Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Canning Potatoes

We grow a lot of potatoes.  It's one of the things, along with other root vegetables like carrots and onions, that grow well in our cooler northern climate.
This is me digging our potatoes.  They're a staple food for us over the winter.  By the time we're done digging we usually have five or six bushels of potatoes.

I spread them on old sheets on our living room floor for a few days to dry.  Some people spread them outside (if at all) but we have too many wild critters who would help themselves if we did that, plus nights that could drop below freezing at the end of summer. 
When they're moisture from the ground has dried and their skins are a little cured I pack them into wooden boxes with handles and move them to our root cellar.  They keep very well until about May, when they start sprouting eyes.  When that happens I break off the eyes and bring them in.
Some are saved for planting but the rest are dehydrated to use over the summer.  These are cubed, dried potatoes packed into jars, but I also dry them as slices and shredded potatoes, and I've put dried, mostly-cooked potatoes in the blender and made my own instant mashed potatoes.

 I tried canning them a couple times thinking it would be handy to have potatoes ready-to-go for quick meals in the summer, but they were only good for mashing when I opened the jars.
Then a friend of mine told me she was writing a book about canning potatoes.  I didn't think that would be a very long book, but she said she was going to include several recipes for using canned potatoes, both homemade and store-bought canned potatoes. 
Okay, I thought.  That's more like it.  I can always use more recipes because I get tired of my own cooking.  And she's often told me what she was making for dinner and my mouth would water.  I wish I had her knack for creativity in the kitchen.
She published her book and I read her recipes and I thought "aw man, that sounds really good!" as I read each recipe.  I opened a jar of my potatoes and tried one of the recipes and it was 'oh my goodness' good, and it was fast and easy:
Potato, sausage, and egg breakfast burritos
1 pound ground sausage
1 quart diced canned potatoes
1 dozen eggs
Pepper to taste
Shredded cheddar cheese
Flour tortilla shells
Brown sausage (drain), add scrambled eggs, and cook until eggs are thoroughly done, stirring to scramble as you cook them. Drain and add diced potatoes. Add pepper to taste. Scoop onto warmed tortilla shells and top with shredded cheddar cheese.

This was even faster and easier for me.  I had browned a pound of sausage the morning before, to make biscuits and gravy, and packed up half of it and put it in the fridge.  So all I had to do was scramble the eggs, add the leftover sausage, and follow the rest of the directions and we had an almost-instant and very delicious breakfast.
And that's only one of the really terrific recipes and ideas in the book.  She also included the directions for making caramelized onions, which I've never had but looks really good.  I can't wait to have more adventures cooking out of this book.
If you're expecting to have a lot of potatoes this winter, you might want to take a look at this book.
PS: She also gives a lot of great tips such as not to cube your potatoes too small
when you can them, and she'll tell you why!
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  1. Susan I just found two of my jars had lifted lids from my canned potatoes and oh my gosh the smell is awful. I canned them only last week. I'm a little worried about the rest of them. What do you think could of went wrong with them? I'm a novice to canning food. I have done jams and jellies lots of times but not fruits and veggies.

    1. Oh no! I'm sorry to hear that! Run through a little check list here. Did you use a pressure canner or water-bath canner? Did you carefully wipe the jar rims, and check to see that the rims had no chips in them? Did you simmer the lids in water to soften the seal? Did you begin timing the processing after the canner was to the right temperature, and not when you put the lid on the canner and started it? What size did you cut the potatoes to?

      Let's start there, with those questions. I'm NOT implying that you are too dumb to do this right. Even after years of canning I find myself almost about to skip something important, or lose track of something. It can happen to anyone. I hope we can figure this out.

      It's funny they smelled so bad already. The potatoes were in good shape, right? With no bad spots? Wow, I wish you lived down the street from me so I could run over and look at them with you.