simmer mat and other handy gadgets

The simmer mat is a great product if you do a lot of preserves, or other long term cooking where stuff ends up slightly burned on the bottom of your pot.  Found mine in the thrift shop, paying a total of $3 for the package of 2.  See they are on Amazon for about 3 times that.  What brings this up is my chili.  Inherited two very nice 8 quart Revere ware stock pots and started my Chili in one of those last night.  When it became obvious I’d have to make the batch bigger, switched it to my 10 quart. Unfortunately, that is just a thin walled, generic, stainless pot.  In the process of heating it up, chili began to stick to the bottom of the pot. Pulled out a simmer mat immediately before that became slightly charred chili sticking to the bottom of the pot.  The other one is under the pot where I’m making my mesquite syrup.  Of course, my first use was when cooking fruit for making preserves or jam.  Reallly makes a huge difference in having the fruit burn or not.    One of those silly gadgets that truly does work!

Garlic presses.  Have three!  The Chrome one paid real money for, the rest were from the thrift shop.  They all have their positives, but the Chrome one is the best!  Why? First, its heavy, which helps when you are crushing a few cloves, or a lot!  The wide handle makes it easy to squeeze and hold, the deep cup holds several cloves at a time.  As it comes time to process that garlic for oil storage for the winter (things dry out real quick in the desert), a good press is necessary.  Although this year, think I may try just putting the oil and cloves into the processor and let that do the work for me!  First year I crushed them all with the press and after cleaning all that garlic, it was a lot of work.  Second year tried crushing them directly with the skins on. That worked, but then it was a mess to clean out the press and lost a lot of meat and juice.  Last year, just peeled the cloves and stored them in the oil.  Messy to crush after the fact.

Having pitted, by hand,  8lbs of cherries this year, am again thinking of a cherry pitter. Anyone have any suggestions?

For doing the tops of the canning jars, do have one of those slotted gizmos for putting them into the hot water and easily accessing them for the jars.  For what ever reason, as logical and ordinary that sounds, it just doesn’t work out for me.  Partially, like probably most folks, when I’m canning pints, am using what I’ve got on hand which could be a mix of narrow and wide mouth.  Putting the lids, alternating up and down, into the pot of hot water seems to do best for me, using one of those magnet thingies to pull them out.  Think I still have that slotted thingie if anyone wants it.

Gold cone coffee filter.  These come up in the thrift regularly and find they work really well when straining bulk items.  They will also hold the small single serving paper cone filter if you are straining tinctures, teas, or other liquids.  This in turn can sit in a wide mouth funnel.  Somewhere along the line found a REALLY WIDE mouth funnel. its top is actually square, and the bottom is a bit wider than the usual canning funnel. It will fit in a wide mouth jar, but not a narrow one.  Deeper than the canning funnel too, so will hold a secondary funnel or cone coffee filter for straining things that need it.

Of course, the candy thermometer.  The Good Cook makes a nice one.  My first one has the themometer sitting in a metal bracket and the numbers are on the bracket!  Mine is mostly used for making yogurt and when I clean off that skin of milk that has bonded to the bracket, so go the numbers!  The Good Cook one comes in a little sleeve, the temp recording part is all within the glass tube, and the clip works on just about anything. Again, mine was a thrift shop find, but saw them in my supermarket and the price wasn’t that dear.

Yes, do a lot of shopping in our local thrift shops.  This is a wealthy town, with a high turn over, so there is always stuff coming and going through our various shops.  The Goodwill does a 25% discount by the color of the tag each week, and now the other shops have picked up similar incentives.  Goodwill also does an over 55 Wednesday, where you get 25% off everything.  Sundays, they do $1 for what ever color tag was on sale the previous week, plus 25% off the current week’s tag color.  BIG deals can be found in there.  If one is a little crafty, a lot thrifty, you can have everything you’ve ever wanted or lusted after, for very little money!  Even get a lot of my yarns in the thrifts.  BUT we don’t have the $1/lb on clothes that some Goodwill’s do.  Still, have gotten spoiled enough on under $5 dresses and slacks, and even jackets, that having to pay $12 in one of the other thrifts seems like EXPENSIVE!!  Then again, yarns are usually less in the others than they are in Goodwill.

Then there are the books . . . . .

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This entry was posted in canning, garlic/onions, herbal healing, homesteading, knitting, self-reliance. Bookmark the permalink.

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