Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How to Wisely Empty Jars To Fill Them Again

What happens when you are canning from your garden and along comes 100 pounds of tomatoes, 60 pounds of pears, 60 pounds of peaches, and 40 pounds of apples? You run out of jars to put everything in.

With the high price of canning jars, I can't afford to buy any more of them and pay for all the fruit I had bought off the truck from Colorado. Even if I could afford it, I wouldn't have any space for any more jars on our food storage room shelves.

So the most logical option is to empty some of those I have from past years. Every canner knows you need to rotate your food or it gets old and looses nutrition. Plus, the fruit such as peaches and pears turns darker each year as it looses nutrition value besides not looking very appealing.

You and I both know how much work it is to can and so I'm not going to throw out all that hard work. So I don't. If it is green beans or the like, I feed it to the chickens or pigs. If it is fruit, I make fruit leather.

I suppose if I didn't have livestock I'd throw it in my compost heap but I prefer to put the food in that pile after it's final journey. Yup, when it's matured and landed on the ground. It's called manure but I think of it as brown gold for it starts the whole food cycle all over again.  Placed in a garden, it produces lots of vegetables which....  

Yesterday it was bottled peaches that were emptied so I'd have more jars. And since some store canned pineapple also needed to be used, I mixed the two.

 The peaches were from 2008 and the pineapple was from the same year. I don't mind the bottled food being three years old, though it is lower in vitamin levels then it was a couple years earlier, but I don't like store canned food getting that old. The food's acids eat the metal and when you eat the food -- yup, your eating the metal too. Normally, I don't let it get much past a year and a half.

I try not to have anything more than two years old in my food storage. I do want to have enough of fruits and vegetables to last me over a year since crops do fail. This year I didn't get very many jars of beets. My experiment of interplanting them amongst the broccoli didn't work so well because of the over crowding. I thought I'd timed the harvest of the two a bit better but the broccoli grew much faster than anticipated and overgrew the beets, shading them --lesson learned. I still have enough beets for this winter because I had a really good year two gardens ago. That left me free to experiment.

Without any real recipe, I put in the blender bottled peaches and canned pineapple that I'd drained the liquid from. Then I added just a tiny bit of sugar and turned it on liquify.

I poured the mixture into my fruit leather trays in my food dehydrator. I always fill the trays as high as they will allow, about  3/8ths an inch. This makes a nice thick leather that peels off easily from the plastic tray without ripping into pieces.
When dry, about 24 hours later, I tear off a piece of wax paper of comparable size.
Put the wax paper on top of the dried fruit roll up and then roll inward so the wax paper keeps the fruit from sticking to itself.

 If I make a large batch and wish to store it for an extended period of time I recommend using a seal-a-meal. The reason is there is still moisture in the leather or it would be brittle and not roll. I've also put fruit roll ups in a zip lock bag and put them in the freezer. Otherwise the quality is compromised if left more months.

 If the kids are around, they don't last that long. Our oldest daughter is coming up this weekend and she loves them. Her sister loves them and our grand daughters love them. I'd best save a few for our son because he too loves them.

Sometime this winter I guess I should go through my frozen fruit and see if any of it needs used up because it is getting old. Grandma -me- is always popular when she does this.  

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