’m looking at reusable methods for several reasons including price and waste.

So I’m sitting at my first week with reusable methods. To define the term, because I know at least one person is sitting there thinking mason jars are reusable by default. I am talking specifically about systems designed for the lids to be reused, normally with a rubber gasket.

Currently the three systems I’m testing are Harvest Guard, Tattler, and Weck.



You’re going to hear a lot of mixed noise about Weck and I’m starting with them because they’re the system with the biggest learning curve and where I had my first true lid failure I think ever, honestly. However it was totally me. It was complete user error.

They’re finicky. They’re gorgeous but finicky. You have to heat the gasket with the lid in hot water, make sure the gasket is fit over the lid, seat it correctly and clamp it into place with a separate clamp system.

Guess what I didn’t do first run? Any of that. Guess what didn’t seal the first run? I have another run cooling now and just visually I can tell that they’re at least trying to seal even if I don’t hit it this time. I figured out 90% of the ‘correct’ way just by troubleshooting the first run on my own. If the other 10% gets me in the end will be determined.

Weck jars have no FDA testing behind them but they’re the primary jar style in Europe. Make your own decisions based on that info. There is no plastic whatsoever in this style. However I also spent $20 after gift cards on 6 jelly jars. You pay for these jars.

Harvest Guard

Harvest Guard is a brand of American made reusable lids. You get a plastic lid and a gasket. They’re controversial because there’s something like a 30% failure rate however I will also say that again my own lid failure is my own misuse. This is also why I completely misused the Wecks the first time, because this was my first use of a gasket and with Harvest Guard you DO seat the gasket first and then the lid. So I just sort of went with that pattern with the Wecks.

The trick to this style of lid is that you do not tighten down to process. You tighten after the run is cooling. This is where my failure comes in, I went to tighten the rings at the appropriate time and the ring was already as tight as it was going to go. That was me, not the lid. The other three lids in my sample pack went on fine. I will get getting more of these lids.


Tattler is the most recognized of these types of lids. I have a sample pack coming and will come back to this when I run them.


I’m putting this as a separate point. Every company except Harvest Guard will be very direct about only using a gasket once. Most bloggers will too. However there’s also a certain amount of wink wink nudge because most people seem to run gaskets until they degrade. The wording is suggestive of this too, as in, do not use gaskets that look worn out. I do intend to rerun gaskets at least as an experiment. I’ll report back later.

In Defense of Microbatching

YAY one of the posts I’ve been saying has been coming for weeks now.

Now that I’m semi permanently work from home I watch a lot of Youtube videos while I work, and I have been watching a lot of homesteading and homestead adjacent channels. I was watching one of the canning for beginner videos that came up on auto play and the teacher said, almost with a literal sniff, ‘there is absolutely no reason to microbatch and I absolutely do not recommend it when you could just spend 6 hours and get your entire years worth done in a day’.

Ok. Hold up. Back up a second. It’s time for this post.

I have written on this before but that was prior to our descent into a cthonic hellscape. If anything I am MORE supportive than ever of microbatching.


A Couple of Points

I define microbatch here as anything you can reasonably source in a grocery trip run or a single day’s harvest. Microbatching is sometimes seen as being suggestive of something like two quarter pints and while that’s certainly a microbatch, assume something along the lines of ‘fits in a 12 quart stockpot without having to get out the enameled canner’

Microbatching does NOT impact my electric bill that much; even with being at home 24/7, cooking all the time, canning, running a camp sized washing machine, running a dehydrator, my husband gaming all the time, etc, my electric bill only went up by $4. That may be an actual defense but I feel like I’ve seen it said as a weakness, that you’re spiking electric usage for such a small output but I haven’t seen that to be true.

In Defense of Microbatching

Price-it is a lot easier to navigate and surf sales when you don’t need 20 bushels of a single produce item. You can still end up with the same total yearly output, but if you’re buying whatever crop it can be easier to even out the changes in pricing

Food waste-I have lost a single bell pepper since March 14th. March 14th was my first day of home leave, that’s the only reason I remember that date. There is a lot of ways of going about this including freezing whatever you have until you have enough that it IS worth running a canner for, but you can save a lot more food than you think if you stop thinking about canning as something where you need to put up 12 quarts at minimum

Availability-look I can’t tell you for certain that stuff will be harder to find this year. But I can’t tell you that it won’t be either. There is always a possibility that your personal buying power will be limited.

Crop size-it is possible to be ultra productive in an average backyard garden. It is also entirely possible your yield will be three cucumbers and a pound of tomatoes. You don’t HAVE to can that but there’s no reason not to can it either.

Material availability-similar to food availability, you may just not be able to even source enough lids to run massive batches this year. I’m hearing rumbles from various parts of the country that stuff is getting scarce and until we sort out supply chain stability issues you may not be able to run the size batches you’re used to.

Family size-not everyone has 10 people they’re trying to feed. Not everyone needs 100 quarts of tomatoes.

Storage space limitations-I know a lot of homesteaders like to sneer about this (don’t act like it’s not true we all know it’s true) but not everyone is prepping on 100 acres off grid. Plenty of people are prepping in apartments and don’t intend on sleeping on their canning stash.

Variety-this is a completely legitimate reason and one that is weirdly controversial though I’m not sure why. Not everyone WANTS 12 pints of just plain strawberry jam, and microbatching is where you can play with styles and flavors with more ease than with bigger batches, unless you have the need for massive amounts of canned product and the access to the produce.

Time-can we please work on giving up the idea that everyone suddenly has all the time in the world right now? I’m not sure why we all keep going along with this myth when everyone I know is working harder than ever. I am working a full time job including testing and overtime as well as effectively being a full time stay at home homemaker right now. I don’t -have- 6 hours at a stretch to just knock out a full year’s yield. I might be able to justify an hour or two a day at different points in my schedule. And I don’t even have kids. People who juggling education and childcare in there probably have even less guaranteed time access. I am well aware that people make it work, I am just saying that if your argument is just dedicate the time we don’t all have the time TO dedicate in a single block.

Phrase of the day is ‘not everyone’ and I’m not sure I have the mental energy to try to change it.

Food Preservation May 14th-May 20th

There really isn’t a good time necessarily to break something in your foot but I guess if I’m forced by circumstance to not walk the hill every day is probably as good as time as any. I had an incident with a foot stool and thought with some clarity, the fact that this doesn’t hurt right now even as I feel something crunch in my foot tells me this is not going to end well. However even with my daily commute ending at the living room couch every day doesn’t mean I’ve been off of it because I am in fact not an intelligent person. I was actually pretty ok on it until I went to run an errand for my husband and realized this was going to be a very not enjoyable experience.

I have a couple of posts percolating in the back of my brain including why micro batching in a pandemic isn’t as off the wall as it sounds (save. everything. you. can.) and my potential/developing experiment with reusable canning lids but I have to get there first.


Raspberry lemonade concentrate-my husband’s life blood at this point.

As an aside I find it a little…weird that Ball is still being like ‘buy our stuff’ when we both know there’s no stuff to buy, Ball, you’re not producing for obvious reasons and I’m getting emails on lid orders telling me that they’ll fill it…eventually. Maybe there’s a post there too, about how I’m ordering supplies from random Midwestern farm stores at this point.


Food Preservation May 14th-May 20th

half gallon whole milk-frozen

pineapple salsa-frozen

strawberry butter-about half a pint (this one was way, way off of estimated yield)

lemonade concentrates-blackberry, raspberry, blueberry-a lot. just…a lot. This may be tied with dilly beans in my husband’s heart

1 pound roma tomatoes-dried

1 pound nectarines-dried

8 oz mushrooms-dried

bbq sauce- 3/4 quart

tomato jam-about a pint

apple pie bourbon-quart jar

raspberry blood orange vodka-pint jar

dilly beans-about 2 quarts

2020 Canning List

So I did sit down and wrote out a list, and I might as well put it on here if only for record keeping. I don’t necessarily ‘promote’ this blog anymore, that’s a pit of time and effort that I never really got any reward out of.

Basically I’m ok with talking to myself right now and whoever wanders by.


It needs a photo and this playlist makes me happy right now


Cranberry Sauce

Lemonade concentrates-this is my favorite project right now and I’m about three batches in already. I will be writing on this one in full later

Firestarter-this one is on the site a couple of times over, and I’m not sure I can run a canner and NOT do this one at this point.

Apple pear jam-see above. My husband will not let me get away with not making this one, I even hunted down some Pomona for the project.

Dilly beans-he will literally tantrum if I don’t restock these. He went and got his ‘favorite’ jars just for this project. Soon Mid, soon.

Tomatoes-all and sundry. I’ve already made tomato jam

Dill pickles

Hot peppers-probably will be run plain. Just vinegar and salt

Bbq sauce-I did a batch this weekend and ended up at Ted’s hotdog sauce. This may be a season’s project trying to find ‘my’ recipe

Mint and raspberry syrups

Sweet pickles


Stone fruits-I’m putting this in one giant ball because I want canned peaches, plum jam, peach jam, etc





Food Preservation for May 5th-May 13th


Ironically this didn’t go up yesterday because I was actually running a canner, setting up a dryer and doing other prep work. I didn’t forget, I was too busy to do it. As it is I’m too busy right now to write the post I wanted for this week so that may come later this week.

I need to pull out my to can lists for prior years because I’m honestly sitting here trying to remember what I used to run and coming up short.

Weekly Preservation

About a pound of organic kale, half a bunch of spinach, and about one and half bunches of dandelion, dried-I am currently at my stockpile ceiling for dried greens. They can wait at least a month*

8 oz mushrooms, dried

Carrots-three pounds, baby. 1 pound canned, about 1 1/2 pound dried (at my stockpile ceiling until June), about half a pound as fridge pickles*

Apples-dried, cinnamon dried, and fruit leather

Pears-dried and fruit leather

Lemons-in salt, and in sugar (more on that in a later post), candied and dried

Strawberries-4 lbs, dried, and frozen for future projects

Bananas-legion, dried. My husband, Goddess blessed him, sat down for a snack one day and completely wiped out the stockpile. I have no idea how many pounds I dehydrated before that, what I’ve dehydrated since, and I have two pounds from our last food drop to go onto the dryer.

*For things that are at stockpile ceiling I stop drying them for at least a month. The only adjustment to that is if I have something I want to save but I don’t like it in any other form, like greens.




Starting to Preserve Food/Food Preservation for April 29-May 5th


I’m starting to get into food preservation in a big way again.

Me and like every other homesteader on the planet I think.

There’s been a lot of noise about food, food stability, supply chains, and access lately. And it’s completely understandable, when our time is now measured ‘pre pandemic’ and ‘post pandemic’ it’s a little…naive to not recognize that we’re in a period of massive upheaval.

I should tell you that I’m a homesteader and prepper by training but I was also raised in a HEAVY hard science family, from rocket science into meteorology…and medicine. I will not tolerate conspiracy theory, how ‘they’re suppressing the facts, man’, bs insults like ‘sheeple’, or how you know someone who knows someone who knows someone who can like totally prove it’s all media noise.

I also live in the second largest city in New York. I am ready for a fight y’all. I get angry under stress and I’m telling you I’m not above fighting in my own comments.

Anyway. Food preservation.

I have some tips for food preservation in a time of upheaval. I have written on this in the past but without some of the fun and interesting complications of a global disruption events. This is written more for the people who are truly just hitting the ground running so this is going to feel very intro level. And this is going to be a longer entry than what I normally write.

Getting into Food Preservation

There are a couple very obvious ‘big name’ preservation types that will probably come to mind even if it’s ‘zombie invasion’ memes or your grandma, frankly. As an aside, I was promised on Facebook that this was going to be ‘fae come back to the mounds and start eating us’ month and you gave me murder hornets. I am unimpressed. I am actually less afraid of the sluagh than I am of stinging insects.


This is the future the discordian gods want.


You may need to think beyond canning. I will get into why in a second. I have been drying basically anything I can get onto my Nesco. I even dried yogurt the other day (that’s still up in the air in terms of repetition, but you can do it). Dehydration, freezing, air drying, fermentation, oven drying, meat preservation like biltong which yes is just a fourth style of drying, tinctures, and yes, canning.

I am telling you that you might want to get beyond canning because the entire world is now telling you to start canning at the time of year when it was already low canning supply stock season on top of manufacturing disruptions. As in…you may literally not be able to find lids here soon if everyone is telling everyone else to ‘just can stuff’. And yes, I love canning and there are things that are better handled by canning than say dehydration. I can’t tell you what next month will bring and maybe we’re going to be able to easily access supplies but we also could be feeding all that excess milk to our Hoard overlords, I rule literally nothing out as a Pagan homesteader in 2020.

*Under normal circumstances I would never say stuff like this and I KNOW it’s controversial so don’t make noise about it. Don’t do anything that you are not fully comfortable with and I can’t make that call for you as a person. You can in theory re run canning lids. The issue is are they going to seal, and if they do, are they going to fail in the long run. That’s why they tell you do not re run lids, the failure rate is much higher and much more chaotic/random than with new lids. But you CAN do it. Supposedly older lids have a better success rate with this. You also have a higher access to food grade plastic than you might be comfortable with and in an era with harder access to glass canning jars with is when I suggest shifting to it and saving as many jars as you can for actual canning. Coffee cans and Gatorade bottles are both good for holding dried items and are already tested for food storage. Several brands of spaghetti sauce and other store sold food items come in Ball produced jars and you can run them in water bath canners. Water bath. I’m stressing that. Water bath.

Also, reminder, you can do high acid foods in a water bath but if you want to do beans, meat, etc you’re going to need a pressure canner. Or freeze it.

Preserving Seasonally


This is always important but it may be hella important for at least the next growing season. Watch what’s in season, google it if you have no idea what you’re looking at. Seasonal food, even when purchased from a conventional store, is going to be higher quality and cheaper than trying to work with out of season foods. Sometimes you might have no choice/just want to mix foods that aren’t in season but you can help keep pricing down by using seasonal guides, as in, if you want to work with lemons mix them with strawberries in early summer.

This will also be helpful because as a person who grew up in a farming community with a giant backyard garden, as in I’ve been around plants for decades, please stop telling people a victory garden is a guaranteed path to food stability. I have gotten into a LOT of fights about this over the past few months. I am NOT telling you not to plant if you have the ability, I am telling you that flooding, droughts, pests, mineral depletion, time restraints, health concerns, and old fashion shit luck are all things and crop failure exists. You can find yourself with a thousand tomatoes and literally nothing else. That’s great because you don’t need to buy any tomatoes for the year. You’re probably not going to want to live off of just tomatoes. So find your seasonal charts and preserve off of that once you have your stockpiles to where you want with your basic foods.

*It’s not as pivotal if you’re buying already preserved foods unless you’re going straight to producer for them, in season. Know that when you go to Aldi or similar regardless of time of year that frozen and canned food is probably not in season food. If you buy pickles at a farmer’s market next to a mountain of cucumbers they very well may be in season but they’re already preserved so you have to ask yourself your personal feelings on that one, does it actually matter? I can’t answer that question for you.

I’m not touching on wildcrafting because I really don’t have that much of a knowledge base there. By all means go for it if you do or can access someone with the skills base, and it will DEFINITELY be driven by seasonal shifts.

Know Your Stockpile Limits


Dandelion Chai

A family of 10 is going to have radically different needs than a couple with no children. I’m guessing you do not have lion’s mane and reishi next to your carrots the way that I do. Part of a successful food stockplile is knowing what you actually need and how much. I am drying increasingly large amounts of apples and bananas every week because I haven’t hit the ceiling yet with what a functional amount of both looks like for me. I dried one eggplant once and haven’t done that since.

There’s a lot of factors that go into this including household size, frequency of use, storage space limitations, and monetary restraints. This will require an investment in overhead at first. There are ways of mitigating that but yes there will be a required amount of money put into it one way or another. The easiest way to start with what you need to put into your stockpile is ‘what do you already eat in the highest quantity’ and go from there. My husband takes dried fruit every day on the truck so we go through a lot. That eggplant is still sitting there. If you never use jelly don’t make it. If you hate pickles don’t get into pickling. It seems obvious but I have had a lot of conversations over the last decade that amounted to ‘I don’t know why I made three gallons of bread and butter pickles, none of us like them’. There will be failures of one form or another as you go (cough: eggplant) but you will definitely cut down on them by thinking about what you already use.

The big thing with this is a rotting stockpile is a waste of space and money, and is arguably immoral. If you have fifteen pounds of carrots to put up at the end of harvest rock out. But don’t buy more carrots in three months unless you actually drained those carrots by that point. When you’re first preserving you might find yourself feeling like crap this is a ton of food, but it’s easily it’s a ton of food -right now-. It’ll get easier a couple of years in when you can watch your stash for things like I still have jam from 2020 I should pull back there.

Weekly Preservation


I don’t have yields this week, I wasn’t paying that much attention for the sake of recording it.

Assume dried if not specified like jam

-five pound bag of fuji apples (baked with some), both plain and spiced

-2 1/2 pints strawberry ginger jam

-quarter pint dried ginger and turmeric root

-dried oranges and lemon, plain

-dried citrus, spiced

-white potatoes

-organic bananas

-apple strawberry fruit leather, one tray



-spinach and kale


Powdered Coffee Creamer

It’s been one of those years where I look up and it’s early May. It’s not inherently a problem. However it is reminding me of that folk statement about time moving faster as you age.

I’m 32. I don’t want to think I’m at that point where I’m losing months.

I’ve been fighting this monster and am too stubborn to give up.

Dyngus Day has come and gone.

It’s iced coffee season again and I keep throwing money away on liquid creamer I forget to put back in the fridge. Powdered doesn’t need to be cold.

This is basically flavored powdered milk. I do use S.wagbucks to food prep via Amazon and order full fat powder. I don’t know where I grabbed this from, I did drop the added fat.

Powdered Creamer

1 cup dry milk

Spices- favored, I used pumpkin spice and turmeric

2 or 3 packets stevia
I put everything  [a tablespoon or so or spice and maybe half a teaspoon of turmeric] in a jar and shake hard. I reshape before use. I don’t miss the mouth feel of the extra fat, but I also use the full fat powder.

5. Bake an Apple Pie


We are finally sleeping at the new place. We’re not fully moved out of the old apartment, but we have officially started living in my new home.

The shininess of it all is still shiny enough that I feel special and sort of woo woo positive about setting up new housing and home based rituals. I have not had a formal kitchen table since I had an on-campus apartment in grad school so I’m still enjoying the ability to actually set a table and eat at a table. We made a rule based on both an attempt to keep our new furniture as nice as possible for as long as possible, and the summer of bugs, that we wouldn’t eat in the living room. We have a small space built into the kitchen that’s big enough for a small table to act like a separate dining space.

I needed a break from packing last night, plus it was raining and already dark by the time I got out of work [I’m one of those people who work four ten hour shifts between Wednesday and Saturday]. I hadn’t tested the oven yet and decided it was time for a pie.


I don’t scratch my pies, not really. Pie crust is one of the products I fully admit to buying in a box. Mine are terrible, on a level where the amount of years necessary to improve them daunts me and I just find it easier to buy a box of crusts. I don’t peel my apples unless I’m really bored or looking for ways of filling time. I normally toss them with sugar, flour, and pumpkin spice but I just went with cinnamon this time [better quality cinnamon than I normally have in the house, however]. A little bit of butter.

It came out of the oven around 11 last night, and I went straight to bed. This morning I got up before Mid, set up his plate for breakfast, made his coffee. Wandered off to do whatever.

When I came back into the front of the apartment he was sprawled in front of Star Trek, on the couch. With the pie.

Our plan of not eating in the living room made it a full 24 hours.