Canning/Freezing Prep Checklist

Summer is here, and our garden is ahead of schedule. We’ve already put

These classic clear glass jars have preserved literally tons of fruits and vegetables over the past 125 years. A true symbol of America's past, they still work great for today's home canning.

These classic clear glass jars have preserved literally tons of fruits and vegetables over the past 125 years. A true symbol of America’s past, they still work great for today’s home canning.

strawberries and jam in the freezer and harvest season will soon begin in earnest. Since I always seem to find myself hunting for missing supplies or running to the store for freezer containers while a pile of produce wilts on the counter, I came up with the following checklist to better prepare for canning and freezing this year. Hopefully you will find it useful as well!

  1. Check pressure canner gauges for safety. Many extension services offer testing free or for a nominal fee. (Search your local extension office online for a schedule near you.) For local folks here in Wayne County, Ohio, Lehman’s is great place to go or call with questions. You can always ask their experts questions anytime. Make any repairs or replacements as needed.
    Continue reading

Wilderness Reflections

Sometimes I have to go to the wilderness to experience real life, to get away from mountain sunriseall things man-made.  It is a place where I will likely become a meal for mosquitoes—where the unexpected is to be expected—a place where there are wolves and bears.  And once there, I will tackle activities that I don’t always feel completely prepared for.  The wilderness answers some of the questions that we have about ourselves.

Can we cope without watches, telephones, running water, and electricity?  Do we have the emotional and physical strength to handle severe weather conditions, or long tedious portages, while our bodies are loaded down with heavy packs and canoes?  The answers are out there. Continue reading

Hannah Tested, Hannah Approved: Part I – Meet the Farmer

Editor’s Note: Hannah will be using Lehman’s products and blogging about them in the coming months. Who better to field test our gardening, farming and kitchen tools than an off-grid farmer? We look forward to this series, and we think you’ll benefit from Hannah’s knowledge, too! You can follow Hannah’s farming adventures on Facebook at Humble Hands Harvest

Hi, I’m Hannah. I’m a young farmer who grew up in the city. That’s not an easy thing

hannah breckbill garden to be these days, with land prices through the roof and not very many of my peers understanding what it means to live my life in response to and in collaboration with the earth.

As a college student about eight years ago, majoring in Mathematics, I gradually became aware of a disconnect between my academic life and the “real world,” where wars raged and injustice spread and living things rooted down. I briefly considered quitting college to work with a peacemaking group, but came to the conclusion that I could graduate and figure out something “real” to do after that. I found an internship on a farm in Texas focused on small-scale agriculture as applicable to the developing world, and jumped into managing a Community Supported Agriculture vegetable garden alongside a goat dairy. Continue reading

Very Cool Customers … and Their Stories

karen g at may daze

Organic Gardener Karen Geiser enthralls a crowd at Lehman’s May Daze Celebration this past spring.

Organic gardener, author, blog contributor, and mother of five, Karen Geiser, is no stranger to country living. She shares her expert advice with customers just as if they have pulled up a chair on her front porch. . . and all the while shelling peas, pitting cherries, or churning butter (depending on what is in season on her farm). 

We always enjoy hearing about fascinating customer connections that happen in our store. And Karen certainly has the pleasure of interacting with many visitors and hearing their stories!

Here are some recent tidbits she reports:

  • Last week I met folks from Colombia, Costa Rica and Brazil (Must have been Latin America day).
  • A fellow from Pennsylvania visits frequently and always tells me about his garlic (which he got from me) that has won several blue ribbons at the county
    Karen Geiser demonstrates our Dazey Butter Churn, which she uses to make butter with cream from her family's Jersey cow.

    Karen Geiser demonstrates our Dazey Butter Churn, which she uses to make butter with cream from her family’s Jersey cow.

    fair.

  • This week there were many good conversations over edible weeds – around the table were an herbalist from New Mexico and a family from West Virginia who really knew their plants.
  • An interesting couple from Virginia who has lived off grid for many years visited the store to finally buy the luxury of a gas refrigerator – mainly to have ice. It’s hard to believe they could live without a fridge for so long, and they described how they can their butter.
  • This week a lady said she was there from Robinson, IL because she heard me speak at the Master Gardener conference over a year ago. She had no idea she would run into me, and we had a good laugh together as she told me about the things she grew because I recommended them (like mouse melons). I helped her figure out other places to hit for her first adventure in Amish country. She said some of her girlfriends have visited Lehman’s after the conference, too. 

Stop by Lehman’s on Thursdays, from April through early November to visit Karen and learn from her wealth of hands-on knowledge. 

Crazy for Canning Jars

Trust me when I tell you that I am seldom ahead of th

Turn canning jars into durable sippy cups (for you and the little ones)! BPA-free plastic lids are dishwasher safe.

Turn canning jars into durable sippy cups (for you and the little ones)! BPA-free plastic lids are dishwasher safe.

e curve when it comes to the latest craze. In fact, I am a bit of a cultural illiterate when it comes to things like TV shows (the Walking What??), fashion and food fads. I never feel the need to update my wardrobe or my décor to keep up with a trend. If you are looking for a poster child for stuck-in-the-mud and stodgy, then I just might be your girl. So it gives me no small amount of pleasure to realize that when it comes to Mason jars I was way cool before anybody else. Continue reading

Lehman’s Staff Spotlight: 5 Things About…Andi

1. Current Job and how you got it: Data Analyst- following a layoff, I took a year off

Lehman's Data Analyst Andi and her daughter Jaelin collaborate on selling their farm-fresh eggs under the name Petra's Flock.

Lehman’s Data Analyst Andi (right) and her daughter Jaelin collaborate on selling their farm-fresh eggs under the name Petra’s Flock.

to spend time being a stay at home mom to two teenagers. That gets kind of boring quickly- I can only put off cleaning for so long! I found this job doing searches online for data jobs. My dad, a LONGtime Lehman’s customer, was just as excited I landed the job as I was!

2. Unique factoid about yourself: I met my husband in an online chat room via a dial-up modem back in 1994. We met in person in March of 1995 and I moved from my family and friends in Connecticut to Wooster (Ohio) over Memorial Day 1995. We just celebrated our 20th anniversary!

3. Finish this sentence: “I never in a million years thought I would …” live in the country, crocheting and raising a small flock of hens!

4. Favorite old-time skill and why: I make my own laundry soap and fabric softener. My husband has had some bad reactions to commercial detergents so I looked for a way I could get my clothes clean without flaring up my husband’s

Petra's flock currently comprises seven chickens: Petra, Garnet, Magee, Bellatrix, Leia, Bo and Hortence.

Petra’s flock currently comprises seven chickens: Petra, Garnet, Magee, Bellatrix, Leia, Bo and Hortence.

allergies.

5. Something from Lehman’s I use all the time (or, something from Lehman’s I just LOVE): Just one? I know as soon as I say one thing I will think of another that I love just as much! This spring we got a new clothesline so I tossed out all my old spring clothespins and bought the Grandma’s Pegs. Our line faces west and we get some terrible winds. These clothespins hold on my husband’s heavy jeans thru those winds!

My Daddy, the Gardener (A Memory for Father’s Day)

My father’s garden was his passion, and it was a year-round one.  By December he would have all his seeds ordered, and every day for a couple of weeks there would be boxes

and envelopes in or by the mail boxes.

While he waited for their arrival there were many things “behind the scenes” to get ready. The large garden had to be plowed and tilled.  His “Plant Room” as he called it (this room was downstairs off the finished basement), had to be prepared. The table the plants would be set on, was 2 ft x 4 ft and had been scrubbed spotless. All his growing lights were set to the correct heights, replacing bulbs if needed.  Once the room was complete to his specifications, he  would start planting seeds into their peat pots. Each and every day he would check them, watering when needed and adjusting the light height as they sprouted and grew. Continue reading

Celebrate International Picnic Day! (Safely)

picnic essentials

Tomorrow is International Picnic Day! Whether you are at a ball field, a concert or

Handmade by the Amish, our serving tray adds rustic charm to your picnics, parties and family dinners. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Handmade by the Amish, our serving tray adds rustic charm to your picnics, parties and family dinners. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

just flying a kite in the park, having a picnic is one of the official signs of summer and relaxation. So that everyone enjoys the moment and you have no regrets later, keeping the food safe should be a priority. Here are a few tips to make sure that happens:

COOL IT. Coolers are essential. If you are planning on staying all day, take two. One cooler can be used for the beverages and food that will be eaten first and a second one that won’t be opened until food is needed later in the day. Remember that cold air descends, so place ice packs on top, once the food is packed. Also remember that everything should be Continue reading

Canning Recipe: Raspberry Lemonade Concentrate

red raspberries

The garden is giving hints of an abundant summer. The orchard trees are so heavy with fruit that we are spending a few hours today clipping off 1/3 to help the remaining peaches, plums and pears produce better. The berry bushes are also loaded with small green orbs that promise good things to come. It is time to start over in the pantry.

The first order of business is to finish eating last year’s harvest. I still have jars of tomatoes to use up and a lot more jam and jelly than I can possibly use. Most will go to my children, friends and neighbors as gifts. Some we will eat over yogurt and ice cream and the remainder will be consumed on toast and biscuits. It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it. Continue reading

Grandma’s Butter Churn is Back, And Totally Cool

We can all agree that there’s a modern disconnect between us and our food. We’ve

Lehman's has redesigned and resurrected the old beloved Dazey churns of the past - now easier to use than ever. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron.

Lehman’s has redesigned and resurrected the old beloved Dazey churns of the past – now easier to use than ever. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron.

simply forgotten what goes into it, and where it comes from.One of our favorite stories from our store happened as a staff member was demonstrating our most popular butter churn. The clear glass jar was filled with cream, and she was churning away when a little girl stopped to watch with her mother. They oohed, ahhed and then wandered away. A little while later, after the cream had turned to butter, the little girl returned to the area and exclaimed,”Oh, I missed it! When did you put in the butter?” Continue reading