Posts Tagged ‘frugal food storage’

I have had a FoodSaver vacuum sealer for the over 10 years. Since I have been buying meat from local farmers and ranchers, I have hardly touched the vacuum sealer in the past 4 years.

foodsaver play 2Over the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of planning ahead and pre-making some foods that will save me some time over the next few months. I will be having surgery and out of commission for a while and unable to spend time doing the things I normally do, like cook and garden. I will have lots of help to get me through the first few weeks, then the house will be back to the two of us. I want to do what I can now to be prepared and make the time easier on everyone, including me. So, I have been baking bread with onion, sage and oregano to make into stuffing and making bread crumbs. I have been stocking up on dry beans and grains (and cat food and cat little!) I have been drying more of my own herbs. I keep many of the dry herbs in the freezer to help keep them fresh.

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I have seen the jar sealers from FoodSaver and was curious about how they worked, but I couldn’t find anyone that had used them. I finally just took the plunge and bought both the jar sealer for the regular canning jar and the wide mouth canning jar (actually it was one of those practical Christmas presents that I ordered and told my husband he bought me for Christmas!) Hey, that works for us and I love those type of gifts.

I was so excited to receive the jar sealers that I have been on a vacuum-sealing spree and loving loving loving it. I have pulled all my dry herbs out of the freezer and vacuum-sealed them in canning jars. Most of the things in our cupboards are in glass jars, but I decided to switch them out into canning jars so that I could vacuum seal them. You may remember that I have an obsession with jars…. well, all those jars really came in handy.

I have gone through my soap/lotion-making cabinet and vacuum sealed the elderflower, the calendula and many other dry herbs. Next on my list is making crackers and getting those all vacuum sealed to retain freshness. When sealing anything in jars, just make sure it is completely dry. If there is any moisture and you vacuum seal your jars, you items will not be fresh.

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I have not had these jar sealer for long, but so far I am thrilled with how they work and how easily the jars seal. I love that all the air gets sucked out and that means the contents should stay super fresh for a very long time.

I think these jar sealers make sense if you buy things in bulk, if you are planning ahead, if you are living in a humid climate and you want to extend the shelf life of you food. It all ties in with my frugal nature and trying to plan ahead and be prepared.

Have you used any jar sealers? I would love to hear how they work for you and how you like using them.

Sincerely, Emily

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Like anybody needs another pumpkin pie recipe…I promise this is a little different.

//i37.tinypic.com/nq4n4x.jpg" target="_blank">View Raw Image</a>Different as in what do you do when your hubby is tired of 500# of winter squash sitting in your living room. 
I have found over the years I can buy a little more time if I bake a pie or two.  I’m actually getting tired of the dogs jumping over the squash and throwing their chew bones in the middle of the pile and playing cucurbit and seek.  They just think I have brought the garden in, and gamboling inside on a rainy day is right up their alley.

These are our Sweet Meat winter squash.  Our pumpkin substitute that keeps until May without any processing.  That’s why we like them so much.  Any vegetable I can store without processing is a winner in my book.

The squash are just curing here in the livingroom, because it is warmer.  Soon they will be moved to our unheated upstairs, where it is cool and dry.  Ideal squash storage area.


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On average, we use at least a 15# squash per week, mostly as a vegetable, but sometimes for desserts.   Nothing goes to waste, we eat the seeds or they go to the milk cow, the dogs eat the cooked skin, and we eat the flesh.  We save the seeds from the longest keeping, best tasting squash in the spring.

To have it on hand all week, I steam half the squash at a time, and store it in the fridge.  This way it is cooked and ready to heat and eat for a quick lunch, or dinner vegetable, or… .

I do steam it, because I like it moist, and it takes less electricity or wood than baking it.  To make a pie, the texture is better steamed.

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Here is the difference – the praline filling before the pumpkin squash pie filling.  Placed in the bottom of the pie shell and baked for 10 minutes, then cooled while you are making your custard, and baked again. 

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Praline baked and cooling.

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I got in a good habit in Home Ec in high school, having everything ready before making a recipe, but I had kind of let this good habit slip.  When I started homeschooling, I saw this as a perfect opportunity to teach my daughter, not only the basics of cooking, but also math, and reading.  To make it easy for a child, I would have her measure everything and put each ingredient in a pile so she could see where she was in the recipe.  It helps me too, sometimes I have to do recipes in small snippets of time.  Even if I measure this out hours before I actually make the pie, I can easily look in the bowl and check to see if I forgot something or measured incorrectly.  

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Sweet meat squash doesn’t have strings to speak of, so the egg beater will take care of what little there is.  The strings will wrap around the beaters and can be rinsed off before adding other ingredients.  I just puree it as I needed.   

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Filling ready to bake.  The foil is to protect the edge during the second baking.

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Not bad for squash pie.

Here is the recipe for enough filling for two pies, and praline for one.  It is rich, and sweet, a little goes a long way.  Pie crust is pretty subjective so I didn’t include a recipe for crust.

PUMPKIN PRALINE PIE      praline for one 8″ pie, filling for two 8″ pies

Praline for one 8″ pie
2 T softened butter
1/3 c brown sugar
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans or ?
Preheat oven to 450*F.  Cream butter and brown sugar.  Blend in pecans.  Press firmly into unbaked pie shell.  Bake for 10 minutes, watching for so crust does not puff up or slip.  If it does puff, prick the puffs with a fork and pat the crust back into place with the back of the fork.  Cool before filling.

Pumpkin pie filling      enough for two 8″ pies

4 c pureed squash or pumpkin
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
1/2 t salt
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t cloves
2 eggs, beaten
2 c whole milk

Preheat oven to 400*F.
Combine pureed pumpkin and dry ingredients.  Mix well.  Add eggs, milk and mix well.  Pour into pie shells and bake for about an hour.  Depending on your oven, the pie may be done sooner.  When a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, the pie is done. 

This filling can be made a day in advance and refrigerated.  I use this for pumpkin custard without the crust or praline too.

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