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Ring Toss

January 27, 2015

Wow, looking at these photos sure takes me back to the summer garden.  Tomatoes, corn, and peas fresh from the garden, oh my.  We eat as much fresh as we can, but we do preserve summer’s bounty too.

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Tomato sauce – pints and quarts

Preserving the summer harvest is not inexpensive even if you grow your own.  Jars, rings and lids all add to the expense.  Jars and rings are reusable for canning, but the metal canning lids are not.  But I find other uses for them.  There are reusable plastic canning lids on the market also with mixed reviews, they are expensive, and I have chosen not to switch over, they may work fine.  The failure rate of the lids is about the same as using a band for castration, you may have a sealed jar or a steer, or you may have a jar of spoiled food and a bull… .  I like to stick with proven methods.

green arrow peas ready for the freezer

green arrow peas ready for the freezer

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Sweet corn ready for the freezer

Over the years our tastes have changed, we eat different, we garden different, we preserve different.  I no longer can summer vegetables or many fruits in large amounts to eat over the winter.  More cold hardy vegetables and root cellared roots make it into our winter diet.  Ferments also take on a big role.  But, we still like some summer foods during winter.  Who can begrudge that pork stew a bit of sweet corn?

We also want to use the least amount of plastic for food storage as we can because of plastic components possibly leaching into our foods.  My OB/GYN told me plastic may have contributed to fibroids I had…I took the advice to heart, we still use some plastic, but if a jar will work that’s my first choice.

All those little 8 ounce jam jars I used to fill with jam?  They make perfect containers for many foods that we want to add to other dishes.  A cup of corn in the stew, perfect.  I used to freeze sweet corn in freezer bags and was always disappointed in the finished product after a few months.  Foodsaver® bags would work well, but I wanted to go a different route.  Plus frugality has to figure in there too.

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Frugality   –  Re-purposing of one time use canning lids.

Since I freeze quite a bit of our food in canning jars, I save the lids for re-use as freezing lids.  If you open the jars with a spoon you can save the lid in good enough condition to use it for airtight storage.

Slide a tablespoon positioned upside down, around the topmost thread of your canning jar.  When it comes to where it feels like you can’t push it any farther, GENTLY pry upwards on the spoon handle.  This will break the seal, giving you an intact lid ready for another job.

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Romesco

Going a little further on the frugality bent, I sort my canning rings too.  They warp, they rust, and even if I am meticulous about removing the rings, washing and drying them within 24 hours of canning, they still wear out and can prevent a good seal.  So any rings that I don’t deem worthy of actual canning get put aside for “sealing” food jars destined for the freezer.

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Over time the lids become like old friends, and a wealth of food preservation minutiae.  An actual date, 6/5/12 tells me that that lid sealed some of the first butter from Jane.  04 tells me the first use of this lid was for canned nectarines, I know because I don’t can peaches or pears, and since it’s a wide mouth lid, it had to be nectarines since I firmly stick to old 4-H teachings of frugality and practicality.  Wide mouth jars are expensive compared to narrow mouth, and for foods that require hand packing.  None of this is important to anyone but me, but it adds a snapshot or glimpse of our home-produced food.  The long two-year wait from Jane’s birth to butter.

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One day she’s a wobbly calf with a human mama, and in a blink of an eye she’s an integral part of the farmstead, providing comfort in the way of food, friendship and fertilizer.  That’s a lot of memories from a date scribbled in Sharpie on a boring old canning lid.

 

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. January 27, 2015 1:42 pm

    Good comments about canning and supply costs. This past summer I actually worked for 3 months as a farm hand on an organic farm here in the Willamette Valley and took home produce seconds…canned a lot. Freezer space is at a premium because we have gotten to know our protein producers nearby and buy in bulk. Loving this!!!

  2. efrompdx permalink
    January 27, 2015 2:13 pm

    I do the same thing with lids. Plus, anything that is stored dry gets a recycled lid, and any jars that are doing commuter duty get recycled lids. Brand new lids are reserved for anything going in the water bath or pressure canner.

  3. Kathy permalink
    January 27, 2015 2:56 pm

    Would you please explain how you freeze corn and peas? I did peppers diced and layed
    Them on cookie sheet til frozen then placed in plastic bags! Love the reuse of lids!!

    • January 27, 2015 5:01 pm

      Kathy, unfortunately every vegetable except peppers needs blanching before you freeze them, so I just follow the instructions in the Ball Blue Book for vegetable you want to freeze, usually it’s about one or two minutes, cool, and then freeze in the container of your choice 🙂

  4. Tara permalink
    January 27, 2015 7:46 pm

    Love the label history. When I make my summer butter, I put a couple of words about what’s going on that day. Yesterday, I pulled out a jar of frozen summer butter that had “drippy, sun-warmed peaches” and it brought me right back to sitting on the deck, eating those glorious peaches with my daughters.

    One thing, in an attempt to avoid all plastic, I was preserving with my glass lid, zinc jars. After too many failures, I started trying out Weck jars. The Weck jars are glorious. They’re more expensive, but the quality of the glass is excellent and the failure rate is minuscule. The plastics on the metal lids, pictured, definitely leach into foods, especially things like tomatoes. I know the Ball has come out with a BPA-free lid now, but I’m sure we’ll be hearing about whatever other chemicals are in there in another ten years or so. Am I getting cynical in my old age?

    Now show us how you stack all those jars in your freezer! I’m always breaking jars in my freezer and I’m convinced I need a stand up solve that.

  5. Stumplifter (Andrea) permalink
    January 27, 2015 9:23 pm

    Is that sweet Willy that I spy in the background? What a beauty and how good it is to be reminded of him. Does Jane look for him?

    • January 27, 2015 10:55 pm

      That’s him, she did look for him at first, but she’s got her calves nearby so she’s making do.

  6. January 28, 2015 3:08 am

    Yes, I’d be interested in jars storage in the freezer. Here, with 2 clumsy males digging in there, I’d be very afraid of broken jars. Plus it would take forever to amass the beautiful collection of freezer jars you have. Any idea how roughly many dozens you have (or hundreds)?

    • January 28, 2015 6:26 am

      Pam, no clumsy males here digging in the freezer, thank heavens! Goodness knows I break enough jars myself:p I have no idea how many I have, but it’s a lot. I’m glad I didn’t get rid of my small jam jars, they have come in handy for foods like pesto, and other foods I only want to use a small amount of. The freeze in ice cube trays has never worked out too well for me. All that talk about plastic? I still am freezing my berries in bags and I eat some every day. My funeral.

  7. Beth in Ky permalink
    January 28, 2015 5:47 am

    Have been in on discussions of what the lids can be used for…. and as you stated one time, something like “it’s still my kitchen” I make the choice to reuse SOME of the flats/lids for canning, GASP! The discussion is in a worse case situation & you could not buy more lids what do you do, reuse them or just quit canning? Let me clarify what I am talking about, something that was processed for 90 minutes(meat) the lid is toast. A water bath jar of jelly (10 minutes) that lid looks good as new, & I make the choice to use it again. Not telling others to do so…. just saying.

    • January 28, 2015 6:15 am

      Beth, I think that comes from experience, there is a huge difference in the condition as you say between the two outcomes. Fear drives most folks these days, like say me trying to use less plastic. I am trying to use less, and I do, but to totally get rid of plastic, how on earth would I do that? I would definitely reuse a lid if I had to, it would be apparent very soon if it didn’t seal. A friend who is redoing her canning supplies with the Tattler lids has been pretty glum to find that she can’t really tell if her seal is good until it’s too late.

  8. January 28, 2015 8:53 am

    Your canning and food preserving sounds a lot like ours (as far as re-purposing). Your comment about home-ec and wide mouth vs. narrow had me scratching my head. I’ll check prices next time I’m near some canning supplies, but we switched over to 100% wide mouth two years ago because of uniformity. All our rings and lids are wide mouth, so there is less fumbling or searching for the ‘other’ size. Pints and half pints will stack if they are wide mouth, saving space, and it’s easier to get the food out of the wide mouth jars, and they are easier to clean as I can get my big hand into a wide mouth opening, but not a narrow mouth opening. Also, I understood that you can freeze in wide mouth pints and quarts, but not narrow mouth (the shoulder can cause the expanding food to blow the jar apart). Oh, and we will re-use lids from time to time, if the rubber doesn’t look like it’s ‘grooved’, and we check all seals at 12 and 48 hrs after canning.

    • January 28, 2015 9:44 am

      Adalyn, I can’t bring myself to litter either due to that being drilled into my head during elementary school 😉 to get counted down on an exhibit because of jar choice was the same and it’s based in frugality. Did I want third place or first? I make a choice when I purchase lids – do I want to spend a dollar more for a dozen lids to do the same job? Likewise on the jars, they just cost more. I’m working on post about my favorite tool – jars. You might be surprised at how many different sizes and shapes I use to get through the week. It is home economics after all, dollars or labor. Anyone who has done any home brewing surely owns a bottle brush. The best place for those new to canning to save money? Quit buying more rings, once you have a couple of dozen to get you through the 24 hour waiting period of a canning blitz you’re good. A quick perusal of Pinterest or Instagram will show countless photos of jars lined up the winter with the rings still on. Not good.

      To freeze in jars you need the tapered shape unless it’s something that won’t expand like butter or lard, anything liquidy in a wide mouth jar that isn’t tapered will mostly likely crack. As for the washing, greasy stuff goes in wide mouth, things like juice, soup, salsa, etc, go in narrow mouth.

  9. January 29, 2015 8:34 am

    I have always frozen our produce in zipper bags, and also was dissapointed part way through the year (if it makes it that long) mostly because I don’t have very many small jars. After seeing your pictures, though, I think it’s time to invest in a few packs and freeze in small quantities like that. Thanks for sharing!

  10. January 29, 2015 12:27 pm

    yes to all of this! I’m learning my lesson on what I do not need to can ever again- jam for one. STILL shuffling around 5 year old jars. I just don’t have a sweet tooth- it’ll make the pigs happy though! Is there one recipe you always have and will continue to preserve for off season? Always looking for those gems. Also, I am wondering if anyone knows if after their long life of service, can the metal lids be recycled?
    Thank you for the baby Jane video, my goodness.

  11. January 31, 2015 11:12 am

    We used to hear advice about not using canning jars in the freezer because the glass deteriorated (?) or anyway there was increased risk (up to 100% probability, depending on who was giving the warning) that the jars would crack if you ever subjected them to canning temps again . . . do you find this is not true, or have you just retired all your freezer jars from being used for pressure canning?
    Thanks.

    • January 31, 2015 12:02 pm

      Magpie Stitcher, I have never heard that, and so far nothing has happened when switching back and forth. I do know I have broke a lot more jars water bath canning, than I ever have pressure canning. And anymore I hardly ever water bath, every thing goes through the pressure cooker which is a higher end temperature for a longer time. That being said, there aren’t too many jars I have that have had to do dual duty just due to their size and what I historically put in them. My 8 ounce jars would be the ones to give out, one year they may have frozen corn, and the next salmon that gets pressure cooked for 90 minutes. So far so good 🙂

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