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Monday, August 30, 2010

Putting Up Apples

Last week, I challenged you to put up or shut up....assuming you haven't left in a huff, let's talk about putting up apples. The apples are coming on early here in my region of Ohio. The crazy, hot July weather followed by daily August rains has resulted in crops ripening as much as 3-4 weeks early! So, plan accordingly!

We put up a LOT of apples each fall in several different forms. Of course there's applesauce made from Lodi and Queen Anne apples. Yes, the tart green apples. They make beautiful white sauce with a bit of a kick. Gala makes wonderful sauce too, but it's just a bit too sweet for my taste. The process is easy although a bit labor intensive; peel and core your apples, chop and cook your apples, puree into a sauce, then can and process in a boiling water bath. The end result is stunning; dreamy white, creamy and sweet-tart. Nothing like what you'll find at Walmart. Not that I'm picking on Walmart :) My daughter could probably eat a pint of applesauce each day, so making it at home with inexpensive local apples is a real boon to our home economy.

Dried apples are another perennial favorite. They take me back to my childhood when we'd go down into the hills of eastern Kentucky to see my great-grandmother and she'd have screens of apple slices drying on the back porch. Before we left, she'd give us a big bag of those leathery slices and invariably they'd be gone before we made it to the Ohio River. They are so good! And so simple! Simply peel, core and slice a crisp variety of apples. Dip them in either salt water or lemon water then dehydrate. I use a dehydrator, but you can also dry them on screens covered with cheesecloth, string them up and hang them in a hot, dry room or set them on cookie sheets in a hot car for the afternoon. You don't HAVE to have a dehydrator to dehydrate. Once they're dry, they'll store for ages in air-tight jars. Dried apple slices are great for snacking, for adding to oatmeal or stewing for turnovers and apple pies.

We also can apple slices for quick side dishes and apple crisps. All you do is peel, core and slice sweet apples (such as Fuji) and give them a quick lemon-water bath. Blanch them for about 5 minutes in a simple syrup or apple juice, then pack them into quart jars and process for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath. Canned apple slices are so great to have on hand! Drain them and toss in a pan with a pat of butter and in 5 minutes you have a warm, sweet breakfast for cold mornings. Drain them and bake them in a baking dish with oats, brown sugar and cinnamon and in no time flat you have apple crisp for dessert. The uses are endless!

Finally, we store several bushels of apples each year. There is simply nothing more delicious in the dead of winter than a crisp, sweet orchard apple...nothing the grocery store stocks can touch them! And if you choose the right variety and store them properly, apples can last for months. Seriously. Months. Choosing the right variety is the most important thing. Some apples store well, others don't and those varieties can range far and wide depending on your area of the world. Here in southwestern Ohio, we love Stayman, Melrose, Mutsu, Empire and Braeburn apples for storage.

So how do we store apples? When the weather turns cold in October or early November, we pick slightly under-ripe, blemish free apples, wipe them down with a dry towel and gently layer them in an igloo cooler. We keep the cooler in our unheated garage on a stoop near the backdoor. It's probably best to keep them up off the concrete floor, even if it's only up on wood blocks. Make sure the lid stays closed to maintain even temperatures and if the weather turns frigid (I mean sub-zero), consider covering the cooler with a blanket. You want your apples cold, but not frozen. We normally have fresh apples available until February or later using this method.

Apples are a huge part of our diet year round and blessed as we are to have a family-friendly orchard just a couple miles away, we'd be crazy not to put up apples. It's become a favorite family activity, picking apples each fall. The kids love running around the orchard, picking one of these and two of those. And since it's fun, they don't realize that they're actually working for Mama!

So that's our approach.

What's your favorite way to put up apples?

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Friday, August 27, 2010

CANNING JARS

Canning season is now in full swing and I hope your all putting up your summer and fall harvest. If your garden was less than productive, head on over to your local farmers market or road side stands. If you order or purchase by the bushel or 1/2 bushels, the price of your produce will be cheaper.

Menards has a great deal on canning jars going on through August 29th. The price of a case of pint size wide mouth canning jars are $6.88. To make this deal even sweeter there is a dollar off one Ball or Kerr canning jars or any Ball or Kerr product in the August 1st Redplum insert and a $2.00 mail in rebate. After coupon and rebate, the canning jars are only 3.88. The limit on the rebate is 3 per household. The rebate comes in the form of a merchandise credit to Menards. There are different size jars available.

I am a big fan of Menards because they always have so many things free after rebate. This is a great way to get preps and save for home-improvements at the same time. We are in the process of putting in our wood burner with the help of this program. We usually receive our rebates within a month.

If you have any canning or preserving questions, or any prepping question for that matter, leave a comment, post in the Ohio forum, APN forum, or join us in the chatroom. I have used all of these resources, and everyone is very helpful and encouraging. We are here to help in all your prepping endeavors.

Happy Canning,

Shelly





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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Put Up or Shut Up



So, y'all noticing food prices?



In our area, milk is up $.40/gallon.
Bread is up $.50/loaf.
Don't get me started on beef prices. {{{{shudders}}}}


Reports are that Walmart raised their prices across the board last month, an average of about 6%, and I can see it. And it's not just Walmart. With few exceptions, gas being the major one, we're seeing prices rise everywhere. Combined with the prices of heating oil and goods like clothing, it's one of those scary 'perfect storm' scenarios.



::~::Inflation, enter stage right::~::



The way I see it, you have 2 choices: put up or shut up.



If you haven't already, you can start putting up food. Homegrown, local, whatever. Can it. Freeze it. Dry it. Store it. Root-cellar it. Ferment it. Do something! Anything!



Right now, gardens, farm stands and orchards are somewhere near the height of their glory. Tomato patches are brimming with ripe fruit. Record corn crops. Ohio apple orchards are reporting early harvests due to the July/August heat and rain. Now is the time to take action.



Make some tomato juice.


Can beets.


Freeze corn.


Dry apples.


Can pears.


Just do something!


Of course, you have one other option: do nothing. Just relax and sit back and watch as food prices continue to tick upwards. And if you choose to be the grasshopper instead of the ant, that's fine. But do me a favor; don't complain about it this winter if prices have gone through the roof and you have to choose between food and paying the electric bill.


Those are your choices: put up or shut up.


Myself, I choose to put up.


What's your choice?
Andrea
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Monday, August 23, 2010

ALL THE SURVIVAL INFORMATION YOU'LL EVER NEED IN ONE PLACE

APN Scores Best Deal Ever!


...Or at least the best deal ever offered by Rich Fleetwood at SurvivalCD.com (SurvivalRing.org)

SurvivalCD's Emergency Preparedness Digital Library contains over 80,000 printable pages of life saving, scientifically proven, and in many cases, rare information that could be of used in times of national emergency or natural disaster. The areas of emphasis cover the entire range of disaster preparedness information, from simple first aid, to locating natural hazard threats where you live, to stocking food and tools, to mitigation (lessening) of disaster events, all the way to recovering from the full force of nature, technology, or terror, when things have turned out for the worst.


This CD set contains the largest collection of digitized fallout shelter information ever put into one place, with shelter plans, shelter management guides, technical data books, regulations, and more. Also contained is disaster preparedness and recovery information for every possible disaster, from tornadoes to volcanic eruption, as well as planning lists, federal documents for nuclear and terrorist preparedness, and even several documents on dealing with pandemics and other survival needs.



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Nearly all the documents on both CDs are in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, and any version of Acrobat Reader (or open source programs that can also be used to open and read PDF files) that is version 5 or higher can access the files. Once the documents are viewed, they can be printed via your PDF reader in high quality output, to any standard printer connected to your computer. Click below to see what each CD contains.



To read more about the packages go to SurvivalCD.com



Now for the Deal...


Rich has offered an exclusive discount of 30% off only to APN Gold Members! This is the deepest discount he's ever offered to anyone.


Gold Membership at APN is very affordable at only $5 a month (no obligation) and Rich's discount can easily cover 2 - 6 months worth of the cost of your membership just from his offer alone, not to mention the many other benefits that are either available now or in the works.


If you are not a member, follow these steps to get your discount


Step one, register to the forum here:
http://americanpreppersnetwork.net/ucp.php?mode=register


Step two, sign up for gold membership here:
http://www.americanpreppersnetwork.net/page.php?p=apn-gold-membership&sid=5b241e92a767cdfbe7a345c54dd55127

Step three, within 24 hours of your sign up we will send you a password to access the APN Gold members club. Once you recieve your password follow this link to get your discount on the SurvivalCD set.


http://americanpreppersnetwork.net/viewtopic.php?f=612&t=4380


Other Gold Member forums can be found here:


http://americanpreppersnetwork.net/viewforum.php?f=611


God Bless,

Shelly

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Saving Tomato Seeds

Hello to all you Buckeyes out there! I'm Andrea and I'm thrilled to have been invited to join OPN and contribute in some way to the preparedness plans of families all across Ohio. I want to say thanks to Shelly for the warm welcome and for the opportunity to be part of this growing network.

All that aside, I'd like to talk seeds. Specifically, tomato seeds.

After an odd growing season here in west-central Ohio, my tomatoes are finally beginning to ripen, which means it's not too early to think about saving seeds. Saving seeds is a simple way to save money, ensure healthy plants and enjoy one-of-a-kind flavors year after year without having to depend on your local nursery. I will admit that I found saving tomato seeds daunting at first. It seemed like there were so many steps and so many places to screw up! But in all actuality, it's a very simple process.

Ready?

First you start with a slightly overripe, open-pollinated tomato variety. Choose the healthiest fruit from the healthiest plant so that next year's plants carry those choice genes.

Easy enough. Now comes the icky part.

Slice open the tomato and squish out the seeds and the gelatinous goop into a small glass, a canning jar or whatever dish you have available. Add a few tablespoons of water, just enough to float the goop, then cover your dish with plastic wrap and poke a few holes in the top for ventilation. Set the seeds in a sunny, warm spot, like a window sill or on top of the fridge and let the fermentation begin. Each day, stir the seeds and after a few days, a white scum should begin to form on the top. You should also notice that seeds are beginning to settle on the bottom of your dish...that's a good thing!

The fermentation is an important step, so don't rush it. The gelatinous stuff prevents tomato seeds from germinating, but the fermenting action breaks down that substance so that next spring you'll have viable seeds. If you skip this step, you risk low germination rates.

After you see the bloom on top of the water and seeds beginning to sink, remove the plastic wrap and carefully spoon off the scum. Pour the remaining water and seeds into a small kitchen sieve. Rinse well with cool water then pour the seeds onto a plate or a sheet of wax paper to dry. After several days of drying, place your seeds in an airtight container such as a plastic bag or even an old pill bottle and store in a cool, dark location. If stored properly, your homegrown seeds will have a shelf life of many, many years.

Best wishes,
Andrea



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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A NEW CONTRIBUTOR

I hope this finds you all well and are enjoying the beautiful weather we've been having. The scorching hot temperatures were taking it's toll on my garden beds and my ability to want to be outdoors. Hopefully the weather will be taking on a more seasonal approach and I can get more done without sweating to death.

Speaking of heat, my daughter said the cutest thing to me yesterday. We were out working in the garden beds and she looked at me and said, "Mom you really need to pick the peppers." I replied to her, "that the peppers were not ready." She then informed me the heat was burning them up. I gave her that look like what do you mean. She then informed me that the peppers were turning red and that they were no good. I explained to her that the peppers were supposed to be red, but at times I pick them early, while they are still green. I thought that was the cutest thing I had heard in a long time. She is eleven, and just when I thought there were no more silly questions and comments from her anymore, I heard that.

We will have a new contributor here named Andrea. She will help out here about twice a month and she brings a wealth of information about homesteading. Hopefully this will give you more information on how to be more self-sufficient and she can fill in the gaps where I am deficient. Lets give Andrea a big welcome and on occasion, please leave comments for us so we can gain ideas as to what you want to learn and so we know you are out there.

God Bless,

Shelly
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

IT'S BEEN AWHILE

Hello to all you Ohio Preppers out thre. I hope you all are having a great summer and enjoying this HOT weather. It sure has been an interesting year as far as weather goes. The spring brought tons of rain and tornado's and now scorching heat that never seems to end.

As many of you have noticed the posts here have become quite sporadic. I'm in sort of a tug of war here. I took over this blog for Marica so the Ohio blog would not go dead. This is not my blog, I only help contribute to it. I not computer savvy, although I'm getting better and am a city girl turned homesteader/prepper within the last year and a half. I do not have solid skills to show you all how to do the same. More often than not, I have more questions than answers. How can I teach you to homestead and to be a prepper if I don't know myself? I also want to be able to personalize my own blog and get my comments when they come in and decide what blogs fit into the type of blog I'm trying to create. I can not do that here. I am at the mercy of someone else and their vision. Don't get me wrong, this network has been good to me and Tom has not told me I can not do that, but you fellow bloggers out there may understand what I'm talking about. There is nothing like your own place.

With the help of a dear friend, I have decided to start my own blog. It will be along the lines of journaling my walk through living the country life, recipes, homeschooling, prepping, and of course money saving tips. When the details are finished, I will let you all know what it is and give you a link. I will still be posting here, but not very often. Probably two times per month, maybe more depending on what I've learned and can effectively share with you. Things relevant to prepping and Ohio stuff I will write about. I want to say publicly, "Thank You to Andie from Chicky Bit Run and Gen from Illinois Preppers Network for being here for me and commenting and encouraging me. I would have given up a long time ago, if you both did not visit here and leave your comments. Andie your truly a sweetheart and have enjoyed chatting with you the last few months. I am so happy your finding your way. How inspirational! Gen your lifeline to me is truly humbling. What a chance you took on us. I am truly blessed. (I just hope we never need it, lol)

On that note, keep prepping folks, hard times are upon us. Store that food, water, and supplies you may need and if your a believer, read your Bibles. That is the #1 prep. All your physical preps will mean nothing if your spiritual preps are not taken care of.

God Bless,

Shelly
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