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Too many berries? Freeze a pie!

imageMy family loves pie! My son, who lives on the east coast, firmly believes you can’t find a pie there that equals what you can find in the Midwest. With berry season here, you may want to consider making some extra pies now to freeze for later use.

If freezing an UNBAKED filled pie, add an extra 1-2 Tablespoons flour or ½ Tablespoon cornstarch to compensate for the extra moisture that will exude while baking. Do not cut vents in the top of double crust pies before freezing. Wrap, label, and freeze for up to three months. Bake unthawed pies at 425 degrees 15 minutes, reduce heat to 375 degrees, and bake an additional 25-35 minutes. For easier clean-up, bake the pie on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

BAKED and filled double-crust pies may be frozen up to 6 months. Be sure to wrap them well and label them before freezing. When ready to eat the pie, loosen the wrapping, and thaw in the refrigerator. Warm thawed pies in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Cover the edges of the crust with foil to prevent burning if necessary.

I plan to freeze some pies for my son for the next time he comes home!image

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Am I saving money by canning my own food?

Home food preservation has been pretty popular during the time that I’ve been working at AnswerLine.  We certainly get lots of calls about it; but one question is rarely asked. I think BWB1callers assume that they are saving lots of money by preserving food at home.  If you are canning or freezing food only because you think you are saving lots of money, you may want to take a deeper look.

There really are many reasons to preserve your own food.  Gardeners really enjoy tasting produce from their gardens year round.  Some people with health issues are happy to spend time and energy ensuring that the food they have is free from added salt or sugar.  Some people are committed to the idea of local foods, and some people really just enjoy the process of canning or freezing food.

Both of the common forms of food preservation, canning or freezing can provide a lot of entertainment.  However, if you are only interested in the financial aspect of the process then we should consider all the “hidden” costs of preserving your food at home.

You will need to consider:

  1. The cost of buying the freezer and maintaining it
  2. Electricity to run the freezer
  3. Material costs for freezer containers or freezer bags
  4. Ingredients such as water, fruit juice, sugar, anti-darkening solutions
  5. You may also want to consider your time, unless it is a hobby that you truly enjoy
  6. The cost of a canner
  7. The cost of the jars, rings, flats
  8. Electricity or gas for you stove
  9. Canning tools, such as funnels and jar lifters
  10. Repair to the canner, including gasket replacement or gauge testing
  11. The actual cost of the produce you are preserving–either seeds or purchase price
  12. The cost of your recipe books for safe, tested recipes

If you add up all the costs and compare them with the cost of food purchased at the grocery store, you may find you are not saving much money after all.  If you want to calculate the cost of freezing food, Colorado State University has a handy chart to help you calculate.

I’ve always enjoyed the process and using my home preserved foods.  I’ve never really worried about saving money; we just enjoy the food.  Happy canning!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Make your own egg noodles!

I like to make my own egg noodles when I am making a casserole. It seems to add a whole new dimension to an old family recipe.  The recipe is really pretty easy.  It doesn’t take too long, especially if you have one of these noodle makers.

Simply mix together these ingredients in a large bowl:

  • 1 ½ cups of flour
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
  • 2 eggs

Turn them out onto a floured surface and knead gently until the dough sticks together.

noodles, makingCut the dough into four equal sized pieces. Flatten and roll through the widest setting on the noodle maker.  Fold the dough in half and roll again.  Repeat this step a third time.  Now set the roller distance at the next higher setting.  Roll once and then set the roller distance higher (thinner/more narrow).  After the third rolling, lay the long strips on a flat surface and cut into manageable lengths. The length of the noodles is determined by the size of these pieces.

Now roll the noodle dough through the cutters. At this point, you can either place the dough noodles, rollinginto boiling water to cook the noodles or allow the noodles to dry a bit before freezing the raw noodle dough.  My daughter likes to make 3 batches of noodles when she makes noodles.  That allows her one batch for the recipe she is making for dinner that night and two batches to put in the freezer.  The noodles can go directly from the freezer to the boiling water. This is an easy convenience food to have on hand for those nights you need a quick supper.

Enjoy!

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Making Freezer Meals

food saverOur oldest son and our daughter in law just had a baby this week! I am so excited to be a grandma and I have already blogged about making homemade baby food for him.  One of my gifts to the new parents is to help them fill the freezer with healthy, easy meals that they can use to help make mealtime easier for them.  Here are just a few meal suggestions that I am planning on making that will freeze well.

  • Sloppy joes. Just heat and put on a bun.
  • Soups like chili. Ready to rewarm in a variety of sizes.
  • Chicken pot pie. If they are made and frozen individually you can decide how many to get out for dinner.
  • Fajita meat and vegetables. All you need to add are the tortillas, and the toppings.
  • Pulled pork. Add the BBQ sauce and it will be ready to heat and put on a bun.
  • Lasagna. Make it in a small bread pan and it will be the perfect size for a small family.
  • Ground beef or sausage cooked that can be added to a jar of tomato sauce for spaghetti.
  • Baked ziti or other pasta casseroles. Use a pan that is appropriate for the family size and have them thaw it in the refrigerator the night before you eat it.
  • Slices of ham from a spiral ham. Add the number of slices based on the family size.
  • Apple crisp. Make a small pan that they can put in the oven to bake while they are eating their dinner. Everyone needs a dessert!
  • Cookies. Chocolate chip cookies freeze well in an air tight container and they can take one out whenever they need a sweet treat.

I am using my vacuum sealer to keep the meats air tight so they will last in the freezer for a longer time. If you don’t have one make sure you are using freezer bags or containers and try to get out as much air as possible.  This will keep the food from drying out and developing freezer burn.  Remember the more layers of protection the better quality the food will be.  Think about wrapping foods in cellophane wrap then aluminum foil before you put them in the freezer containers or bags.

Remember to use a permanent marker to write the heating directions and a date on the freezer containers. I am also giving my kids a list of the foods that are in the freezer.  They can scratch off the foods when they eat them and they will know what is left in the freezer to eat.

Whether you are making meals for family members or friends that are sick, or after the birth of a child your efforts will be appreciated! If you have any questions on freezing some of your favorite foods give us a call at AnswerLine.

Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Canning Questions All Year Long

It may seem like a strange time of year for a blog about canning but at AnswerLine, we get calls about canning almost every day.  Callers today were canning pork, beef, or planning what products to preserve next summer.

One of our callers today realized that she had not processed her beef at the correct pressure in her canner. She had only done 5 quarts of beef but was concerned that it would not be safe to eat. She was right, that beef was under processed and would not be considered safe to eat. I was happy to tell her that she did have options to correct the problem and she would not have to discard the jars of beef.

  1. The jars could be reprocessed at the proper pressure (PSI) for the entire time prescribed in the recipe. The resulting food would not be quite as high quality as food processed only once but it would be safe. For beef, likely very tender beef would not be problematic but processing green beans a second time does result in an inferior product.
  2. The jars could be stored in the freezer. If the jars are overly filled, you may want to remove a small amount to prevent jar breakage as the food expands in the freezer. These jars will not break in the freezer.
  3. The jars could be stored in the refrigerator and the contents enjoyed within 3-5 days. It would be difficult to use an entire canner load of jars within a week but you may want to enjoy at least one jar in that time.

Any of those three options can be used within 24 hours of the original canning process. You lose those options after that time, so always check to be sure that you used the proper processing time and that your jars have sealed. We offer these solutions to anyone that did not use a proper canning method or for jars that failed to seal.

Hopefully you will not need to use any of these remedies the next time you use your canner; but now you will know your options.

Happy Canning! Call us any time-we are always happy to talk canning with callers.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Use the Correct Canner for Home Food Preservation

People of all ages have started gardening and are home canning to preserve their produce. Knowing the correct steps to safely preserve their bounty is important and something that we love to teach here at AnswerLine.  One question that we often get asked is “Can a pressure cooker be used for home food preservation instead of a pressure canner?”  The answer is NO, they are not the same!  The similarity is that they both trap steam and build up pressure inside the pot.  This happens when the lid, which has a gasket, forms an airtight seal when it is in the locked position.  The pressure then builds up and the high temperature destroys microorganisms more quickly in pressure canning or it cooks food canner1faster in pressure cooking.

Here are some of the differences between the two.

Pressure cookers or pressure saucepans

*Used to rapidly cook meats, vegetables and other foods for meals.

*They heat and cool too quickly to be safely used for pressure canning meats and vegetables in jars

*They are smaller in size and will not hold 4 quart jars.

*Many have no way to regulate the pressure since they have low, medium and high settings. Even the ones with weighted gauges may not accurately regulate the pressure.

 

Pressure canners

*Designed to can low acid foods like vegetables and meat.

*To be considered a pressure canner they must hold more than 4 Quart jars.

*They use a dial or weighted gauge to make sure you are maintaining adequate pressure.

*When canning recipes are being developed, the researchers place a thermocouple into the coldest spot in the jar. They need to know that the cold spot gets hot enough long enough to kill bacteria that may be present. Researchers calculate processing time by adding the time it takes the vessel to get up to pressure, the time at pressure, and the cooling down time. Shortening any of these times will result in an under processed and unsafe product.

Make sure you are using the correct canner when you are doing home food preservation. Using a pressure cooker or pressure saucepan could make your home canned foods unsafe.

Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Making your own baby food

baby-food-224x300In less than 7 weeks we will be blessed with the arrival of our first grandchild!  Needless to say we are all very excited!!  We have been shopping for car seats, strollers and porta cribs but one of the best gifts that I plan to give my new grandson is healthy and nutritious baby food that I have prepared and frozen just for him.  Although solid foods are not introduced to babies for several months I am starting to plan what I can grow and make into tasty baby food.  When you make it yourself not only do you know that the food you are feeding your baby is nutritious but it also costs much less than buying jars at the grocery store, especially as the baby grows and starts eating more!

Here are some tips to remember when making your own baby food:

  • Make sure everything is clean. This includes washing your hands, washing the fresh fruits or vegetables (even when you are peeling them) and using clean equipment.  Babies’ immune systems are more vulnerable to bacteria so practicing safe food handling methods is especially important.
  • Use fresh fruits and vegetables or frozen ones that have no added sugar, salt, flavorings or preservatives.
  • Cook fruits and vegetables to soften them with a small amount of water unless they are already soft like bananas. Save the cooking water to use if foods are too thick when pureeing.  Use a food processor, blender or immersion blender to get the food to the correct consistency.
  • Use ice cube trays to freeze the baby food. Each cube will be approximately 1 ounce.  Once frozen empty the contents of the ice cube tray into a freezer bag.  Mark the outside of the bag the contents and the date when frozen.  When ready to use always thaw in the refrigerator not on the counter.
  • Always throw away any uneaten leftover food in the baby’s dish.

To watch a video on making baby food, use this link from Spend Smart Eat Smart.  If you are wondering when to introduce food to your baby here is some great information from WIC.

Feeding your family healthy and nutritious foods is a priority for everyone.  I can’t wait to spoil my grandson with my homemade baby food made with lots of love.

Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Easy Homemade Christmas Gifts

image

At this time of year I am starting to think about making Christmas gifts. I like to give family and friends something that I’ve made myself. I thought about the list of salt alternative mixtures we have had in the AnswerLine files. I could make several of these recipes and put them into fun glass jars. They would not need to be refrigerated, so I can make them as I have the time. These recipes would make a nice gift for anyone—they don’t have to be on a reduced sodium diet to enjoy these seasoning mixtures. You may want to try this too.

 

 

SPICES AS SALT SUBSTITUTES

SALT SUBSTITUTES

  • 3 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 3 teaspoons onion powder
  • 3 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground basil

Mix thoroughly. Store in salt shake and use in place of salt.

 

5 SPICE SALT-FREE SEASONING BLEND

  • 1/2 tsp. sweet leaf basil
  • 1 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

In bowl, crush basil until fine. Stir in rest of ingredients. Spoon it into a shaker. Use to season meat, chicken, fish, casseroles, vegetables and salads.

 

10 SPICE SALT FREE SEASONING

  • 2 Tablespoons leaf oregano
  • 2 Tablespoons parley flakes
  • 4 teaspoons sweet leaf basil
  • 4 teaspoons leaf tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon leaf sage
  • 4 Tablespoons onion powder
  • 4 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground marjoram
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme

In bowl, combine oregano, parsley flakes, basil, tarragon and sage. Crush with fingers until fine. Stir in onion powder, garlic powder, marjoram, pepper and thyme until blended. Spoon it into a shaker. Use to season meat, chicken, fish, casseroles, vegetables and salads.

REF: Tone’s Spices 1986

 

ORIENTAL SPICE                                       Sodium: About 1.6 mg per teaspoon

  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon anise seed, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate in covered container. To use, sprinkle as desired over poultry or meat stir-fry dishes.

 

SHAKER SPICE BLEND                                         Sodium: 1.78 mg. per tsp.

  • 5 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 1/4 tsp. thyme leaves, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. celery seed

Mix thoroughly and place in shaker for use at table on main dishes or vegetables.

 

HERBED SEASONING                                           Sodium 0.65 mg. per teaspoon

  • 2 Tbsp. dried dillweed/basil leaves, crumble
  • 2 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated dried lemon peel
  • Pinch freshly ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in small bowl and blend well. Spoon it into shaker and use with poultry   and fish. Store it in a cool dry place.

 

SPICY BLEND                                                          Sodium: 0.59 mg. per teaspoon

  • 2 Tbsp. dried savory, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp. dry mustard
  • 2 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 3/4 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp. fresh ground white pepper
  • 1 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 12 tsp. garlic powder

Mix thoroughly and place in shaker. Store it in a cool, dry place. Use in main dishes.

 

HERB ‘N’ LEMON SEASONING                           Sodium: 1 mg per teaspoon

  • Grated peel of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or basil leaves, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate in covered container. Sprinkles desired over meat, poultry or fish before broiling or baking.

REF: Altering Recipes Pm 1064

 

ZIPPY HERB

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. thyme
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. marjoram
  • 1 Tbsp. rosemary leaves
  • 2 tsp. ground sage
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper

 

PEPPY DELIGHT

  • 1 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. rosemary

 

SALT-FREE SURPRISE

  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. powdered lemon rind

I hope you have as much fun making gifts as I will.  Merry Christmas.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Making food ahead

chopping tomatoes for salsaThis is the time of year that we get lots of questions about preparing food ahead of time.  Callers want to make Thanksgiving day (or any day they have family celebrations planned) an easier day by fixing as much of the meal ahead of time as possible.  Often callers want to make and freeze pies and vegetable casseroles days or weeks before the holiday.  Those items typically freeze well and as long as the food is prepared and handled safely there is no problem with an early preparation.

Other callers want to partially cook foods and store them in the refrigerator for a few days before finishing the cooking process and serving.  We typically discourage this sort of short cut as foods that have been partially cooked, cooled, and stored run the risk of bacteria growing to unsafe levels during the storage time.  Those bacteria may not all be killed during the final cooking process. Additionally, the quality of these dishes may not be what we consider “company food”.

We do offer a few tips to people that want to make life easier on the actual holiday.

  1. Dry ingredients can be premeasured and mixed together for baked products and wet ingredients could be premeasured and held in the fridge.  It only takes a couple of minutes to break some eggs and mix all the ingredients together just prior to baking.  And premeasured ingredients don’t make much of a mess in the kitchen.
  2. Plan out the table settings and table linens ahead of time.  Wash and iron linens or wash serving dishes that are used infrequently. This can be done a week or two before the holiday.
  3. Set the table(s) the night before the event.
  4. Either buy precut raw vegetables or cut your own a day or so before the event.
  5. Did you know you can freeze mashed potatoes, or use a recipe that should be prepared a day or so before the event.  There are many recipes for Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes that include garlic, cream cheese, and sour cream.  These recipes should be prepared a day early so the flavors can blend.
  6. Make a time schedule of the preparation times for the items in your menu.  This alone will help you feel more organized and prepared for everything necessary to make the holiday work flow smoothly.

Hopefully these tips will make your holiday easier this year.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Freeze some yeast rolls for Thanksgiving

Rolls I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about making food ahead for Thanksgiving. I’ve noticed information in some of the blogs that I read about making and freezing yeast dough ahead of time and then thawing and baking on Thanksgiving Day.  This method is something that I’ve personally been doing for many years.  I have a favorite roll recipe that I often make for our large family reunions, holiday meals, or just family get-togethers.  The recipe happens to be one that includes a fair amount of butter, milk, eggs, and a bit of sugar.  I always use my bread machine, set to the dough setting.  This allows me to measure out ingredients and walk away to do some other chores while the machine is preparing my dough.  When the bread machine is done with the dough cycle, I shape my rolls and put them on a lightly greased cookie sheet.  I freeze them without letting the shaped rolls rise.  Next, I cover the rolls and put the sheet into the freezer immediately.  As soon as the rolls are solidly frozen, I remove the rolls from the sheet and put them into an airtight container.  Sometimes I use a Tupperware bowl, other times I use a zip style freezer bag.

cinnamon rollsI try to make and freeze the rolls within about 2 weeks of the event. On the day of the event, I place rolls onto the baking sheet and allow them to rise until doubled before I bake them.  This step generally takes about an hour to an hour and a half.  I usually bake them while the turkey (or other meat) is resting before carving.  Any deficiency in the rolls caused by freezing tends to be minimized when you are enjoying rolls fresh out of the oven.

There is still time to make some rolls for your celebrations this year.  Enjoy!

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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