Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Home Canning Citrus

Driving down the streets of our community, I have noticed several citrus trees filled with fruit that never gets picked. Starting to think about how much was being wasted, I decided to do some research and see if it is possible to can the citrus and its juice. This morning, we had our first canning workshop where we learned a simple way to segment grapefruit and orange(without the membrane) and can the fruit and juice. For those of you who still have an abundance of citrus on your trees, here are the instructions.

How to Make Homemade/ Home-canned Lemon Juice or Orange Juice
Making and canning your own lemon or orange juice is easy. Here's how to make your own home canned citrus juice, complete instructions in easy steps and completely illustrated. The lemon juice will taste MUCH better than anything you've ever had from a store, and by selecting the right lemons, it will be so naturally-sweet that you won't need to add any sugar at all.
Prepared this way, the jars have a shelf life of 18 months to 2 years, and require no special attention.

Directions for Making Lemon Juice or Orange Juice
Lemons or oranges (see step 1)
Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)
Lid lifter (has a magnet to pick the lids out of the boiling water where you sterilize them.
Jar funnel
At least 1 large pot (at least 8-quart size or larger)
Large spoons and ladles
Canning jars - about $7-8 per dozen at Costco and Walmart (including the lids and rings)
a simple metal or plastic sieve.
Filters - if you want filtered juice
jelly bag
coffee filters
1 Water Bath Canner. You CAN use a large pot instead, but the canners are deeper, and have a rack top make lifting the jars out easier. If you plan on canning every year, they're worth the investment.

Recipe and Directions
Step 1 - Selecting the lemons-
Select fresh, unspoiled fruit

Step 2 - How many lemons and where to get them
You can pick your own, or buy them at the grocery store.
You'll get about 12 to 20 quarts of lemon juice per bushel of lemons. Count on 15 or 16 quarts per bushel.

Step 3 - Wash the jars and lids
Now's a good time to get the jars ready, so you won't be rushed later. The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sterilize" cycle, the water bath processing will sterilize them as well as the contents! If you don't have a dishwasher with a sterilize cycle, you can wash the containers in hot, soapy water and rinse, then sterilize the jars by boiling them 10 minutes, and keep the jars in hot water until they are used. Leave the jars in the dishwasher on "heated dry" until you are ready to use them. Keeping them hot will prevent the jars from breaking when you fill them with the hot lemon juice.
Put the lids into a pan of hot, but not quite boiling water (that's what the manufacturer's recommend) for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" to pull them out.

Step 4- Juice the Lemons/Oranges
Unfiltered juice:
You can refrigerate the juice for 24 to 48 hours and then decant it (without mixing, carefully pour off clear liquid and discard sediment).
Filtered juice:
A better way if you want filtered lemon juice is just to line your sieve or colander with several layers of cheese cloth and let the juice drip through. It could take an hour..
If you want really clear lemon juice (but most people prefer "natural" style with some solids) you can strain the juice through a paper coffee filter place inside a sieve or colander.
If you want more filtered lemon juice, use a jelly bag. Just pour hot prepared fruit pulp into a jelly bag and let it drip. . Do not squeeze the bag.! In my experience this method takes forever.
Note: One of the easiest ways to extract juice is by using a steam juicer available at many hardware and variety stores. If you plan on making a lot of juice or doing this every year, it may be worth buying one. This unique piece of equipment allows you to conveniently extract juice by steaming the fruit which is held in a retaining basket. The juice drops into a reservoir which has a tube outlet for removal. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for using steam juicer.

Step 5 - Heat the lemon juice
Put the lemon juice into a large pot.
The lemon juice does not need any further cooking; just get it heated to a low simmering boil and keep it hot until you get enough made to fill the jars you will put into the canner (Canners hold seven jars at once, whether they are quart or pint size)

Step 6 - Fill the jars and process them in the water bath
Fill them to within ¼-inch of the top, wipe any spilled lemon juice of the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them. Put them in the canner and keep them cover with at least 1 or 2 inches of water and boiling. if you are at sea level (up to 1,000 ft) boil pint or quart jars for 5 minutes and half gallon jars for 10 min. This assumes you kept the juice hit until you filled the jars. If you are at an altitude of 1,000 feet or more, see the chart below
Recommended process time for Lemon Juice in a boiling-water canner.
Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Hot Pints or Quarts 5 min 10 15
Half-Gallons 10 min 15 20

Step 7 - Remove and cool the jars - Done
Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight) You can then remove the rings if you like. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.

Selecting, Preparing and Canning Grapefruit and Orange Sections
Quantity: An average of 15 pounds is needed per canner load of 7 quarts; an average of 13 pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pint – an average of about 2 pounds yields 1 quart.
Quality: Select firm, mature, sweet fruit of ideal quality for eating fresh. The flavor of orange sections is best if the sections are canned with equal parts of grapefruit. Grapefruit may be canned without oranges. Sections may be packed in your choice of water, citrus juice or syrup.

Sugar Syrup

Syrup Sugar Water Yield
Light 2 cups 4 cups 5 cups
Medium 3 cups 4 cups 5 1/2 cups
Heavy 4 3/4 cups 4 cups 6 1/2 cups

To prepare syrup, while heating water, add sugar slowly, stirring constantly to dissolve. Bring to a gentle boil. Fill jars while syrup is still boiling hot.

Procedure: Wash and peel fruit and remove white tissue to prevent a bitter taste. Segment or section the fruit. If you use syrup, prepare a very light, light, or medium syrup and bring to boil. Fill jars with sections and water, juice or hot syrup, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process.
Table 1. Recommended process time for Grapefruit and Orange Sections in a boiling-water canner.
Process Time at Altitudes of
0 - 1,000/10 min. ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft/15 min. Above 6,000 ft/20 min.

Saturday, February 27, 2010 for DAIRY

Dairy is one of my favorite food groups, but it also one that I haven't stored too much of. I remember when I was a kid and my mom would try and give us powdered milk so we could get used to it in case cows were no longer available. It was a bluish color and tasted like chalk...and there were the little gritty pieces that would stick in your cheeks! That said...DAIRY has come a long way in the food storage arena!

POWDERED MILK- still not my favorite for a tall cold drink, but great for cooking or baking!

CHOCOLATE MILK- My grandkids love "Morning Moo" chocolate milk (drink) or Yahoo! Chocolate milk comes in a powder form or ready to drink in boxes like Yahoo! A product like "Morning Moo" costs about $.18 a serving which makes it an easy addition to your food storage.

CHEESE- There are so many options for cheese now! No longer just the "nacho" cheese powder! There are several varieties of freeze-dried shredded cheese...mozzarella, cheddar, jack...even cottage cheese. All you have to do is add a spritz of water to it. This creates so many more options than a box of Kraft Mac'N'Cheese! Freeze-dried cheeses melt when they have been reconstituted so they are perfect for pizza or lasagna in a pinch! Already grated parmesan and romano cheese which is found on the grocery shelf (non-refrigerated) is another cheese that is easy to store. Freeze-dried cheese costs about $45 for a #10 can. There are approximately 96 2-TBSP servings in a can.

Freeze dried cheese is fresh cheese with the water effectively removed. The moisture content of fresh cheese varies between different types of cheeses and can typically range from 40% up to 70%. The moisture content of freeze dried cheese is reduced to around 3 to 5%.

COMING NEXT WEEK...Eggs and Butter

Sunday, February 14, 2010 for CONTAINERS

I've had a lot of people ask me about containers the last couple of weeks and as you already know...there's a lot I don't know! So, I've done a little researching and exploring and come up with a few things. These containers and hints are all for dry food storage.

#10 TIN CANS- We all have those big #10 cans in our food storage. Most of the time, the food we store can be purchased already in them so it is cheap and easy! They are also relatively inexpensive to purchase if we want to do bulk canning at home. A couple of the drawbacks could be that there is some wasted space when you are storing because of the shape. Another drawback could be that you have pick up the cans from the cannery and make arrangements to borrow the canner if you are going to can at home. The price of the cans is about $1.01 including the lid.

WHITE PLASTIC FOOD GRADE BUCKETS- I have 100's of pounds of food storage in these big old buckets! Some of you may have heard me say that I bought it in those buckets and it's still in there because I can't get the darn lids off! And then if I do get it off, I can't get it back on. But lo and behold, (I don't know where I've been) this week I heard about GAMMA LIDS! What a brilliant idea! Now I don't feel like I have to repackage all the wheat and oats and rice and split peas, etc. that I have stored in these buckets. All I have to do is get the lid off once and purchase a GAMMA LID. Some of the advantages of the plastic stores 25-50 lbs. Another pro is that it is easy to bucket as opposed to 5+ cans. One disadvantage that I can think of is that the plastic can eventually crack. We lost about 400 lbs. of grains when we moved 10 years ago because the plastic was just keep an eye on it if that is how you are storing. The cost of a new plastic bucket is about $6-10. The GAMMA LIDS range from $5-8.

If you have a good source for any of the items that we are talking about, please post it in comments or email me and I will make a post.

DRY PACK POUCH also known as MYLAR BAGS-Now the bags sound kind of fun to me. I haven't done anything with them before, but it seems like it would be easy to stack them so they wouldn't take as much room as the #10 cans. They are less expensive than the cans. You can purchase them from the cannery. You can fill them at home. They last 20 years. The disadvantages are that you need to borrow the sealer from the cannery; You can't use a seal-a-meal sealer on them. According to some of the info I read, they are not rodent proof. The mylar bags cost $.35 each and are available from the cannery.

PETE OR PET CONTAINERS-PETE containers are kind of a new wave food storage method and I love them! I think what I love is being able to see what is in a container. A PETE container does not have to be brand new to store food products.
PETE refers to a type of clear plastic bottle commonly used for many foods sold in grocery stores. The bottles are identified on the bottom, next to the recycle emblem, with the letters PETE. This type of container has good oxygen barrier qualities and can be used with oxygen absorbers to store bulk dry foods. The low oxygen content of the sealed containers protects the stored food from insect infestation and helps preserve product quality. These containers are well suited for products that are rotated on a regular basis, while still providing several years of storage capability. If you purchase PETE containers new...they range from $2.68 to $4 each for a gallon. The advantage is they pretty much last forever so you only have to buy it once.

If you are using pre-used PETE Containers, please follow these instructions:
1. Use only PETE bottles that have been previously commercially packaged with food.
Bottles need to have screw-on lids with plastic, not paper, lid seals.
2. Wash and rinse bottles to remove any residue. Drain and dry bottles.
3. Place an oxygen absorber packet into each bottle.
4. Fill bottles with bulk dry products that are low in moisture and oil content.
5. Wipe top sealing edge clean.
6. Screw lids on tightly. Tape the lid edge to prevent loosening.
7. Store the products in a cool, dry location, away from sunlight.
8. Use a new oxygen absorber packet each time a bottle is refilled for storage.

There are lots of other containers, too! GLASS CANNING JARS, GLASS CONTAINERS WITH VACUUM SEAL LIDS...

Welfare Services absorbers packets are packaged 100 per bag.
This size of absorber can be used for containers of up to 1-gallon capacity.
When packaging products, take out of the bag the number of absorbers you plan to use in 30 minutes and store the remainder in glass canning jars with new lids. 1 pint will hold 25 absorbers.

Containers that work well for long-term storage using oxygen absorbers include:
#10 cans
Foil pouches
Glass canning jars with screw-on lids
PETE plastic containers with screw-on lids

Containers that do not work well for this type of storage include:
Translucent plastic containers such as milk bottles
Snap-on lid containers
Containers that have contained non-food products should not be used for food storage

If you have a container or an idea that works well for you, please post it in the comments so we can share in your experience.

If you would like to get a group together and borrow the stake canner or the bag sealer, please just let me know!

Friday, February 12, 2010


As promised, here is the link for the FOOD STORAGE CALCULATOR. Save it to your desktop so it is easy to update!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Beans, beans, the magical fruit...
Sorry I'm late with this week's pantry stuffer!

So many kinds of beans...there's sure to be one or two that your family likes. Dozens of ways to eat them and almost as many ways to store them.

For a whole meal in a can...chili and beans can't be beat! Fry's has them on special this week for 79 cents a can if you purchase 10. So for under $8 you can add a few more cans to your pantry.

Plain canned beans are also a great item to store. Pinto, black, navy...all perfect to make a soup or burrito.

Dried beans are a little bit more labor intensive but store almost forever. The church cannery is a great source for dried beans. The cost in the store seems to be going up a little right now. Dried beans can be purchased in bulk and stored in #10 cans with oxygen packs, mylar bags, or PET(E) containers.

I like to can my own beans because it is a lot more cost effective...especially because I've had those big 50 pound buckets of beans in my food storage for almost 20years and I purchased them for about 10 cents a pound. I also don't plan very far ahead (like the night before or even a couple of hours before) and beans need to be soaked to rid them of the gas process. Now some people will tell you they never soak their beans, but I'm not willing to suffer the after effects. For me it is more convenient to have several jars on hand and just be able to take them from the pantry and use them right away.

Hint: I like to add a little taco seasoning to the pintos before I process them. They make awesome refried beans!


So...this week, B is for BEANS!

Oh....and don't forget green beans, too!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A is for AGAVE

What is agave? I had never heard of agave (except for the tour of the tequila farm I didn't go on in Mexico) until I was watching the food channel the other day and Giada de Laurentiis was using it in a recipe for grilled salmon. Agave is a natural sweetener with all kinds of health benefits!

I love my sugar and am not a big fan of artificial sweeteners of any kind, so although this is a "natural" sweetener, I was a little hesitant to try it. But when I was in Fry's last week, there it was in the middle of the aisle with the baking products so I picked some up. When I got home, I peeled the lid off and hesitantly took a little taste. Yummy! It was delicious!

Just a brief overview of AGAVE
-AGAVE is a unique blend of the nectars derived from the Agave Plant
-AGAVE is 1.4 times sweeter than you use less
-AGAVE saves 25-40% in carbohydrate calories (low on the glycemic index)
-AGAVE contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber
-AGAVE contains naturally occurring vitamins and minerals,including calcium
-AGAVE is diabetic friendly
-AGAVE has a long shelf life
For more information, go to

Perfect substitute for sugar and honey (and doesn't crystallize like honey!)

*note...Xagave is a brand name. There are other agave nectars available, but this is the one I tried.


How full is your pantry? Are you a newbie to food storage? Have you got most of the basics? Are you completely stocked and ready for anything? If any of these describe you, we are here to help you and let you help others be prepared. The whole preparedness process is huge and can be overwhelming so we are going to take it one step at a time.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas that have worked or not worked for you. I've always felt like I was pretty prepared! We purchased a year's supply of dehydrated food for a family of 6 when our children were small, but that was 20 years ago...before oxygen packets and PETE containers. (If you don't know what these are, we'll get to that soon.)

So...yesterday, I started going thru the plethora of #10 cans...stored in my garage (which we all should know is a big no-no in Arizona.) Hmmmm....some are bulging...throw them out! Some might be bulging...can't quite tell...but the rice and wheat are good! So now I have to really take inventory and see what I have and what I don't have. What I do know is that I don't have all that I thought I had.

What is easier or more basic than the ABC's? We have 26 letters in the alphabet and 52 weeks in a year so we will be able to go through the alphabet twice. Each week we will list a new alphabetical item for you to add to your storage. This system may not be for everyone...or you may have all the applesauce or agave you could ever eat. If that's the case, just substitute a different item that week. Please use whatever method works best for you. The purpose of the alphabetical list is to give your mind a little help you think of something you haven't already thought of.

So....A is for......