Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pressure Canning

Preserving Food:
Using Pressure Canners

College of Family and Consumer Sciences in cooperation with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Pressure canners for use in the home were extensively redesigned beginning in the 1970's.  Models made before the 1970's were heavy-walled kettles with clamp-on or turn-on lids. They were fitted with a dial gauge, a vent pipe in the form of a petcock or covered with a counterweight, and a safety fuse.  Most modern pressure canners are lightweight, thin-walled kettles; most have turn-on lids fitted with gaskets.  At least one style is still made with heavy cast aluminum, has screw-down knobs around the canner and does not have a gasket, however.
Modern pressure canners have removable racks, an automatic vent/cover lock, a vent pipe (steam vent), and a safety fuse. Use only canners that have the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) approval to ensure their safety.
Today’s pressure canner may have a dial gauge for indicating the pressureor a weighted gauge, for indicating and regulating the pressure. Weighted gauges are usually designed to "jiggle" several times a minute or to keep rocking gently when they are maintaining the correct pressure. Read your manufacturer’s directions to know how a particular weighted gauge should rock or jiggle to indicate that the proper pressure is reached and then maintained during processing. Dial gauge canners will usually have a counterweight or pressure regulator for sealing off the open vent pipe to pressurize the canner. This weight should not be confused with a weighted gauge and will not jiggle or rock as described for a weighted gauge canner. Pressure readings on a dial gauge canner are only registered on the dial and only the dial should be used as an indication of the pressure in the canner. One manufacturer now makes a dual-gauge canner; read the manufacturer’s user manual for information on when and how to use either the weighted gauge or the dial.
Pressure canners come deep enough for one layer of quart or smaller size jars, or deep enough for two layers of pint or smaller size jars.  The USDA recommends that a canner be large enough to hold at least 4 quart jars to be considered a pressure canner for the USDA published processes.
Serious errors in processes obtained in pressure canners can occur if any of the following conditions exist:
  • The altitude at which the canner is operated is above sea level and adjustments in pressure are not made. Internal canner pressures (and therefore temperatures) are lower at higher altitudes. Canners must be operated at increased pressures as the altitude increases. Check reliable canning instructions for altitude adjustments.
  • Air is trapped in the closed canner during the process. Air trapped in a pressure canner lowers the temperature obtained for a given pressure (for example, 10 or 15 pounds pressure) and results in underprocessing. To be safe, USDA recommends that all pressure canners must be vented 10 minutes before they are pressurized.

    To vent a canner, leave the vent pipe (steam vent) uncovered (or manually open the petcock on some older models) after you fill the canner and lock the canner lid in place. Heat the canner on high until the water boils and generates steam that can be seen escaping through the open vent pipe or petcock. When a visible funnel-shape of steam is continuously escaping the canner, set a timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes of continuous steam, you can close the petcock or place the counterweight or weighted gauge over the vent pipe to begin pressurizing the canner. (See steps 3 and 4 below.) 
  • An inaccurate dial gauge is used. Dial gauges should be checked for accuracy each year before use. If the gauge reads high or low by more than two pounds at 5, 10 or 15 pounds pressure, replace it. If it is less than two pounds off in accuracy, you can make adjustments needed to be sure you have the required pressure in your canner.

Follow these steps for successful pressure canning:
(Read through all the instructions before beginning.)
1.    Make sure the pressure canner is working properly before preparing food. Clean lid gaskets and other parts according to the manufacturer’s directions; make sure all vent pipes are clear and contain no trapped material or mineral deposits. Center the canner over the burner. The burner and range must be level. Your pressure canner can be damaged if the burner puts out too much heat. In general, do not use on an outdoor LP gas burner or gas range burner over 12,000 BTU’s. Check your manufacturer’s directions for more information about appropriate burners.
Put the rack and hot water into the canner. If the amount of water is not specified with a given food, use enough water so it is 2 to 3 inches high in the canner. Longer processes required more water. Some specific products (for example, smoked fish) require that you start with even more water in the canner. Always follow the directions with USDA processes for specific foods if they require more water be added to the canner.
For hot packed foods, you can bring the water to 180 degrees F. ahead of time, but be careful not to boil the water or heat it long enough for the depth to decrease. For raw packed foods, the water should only be brought to 140 degrees F. 
2.    Place filled jars, fitted with lids and ring bands, on the jar rack in the canner, using a jar lifter. When moving jars with a jar lifter, make sure the jar lifter is securely positioned below the neck of the jar (below the ring band of the lid). Keep the jar upright at all times. Tilting the jar could cause food to spill into the sealing area of the lid.
3.    Fasten the canner lid securely. Leave the weight off the vent pipe or open the petcock.
4.    Turn the heat setting to its highest position. Heat until the water boils and steam flows freely in a funnel-shape from the open vent pipe or petcock. While maintaining the high heat setting, let the steam flow (exhaust) continuously for 10 minutes.
5.    After this venting, or exhausting, of the canner, place the counterweight or weighted gauge on the vent pipe, or close the petcock. The canner will pressurize during the next 3 to 10 minutes.
6.    Start timing the process when the pressure reading on the dial gauge indicates that the recommended pressure has been reached, or, for canners without dial gauges, when the weighted gauge begins to jiggle or rock as the manufacturer describes.
7.    Regulate the heat under the canner to maintain a steady pressure at, or slightly above, the correct gauge pressure. One type of weighted gauge should jiggle a certain number of times per minute, while another type should rock slowly throughout the process – check the manufacturer’s directions. 
o   Loss of pressure at any time can result in underprocessing, or unsafe food.
o   Quick and large pressure variations during processing may cause unnecessary liquid losses from jars.

IMPORTANT: If at any time pressure goes below the recommended amount, bring the canner back to pressure and begin the timing of the process over, from the beginning (using the total original process time). This is important for the safety of the food.
8.    When the timed process is completed, turn off the heat, remove the canner from the heat (electric burner) if possible, and let the canner cool down naturally. (Lift the canner to move it; do not slide the canner. It is also okay to leave the canner in place after you have turned off the burner. It is better to do so than to let jars inside the canner tilt or tip over if the canner is too heavy to move easily.)
While the canner is cooling, it is also de-pressurizing. Do not force cool the canner. Forced cooling may result in food spoilage. Cooling the canner with cold running water or opening the vent pipe before the canner is fully depressurized are types of forced cooling. They will also cause loss of liquid from jars and seal failures. Forced cooling may also warp the canner lid.

Even after a dial gauge canner has cooled until the dial reads zero pounds pressure, be cautious in removing the weight from the vent pipe. Tilt the weight slightly to make sure no steam escapes before pulling it all the way off. Newer canners will also have a cover lock in the lid or handle that must release after cooling before the lids are twisted off. Do not force the lid open if the cover locks are not released. Manufacturers will provide more detailed instructions for particular models.
Depressurization of older canner models without dial gauges should be timed. Standard size heavy-walled canners require about 30 minutes when loaded with pints and 45 minutes when loaded with quarts. Newer thin-walled canners cool more rapidly and are equipped with vent locks that are designed to open when the pressure is gone. These canners are depressurized when the piston in the vent lock drops to a normal position. Some of these locks are hidden in handles and cannot be seen; however, the lid will not turn open until the lock is released. 
9.    After the canner is completely depressurized, remove the weight from the vent pipe or open the petcock. Wait 10 minutes; then unfasten the lid and remove it carefully. Lift the lid with the underside away from you so that the steam coming out of the canner does not burn your face.
10. Using a jar lifter, remove the jars one at a time, being careful not to tilt the jars. Carefully place them directly onto a towel or cake cooling rack, leaving at least one inch of space between the jars during cooling. Avoid placing the jars on a cold surface or in a cold draft.
11. Let the jars sit undisturbed while they cool, from 12 to 24 hours. Do not tighten ring bands on the lids or push down on the center of the flat metal lid until the jar is completely cooled.
12. Remove ring bands from sealed jars. Ring bands can be washed and dried and put away for using another time. Put any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use first.
13. Wash jars and lids to remove all residues.
14. Label jars and store in a cool, dry place out of direct light.
15. Dry the canner, lid and gasket. Take off removable petcocks and safety valves; wash and dry thoroughly. Follow maintenance and storage instructions that come from your canner manufacturer.

Reprinted with permission from the University of Georgia.
Andress, E. (2011rev.). Preserving Food: Using Pressure Canners. Athens, GA: University of Georgia, Cooperative Extension.

Frozen Honeydew Smoothie

If you’ve planned far enough in advance, you can make a FROZEN HONEYDEW SMOOTHIE. Prepare the melon chunks and put them in a single layer, not touching, on a cookie sheet. Freeze, then transfer the frozen chunks to a plastic bag and keep in freezer until you want to make the smoothies. If you’ve got room in the freezer, prepare and freeze a bunch of cantaloupe and honeydew chunks to use in smoothies later, when they’re not on sale. 


2 c frozen honeydew chunks
2 T apple juice or 1 T apple juice concentrate
1/4 t vanilla extract

Put everything in the blender and blend until smooth and frothy. Makes 2 smoothies of close to 2 cups each. 

Honeydew Smoothie

(adapted from a recipe by Sandra Lee at

1/4 honeydew melon
2 T apple juice or 1 T apple juice concentrate
1/4 t vanilla extract

Remove rind and seeds from melon and cut into 1” chunks. Put everything but the ice into blender. Close tightly and blend until smooth. Add ice, cover tightly, and blend until ice is chipped and smoothie is frothy. Makes 2 smoothies of close to 2 cups each.

How to Can Tomatoes

Home Canned Tomatoes from Fresh Tomatoes (boiling water method)
  • Tomatoes - about 23-25 lbs to make 7 quarts of tomatoes. Of course, you can reduce the size of batches.
  • lemon juice - bottled, about 1/2 cup
  • 1 Water bath Canner (Tomatoes are on the
    border between the high-acid fruits that can be preserved in a boiling-water bath and the low-acid fruits, vegetables and meats that need pressure canning, that’s why we add lemon juice)
  • 1 large pot (to scald the tomatoes)
  • 1 small pot or kettle -for water to sanitize the
  • Paring knife, for coring tomatoes
Pint or quart canning jars
Lids - thin, flat, round metal lids with a gum
binder that seals them against the top of the
jar. They may only be used once.
Rings - metal bands that secure the lids to the
jars. They may be reused many times.
Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)
Lid lifter (optional) –it has a magnet to pick the
lids out of the boiling water where you sanitize
Jar funnel
Large spoons and ladles Clean damp cloth
Get the jars and lids sanitizing. The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle. I start that while I'm preparing everything else, so it's done by the time I'm ready to fill the jars. If you don't have a dishwasher, submerge the jars in a large pot (the canner itself) of water and bring it to a boil. If using a dish washer, be sure to let it go through the rinse cycle to get rid of any soap!
Get the canner heating up. Fill the canner about 1/2 full of water and start it heating (with the lid on). Get a large pot of water heating for blanching the tomatoes for peeling.
Start the water for the lids. When it boils, pour it over the lids and rings. Cover and let sit until you are ready to seal the jars.
Remove the tomato skins. Put the tomatoes, a few at a time, in a large pot of boiling water for no more than 1 minute (30 - 45 seconds is usually enough) Then plunge them into a waiting bowl of ice water. This makes the skins slide right off of the tomatoes! Then you can cut the tomatoes in quarters and remove the tough part around the stem and any bruised or soft parts. Why remove the skins? They become tough when you cook them!
Heat the quartered tomatoes just to boiling, stirring to prevent burning. Before you fill each jar with tomatoes, add 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice to the bottom of each pint jar (2T for a quart. jar). The additional acid makes all types of tomatoes safe for boiling water bath canning, and retains color and flavor.
Fill the jars with heated tomatoes. Leave 1⁄2 inch head-space at the top. Wipe off the rim of the jar with a clean damp cloth, then put the flat part of the lid on, and the ring. Just screw them on snugly, not too tight. Be sure the contact surfaces (top of the jar and underside of the ring) are clean to get a good seal!
Carefully lower the jars into the canner and make sure they are covered with at least 1 inch of water. Bring the water back to boiling. Process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 35 minutes for pints and 40 minutes for quarts. After the processing time has passed, lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (best to leave them overnight). Once the jars are cool, check that they are sealed, verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it springs up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, but it is best to heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and process for the full time in the canner. With all the extra heating, and processing, you may loose some quality,
but it will be safe to consume. This document was adapted from the "Complete Guide to Home Canning," Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA, revised 1994. 

Fused Grilled Chicken

(based on a recipe in 30-Minute Chicken Recipes, by William D. Lilly)

4 chicken leg quarters (or 3 to 4 lbs chicken pieces)
1/2 c Italian dressing
1/2 c teriyaki sauce
2 cloves minced garlic

Combine Italian dressing, teriyaki sauce and minced garlic and mix well. Add chicken and turn to coat. Marinate a few hours or overnight. Remove chicken from marinade and grill until done. Do not baste with remaining marinade unless you boil the marinade first to kill any chicken germs.

Galletto Marinara

GALLETTO MARINARA is basically chicken in spaghetti sauce. You can use canned or jarred. Just pick a basic tomato sauce, not a meat sauce or a cheese sauce. You can fancy commercial sauce up a bit if you want to by sautéing some onions and garlic in a bit of oil, then adding the sauce and some extra basil and oregano and cooking it for five minutes or so, but you don't need to.

(adapted from a recipe in 150 Easy Classic Chicken Recipes, by Bonnie Scott)

4 chicken leg quarters (or 3 – 4 pounds chicken pieces)
1/4 c butter (1/2 stick)
Salt and pepper
1-3/4 c marinara sauce (canned is fine, homemade is better)
1/2 t dill weed
1/3 c grated Parmesan cheese

Melt butter in 9x13 baking dish. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken pieces and place them, skin side up, in the baking dish. Bake at 450 for 30 to 40 minutes. Combine marinara sauce and dill and spoon over chicken. Sprinkle Parmesan over the sauce. Reduce heat to 350 and bake for 30 minutes longer.

Zucchini and Carrots

Cut a medium size (about three quarters of a pound) zucchini and a few carrots (about half a pound) into matchstick sized pieces. Nuke them for two minutes, then check them. They should be tender-crisp. If they’re not done to your liking, nuke them for another 30 seconds. Add a bit of butter, if you like.

Chicken in Lime

(adapted from a recipe in Keep It Simple: 30 Minute Meals from Scratch, by Marian Burros, 1981)

4 chicken leg quarters (or 6 chicken thighs or 3 large chicken breast halves)
2 T oil
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic
1/8 t hot red pepper (cayenne)
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t crushed coriander seeds
1/4 t turmeric
2 T soy sauce
2 – 4  T lime juice (or two limes, one for the recipe and one for garnish)

Heat oil in large skillet. Add the chicken pieces and cook over medium heat until both sides are brown. While chicken is browning, cut onion coarsely and put garlic through press; add to chicken. When chicken has browned on both sides, add red pepper, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and soy sauce. Reduce heat; cover and cook until chicken is tender, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on cut of chicken. If using lime juice, sprinkle it over the chicken. If using fresh limes, sprinkle the chicken with the juice of one lime and serve one lime in quarters for people to add more lime juice if they want.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Veggie Manicotte with Tofu Ricotta

  • 16 oz. firm tofu
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • pinch of black pepper, pinch of salt
  • Italian seasoning to taste (either dried, or fresh basil, rosemary, etc.)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • (1/4 cup nutritional yeast, optional)
  • 1 box of manicotti
  • Veggies of choice (spinach, zucchini, squash, carrots, etc.) cut into thin slices as necessary
  • 16 oz. either fresh or prepared marinara (spaghetti) sauce
Making the Tofu Ricotta:
In a large bowl, mash up the tofu, and add the lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and Italian seasonings. Mush for 2 to 5 minutes until the consistency of ricotta cheese. Add the oil, and mix briefly. Can be refrigerated until needed.

Making the Manicotti:
Cook the manicotti 7 minutes, then drain and rinse in cool water and set aside. Saute the veggies of your choice in a small amount of olive oil until lightly cooked (approx. 5 minutes). Season to taste, and mix into the tofu manicotti. Spread about half of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a pan that will fit all of your cooked manicotti noodles. Stuff the cooked manicotti with the veggie/tofu ricotta mixture and lay out in the pan. Pour the remaining marinara sauce over the manicotti, and cover the pan with tin foil. Bake at 375˚ F for 30 to 35 minutes, then uncover and continue cooking. Continue to bake until the noodles begin to slightly brown and the sauce is bubbling. Take out, allow to cool slightly, and Enjoy!
**Adapted from recipes in Veganomicon by Moskowitz and Romero, from the Hub’s library**

Apple Carrot Casserole

by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Yield:  6 servings

  • 6 large carrots, sliced
  • 4 large apples, peeled, quartered, cored and sliced
  • ¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook carrots in boiling water in large saucepan for 5 minutes; drain. Layer carrots and apples in a large casserole dish.
2.  Combine flour, brown sugar and nutmeg in a small bowl; sprinkle over top. Dot with butter; pour orange juice over flour mixture. Sprinkle with salt, if desired. Bake 30 minutes or until carrots are tender.

Asparagus with Sesame Seeds

Spring is the time to find fresh asparagus on sale at the farmer’s market or the grocery store. Try this very simple preparation, with the added nutrients of delicious, toasted sesame seeds! Asparagus is great on the grill, too!
  • 1/2 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted (just put them in a dry frying pan for a few minutes on medium heat)
Place the asparagus in a steamer basket; place in a saucepan over 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil; cover and steam for 4-5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Transfer to a serving dish. Combine the water, soy sauce, oil, salt and pepper; drizzle over asparagus. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Yield:  2 servings.

Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir-Fry

2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 cup thinly sliced onions
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 Tablespoon grated ginger
1 pound coarsely chopped bok choy
1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, pepper, garlic, and ginger. Stir-fry for about 1 minute. Add the bok choy and mushrooms; stir-fry for about 1 minute. Add the lemon juice, soy sauce, and sugar. Stir-fry for about 2 to 3 minutes, until done.

Easy Borscht

The classic Russian beet soup. A wonderfully delicious and easily prepared borscht recipe handed down from a 90-year-old man named Vincent. A rare chance to “make ‘em like they used to!”

  • 1 1/2 pounds new potatoes
  • 2 pounds country style pork ribs, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 6 cups water, divided
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans red beets, drained and chopped, juice reserved
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.
2. In another pot, simmer ribs and onions in 4 cups of water for 2 hours, or until ribs are tender. Remove ribs, and set aside. Skim fat from simmering liquid, and pour in beet juice. Add chopped pork and beets, and bring to a simmer.
3. In a bowl, whisk sour cream together with 2 cups of water and the vinegar. Slowly stir into soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over boiled potatoes.


Beet Salad with Goat Cheese


  • 4 medium beets ­ scrubbed, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 (10 ounce) package mixed baby salad greens
  • 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra­-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  1. Place beets into a saucepan, and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until tender. Drain and cool, then cut in to cubes.
  2. While the beets are cooking, place the walnuts in a skillet over medium­low heat. Heat until warm and starting to toast, then stir in the maple syrup. Cook and stir until evenly coated, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice concentrate, balsamic vinegar and olive oil to make the dressing.
  4. Place a large helping of baby greens onto each of four salad plates, divide candied walnuts equally and sprinkle over the greens. Place equal amounts of beets over the greens, and top with dabs of goat cheese. Drizzle each plate with some of the dressing.

Apricot-Oatmeal Breakfast Cake

Sweet and nutritious with Vitamin A-rich apricots and heart-healthy oats, this Breakfast Cake is a tempting snack for kids and adults.

Prep and cook time:  About 1 hour
Makes:  one 9-x-13-inch cake, serves 15

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oats, quick or old-fashioned, uncooked
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 (15.25 ounce) cans  apricots, drained well, chopped
  •    (approximately 2 cups)
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-x-13-inch cake pan or coat pan with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the flour, oatmeal, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Slowly add the white sugar and brown sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time; beat until smooth.
  4. Add dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Stir in apricots; do not over-mix. Pour the cake batter into prepared pan.
  5. Bake the cake about 35-45 minutes, until done and golden brown on top. When cool, sprinkle the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar.

Pasta with Marinated Artichoke Hearts

  • 1 (6 oz.) jar marinated Artichoke hearts
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 lb. Rotini pasta
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, Parmesan cheese to taste
Drain the liquid from the artichokes into a skillet. Slice the drained hearts into bite sized pieces. Add the olive oil and butter to the drained off marinade in skillet. Heat this mixture. Add the onions and sauté them until soft (5 to 8 minutes). Add artichoke hearts and basil. Sauté 3 to 5 more minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cook and drain pasta and toss immediately with the still warm sauce.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Meagan's No Fail Yogurt

(this is the recipe they use at the Hub)


1 quart of milk (they use raw milk at the Hub, but pasteurized should work as well, whole milk makes the creamiest yogurt)
1 tablespoon of yogurt starter culture (get it free through the Hub's Tool Share program)
2 quart pot
wooden spoon
food thermometer

1.      Pour milk into pot and heat slowly on medium-low. Meanwhile, heat oven to 170°.   Heat milk to 115° for raw milk yogurt (this is likely to be runny, but it will still set.  Skip to step 3 if you choose this option).  Heat milk to 180° for thick yogurt. 
2.      Set warm milk into sink of cool water or let sit until cooled to 115°.
3.      Once milk temperature is down to 115°, pour warm milk into a quart jar.
4.      Spoon a bit of the warm milk from the jar (maybe 2-3 tablespoons) into small bowl with yogurt starter and stir well.  Once starter and milk are well mixed, pour into jar of milk.
5.      Set jar in oven and turn off oven heat. If it is below 50°F outside, kick oven on for 5 minutes, every hour or so.
6.      Let yogurt set for 3-12 hours, the longer it sits, the more sour the yogurt.
7.      Store in the refrigerator.

                  Cost of Homemade Yogurt at Various Milk Prices 
 Price per  Cost per Cost per Cost per   
 Gallon of  Quart of 8 oz Cup 5 oz Cup   
 Milk  Yogurt of Yogurt of Yogurt 
       1.88       0.47       0.12       0.07

       2.00       0.50       0.13       0.08

       2.25       0.56       0.14       0.09         
       2.50       0.63       0.16       0.10         
       2.75       0.69       0.17       0.11

       3.00       0.75       0.19       0.12    

Hamburger Quiche

(based on a recipe at

1/2 lb ground beef
1/3 c chopped bell pepper (it’s great if you have it, but just skip it if you don’t)
1/3 c onion
1/3 c mayo
2 eggs
1-1/2 c shredded cheddar or Swiss cheese
Salt and pepper
1/2 c milk (or cream)

Brown meat with onions and pepper. Drain fat. Meanwhile, blend remaining ingredients in a blender until smooth, for at least two minutes. (If you don’t have a blender, use a mixer, or just stir it really well with a spoon.) Spoon the ground beef into a 9” pie pan or into a baking dish and spread it evenly over the bottom. Pour the egg mixture over the meat. You may need to rearrange the meat a bit to get it spread evenly again. Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes.

Cabbage Goulash

3/4 lb bulk pork sausage (or more ground beef)
3/4 lb ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 can (28 oz) tomatoes, chopped and drained (drink the liquid – it’s just tomato juice)
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
2 T vinegar
1 T chili powder
1 t garlic powder
1/4 t dried crushed red pepper flakes
2 lbs cabbage, shredded (about 10 cups)

In a large kettle, brown sausage, beef and onion; drain off fat.  Add remaining ingredients except cabbage; mix well.  Stir in cabbage and simmer 15-20 minutes or until cabbage is tender.

Browned in the Oven Bulk Ground Beef

Spread the ground beef out on rimmed baking pans. Some people pat it down flat and others crumble it in the pans. Some people cover the crumbles with water and others don’t. Bake at 350 for about an hour. Remove from heat and drain off fat. When it’s cool enough to handle, break it up into crumbles. Divide it into recipe-size containers and refrigerate, then freeze. To use, thaw the meat, break it up, and use it in soups, casseroles, etc. as you would browned ground beef.

From comments online, many commercial kitchens brown their ground beef in the oven when they need to cook large quantities.

Browned in Water Bulk Ground Beef

There are two ways to start this. One is to put a good amount of water in a big pan, like a stockpot (depending on how much meat you want to cook), then break it up with your hands in the water until it’s in small, watery bits. The other is to put the meat in the pan first, then add water and mash it up until it’s in small, watery bits, with plenty of water to cover. Boil for about 30 to 40 minutes. Drain carefully, saving the water/juices/fat. Use the water and juices for making soup and either save the fat to use as drippings or throw them out. Don’t pour them down the drain, though, or you’re likely to clog up your drains and/or the sewer lines. Divide it into recipe-size containers and refrigerate, then freeze. To use, thaw the meat, break it up, and use it in soups, casseroles, etc. as you would browned ground beef.

I read someplace, but can't find it now, that you can do something similar if you just chucked the chub of ground beef in the freezer when you got it, because you just couldn't face dealing with it at the time. As I recall (and I wish I could find it so I could verify it), you put the whole frozen chub in the stockpot of water and scrape off the thawed meat whenever you think about it until it's all thawed and loose in the water. Then proceed as above. 

Browned in the Crock Pot Bulk Ground Beef

Put raw meat in crock pot or slow cooker and break it up some. Add some onions, garlic and/or peppers if you want to. You might not want to add them now, since you don’t know what you’ll be using it for. And peppers will be cheaper in a month or so anyway. You can add salt and pepper and other seasonings, too, but you need to remember it’s already seasoned when you use it later. Cook on high for about 4 to 8 hours, depending on how much ground beef you’re cooking. It will take longer if you’re cooking more. Break it up every now and then, like every 15 to 30 minutes if you happen to think about it, or at least every couple of hours. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a huge meatball like hunk of meat. Drain thoroughly. Divide it into recipe-size containers and refrigerate, then freeze. To use, thaw the meat, break it up, and use it in soups, casseroles, etc. as you would browned ground beef. Note that some people have expressed concern that the meat will remain in the “danger zone” of 40-140 degrees too long, increasing the danger of food borne illness. You’ll have to decide that one for yourself. But you definitely won’t want to use a big hunk (like a 5-pound chub) of frozen meat for this. And, by the way, you can cook ground turkey the same way.

Huevos Ree-os

  • 3 whole eggs
  • 3 slices cheese (provolone, Swiss, cheddar, jack, etc.)
  • 1 cup picante sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • salt to taste
  • 2 whole flour tortillas
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro (optional)
Butter the griddle (or a skillet) and crack open the eggs on to it, with a sprinkling of salt. Turn heat to low. Cook the first side until it’s just firm enough to flip over to the other side. Once flipped, throw on some cheese and salsa/picante sauce.
Let the egg sit and cook slowly until the cheese melts, this should take 3 to 4 minutes. If you are using a skillet, you can cover at this point, which will speed up the melting a little bit. In the meantime, heat up some flour tortillas. Roll them up and put them on the side of each plate.
When the cheese is totally melted, throw two or three eggs on each plate. Toss on some cilantro, if you so choose.

Chicken Curry in Coconut Milk

  • 1 chicken, cut into chunks
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 Tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 3 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a big pot and fry onion and garlic for 1 minute. Then add the chicken and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Add all the spices and stir together well. Add the potatoes. Let cook until chicken and potatoes are tender. Add the remaining ingredients. Serve with steamed rice.

Provencal Tart with Gruyere and Herbs

From Once Upon a Tart by  Frank Mentesana, Jerome Audreau, Carolyn Carreno
makes one 9-inch tart

Note: Herbes de Provence includes basil, fennel seed, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage, summer savory and thyme. If you don’t have the mixture, mix your own and not that thyme, rosemary, majoram and bail (all dried) are the most prominent flavors you’re looking for.

12-15 plum tomatoes (or, much fewer—2 ½ lbs), cored and cut into ¼ inch thick rounds (halved cherry tomatoes would also work).

2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 par-baked 9 inch Crunchy Savory Tart Crust  (see back)

1 cup coarsely grated gruyere cheese

1 teaspoon herbes de Provence

2 large eggs

¼ cup light cream

1 teaspoon salt

A few turns of freshly ground black pepper

1. Position you oven racks so that one is in the center, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2 .put the tomato slices in a colander, and place it in the sink. Let the tomatoes sit for 15 minutes to drain off any excess liquid.

3. Spread the mustard evenly over the tart shell with a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the cheese over the mustard, and sprinkle the herbs de Provence over the cheese.

4. Working from the outside in, lay the drained tomato slices in overlapping concentric circles, making sure the crust is covered entirely.

5. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl, or a large measuring cup with a spout, to break up the egg yolks. Whisk in the cream, salt and pepper. This is your custard. Pour the custard evenly over the tomatoes until it comes to about ¼ inch from the top of the crust. (if you have extra, don’t worry about it; if you don’t have enough, pour a little cream on top.)

6. Place the tart on the center rack in the oven, and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the custard is set. Set custard won’t jiggle when you shake the pan and will be firm when you touch it. (The custard will also be hot, so touch it lightly.) The tomatoes in this tart may give off a lot of liquid. Don’t confuse this with uncooked eggs, and accidentally overcook your tart. The liquid will evaporate as the tart cools.

7. Remove the tart from the oven and set it on a wire rack. Allow the tart to cool slightly.

8. To remove the tart from the pan, rest it on a big can. Make sure the tart is steady and balanced. Slide the outside ring of the pan down off the tart. Then place the tart on your work surface and slide it off the bottom of the pan and onto a rimless surface dish or a cutting board. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Kayte’s note: try this basic method with other vegetables.
The crust and the custard would work nicely with a variety of veggies cheeses and herbs and spices.