Question 1: What was the crisis?
Answer 1: The official Serendipity Farmhouse Pantry inventory revealed we were almost out of popcorn – the single most important and tasty food snack known to humankind.
Question 2: What relationship could possibly exist between popcorn and dehydrated Cow Horn peppers?
Answer 2: Both items have an extended shelf life when they are dry canned.
Question 3: What in the heck is “dry canning”?
Answer 3: Read this post and find out.
Normally, we buy popcorn twelve pounds at a time. There is a cost savings when bought in quantity. When we realized we were running low on this essential snack, we found that the dealer had been out of the large bags for almost two months. So, we purchased two four-pound bags to get us through the crisis.
Meanwhile, we had amassed a quantity of Cow Horn peppers from the garden. They weren’t needed any more for canning with salsa. Following our SFH maxim “never waste anything”, the Cow Horns were dehydrated last week and temporarily stored in a mason jar.
Now, with popcorn and peppers ready for preserving, we waited for a convenient lull in household activities. Yesterday came with rain, fog, and cooler temperatures. There was no outside work that could be done on our vast, rambling, 1.24 acre estate. This was the perfect time for “rainy day catch up”.
With Mr. Monte’s advice, consent, guidance, and watchful assistance, I assembled all that was needed to do the job at hand – dry can five quarts of popcorn and one pint of Cow Horn peppers. All that was needed for the job was:
1 FoodSaver unit,
1 regular mouth jar sealer,
1 wide mouth jar sealer,
1 one accessory hose,
6 oxygen absorber packets,
5 quart size mason jars,
1 pint size mason jar,
The rest was simple. (Only because Mr. Monte kept nagging and pointing me in the right direction. He has no patience for those who obviously have inferior intellect.)
Popcorn was added to the five quart jars and Cow Horns were added to the pint jar. One oxygen absorber packet was added to each of the six jars.
Because oxygen absorber packs immediately start absorbing whatever oxygen is available, unused packets need to be vacuum sealed to preserve them for future use. So, even before I sealed the jars, I made a new bag for the unused packets and sealed them.
Next, I sealed the five wide mouth jars. I finished up by sealing the regular mouth jar containing the Cow Horn peppers. Note: The ring is not screwed onto the jar until after the sealer does its job.
Question 4: What was the result of my half hour investment in time?
Answer 4: When dry canned, dry food goods such as popcorn and beans remain unspoiled for between 10 to 20 years. For example, we have some great northern beans that were dry canned in 2012 and they are just as good as the day we dry canned them.
Rather than growing four or five different types of hot peppers each season, we usually
grow only two types – jalapenos and “something else”. We dehydrate the “something else” peppers and dry can them. Last year it was serranos, the year before it was habaneros, and this year it is Cow Horns. These can easily be reconstituted by sitting in water or merely cooking them in with whatever recipe calls for them.
We also mix three or four types of dehydrated hot peppers and crush and grind them. This becomes a spicy topping for pizzas or it can be applied (very carefully and cautiously) to various dishes.
In addition to dehydrated peppers, we have dry canned dehydrated apples. Over the coming years we hope to expand the dehydrating and dry canning to other foods.
Bottom Line: It’s easy. It’s practical. It’s not overly taxing on the nerves. And, it saves money.
So, now you know how to prevent a popcorn crisis and turn a rainy day into a sunshine event. God bless!