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Learning to live more frugally and more self-sustainable includes using and eating season foods. It's a bonus if you grow it all yourself, but it's almost impossible to grow everything and there's no reason to miss out on certain foods if you don't grow it yourself.
Purchasing food as it comes in season is a great way to have fresh local food at a cheaper price. I try to purchase it from a local farmer if I don't grow it myself or a farmer's market, but even your grocery store will have lower prices on in season food.
May and June are a prime time for rhubarb, meaning and the tail end of asparagus season. I've put almost 20 quarts of pickled asparagus and am planning on one more run this week. Here's how to make and can pickled asparagus.
I had two bag fulls of rhubarb on the counter from a dear friend of ours. Rhubarb will store in the fridge for a week or two, but the ends will become rubbery and need trimmed. Important note: Only the stalks of rhubarb are safe to eat. The leaves our poisonous and should not be consumed or fed to animals.
It was fast becoming to the point I needed to do something with said rhubarb. My freezer is jam packed and we'll be butchering our meat chickens in less than a few months, so I didn't want to add anymore frozen produce to my stores.
Our strawberries are a few weeks away from becoming ripe and I have 8 cups of frozen rhubarb already designated to jam making. When I'm at a loss on what to make, I have one canning book I know I can turn to with a ton of recipes and ways to can.
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It has the most recipes of any canning book I've owned (and I kind of have an addiction to canning books), plus they're all proven safe methods, and there's a variety for every kind of fruit, vegetable, meat, you name it. I also love all the side notes with additional info on why we need take certain steps, safe ways to alter, or extra advice. It's like having a canning instructor right beside you.
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Rhubarb is one of my favorite spring foods. It's the perfect balance of tart paired with sweetness, like nature's version of sweet tarts, and just as addicting. Rhubarb is known for it's tongue tantalizing delights as a dessert from rhubarb dump cake (with a homemade from scratch cake mix), strawberry rhubarb jam, rhubarb pie, rhubarb and blueberry pie, I can't think of a way rhubarb doesn't work. I've even make it into a barbecue sauce that is divine. You might say I have a bit of a crush on rhubarb.
8 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup sugar
1. Rinse and pat dry rhubarb stalks. Chop into 1 inch pieces. Place into a large bowl and sprinkle 1 cup sugar onto chopped rhubarb. Stir until well combined. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and allow to sit for 4 hours.
The sugar will pull out the juices from the rhubarb stalks, creating a lovely rhubarb syrup.
2. Wash 4 pints in warm soapy water and rinse. Fill water bath canner with water and begin to heat. Fill a kettle with a few cups of water and bring to a boil.
3. Dump rhubarb and syrup into a large pot. Bring to a boil and boil for 30 seconds, stirring. Take off of heat and ladle 2 cups of rhubarb into each pint jar with a generous 1/2 inch head space. Pour syrup over rhubarb, dividing it evenly between the four jars to a 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles by running a spatula or knife around the outside of the jar and add more syrup if needed. If you run short on syrup, add boiling water (hence the kettle boiling). Wipe rim of jar clean, put lids on, and screw down bands.
4. Place in rack and immerse in water bath canner. Bring canner to a boil, making sure at least 1 to 2 inches of water cover the top of the lids. Process pints for 20 minutes with lid on. After 20 minutes, remove lid, let sit for 5 minutes, and then transfer jars onto a towel folded in thirds. Let jars cool for at least 12 hours without moving and check seals.
Follow above recipe through step 3.
Place rack in pressure canner and ad specified amount of water. Place jars on rack. Allow pressure canner to vent for 10 minutes. Use 10 pounds of pressure and process both pint and quart sized jars for 8 minutes.
It's normal for the rhubarb to float to the top of the jar. Don't worry. Looking for some recipes using canned rhubarb? Use in place of fresh for rhubarb pies, desserts, cakes, muffins, or just plain old eating.
Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.