Monday, August 16, 2010

Food and Budget: Stocking the Pantry

Right now I'm in the planning stages for a mega-canning session.  Hubby goes through a small jar of pickled jalepenos every two weeks, which I find ridiculous, especially at the prices charged for a small jar.  Fresh ones are very cheap here, especially at our local HEB which seems to cater to the hispanic-american slice of our community.  However, I'm going to check on the local Kroger too, since the last time I was there they had a generous and diverse produce section.  While at HEB you can usually find many different kinds of fruits, like pears, pineapples and mangoes, there's usually only ever ONE variety of each of the more exotic fruits, and not necessarily the one best suited for my intended use.  Kroger had four varieties of just pears, and in large amounts... not just five pounds of each variety.  There were easily bushels-full of each, and that was just pears.

Anyway, my planned canning session will include:

Pickled Hot Pepper Mix
Vinegared Red Onions
Bread and Butter Pickles, assuming I can find appropriate size cucumbers.
Hot Sauce (he's a demon with that stuff too)

I will possibly do a batch of beef stew now that I have the pressure canner, but it depends on the beef prices I find.  I've also toyed with the idea of canning some green beans, tomatoes, and potatoes, but I'll be at the mercy of current prices and availability.  I'm not good at remembering what's "in season".  Usually I get the hint when I get in the store and see what there are huge amounts of and what's on sale, but that makes it difficult to do any pre-planning.

The problem is that you *have* to follow the recipes in the Ball Blue Book or you risk not having the right Ph to safely can foods in a water bath instead of a pressure canner.  And I don't know about you, but I'm not thrilled with the idea of having to test the Ph of a batch with little test strips just so I can tinker with a recipe.

I suppose I could put all the recipes on recipe index cards and cart them with me each time I go to the store.  These are the times I wish I had an eidetic memory (aka a photographic memory).  How much easier would it be to read the cookbook/canning guide, go to the store, and recall the ingredient list verbatim?  Sigh.

Do you think they'd complain much if I brought my book into the store with me?

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