Canning fruit and veggies is a summer tradition in most families, including mine. We like to put up peaches and apple pie filling especially, and tomatoes and pickles if possible.
It doesn’t matter if the produce is from your own food forest or bought from a local farmer or farmer’s market. Preserving the harvest is a great way to get better food for a lower cost.
For the foods that are peeled and cored, those unused food scraps can really add up if you’re making lots of jars. If you’re wondering what to do with that pile of leftovers, have I got a post for you!
By using up more of the food you bought or grew, you’re making a good impact on your budget and your health. Home-canned foods are so much fresher and tastier than the old canned stuff you get from the store.
This fits right in with the permaculture principle of “produce no waste”, and gives us the benefits of saving time and money.
So let’s go through some of the most common ways to use canning leftovers.
PLEASE NOTE: Whatever you process should be organic. Since you’re likely concentrating down whatever was on the skin, it will also concentrate any pesticides or toxins.
You should also wash it before processing.
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You can boil down the skins and pits into peach jelly or peach honey. It’s a simple recipe, just lemon juice, sugar, pectin, and optionally vanilla.
Since the pits have small traces of one form of cyanide, it’s up to you whether you include the pits or not.
See this recipe for more info.
Put the skins in a jar, cover with vodka or another spirit, let sit for a while.
Pour off and strain on a cold winter’s night for a wonderful taste of summer.
See this article for many more ways to use peaches.
When processing apples, an essential tool is a “Peeler corer slicer.” I like this one because it also clamps as well as suctions to the counter top.
So here’s what to do.
Process the apples in whatever method you choose, and set aside the peels & cores.
Take the core & peels, don’t worry about seeds, and put into a big crock pot or roasting pan @120deg, or lowest setting.
If you’re using a roasting pan, only fill it up half full. This is because only bottom gets hot and if you fill it up the top won’t cook evenly.
Using a crock put fill it up full. You might want to borrow extra crock pots to do this.
Add some water (or apple juice if using sour apples to sweeten it up), enough so it won’t burn to the bottom. You don’t want it to burn, it will ruin the batch.
It may take a couple of quarts of liquid. Add spices if desired (see the note below on spices).
Let it cook until it’s mushy, stir every half hour or so. Make sure it’s not burning.
It will smell amazing, but resist trying it because it’s super hot.
Once it’s nice and mushy, run the mixture through a Squeezo-type food strainer.
If you don’t have one, you have to use a china hat-type strainer by hand. This is WORK!
The squeezo ejects seeds, hard core, and stringy pulp. Feed this to chickens, black soldier fly larvae, or compost it.
All the good stuff goes into the bowl. You may can it up as applesauce, or cook it further into apple butter.
If desired, you can sweeten or spice it up if you didn’t do it before.
A word on spices: don’t go with the pre-mixed splice blends. It’s much less expensive and will be fresher and have better flavor if you do it yourself instead.
It’s easy: buy whole spices like cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and ginger. Finely grate the spices – use a microplane to do this. Done.
As far as canning jars size, do quarts of applesauce if you have a big family, and pints for apple butter.
You can use half-pint jars for gifts, and use disposable lids.
If you want to save some money, Tattler makes reusable lids.
Make sure to hot pack when filling the jars.
Also, make sure to use tested canning instructions. I like the ones at pickyourown.org. Just search for the item you’re canning.
Erica Strauss of Northwest Edible Life has a great article on using tomato skins. Read it for more info.
The stuff leftover from processing tomatoes can make essentially free tomato sauce.
Basically simmer down the skins for an hour or so (while doing more processing). Time isn’t critical, but don’t scorch it.
Then take an immersion blender, and shzjooj (yes’s that a word I just made up, it means to chop up into tiny pieces with a blender) until smooth.
Or use a blender of food processor (just be really careful with hot liquids).
Run that mix through your squeezo/china hat/strainer to get out the pieces of skin and seeds.
Put it back on the heat and reduce (cook to remove the water) until it’s as thick as you want.
Season with garlic, oregano, rosemary, thyme and salt/pepper.
Now can and process as you like. Just follow a reliable procedure like at the Pick Your Own link above.
After the kids finish devouring a watermelon, you have a bunch of rinds left over.
You could compost them or feed to chickens, but let’s make more people food.
What to do with them? Make rind pickles!
This is a very similar process to making cucumber pickles.
See the article at Pick Your Own for more info. Note that this is a sweet pickle recipe, but dill/sour pickle recipes can be made as well.
You could also naturally ferment these just like cucumber pickles.
This isn’t for leftovers exactly, but if you have tons of green beans frozen and canned and want a different recipe.
Try dilly beans! It’s basically pickles with green beans.
So just hot-pack green beans with your normal pickle spices. You can make them regular, sweet, spicy, or garlic.
More Canning Ideas
For a ton more ideas about different ways to can garden produce, meats(yes!) and fruits, see Morning Chores article here.
For canning leftovers, it’s very likely that you can feed them to chickens or ducks.
Some may not be safe to feed, like green potato skins, avocado, or dry beans, but most are.
I found this article with some more info.
Research the food in question if you’re in doubt.
If feeding to animals isn’t an option, then you can compost the scraps.
You have many options in composting, like trench or compost pile or in-garden-bed composting, vermicomposting with red worms, or black soldier fly larvae.
Pick one and turn that excess into more healthy garden soil.
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OK, that’s all folks! Do you have any questions or comments about canning leftovers, staying warm, sustainable homesteading, permaculture design or anything else? Ask your question down below and let’s talk! You can also use the contact form, or email me at info at thepermaculture dot life.
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