Category Archives: Home

Can You Re-Use Canning Lids?

 

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Rarely does a home-canned batch of anything I make come out with matching lids. Why? Because I re-use most of my canning lids, leading to many mismatched lids, some with a prior year’s label still written on top, such as this batch of sunshine juice that has one re-used metal lid, two re-used plastic lids and one new lid.

When I first started canning, I bought brand new lids for each batch and tossed the once-used ones in the trash. But one day I thought about how much that was costing me and how much it was wasting…and I decided to try re-using them instead.

Even though canning companies that sell the lids do not recommend re-using the metal lids, I have had no problems re-using them at least two or three times as long as they are not bent. If you plan to re-use your lids, be careful when you pop them loose to use what’s in your jars. If the lip of the lid is bent, it won’t seal properly.

One downside to re-using the lids is that you may occasionally have a lid that doesn’t seal quite right–probably because it was ever so slightly bent. Of course, you probably won’t know that until after it’s too late to fix it. But I figure that’s where the fridge comes in, and I just refrigerate the unsealed jar and use it before the product spoils.

Another way to re-use lids is to buy lids intended for re-use, like the Tattler lids pictured above. These work a bit differently than one-piece metal lids because they have a rubber gasket and separate plastic lid. But they’re not difficult at all to use once you try them. They are a little spendy, though, so you’ll need to use them for several seasons before you’ll get your money back compared with purchasing the metal lids. I purchased mine about four years ago, though, and they’re still going strong, so I expect they will more than pay for themselves.

Do you re-use lids?

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Canning Myths Video Available

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The folks at Ball (you know, the people who make jars and other canning goodies) held a webcast today addressing common canning myths. I missed the live broadcast, but they have the recording posted on their website to watch anytime. Free and convenient!

If you’re just getting started in canning or thinking about getting started, this may help answer some of your curiosity. If you learned to can from someone who was full of advice that was likely based on decades-old science, you might find some of their tips useful, too. And, hey, if you just love canning things, it’ll be interesting for you, too!

 

 

Pitting cherries can be the pits!

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Just look at all those beautiful red pie cherries! But those buckets of cherries are full of pits and the pie filling recipe I wanted to try this year called for 10 pounds of these little jewels. That translated to a lot of pitting, so I thought I’d share our opinions on the various pitting methods.

Method #1: Slice and Dig

It’s possible to slice each cherry in half and dig the pit out with your fingernail. I don’t have any pictures of this method because, well, I don’t recommend it.

This would probably work just fine if you only need a couple of cups of cherries, but it’s quite messy and time consuming if you need much more than that. Not to mention leaving lots of cherry gook under your fingernails.

Method #2: Bobby Pin

This works great if you don’t have a cherry pitter on hand, and it’s still my hubby’s favorite method. Start by holding a cherry between the fingers of one hand with the stem end facing out. Position the loop of the bobby pin at the stem opening.

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Press down with the bobby pin, sweeping the pit out of the cherry as you pull the pin out.

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Ta-da! The pit should come out smoothly and land somewhere nearby.

This method leaves a slightly bigger hole in the cherry than Method #3 but otherwise is very effective. And it takes no time at all to clean the pin when you’re done. With a large number of cherries to pit, though, my hand tends to cramp and my fingers get a little sore from holding the pin.

Method #3: Cherry Pitter

This is my preferred method, since I find it a bit faster, cleaner and easier than the other methods.

A cherry pitter is a simple contraption with a long, specially shaped bit that shoves the pit out of the cherry as it goes through from one side to the other. Place the cherry on the platform and squeeze the handle.

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You should end up with a pit-less cherry and a pit in the catching tray below.

I couldn’t find a cherry pitter at local stores, so if you live in a small town, you might have a bit of trouble tracking one down, too. Fortunately, a friend let me borrow hers. I suspect every pitter is slightly different and may have its own quirks. For example, this one tended to leave the pit in the cherry if I didn’t squeeze it quickly.

I like that this method doesn’t require me to line up the cherry precisely and it isn’t as messy as the other methods. I found this faster after I got into a rhythm with it, too.

Do you have any favorite methods or machines to pit your cherries?

How to Clean a Paintbrush

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My hubby and I spent several hours last weekend painting our house–inside and out. I find that painting is a multi-day process for me since I tend to get bored with it quickly. Or, the weather kicks up and the project has to stop for a bit.

So, cleanup becomes important since I never know when I’ll be able to get back to the project and I don’t really want to throw away nice brushes. But brushes can be a hassle to clean and, if the cleaning isn’t thorough, the little paint gunk left in the brush gets into the next painting project.

Fortunately, my dad was a professional painter for a while and he showed me how to clean a brush properly without using chemicals (unless you’re using oil-based paint).

Step 1: Rinse thoroughly.

The easiest way to get paint out is to rinse it under warm water. Tip the brush upside down and let the water run down into the bristles to get out all the paint stuck in there. When the water basically runs clean, move on to step 2.

 

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Step 2: Use a wire brush.

Take a wire-bristle brush and scrape down the bristles of the paint brush, sort of like combing the paint brush’s “hair” with the bristle brush. This breaks loose all of the little dried bits that get stuck in the paint brush’s bristles. DO NOT scrape from the bottom up. Always start at the metal part of the paint brush and scrape down.

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Step 3: Rinse and repeat.

Rinse the brush again. I like to use warm water because I’m kind of a wuss when it comes to cold. Repeat step 2 as necessary until the brush is nicely cleaned.

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Dehydrating Corn

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That’s dehydrated corn in that picture above. Nope, it’s not the same as field corn or popcorn, which are allowed to dry in the field on the cob then harvested.

This is sweet corn, grown in our back yard this summer, and it’s yummy! Plus, when it’s dried in the dehydrator, it doesn’t have to take up space in my freezer.

Like the marshmallows I told you about recently, corn is super easy to dehydrate. Basically, you just have to pull it out of the freezer, spread it on the drying trays and dehydrate at about 135 degrees for about seven hours or until crispy and brittle.

before dehydration

before dehydration

You can use corn you blanched briefly and cut off the cob, the process described here. Or you can use store-bought frozen corn kernels.

The resulting product is sweet and retains its corny taste but with a texture reminiscent of a slightly crunchy and tough dried apple. I like it as a garnish on salads, but it is also good in soups and stews. Recipes are available for a corn casserole made from dried corn, too, but I haven’t tried any of these yet.

what started as two stuffed sandwich bags of corn ended up as half a bag after dehydration

what started as two stuffed sandwich bags of corn ended up as half a bag after dehydration

 

Pumpkin Bounty

We planted a small bag of jumbo pumpkin seeds this year, and these plants were quite fruitful!

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As you can see, I parked all of the orange ones on our deck as decoration, but I’m not really sure what to do with them otherwise.

I usually limit my pumpkin involvement to carving one at Halloween time. I’m sure we’ll carve a couple if they last until then, but I have no idea what to do with the rest…other than let them sit festively on the front porch until they get icky.

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As you can see, Eli isn’t quite sure what to do with them either.

Anyone have any ideas?

Homemade Fruit Fly Trap

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Somehow, we ended up with a fruit fly fiesta in our kitchen. I suspect the initial culprits came from my compost bucket, but it really doesn’t matter where they came from…once they come, it’s hard to get them to leave!

I’m not about to shell out a bunch of money for some questionable chemical, though, so it’s time for a homemade fruit fly trap!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 3-4 drops of dish soap
  • 1/4 c. water

Method

Pour the apple cider vinegar into a measuring cup or small dish. Add the dish soap, then add the water. This should make a nice foam on top of your apple cider vinegar.

Let the dish sit in the area near your fruit flies and empty as necessary (about once a day).

I did this today and had over a dozen flies drowning in vinegar less than an hour after I set the trap. Awesome!

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