Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Solar Power's Back Baby!

Yes indeed, this morning marks that momentous time of year when I can get up in the middle of the night and our batteries have enough charge to make me a litre of tea to drink, and then another half litre of boiling water for my ramen.

Life is good!

Mmmm, ramen!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Canning Pancakes

Whelp, here's a crazy experiment that may be of interest to my reader as I descend down the rabbit hole into gastronomic madness...

Canned pancakes, and no, not that Batter Blaster type of canning either.

First, I mixed up the batter as normal.

Totally normal batter.
Then greased a baker's dozen of 250mL canning jars with butter.

I poured a quarter cup of batter into each jar, set them on a baking sheet, and into the oven they went for maybe twenty or twenty-five minutes.  I checked them at least once, didn't see the harm in it.

That's all of them full!
If it wasn't for the flash, you'd see 350F here.
They don't brown up the way they would if they were fried, they become more like a steamed pudding...  Anyway, once they were set, I pulled them out, poured a tablespoon of chocolate chips on top, and then put on the canning lid and ring and tightened it down.
Adding the chocolate chips.  They'll melt a little in the jars as they cool down.
As they cooled, the lids suctioned down tight.

These are NOT preserved, but the presentation is fun.  I'm sure they'd last at room temperature for a couple of days or so - at least as long as something baked would do.

I'll serve them up tomorrow to the homeschoolers coming to visit and hopefully they'll be decently received.
I didn't have a lid for the last one, and figured Kenny or Donna would eat it right away anyway.

Surprise!  I gave them some other pancakes I made at the same time, and they didn't need the thirteenth, so when it cooled, I put on this plastic lid to store it for tomorrow.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Canning Potatoes the Lazy Way

We've been excessively blessed with sunlight the past couple of weeks.  I haven't had to run the generator for at least a week, and everyone just feels a bit more peppy.

After canning the chicken last week, I was enthused to replenish our pantry with meals in jars, so I set to work doing up our potatoes.  I have mixed and matched a few techniques for doing potatoes that I think make mine easy, safe and still tasty and useful.

First off, it's widely accepted that peeling them is important and they really aren't safe otherwise.  I happen to see some logic to this, and besides, I'm really retentive about ensuring only the best of the best stuff gets canned, so I like to peel them to see what's going on under the skins.

Peeled, and ready to slice and dice for soaking.
I also do dice them into odd shaped chunks.  I would like to slice them uniformly for scalloped potatoes, but I believe that you have to have good circulation of water around them to ensure proper processing, and if they were all stacked up, the interior of the stack may not get up to a good temperature.

These were soaked overnight, and now I'm dicing them a bit smaller before putting them into the jars.
It seems that many people briefly boil (parboil?  blanch?) their potatoes before canning them.  A year or two ago when I was having kidney problems, I was told to lay off potatoes due to potassium, or to soak them overnight to help reduce it a bit.  This also has the function of removing much of the starch in the potatoes that caused them to go cloudy and slimy when canned.  I find the overnight soak is just as effective as boiling them before canning them.

With non-sealing lids, ready to soak overnight in the jars themselves.
Normally I have been soaking them in some large bowls, but that is very disruptive in the fridge, so now I raw pack them in jars, top up the jars with clean water and let them sit in the fridge overnight like that.  Then I drain off the water, pour in new water (cold, warm, hot - it doesn't matter - it just affects how long the steamer takes to come up to pressure) and put on the lids and rings.

Ready to go into the canner.  Fresh water up to the threads, just enough to cover the potatoes.
Nota bene I don't bother sterilizing the jars or lids or rings.  It's clear that I'm basically autoclaving everything that goes in the canner, so that's a silly extra step.  As long as my jars are clean enough to eat and drink directly out of them (and we do), they will be totally fine for the canner.  In case you don't believe me, a brief google search will back up my opinion.

Otherwise, my canning process is nothing remarkable.  I ensure that the chunks are completely covered in water - we've found that if they are exposed, they tend to turn grey.

Just prewarming the water and canner on the corner of the stove while preparing the jars.  This saves a bit of time and energy.
I turn up the heat with the vent closed until the canner locks from the pressure.  Then I open the vent and let steam hiss out for close to ten minutes.

I close the vent to fifteen pounds of pressure and if I have the energy, I crank the heat up to get it steaming again more quickly, but it's not required if I'm patient.

As soon as it starts steaming again, I turn the temperature gauge down to 120 degrees (Celsius) and set the timer for whatever is required.  In the case of half litre jars of potatoes, it would be 35 minutes.

Steaming away.  I put paper towels between the cooker and the canner to catch the steamy drops of water that drip down while it's coming up to pressure.  You can't do that on anything other than an induction cooker!
The timer shuts it off, I wait until I see the lock indicator on the canner click off, then I remove the lid and take out the jars and set them on a cutting board to cool off.

That's it!  Fun, and flavourful!  And it means no more worrying about potatoes doing weird things in the back corner of the pantry. :)