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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Wild about Canning and Reducing our Footprint

This year our tomato plants have gone crazy with growth.  Next year husband plans to build scaffolding because these plants have outgrown Lowe's tallest tomato cages.

August is going to be a busy month for canning tomatoes!

The only question is what should we do with them?  As of last week I still had 20 quarts of tomatoes from last summer and about 10lbs in the freezer!  Our kids stopped liking Spaghetti and Chili so I guess we slowly stopped making these parental faves over the past year.  No more!  When I was a kid my mom had staple meals on the menu that never changed - Spaghetti every Friday night and Hamburgers every Saturday night.  This left only 5 days to plan meals and I'm going to do the same.

After making a giant pot of Spaghetti last Saturday, I now have 16 quarts of canned tomatoes (I use 4 quarts in my recipe).  I figure if I make this once a month then I'll have 4 months left.  I will therefore need 32 quarts to get through next August on Spaghetti alone.

Other things we can work into the canning schedule are Salsa and Stewed Tomatoes - which just adds bell peppers and onions to plain tomatoes.  We've got red peppers in the garden but very few onions so I'll need to get those from the store this week.

This week we did our first batch of Salsa (4 pints), more on that separately so I can post our recipe and we canned Pinto Beans (12 pints).  The Pinto's are to replace store bought cans of Pinto beans.  Here is the savings:
10lb bag bought for $10.00 in Odessa, TX at Albertsons.  We soaked 3lbs of beans which made 1 batch of refried beans and 12 pints of canned pinto beans.  My math shows we can make 36 pints of pintos and 3 batches of refried beans (which is equivalent to 6 cans) out of 9 pounds of beans.  We find a pint is about equal to a 15oz can so this replaces 36 cans of pintos and 6 cans of refried beans.  These cans cost roughly $0.69 at Aldi so with 42 cans the cost is $28.98.  Let's just round off and say the savings is $20.   
The BIGGER savings is 42 metal cans that would need to be recycled.  I'm big into recycling but I believe the more important thing is to REDUCE our intake and with this process we are only throwing away one plastic bag and reusing our jars over and over. This makes me feel better than saving $20.  

To bring this back to our garden, we did manage to grow about 1lb of pinto's but we supplemented with the 10lb bag because Tex Mex is on our menu once a week and these are a staple in our diet.

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