Gratituesday: Filling the Pantry

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Gardening. Canning. Preserving. Freezing. Slicing.  It is so much work.

I really don’t have time for this. But I also don’t have time not to do it. So I make time, or somehow, as always, God provides the time. The family pitches in to help, and eventually we get it all done.

The beauty of working so hard to get garden veggies and orchard fruit preserved in the summer and fall is that this winter it will all be convenience food for our family! It will be super easy to pull these goodies out of the pantry or freezer and serve them quickly with our meals. That’s why I make the time – that and because it saves us hundreds of dollars. That’s pretty nice too. :)

It’s been a few years since we canned any peaches. We’ve only had enough to freeze some for smoothies. This year, we got ourselves set for smoothies, and filled several jars to eat plain or with cottage cheese. These peaches turned out so pretty!

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We’ve made loads of applesauce. What you see below is barely a sampling. Thanks to cucumbers a friend passed along to us, we are all set with dill pickles and sweet pickle relish for the year. I also made a few jars of salsa (my mom’s recipe). Sometimes, I just open my pantry to stare at all the pretty jars full of food. That alone makes the hard work all worth it. :)

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It was ironic that I was gawking at my jars of home-canned produce and taking pictures to share with you today. Just as I was doing that, the UPS man showed up on our porch with part of our Amazon Subscribe and Save order. FUN!! (See many of the specifics here.)

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I snapped a picture of the packaged food (and household items) too. I thought it would be good to show you those along with my home-canned produce. Yep, sometimes I rely on packaged cereal on busy mornings. Sometimes we like chips for a treat.  It’s all about balance, right?

I just LOVE a full pantry, and thank God that he has provided so much (mostly) free produce to preserve. I also thank Him for the great deals I find online that are delivered to my door. How fun that I got to stare at so many household blessings for my family today. Thank you, God for the bounty!

How about you? What are you thankful for this Gratituesday?

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?

Leaving the Skins on Homemade Applesauce and Apple Pies

Slowly but surely I’m getting a few things figured out with this applesauce-making business. Many of you left comments sharing that you were shocked that with all the canning I do, I don’t have a Victorio. Others were shocked that I take off the apple skins. Yep, I’m just learning along with the rest of us here. I didn’t grow up doing any canning, so I’m learning as I go. I’d never even heard of a Victorio or a Squeezo before last week, so I’ve appreciated your ideas and suggestions!

Since I don’t have a Victorio strainer, nor do I know anyone who has one I can borrow, and since I’ve got apples that need to be put up right now, I went ahead and tried yet another applesauce method. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner! (I think we will probably end up investing in a nice strainer, especially for tomato sauce. But for apples, can you all reassure me that the bad, wormy parts in the apples really do get strained out?  I’m still hesitant about that since the apples I work with aren’t always pretty once I cut into them. Really – do I just quarter them and throw them all into the pot, worms and all?)

This time, I followed the advice of leaving the skins on and blending them up along with the apples. I hesitated with this idea at first because I figured there would be little bits of apple peelings in the sauce and that my family would rebel. Well, what’s a mother to do, but to try the idea and not tell her family what she’s done?

Sure enough – I cooked my apples, ran it all through my food processor, served it up, and would you believe – not one boy or husband knew that there were apple peelings in the applesauce!

Not only did this method save lots of time, we’re getting a healthier applesauce. Plus, there was much less waste – so I got several more quarts of applesauce for my efforts!! Ahhh, I’m so happy about this.

Applesauce Instructions:

Quarter and core apples, cutting out bad spots. Cook apples in a large pot, following these directions. When the apples are soft, run them through a food processor until smooth. See, the peelings just get blended up in there! (I don’t have an immersion blender, but according to many of you, sticking the immersion blender directly into the pot saves yet another step. I may ask for one for Christmas.)  :)

I used some of my “special” jars this time, because this applesauce is so pretty. These jars came from my late friend Lorna Mae. I miss her. :(  I think she’d be thrilled that her jars are being put to good use for my family.

I also made a bunch of mini apple pies, a big apple pie and an apple crisp – all with apple skins left on. I may never peel another apple again.

 

So there we have it. Leaving the skins on the apples when making applesauce and apple pies saves time and adds nutrients. Now, on to the Apple Butter…