Saturday, October 8, 2011

Canning Chili Base

Our first year of raised bed gardening we had a bumper crop of tomatoes.  We also had a bumper crop of cucumbers that we wanted to pickle.  We researched recipes and websites about pickling. We read that Mrs. Wages makes the best pickling packet to buy.  Unfortunately we did not buy Mrs. Wages brand the first year the pickles were not so great, however we did buy Mrs. Wages Chili Base for some of our tomatoes and we fell in love with this chili base.  Yes, we found recipes to make our own seasoning, but if you can purchase the packets at the end of the season when they go on sale, this way is a much better buy and the fact that we love the taste of it, why would we try anything different?

18 medium tomatoes or 6 lbs.
2 Tablespoons of sugar
1 packet of Mrs. Wages Chili Base

Wash fresh tomatoes. Scald 3 minutes in boiling water. Dip into cold water. Cut out cores, remove skins and puree to smooth consistency in blender or food processor. If using canned tomatoes, drain liquid. Combine puree, sugar, and Chili Base Mix in a large pot and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes. Stir occasionally. Chili Base is ready!

Freeze it! Pour into freezer containers and let cool. Store in freezer up to one year.

Can it! 1.) Pour hot sauce into clean, sterilized pint canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Cap each jar when filled. 2.) Process 40 minutes in boiling water bath. 3.) Test jars for airtight seals according to manufacturer''s directions. Store up to 1 year. If jars do not completely seal, refrigerate and consume within one week.

Serving suggestion: Brown and drain fat from 1/2 to 1lb of ground beef. Add 1 pint of prepared Mrs. Wages Chili Base. Add 1 (16 oz) can of pinto or kidney beans with liquid. Diced tomatoes can be added as well. Simmer for 20 minutes and serve chili. 
The package states it makes 5 pints.  I have never been able to make 5 pints with only 18 medium tomatoes. This year I made 3 packets worth and I ended up with 14 pints of Chili Base.

9 pints will stay with us while the other 5 pints will go into baskets for a Christmas gift.  I am so excited that I will be able to make this wonderful basket gift this year for Christmas.  We are having a good year with or tomatoes.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Freezing Onions and Peppers

How I freeze onions...first you need the onions.  These are our onions we harvested from our garden.

I first cut the ends as shown, except for those onions I am not freezing.  I then take them to the sink and they all get a good cleaning. 
Next it is time to cut all the onions.  A little tip... burn a candle while you are dicing a lot of onions.  I read it is suppose to burn the fumes of the onions and I can say it does help some. 

After dicing the onions, I lay them flat on a sheet of wax paper I place on a cookie sheet.  Once the first layer is full, I add another sheet of wax paper on top and continue the process until no more onions and top them with wax paper one more time.  The cookie sheet then goes to the freezer for 1 hour.

Since I wanted a few bags of mix onions and peppers, I picked 3 peppers out of our garden and washed them while the onions were freezing.  I started a pot of water on the stove to get a good boil.  You do not have to blanch your peppers prior to freezing but I have found the lay flat easier to freeze if they are blanched.
 I cut the peppers into rings to blanch, it is much easier then to dice the peppers.

 Once you have a good boil, place the peppers in the water for 3 minutes, have a bowl of ice water next to the stove to drop the peppers into once the 3 minutes of boiling is done.
 Keep the peppers in the ice water for 3 minutes.  I then place the peppers onto another cookie sheet with paper towels to dry.
 Once the peppers are dry, dice the peppers to the size you want.
 After the hour of freezing the onions it is time to add to the bags and seal them.
 We use the FoodServer sealer.  We just love it.

 Add the amount you want in the bag and then seal it.

12 bags of onions and 4 bags of peppers and onions ready to go to the freezer. They will freeze up to 9 months.

Our Garden This Year

Our garden through the summer...

This year we started our garden with corrugated boxes around the plants, except where we planted the beans, peas, and corn.  After securing the boxes we placed compost on top of it.  The boxes serve two purposes, one is to be a barrier for weeds and the second is it will break down to compost and be great for the soil.  We also found that it helped prevent some diseases for our tomatoes this year.

front right: celery, Chinese cabbage, peppers, towards the back rows of tomatoes.
On the right next to the fence is the snow peas.
The back row is pole beans
The section with no compost is our area we tried the 3 sister crops; Corn, Pole Beans, and Squash. 

The Pole Beans are to climb up the corn stalk next to it.  They provide enrichment's in the soil the other crop needs, and the squash below is to help prevent weeds.  WE found that we will never do this again.  IT was a MESS.  The beans grew to other stalks making it impossible to move through the stalks easily.  The beans drew Japanese Beetles to the corn.  The Squash never received enough sun and it definitely did not shield the weeds.

Broccoli and cabbage.  Next to the fence are cucumbers and zucchinis

Next to the fence, pole beans, broccoli and cabbage.


Broccoli and zucchini

Beans next to the fence, tomatoes near the front 

Cucumber plant

The 3 Sister Crops... what a mess.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Soaker Hose...what a beauty you are.

June 24th

Funny, our garden was delayed due to graduation, grandchild being born and a whole lot of rain.  Now it is hot hot hot and very little rain.  We needed rain in the worse way, so out came the soaker hoses.  Now I have to set it up in my new little butterfly garden.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Our veggies are doing alright right now.
They are not as big as they typically are
Due to the fact that we planted them so much later this year.
We ended up sticking only to the main garden.
No tub gardens this year except for the lettuce bed and a few herbs.
No hanging basket gardens this year.
Wat we do have is looking decent right now.
Our peppers are growing.
The cabbage is doing wonderful again.
Same with the broccoli
Right now our cucumbers are thriving.  
We have not had a good crop of cucumbers for the past 2 years.  
Right now we have 4 good plants going.
However, I did see a cucumber beetle and they are the demons of our problems in the past.
We have 3 zucchini plants going great as well.
You cannot tell by this photo,
the 3 sister crops are doing well.
The pole beans are growing faster right now then the corn.
However I am sure that will change in a few days.
If all goes well. 
We should have a lot of green beans.
I mean A LOT!
As long as the Japanese beetles stay away from them.
I am finding them now.
Typically it is okay, they do love the beans but the
beans are more mature and can handle it.
This year we are behind schedule for the beans.

Oh guess what...
Do you see it?
Yes! That!
Our first tomato!