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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

making something for myself....

Winter is approaching, so quickly it seems! Earlier this year I set out to make myself an afghan throw blanket. Now I crochet a lot, but have never made myself an afghan, so I'm really looking forward to making something for myself.

I chose colors of my favorite color combination. I just love these colors together. Bright and cheery! I also picked one of my favorite brands of yarn for this project. I love how soft it is and easy to crochet with.

I have a long way to go as I got away from it for a few months, but I'm fitting in making a few squares here and there with different color patterns. I am loving how each granny square is turning out and look forward to putting it all together.

I can't wait to wrap up with it this winter, especially as much as I hear about the cold temperatures and snow predictions.

Do any of my readers crochet?

Stay tuned for more of my granny square afghan progress. :)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Canning Green Beans

We LOVE green beans! We love them fresh right out of the garden, cooked, in casseroles, and canned. We plant several plantings during the growing season to have a good amount for our CSA and farmers market, so I am always sure to can several quarts for our family to to enjoy after the season each year. It's a lot of work to snap all the green beans but it is so worth it in the middle of winter, or any time really, to go grab a jar of homegrown green beans! So let me share with you my canning process for green beans.

Canning green beans are a great way to enjoy produce well after the gardening season.

Start by picking your green beans from the garden, or if you don't garden, a lot of farms sell beans at bulk prices. Check with your local produce farms.

Have your clean and sterilized jars ready to fill. Be sure to check over your canning equipment. Remember canning safety during your canning process.

Start the snapping process. Simply snap off each end and then snap the remaining part of the green bean in two or three pieces. I grab two bowls, one large and one smaller. I place my snapped parts I plan to process and can into the large bowl and all the ends or snapped off bad pieces in the smaller bowl.

Dump your freshly snapped beans into a sink of water and swoosh around to wash them off, then drain.

There are two ways to can green beans, hot pack or raw pack. I prefer the hot pack method. Probably because that is how I learned to can green beans with my mom. So for hot pack, place the prepared green beans in a pot and cover with boiling water. Boil the beans for 5 minutes.

Then using a slotted spoon, fill the jars. Shake the jars so the beans move down, then add more beans to each jar. Once the beans are in, fill the jars with the boiling water. Be sure to leave 1 inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles, simply by sliding a small rubber spatula between the jar and the beans.

Next you'll need to add your lids and rings, but first be sure to place the lids in boiling water for about 30 seconds or so to sterilize them. Then grab a damp cloth and wipe around the top of the jar. This removes any standing water or green bean pieces and allows for the lid to seal properly. Place the lids on the jars, add the rings and tighten.

Next is processing the green beans. You need to process the green beans with a pressure canner. The acidity of green beans isn't high enough to just process them with a water bath. Pressure canners have different instructions, so be sure to read your manual that comes with the canner. I use a Presto pressure canner. My canner calls for 3 quarts of boiling water in the bottom of the canner. Then place the canning rack and add your jars.

Place the lid on the canner and tighten down. Keep the burner on high heat until the steam comes out the vent pipe. Allow the steam to flow for 10 minutes. 

Place the pressure regulator on the vent pipe. Continue to heat canner until the pressure dial gauge reaches the desired pressure needed. For my canner for green beans, I need to process at 11 pounds pressure  - 20 minutes for pint jars and 25 minutes for quart jars. You may have to adjust your burner to maintain the correct pounds of pressure. Set your timer for the amount of process time. If your processing above 2,000 feet altitude - check your pressure canner manual for recommended pounds of pressure. 

At the end of processing time, turn your burner off. Let the canner sit and cool and the pressure drop to zero on it's own. This may take a while. Do not take the lid off the pressure cooker and do not quick cool. 

When the pressure of the canner has been completely reduced, you can take off the pressure regulator from the vent pipe and let canner set for 10 more minutes. Then remove the canner lid. Remove jars from canner with a jar lifter and place on a towel to cool and dry. 

When jars are cool, check seals by making sure the lids are not popped up, wipe jars down, label and store in a cool dry place. You can also remove the rings to use for more canning. 

Then that's it! You now have yourself some canned green beans to enjoy this winter! Happy Canning!! 

This post is part of The Backroad Life Freezing & Canning series. 

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