Wednesday, February 27, 2008


On the Winter chore list is taking stock of our homesteading activities by examining our efforts. Food for example. This category is further broken down into sub categories - cost, effective method of storage, and need vs. want.
Keeping a well stocked pantry is by far our most fugal method of saving both money and time. On average we spend about $100 per month for a family of 5. This includes eggs (organic from a fellow rural HT'er), raw milk $2.50 per gallon, paper products, personal care items, commercially caned foods like pineapple, sugar, honey, baking supplies, grains, peanut butter & meats. By putting up our food both grown & commercial when it is the cheapest we can get up to a 300% return on the dollar. Coffee & sugar are two examples. Bonus is few last minute unplanned grocery trips usually during a snowstorm (priceless).
Tip - each month buy a grocery store gift card $25 or less to be used for discounted & loss leader specials only. Easy way to budget funds. Keep card in with coupons and calculator.
Second most valuable aspect is that making food preservation a family affair teaches values such as charity, teamwork, thriftiness and skills such as food preservation and living without money. No matter if my children grow up to be the next Bill Gates I know that if given a bucket of dirt, seeds, and canning supplies they will always be able to survive. Can you say Enron or negative outcome of NAFTA ? Or our nation's recent recall on Beef supplied for school lunches?
As you can see by late February this corner of our pantry is disorganized. All the best laid plans of farmer & caner have been put asunder by many hands looking for this jar or that.
Here's a quick run down of what is there among the many empty jars; applesauce, canned carrots, chili beans, cider, corn, dehydrated celery, eggplant, grape juice, jams - carrot cake, strawberry-rhubarb, red current, mulberry, pickles - b&b, dill, pie fillings-apple, peach, green tomato mince meat, salsa, spinach, tomatoes - stewed, and vinegar both apple & white. There is also a few jars left of squash butter a jam type spread good on cornbread. Total filled jars is 267.
Oh tucked in the back corner are about 6 pints of canned butter. My attempt at long term preservation of real butter bough as a loss leader ($1 per lbs.) Now waiting on a soap recipe.
So from organizing the shelves I have discovered that the squash butter should be canned in jelly jars & less of it. That we need @ least 40 quarts of chili beans along with an extra 20 quarts of stewed toms. That canned eggplant & spinach is the bomb in veggie lasagna so need is 10 quarts each for the year. On the subject of pickles despite what DH says he can't eat 6 pints of dills in a year.
That I should can up 2 quarts of Bread & Butter pickles for Church potluck in addition to 6 pints for home use.
Totally under estimated need of canned green beans, sweet corn, peaches, and dehydrated green bell peppers. Also need to find another type of juice to can.
Will also experiment with canning up jelly jars of fruit for packing in lunches. This would replace the expense & hassle of keeping fresh fruit in stock.
Now to work out the planting & acquiring (bartering/foraging/gleaning) list which preserving inventory is based on.
The only meat that we raise is rabbit which hasn't translated into a large percentage yet. Our meals generally run around 50% to 95% of self produced ingredients.
Fall/Winter menu -
S- Pot Roast & pie.
M- Chicken soup & baking powder biscuits.
T- Veggie lasagna (homemade ricotta, black olives, dehydrated mushrooms, onions, garlic, canned eggplant & spinach, & tossed salad).
W- Beef Veggie Soup, homemade rye bread or Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, carrots & corn.
T- Puerto Rican Rice with chicken or Homemade Macaroni & Cheese with tossed salad.
F- Homemade Pizza, or Haddock Fish Fry.
S - Veggie Chili & rice, corn bread or German potato salad, sausage.
Alternate is always Spaghetti & tossed salad.
The shelves are those plastic ones that hold a thousand pounds easily wiped down with a bleach solution. The lines that are in a square pattern are nylon clothesline bought at the $ store. Since I have both young children & cats the homemade netting helps secure jars.
~~ pelenaka ~~
"As God is my witness I'll never go hungry again", Scarlett O'Hara.


  1. Impressive savings! As for the butter, this is a recipe I found from Backwoods Home by gent named Steve:

    Heat canning jars (jelly jars) in the oven at 250 degrees for 20 minutes, jars only, not rings or lids. Put lids and rings in boiling water for about 10 minutes and then shut off so they are sterilized. While jars are heating in the oven, melt butter in saucepan until it comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer 5 minutes. Pour melted butter into hot jars, wipe rims, add lids and rings, and tighten. They will seal as they cool. No need to process. After they are cool, place in refrigerator overnight to harden. Once hard, remove and store. I think cool and dark is best. They should keep for at least 3 years. To keep the contents from separating, you can turn them over a couple of times as they cool to keep contents mixed.
    Not sure if that helps or not.

  2. Thanks for the directions something to keep on the back burner if butter ever drops back down to a $1 per lbs.
    Gee now I sound like our parents when they speak of gas prices way back when ...
    ~~ pelenaka ~~

  3. It would be nice if we saw those prices again!

    Thought I'd share a bit I found in my files (not sure where I got it from).

    Ghee is great - buttery and lasts without refrigeration. Can be gotten at Mountain People's for those of you in Sierra Foothills and other health food store distributers if you don't want to make it! There is even organic Ghee. But here's the recipe...

    1. Place one pound of unsalted real butter in a one quart sauce pan over low heat. Allow to melt completely then raise heat to medium. Skim off foam as it rises with large spoon. When butter begins to boil, lower heat, cook slowly for fifteen minutes. The butter cooked this way prevents it from mold.
    2. The butter is done when the moisture has cooked out and the milk solids at the bottom of the pan have turned a light golden brown. Remove from heat, let cool, pour into clean glass jar and cover with lid. You can pour through a strainer, but it is not critical.
    3. Store at room temperature or cooler. Will store indefinitely without refrigeration.

    Note: In India clarified butter is called Ghee. It has been prepared this way for thousands of years. Ghee that is older than ten years is considered a medicinal food.

    Reference books

    * Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra
    * Ayurvedic Healing by David Frawley

  4. I stumbled across your blog tonight and have been reading and enjoying. I am just learning how to be a better homemaker, learning to can and preserve what food is grown in our yard (apples, grapes, raspberries) and next year we will have a garden. This year I was to ill to get it planted. Just wanted to leave a comment, because I am facinated with your skills!
    Amber in Idaho

  5. Thank you Amber very much.
    Please remember that all homesteaders urban or rual all started from the begining - even the most mundane tasks teach.
    God bless,


Thanks, good to know there are other's with this interest