Canning the Garden & Other Stuff

It is HOT! Sorry to yell, but it really is hot here. There are some clouds forming and we might get some much needed rain, even though there’s not a great chance of it. We had record rainfall in the spring, but with these hot temperatures, we are definitely in need of more. Since the afternoons are way to hot to work outside, we have been canning up a storm, not everyday, but more often than not lately.

We finally finished canning the four bushels of peaches we bought. We broke about four or five jars by trying to put them into a hot water bath we had just taken a load out of. I was thinking that since we were putting boiling water over the peaches they would be fine. They were not. Room temperature peaches and boiling water isn’t really all that hot. The last batch of peaches we heated up and didn’t lose a jar. Lesson learned. 

Peach sauce on the left, then plums and garlic

We made a batch of peach sauce from a recommendation in one of the comments we received. Thank you! It was simple, it just took a few days of simmering to cook it down to the consistency we wanted. Wash the peaches, pit, cut out any bruises or bad spots, cut up and cook it down. That’s it. We did add some fruit fresh to prevent darkening, but the sauce does darken some naturally as you cook it down and run it through the water bath. From a half bushel of peaches we ended up with 11 pints. I like the idea of including the peels instead of taking them off. Has anyone canned peach slices with the peel on? I wonder if that would work? I know there are nutrients in the peel just like with apples and potatoes. I may try it next time.

We have continued to can our Cushaw and Buttercup winter squashes because the ones we’ve picked so far aren’t keeping well. They developed during the really wet weather and are getting soft spots or outright starting to rot already. 

We have one hill of yellow squash left alive that the squash bugs haven’t killed. I probably squished about 30 bugs this morning. I have also sprayed them with a water, baking soda, Dawn soap combination followed by a dose of diatomaceous earth. They have killed all of the Buttercup winter squash and are working on the Cushaw. This morning I planted more of all three kinds of squash in an attempt to grow a fall crop. We will see how they do.


We get enough cowpeas to can about once a week for now. Once the new patch of peas starts producing we will have many more. After we fill the shelf with all we want we will start drying them to use for winter feed for the goats, pigs and chickens. 

We haven’t canned very many green beans, and I was hoping for about 70 or 80 pints at least. The leaves on most of the plants look like lace from the beetles and worms. What a year for bugs. I will be planting more beans in an attempt to get a fall crop from them as well. We plan to disc up quite a bit of the garden tomorrow so I can start planting turnips, carrots, potatoes, green beans, beets and I’m not sure what else. Some of these crops will do well after a frost and some won’t. I will start some cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprout seedlings before long as well.

We tried our ‘new’ canner that we had problems with again, we found out it is a 2008 model, and it still leaks around the lid. After two calls to the factory the technician recommended we go over the seal with some ‘000’ steel wool and lubricate it with olive oil instead of Vaseline. When we started using our first All American the recommendation was Vaseline, now they are finding the lid sticks less with olive oil. We have yet to try this out, but will let you know how it goes when we do.

In the meantime we got out our tertiary All American and it works great. You know the saying, three is two, two is one, and one is none? That’s why we have three canners, two of which had never been out of the box until a few days ago. Since I have been very serious about filling our shelves with food this summer, it was time to get out a second canner so I can run both of them at the same time. It saves a lot of time. Like today.

We have some old pinto beans that are getting hard to cook. It takes a long time. So I decided to put a big batch on the stove last night and cook them for a while, let them soak overnight, cook them for a few hours this morning, then can them in pints. Well, there were a little more than 32 pints, so we will eat some for supper as well. Our model 921 All American canners hold 16 pints, and I would highly recommend them. As we were putting these beans in the canner, Frank made a great recommendation. The next time we are at the big box store, we’ll pick up a 50 lb. bag of pinto beans to can. Then, if the time comes that we need to eat these old beans, we will, but for now, we’ll use fresh ones. We can always grind the old beans into flour as another way of accessing the nutrition they contain.

So far, our canning efforts this summer have produced this yield.

  •  7 pints of green beans
  • 20 pints of yellow squash

  •  5 pints of beets
  • 10 pints of carrots
  • 12 pints of cowpeas
  • 11 pints of peach sauce
  •  7 pints of plums
  • 16 pints of minced garlic
  • 68 quarts of peaches
  • 34 quarts of winter squash

The canned minced garlic turned out fine even though it browned as we canned it. The texture is very soft, not really a minced texture anymore, but it smells fine and works well cooked into a dish. I look forward to using it and may do another batch, just to have it on the shelf. I have neglected to include enough garlic in our diets, and this has turned out to be a good option for me.

I’m glad we have put up this much food, but it really isn’t very much food if I stop and look at it. If we were to have to depend upon what we are stocking away as our sole source of nutrition, we would be in trouble. Big trouble. So, I will keep trying to add as many things to the shelves as I can. Before long our oldest baby chickens will be ready to butcher. We will freeze a few for

convenience and because we like fried chicken, but many of them will end up in a jar on the shelf along with some chicken broth. We still have wethers that should have been butchered long ago out grazing in the pasture. They will probably wait until fall. They’ve waited this long, what’s another month or two? Some of that meat will also end up in jars on the shelf. And then there are the two barrows, castrated pigs, that are wondering around in another pasture. In time, they will make their way into the freezer and into jars on the shelf. That will help with our preserved food supply. I still count them now even though they are still out there walking around. I call them meat on the hoof, or I guess in the case of the birds, meat on the foot.

It is a good summer. There is much to do everyday. Do we get it all done? No, not even close. But what we don’t get done one day waits for us the next day. It’s funny how that works, isn’t it? Things just don’t get done by themselves. We find it hard to prioritize things sometimes since there are a number of things that need our attention. The squash bugs really got the upper hand while I was canning peaches. I noticed this morning that some of my elderberries have already ripened and disappeared, probably into the mouth of a bird. I want to make some elderberry syrup this summer since it’s so good for colds. Yet another thing to put on the list. Then I wanted to check on the apple tree next door, and then……..

This thing we all feel coming gets closer everyday, do all you can to be ready.

Until next time – Fern

43 thoughts on “Canning the Garden & Other Stuff

  1. Fern we grow pinto beans, pick them when pods turn yellow, shell, and can. We also grow red kidney can them same as pintos, love them. I am rereading your blog. I pray you and Frank are doing good. Miss hearing from you both. God bless!Sue

  2. I use hay to keep the weeds down in my garden. Everyone says to use straw, not hay, because of the seed heads, but I have had no difficulty using hay, and no increase in weeds. My garden looks so much more ordered, even though it's really not. 😉

  3. Canning your old beans will probably work well; if you want to use them without canning, pressure cooking may give you good results. I have had success with that with old pinto beans. I tried soaking longer, cooking longer, adding baking soda to the soaking water, and freezing after cooking–none of them really helped much. Pressure cooking for about 12 minutes tenderized them, but they still had a bit of a bitter flavor that fresher beans lack. Still, they were usable and pretty decent.

  4. We found an Amish Produce Auction 10 minutes away….you buy a number for $5.00 and that allows you to buy all year. I might add Ralph had to dra me away when fresh plump corn was selling for $8.00 a bushel!

  5. Hi Everett. We peel, remove the seeds, then cube the squash. Raw pack into quart jars with 1 tsp. salt, cover with boiling water, then pressure can for 90 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure.The consistency is very soft, if you manipulate it very much you would end up with a paste or mashed potato consistency. I have boiled, mashed and frozen these squashes before then made them into a pie. I haven't tried that with the canned version yet, but I imagine it will work fine.We are located in southeast Oklahoma. We included that in our 'About Us' information.Thank you for your questions and comment. We are glad you are enjoying the blog.Fern

  6. Good for you, SJ. It's good to share not only items but knowledge with those around you that may make a difference when hard times come knocking on our doors. Thanks for sharing.Fern

  7. They look like nutrition to me, Kymber. When we were washing up the last of the jars of peaches to put on the pantry shelves, that's what I told Frank. When I look at these jars of food, I see what the contents are..peaches, beans, etc….but what I see is the nutrition they represent that we will need to live. And to live we need a lot more jars filled with nutrition. That's my goal. Thank you for sharing.Fern

  8. We have used these shelving units since we lived in Alaska, Sandy. They are very sturdy and will hold the weight of many canning jars full of food.We read Country Side magazine for years and years when we were first starting out. I wouldn't have thought of using molasses either. I used water, dish soap and baking soda the other day followed with DE and a lot of squishing. So far that seems to have worked. I hadn't read about dill, but I have been planting radishes in each hill for the same reason. It doesn't work and neither did the nasturtiums that I planted in the hills this year. We tried the canned pinto beans for supper tonight and they were great. Now to can up a few more batches. We will run out of shelf space before we get the older ones canned, though. It is great fast food, takes about five minutes to heat it up and you have a meal. We were very pleased with the outcome.Thanks for sharing your techniques, Sandy. It is always appreciated.Fern

  9. Hi Just Me. Yow-za?? I've never seen that spelled…..and it's funny! Thanks!When I first started using a pressure canner, I was very scared. I just knew it would blow up and hurt me. But unless I do something very stupid and unsafe, using a pressure canner is very safe. See if you can find someone to help you and teach you the first time or two you use one and you will be fine. That's what I did. It will open a whole new world of food preservation for you.You're the second person I've read lately that has made dilly beans. I've never had any, but they must be good. Good for you.Thank you for sharing.Fern

  10. Thank you, Lorraine! It is great to know there are folks out there that can fruit with the peel on, even pears and apples. I hope to have a few apples and pears to can before the season is over, so I will definitely try this thanks to you and anonymous above. Thank you very much for sharing this.Fern

  11. Our garden is always weedy and grassy, Ilene, but seems to produce in spite of me. I always think this is the year I will stay on top of the weeds, but it hasn't happened yet!There are many wild elderberries around here so I hope to gather a decent amount to make medicinal, not pancake, syrup.We haven't had the problems with birds in the tomatoes this year we had last year, but they are farther away from the trees. Thanks for sharing.Fern

  12. I have never thought about heat splitting a tomato, Mike, that is fascinating and useful information. The heat has been pretty bad here with the humidity, and I'm guessing it's the same way there. We're expecting 100* and above here in a few days which means the heat index will be way up there again. The canning wax idea is interesting. I wonder if cheese wax would work as well? Thanks for the tip.Fern

  13. I hope your cowpeas do well for you, they are prolific here and love the hot summer weather. I agree about the pressure regulator, I can sit here and answer comments while listening to make sure it is on target.I have had several people recommend a crock pot for all kinds of things, but we don't have one. I've thought about getting one over the years, but the stove works well for me. Thanks for sharing.Fern

  14. We tried olive oil on the tertiary canner when we used it for the second time. It still stuck some, but so did the old one at first until we used it for a while. Other than that, it works great. We still haven't tried the second one again. There just hasn't been time to mess with it.You will be doing well to move and get any canning done, Fiona. Maybe after you get enough things unpacked and in place you can find a farmer's market with enough produce to can a few things for your shelves. But I bet you have more than enough tomatoes with all of those buckets. I hope they make the move okay and grow well in their new home. Thank you for your comment.Fern

  15. I agree with you, Norene, purple hull peas are our favorite also. They are easy to grow and produce for months here. Thank you for sharing how you freeze them as well. We haven't tried that.Fern

  16. Yes, Kelly, we raw pack our cowpeas. I think they look very tasty, and we really enjoy having them as a side with a meal. We fill the jar loosely with peas to about an inch and a half below the top of the jar, add 1/2 tsp. salt, fill with boiling water and pressure can at 10 lbs. for 40 minutes.Kelly, we have Tattler lids for back ups and have used them now and then. I still prefer the metal lids since they don't tend to fail as often. With the Tattlers we had about a 20% fail rate, which is unacceptable when you are used to seldom having a metal lid fail. If the time comes that we can't get more metal lids and we have used up all we have, then we will use the Tattlers and hope for the best. I'm thinking that if that was all we used, we would improve our performance, or at least I hope so. I know there are other folks that don't use anything but Tattlers and are very satisfied.Thank you for your questions and for sharing your experiences.Fern

  17. You can never have too many seeds, Granny. We are in year seven and at year two we were still figuring many things out. It will be nice for you to have more time to work at home when the time comes.So far the American Guinea Hogs have worked out well. The boar has decided it's fun to bite our shoes when we go in the pasture, but we're working on that behavior.We canned salmon when we were in Alaska, and have since canned ground pork, pork roast and chicken. Some of it still has that canned meat flavor, but for the most part, when used in a meal it is very tasty.Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your experiences.Fern

  18. HI Fern, I have always just kept my winter Squash in a sort of root cellar and have done well with them over the years. Last year it was so cold out here that they all froze in the root cellar. This brings me to this question, How do YOU prepare and can your Cushaw and buttercup/nut squashes? I also grow at least two hills of the good old giant Blu Hubbards. So I may try your ideas this fall. What is the consistency of the finished product ? Thanks for the time. Love this blog and read at least two or three of the older ones every night. Nosy me, what state are you located in if you care to reply. I totally understand if you don't. Best Regards, Everett

  19. So loving your pictures and your adventures on your property. Ventured into canning dilly beans for the first time – bumper crop of beans this year. Went to a canning bee at church last night and came home with 9 @ 1/2 pint jars of various versions of strawberry jam – all strawberry, strawberry-orange and strawberry-blueberry. Very fun to do the work with other like-minded ladies and two gents. Cheers, SJ in Vancouver BC Canada.

  20. i'm just happy looking at all of that delicious food that came out of yours and Frank's hard work and determination! you will both eat like kings over the winter! and i hope to soon be a canning fool like you are, Fern! very soon we'll have enough stuff to start putting up. but your shelves are not only beautiful….they look like money to me!your friend,kymber

  21. Fern,I'm going to try posting my comment once again. The computer decided to transmit when I was in the middle of typing this comment the other night….. so I never got to finish it, and you probably didn't get it. So I'm going to try again,You've been pretty busy canning your garden harvests, and those amazing peaches. You do have a great stock pile of canned goods on your shelves in the kitchen already. Aren't those shelves handy? We have several in our kitchen as well, and make for a great pantry even though it's all open and not closed off with doors. I've been thinking about making a curtain to cover and go around the shelves. We moved to shelves because the kitchen cabinets on this rental are so limited, and not deep inside. I wanted to mention to you, I came across a squash bug prevent in this magazine I picked up at the bookstore when in town recently. The magazine is called, \”CountrySide\”. This article is from Gordon Chalmers out of TN, he suggests to plant squash in early July for a fall garden to miss most of the egg laying cycle for squash bugs. He also states planting dill plants next to the squash deters squash bugs. And if we mulch the leaves, stems, and flowers of the squash plant it also helps to deter the bugs. And finally, he has a concoction of 1 gallon water, 1/3 to 1/2 cup of molasses, and 4 – 6 drops of dish soap mixed (shaken) then place in a pump sprayer and spray all parts of the squash plant, and under the plants this will finish off any bugs that drop from leaves and try to move some where else. This is interesting using molasses, I wouldn't of thought to use the molasses in my spray(I thought the molasses would attract bugs). The next time I plant squash I will try this concoction out. I'm game for trying anything natural to get rid of this darn bugs :-)We have 50 pounds of pinto beans sealed in a 5 gallon bucket, in a mylar bag with, oxygen absorbers. On top of 25 pounds canned in pint jars, 25 pounds sitting in a large bin in our pantry to use NOW and several cases of canned pinto beans totally sealed from grocery dated through 2018. This doesn't count the black beans, kidney beans, or the great northern beans. Beans is a source of protein in our home, and everyone likes them (thank goodness). The secret to preparation is to make sure we rotate and replenish our food. Frank is right with purchasing a new 50 pound bag of beans to have on hand and stored properly. Always eat your older processed food first is our motto at home :-)Keep on prepping my friend!Hugs to you and Frank,Sandy

  22. Yow-za! That's some hard work paying off in the kitchen. Look at all that wonderful food. I'm still learning the vagaries of canning and haven't progressed to the pressure canner yet. I'm so scared of it.But, I'm really proud of the beautiful dilly beans I've been making! So delicious!Just Me

  23. Ah….summer! When the garden is producing and there are so many things to dry and can…I always say \”That's job security!\” ha! Your pantry looks amazing! I always can peaches with skins on. Even pears, if the skins are nice. I think it adds flavor and a little bit of fiber. When I do applesauce, which we love and eat by the quartful, I always leave the skins on. I cut them up small and cook down. The skins honestly add a little texture that is very pleasant. Happy canning!

  24. I can peach slices with the peels on, and keep them on when I do pickled peaches, too. Some of the skins will loosen and slip off in the jar, but so what? It's really just cosmetic, and you are right: there's a lot worth having in the peel. For some fruits, that's where all the fiber is. Peeling takes a lot of time, and my productivity with canning is pretty bad as it is.I do peel them when I make preserves.

  25. Enjoy your blog. Thank you for writing it. I,m wondering if you should consider a way to keep your jars secure in case of a unexpected earthquake.

  26. I can relate, life is very much the same here. We do have to prioritize what needs to be done. The garden is never as neat as those of other people, we just don't have the time or the stamina to keep up with it, and there are more important things to be done. Fern, you might try covering your elderberry bushes with old curtain sheers or buy some nylon net material. I bought through Amazon, it was something like 69 cents a yard and I bought quite a bit. I use it over my grapes and the berry plants to keep the birds away. Been experimenting with pinwheels lately. Some people say they make those little pennant-shaped flags and set them around to flutter in the breeze. It's a real struggle keeping the wildlife from being better-fed than we are, isn't it?If the temperature is expected to reach 100º or more, I will cover my tomatoes with curtain sheers and usually I will just pick the bigger ones and let them ripen in the house. The heat boils them right under the skin wherever the sun can hit them, and then they start spoiling from there. Normally I do like you do, the minute I start seeing them turning colors, I bring them in. Not so much a splitting prob for me as much as the grasshoppers, birds and turtles. Now we have a red squirrel and I've been finding green tomatoes laying on the ground. Sheesh. It's always somethin'.

  27. For what it's worth, my All American canner was made in 1962 and in that manual they said to using plain canning wax to preserve the seal surfaces! I keep a piece of the wax and rub it onto both sealing surfaces before storing the canner and have had no issues with a seal.And it's really hot here in Florida this year, just don't remember it being this uncomfortable before. A couple weeks ago I picked the last of my tomatoes, they felt warm so I stuck my cooking digital thermometer into it and it was 117f. I pick them when they just start turning colors and let them ripen inside the house, if left to ripen on the vine the skin splits. My guess is the heat makes steam inside them causing the skin splitting.

  28. Fern, I am not new to homesteading, but I continue to enjoy and learn from your posts daily. I decided to grow cowpeas this year and we will see how those work out. As for the All Americans, they are great! I have a bigger model that will do 14 quarts at a time. A real time saver, and I like the jiggler weight that I can keep my ear to and do other chores in the kitchen. As to the peach sauce, a fantastic way to cook your sauce down is to use a crock pot. I have done this with all my sauces, including homemade ketchup and it works very well. Thanks for being an inspiration to all .

  29. Kelly, I'm in SW Virginia and I grow and can cowpeas. Purple hulls are my favorite! I do raw pack them, only 2/3 full or so, then cover with boiling water and can. Talk about fast food! I also freeze some, but then you have to cook them 40 minutes or so. Not quite so fast, but not bad. I already need another freezer, so I'm really glad I am able to can these!

  30. I canned pork last year when it came on sale. It was lean pork loin, I followed the USDA canning guidelines for raw pack and it turned out really well.

  31. I have used Olive oil on my All American after it was slow to seal last year. It worked well. I have not done any canning yet this year with the move in process.

  32. Hello Fern! Are you raw packing your cowpeas! I can October beans with the raw pack method and only fill the jars 2/3-3/4 full. They swell ALOT and soak up the water. They may look yucky, but umm, ummm good. I grew cowpeas this time and need to put some in jars, just curious how you do?!? Also, I see you are using the store bought lids, is this correct? I have tried the Tattler lids, and I love the idea of reusable, but in three years I have had ~ a 70% failure rate. I can't do that. Again, just curious.Thanks,Kelly in NC

  33. Sometimes there isn't much that is prettier than shelves full of home canned food in jars. For me, it is sort of like a security blanket. No matter what happens, we won't starve!

  34. Hi, Fern,Sounds like we're having similar summers. I'm really getting tired of replanting with nothing to show for it. We've had a banner year of rain, pests, insects, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, grasshoppers, squash bugs, etc. This winter, there are some things we'll just need to do without or get from the store, like the dried beans. And I plan to add more seeds to my supplies in case I need to plant multiple times in the future. This is just year 2 on our homestead and I will continue to work full time till January, God willing. We've added Guinea fowl (due to a severe chicken allergy) and are looking at getting some turkeys. Next spring I plan on getting a couple AGHs IF I can talk Papa in to it. I've canned unseasoned & seasoned pulled pork, chops, tenderloins, stewing chunks, bacon bits, ham chunks and sausage – all from the store. I look forward to the day I can process my own hogs. The canning isn't hard, it just takes some experimentation to get a final product that has a decent texture, taste and seasonings.You're an inspiration to many of us who are just starting out. Thanks for all you share! The Hoosier Granny

  35. People tell me I'm busy but you are accomplishing much more than I. My year has come unglued with all that hubby is going through.May I ask how you are going to can the pork? I've done chicken, ground beef and venison but haven't done pork before – and have two big pigs to do this fall.

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