Friday, September 9, 2011

Preserving Nature's Bounty

It's no secret that I like to save money where I can.  One of the best ways is to preserve summer produce when it's plentiful so you can eat that food through the off-season.  Each year I garden in hopes that I will grow enough for us to eat through the summer and can or freeze it to have later.  It didn't work out this year the way I'd hoped.  We planted tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, cantaloupe, green peppers and pumpkins.  Well we got 1 cucumber, 1 green pepper and enough grape tomatoes to keep our salad plates pretty but that's it.  I still hold out hope for the peppers, as they have several blooms but otherwise I think we're done.

I found roma tomatoes for $.99/pound and bought 5 pounds of those to dice for chili, hamburger helper and such.  I've also been buying strawberries any time I see them reasonably priced and making jam.  Unfortunately we go through that so quickly I think I only have 2 pints left.  That probably won't get us very far!  LOL

One of the things that has been in the back of my mind is green chilies.  I love white chicken chili and my recipe calls for an 8 oz. can of green chilies.  Since I ditched can goods a while back I've wondered what I'm going to do for the chilies.  I guessed that it would be expensive to buy 2-3 for each batch.  I searched for a jarred variety, but was unsuccessful.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do.  That is, until I was wandering the produce section the other night and found a great sale on Hatch chilies.  They were $1.68/pound.  I purchased 2 big bags.  At the checkout the guy couldn't find the code, so he gave me each bag for $1.68.  I did tell him that there was more than a pound in there, but he said it was too much trouble to figure it out in his head.  This would be the bonus of grocery shopping at 1 am! 

I headed home and planned to work on them the next night... and the next... and the next.  Well I finally got around to it last night and a few were mush (grrr!).  I cleaned up and diced everything that was good and managed to get 10-8 oz. jars of chilies.  I froze them just because the thought of getting the canner out at 10 pm wasn't appealing.  Hopefully they will work well in my chicken chli.  I figured I would saute them with the onions to get them soft.  That's the plan-if that doesn't work, I'll try something else.

As far as money goes, I spent $3.36 on the peppers.  I already had the jars, lids and rings, so no new expense there.  If I recall correctly, a 4 oz. can of chilies at the store was $.74.  So, multiplied by 20 (the amount of 4 oz. jars I would have), the total is $14.80.  I saved $11.44 by doing it myself, plus I have the added benefit of not having BPA in my chilies!  Woo-hoo!

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