Friday, April 29, 2011

Master Food Preserve April Class - Day 1

Post and Pictures by Cindy S.

The Master Food Preserver Class for April started off with great introductions to the world of canning then a fury of anxious canners moving toward their assigned kitchens excited to try their newly taught tasks. As one of the 29 to attend the class I was excited not to be working for two days and spending the time canning with people who were passionate about preserving and learning new skills that would carry them into the future. One goal... to pay it forward.

Our instructors, both from the state of Utah were very down to earth, open to questions, and made day one a lot of fun. We started our first session in the kitchen making citrus fruits. Grapefruits and oranges or a lovely fruit cocktail were the recipes. Doing the work meant finding our way with the utensils and tools we were provided and getting to know the members of our small groups. I have done a lot of this canning already and wanted the "newbies" to step up and get their feet wet. Our jar of citrus, Grapefruits and Oranges looked fantastic and as a group we got into our groove and looked forward to the team work of the next recipe.

Fruit Cocktail

Our next task was making Cinnamon Apple Rings. No rings, no redhots, but a happy group nonetheless pitching in to make a pint of what had the "essence" of the directions on paper. Other groups during this section of the class made canned pears, and something else which I never got a chance to see.

Apple "Rings" and Fruit Cocktail

Canned Pears

We were given some further instruction since our next recipe was the task of making a pie filling. Again station three (that was us), just by the luck of the draw got the opportunity to do something different. Instead of Apple Pie filling we got to do Blueberry. It was interesting that we actually blanched the blueberries then added them back to the pot and cooked them a bit more with the Clear Gel sugar mixture. My concern was now they were going into a pie to bake some more. Weren't they going to dissapear into the gel? Lucky for us tomorrow we make pies with this fantastic filling and as they say "proof is in the pie" or the "pudding".

Pie Filling

The class continued after having lunch with the girls in my group. It was more time for us to get to know each other and found again that we work well together. We were onto our next objective... Jams & Jellies. It seems like a whirlwind of information for the new people. I didn't do this much different types of canning in the first month, but our two newbies flew right along and picked it up quickly. So to Jams and Jellies...

As our instructor announced which kitchens were doing what recipes we were again excited that we were given Kiwi Pineapple Jam. The recipe was very easy, more of a practice to work with pectins in different ratios of sugar. We had the opportunity to try three of the other jams and jellies made by other stations; grape jelly made from fresh red grapes processed in a juice steamer, strawberry jam, and orange jelly make from orange juice concentrate. I don't think that the plum or raspberry ever made it to the counter for tasting.

Jams & Jellies

Kiwi/Pineapple Mixture

The last lesson of the day was the art of dehydrating. Now truth be told this was the one thing that I have done once and felt I needed to really understand the entire concept of, but this was super easy as well. Just a few notes to be careful in soaking apples, pears, apricots, and peaches in citric acid to prevent browning before dehydrating, but it seemed everything in the fruits and vegetables were fair game in this process. We went back to our kitchens and each group filled up two trays to process overnight for tasting tomorrow. Here are some pictures of the creativity of the groups.

Asparagus, Carrots, Broccoli & Cauliflower on the Dehydrator

Fruit Leather with Red Hots

Grape Tomatoes, Carrots, Broccoli & Cauliflower 

Tomorrow will be another great day of salsa, chili, pickling, meats, and don't forget pie! I enjoyed the teaching and support from both the teachers and the volunteers that had previously taken this class and came to do their "pay it forward" time with us. Thank you and can't wait for tomorrow.

Stores to Price Match From

Now that you know HOW to price match, here are some stores to price match from.  I do not get all the ads in the mail, so if I want to price match, I must print out some of the ads.  Here is a list of some of the grocery stores in town, their websites and what days their ads run.  Most sales run from Wednesday to the following Tuesday, any exceptions are listed below. In addition many Spanish Markets run specials on Wednesdays that I do not list on the "Grocery Deals of the Week"

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Saving Money with Price Matching

Now that we are armed with information on how to dehydrate, freeze and can our foods, here is a great way to get produce at a great price,!  Wal-Mart will price match competitors grocery ads, thus making it easy to get the best prices on produce at ONE store!

Price Matching Rules
  • Walmart is the only grocery store (currently) that will Price Match.
  • You must have your ads with you.
  • Walmart will price match grocery ads & Sunday newspaper ads (Best Buy, Walgreens, CVS, Office Max, etc).
  • Item must be identical to the sale item in the ad (meaning same brand, size, type, etc).
  • Walmart WILL price match Store Brands. For example - Walmart will match Kroger/Smiths bread on sale for Walmarts "Great Value" Bread.
  • Walmart will only price match printed (not online) ads.
  • Walmart will take manufacturers coupons, but not other stores coupons.
  • If a printed ad says (limit 2), then you will only be able to price match 2 of that item. Of course you can always buy 2 more the next day...
  • Walmart will not price match "Buy one get one Free" or any other type of BOGO sales.
  • Walmart will not price match items that come with an instant rebate/savings, or other such item.
  • Walmart will not price match meats and chicken if it comes from the Smiths/Albertsons butcher shop. Well, sometimes (very rarely) they will, but I wouldn't count on it!
  • Each Walmart manager sets the limits on which stores they will price match from. Walmarts will NOT price match ads from stores that are MILES away. So don't expect to bring an ad from Utah (to Nevada) and get those prices :)

Price Matching Guidelines
  • Go when the lines are not busy and without children if possible.
  • Shop on the same day and try to go to the same cashier.
  • Price match at the end of the order & let the cashier know you will be price matching. Separate them with a bar or a space on the grocery belt.
  • Tell the person behind you that you will be price matching. This way they won't get irritated if you take a little longer than normal. (hopefully)
  • Many Walmarts are MUCH friendlier at price matching than other Walmarts. Know your stores. The neighborhood Walmart at Stephanie/American Pacific & Warm Springs/Eastern are great to price match at. The Super Walmart is much stricter (and not as friendly).
  • Bring your ads & have them ready!! Circle the items that you are price matching, so you are able to show the checker quickly if needed.
  • Be Organized! On my grocery list I circle the items that I am price matching in green. That way, when the checker asks me what the price of milk is, I can quickly check my list for the correct price. 
  • Be courteous! Don't demand that an item be price matched. If they say no, you can either buy it at regular price or try again at a different Walmart or another day with a different cashier.
  • Know what dates the ads start and end.

    Price Matching Prices
    Each week I feature "Grocery Deals of the Week" on the Self-Reliant Sisters Blog. These are a basic price guideline to follow on things like chicken, ground beef, fruits and vegetables. It is not a complete list of all the good deals that week, although I wish I was grocery savvy enough to do that for you. SO, here are some guidelines for YOU to follow in order to get the best deals with price matching.
    • Know your prices. Sometimes the "Everyday Low Price" at Walmart is cheaper than the sale price at other stores.
    • Know your price point. A friend of mine will not pay more than .50 for fruit, .08 oz for cereal and $1.50 for boneless skinless chicken breasts & ground beef. My price point is higher than that, so set your price point and watch for your items to hit that price.
    • Stock up when the items you regularly use hits it's lowest price. I usually buy 20 lbs of chicken/ground beef when it goes on sale. 
    • Sales usually run in a 12 Week Cycle. So about every 12 weeks chicken/meat/etc. will be on sale again. If you can't afford to buy a ton of a sale item, try to buy enough to last you for 12 weeks.
    • Seasonal Items. There are certain times of the year that items will hit their lowest price. Thanksgiving - turkey & baking items, August - back to school items, etc. For a more detailed list click here.
    • Don't buy something just because it's on sale. Buy what you will eat and use.

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    Dehydrating Spaghetti Sauce
    by Sheila

    Post and Pictures by Sheila 

    The other day I made a large batch of homemade spaghetti sauce so I could have some to dehydrate. First I let the sauce cool them I taped some large (gallon) plastic storage bags with the label side down to the tray. I then ladled the sauce onto the bag with the rim of the sauce a little thicker than the center. I dehydrated the sauce until brittle. To re-hydrate I just added some boiling water. However, I did have to use my hand held blender to make sure all the sauce was dissolved. You can see the dehydrated sauce is dark and looks deep purple almost a brownish black but after it was re-hydrated it looks just as red as it did before I dehydrated the sauce. And it tasted just like the sauce before it was dehydrated.

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    Dehydrating Potatoes
    by Sheila

     Post and Pictures by Sheila

    To keep your potatoes from turning black you need to cook them first all the way through. After boiling both batches of potatoes I processed them two different ways.

    The first batch I peeled and boiled just like if I were making mash potatoes. I then pureed them through my food mill and spread them on the tray and dehydrated until brittle. I then took the brittle potatoes and placed them in the food processor until ground. To rehydrate I added boiling milk/water and placed in the microwaved for 6 minutes or so. I added salt, pepper and sour cream. They turned out creamy and tasted just like regular mash potatoes.

    The second batch I let cool to room temperature then peeled them, then sliced the potatoes not to thick but not to thin and placed them on the tray until they were brittle and translucent. It took longer than I thought it would to rehydrate. I had to re-boil them in water for about 20-30 minutes. but they tasted and looked just like regular potatoes.

    I also dehydrated frozen hash-browns. I just placed them on the tray until they were brittle. I re-hydrated them with boiling water for about 5 minutes, drained off the remaining water and fried them up just like regular hash-browns. They tasted great...

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    Canning 101 Power Point Presentation - From Utah State University

    Utah State University has a great Power Point Presentation called "Canning 101" available for download.  It may ask you for a password when downloading, however just click on "read only".  This will allow you download the file and use it for a presentation.

    Saturday, April 23, 2011

    It's Sweet Potato Time!
    by Sheila

     Post and Pictures by Sheila

    It's sweet potato time!!! Just boil sweet potatoes, let cool just enough to handle, peel, puree (do not add anything to the potatoes including salt), 

    Spread on tray and dehydrate until brittle.

    To eat just add boiling water and let stand for 5 minutes then place in microwave for 3-4 more minutes stir add butter, salt or brown sugar and eat. They are amazing. My favorite so far :)

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    Tips for Dehydrating Fruit
    by Sheila

    Post and Pictures by Sheila

    Tips for dehydrating the following fruit:
    • Papaya
    • Bananas
    • Peaches
    • Apples
    • Mangos

    To keep the above fruit from turning brown or black I purchased a large bottle of lemon juice and a large spray bottle. I removed the sprayer from the bottle and placed it on the lemon juice bottle and used the lemon juice to stop the discoloration of the fruit.

    I poured some of the lemon juice on the bottom of a plate with a rim then I placed the sliced fruit on the plate then sprayed the top side of the fruit to insure both sides of the fruit was covered with lemon juice then placed the fruit on the tray. It worked great none of my fruit turned dark.

    I used green granny apples and red gala apples...

    ...that I sprinkled with cinnamon

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Dehydrating Vegetables
    by Sheila

    Post and Pictures by Sheila

    I hope all you Master Food Preservers are having as much fun as I have been having. Above you can see what I have been preserving since our class ended.

    After deciding what foods I wanted to start to preserve I made a trip to Sams Club to buy some vegetables. I started with frozen vegetables and some frozen fruit.

    The first vegetables I dehydrated was frozen corn, It was very easy, all I had to do was just open the bag and spread the corn on the tray place in the dehydrator set the temperature and timer and wait. I started with 3, 5 pound bags. 

    You can see after the 15 pounds of corn has dehydrated it all fit into one bowl. I stored some of the corn (and all other food dehydrated) in a quart mason jar with a 100cc oxygen packet to remove the air and seal the jar for freshness. The remaining food I dehydrated have been vacuumed packed and sealed in Mylar bags for long term storage.

    I also dehydrated frozen broccoli and cauliflower. I just placed them on the tray and placed the tray over the sink and ran cold water over the vegetables to defrost a bit so I could cut the pieces that were to big so they would fit in the dehydrator.

    Also you can see the frozen whole green beans and mixed vegetables.


    How to Add a Post to Master Food Preservers

    Here is a checklist for those of you wanting to publish a post on Master Food Preservers.
    • Email me at lisainnevada(at)gmail(dot)com with the following information...
    1. All information you want posted in the exact way you want it worded.  Please check your grammar and spelling.  I am horrible at grammar and rely heavily on spell check, so this would be greatly appreciated :)
    2. Attach any pictures you want to the email.  If there is a specific order you want them in or after any wording please let me know.
    3. Pictures must be yours to use. If there are other people in your photos, you must have their permission to post the picture.
    4. Let me know what date you would like it posted.  I can post right away or set the post for a future date.  
    5. Any type of canning, dehydrating, freezing, gardening, food storage, food preservation or food sourcing information is welcome!!
    I have already received many request from you to post items, which I really appreciate!!!  I am so excited for this blog and all that it can do for us.  Please don't feel like you are imposing by requesting a post.  I hope to hear from you soon!!

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    "Vanishing of the Bees" Movie Screening

    Post from Marilyn of Organic Edibles

    What:  Watch the movie "VANISHING OF THE BEES" about the disappearance of honey bees

    When:  Friday, April 22, 2011 8:00 PM

    Where:  AMC Theatres Las Vegas, NV
    2321 N. Rainbow Blvd
    Las Vegas, NV 89108

    Why:  This is a screening sponsored by Whole Foods Film Festival. These screenings are very interesting and informative.

    Narrated by Oscar-nominated actress Ellen Page, this cautionary tale reveals the mystery of the disappearing bees, and the links to industrial farming and our attitude toward the natural world.

    This film is shown only this one time in Las Vegas as part of the Whole Foods "Do Something Reel Film Festival".

    The screening will take place at the AMC Theaters on 2321 N Rainbow Blvd, easily accessible from US 95 North exit 82 B (Lake Mead/N Rainbow)

    Admission is $10 and you will receive a giftbag from Whole Foods for attending the "Do Something Reel" film festival.

    Check it out!

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Janet Knight's Blue Ribbon!

    Photo courtesy of Mike Donahue

    Thanks to Mike Donahue who let me know that Janet Knight won a blue ribbon and a judge's choice award at the Clark County Fair and Rodeo last weekend for her apple sauce!  Congratulations Janet!!  Let me know if there were others of you who won ribbons at fair.

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    Master Food Preserve Class - April 28 & 29

    (click on the picture to enlarge)

    Call 1-702-257-5509 to enroll, class size is limited to 24 attendees so enroll early!

    Bulk Strawberries Available for Order

    To everyone from the Master Preserver Class - this is Elizabeth from the class - I spoke briefly about the orders that I try to arrange in bulk - I have one for strawberries right now - if you want me to include you on my email list, I would be glad to keep you posted. I will be trying to set up some orders specifically for the preserver classes - these may include canning lids, jars, pectin, Clearjel, etc. Let me know if you would consider anything else in bulk. I'll try to find it.

    Happy Canning!

    "I have been waiting -oh, so impatiently - for strawberries to come!! They are ready to be ordered!! They are $13 for a flat - there are 12 baskets in a flat. Money is being collected until April 24th - you can send it to me or drop it off at my house until then. I will be picking up the strawberries on April 29th at around 6pm and I will need for you to come pick them up as soon as possible after I get them - please let me know if you have a problem with that evening to pick up and we'll see what we can do.

    These strawberries are the best strawberries I've found here (believe me, I've tried the cheaper deals around this time of year, but they DON'T COMPARE!). Remember I don't get paid for this, so you know I'm being honest when I say you won't find better - hopefully, I don't eat my words this year - but I've ordered these strawberries for the past 3 years and so, I think it's a pretty safe bet. :)

    Let me know if you are wanting a class on strawberry jam - it's super-easy, but if you need help, I'll try to figure out a time to do a class for you!"

    Elizabeth Kay
    (email me for my address if needed)