I opened some of my canned butter yesterday and found it rancid. After checking several more jars and finding problems in all of them, I pulled all the jars from my storage and began the painful process of dumping them. I could not feed it too the pigs as butter is a low-acid food and subject to botulism. I had to melt the butter in order to get it out of the jars, pour it into a large metal bowl, chill it, pry the butter out of the bowl, bag it and get it ready for the compacter on Saturday. Then I ran the jars through the dishwasher. Ugh!!! The jars remained coated with a thin layer of grease so I will have to run them again.

I can see several problems. The butter had coated the rims of my jars, preventing good seals. If air gets in, oxidation can occur causing rancidity. After doing more research, I am discovering that the butter should have been processed in a water bath canner or turned into Ghee. I have not given up the quest for canned butter but it will have to wait until I am feeling better. I have good times during the day but this pesky fever is returning every night and I am pretty much done with productivity after about 4:00PM. It wouldn’t matter in January but in July it’s a killer. I have to pick peas today and do another bunch of rasberries too. Cherries are in season and I want to preserve some. I will put Karen to work today. My DH has his own long list of projects to complete so I hate to ask him to help. One of the things about living in Western Mass is the short window we have for getting outside stuff done. As they say, 10 months of winter and 2 months of might poor sledding. An exageration but it feels apt this year. We actually have several rain free days forecast. We so need to have the ground dry out a bit.

Bruce is loaded with building projects. We need a chicken coop before ordering chicks for the spring. Bruce designed a cool storage unit. Our cellar is too warm for storing apples, beets and carrots. We have a hatchway that stays much cooler. It actually gets below freezing as a door separates it from the rest of the cellar. We need new steps anyway so he is going to build them wider than stock and hinge each one. He will then insulate the resulting boxes. Each step can then be lifted to provide a box for storing vegetables. This will be cheaper that building a cold room and easier than digging a root cellar. We have an excellent location for a root cellar but it is well away from the house.  I know myself too well. On a cold January night, rather than tromp through the snow and the wind for beets for dinner, I am going to grab something from the freezer or the cellar. My herb garden is too far from the house and I let it go this year. I am moving it back up here.

I did want to mention my freezer, I have been freezing a lot. I worry about losing my power for an extended period but some things are so good frozen.  I love blueberries I can pour out a bag and put into muffins and pancakes. Canned strawberries are terrible but canned in syrup, they stay plump and red. Oyster mushrooms frozen in butter sauce are fabulous. A friend gave me a case of food grade plastic bags so I am working my way through them. I am freezing as much as possible in flat packages. I fill the bags and freeze each one on a tray so they hold the flat shape really well. I hope to optimize my freezer space and I must say, the neat look appeals to the OCD in me.

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