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Monday, October 18, 2010

Putting Up Pumpkins

Prepping on the cheap is one of my favorite subjects, as is food preservation so here is a post where all my favorite topics collide: putting up pumpkins.  This summer was an excellent summer for curcubits; there's a word you don't get to use everyday, eh?  Curcubits are the family of fruits that include melons, cucumbers, squashes, pumpkins, gourds, etc and while melons and cukes won't keep, a well-cured pumpkin or winter squash can store for months on end.  Literally.  Last year I had Butternut squash until the end of March.

With Halloween and Thanksgiving fast approaching, you can find 'decorative' winter squashes and pumpkins for very little money.  While a big carving pumpkin can run upwards of $10, small sugar pumpkins can be had for under a dollar and one small pumpkin can yield 2-3 pies or loaves of bread.  If you're extremely thrifty, like yours truly, you can post on Freecycle on Nov. 1 that you're looking for pumpkins and squash leftover from fall displays and you'll have all the free pumpkins you could ever want! 

Once you have your pumpkins and squash in hand, watcha going to do with it?  I use several different methods of preservation.  First I store fresh squash and pumpkins on a table in the basement.  They generally like warmer temperatures than apples, so a cool basement will serve you well.  Set them up so that air can circulate and check them periodically for rot.  One bad pumpkin spoils the bunch. 

I also love canning pumpkin.  While you can't can pumpkin puree, you can can pumpkin chunks.  Just peel the pumpkin (or squash), chunk it up, blanch it for 2 minutes then jar it, cover with water and process pints for 55 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.  Yes, it takes a while, so make sure you have a full canner!  When it's time to use your canned pumpkin, simply drain the pumpkin or squash, mash with a fork and use it like commercial canned pumpkin puree.   Here's a link to the NCHFP for complete instructions. 

Another favorite means of preservation, and also my most guilt-laden, is candied pumpkin.  If you've never had good Mexican pumpkin candy...O.M.G.  Slivers of pumpkin are steeped in a pungent, spicy, brown-sugar rich syrup then dried and rolled in additional sugar.  Candying IS a legitimate form of food preservation, I keep telling myself, but the truth is I'm addicted to this rich, spicy candy!  It's a very simple sweet and the best part....you know exactly what's in this treat! 

If you're thinking about putting up pumpkins, now is the time to get started, while the selection is abundant and the price is low! 


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Got Food Storage?

According to the PTB, we just exited a deflationary recession and things are on the upswing now. 


I don't feel any better.  Do you? 

I'm not sure where they're getting their information, but it feels like a smack in the face to me personally.  Over the past 6 months I've noticed nothing but increasing prices, especially in the food and fuel departments.  (How convenient that they don't include food and fuel in their statistics.)  It all makes me want to climb up on my soapbox and rant and rave about the Powers That Be (PTB) but you and I both know ranting and raving accomplishes nothing.  And besides, I had to burn my soapbox for heat last winter.

I'm a huge advocate of a year's worth of food storage, as probably are most folk in the prepper community.  I began my food stores as a result of the early-2008 food recalls.  Remember that one?  Killer peppers.  Tainted tomatoes.  Abused beef.  Yeah, that was ugly, but it sure was an eye-opener for me.  I had no clue how fragile our American food system really is.  I'd never heard of the 'just in time' delivery system that major grocers use for supplying food to their customers.  Nor did I know that backroom storage was a thing of the past.  What's on the shelf is all they've got!  Makes you feel all warm and cozy and long for the days of Mayberry and local grocers, doesn't it?  The 2008 recalls completely changed the way I live, shop and feed my family. 

So now, as we see volatility in the market and wheat prices rising due to crop failure, we can expect to see rising costs across the board.  Why?  If corporations can't find cheap wheat, what are they going to do?  First they'll find alternate grains and then they'll pass the cost on to you.  If they can't use wheat, they'll use oat, millet, rice, corn, barley.  And naturally, demand drives up the prices of those grains too.  Corn prices will rise, making it more expensive to feed cattle and poultry, so meat, egg and dairy prices go up too.  You can see where this is going, right?   Wheat was the pebble that started the avalanche, and there's no stopping it once it gets started.  I'm afraid that food prices are going to get out of hand really quickly and I fear for the folks on fixed incomes who will have to choose between food and heat, food and fuel, food and clothes.

For my family and me, food storage isn't an option.  It's a priority.  It's insurance against rising food costs, inflation, deflation, QE, collapse, job loss, sickness, inclement weather, unexpected company.  Looking back, I don't know how we lived and ate before our food storage system was in place, but I can look you straight in the face and say with a clear conscience that we'll never be without food stores again. 

So let me just go ahead and ask....got food storage?  Have you began putting up food for the hard times ahead?  If so, good for you!!!  If not, what are you waiting for?  Remember last November when cans of pumpkin puree were selling for $7 EACH on Ebay the week before Thanksgiving?  I don't think that was a fluke.  I think that's an indicator of things to come, as we see entire crops wiped out by excessive heat/cold/rain/drought.  The time to act is now while food is still abundant and affordable!

Here's a poll for you...........how many of us Buckeye preppers have *some sort* of food storage system in place?  I don't mean the fancy revolving food storage racks, but simply extra food put away for a rainy day?  Would you care to share how you got started and where you're at in your process???   

Don't be shy...be a lighthouse to those who are only beginning the journey! 

In His Service,


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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Welcome New Members

Welcome are new members:


new member here from northeast ohio

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New to this site. No. West Ohio. ??

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We are trying to take responsibility for the quality of our own food supply. It's very interesting to see so many like minded people! Monsanto shouldn't be dictating my breakfast menu. This will be fun! :D

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Putting Up Pears

Pear season is finally here in west-central Ohio and I, for one, am thrilled at the prospect.  There's nothing my family enjoys more than home-canned pears; served cold as a side dish or served warm over pound cake with a lovely brandy or vanilla sauce.  Am I making you hungry for pears yet? 

Finding pears is the hardest step, in my opinion.  If you have a mature pear tree available, count your blessings!  If not, you may have to do some hunting.  Sure, you can go to the grocery and buy pears that were picked 4 weeks ago and shipped across the country in a climate controlled box truck.  OR you can do a little leg work and find them locally.  Watch your neighborhood farm stands; this time of the year, you should be able to find pears for under a dollar a pound.  My personal favorite place for finding pears is Freecycle.  Last Thursday I posted that I was looking for pears for canning.  Last Friday I came home with 4-5 bushels of pears.  How's that for a find???

Once you've located your pears, ripening them is the next step.  Most of the pears I picked last Friday were on the greenish side; my choices were green pears or pears rotting on the tree.  I chose green.  To ripen them, I set up a 6 ft table in the basement  and spread out the pears with sheets of newspaper between the layers.  4 days later, a quarter of the pears are already ripe.  You can accomplish the same thing by placing clean, dry pears in brown paper bags or cardboard boxes for a few days.  The outcome is the same; the box/bags/newspapers trap gasses released by the pears and ripen them.  Check them daily, for bad spots or rotten pears and remove them immediately.  One bad pear can spoil them all!  You want pears that are *just* ripe, that yield only slightly to pressure and that are just beginning to smell sweet.  Overly ripe pears turn to mush in the canning process. 

To can your pears, peel, core and slice them, placing them in a lemon-water bath until you're ready to process.  This will keep the pears from turning brown due to oxidation.  Cook the pears in a simple syrup (3 cups sugar + 6 cups water)  for 5 minutes and then ladle into prepared jars.  Pour the hot syrup over the pears, cap them and process them in a water bath for 20 minutes.  You CAN pressure can pears, but I don't recommend it.  They tend to get mushy and turn colors.  Water-bathed pears stay crisp and brilliant white. 

That's all there is to it.  Pears are super simple to preserve.  If you're a novice canner, there are few foods easier to put up than pear slices in a simple syrup...and few things more delicious! You can find complete directions for canning pears in the Ball Blue Book or online at Pick Your Own.  So get out there and find some pears....you'll sure enjoy them this winter!!

In His Service,

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