Category Archives: Preserving

In the Kitchen with Prepper Pro

In the Kitchen with Prepper Pro

Prepper Pro w/ Logo

The Homesteader’s Supply logo is branded on each Prepper Pro

This morning I woke up with enthusiasm and dread. It’s a food day. Mushrooms needed to be cleaned and dehydrated. Beans were waiting to be picked, blanched and frozen. The blueberries were taken out of the freezer last night to thaw and needed to be made into jam today. I knew I’d be working with the Prepper Pro today. I waited until it arrived in the mail to make jam. When it was time to put it to use in the blueberries, I hesitated.

The  Appalachian Maple wood is treated with raw, organic coconut oil but I wasn’t sure the blueberries wouldn’t stain it. It’s such a beautiful piece that I didn’t want to take chances with it. I thought about wrapping it in Saran wrap but wasn’t sure it would stand up to two quarts of blueberries without slipping. I opted instead for a zippered sandwich bag. It worked perfectly to protect the wood.

A zippered sandwich bag protected the Prepper Pro from being stained.

A zippered sandwich bag protected the Prepper Pro from being stained.

I won’t use the bag when I grind dehydrated Chanterelle mushrooms into powder or when grinding herbs. I’ll be pulverizing wild mint later this week. The large end (pictured above) of the Prepper Pro fits into a wide mouth canning jar. The smaller end fits into a small mouth jar. As I used it I thought of more ways I’ll use this new tool of mine.

Prepper Pro Sm_03

The Prepper Pro is another of our new products that was designed by Jerri, owner of Homesteader’s Supply, and is being made locally from locally sourced Appalachian maple trees. It’s well balanced, smooth as can be, and fits comfortably in my hands.

You can purchase the Fermenting Kit that comes with:



The Prepper Pro fits into small and large mouth canning jars.

The Prepper Pro fits into small and large mouth canning jars.

Prepper Pro

I’ll be mashing strawberries, raspberries and blackberries I’ve frozen to use later. There are always herbs to grind, both fresh and dehydrated. And I think I’ll give a grind or two to my loose, dried tea blends to wake them up a bit before putting them into the tea ball. I’ll be using this for more than packing my jars when I make sauerkraut. I washed the Prepper Pro when I finished using it, applied more organic coconut oil, and put in easy reach on the shelf. This is going to be used often.

And I’ll be adding the Prepper Pro to a few Christmas baskets this year. I have friends who’ll put it to good use!

A Taste of Raspberry Jam

Raspberry Jam

How to Make Raspberry Jam in 30 MinutesMid-July, raspberry time. The canes are loaded, it’s been a good year for raspberries. Picking gallons at a time barely makes a noticeable dent in amount of berries to be picked. It’s time to make raspberry jam.
Raspberries to mash







You’ll need:

  • Two quarts of fresh raspberries
  • 1/3 cup, rounded, bulk pectin
  • 5 to 6 cups of sugar

Lightly mash raspberries, one cup at a time. You’ll have five cups of mashed berries when you finish.

Stir in pectin.

Move mixture to an eight quart pan and heat to a simmer over medium heat. When simmering, stir in sugar. Bring to a boil that can’t be stirred down and continue to boil for 60 seconds, stirring constantly.

Ladle into hot, sterile jars. Wipe the rim clean with a damp cloth. Place sterile lids and rings, leaving a 1/8″ air space, and hot water bath as recommended.

If you’d like to make jelly you can use one of our juicers to speed the process.

Omega VERT Juicer

Omega VERT Juicer

If you’d like to do this by hand, freeze the berries, let them thaw, and strain the seeds out. Frozen berries are much easier to juice than fresh.

There are so many things to do this time of year that being able to freeze the berries and make jelly later is a great convenience.

After thawing the berries you can heat them to around 100*. Don’t cook, just heat. Remove the juice you can pour out easily, then hang the remaining berries in cheese cloth to drip into a pan. When the dripping slows to an unproductive rate, give the cheese cloth a gentle squeeze to get the last of the juice.

Lightly mashed raspberries

Lightly mashed raspberries

Raspberry Jam. Imagine a warm biscuit and jam this winter.

Raspberry Jam. Imagine a warm biscuit and jam this winter.

Raspberry Jelly Recipe

This recipe is different than the jam recipe in a major way. This recipe doesn’t use pectin. You might need to make it a few times to get it just right. If it’s too thin you can use it as pancake syrup, on ice cream or in smoothies. It won’t be what you were aiming for but it won’t go to waste.

4 cups raspberry juice
1 1/2 pounds sugar

Mix together. Heat to a gentle boil. Skim off any foam that settles at the top. Continue to boil for 20 to 30 minutes. When your spoon is lightly coated the jelly is ready to be jarred. Ladle into hot, sterile jars, leaving a 1/8″ head space. Wipe the rim clean, place lids and rings on, tightening the rings to “finger tight.” You want it tight enough to keep water out but loose enough to let air escape during the hot water bath.

raspberry bowls

Sheller and Pitter and Shredder – Oh My!

These three items are featured in this week’s newsletter. Sheller and Pitter and Shredder – Oh my! Have we got what you need for mass food production!

Mr. Pea Sheller

Mr. Pea Sheller will shell your peas and beans. It’s fast, safe to use and built to last.

Cherry Stoner, Jr

Cherry Stoner, Jr makes quick work of stoning cherries by nearly effortlessly removing the stones from up to five cherries at a time. There’s no need to be careful to load the cherries just right, the Cherry Stoner, Jr can handle it.

Deluxe Cabbage Shredder

The Deluxe Cabbage Shredder is great for church suppers, sports clubs, restaurants and diners and other folks who make large batches of coleslaw, kimchi or sauerkraut. Cooperatives and groups of friends might get together to buy the Deluxe Cabbage Shredder to share.

Coleslaw Recipe

The sauce for coleslaw is key to making the best slaw possible. This recipe is easy to remember when you’re in the middle of cooking for a big dinner.

1 part vinegar
2 parts sugar
4 parts mayonnaise

Every cup of mayo gets a half cup of sugar and a quarter-cup of vinegar. That’s it. Mix it up, pour it over shredded cabbage and carrots and you’re done.

One cup of mayo will coat one to two pounds of cabbage depending on how creamy you like  your slaw.

Pickled Garlic Scapes

Pickled garlic scapes! Delicious but not well known. Scapes are the flower stems of garlic. Whether you should leave them on the plant or cut them is up to the grower. We like to pickle them. If you love garlic you’ll most likely love scapes, too.  They are garlic’s bonus.

Garlic Scapes

Garlic Scapes

Pick scapes while they are young. I wait until they start to curl so that I have more scape to eat, and pick before the lower portion of the stem starts to get woody and tough. I put my canning jars in the dishwasher and go out to pick scapes. The jars will still be hot when I’m ready for them.

Coil the scapes to make putting them in jars easier. This works well for small mouth jars. Fill the jars to one-half inch from the top.

Pickled Garlic Scape Recipe

For four to five pints mix:

3 cups Apple Cider vinegar
3 cups water
4 tablespoons raw sugar
4 tablespoons salt

Mix well and bring to a boil. While you’re waiting for the boil add two to three teaspoons of pickling spice to each pint jar.

Garlic scapes and pickling spices

Garlic scapes and pickling spices

Pour boiling liquid over scapes, filling jar to one-half inch from the top. Wiggle the jars to remove all air bubbles. Apply lid and screw on ring until it’s finger tight. Finger tight means snug but not so tight that air can’t escape.

Pickled Garlic Scapes

Pickled Garlic Scapes

Boiling Water Bath

Place a rack in the canner and fill canner with hot water (around 180 degrees) high enough to cover the jars with one inch of water. Bring the water to a full rolling boil, cover the canner and reduce heat to bring the boil down to a light but steady boil for ten minutes. Remove jars from water and place them on a cooling rack out of the breeze. Listen for pops. Each pop indicates a jar has sealed. Re-process jars that don’t seal or place them in the refrigerator and eat them first.

Waiting approximately six weeks to open the first jar makes for the best pickled scapes but that’s not easy to do. I open the first one after a month. They’re not quite there yet but they’re definitely delicious enough to enjoy!

Cheese Making Day, 2014

Cheese making day was a blast! I’m Robin, the social media manager at Homesteader’s Supply. My daughter Taylor and our friend Tammy joined me for a day of cheese making. Tammy brought four gallons of fresh, raw, whole milk and we put it to good use.

The first batch of cheese was Cottage. The milk got too warm too fast but the cheese turned out well anyway. It was drier than expected. Was that because of the temperature problem? We don’t know. Tammy added heavy cream at the end to improve the texture and it was perfect. The texture is much more coarse and less wet than store bought cottage cheeses we’ve had. We liked it much better.

Creamy curds

These creamy curds formed on top of the whey

Draining the whey while making cottage cheese

Draining the whey

Cottage Cheese

Cottage Cheese

Our second batch was Farmer’s Cheese. This is a lot like cottage cheese without culture.  Use a gallon of milk warmed to room temperature. Stir in 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Let the curds and whey separate. Pour off the whey, saving it for another use. Add salt to taste. Salt is a preservative but we agreed that we’d eat our cheeses long before they had a chance to spoil. Wrap the curds in fine cheese cloth and hang to drip for an hour or so.

Farmer's Cheese with Garlic & Chive seasoning

Farmer’s Cheese with Garlic & Chive seasoning

There was a lot of whey waiting to be used so we made traditional Ricotta. By heating the whey and adding vinegar we separated more solids from whey. The texture wasn’t as smooth as store bought Ricotta, and the flavor was great. We used the whey from the Cottage cheese for the first batch of traditional Ricotta. The second batch was with whey from Farmer’s Cheese, and was disappointing. There was so little left in that whey that it made about two tablespoons worth of ricotta.

Taylor seasoned the traditional Ricotta with basil pesto. It is fantastic as a side to scrambled eggs!

Traditional Ricotta with Basil Pesto

Traditional Ricotta with Basil Pesto

Bay, basil, sage, roasted bell pepper and olive oil makes a delicious marinade.

Bay, basil, sage, roasted bell pepper and olive oil makes a delicious marinade.

We wanted more Ricotta so our last batch was Whole Milk Ricotta, a lot like Farmer’s Cheese. “Rustic” describes it well. It wasn’t as smooth and creamy as we expected. Taylor roasted a red bell pepper to use in a marinade. She mixed extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, chives and sage, bay leaves, salt and a little fresh ground black pepper and let it set while the cheese dripped. Spectacular! We will definitely make this often, especially when we’re entertaining.

We’ll be making cheese again soon. Up next – Farmhouse Cheddar!

We’ve been using the whey in sour dough bread, rice and quinoa. It’s a nice bonus from cheese making.


A Homestead Must Have… Squeezo!

While the mid-west was battling the worst drought since the 1950’s, Arizona was catching the missing moisture! Jerri had a wonderful garden and a bumper crop of tomatoes. She really wanted to make some tomato sauce. We sell Squeezo’s on our website, so Jerri placed an order (she knows people)… She hooked it up on the counter with the built in clamp (as seen on the left) and set up a dish for the sauce and a bowl for the peels and seeds. To say she was thrilled is an understatement! The Squeezo couldn’t have done a more amazing job at creating the best tomato sauce Jerri had ever made! No seeds, no bits of skin, just amazing tomato sauce! In fact, everything she used it for reinforced the decision to purchase a Squeezo!

I know the garden season has wound down and time for putting up vegetables is over for the majority of the country. The Squeezo would make a great birthday gift, holiday gift or maybe just something you might want before the next gardening season gets into full swing. I certainly know that based on her raving reviews, it will be a must have for me before the garden starts producing! Squeezo is manufactured right here in the USA by some homesteading friends of ours… Homestead Helpers and Best Products. Like many other companies we work with, we’ve agreed long ago that companies with similar product lines can work together and even become friends!! Check out the history of the Squeezo at the link above!

Enjoy the pictures of Jerri’s sauce making venture with the last of her garden tomatoes. (Yes, I begged for pictures since she wouldn’t stop bragging about the Squeezo!!!)

Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving and as always… Happy Homesteading!!