November 12, 2012

Fall Freezer Canning

One of the things I like about having a chest freezer, is being able to pop into it all the things I'm not ready to deal with, preservation-wise. It's especially good for quantities too small to make up a recipe. Jelly for example. Over the summer I've frozen small quantities of fruits with the idea that I'd make a batch of mixed fruit jelly.

Frozen elderberries, grapes, and sand cherries

Elderberries (what the birds left me), sand cherries (several handfuls from their first year of fruiting), tree cherries (pie ones, also from a first year of fruiting), grapes (from a vine planted years ago, not fruiting well because it now gets too much shade), and red raspberries, (oops, forgot I ate all those. Sorry.)

Also, these...

Bags of tomatoes in the freezer for canning

These are tomatoes I've been saving to make okra gumbo.

I lived in Louisiana for a number of years, and fell in love with Cajun cooking. I always preferred filé gumbo, and have in fact canned that. Last year I had tons of okra and tomatoes, so I canned a batch of chicken okra gumbo. We loved it! This year I have plenty of chevon (goat meat) in the freezer, so I made and canned chevon okra gumbo.

Frozen tomatoes peel easliy

I love the freezer method of peeling tomatoes, how-to details in this post. The okra I used was from the freezer too, leftovers from last year. I had plenty of tomatoes and chevon, and enough okra to can 14 quarts of gumbo.

Chevon okra gumbo. Ready to heat and serve with rice.

The rest of the frozen tomatoes will be peeled and canned in chunks for soups.

Another thing I put in the freezer is all of our leftover homegrown chicken bones. From these I make bone broth.

Chicken bone broth (aka chicken stock) How-to, Here.
I can quarts for soup, pints for cooking grains & making gravies.

Basically, bone broth is made by adding an acid (vinegar or wine, for example) to the pot and simmering for a long time over low heat. I added leftover liquid from lacto-fermented pickles this time. The acid helps dissolve and release minerals from the bones for a nutritious soup or gravy stock.

Besides the odds & ends jelly I showed you above, I pull out all the previous year's leftover frozen blueberries. These become blueberry jam.

Steaming hot blueberry jam

I had enough blueberries to make six pints.

Fall freezer canning usually clears out the freezer pretty well. Then I defrost the freezer and I'm ready for a new fill.

What I love is that this is a time saver during the busiest part of summer harvest and canning. Plus it's nice to do at least some of my canning in the fall, when the temperatures are a little cooler and I appreciate the heat from the stove. It's nice to see my pantry shelves filled up again too. :)

Fall Freezer Canning © November 2012 


Simple-Thrift Mom said...

Great post, Leigh--you are right that it is so much more pleasant canning in the fall! I want to try the bone broth idea sometime.

Misty Pines Homestead said...

I too live in Lousianna for a number of years on and off.I like the shrimp gumbo but not much else.I did however got very talented in making red beans and rice and still make it.But have you noticed that red beans and rice taste a little different if it isnt made in La.? I think its the

Clint Baker said...

I had never thought of freezing tomatos before peeling. I will have to try that!

Woolly Bits said...

I'd love to agree with all you said, but until I have the space to place a bigger freezer - I have to use my small one mostly for keeping "emergency" foods there and all the things I have to buy weekly, but can't use up immediately... once the shed is ready - I'll be able to freeze all the stuff that I now have to use up quickly:) that said, I will also be able to store dyeing materials for a while longer:) can't wait!

Theresa said...

Who wouldn't envy you that full pantry and stuffed freezer. It must make you smile every time you walk by or open the door. And so much hard work to get it there too.

Leigh said...

Simple-Thrift Mom, the broth contains the gelatin that is so important to fight against arthritis. And it makes a tasty soup, stew, or gravy base.

Mandy, LOL, that's so true. I love red beans and rice as well, yum. Think that will be on tomorrow's menu!

Clint, I find it so much easier than the boiling water - ice water dunk method. Not as messy either!

Bettina, you will love having that freezer! I've only had one in recent years, but what a blessing it's turned out to be.

Theresa, I love it. It's fun and rewarding as well. :)

Nina said...

You've reminded me that I have a whole bunch of blueberries in the freezer which I set aside for jam making. The benefits of being able to can in the autumn is the cooler weather. Canning tomatoes on a hot, muggy August day, can be very uncomfortable! When I had a larger freezer, I just froze the tomatoes for later use and didn't have the time to can them. They worked just the same straight from frozen for things like sauces and stews.

Anonymous said...

Excellent! It all looks yummy

Renee Nefe said...

How coincidental! I had just finished putting all my frozen bones into the crock pots to make stock. Thanks for the acid tip...I hadn't heard that one before so I grabbed some apple cider vinegar and added 1/4 cup to each 6qt pot. I also tossed in all my limp veggies.

I had been meaning to do this at the beginning of our latest cold snap, but alas I caught a cold as well and have been knocked out. I'm still not totally well, but I'm determined to get some things done as I want to be able to cool the broth in the garage before transferring it to freezer bags.

One day I'll get brave and try canning. I need to get some new lids first.

Unknown said...

I admit- canning in fall is so much more enjoyable. We freeze items for later projects as well. You have had a wonderful bounty this year!

Sandy Livesay said...

If you find your gumbo missing from your pantry, I'm the guilty party :-) I love gumbo!

I've done the same thing with my tomatoes, freeze them until I had time to can them.

I love canning in the fall and into the winter months. My house is cooler and it sure saves on heating up the house.

Do you use pectin when making your jam?

Fabulous post, thank you for sharing.

Leigh said...

Nina, great idea about using frozen tomatoes in sauces and stews. There's really no reason to can these, especially since I'm not short on freezer space. The only disadvantage is having to plan ahead. :)

Stephanie, thanks!

Renee, sounds perfect! I read about the bone broth in Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions. With Dan's mild arthritis, I really need to use more of this in cooking.

SSF, agreed!

Sandy, LOL, gumbo is a fantastic lunch or dinner. Yes, I do use pectin in my jam, except the green tomato jam. I use the sugarless, which allows up to 3 cups of sugar. That cuts the sugar in close to half, which we like better

Renee Nefe said...

Just for giggles I researched today about pressure canning. Turns out that neither of my pressure cookers will work for pressure canning. Bummer!
Oh well back to the freezer!

now to keep my eye out for a pressure canner. :D

Kids and Canning Jars said...

I love this post! I absoutly love to do the same thing! I often make "stone soup" with my frozen this and thats. I love to save a canning project for later. I am dying to try your peeling tomatoes idea. That is such a wonderful tip! I love your new header picture.

Leigh said...

Renee, but you can use a pressure canner for cooking!

Melissa, thanks! I really like this method for peeling tomatoes too. So easy!