3 Signs You Might Be A Canning Addict (Which is a GOOD Thing)

It started out so innocently. A glut of tomatoes, so many that I was feeding them to the

Our Amish-made Water Bath Canner holds a whopping 15 quart jars or 27 pint jars! At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Our Amish-made Water Bath Canner holds a whopping 15 quart jars or 27 pint jars! At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

neighbor’s pigs and giving them away to total strangers, led me to my first experience with canning. An elderly friend from church let me have dozens of jars she no longer needed and showed me the ropes. We used an old speckled canner I found at a tag sale. I will confess to a bit of trepidation the first time I opened a Mason jar of sauce and fed it to my family. I watched anxiously for signs of food poisoning. But…nothing happened. Well, nothing but a newfound sense of power. It occurred to me that with a small handful of seeds and a bit of land I could feed my family delicious tomato sauce all year long.

squeezo

Made in the USA for almost a century! Squeezo All-Metal food mill, at Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

1. Scavenging.
After that I was unstoppable. I scavenged every yard sale and swap meet I could find for jars and canning equipment. I got a Squeezo and a second canner. I bought my first canning guide (The Ball Blue Book) and then a second and a third. The shelves in my pantry groaned under the weight of diced tomatoes, applesauce, raspberry jelly and pickled beets.
When my husband questioned my habit I assured him I had it under control. I didn’t buy anything I didn’t really need and nothing that wouldn’t end up paying for itself many times over.

2. You’re canning MORE than just sauce and jam.
Then we got chickens.

A neighbor was moving and offered us his flock laying birds provided we would also take his roosters. There were three of them, old and mean-tempered and good for nothing but freezer camp. The problem was that I had no room in my freezer as it was just past harvest. The same friend who taught me the finer points of water bath canning offered to show me how to can my roosters. She had the equipment and goodness knows I had enough jars. I’ll skip over the part where mama learned to butcher a chicken and get to the fun part.

I was lucky. My friend actually knew about canning safety. Not every old-timer does. Some people are still water bathing meat for three hours and thinking it’s enough. It isn’t. All low acid foods like meat and vegetables need to be pressure canned to prevent the deadly disease, botulism.

I was nervous, much more nervous than I was when I canned the tomatoes. It took hours

Pressure canning is the only method recommended safe by the U.S.D.A. for low-acid foods such as vegetables, meats and fish. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron.

Pressure canning is the only method recommended safe by the U.S.D.A. for low-acid foods such as vegetables, meats and fish. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron.

to go through the whole process of canning using equipment that looked like it was about to launch to outer space, complete with dials and whistles and whooshing steam, but at the end of that long day I had jars and jars of gorgeous chicken bubbling away in golden stock. Two days later I opened a jar, thickened the broth with some cornstarch and added poultry seasoning and more pepper, then ladled the steaming chicken over a bed of buttery mashed potatoes. We finished that meal by sopping up the remains of the gravy with slices of bread. I don’t believe I have ever eaten a better meal. The chicken was moist and tender and best of all, it was a breeze to throw together after a long day of farm chores.

If I was crazy about canning before, now I was a canning addict. I canned stew beef and sausage patties, potato chunks and ham soup. I canned soup stocks and chili beans. I realized that my weekly shopping trips slowed to monthly and I was spending less and less on each trip. After Thanksgiving I bought turkeys at bargain basement prices and canned them all up.

3. You need an extra kitchen.
Eventually, I outgrew my kitchen and my husband, a huge canning fan himself now, built

Find books about canning, preserving, making cider, sauerkraut, root cellaring, dehydrating and MORE at Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Find books about canning, preserving, making cider, sauerkraut, root cellaring, dehydrating and MORE at Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

me a dedicated canning kitchen out by the garden, complete with running water, a propane stove and electricity. I spend many a happy hour out there, listening to music, reading one of my newest canning books and listening to the comforting sound of hissing steam as I prepare the food that will nourish my family for the next year.

I started out with dozens of jars. Now I have hundreds. I have switched from metal lids to reusable plastic ones (they really work!). I have a ½ dozen canners and books. Do I have books! Information is critical, and I want the latest and the best. Canning has grown from hobby to vocation as I now teach canning classes across the country. Am I an addict? I guess I am … but this is the best addiction ever. I am able to feed my family great food for far less than supermarket prices. I support my local food shed and I spread the word every chance I get. Canning is cool!

One-Skillet Farmstead Breakfast with Canned Potatoes
What would a canning piece be without a good recipe? Just plain boring. It’s all about the food.

Every year I can up several loads of potato chunks. I peel them, pressure can them and

Delicious bacon in a can is so convenient! At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Delicious bacon in a can is so convenient! At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

wait for a cold morning when my husband is clamoring for something hot and satisfying when he comes in from morning chores and the kids are extra hungry.

In a large cast iron skillet, fry up a pound of bacon. After the bacon has released some of its fat, add a diced onion. Just before the bacon gets crisp, pour off most of the fat and add a jar of drained potato chunks. Make sure they are drained well. You don’t want any liquid hitting the hot fat in the pan. Stir until the potatoes start to brown. Add in ½ dozen well beaten eggs and stir until the eggs set. Grate some sharp cheddar cheese over the top and let it melt. You will not have leftovers.

A Lehman’s Adventure

“Down a wind­ing, tree-lined coun­try road in Kidron, OH sits Lehman’s Hard­ware Store. 

Playing with the kitchen gadgets at Lehman's.

Playing with the kitchen gadgets at Lehman’s.

Part store.  Part museum.  All adventure.”

Intrigued? (We were, and we live here!) Read the rest of the story here*.

*Reposted with permission from the authors.

 

 

Simply The BEST Chicken Roaster

When folks hear I work from my home and I’m a homesteader, they make some pretty lofty assumptions when it comes to my dinner table. It is true that I am lucky and blessed

The Double Dutch Oven gives you two great cast iron pans in one! It’s a five-quart dutch oven with extra deep lid which can be used as a skillet. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron.

 

to have good food, good animals, and good people all around me and that makes for some amazing homegrown fare. However, as a single woman running a farm by herself, time isn’t always available to make sure everything is basted, brined, and tables are set with cloth napkins. In truth, some days are so long and exhausting on the farm that the last thing I want to do is cook. And that is why I am grateful for the amazing Dutch Oven.

The design has not changed in centuries, and why should it? A cast-iron dutch oven is all you need to create one-pot meals like chicken and biscuits or savory stews. During our harsh upstate winters, and even now in springtime, Cold Antler Farm depends on its dutch ovens more than ever. They are the original crock pot, the ideal slow cooker, and easy to care for while lasting forever. When people new to farm cooking ask me what they should get, I tell them before they even order a stove they should get a cast-iron skillet and dutch oven, because that is the original homesteader’s grill and oven.

The most basic chicken dinner this farm does happens in a cast-iron dutch oven. All that is needed is a defrosted whole chicken (small enough to fit inside the oven), some olive oil, chicken rub, and root vegetables of your choice. Around here everyone grows potatoes, parsnips, carrots and rutabagas: all make fine bottom veggies for your meal! I strongly encourage you to chop fresh kale as well, as there is no better way to enjoy kale than oiled under a chicken! I promise!

I roughly chop the carrots, taters, and other vegetables and place them in a pile, half filling the cast-iron container. (If you don’t have a dutch oven, you can do the same with a deep skillet.). All vegetables get a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of chicken-rub herbs and with my two clean hands I make sure all get a good coating of oil and herb. Once that is done, the bird is set on top. The root vegetables act as a natural lift for the chicken, letting the hot air circulate all around the bird and the juices and fats to drip onto the vegetables below, which is exactly what you want!

I preheat my oven to 425 and let the bird get a flash roast to brown the skin. This only

We love the combo cooker because it gives you two cast iron pans in one! Now with deeper 3-qt skillet/Dutch oven (3" deep). Shallow skillet serves as lid or griddle.

We love the combo cooker because it gives you two cast iron pans in one! Now with deeper 3-qt skillet/Dutch oven (3″ deep). Shallow skillet serves as lid or griddle.

lasts about fifteen minutes and then the temperature is lowered to 350. I let the bird sit in that oven while I do chores, go hunting in the back field, take the horse out for some training or a cart ride. That oven does all the work for you. In about two hours a fat chicken is falling off the bone and you know it is done when you can grab a back drumstick and it falls right off into your hands, separating from the rest of the roasted bird easily. Another test is to make sure that when you pierce the breast the juices that flow out are clear and not red or bloody at all. These are the ways homesteaders checked their birds before every kitchen had thermometers and cooking shows selling the latest electronic gadgets. They are good tips to know!

This all may sound involved and complicated, but it isn’t. Try it a few weekends and before you know it, it’ll take you less than five minutes to chop your vegetables, oil them, and place a bird on top. Then the oven does all the work for you! Easy.

So get some cast iron, get a fat farm chicken, and dice up those potatoes, folks, because after you start roasting birds in cast iron at home you’ll never go back to any other way. And the best part? Once the meal is done and everyone has had a good helping of meat and vegetables you can add a few cups of chicken stock and some salt and butter and set it on the stovetop to heat up into a fine stew. Meals need to stretch around here as long as a rooster’s tail feather. And to have a tool you can roast in, then set the same meal on the stovetop and make a hearty stew in is a farmer’s blessing.

Happy Spring to you all, and may it be filled with many fine meals!

A Non-Electric Life

My daughter is getting her own apartment. She’ll be moving soon and the whole family has

Double-layer dish cloths are made from a poly/cotton blend that makes them extra thick, absorbent and durable.

Double-layer dish cloths are made from a poly/cotton blend that makes them extra thick, absorbent and durable.

been very busy helping her get ready for this step into independence. A big part of getting ready is supplying her with all the stuff necessary to running a small household. She needs everything from dishcloths to furniture. While helping her shop I have been delighted to find that so many of her choices follow right in line with my own. She is going for non-electric at every opportunity. Continue reading

An Old-Fashioned Family Garden

It’s coming. That day in May when the garden plot that has rested silently through the Natural sign of love - heart made from small tomatoeswinter is just right for turning. The days of perusing the seed catalogues will be over, and it will be time to get down in the dirt. This is a happy day. Vegetables and fruits that we grow ourselves always taste better. When we put the sweat into it, we enjoy it more. Nothing is as tasty as a fresh tomato warmed by the sun, picked by our own hands, cut into thick, juicy slices, and placed on a piece of homemade bread that’s been spread with Miracle Whip or mayonnaise. (Or better yet, homemade butter.) Continue reading

Then and Now: Mother’s Day

Since Lehman’s is celebrating 60 years in business this year, we thought it would be fun

Create a gorgeous (and delicious) meal for Mom in your own home. Purple canning jars at Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Create a gorgeous (and delicious) meal for Mom in your own home. Purple canning jars at Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

to reminisce about how Mother’s Day gifts and celebrations have changed (or not!) over the decades. Here’s what we learned, along with our top 2015 ways to spoil mom on HER DAY.

1955 to 2015 – Mothers of the 1950s were mercilessly marketed to by makers of “domestic” products like vacuum cleaners, cleaning supplies and the latest kitchen gadgets of the time. Today, some moms would be offended if their children wrapped up a blender, but on the other hand, we know some homesteading mothers who would be absolutely delighted with a brand-new grain mill, chicken coop or pressure canner. So obviously, make sure to choose a gift that YOUR mother will appreciate, whether it’s pampering or not! Continue reading

Eat Local All Year: Plan Now for Preserving Season

It’s easy to eat local in Massachusetts in August. Sweet corn, vine ripened tomatoes, tender green beans, creamy milk and abundant eggs make consuming local food a treat. canned cherriesBut come the dark days of January, that local diet is a lot harder to manage. That’s what food preservation is all about. You take what’s cheap, plentiful and delicious at the peak of its freshness and preserve it for later use. Preservation is all about manipulating the environment of food so it retains its goodness for months or even years.

Food has a lot of enemies. Microorganisms (mold, yeasts and bacteria) are enemies of food. So is physical damage (one bad apple really will spoil the whole bag). Enzymes that cause food to ripen don’t halt their work when food is harvested. They continue to work until that lovely cantaloupe becomes a sodden mass destined for the compost heap. Food preservation works by controlling the temperature (freezing and root cellaring) removing moisture (dehydrating) or killing mold, yeast and bacteria and then protecting from further contamination by removing and excluding air (canning). You can also change the environment of food by adding salt, sugar or vinegar. Continue reading

Backyard Chickens: Choosing the Right Breed

Editor’s Note: Welcome to new blogger for Lehman’s Country Life, Janet Pesaturo. Janet is the writer and photographer at OurOneAcreFarm.com, where she blogs about backyard farming, sustainable living, and nature.

Our portable coop let you lift and roll the entire coop around your yard daily to every few days, as the chickens aerate and fertilize the soil. At lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Our portable coop let you lift and roll the entire coop around your yard daily to every few days, as the chickens aerate and fertilize the soil. At lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Birds are beginning to sing, the daffodils are poking up, and it’s time to think about baby animals. Spring is a wonderful time to plan for a new flock of chickens, and if that’s what you’re planning, you have many choices ahead of you. One important decision is which breed(s) to raise. The wide variety makes selection a rather daunting task, but also ensures that you’ll find at least one to fit your needs and desires. Chicken breeds differ in many ways, from productivity to appearance to temperament, and more. Exploring the options will help you choose. Continue reading

No foolin': Anything can be a planter!

An herb garden that can be easily moved around the yard or garden!

Clever, not to mention cute: An herb garden that can be easily moved around the yard or garden!

Celesta from our Customer Service Group shared an adorable idea from her mother-in-law: toy wagons that she converted to a garden planter!

It’s cute, it’s creative, and it keeps the no-longer used wagons out of the landfill.

We love the idea of using good old-fashioned burlap bags as planters, too:

How to Make a Burlap Garden:
Our burlap bags are great for growing herbs, flowers and vegetables. They require less weeding than a traditional garden. Plus, excess water easily drains from the fabric.

Planter:

  1. Fill a burlap bag with planting soil.burlap gardens
  2. Roll down the edges.
  3. Add plants.
  4. Water regularly (depending on your climate).

Garden Bed:

  1. Fill a burlap bag with planting soil.
  2. Close the top by tying with twine or a thin rope.
  3. Lay flat.
  4. Poke holes through the top of the bag. (Our dibble works best.)
  5. Place plants or seeds into the holes.
  6. Water regularly (depending on your climate).

Another easy choice for container gardening is the UrBin Grower. Perfect for city folks,

The UrBin Grower is a good choice for city-dwellers with limited space for a garden.

The UrBin Grower is a great choice for city-dwellers with limited space for a garden.

this self-contained gardening kit gives you a delicious garden without taking up much space. With a sub-irrigation raised bed, your garden is watered from the bottom to help prevent overwatering. You get everything you need in one kit!

What innovative garden containers do you have around your home?

 

 

It’s That Time Again, Part 2: 200 Gallons!

Your bird friends will love our red lantern bird feeder - and it looks great in your yard!

Your bird friends will love our red lantern bird feeder – and it looks great in your yard!

It was cold again this morning as dawn was breaking — a nippy 20 degrees. Even with the cold, there was a newness in the air. Maybe it was because the birds were singing and calling lustily, as if awakening to love. The Cardinals were particularly noisy, along with a few other species. I could have closed my eyes and imagined myself in the rain forest, with tropical birds serenading the loves of their lives. This year I am intentionally tuning in to the birds. It’s a real treat.The forecast for today was forties and sunshine. This will make the sap run. The sunshine is a key ingredient. Forty degrees and overcast, the sap will run some. Forty degrees and sunshine, and it will be a good day. Can’t wait until late afternoon when it’s time to check the buckets and find out how it ran. Continue reading