What we do

Pulled out the pressure canner and decided it was time to work it out and learn how to use it before I needed it. Decided to try it out on chicken stock and beef stock. Normally, stock is easier kept in the freezer, it lasts a long time and has no real problem with the freezing. My freezer is small and already I am filling it with italian sausage and breakfast sausage and other delightful treats. I don’t want to take up space with stock. Also, if I screw up something in the pressure canner I would rather it be a simple batch of chicken stock instead of, say, our entire green bean harvest or something like that. It’s a 21 quart Maid of Honor pressure canner with an old school dial gauge and jiggler.
Pressure canner
I got my canner from a thrift store a couple years ago. $15 for the whole set up. Insanely cheap. I replaced the gasket and emergency valve and the whole thing is in perfect running order.
I used my own basic chicken stock recipe and Alton Brown’s beef stock recipe, because, you know, I have a pressure cooker. The chicken stock only yielded 4 quarts where I usually get 6, so I probably got it a bit concentrated. Beef stock got me 7 quarts. Since I was using quart sized jars and I can only process 5 quarts at a time I froze the last 2 quarts of beef. A single run in the canner takes a few hours from beginning to end and you can’t speed it up so running the entire thing for 2 quarts seemed excessive.
It worked. I read all the instruction tutorials out there, I got great advice from people in the know, I checked everything twice. Seriously, pressure canning is NOT a thing you want to get lazy with. We do not need 9 quarts of botulism in the pantry.
A thing I did
I also got a crate of clementines and a lot of them were used in clementine caramel (holy crap, so delicious you should be pissed that I am telling you about it instead of sharing with you). Managed to make up 11 eight-ounce jars of marmalade as well. Those get water bath processed, no pressure canning for them. Easy.
I did not clarify the stock so it looks cloudy, all that will settle to the bottom.
We got set up at the dairy up the road. We have a 1 gallon milk pail that we drop off at the dairy one day and pick it up the next day full of fresh milk. I just drank some hot cocoa made with the milk, it was painfully delicious (as hot cocoa tends to be), but we have to get better at shaking the cream back into the milk or skimming it off. I drank a mug of heart attack.
Milk can
A gallon of fresh milk is $7. It is very expensive compared to what we can get at the store. We want to change our relationship with food. Getting less, but higher quality food. Supporting local sellers when possible. It is definitely more expensive but I am willing to cut the tostitos and cereal out in order to pay for it. We’ll see how it goes.
As for seeing how it might go, well, I decided to see if baking all our bread was a reasonable thing to do. It’s not. It’s not that the bread had problems or that it was too much work. I tried a couple different recipes, got a very good recipe worked out for a whole wheat sandwich bread and tried out the 5-minute-a-day technique for freeform loaves. The bread was delicious, it was definitely easy to make and keep up with. The reason why we had to stop is that we were shoveling fresh bread and butter into our mouths nonstop. WITHOUT END! Buy a loaf of bread from the grocery store, it’ll last a week or so using it for sandwiches and toast or whatever. Bake the equivalent amount of bread and it’s gone in 36 hours. It was entirely unreasonable to enable such mass consumption of bread, not to mention all the butter and marmalade that it carried into our bellies. We have to accept that we can’t just ‘control ourselves’. Don’t fight it, work with it.
So, again, we need to try all these different ideas and options. Things that may seem like good ideas may turn out to suck balls and the unnecessary things, like pressure canning chicken stock, might just be the thing to do.
The dizzy dozen
Four dollars for a dozen eggs might seem to be a lot but where else are you going to find such a mismatched set of eggs?!