What’s Going On…

August was a pretty busy month for us. As we prepare for our move this coming Spring, I feel that the coming months will be just as busy.

We continue to declutter and organize, being mindful of exactly what we’re taking with us. What really matters to us the most. What brings us joy. What will we actually benefit from and use.

I’m thrilled that we’ve cleared out our rented storage unit. Most of the items that we were storing were building materials and tools that we will need once we move to the homestead, so we went ahead and moved those items to our storage shed on the property. Even though our stuff just went from one storage area to another, it still felt good to move it “home”. Not to mention, it feels good to be able to out that monthly payment amount into our savings account each month now.

There were also off season clothes, various kitchen items, and “projects” that we’d been holding on to. Once we’d been without it for a period of time, it was easy to decide what we were going to actually wear/use/complete and donate the rest. Those items have served us well and now they can be a blessing to someone else.

Since Labor Day was a long weekend, we spent it doing maintenance around the homestead. Clearing silt from the drainage ditch that runs along the road, cleared brush and moved some downed trees. Moving downed trees will be the theme of our life over the next year I’m certain. Thankfully, the weather was perfect. Low humidity and cooler temperatures.

I just loved the way the sun was shining through these trees.

A clearing is emerging!
The woods are calling, and I must go!
That SUN! Love!

And I had a visit from my little hummingbird buddy! He seems to thoroughly enjoy the butterfly bush I’ve planted.

While I didn’t get food preserved each and every day of August, I was able to add quite a few items to our storage. As mentioned in my previous post, I canned fruit cocktail, cherries in light syrup, potatoes, chicken breast, chili beans, carrots, pineapple, and homemade chicken broth and veggie broth. Oh! And I found the most AMAZING baked bean recipe for canning. I will definitely be making another batch to add to the pantry! Much to my delight, I was able to find a few deals on ground pork, turkey and beef, so I added that to our freezer. I also tried my hand at dehydrating for the first time. I started simple – just did some carrots. 3 pounds dehydrated to about 12 ounces in a jar. Dehydrating is going to be an amazing space saver. I can’t wait to try more things!

~Blessings!~

August Food Preservation Goals

In a recent video from one of my favorite Youtube channels, Three Rivers Homestead, Jessica is reorganizing her pantry and working on cycling out her inventory. There’s just something so beautiful about a well stocked pantry of home preserved food. A pantry, shelf or cabinet becomes a beautiful show piece and part of the home decor. I could binge watch any of these type videos for hours!

Jessica is also participating in the #everybitcountschallenge on her Instagram page. The goal is to preserve/can something each and every day of August. Wow! With her busy family and farm, that certainly is going to be a challenge. But I’m sure she’ll rise to it. 🙂

It got me to thinking about my own pantry and setting some goals for myself. I know my limitations with time and budget, so to try and get something preserved each day is just setting myself up for failure. I currently don’t have my own garden, so I’m relying on the grocery store, local farmers market and excess from friends gardens for my fresh veggies. But, because “every bit counts”, I can make some realistic goals for myself and add quite a bit of food storage over the next month.

Here’s what I’m planning.

Fruit Cocktail

My inspiration for this comes from the fact that cherries are in season! They look so delicious, but I couldn’t think of anything to do with them outside of a cherry pie, which neither of us would eat. I opened a jar of my home canned pineapple a few days ago and then it occurred to me that I could make fruit cocktail! A quick trip down the Youtube rabbit hole, and I found this recipe. Cherries, pineapple, grapes and pears canned in the natural juices, just like I do my pineapple. I’ll omit the peaches since we don’t care for those. For around $10, I’ll have 9 pints of delicious fruit cocktail made from fruits chosen at the ripeness we like them preserved with no extra sugar or preservatives!

Kidney Beans

While this is not one of the beans we eat as a side dish or entree, I do use them in my chili recipe. I’ll go ahead and can these in quart jars, since I usually use two cans. Sams Club has 4 pounds dry kidney beans for around $6, so I should be able to get 5-6 quarts on the shelf.

Carrots

Perfect as a side dish or adding to recipes. I can buy organic carrots in bulk and get around 9 pints for roughly $6.00.

Potatoes

This is a vegetable that I’ve been on the fence about for a number of years. I’ve heard how terrible the texture of home canned potatoes is, how mushy they get, etc. and so that never appealed to me at all. But, the idea of being able to just grab a jar, heat them up and have mashed potatoes in less than 5 minutes does. I think the key is to choose waxy types -like yukon gold, or yellow or red potatoes – instead of baking types, like russets. Mashed potatoes is the way we eat potatoes most of the time anyway and waxy potatoes are typically what I buy simply because that’s our favorite type of potato. So I’m just gonna go for it and see what happens! The guesstimation is around 13 pounds for 9 pints. That should cost me around $7.00.

Chicken and Ground Beef

(No, not together of course!) While I would love to get a couple canner loads of each done in August, it’s really going to depend on the sale cycles. There was a really good deal on organic chicken a few weeks ago, so I’m hoping that will be coming back around soon. It is usually easier to find a good deal on quality ground beef rather than chicken in my area. Even on sale, it’s going to take me about $50 to get enough of each to fill 16 pints. But since each pint holds a pound, that will be a really good value in the long run. It will decrease our dependency on using the freezer and it will retain it’s quality longer than it would in the freezer.

Dehydrating

I have several things that I can dehydrate! They’re inexpensive and won’t take much hands on time. As follows: garlic, onions, green beans, corn, mushrooms, peppers, peas and kale. Shelf stable and ready to add to so many recipes!

In Closing

Well, there’s my basic list. I feel this is completely attainable and I will be so proud of it once I’ve completed it. I’m sure I’ll be motivated and inspired to add more to the list as I get going!

I hope you’re inspired to start a pantry or add to yours over the next few months as well. There are so many delicious fruits and veggies to choose from this time of year and I can’t wait to enjoy them into the months to come. The time and effort spent adding to our food storage pantry will all be worth it down the road with the time saved and the convenience of having a well stocked inventory.

Please be sure to check out the youtube links above and if interested, follow Three Rivers Homestead on Instagram and join the #everybitcountschallenge.

~ Blessings ~

The Game Changer for my Long Term Food Storage

I am so incredibly excited! I ordered a food dehydrator today!

Much like canning, I’ve been contemplating getting a dehydrator for more than 10 years. Why have I put it off for so long? Heck if I know!

Dehydrating is an economical, space saving way to store a LOT of food for long term. And it looks so pretty on the shelf!

Modern Survival Blog

I love to stock up on fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables when they are in season or on sale to freeze and have throughout the year. I also like to do bulk cooking to have “dump and go” meals ready to throw in the crockpot or put together quickly for busy night dinner. I currently have a small top freezer unit, so space is at a premium. I have to keep in mind what will actually fit rather than how much I necessarily want to have in storage.

But now I’ll be able to have a fuller freezer and pantry!

During the winter, we eat a lot of soups and stews. Mixed vegetables, carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes – these are all the base for so many dishes that I make. It’s going to be so great to have a half gallon mason jar full of my bases instead of having to unpack my freezer every time I need to find something for a recipe.

Another application I’m excited about is making meal packets for camping. What an amazing idea! This makes so much sense and I’m so mad I hadn’t thought of it before. A true “well, duh!” moment. While traveling down the youtube rabbit hole looking for reviews of dehydrators, I ran across so many videos of backpackers, hikers and campers showing how to do this. If we plan right, we could quite possibly eliminate the need for a cooler or ice! And the space it will save!

Scout Magazine

After much research, I decided to purchase the Nesco FD-75A. I bought mine online from Home Depot for around $66.00. This seems to be the common price across the internet, even Amazon.

Nesco FD-75A

Nesco is a “tried and true” brand that has been in business since 1931. Their products are made in USA of global and domestic components in Wisconsin. The trays and sheets are made of BPA free food grade plastic. Many of the youtubers I follow who use this exact same dehydrator have had them for 15-20 years. It’s a quality product that’s made to last. It comes with 5 trays, but can be expanded up to 12 trays. You just have to purchase additional trays separately.

This particular model has a top mounted fan, as opposed to a bottom or rear fan placement. Basically, the fan and heating element are located on the top of the dehydrator. As with virtually any appliance, there are pros and cons to their particular features.

With a top mounted fan, there is no chance of food spilling on the fan or the heating element, it’s easy to clean and maintain, it results in even drying of the food and they are easy to operate. Some of the “cons” are the trays have to rotated and the air is pushed to spread on the trays so some of the foods may be “less dry”. So, when I rotate the trays, I may need to move the foods around for the best drying. I don’t think it will be a big deal.

If you are interested in this particular model, let me save you a bit of research time. When I would search for the FD-75A, the search engines would sometimes take me to an FD-75PR. After a bit of confusion and side research, I found that these are the exact same machine. The only difference is the packaging.

Again, I’m so excited to add this appliance to my kitchen. I feel that it will pay for itself rather quickly and will be an invaluable tool for my food storage needs.

~Blessings~