Preserving Summer: The Benefits of Canning and Preserving Produce

FREE chapter of Canal House Cooking, Vol. 4 below!

The bursting flavors of summer fruits and vegetables can be made to last all year by canning and preserving them. Canning can brighten your pantry throughout the year, extending the life of perishable produce and utilizing those fruit and vege ‘gluts’ that can sometimes occur when growing food at home.

Quince Jelly Recipe, Apricot BBQ Sauce Recipe, Mandarin Marmalade Recipe

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Garden ‘Before’ Shots

Grass and weeds all cleared and ready to go.

New Season News

We should find out tomorrow if we’ll get the lease renewed, and for how long. The landlord said he’s 90% sure we’d be able to get it till this time next year at the least, but said he’d get back to me. Got to phone him tomorrow to see.

Regardless, Spring is nearly here and my vege garden is completely unproductive! It has been so cold.

We are also planning to get an order of sheep manure and straw bales next week. We can’t really afford it, but we need to get something to give the garden a boost.

We went on to the Eden Seeds website recently and bought 19 packets of seed. It’s so exciting! We got some awesome varieties – I can’t wait to start. We have a big  productive compost pile, so I think some shovels of that into some seed trays and pots should help things get started. This year I will use plastic freezer bags to make mini greenhouses, and I’ve put in an order with relatives for recycled plastic containers and bottles!

Here’s what we got from ES:
Qty Item Description Price
1 1 Vegetables – Bean, Climbing – Lazy Wife
Packets: 1@$3.00 $3.00
2 1 Vegetables – Cabbage – Michihli
Packets: 1@$3.00 $3.00
3 1 Vegetables – Cabbage – Wong Bok
Packets: 1@$3.00 $3.00
4 1 Vegetables – Carrot – Cosmic Purple
Packets: 1@$3.00 $3.00
5 1 Vegetables – Celery – Golden Self Blanching
Packets: 1@$3.00 $3.00
6 1 Vegetables – Cucumber – Crystal Apple
Packets: 1@$3.00 $3.00
7 1 Vegetables – Kale – Chou Moellier
Packets: 1@$3.00 $3.00
8 1 Vegetables – Kale – Nero Di Toscana
Packets: 1@$3.00 $3.00
9 1 Vegetables – Kohl Rabi – White Vienna
Packets: 1@$3.00 $3.00
10 1 Vegetables – Lettuce – Salad Bowl Green
Packets: 1@$3.00 $3.00
11 1 Vegetables – Lettuce – Salad Bowl Red
Packets: 1@$3.00 $3.00
12 1 Vegetables – Pea – Progress
Packets: 1@$3.00 $3.00
13 1 Vegetables – Pea – Sugarsnap – Climbing Type
Packets: 1@$3.00 $3.00
14 1 Vegetables – Radish – Early Scarlet Globe
Packets: 1@$3.00 $3.00
15 1 Vegetables – Salad Greens – Mizuna
Packets: 1@$3.00 $3.00
16 1 Vegetables – Silverbeet – Fordhook Giant
Packets: 1@$3.00 $3.00
17 1 Vegetables – Squash, Button – Early White Bush Scalloped
Packets: 1@$3.00 $3.00
18 1 Vegetables – Zucchini – Black Zucchini
Packets: 1@$3.00 $3.00
19 1 Vegetables – Zucchini – Golden
Packets: 1@$3.00 $3.00

Sub-total: $57.00

Postage & handling:
(for Australia) $5.00

Total amount: $62.00

For 19 packets of quality seed that is actually pretty good, seeing that some of those are rare and heirloom varieties. We’ve bought from them before and had great crops, so we decided to just get what we wanted to. Some of these varieties we’ve tried before, but most are new to us.

We didn’t get any seed for tomatoes, capsicums, or chillis, because we already have some saved. We have also found that saved seed from supermarket varieties is actually pretty good in the first season. We’ve always had much higher yeilds from these plants than from store bought seed or seedlings.

DIY Powercut Survival Guide

You will need

  • 1 torch with batteries
  • 1 box matches
  • 9 or more candles – 1 for kitchen, 1 for toilet, 3 for lounge, 3 for your porch, 1 to hold
  • 1 bottle methylated spirits
  • 1 used tuna can, washed
  • 1 bottle opener
  • 1 oven rack (the type you cool cakes and biscuits on)
  • 1 saucepan with pouring spout, filled with water
  • 2 yellow pages
  • 2 mugs
  • Milk
  • Coffee/Tea/Cocoa
  • Sugar
  • 1 box crackers
  • 1 small block cheese
  • 1/6 straussberg sausage
  • 1/4 jar corn relish
  • 2 or more guitars
  • 1 cat


  1. Use torch to find candles & matches.
  2. Light candles; place lit candles in area you will sit in; strategically place unlit candles around home.
  3. Use your bottle opener to make some holes around the top of the tuna can. These will help the fire get oxygen and keep the metho burning.
  4. Go out onto your veranda and light some candles. Take stuff listed above out to your porch.
  5. Fill tuna can with metho – around 3/4 full.
  6. Put two yellow pages on the ground in a not-very-windy place, with a space in between. Put your tuna can in the gap (make sure the can isn’t too close to the yellow pages).
  7. Use the yellow pages as a platform for your cake rack – so the rack is elevated above the can.
  8. Light the metho.
  9. Place your saucepan over the top. Boil water.
  10. When water is boiled, make cuppas.
  11. While water is boiling, cut cheese and sausage and put on a plate. Add crackers and a small bowl of corn relish.
  12. Eat food, and when water is boiled, drink cuppas.
  13. Play guitar for extra warmth and entertainment.
  14. Come inside and cuddle cat occasionally so they don’t feel lonely and left out.
  15. Try to feel happier about the fact the power went out – on a completely still, perfect night – literally 2 seconds before a gripping running event on TV was about to conclude.

Serves 2; multiply quantities shown for bigger households.

For your safety, keep your eye on it to avoid an unwanted fire!

Mutton and Vegetable Stew Recipe

It has rained pretty much constantly since yesterday. If the dams aren’t full by now, then they need to rework the dam design, because it has been absolutely pissing down here in the hills and freezing cold!! It’s definitely stew weather, so today I made a chunky stewy dish for an early tea. One of those ‘put in the oven around 1pm and don’t take out until around 3-4pm’/slow cooked jobs. The meat went sooo melty, and the spuds and carrots were yummily tender. I think I’ll start making this kind of thing more often. You get a lot of flavour for minimal ingredients and practically no work.

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And I Wonder, Still I Wonder, Who’ll Stop the Rain

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Baked Bean Brunch for the Vegetarian Soul – Recipe

It will probably come as a surprise to people out there who have noticed the heavy meat content on this blog, but once upon a time we were actually vegetarian. I was vegetarian for about 6+ years, while Canaan became vegetarian when he met me – for a couple of years or so. We even tried out being vegan for a year. When I was vego I used to eat stuff like this all the time. It’s simple but very yummy and healthy. Here’s what you’ll need to make it, and how. Serves one ravenous person, or two hungry people.

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Roast Corned Beef and Yorkshire Puddings – Recipes

The other day we had a roast for late lunch / early dinner. It was absolutely magnificent. Instead of buying a chunk of normal beef (incredibly overpriced at the moment in the shops) we bought a pack of corned beef and roasted it up. It’s a bit unusual, yes, but it tasted fantastic!

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Tips and Jobs for the Springtime Vege Patch

A cats-eye view of the vege patch.

A couple of days ago I extended the vege patch to double its original size. You can see part of the change in this picture (the bare-soiled part on the left of the picture being about 1/4 of the newly cleared space). This mainly involved some weeding and raking up of fallen leaves and branches from the eucalypt canopy above. It looks a bit bare at the moment, but I’m waiting for the seeds in our small greenhouse to germinate and provide us with seedlings. It’s still a bit cold here, too, so I’m waiting for a touch more sunshine to warm the soil before I start planting those seeds which do best planted directly into the ground (e.g. silverbeet). Jackie French has said that the ground is warm enough to plant in to in Spring when you can sit on it with bare buttocks without any discomfort. I don’t want to blind the neighbours so haven’t personally given this a go, but I can tell by walking around with bare feet that it’s still too cold here to plant some things.

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Country Fish Cakes with a Sour Cream and Mustard Dressing Recipe

Sometimes the most basic of foods can be just so good. Pictured is the great dish we made for dinner tonight. All the ingredients came from the pantry and the garden, though its fresh, wholesome flavours were reminiscent of a country bistro. These fish cakes could be made bigger and turned into burger patties, and I think you could probably pour this sour cream and mustard dressing on anything savoury and it would taste good.

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