Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hoe, Hoe, Hoe and Happy Canning

I spent all day Monday and again this afternoon hoeing out the weeds in the hops/veggie/herbs section. You would not believe the weeds! It is like wading through a giant thistle patch. But, I have to say that I'm making pretty good headway. I have two more rows of beans to really work through, then it's a matter of weeding each interior bed and thinning the veggies. When that's done I'll head over to the corn/potatoes/squash/melons/pole beans section and get down to business there. The potatoes need to be hilled already and I'll use the BCS with hiller/furrower attachment for that. The wheel hoe should take care of the walk ways between the corn rows, and my trusty stirrup hoe will slash the rest. It would be nice to get a good rain. Tom started cutting the grass around the chicken skid so I'll use that for mulching once everything is weeded. Hard work on hot days makes for skinny people!

Yesterday's class, Wisconsin Acidified Canned Foods Training for Small Food Processors, at the Spooner Ag Research Station was great! I learned so much about value adding foods into acidified products, canning, and Wisconsin regulations regarding preparing and selling acidified foods directly to consumers. There was a good number of people there, and it was kind of funny that the women filled the first half of the room near the speaker while the men sat together in the back. I passed both the exams and received my successful completion certificate, so now I can make and sell acidified foods -- if I make them in a certified kitchen. I'm going to draw a picture of the kitchen I want to build and tape it up by my desk so I can visualize it into existence. That may sound dumb, but creative visualization really works. A couple of things I'd like to pass on to you: 1) Because of changes in food science, you should not use canning recipes or procedures from before 1994 --if you try to get a license to produce a product using a standard recipe from a source that is prior to 1994 in Wisconsin, the license will not be granted; and 2) There is a great book published by the Cooperative Extension at the University of Georgia called So Easy to Preserve. This terrific 5th edition book contains the latest USDA recommendations for canning, freezing, and drying foods, and is loaded with recipes. It even has recipes for pickled eggs and pickled pigs feet! The cost is $18, and here is a link to the order form:

The heat up here in the Northwoods is unreal, and the chickens are happy to stay under the trees and near the coop. I gave them fresh water twice today, and gladly none of them looked heat stressed. The air feels like Florida; it's almost surreal. Hot and humid, but no rain. There has been fog early in the mornings this week that burns off quickly. This day last year we had a hard frost and I lost most of my season's veggies. What a difference in weather!

I'm really feeling empowered from completing that food safety training course. I feel more competent in my ability to provide for my family and the people in my community. What are you doing to empower yourself?

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