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  • FoodSaver V3240 Vertical Vacuum Sealer, White
    FoodSaver V3240 Vertical Vacuum Sealer, White
    I just started using a FoodSaver vacuum sealer to seal foods and I can't believe I waited so long to get one. (Check out my first project: Sweet & Sour Green Bean Freezer Pickles!)
    For example: In the past I would take the time to pick beautiful berries, then would bring them home and stick them in a zippered baggie in the freezer. My berries would have ice crystals and taste freezer burnt after just a few short months. 
    Then I had a light-bulb moment: "Air is the enemy" of freshness. 
    When vacuum-sealed my berries last 3 to 4 times longer! I have similar results with other fruits, veggies and even meats & cheeses.
    The FoodSaver has been a fantastic discovery. ~ Brook
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    • Mehu-Liisa 10 Liter Stainless Steel Steam Juicer - Made in Finland
      Mehu-Liisa 10 Liter Stainless Steel Steam Juicer - Made in Finland
      Mehu-Liisa Products

      Some day I will replace my ancient graniteware Steam Juice Extractor with this gorgeous Mehu-Liisa brand Steam Juicer. My old Steam Juicer leaks steam, meaning I have to refill the water often, and it doesn't have anywhere close to the capacity of this one from Mehu-Liisa.
      If you want to experience the magic of a Steam Juicer, check out this 10 quart Mehu-Liisa. It will last you a lifetime and save you countless hours in the kitchen, whether your juicing fruit for  Plum Jelly or Apricot Nectar, not to mention it minimizes the mess of juicing large amounts of veggies!  ~ Brook

    • Ball Quilted Jelly Canning Jar 4 Oz (Pack of 12)
      Ball Quilted Jelly Canning Jar 4 Oz (Pack of 12)
      What's the one jar size I always keep a couple extra cases of? 
      The Ball 4 ounce jar.
      It's basically 1/2 cup, and just the right size for gift-giving and for experimenting with small batches. Perfect for things like my famous Pear Honey.
      People can't help but say "That is so darn cute!" when they seem them. 
      ~ Brook

    • Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
      Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
      Looking for an affordable, easy-to-use pressure canner, backed up by great customer service? Look no further than the Presto 23 quart Pressure Canner/Cooker. It's the one I recommend to all my students. ~ Brook


    Dilly Pickled Onion Slices on Punk Domestics

    • Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen (Orange) Instant Read Thermometer, Perfect for Barbecue, Home and Professional Cooking
      Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen (Orange) Instant Read Thermometer, Perfect for Barbecue, Home and Professional Cooking
      Do you have a great instant-read thermometer, or are you still buying the 20 dollar ones that only last a year or two? This was one of my best kitchen purchases.
      Can't imagine cooking jam (or meat or candy) without it! 
      Take your jams to 220º and you'll have a perfect gel set every time. Also available in other colors, but why wouldn't you want orange? It's only the BEST COLOR EVER. ~ Brook


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    • The Home Preserving Bible (Living Free Guides)
      The Home Preserving Bible (Living Free Guides)
      by Carole Cancler
      If you're looking for a book that covers every preserving topic imaginable, this is the book for you. It doesn't have a flashy cover or glossy pictures, but it's full of great info. One of my very favorite resources. ~ Brook

    • OXO Good Grips Corn Stripper
      OXO Good Grips Corn Stripper

      Last August my friend Kelli asked me if I wanted some fresh corn from her grandpa's garden. I said "Sure....I'd love to make a few jars of Sweet Corn Relish!"
      She showed up 6 hours later with 158 ears. Wasn't sure if I loved her or hated her for it.
      After a long hot day spent cutting kernels off all those cobs with a small paring knife, I decided I'd never be without a Corn Stripper again. ~ Brook


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    I have attempted to share safe preserving methods however you alone are responsible for your health & safety in your own kitchen or location. Be aware of current safety recommendations. Please see "Full Disclaimer" page for suggested preserving resources.

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    Why I use Clearjel when making pie filling.

    Stock photo from Google images

    Why use Clearjel instead of cornstarch?

    I did a little research online and found a few different reasons amongst regular cooks & canners.

    Here are a few reasons people say they use Clearjel instead:

    "It is the same reason that all dairy products and oils are prohibited. Just like flour, pasta, rice, and any other so-called "thickeners" corn starch is prohibited in home canning because it both retards the heat penetration need to kill bacteria, but it also binds to bacteria and insulates them from the heat so the heat can't kill them. Clearjel is the only approved thickener."

    "Cornstarch can impart a rather distinctive flavor, and not in a good way. And it has a tendency to get watery, if that makes any sense."

    "Canning pie filling using tapioca or cornstarch as the thickener is an outdated method. Why is this risky? Botulism is not a major risk here because the high acid content of the most fruit pie fillings. However, using cornstarch or tapioca may cause the filling to be too thick for the heat to penetrate and kill spoilage organisms throughout the product—a food safety issue. Cornstarch will break down during the canning process. Your pie filling will be runny—a food quality issue."

    I recommend following these USDA-approved guidelines

    Clearjel® is the only thickening agent approved by the USDA for canning. Clearjel® is a modified waxy food starch producing a smooth, heavy-bodied, gel-like product. Canned products retain a smooth texture with no liquid separation or curdling.

    Of course another option is to can your delicious fruit pie fillings without any starch and then thicken them with tapioca or cornstarch before putting them in your pie shells. 

    As my friend Kate McDermott (of Art of the Pie fame) says:
    "Be happy. Make Pie."

    I agree, and I would like to add: 
    "In fact, make pie filling now while fresh fruit is in season, and seal it in Mason jars. You'll be even happier knowing you have pretty jars full of perfect pie filling in your pantry all year 'round."

    Note: I am not talking about Instant Clearjel. Do not use it for pie fillings; it will break down when baked in a pie.
    Regular Clearjel is what you want, and it can be purchased online. I would suggest you do an internet search to find the company that best suits your needs. I bought my last batch online from Barry Farms, but I know that in Washington and other western states it can be purchased at Cash & Carry stores. I think Cash & Carry only sells it in 25 lb bags, however, so you might want to share with a friend! 

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