Canning FAQ 2 or How do I get myself into these situations?

It’s time again for a FAQ.  So prepare yourself for the awesomeness that is a new FAQ and a little bit of my real life.

This weeks question is a fairly simple one but a very important one.  What equipment do I need?  This is a question that a lot of new canners have.

You CAN go out and spend a lot of money on fancy pots and jar lifters and other such stuff.  However all you really need is a pot deep enough to cover your jars with at least an inch of water, something to keep them off the bottom of the pot, and of course your jars, lids, and rings.

That’s it.  Really it’s that simple.  I personally have other things that make it easier.  A jar lifter, a canning pot (that I got at the local army navy store for $15),   and ways to organize my stuff.

You don’t need all that stuff to get started canning however.  You just need the three items listed above.  Oh and stuff to put in the jars.

I’ve also taken up a new hobby.  Not that I don’t already have a ton of other ones, canning, knitting, crochet, cross stitch, kumihimo just to name a few.  I have just started locker hooking.

For those of you not familiar with what that is, it’s quite simple really.  It’s making rugs.  Okay it’s a little more complicated than that but it’s still simple.  You pull strips of fabric, or yarn through a mesh and lock them in place with a locking material.  I’m using some really old really cheap yarn that I got a few years ago on e-bay.

However I made the mistake of sending a picture of my partially completed project to my roommate who is out of town right now and will be back in less than a week.  I also told him that I would have it done by the time he gets back so he can see the finished project.

However, I start a new job this Sunday and have to get myself back onto a sleeping at night awake in the day schedule in those 5 days.  I also have some canning projects that I want to do, I have to clean my carpets before my mom comes to get her carpet cleaner back tomorrow, and I’m getting my cracked windshield replaced in a few hours.  Ugh.  What did I sign myself up for?


Canning FAQ 1 Or You’re in some pretty hot water.

So I have asked my roommates, who don’t can, to pretend they were interested in canning and give me some questions that a new/novice canner might have.  There will be a series of posts covering these questions.  If you can think of one that I don’t cover please feel free to post it in the comments of any of my FAQ posts.  These posts will also be linked from my FAQ page.

The first question they came up with, and I think it’s a good one, is “How hot does the water need to be?”  This question actually requires a non-answer.

That non-answer is well that depends.  Are you doing a water bath canning process or a pressure canning process?  Also it doesn’t really matter how hot the water is.

You see you don’t get the water to a certain temperature and then drop in your jars.  If you’re doing a water bath canning process you start your process time when the water comes to a full rolling boil.  You might ask what a rolling boil is.

A rolling boil is so aggressive that it cannot be disturbed or disrupted by stirring, or by dropping ingredients into the water. What that means is that you can stick a spoon in the water and stir till your arm falls off but the water will still be boiling.

If you’re doing pressure canning then you never actually get to see the water boil.  However because increasing the pressure causes the water to boil at a much higher temperature than normal, normal being 100°C (212°F), you get a hotter boil than you would in a regular water bath canner.

Either way you need a boil.  How hot the water is just depends on the pressure it’s under.  For example I live at about 5,000 ft above sea level.  That means that water boils at a lower temperature here than it does down there.  So when I process in my water bath canner I have to process for longer times.  If I had a pressure canner I would have to put a heavier weight on the canner or let the dial get to a higher pressure before I started my timer.

Just make sure you always get your water to a boil, or your pressure to the right weight, before you start your timer and you’ll be golden.  Your food will be safely processed for shelf stability.

New Condiments Or What is going to make my sandwiches awesome for the next few days! And giveaway.

I have been reading a lot of blogs about all sorts of things lately.  New canning recipes and all natural beauty products mostly.

If you follow me on Twitter (@HFVinegar), or FaceBook, or have previously read this blog you’ll know that I have already made my own mustard.  Since it was so easy to do I decided to make more and use up a bit more of my mustard seeds.  This time it was garlic red wine mustard.  Recipe below.

It’s a beautiful pink color from the red wine and the red wine vinegar.  It smells divine and I can’t wait for it to mellow enough to eat.  You see you have to let your mustard sit in the fridge for a bit after you blend it to let the flavors meld and mellow before you go sticking your butter knife in.  Not sure if I told you that last time and I’m too lazy to go check.

I also made a batch of pickled red onions last night.  They’re sitting on the counter fresh out of the canner waiting to ping.  That has got to be the most satisfying sound on the face of the earth.  When your freshly processed items pop signaling that you have properly processed them.  As I’m writing this sentence I just heard one go.

The onions are another beautiful pink.  Since they’re red onions a bit of the quercetin, yes I Googled what makes red onions red, that is in the skin leaches out into the pickling brine.  Over time it will soak back into the onions making them pink.  I’m sure they will be very yummy in a few weeks when they have matured enough for the flavors to all meld.

And from the beauty blogs I’ve been reading I made lotion bars.  Very easy to make and they make your skin so soft and yummy.  Since I used cocoa butter as one of the ingredients I added peppermint e.o. (essential oil) as my scent.  Oh they smell just like mint chip ice cream.  Using them makes me crave it.  So I went and bought some and have already eaten about half of it.

Shut up!  I’m an adult I can eat two bowls of ice cream in one sitting if I want to!  I drink DIET Dr. Pepper.  That makes up for it.

Any who, here are the recipes.

Garlic Red Wine Mustard

Get This:

  • 3 Tbsp Yellow Mustard Seeds
  • 3 Tbsp Brown Mustard Seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1 tsp salt

Do This:

  1. Put everything in a jar, at least a pint jar it will come close to the top.
  2. Put a lid on it and ignore it in the fridge for at least 24 hours, or do what I do and leave it on the counter for 12. But whatever you do don’t mess with it. Okay you can mess with it a little bit like stir it up to dissolve the salt that you didn’t see just made a lump in the bottom of the jar.
  3. The next day blend. This is the part where you get to decide how smooth you want your mustard to be. It’s up to you for a little more chunky blend less. For smoother blend more.
  4. Put it back in the jar and put it in the fridge for another 24 hours before you eat it. I know this will be hard but you have to let it sit or it won’t taste as good.

Pickled Red Onions (recipe stolen and posted without permission from Food in Jars)

Get This:

  • 3 lbs red onions
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp pickling salt
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes

Do This:

  1. Slice the onions thinly, a mandolin really helps here, and boil them for 4 min in a large non reactive pan. After they have cooked for 4 min drain them and let them stay in the colander while you combine the ingredients for the brine.
  2. In the same non reactive pan you used to cook the onions combine the rest of the ingredients, the brine. When the sugar and salt have dissolved add back in the onions and stir to combine. Remove from the heat.
  3. Fill your prepared jars, I’m going to assume you know how to do that, leaving a 1/2 inch head space.
  4. Make sure to “burp” your jars and top off any that are too low.
  5. Wipe rims and apply rings fingertip tight
  6. Process for 10 min at sea level. Do not forget to adjust for altitude if you live above 1,000 feet.
  7. Remove from water bath and allow to cool then remove rings and store somewhere dark and cool for at least 48 hours before you crack them open.
  8. Enjoy your yummy pickled red onions.

Mint Chip Lotion Bars

Get This:

  • 3 oz cocoa butter
  • 3 oz beeswax
  • 3 oz grape seed oil
  • 6 vitamin E capsules
  • 15 to 20 drops peppermint essential oil

Do This:

  1. In a double boiler, which you can easily make with 2 pans, melt the cocoa butter, beeswax, grape seed oil, and contents of the vitamin E capsules (not the whole gel cap, poke a whole with a pin and squeeze out the contents then throw the outside gel cap away).
  2. When these are all melted and thoroughly combined add in your essential oil.
  3. Pour into silicon molds and let set until hardened.
  4. Slather all over your winter dry skin and revel in the softness that is you.  Also don’t lick yourself.

The only downside so far for the lotion bars is portability.  I need to figure out a way to take it to work with me because my hands get soo dry there playing with card board all night.  I’m sure if I try real hard I’ll figure out a way.  Any ideas anyone?  If you give me a good idea and it works I’ll even send you one of My Mint Chip Lotion bars.  But it does have to be an idea that works and you have to be the first one to comment with that idea.

Edit: I forgot to give you a deadline. In order to win, your comment must be posted no later than 11:59 MT on Sunday March 18, 2012. That gives you more than a week to figure out how to do this and post your comment.

Day Thirty Eight! Or I’ll call it Shepherd’s Pie if I want too!

So the sourdough that I put into the bowl almost 2 days ago to bulk proof didn’t get baked until this morning.  It just came out of the oven and looks a little flat but the loaves are much larger than any I’ve made before.  So we’ll have to wait and see.

While it was baking I was reading a new, to me, blog, What Julia Ate, and ran across an old post she had put up about making a version of sheperds pie, also known as cottage pie.

This is a potato covered pie that is made using, originally, what ever left over roasted meat is on hand.  Since then it has been changed to be, traditionally, made with lamb.

I remember however when I was younger my mom had that famous red and white checked cookbook, you all know the one I’m talking about, and it was the old one too.  Where everything is made with cream and butter and bacon fat and tastes AWESOME!  And if my brother thinks he’s getting that when my mom passes away in say 40 years he has another think coming.

Anyway, it has a recipe for what they call hamburger pie which is essentially a shepherd’s pie made with hamburger and tomato soup instead of gravy.  It’s warm and yummy and not at all good for you.

So I made some and I’m going to eat it all over the next few days.  I put way too much cheese on top but I remember never having enough cheese for my liking.  Because that’s always the part you eat first.  The potatoes that have the cheese stuck to them, or the cheese that has potato stuck to it.  However you want to look at it.

Hamburger pie

Get this:

  • 1 lb ground beef (the leaner the better, less draining)
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup
  • 1 can green beans (drain these)
  • half a small onion chopped very fine or shredded
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • mashed potatoes (either instant or homemade)
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • grated cheese (whatever flavor you like I use cheddar)

Do this:

  1. Brown the hamburger and add the onion and salt and pepper, if necessary drain the meat
  2. Add the tomato soup and green beans to the hamburger and mix well
  3. Put this mixture in a casserole dish, I use an 8X8 and mix right in the dish
  4. Prepare your mashed potatoes and mix in the beaten egg, this makes them stiffer when cooked
  5. Top with your mashed potatoes
  6. Top this with your shredded cheese
  7. Put the whole thing in a preheated 350° oven for 25 to 30 min or until the cheese is bubbly

Then eat it!  Serve it with some fresh made sourdough and I guarantee your family will love you for at least a little while.  And it only get’s better with reheating.

You don’t have to do this exactly either.  You can use gravy instead of tomato soup.  Add corn instead of green beans.  Use chicken instead of ground beef.  The possibilities are endless.  Just don’t forget the egg in the potatoes.  That is very very important.

Day Thirty Seven! Or What have I been doing for the last month?

Wow!  Has it already been a month since my last post?  I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun.  That’s what they say at least.

In the last month my sourdough starter has blossomed wonderfully and I have made several batches of sourdough bread with it.  Some just came out of the oven earlier tonight and I have another batch sitting in the bowl proofing over night.

I am of the over night proof school.  I know there are several people that say you don’t have to do this.  You can just let it sit for a few hours and then bake it off.  I like letting it set over night.  That way when I get the urge to make some bread and it’s almost bed time I can just take a few minutes to mix it up and bake it tomorrow.

I have been using a recipe I found online and will post below.  Until tonight I had been kneading the dough before letting it bulk proof.  Tonight I have decided to just mix it enough to get the ingredients incorporated and then knead tomorrow before shaping and final proofing. I am hoping that this will give me a smoother more finely textured sourdough that isn’t as tough as what I have been getting.  Either way I will let you know.

Since my last post I have also, finally, found a job.  It’s not a great job and it’s not even full time but it is a job.  With my unemployment scheduled to run out at the end of March it couldn’t have come at a better time.  I’m not going to tell you where I work just that it’s one of the big box stores.  I am an overnight stocker.  So four days a week from 10 pm to 7 am I get to open cases of stuff and put it on the shelves so all you crazy little shoppers can come in the next day and mess up my pretty shelves by putting stuff you changed your mind about back on some random shelf in the wrong aisle where it doesn’t belong.

But hey it’s job security.  So you keep messing up my shelves.  It’s ok.  But please if you change your mind on something refrigerated please at least put it back on a refrigerated shelf.  Anything we find that isn’t we take a loss on.  That means your prices go up.  So save us all some money and put it back somewhere cold.  Please and thank you.

Also this last month I opened a jar of my giardiniera.  I have to say that it is by far my favorite thing I’ve canned.  The two best things in it are the mushrooms and the red bell pepper.  Oh so yummy.  I will be making this again when I run out.

I also made Pineapple Orange Guava jelly.  As my roommate says, mouthgasm.  I haven’t had any, on say a pb&j sammich or in my yogurt, other than just the foam that I skimmed off the top.  But that was so yummy good I can’t wait to have more.  However, I’m being good and not cracking a jar until the Peach Orange Mango I already opened is gone.  I am NOT going to have a fridge full of jars and no room for anything else.

I just made my own mustard yesterday/today too.  It is so much better than any store bought stuff I have ever had.  I was raised on that nasty French’s yellow stuff that was so cheap in the store and I can’t stand.  If that’s all we have I will refuse anything that normally I’d put mustard on.  No hotdogs, no deli meat sammiches.  Nothing.

It’s a rather spicy beer horseradish mustard that I, again, got off the interwebs here.  It’s also amazingly easy to make.  Just soak the seeds over night, or in my case about 7 hours while I slept, then blend in the blender.  I am going to have to get an immersion blender one of these days.  Hopefully sooner rather than later.

I like my mustard a bit grainy, my roommate does not.  Too bad for him.  I’m making it so I get to decide the final consistency not him.  So it sits in my fridge waiting to mature a bit more.  I had some tonight anyway.  I’m not known for my ability to wait for these kinds of things.  I already have lots of ideas for other mustards, red wine, garlic and rosemary sounds really good right about now.

I have also been given an idea for a logo/header finally.  I’ve been asking for it for a while now and finally got the idea but not the execution.  S’ok though because I know how to use Photoshop and Illustrator too.  So look for that in the next day or week.

Sourdough Bread from starter

Get this:

  • 1 cup starter
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 6 cups flour

Do this:

  1. Combine starter, water, salt, sugar, and oil in a large bowl. Sift, or don’t, the 6 cups of flour into the other stuff and mix to combine into a well blended dough. No little bits of flour or anything else should be left unincorporated. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise over night.
  2. Tomorrow, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Cut it in half and either place into 2 greased 4 x 8 loaf pans or roll into slightly flat balls. (I will be recording a video and posting it to the YouTubes on how to do this.) Let rise until double in size.
  3. Bake at 350° F for 40 to 45 min, or until bread is golden brown and taps hollow on the bottom. Take/Turn out the bread to cool on wire racks.

Day Three! Or it’s my blog and I’ll call my posts whatever I damn well please!

Day three has come and gone.  It is now day seven of my starter.  Like an idiot I forgot to take a picture of my starter before shaking it up to pour some out on day three.  However, it was all bubbly and smelled bad.  And by bad I mean good.  Just like sourdough is supposed to smell.

Glancing at it right now I think I may need to start over.  I have neglected it for the last few days.  In fact the last day I fed it was last Friday the 27th when I started this post.  It’s been 5 days with no food.  I’m going to give it a good whiff before I dump the whole thing.  If that’s the case and I have to start over I promise to take better pictures for y’all.

In the mean time I HAVE been doing things in the kitchen.  I made and canned a batch of giardinieria by cobbling together two separate recipes and making some of it up on my own.  The full recipe will be included below.

Completed and processed Giardiniera

Completed and processed Giardiniera

Right now I have some gingered pear preserves on the stove to simmer and make the pears all yummy and squishy.  I made my own candied ginger for the recipe.  I figured about $2.00 for the ginger and some time was better than $9.00 for a bottle of it in the spice isle.  All of these recipes will be included, or linked, below.

Pears cooking down

Pears cooking down before packing and processing

I will of course include finished pics after canning and processing. On a side note there are a lot of people out there that say that you need a melon baller to core the pears.  If your pears are ripe then you can just use a regular spoon to get the core out.  Just start at one end of the pear and slide it through to the opposite side and beautiful cored pears. Now for the recipes

HFV’s Giardiniera


  • 1 lb mushrooms
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 2 yellow squash


  • 2 tsps. black or brown mustard seeds (or substitute yellow)
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 4 cups cider vinegar
  • 10 medium cloves garlic, lightly crushed and peeled
  • 6 1/4-inch-thick slices peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 2 tsps. black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes


  1. Cut up the vege’s into about equal size pieces. For the mushrooms I cut them either in half or quarters after trimming the stem as close to the head as possible. The cauliflower got cut into smaller pieces of just florets with the stem discarded. The red bell peppers got cut into quarters and then those pieces cut into thirds. Everything else got run through my mandolin on the 1/4 in setting.
  2. Put all the vege’s into salted water to sit for 24 hours. I would suggest putting the mushrooms into their own water as they have a tendency to turn brown and turn anything else in that water brown.
  3. After 24 hours drain the vege’s and refill the bowl(s) with clean water to sit for about an hour then drain again.
  4. Clean and sterilize 6 pint jars and lids.
  5. Put the mustard, and cumin seeds in a medium non-reactive saucepan. Toast the spices over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until fragrant and slightly darkened, about 2 minutes. Add the vinegar, garlic, ginger, onion, sugar, salt, peppercorns, turmeric, red pepper flakes, and 2 cups water to the toasted spices. Bring to a boil.
  6. Pack the vegetables into clean, hot pint jars. Pour the hot brine over the vegetables, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles by slowly raising and lowering a chopstick or a plastic blade around the inside of the jars (a trapped air bubble may shatter a jar as it heats). If you have extra brine, strain it and distribute the solids among the jars. Wipe the jars’ lids with a damp cloth before putting on the lids. Secure the lids with screw bands tightened by hand. Process for 10 minutes (Don’t forget to adjust for altitude. I had to process for 15 minutes). Store the pickles for at least 2 but preferably 7 days (or longer) before opening. Refrigerate after opening.

For the Gingered Pear Preserves you can go here.  For the Candied Ginger go here.

Day Two!

So today is technically day two after my starter was started even though day one was posted less than 24 hours ago.  What can I say I didn’t post as soon as I created.  So sue me!  Good luck getting any money you might win though.  Remember, I’m poor and unemployed.

Yesterday I got an order from my Bishop’s Storehouse and when I choose my 5lbs of fresh fruit I choose all pears.  So now I have 5lbs of slightly under ripe pears.  I looked at a lot of recipes online for what to do with these and I’m thinking I don’t want to do the regular light syrup bland boring canned pears we all had to eat as children.  I just don’t wanna, and you can’t make me.

So I’m going to make these Gingered Pear Preserves.  I like ginger and the orange color is just so pretty.  I’m stuck away from home right now as the roommates didn’t pay the cable bill so no internet.  I’ll be making them later tonight and posting pics probably tomorrow.  And most likely editing this tomorrow to remove all this I’ll post later crap.  Maybe.

I will also have in process pics and notes on whether or not all the work is worth it.  I will be testing this recipe for you.  Just for you.  Doesn’t that make you feel special?  It should.  I don’t do these things for just anybody.  Love me internets.  LOOOVVVEEE MEEEE!