Putting up Green Beans for Winter

This was originally posted in 2008. This is evident in the fact that Justus and Elias are only 8 and 6 in the picture below. They are now 14 and 12. Time flies - and little boys become teenagers. The green bean freezer method is still the same, however. Since we have been harvesting many the past few weeks, I thought it would be fun to re-post this tutorial. :)

How to Freeze Fresh Green Beans

After posting about how I put up corn for winter, many of you asked about green beans.  I just happen to be in the middle of crazy green bean season.  So…here you go!!

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After picking our beans, I usually get my boys on “bean snapping duty” right away.  (They never complain about this job.  I think it’s because they are given permission to “break things”….what do you think?)  They snap off the ends and put the green beans into a colander.  As soon as the colander is full I wash the beans to try to get as much “garden” (my nice way of saying bugs and dirt) off.

It is my understanding that in order to maintain as much green bean nutrition as possible, it is best to only snap the ends off the bean…not to snap the bean into pieces.  It makes sense that if you snap the green bean into three pieces, when you cook the bean, more of the nutrients will be washed away in the water.  But if it’s a whole bean…more of the nutrients stay inside the bean.  (And you can have “My green bean is longer than your green bean” competitions while you eat dinner.)

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After washing the green beans, I then put them into a pot of boiling water.  This blanching process stops their aging process.  (No, you can not blanche people in order to stop their aging process.)

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After about two minutes in the boiling water, the green beans are a brighter green…and they go back into the colander where they are given a cold, cold shower.  This process stops the cooking process that the blanching part started.

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After the green beans are cooled from the cold water shower, I then spread them out onto a dry towel.  I use another towel to pat over the top of them to help dry them off more.  If your beans are too wet when you put them into a freezer bag, you’ll have ice form around your beans.  (You don’t want ice to form around your beans.)

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And then, I put my beans into a gallon freezer bag and label it.  And into the freezer it goes. I know some people prefer to can their green beans.  I don’t can them for two reasons:

1.  Freezing them maintains more of the green bean’s nutrition.
2.  I’m incredibly afraid of my pressure cooker.  (When I got my mom’s pressure cooker, it didn’t have a manual with it.  I have no idea how to use it properly.)  I do not need to cause an explosion in my kitchen.

So there you go!  As I begin to can and freeze my tomatoes and fruit for the winter, I’ll be sure to show you those processes too!  (Yeah, because those don’t require a pressure cooker, just a hot water bath…and I’m not so afraid of those.)

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You Can Freeze a Whole Peach

You Can Freeze a Whole Peach

Stick around here, and you might learn a thing or two from me every once in a while.  But I guarantee that if you stick around here, you’ll learn loads of great information from all my readers!  You all continue to amaze me with all of your cool, helpful, and time-saving knowledge.  Ahhh, I love walking this homemaking journey with all of you.  {wipes a tear with her stained apron}

Here’s the latest comment that had many of us saying, “Really?  You can do that?! I can’t wait to try it!”

On my 10 Healthy and Easy Peach Recipes post, Jenny from DIY Parenting said, “We learned something VERY exciting last year… you can freeze whole peaches! Wash them, let them dry, then put them on a tray whole WITH the skins in the freezer. Once they are frozen solid, put them into freezer bags. Take out one as you need it. While still frozen, you can easily run your hands over the skin under water to remove it (if you want). Then let sit until thawed. This is how we now enjoy peaches, with no added sugar and without canning them, all year long.”

Well now that’s a tip that will save me loads of time and effort.  I decided to try it.  (How many of you did too?)

Into the freezer went some peaches…

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Once frozen, I peeled one, just to see how easy it was.  Oh wow, look at how that skin came right off with no effort at all!

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For the record, we will generally be eating our peaches with the skin on, but one or two of my kids prefer it skinless – and at this point, I figure, hey whatever gets them to eat a peach, right?

I then sliced the peach into some cottage cheese for a refreshing snack.  It was heaven in a bowl.  And it was practically effortless.

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You know what I love best about this freezing peaches whole tip?  (Besides how easy it is – because truly, this process could not get any easier. Unless I send my kids to the freezer with the peaches. Which I will. But besides that.)  I love that the nutrients in the peach are preserved with this method.  Home canned peaches are great, but the cooking process does kill some of the nutrients.  Frozen peaches though?  Straight from tree to freezer, then into a bowl for a snack.  Nourishing, and so juicy and delicious.

Jenny – I’m so thankful you shared this tip.  You’ve changed the way I’ll preserve peaches from now on.

Whatever shall I do with all my extra time??

This post was originally published August 29, 2013.

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Confessions of an Applesauce Maker

I’m not making any applesauce this year.  Not even a little bit.  As much as I love making and preserving applesauce for my family, and as easy as it is to make applesauce with my Victorio – I am very happy to take the year off from this endeavor.

Why am I not making applesauce?  Because I counted up jars I have leftover from the stash I made last year, and I found that I have plenty of applesauce to last us through the winter.  I don’t need any, so I’m checking that task off my list.  Yay!

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For those of you who don’t have a pantry full of applesauce, I did want to remind you of what I learned last year:  Making applesauce with a Victorio is by far the easiest method I’ve found.

So how about you?  Are you making applesauce this year?

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Great Price on Stainless Steel Stock Pots

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I just came across a set of three stainless steel stock pots at Amazon for a great price!

Get an 8, 12, and 16 quart stainless steel stock pot for just $34.97 – total!  I just have one 16-quart stock-pot, and love the size.  To have two more at different sizes would come in so handy!

I will say that this set doesn’t look to be the finest quality you’ll ever find.  They are light weight, for sure.  But stainless steel is a great, healthy cooking option.  I much prefer stainless steel over Teflon.  And you can’t beat the price (unless you find them used at a garage sale, of course.)  :)

How would I use these?  I’d use them to make big batches of homemade applesauce.  I’d use them to make chicken broth.  I’d use them to make chili and soup.  Oh yes, I would use them.  :)

Do you have a stock pot?  What do you use it for?

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Free Printables From Heavenly Homemakers ~ Fun Canning Labels

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It’s canning season (she says as she wipes tomato sauce out of her hair.)  I love this time of year (after it’s over).  There’s nothing I love more than seeing jar after jar of homemade canned produce (finished and cleaned up after).

What can I say?  I’m a little tired from putting up peaches and tomatoes.  But the work is worth it as we are becoming well stocked on food for winter.

In honor of this season, what better free printable can we offer than some pages of canning labels - cute canning labels at that!

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Because we know that not only do you enjoy freebies and cute labels, you enjoy blessing others also – some of the labels sport a “Made for You” tagline if you are choosing to gift your jar of goodies to someone else.  Or some are left blank so that you can use them as you wish.  These are available in four different colors - all have the “Made for You” or blank option.

What if you don’t do any canning?  You can use these labels in all sorts of other ways too!  They’d be great to put onto the top of a wrapped loaf of Applesauce Bread or plate of cookies.  Better yet, bake the Applesauce Bread IN a jar.

Need more “Gifts in a Jar” inspiration?  Check out all of these ideas.  Download this free Gifts in a Jar eBook too.

Download as many pages as you would like!

Pink Labels – Blank

Pink Labels – MadeForYou

Teal Labels – Blank

Teal Labels – MadeForYou

Gray Labels – Blank

Gray Labels – MadeForYou

Green Labels – Blank

Green Labels – MadeForYou

If you want to print them directly onto sticker paper, you’ll want to look for 2″ round sticker labels, 16 per page - like these.

 Looking for more free printables?  Click here to look through what we have so far.  There are many more to come!

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I Should Become a Victorio Salesman

I think I might just do it.

I love the Victorio Food Strainer so much that I may just go into business.  I’ll pack a bunch of apples and tomatoes into my kids’ wagon, then I’ll go door to door, demonstrating to everyone I meet how wonderful the Victorio is for making applesauce and tomato sauce.  I’ll show everyone how easy it is to set up, how much time it saves in making these great sauces, and how lovely the finished product is.  Once they see it, they will hug me and thank me for sharing this invaluable kitchen tool.  Then they will excitedly begin chopping some apples so that they too can easily make applesauce in their brand new Victorio.

It will be beautiful.  Can’t you just picture it?

Sure, some will be skeptical.  They will say to me, “Thanks anyway, but I already know how to make applesauce.  It’s easy.  You just have to core the apples, cook them, then run them through a blender.”  And then I will tell them that as easy as that is, using the Victorio makes the process even easier and saves even more time!  And I will add some exclamation marks to the end of my sentence because of how much time this will save them.   !!!!!!!

Yes, it just might be my new career.  But first, I’ve got to finish using my Victorio in my own kitchen to make my own tomato sauce and apple sauce…

This message was brought to you by the Heavenly Homemaker after quickly and excitedly finishing a delicious batch of tomato sauce.

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Do You Have a Victorio?

Last week, as I was describing to one of our visitors how I make applesauce, I was reminded that I have an awesome new tool in my kitchen:  my Victorio food strainer.

I guess it’s not really new anymore, but it feels new because I don’t get new “toys” very often and I only found out about the amazing Victorio last summer.  How in the world did I ever make applesauce or tomato sauce without it??  Whichever of you wonderful ladies told me about this last year – thank you!  Because of it, I can not wait to make sauce this year.  It has simplified my canning process so much.

Our tomato plants are loaded with small green tomatoes, which means that soon, it will be loaded with big red tomatoes!

The Victorio is discounted right now to $51.58 at Amazon, so I wanted to be sure you knew about it and could take advantage.  With the amount of money I save making our own apple and tomato sauces, and the amount of time I save making them with the Victorio, I would have to say that it was one of the best ways I’ve ever spent $52!

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Victorio Food Strainer – Makes Awesome Tomato Sauce!

After learning how great my new Victorio Food Strainer is at making homemade applesauce, I was super excited to use it to make Homemade Tomato Sauce.  I was finally able to experiment with it a couple weeks ago.

The easiest way I’ve found to prepare tomatoes for sauce is to roast them in the oven.  Then, instead of running them through the blender like I have in the past, this time, I put them through my Victorio.

Or rather, I had my friend Piper run them through my Victorio.  She and her brothers had spent the day with us, and she was happy to come into the kitchen and help me.  You know what this proves?  It proves that in a house that holds seven boys, sometimes we women need to stick together.  And it also proves that the Victorio is easy enough for an eight year old to use! 

She had that tomato sauce strained in no time.  And look!  It’s so pretty it looks like it came directly out of a jar from the store.  Except that it didn’t.  It’s homemade and it’s organic and it’s made from fresh tomatoes from our garden!

A few days later, I made some awesome spaghetti sauce (um, if I do say so myself).  I really meant to be bragging about the Victorio’s capability to make incredibly smooth tomato sauce, not on my ability to make delicious spaghetti sauce.  Really.

 I know several of you have shared that you also decided to invest in a Victorio Food Strainer.  Are you pleased with it so far?  I let my friend Jenny borrow mine and she loved it so much she bought one for herself.  I’m telling you – it’s an incredible tool for the kitchen if you do a lot of canning!

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Victorio Food Strainer and Sauce Maker – Best Investment Ever for Homemade Applesauce and Tomato Sauce!

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I’ve always known all of you were smart.  You’ve proven it to me once again.

Last year, while I was making applesauce and experimenting with ways to make the process easier, many of you suggested that I get a Victorio Food Strainer.  Before that day, I had never even heard of this gadget.  And I’ll admit, I really questioned – would a Victorio really make the process of making applesauce go any faster?  I mean, there are apple cores and bad spots to deal with.  No matter how easy the process, you still have to prepare the apples.  I’m usually dealing with several bushels of apples at one time.  It takes time.  It takes work.  There’s no way around it.

Or is there?  (There is!  There is!)

I’m so excited after making 13 quarts of applesauce yesterday, I could do flips.  And guess what?  Since I invested in a Victorio, I still actually have the energy to do flips!  (Not that I can or will.  I’m not that coordinated.)

But it’s true.  The Victorio DID made the applesauce making process much faster and easier.  Like hours easier.  I can’t believe how much time I saved compared to how long it used to take me to make applesauce.

I’ve tried all kinds of methods of making applesauce:

Yes, I’ve been making applesauce for years, using all varieties of methods to save myself time.  This is why I feel like I have a leg to stand on when I say that using a Victorio Food Strainer is by far the easiest, fastest, most efficient way to make homemade applesauce – especially if you are making large amounts!  (I’m also very sure this is going to save time while I make tomato sauce, though I don’t have enough tomatoes ready yet to give it a try.)

With the Victorio, you wash the apples, halve or quarter them, cook them down, then run them through the Victorio.  You don’t core them.  You barely touch them.  My hands didn’t even turn brown – and I did loads of apples!!  And this is why I want to turn flips.

Here’s a picture of what my new toy looks like:

I even figured out how to put it together all by myself.  Aren’t you impressed?!

Here’s a little tutorial to show how easy this process was.  You wash your apples (or in my case, you ask your children to wash the apples while you are working on other jobs in the kitchen).

You halve or quarter your apples and put them into a big stock pot.  I simply halved mine since they were small.

Add a little water to the pot to keep the apples from scorching, then you cook them for 15-25 minutes until they are soft (while you go do something else!).  Then you run the soft apples through your Victorio.  The process barely even challenged my arm muscles it was so easy.

All the core and skin comes out the shoot, leaving bowl after bowl full of beautiful, smooth applesauce.

I had enough applesauce yesterday that after we all ate as much as we wanted, I canned 13 quarts using the water bath method.  Awesome!

The jars are still sitting on my countertop so that I can admire them for a little while longer before putting them away.  You know I always have to do that right?  ;)

I have to say that the Victorio Food Strainer was a wonderful investment.  Anything that saves me time in the kitchen, especially during the fall season when all the garden produce threatens to overtake my kitchen, is a life saver.  It is very reasonably priced for such a handy appliance.

Do you have a Victorio?  Do you love it?  Do you want to turn flips with me over how great this thing is?

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Healthy Crockpot Recipes: Apple Butter

Many of you offered suggestions as to how to make Apple Butter – thank you!  My house smelled wonderful for hours, thanks to all of you!  I decided to experiment with my friend Leesa’s apple butter method, and found it to be very simple and delicious.  I only made a small amount this time, since I was experimenting – so you’ll want to double or triple this recipe if you want a larger amount.  When I started with one quart of applesauce, I ended up with two and a half – half pints of apple butter.  However, it is very clear to me that writing half – half just looks weird and confusing.  It may make more sense for me to say that one quart of applesauce resulted in 2.5 half-pint jars of apple butter.

Or we could say that I ended up with one full pint plus a half of a half pint of apple butter.  This is, of course, the same as two and a half cups of apple butter, which is otherwise known as five half cup portions of apple butter, better known as ten – 1/4 cup portions, which we all know is precisely 20 – half of a half of a half of a half of a half pints of apple butter.  Give or take a half of a half of a pint.

I’m done now.

Homemade Apple Butter

1 quart homemade apple sauce
2 Tablespoons sucanat
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Stir ingredients into a crock pot.  Cook on low for about six hours on low setting, with LID OFF, stirring occasionally.

Store the apple butter in the refrigerator - or process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes to seal.  If the jars are sealed properly, you can store your apple butter in the pantry until you’re ready to serve.

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Caution:  Contents cooking in crock pot are hot.  Refrain from sticking a finger into the crock pot for a lick, even though the delicious smell will create a major temptation.  Dipping in with a teaspoon is obviously a much better option.  No double dipping allowed.  In addition, be aware that partaking in too many licks from the crock pot will result in a smaller amount of finished product, which will mean that all of the math I labored over above, rounding carefully to the nearest half of a half pint, will be null and void.

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