Na Na pinches her pennies (aka frugal living)

Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.

Using bell peppers

I went to the grocery to pick up my medications.  Since I was in the store anyway, I couldn’t resist checking the discount produce bin to see what was there.  There was bananas so I got four.  I eat bananas to help with my potassium levels.

There was also these.  A bargain at $2.66 when the normal cost has been around$1 each for quite awhile. Only a couple of soft spots but nothing really bad.

Food and kitchen 2015 049I knew I wanted these to be canned to be used on the beans I had canned earlier this week.  I decided to make these into sweet and sour pickled peppers.  Remember the poem of Peter Piper and how he picked a peck of pickled peppers?  These would be it.

So, the peppers got chopped in smallish pieces.  I left the skin on because they hold up better to pickling that way.

Food and kitchen 2015 053The recipe called for roasted garlic.  Gee, I gave away the roasted garlic I got a few days ago.  Oh well.  I don’t really like it in this recipe so I chopped up two small onions instead.  Courtesy of the food bank.

Food and kitchen 2015 054The parts that were cut away from the peppers and the onions went into the freezer for making stock on another day.

Food and kitchen 2015 052Next I put 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar, and 1 cup sugar into a pot over medium heat.  When the sugar was completely dissolved I added the peppers and the onions.  I let it come to a boil then turned down the heat to let it simmer for half an hour or so.  The recipe is on page 140 of the University of Georgia Cooperative extension book called So Easy To Preserve.  I cut the recipe down to fit the number of peppers I had.

When you are canning it is perfectly ok to do small batches. Even one jar.  I’m going to go into more details about this in another post.

When you are water bath canning it’s not necessary to use an actual canner with the rack inside.  Any pot will work as long as the jars can be covered with about an inch of water above the lid.  I used a small stock pot instead of my big canner.

Food and kitchen 2015 057There is no need for a canning rack in canning. Anything to keep the jars off the bottom will work.  Even a couple of cloth towels folded up.  I use jar rings because they can be fitted to any size pot.

Food and kitchen 2015 058

Why something at the bottom?  To keep the jars from actually touching the bottom of the pan.  Touching direct heat will make your jars break and you’ll have wasted food and money.  You really want the boiling water to surround the jars including underneath. This pot will hold 7 half-pint jelly jars just right.

Food and kitchen 2015 059My peppers made 8 half pint jars so I divided them into two batches.  In order to keep the food filled jars upright I included empty jars.  I filled the empty jars with water to keep them upright as I poured water into the pot.  Start timing when the pot is at a rolling boil. Like this.

Food and kitchen 2015 060Boil for 5 minutes.  I let mine go for 8 minutes because I wasn’t watching the time.  Over processing it ok, under processing is not. You must destroy all the botulism poison that lives on food. Botulism is a really nasty germ that can kill you.

Food and kitchen 2015 087Now I have 8 half pint jars of sweet and sour pickled peppers that will taste great on beans or bean soup. I think Peter Piper would be proud.

4 comments on “Using bell peppers

  1. Jackie
    January 16, 2015

    I have always wondered how one would use something other than a canner. Thanks for the explanation.

    • Na Na
      January 16, 2015

      You are welcome.

  2. Nathalie
    January 15, 2015

    Thanks for this, this is really helpful for those of us who have no idea what we’re doing… alas, I wish I had seen your post this morning! I went online to order canning jars and since I didn’t have anything that could serve as a lifter for the jars, I ended up looking for one and instead ordered a steam canner. It promises to use much less water and take less time to process the jars (hence save money on water and electricity) and the reviews were very good on Amazon. We’ll see what happens. I did only pay $1.63 for it in the end because I had enough Swagbucks gift cards and Discover Card Rewards to cover almost the whole cost. I can’t wait to get started, I have a bunch of oranges from my garden that I want to make into marmalade. If the steam canner ends up not working, I’ll be coming back to your post for instructions 🙂

    • Na Na
      January 15, 2015


      Personally I would NOT recommend using a steamer canner instead of water bath. Especially for a beginner. Even the people I know who have canned for years won’t use them. These canners have been around for about 80 years and have yet to gain acceptance as safe. The timetable for steaming has not been established. Or at least I haven’t heard about a timetable yet. Did you notice in the ball book there is no mention of steam canning instead of water bath? There are just too many things that can go wrong and I personally won’t take the chance. From all the research I have read from established experts none recommend using them. If you want to hold onto it until you have some experience under your belt then it would be better. I would send it back if it were me and hold the money for a pressure canner in the future.

      If I thought it was safe to use that method I would sure use it myself because I LOVE saving money. Even if it’s a penny at a time. 🙂

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