Canning Vegetables: All You Need to Know

Canning Vegetables: All You Need to Know

Does home canning sound like a chore?

A task reserved for only those flawlessly organized and pulled-together?

If so, you better prepare yourself for this – wait for it – canning is so easy and even (dare we say it?) downright fun.

Everything tastes sweeter when it’s had the chance to ripen under the summer sun. While true, it’s less than pleasant to find yourself up to your ears in zucchini, peppers, and cucumbers.

A flourishing garden may provide a welcome bounty of food, but sometimes we just can’t eat it fast enough! Don’t let those fresh flavors go to waste: home canning is a wonderful way to preserve your favorite summer veggies.

Benefits of Home Canning vs Buying Commercially Canned Foods

Female picking vegetables from her garden

Store-bought canned goods are often loaded with preservatives. DIY canning ensures you enjoy the most nutritious produce all year long.

Another downside to buying canned food in stores? They are expensive!

For a frugal Summer, stock up on jars and jars of homemade canned vegetables at a fraction of the price.

Supplies Needed to Get Started Canning

You will need:

  • A pressure canner with canning rack
  • Quart or pint canning jars
  • Enough vegetables to fill your jars
  • A jar lifter for retrieving hot jars
  • A timer
  • A pressure canning recipe for your vegetable of choice
  • Table or canning salt (optional)
  • A canning funnel (optional)

How to Can Vegetables at Home

Wooden table with red tomatoes and cucumbers

1. Clean your pressure canner with a quick swipe of vinegar and inspect it

  • Pay special attention to the pressure gauge. If it has been dropped, cracked, or submerged in water, it might not be accurate.
  • Your local agricultural extension office can test it for you.

2. Wash and inspect jars, lids, and rings

  • Unlike with water bath canning, you don’t have to sterilize your jars before you pressure can.
  • Fill your jars with hot water to keep them warm and set them aside.
  • Filling a cold jar with hot canning material can cause jars to shatter.

3. Add water and rack to your pressure canner

  • This step varies based on the canner. Follow your own canner’s directions.

4. Put canner on stovetop over low heat to get water started while you fill jars

5. Prepare your vegetables according to your recipe

  • Most pressure canners come with recipes, but you can also find instructions online or in books on canning available at Amazon.

6. Empty the warm water from your jars and fill them with vegetables

  • Always allow at least one-inch of “head space,” the empty space between the top of your canning materials and the jar opening, to allow for expansion.
  • Use a non-metallic spatula to eliminate air bubbles and wipe the jar edges clean.

7. Put lids on your jars

  • Make sure the sealing compound, which is usually an orange, slightly tacky ring around the inner edge of your lids, is facing down.
  • Then screw on the lid rings.

8. Place your jars in the canner on the rack

  • Make sure your canner’s lid vent pipe is open before closing up your pressure canner.

9. Process your jars according to the canner’s instructions

  • Be mindful of adjustments needed for high altitudes.

10. When processing is complete: move canner away from hot burner

  • Wait for pressure to drop.
  • This can take an hour or more.
  • Afterward, open the pressure regulator and vent.
  • Allow your canner to cool another 10 minutes before opening it carefully.

11. Use jar lifter to remove jars from canner

  • Place them away from drafts to cool.
  • Make sure not to tilt them.
  • This can take up to 12 hours.
  • When they have cooled completely, check the jar seal.
  • The tops of your lids should be sucked downward and not click when pressed.
  • Any unsealed jars should be stored in the fridge and eaten immediately.

12. Label your jars and enjoy

  • Canned foods will stay tasty for a year or two and remain safe even longer. Always check your seals before eating.
Labeled jars of canned corn, lecho and tomatoes

Safety

You might be familiar with traditional water bath canning.

While it is great for fruits, it’s no good for veggies.

High-acid foods will kill most bacteria, but vegetables are low-acid foods.

To can low-acid foods safely, you’ll need a pressure canner:

  • Pressure canners heat food to 240-degrees Fahrenheit, destroying bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
  • They’re easy to use, but be sure to read their instructions and safety information.

A Note About Salt

Salt isn’t necessary for safe home canning, though it will preserve your food’s fresh flavor.

Table salt will work fine, but canning salt keeps your food’s color bright.

Summary

With home canning, you can hang onto those feel-good summer vibes all year long.

This winter, you may not be basking in the sun, but you sure will be soaking up summertime veggie sweetness. For more inspiration, you can check out these canning recipes at Whole Foods.

You can pick up a pressure canner at Bed Bath & Beyond and Walmart. To save money, check out our Bed Bath & Beyond discount codes and Walmart discount codes.

3 Guacamole Recipes You’ve Never Heard Of

3 Guacamole Recipes You’ve Never Heard Of

There’s nothing like a creamy, salty, freshly whipped bowl of guacamole. Add some warm tortilla chips to this classic appetizer, and you have a dish sure to please any hungry guest. While guacamole is a treat you know will be a hit time and time again, the standard recipe isn’t exactly original.

With our 3 totally unique guacamole recipes, you will wow your guests with the sweet surprises of these unexpected flavors: bacon, pineapple, and sun-dried tomato!

Health Benefits of Avocado

avocado guacamole recipes

Many appetizers are, unfortunately, often served with a large dose of guilt. Lucky for you, guacamole is not one of them! Avocados are packed with an abundance of nutrients:

  • Rich in essential fatty acids and healthy, monounsaturated fats.
  • Supercharged with high amounts of potassium, Vitamins B6, C and E.
  • High in fiber and a good source of protein (both balance one’s blood sugar levels).
  • Holds a variety of trace minerals that replenish the body when depleted.
  • Supports a healthy heart.

Classic Guacamole Recipes

Traditionally, guacamole recipes contain this rather predictable set of ingredients: mashed avocado, chopped onion, lime (or lemon) juice, salt, and pepper. To spice it up, some add fresh garlic (or garlic powder), jalapenos, diced tomatoes, chile peppers, and/or hot sauce.

Now, we’re not saying we’d necessarily turn down a bowl of this tasty tradition, but we could certainly go for some unanticipated, savory additions!

guacamole recipes with chips

Guacamole Recipes with a Creative Twist

Bust out the pita bread, tortilla chips, and tacos! It’s fiesta time.

1. Guacamole with cotija topped with bacon bits

A famous bacon- guac recipe calls for 4 strips of bacon. To cut down on the fat content, you can use 2 minced strips and still keep the flavor.

Add to 3 mashed avocados: ½ tbsp fresh cilantro, ½ cup cotija cheese, 1 tablespoon of finely-chopped serrano chile pepper, juice from 1 lime, coarse salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Serve with soft flour tortillas, chips or pita bread.

2. Pineapple cilantro guacamole

This tropical dip adds a tasty touch to your summer picnic buffet.

Add to 2 mashed avocados: ½ juiced lime, 8 oz. can crushed pineapple, and ¼ cup minced cilantro. Mix all ingredients and sprinkle on a dash or two of sea salt. Try spreading it on a bagel, dipping tortilla chips into it, or adding it to a veggie pita sandwich.

tomatoes for guacamole recipes

3. Sun-dried tomato guacamole

This recipe, known as “California guacamole,” has a hint of Italian flavor.

Add to 4 mashed avocados: 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons shredded fresh basil leaves, and 1/3 cup parmesan cheese. Add ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (but drain and chop them before you mix them into your guacamole dip). Optional: sprinkle in toasted pine nuts and 1 ½ tablespoons dried basil in place of the fresh leaves. Throw on a pinch or two of sea salt. Enjoy it with Italian bread, chips, or pita bread.

Inspired? Where to find more guacamole recipes

If you’re loving these unconventional recipes, check out Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AbeBooks for cookbooks that include new and fresh ways to make guacamole. (Find Amazon discounts, Barnes & Noble discounts, and AbeBooks discounts here).

4th of July Desserts to Make Uncle Sam Proud

4th of July Desserts to Make Uncle Sam Proud

Nothing says U.S. independence like quirky town parades, booming fireworks overhead (or in your driveway), patriotism as a valid excuse for daytime boozing, and loads of red-white-and-blue 4th of July desserts.

Now, we get it: you’re already 100% decked out in stars and stripes from your bikini, tank, and shorts to your sandals, tote, and nails. Who has time for decorative dessert?

Hear us out. What’s the fun of 4th of July if it’s not to go excessively overboard on patriotism? Come on now… your neighbor has 5 flags and a celebratory welcome mat. Don’t let her one-up you. Here are 7 creative 4th of July desserts fit to impress dear old Uncle Sam.

The Sweet Taste of Victory: Sweet 4th of July Desserts

4th of July desserts flag cake

We think the best Independence Day desserts should match our clothes: red, white, and blue!

1. American Flag Cake

Wow your guests with this artistic, mouth-watering, fruity & creamy cake.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of white cake mix
  • 8 oz. of cream cheese
  • 9 oz. of whipped topping
  • 3 Tbsp of powdered sugar
  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • 1 pint of raspberries

Instructions:

  • Prepare the cake mix as indicated. Once baked, allow to cool.
  • While cooling, use a mixer to blend the powdered sugar, whipped topping, and cream cheese together.
  • Use this to frost the cake.
  • Decorate the top with blueberries and raspberries to model the American flag.

2. Firework Cookies

Firework shows are a classic 4th of July favorite, so you better add these to the assortment!

Ingredients:

  • A dozen of your favorite sugar cookies, either baked or store-bought
  • Red and blue sugar sprinkles
  • White frosting
  • Several bags of Pop-Rocks candy

Instructions:

  • Bake or open your cookies and frost them.
  • Sprinkle with the sprinkles then the Pop-Rocks.
  • With each bite, there will literally be an explosion of taste!
friends having 4th of july desserts

Irresistible & Healthy 4th of July Desserts

Holiday eating doesn’t have to end with bloating and regret! These healthy 4th of July desserts never sacrifice flavor.

3. Red, White, and Blue Fruit Salad

This fruit salad is super simple to whip up and always a hit.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint of hulled strawberries
  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • 4 bananas
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Instructions:

  • Mix the blueberries and strawberries together.
  • Cover in sugar and lemon juice.
  • Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Slice the banana, mix with the other fruit, and garnish with a bit of whipped cream.

4. Berry Parfaits

In a matter of minutes, this popular dessert will be ready to go.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 pint hulled strawberries
  • Whipped topping

Instructions:

  • Use plastic punch cups and layer the fruit between the whipped topping.
  • Alternate blue, white, and red.
  • Top with a dollop of whip and keep it cool for best results.

4th of July Drinks Count, too!

Who says sangria isn’t a dessert? Not us.

5. July 4th Sangria

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups of hulled strawberries
  • 1 sliced star fruit
  • 3/4 cup of blueberries
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 15 maraschino cherries
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate schnapps
  • Club soda

Instructions:

  • Grab a large glass pitcher. (If you don’t have one, you can find them online at Target, Amazon, or Overstock.)
  • Fill with everything but the club soda and allow it to refrigerate overnight.
  • To serve, fill glasses with ice then fill 2/3 of the way with sangria.
  • Top with club soda, stir, and sip!

4th of July Desserts for the Kiddos

Whether you have your own little munchkins or your cousin is bringing over her 3 high-energy kids, you’d better have some treats to keep them happy and entertained!

4th of July Desserts Popsicles

6. Patriotic Pops

This treat may be at the kids table, but don’t be surprised if adults start picking them up, too!

Ingredients:

  • 12 disposable cups, 5 oz. each
  • 12 popsicle sticks
  • 1 cup of whipped cream
  • 1 cup of vanilla yogurt
  • 2 cups each of red cranberry juice and blue soft drink. (TIP: Healthy alternative to a blue soft drink – try using white grape juice with natural food dyes. We like: India Tree Natural Decorating Colors at Amazon.)

Instructions:

  • Fill a third of each cup with blue drink.
  • Freeze for about 40 minutes. Mix the whipped cream and yogurt together.
  • Remove the cups from the freezer and fill the next third with the white mixture.
  • Place a popsicle stick in each cup, freeze for about 40 minutes then fill the rest of each cup with the red drink.
  • Freeze until solid, tear the cup away and enjoy!

7. Layered Red, White, and Blue 4th of July Drinks

Kids love this cute layered drink!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of cranberry juice
  • 1 cup of Sobe Pina Colada drink
  • 1 cup of Blue Gatorade or white grape juice with natural food dye (see above India Tree brand)

Instructions:

  • The trick here is to layer the drink correctly.
  • Start by filling a glass a third of the way with cranberry juice.
  • Fill with ice until level with the liquid.
  • Slowly pour the next layer, the Sobe Pina Colada, on top.
  • Again, fill with ice.
  • Finally, the G2 Gatorade or alternative blue drink.

If done correctly, you will see red, white, and blue layers the kids will adore!

Need more ideas?

Check out these Pinterest 4th of July Desserts and July 4th Recipes. Happy Independence Day!

6 Healthy Crock-Pot Recipes for the Busy Cook

6 Healthy Crock-Pot Recipes for the Busy Cook

A solid rotation of healthy crock-pot recipes is every busy cook’s best friend. Let’s be honest, wasting gorgeously perfect summer days slaving away in the kitchen is a serious no-no. Who would you rather be … isolated, loner chef or summer’s most social butterfly?

Okay, okay, we might be exaggerating a bit. The point is, a crock-pot is your solution to cooking delish meals while never missing a moment in the sun. We have 6 reasons this handy cooking device is a worthy kitchen sidekick.

Preparing for a classy garden party, but your friends relentlessly insist you join them at the beach? Stop being stubborn already and ditch the apron!

With these healthy crock-pot meals, you can quite literally toss in all ingredients and walk away.

Easy-Peasy, Healthy Crock-Pot Recipes

1. Pulled Pork

Mmmm, pulled pork. You have GOT to try this!

  • Rub about 4 pounds of pork roast with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a little brown sugar. Add chili powder for a kick!
  • Chop 2 onions and place around the roast.
  • Options for cooking liquid:
    • Can of dark beer poured onto the roast will result in a nice traditional flavor.
    • Can of pineapple juice can be substituted for a fruity Hawaiian taste.
    • Cup of apple cider vinegar can be used for a tart taste.
  • Cook everything on low for 6 to 7 hours.
  • Use a fork to shred the meat and remove any bones.
  • Mix in your favorite BBQ sauce and let it cook on low for 1 more hour.
  • Serve your pork on delicious potato rolls. This healthy crock-pot recipe serves 10-12.
Healthy Crock-Pot Tortilla Soup

2. Chicken Tortilla Soup

When you think of chicken soup, you may picture frosty, stormy nights and a cold (perhaps runny) nose. Hear this: chicken soup is not limited to winter meals and sick-day sipping. Add a twist of lime, wedge of avocado, and dollop of sour cream for an instant summer soup hit!

  • Place 2-3 chopped chicken breasts into the crock-pot. Add chopped green chile, a can of beans, corn kernels, chopped tomato, onion, garlic, and a pinch of your favorite spices.
  • Pour 2 cups of chicken broth and 1 cup of water on top. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
  • Squeeze at least 2 large limes into the soup and add a handful of cilantro.
  • To serve, pour into a bowl over tortilla chips. Sprinkle some shredded cheese on top.
  • Sliced avocado and a big spoonful of sour cream served as garnish completes the meal. This simple & healthy crock-pot soup serves 4-5 people.
Ribs Healthy Crock-Pot Recipe

3. BBQ Ribs

This recipe is ridiculously easy. Other than utter laziness, you have no excuse to skip it.

  • Rub down the 3-4 pounds of ribs with salt, pepper, garlic powder and a little chili sauce.
  • Place in the crock-pot with about 1/2 cup of dark beer.
  • Cook on low for 8 hours.
  • Cover the ribs in barbecue sauce and bake at 350 degrees for just long enough that the sauce starts to caramelize. This healthy crock-pot meal serves 6-7 people.

4. Mac and Cheese

If you don’t love Mac and Cheese, there’s probably something wrong with you. This all-time favorite is virtually painless to prepare.

  • Coat the crock- pot in non-stick spray.
  • Mix 3 cups of milk with 3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Add 1 beaten egg. Season everything with salt, pepper and paprika.
  • Pour this over 1 box of macaroni in the crock-pot and add a tad more cheese on top.
  • Cook on low for 4 hours.
Healthy Crock-Pot Oatmeal

5. Healthy Crock Pot Oatmeal Recipe: Loaded Berries

A tangy breakfast treat that is so simple to complete. Try cooking it overnight for a quick breakfast the morning of that camping trip. Delicious and healthy crock pot breakfast recipes can be a pain to find, but this one is a winner every time.

  • Pour 2 cups of steel-cut oatmeal into the crock-pot.
  • Add 6 cups of water and a pinch of salt, as well as a ½ cup of brown sugar.
  • Try a pinch of cinnamon for extra sweetness.
  • Stir well and let cook on low for 8 hours.
  • Before serving, stir in about a ½ cup of whole milk and top with a healthy portion of seasonal berries.

6. Chili

Then there is the beloved chili bowl. This ever-popular crock pot healthy dinner is a picnic food classic!

  • Add 2 pounds of ground beef to 2 cans of tomato sauce in a crock-pot.
  • Chop up a large onion, a bell pepper, and a couple cloves of garlic. Add them to the pot, along with 2 cans of your favorite beans.
  • Pour a ½ cup of water or broth on top. Season everything with a mixture of salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, brown sugar, and cumin.
  • Stir well and let cook on low for at least 8 hours.
  • Serve with a dollop of sour cream and some shredded cheese on top. This will easily serve 8-10 people.

TIP: Find crock-pots at Sears, Walmart, and Macy’s. Some suppliers, such as Amazon, will even deliver fresh ingredients to your doorstep!

Make these healthy crock-pot recipes a summer staple!

We might just make these dishes the only meals we prepare all summer. Berry oatmeal for breakfast, chili at the company picnic, and BBQ ribs for the 4th of July party! Done. This season, these scrumptiously healthy crock-pot meals will ensure you never waste a day indoors. You can find more healthy crock pot recipes and tips at Whole Foods or on these Pinterest recipes.

Quinoa, Kale and Poached Egg Recipe

Quinoa, Kale and Poached Egg Recipe

We got a tasty, and easy to make in 10-minutes Quinoa, Kale and poached egg recipe.

Ingredients

Kale Quinoa Egg Dinner
  • 1 to 2 large eggs (optional: organic eggs)
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup baby kale (optional: organic greens)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil (optional: garlic-infused olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon ground lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar (optional: apple cider instead of white)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preparation Instructions

Quinoa Recipe in 10 Minutes

1. Sauté the kale and cooked quinoa in olive oil

For extra flavor, try garlic-infused oil.

2. Cover the greens after cooking

3. Turn off heat and let the kale/quinoa mixture stand until it wilts

4. Scoop the cooked greens onto an attractive plate

5. Boil water in a small saucepan for the poached eggs

6. Turn boiling water heat to low, stir in vinegar and add cracked eggs

When adding the vinegar, stir the substance rapidly in a circular motion. This will create a whirlpool funnel.

Quickly drop the cracked egg into it. Slide eggs into the center of the whirlpool.

7. Let the egg simmer for 3-4 minutes

Keep the egg in the water until the whites appear cooked. This poaching process will usually leave the yoke a little runny.

However, if you prefer a firmer yoke, you could let it cook a minute or two longer. Be careful not to overcook it, which could leave it rubbery.

8. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked eggs from the water

9. Place the eggs on top of the kale/quinoa greens you prepared just minutes ago

10. Grind some lemon peel and sprinkle the zest over the top of the dish

11. Spread a few pinches of ground sea salt and crushed black pepper over it

You want just enough salt and pepper to flavor the dish, but not overpower it.

Estimated Preparation Time

This Quinoa, Kale and Poached Egg Recipe takes only 10 minutes to prepare.

Recommended Uses

The Quinoa, Kale and poached egg recipe dish is an excellent standalone item which is an ideal choice for busy parents who have hungry mouths to feed.

It is easy to double or triple the batch when you need to cook dinner for your whole family.

However, it offers a versatile enough flavor for a buffet-style menu.

You can modify the dish and add the finished product to lettuce or spinach salads that call for cooked eggs.

Also, consider using the leftovers for a nutritious, fast breakfast dish.

Where to Buy Quinoa

You can find all the ingredients you’ll need for our “10-Minute Quinoa, Kale, & Poached Egg Recipe” at your local grocery store or online at major grocery store brands.

We recommend you the best ingredients like buying organic eggs (if you can).

Our other tip would be to try using Giving Assistant to help save money on your grocery bill by, for example, finding a coupon for Target or other grocery stores.

You can potentially earn cash back when you sign up for a Giving Assistant account which you could also donate some to a nonprofit of your choice.

More Recipe Ideas

To discover similar quinoa dishes, browse Whole Foods or check out the 10 Best Quinoa Recipes from Bon Appetit.

Summary

When you are stuck for ideas for a tasty, fast to make quinoa dish that is vegetarian friendly we hope this quinoa, kale and poached egg recipe hits the spot for you.

We think this dish will mainly be cooked for lunch meals, however, it can be used for breakfast or even a dinner for one person.

Have you seen our rustic garlic mashed potatoes recipe yet? If not check that out next.