Wasted. A primer.

No joke, food waste is a huge problem.  40% of American food is lost from the farm to the plate.  That’s almost half!  Much of this food is edible.  It isn’t old, rotten, or damaged.    Restaurants that have to keep prepared food “fresh” end up throwing out large amounts of food that are hours, or even minutes too old.  Best before dates that aren’t appropriate, government regulations making it impossible to give this food to food banks, and marketing schemes that encourage buying bulk all contribute to the problem.   Food over-stock in grocery stores, slightly damaged containers and produce that is the wrong size, shape, color or consistency are just thrown away.

All of these contribute to a horrifying amount of good food being thrown out.  Food is also thrown out at the production level.  Farmers will grow extra to make sure they have the appropriate quantity to fulfill a contract.  If there is extra, the food is simply disposed of.  And in a world where a billion people go hungry everyday, the surplus of food that is being thrown out is unacceptable.

Check out this trailer for a new movie called Taste the Waste.

Food waste in the home is also a problem.  The average American throws away 14% of the food he buys. Buying bulk, buying on a whim (as opposed to a list), and poor planning can be blamed for much of the waste.

Why should you care?   You aren’t starving.

Food waste isn’t just a problem for the starving.  Methane gas is produced by rotting food.  Methane gas is a greenhouse gas that is 23 times worse than carbon dioxide.  Food rotting in the landfills is as much of a problem for you as it is for anyone else.

The billions of dollars the US is putting into the disposal of wasted food is also a problem of yours.  These tax dollars would be better spent just about anywhere else, including feeding hungry people.

And not to be left out, food isn’t the only thing being wasted.  According to TreeHugger, ten trillion gallons of water is wasted to produce the uneaten food in the US.  That’s enough water to meet the needs of 5 million families.

A Solution?

Because of distribution, regulation and efficiency problems, there isn’t an easy fix.  Pushing our government to work together with these companies to find a solution is one of the things the average citizen can do.  Things can be done.  Triplepundit states various ways that businesses could cut back on waste:
  • Less emphasis on the appearance of food. Supermarkets pay premium for vegetables and fruits that look a certain way and are of uniform size. Any produce that does not meet these criteria is often discarded. Shop at farmer’s markets or lobby your local supermarket to have a ‘discarded’ produced aisle.
  • Better supply chains ensure that fresh food is only brought in when needed to ensure less wastage. The best way to find out about supply chains is to speak to your local store manager and find out what they throw out and how much. Then you can find out if the store is willing to donate the wasted food to a homeless shelter etc.
  • Western cultures are encouraged to stockpile on food with offers like “buy one get one free,” “three for two” etc.  This is something that consumers should be aware of – do you really need the extra food?
  • Wasted food can and should be converted to compost wherever possible.
  • Donation of excess or unwanted food is also a good way to control food waste.
These things will need to be dealt with at a government level, though.  If there are no regulations to control it, it will never get any better.
You have much more control about food waste in the home.  Watch for upcoming posts on what you can do at home to waste less food.  You CAN make a difference.
“When I didn’t know, I didn’t care. Now I can’t “un-know”, so I have to care.” -Common Sense Homesteading

Linked to Real Food Forager: Fat Tuesday, Whole New Mom: Whole Food Blog Hop and I Thought I Knew Mama’s Green and Natural Thursdays.

Scorned by big business. Beloved of small gardeners. Food Waste Part 1.

To purposely misquote Emily Carr: “Scorned by big business, beloved of small gardeners“. 

Walk into any supermarket and have a good look at the produce.  All of it is perfectly colored, and uniformly shaped.  Those businesses providing the produce don’t grow all of their products that way though.  Those are only the cream of the crop.  Do you know what happens to produce that doesn’t fit the bill?  Vegetables and fruits that aren’t the right color, shape, texture, size and so on are often discarded.  Some of it goes to production (ie. is used in prepared foods etc) or reduction but some of it is thrown out.  In a world where 1 billion people are going hungry, we cannot afford to throw food out. 
When you grow your own food you can enjoy the same fantastic flavour and nutrients of the misshapen and lesser-colored.
Celebrate the beauty of imperfection from my organic food garden with me.  If you have your own odd-looking but great tasting produce, please share!  Follow me over the next few weeks as I dig deeper into food waste and find solutions that are actually possible in your own home!

The Unexpected: healthy lunches = teasing at school. Help!

There are many different things that pop up unexpectedly when you try to live in a sustainable, healthy manner.  Things that you would never expect to be an issue.  But because we are choosing to live a lifestyle that is slightly more alternative than the majority of the people around us, we should have expected this one.  Kids can be cruel.  Kids at school, when trapped in a classroom together, can and will make fun of each other.  I know this, because I have been a teacher for years.  I have also been a child in the school system.  But I don’t recall anyone making fun of my lunches. 

My son is eight years old.  He takes his lunch to school in a stainless steel lunch box from ecolunchboxes.  He also has a Foogo thermos that holds and keeps leftovers warm, and a Kleen Kanteen stainless steel water bottle.  (I might add, according to him, he is the only child in his class to have a litterless lunch).  I don’t give him processed meat for lunch and since the school has a nut-free policy he doesn’t take peanut butter sandwiches.  That limits us a bit so he often takes leftovers.  He has also had hardboiled eggs, homemade bread, homemade muffins and cookies, dried fruit, fresh fruit, vegetables and dip, and so on.  He likes his lunches and I feel good about sending them with him since they are healthy, unprocessed, and in non-disposable containers.
In grade one he told me how another child stole his hard boiled egg and smashed it on the floor.  He also told me that he couldn’t bring salmon or egg salad sandwiches anymore because the kids complain about the smell.  In grade 2 he told me he didn’t want to take dried bananas anymore because the kids told him they looked gross.  And in grade 3 he told me that when the kids said “Ew what’s that?  That looks disgusting.” about his homemade chicken pot pie, he just closed his lunchbox and didn’t eat at all.  I felt like crying when I heard that.  Then he confided to his dad that “carrot sticks are good and he likes them, but “Sean” gets a wagon wheel in his lunch every day”.  And he told me that everyone has juice boxes except him.  He only has water in his water bottle. 
Now I am very capable of standing up for myself.  I am proud of the way we are living and I feel like I am doing the best I can at providing my children with healthy, safe food.  I cringe, though, at the thought of my child suffering teasing or mocking at the hands of his school mates due entirely to my doings, not his.  I can tell myself until I am blue in the face that it’s ok to be different, and that in the big picture his health is more important, but I could cry thinking that my home cooking is putting a hardship on my children. 

It isn’t that he never gets a treat in his lunch.  He (and his friends) love my homemade cookies, cinnamon buns, muffins and so on.  But I get the feeling that in order for him to fit in at lunch time I would have to fill his lunch with juice boxes, prepackaged snacks, sandwiches with processed meat and store-bought bread, and pre-packaged yogurts.  When I think of doing that I get angry and frustrated.  I don’t want to change something I am proud of just so my child fits in. 

I haven’t come across a solution, however.  I spoke to the principal the first time it happened but nothing changed and he didn’t talk to the class about respecting others’ food as I hoped he would.  The teachers are not in the room at the time, and while there are lunch time supervisors, there aren’t enough for one in each classroom so the children are on their own much of the lunch break.  I could inform parents of better lunch alternatives (including packaging) but convenience speaks louder than anything in most cases and I am not into taking on the world right now.   (Just my blog readers!!)  I would love to hear your ideas or suggestions.  Just, please don’t recommend I home-school my kids!  That is a choice we have already made.

This post has been linked up with The Homestead Barn Hop.

No-Waste Apple Preserving

I am on a waste-not kick right now.  I am horrified when I see food thrown out at restaurants.  Do you have any idea how many chickens would enjoy the food that gets thrown out everyday?  (Not to mention starving children in Africa).  Although we can’t send our food scraps to Africa we CAN give it to our chickens, or our neighbours’ chickens.  Our chickens eat just about everything we eat and so our scraps are well taken care of.  Not only do they lessen our chicken-feed bill, but they turn those scraps into eggs!  Beautiful, healthy, free range eggs. 
I came home with a case of gorgeous organic gala apples.  And I mean gorgeous.  Not a scab, not a bruise.  The apples off our tree are apple sauce-worthy only but these ones you could do anything with.  I had in mind dehydrating them to make apple chips.  My kids love apple chips, and they store well.  We have an old apple peeler/corer which will peel, core and spiral the apples with the turn of a handle.  They make slicing and coring apples a breeze, especially these uniform-sized, firm apples.  I pulled back the peeler though, and left the peels on.  Removing the peel removes valuable nutrients as well. 
My husband whizzed through 20 lb of apples with the corer/slicer, which is about the max our food dryer will hold.  It is a homemade dehydrator made from these plans, using an old griddle as a heater and a fan taken from an old refrigeration unit.  (My husband is handy that way).  So, apple chips are on the way.

Apple corer/peeler
Apples ready to be dehydrated.
These lovely red and white apple cores, though, couldn’t be wasted.  We have an Omega Juicer 1000 and it is fantastic.  We shot those apple cores through in a few minutes and had amazing, sweet juice.  We didn’t stop at juice though… we decided to try for apple cider vinegar.  As with many things we think will be too hard to try, it is actually rediculously simple.  Put your juice in containers about 3/4 full, cover with cheesecloth, stir every day, wait 3 to 4 weeks, then strain through layers of cheese cloth to remove the mother of vinegar.  You can then bottle it and use it, or pasteurize it which makes it more shelf stable but takes away the “raw” benefits. 
After making the apple juice, you are left with about 1 cup full of dry, fiberous apple seeds/skin since this is all that doesn’t pass through the screen.  That’s it!  And the chickens eat that up in a few seconds.  20 lb of apples reduced to a few cups of apple fiber.  A loaded dehydrator, and 2 bottles of homemade apple cider vinegar started.  (Or stop at apple juice and drink it!)  Waste not, want not!




Apples on the dryer.




Apple cores and bits that
we turned into juice


Juicer making juice!



Wordless Wednesday: Little Bits of Wonder

 Our wonder-FULL home.
design

effort



miracle



sustainence
beauty
productivity

life

This post linked up to I Thought I Knew Mama’s Wordless Wednesday, Hobo Mama’s Wordless Wednesday and Sweet Peas and Bumblebees Wordless Wednesday

Sugar, Sugar: How to avoid GMO this Halloween

Halloween is coming, and with it the onslaught of sugar.  But sugar isn’t just sugar anymore.   Most Halloween candy is made from HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) or sugar.  Since 50% of American sugar supply is from GMO sugar beet, and HFCS is made from GMO corn, that makes standard Halloween candy more than likely to be genetically modified.
Although deemed safe by North American powers that be, GMO crops are potentially harmful in many ways.  Among other things, new allergens, antibiotic resistance, social and ethical concerns, pesticide-tolerant crops and herbicide-tolerant insects are a few of the potential side effects of GMO crops. 

HFCS is also highly processed, addictive, and can lead to weight gain and dental problems. 

And don’t forget the artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.  Most are derived from petroleum products.  Many are potential carcinogens and all are created in a lab.  Obviously, it is much cheaper to make candy with artificial ingredients than with natural ingredients. 
But wait!  Don’t lock you kids up this Halloween.  There are ways around GMO candy, thankfully.  All certified organic sugar and candy is non-GMO by regulation.  In fact, anything certified organic is non-GMO. 
Here are some non-GMO treat ideas for Halloween:
  • Yummy Earth organic candy and lollipops:  These really are yummy.  We’ve tried ‘em.  They are free of artificial flavours, colors and HFCS. 
  • Annie’s Halloween Snacks and Crackers:  We love Annie’s products!  They are organic, flavourful and free of preservatives, artificial colors, flavours and HFCS.  Fruit snacks, crackers, granola bars and more! 
  • Yogavive Organic Apple Chips: Treats don’t have to have added sugar!  These are in convenient sizes and are 100% organic apple, nothing else. 
  • Homemade Halloween Treats: Halloween doesn’t have to be all about store bought, pre-packaged stuff.  VegKitchen has some neat homemade ideas for Halloween including candy apples and fruit leather.  My mom used to make popcorn balls to hand out to the kids.   I admit I have always stayed away from homemade products for two reasons: allergies and the fact that they might get thrown out by strangers who don’t know or trust me.   But they would be great for parties.

  • Fruit: There is nothing wrong with handing out apples, or mandarin oranges for treats!  They will probably get eaten even if they aren’t the first thing the little ghost goes for.  Her parents will be pleased anyway.
  • Toys:  Treats don’t have to mean things to eat.  You can find halloween pencils and stickers at dollar stores.
What To Do With The GMO Loot
Now that you have figured out something safe to hand out to all the vampires and witches, what are you going to do about the candy your own little dragon brings home? 
Last year I allowed the children to pick out 5 treats to keep and eat whenever they wanted to.  I then bought the rest of the candy from them in exchange for a trip to Value Village where they could pick out anything they wanted.  My son is now 8 and will probably try to go for cash, but his health is worth it to me, so even giving him $20 for his candy would make me happy.  The rest of the candy?  (After I picked out my own share) I gave it to the teenagers who work at our family’s store.  Shhh!  Don’t tell their parents!  If you are hardcore enough you could toss it, and I have heard of some people donating it. 
We have a long dark driveway with a big wooden gate so no one ever ventures down our way to trick or treat.  I always have some healthy snacks on hand though, just in case.  Healthy is good, because then I don’t have to worry about feeding the left overs to my children afterwards.  And I won’t be eating garbage when I sneak some for myself!
Have a safe, and happy Halloween!  If you feel like sharing, I would love to hear your ideas for healthy Halloween treats, and what you do with your child’s loot afterwards!
Other References:
For more great ideas for a healthy Halloween check out Green Halloween.  They are the best resource for costume swaps, party ideas, treat suggestions, games and more!

This post has been linked up to Little Bit of Mom Sense: Greening Your Halloween Carnival, and I Thought I Knew Mama: Green and Natural Link up.

Pumpkin flax pancakes from scratch.

Canadian thanksgiving has come and gone.  The turkey is eaten, the pies are done, but the remaining pureed pumpkin sat in the fridge waiting for me to make something with it.  I made pumpkin loaves last week, and so this week I pulled out the pumpkin and made pumpkin flax pancakes.  Easy, quick, fall-flavoured pancakes make everyone happy!  For once, all of my kids ate their lunch.  All of it.  I served it with homemade blueberry syrup, homemade apple sauce and locally-grown apple-pork sausage.  The left over pancakes are great frozen and popped in a toaster for a quick, healthy breakfast, or eaten as snacks with peanut butter and jam on top. 

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c. organic whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. organic white flour
  • 4 tbsp. ground flax
  • 4 tbsp. cane sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice mix (ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice or cloves)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 beaten free range eggs
  • 2 cups goat milk
  • 1 1/2 c. pureed pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. organic canola oil

Directions

  • In a large bowl combine flour, flax, baking powder, baking soda spices and salt.  Whisk well. Set bowl aside.
  • In a separate bowl, combine eggs, milk, pumpkin, vanilla and oil.  Whisk well. 
  • Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and fold to combine.  Do not over-mix.  
  • Ladle onto greased griddle or frying pan.  Cook on medium heat until bubbles have popped. 
  • Flip carefully and cook for another minute or until lightly browned. 
  • Remove from pan and serve hot!
 Notes
  • Add a few tbsp of water to the batter if you like thinner pancakes. 
  • Obviously, substitute any organic ingredients with non organic, and goat milk with regular or almond/rice/soy milk.
  • This makes a large batch.  Recipe can easily be halved. 
Simple, healthy, delicious food NOT from a package!!  Taste the difference, feel good about the ingredients, and celebrate whole food!

This post has been linked up to Fat Tuesday: Real Food Forager.  Check out the links for great, REAL food!

Fish in your strawberries? What you don’t know about GMOs.



A stunningly beautiful canola crop. 
80% of Canadian canola crops are GMO.

You hear about it on the news.  You know it is controversial.  You feel strongly that it is bad… but do you really know why?   And do you know who the Monsanto Company is?  I didn’t for years.  I chose products that were labelled “non-GMO” but I didn’t really know what it meant and I certainly didn’t know how diverse the GMO product list was.  I also didn’t know what Monsanto produced and how it dominates the GMO industry.

A GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) is an organism that has had its genetics modified by adding a gene from a different organism to its genetics.  Often the gene is not from the same species.  The most common example is a GMO-patented food crop whose genetics have been altered by adding a gene that is resistant to herbicides.  Much of the commercially-grown corn in the USA is now genetically modified.

The Monsanto Company is, world-wide, the largest company that creates and sells GMO seeds.  They are also the producer of Round Up, an herbicide.  A Monsanto GMO seed will grow in a field that has had every living thing killed off of it with Round Up.  Nothing else will grow in it.  These seeds have had a gene added that is resistant to Round Up and creates a “fantastic” opportunity for farmers.  Kill off all the weeds and then plant the GMO seed!  Nothing will grow in the toxic soil except the GMO seed.  Does this not set off alarm bells? 

GMO seeds are sterile.  The farmer cannot collect the seeds and replant them the next year.  The farmer must return to Monsanto and purchase new seeds from the company.  Talk about monopoly!

What seems more fantastic to me is that Monsanto Company is the creator of Round Up.  How perfect a relationship is that??  First, sell the farmer the Round Up, then sell the farmer the seeds. 

I haven’t had herbicides near my property for years.  Weeds thrive in my lawn.  My garden grows weeds as well as (or better than) vegetables.  There is a constant battle between myself and weeds but I will not use an herbicide.  Naturally, this means less production and more work for me.  It would mean that to a farmer too.  So you can see why a farmer would choose to use Round Up and GMO seeds. 

What other great things has Monsanto been involved in?

  • For a time was a leading manufacturer of plastics including polystyrene and synthetic fabrics
  • Produced DDT and Agent Orange
  • Manufactured Nutra Sweet, (aspartame)
  • Created the Bovine Growth Hormone (BST)
  • Was influential in the development of the first nuclear weapons
  • Created PCBs
  • Filed and won lawsuits against their neighbouring Canadian and American Farmers who sold seed that was contaminated by GMO patented seeds, spread to neighbouring farms by the wind.  It is now officially a farmer’s fault if his neighbour’s GMO crop pollinates his adjacent field via the wind.  He is then illegally selling GMO-patented seeds.
  • Has successfully shut down organic farms because of wind cross contamination.

Is this a friend and neighbour you would like to have?  Not on your life! 

Corn takes much of the bad rap for being genetically modified.  But many other things we eat on a regular basis are GMO.  Check out this list provided by Disabled World.  Among others, honey, cotton, rice, soybean, tomatoes, corn, canola, potatoes, flax, papaya, squash, tobacco, meat, peas, vegetable oil, sugar beets, pineapple, strawberries, dairy products and vitamins, are now commonly GMO.

There is no law at present in Canada or the USA that forces companies to label their products that contain GMOs.  So don’t assume that reading a label will tell you anything.  Some companies are proud of the fact that their food is non-GMO and will label it as such.  Japan, the European Union, Australia and Malaysia have all made it law to label GMO products so that the consumer can make a choice.  Not so in North America though.  Why not?  Maybe because so much of our crops are already GMO that labelling GMOs would destroy our current system. 

What are the potential risks associated with GMO products?  Better Health gives examples:

  • New allergens
  • Antibiotic resistance may develop
  • Cross breeding
  • Herbicide-tolerant crops
  • Pesticide-tolerant insects
  • Biodiversity
  • Cross contamination
  • Pesticide use
  • Lack of research on health effects
  • Social and ethical concerns
  • Monopolization of food crops  
So how can you avoid GMO products?   
  • Buy certified organic.  Certified organic products, by regulation, cannot contain GMOs. 
  • Grow your own vegetables.  Most local seed companies are not large enough to be able to afford GMO seeds. 
  • Prepare and eat whole foods rather than prepared foods.  That way, you can choose the organic ingredients that are in your food.
  • Buy meat produced without growth hormones. Certified organic meat will not have been fed GMO feed and will contain no growth hormones.
What can you do:
Check out Organic Consumers who have all the information you could ever need including boycotts, petitions and protests. 

And just for the fun of it, did you know that some goats have been genetically modified to produce silk?  And genes from a cold water fish can be added to strawberry genes to create a cold-resistant strawberry plant. Now you know.  Care to take a stance? 

 

This post has been linked up with Live Renewed, Little Natural Cottage, I Thought I Knew Mama, Whole New Mom: Traditional Tuesdays and Common Sense Homesteading: Live Well Blog Hop.

  

Garden Soup

My family loves soup. I stopped buying canned soup when I found out most cans were lined with BPA. Which added to my workload: now I have to make homemade soup.  Nothing is nicer, though, than hot soup on a crisp, fall day (or a wet, rainy fall/winter/spring day as we get on the west coast of BC).   Having recently made broth from one of our roasted chickens, I thought about what ingredients I had in the pantry to make a good soup.  Not much.  Then I looked at my curing pumpkins.  Pumpkin soup! 
The first time I tasted pumpkin soup was in an Andean village in Peru.  Made with goat milk and thick with pumpkin and spices, the rich taste, texture and aroma were to die for.  Goat milk is naturally homogenized and our breed of goats (Nigerian Dwarf) is especially high in milk fat.  So, after doing a quick search online for a pumpkin soup recipe I took one and altered it to what I had in my garden.  Essentially, this is a “sustainable soup” since (almost) all of the ingredients were either born and raised or grown on our property.
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped thyme (or 2 tsp. dried)
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup carrot greens (not chopped.  Remove after cooking)
  • 4 cups cooked and pureed pumpkin
  • 1 cup whole goats milk
  • Carrot tops for garnish

Directions
  1. In a large pot, fry onions and garlic in butter until onions are translucent. 
  2. Add chicken broth, thyme, peppercorns, salt, carrot greens, and pureed pumpkin to onion mixture.
  3. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Simmer for about 30 minutes, uncovered.  Turn off heat.  Remove carrot tops. Puree soup in a blender, in small amounts, or use a hand blender directly in the pot.  Blend until smooth.  Add milk and stir until blended.  Add carrot tops for garnish and serve hot!
Notes:
  • Carrot tops taste much like parsley.  I used my own carrot tops, unsprayed, from my garden.  Remove carrot tops before pureeing soup.  You can eat them but they change the texture. 
  • Our goat milk has virtually no “goaty” taste.  No one would ever guess the soup was made with anything but cream. 
  • Ingredients can be altered.  For example, use regular milk or cream to replace goat milk.  Use squash if you don’t have pumpkin etc. 
Serve with fresh vegetables, cheese and fresh bread!
There is something very gratifying about creating a meal that is exclusively produced on your own property.  The chicken broth was from our own chickens, the milk from our own goat, and the vegetables from our own garden.  I didn’t grow thyme this year so I used dried thyme from my pantry.  Yum!  And the aroma from the soup will fill your house with a delicious, harvest fragrance which will warm any fall day. 
Recipe inspired by Pumpkin Soup Recipe
This post has been linked up to Fat Tuesday: Real Food Forager.  Check it out!

Canning For Beginners: Plums!

Want to try canning fruit but don’t know where to begin?  Try plums!  They require no peeling, coring, or scalding.  They make for a tasty, quick dessert or snack, and they look gorgeous on your shelves.  What more could you ask for?  
My parents have lots of Italian plums trees (also known as prune plums) and we recently were gifted 60 lb.  They are fantastic eaten fresh.  I also adore them as jam.  The kids eat them out of the food dehydrator before they are even dried, and they love to count the pits after eating them canned, for dessert.  In fact they make it a competition.  How many pits did YOU get? 
So you’ve never canned.  You will need a canner, tongs for removing the jars, and jars and lids.  You don’t have to spend a fortune on equipment.  Buy (craigslist!) or borrow (grandma!)  the canner and ask your friends or relatives for old jars.  Jars are also relatively cheap new during the canning season.  I also see jars in the free section of craigslist frequently.  In fact I found -oh- 100 or so jars for Healthy Green Mama last spring, all for free.  If you are reusing lids, make sure they aren’t nicked around the rubber seal.  These might not reseal. 

I quickly canned 20 lb the other afternoon.  20 lb made about 14 quart jars.

Materials:

  • Large Canner and tongs for removing jars
  • 14 quart glass wide mouth canning jars
  • 14 wide mouth lids and rings
  • Large pot with lid
  • Small pot with lid
  • 2 cup glass measuring cup that pours
  • Rubber gloves
  • Cooling rack

Ingredients:

  • 20 lb. Italian plums
  • White sugar
  • Cinnamon sticks and star anise (Optional)

Directions:

  1. Wash fruit, removing stems, leaves, or fruit that are too soft or beginning to rot.
  2. Prepare lids and rings according to directions on box.
  3. Wash jars.
  4. Place jars in oven and heat to 225F.  (Don’t put cold jars in hot oven.  Let them heat up with oven).
  5. Bring about 16 cups water and 4 cups sugar to a boil to make your syrup.  Stir to dissolve sugar.  (Ratio is 4:1 water to sugar but you can make it sweeter if you want.  Some people like 3:1.)
  6. Drain plums. 
  7. Using gloves, remove one jar from oven and place on cooling rack.  Add plums to jar firmly but don’t press so hard the fruit skin breaks. When jar is about half full add spices if desired.  (1 cinnamon stick, 2 star anise).  Leave an inch space at top of jar.  Using measuring cup, add boiling syrup to hot jar.  Leave an inch of space at top of jar.  Wipe jar top with a clean, wet cloth, put on hot lid, screw on ring, and set jar aside. 
  8. Repeat above step until all the jars are full. 
  9. Fill canner 3/4 full with hot water.  Carefully place jars in canner.  Bring to a boil.  Boil for 20 minutes.  Remove jars and let cool and seal. 
  10. Once cooled, press centre of lids to see if they are sealed.  A lid that isn’t sealed will pop back up again and make a popping sound. 
  11. Rinse jars, dry them, and store in a cool place.
  12. Take a picture and show them off to your friends! 
Notes:
Extra syrup can be cooled and stored in a jar in the fridge for another batch of fruit.
Cherries and apricots can be prepared the exact same way.
Canning is a rewarding experience that allows you to preserve some of summer’s bounty and enjoy it again in the winter.  Preserving food can be a fun, productive way to spend an afternoon with a friend or significant other.  Preserves also make great gifts for those who are (almost) impossible to buy for.   Give it a try!  I think you’ll like it. 

This post has been linked up on: I Thought I Knew Mama: Green and Natural Mamas’ Thursday Link Up