Tag Archives: food storage az

Masontops Complete Mason Jar Fermentation Kit – Item of the Day

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is Masontops Complete Mason Jar Fermentation Kit.  Previously I reviewed a product called FermentEm Mason Jar Lids.   But, I have been asked for alternatives and I have researched a lot of them and found another great one to recommend.  I want to point out here while I am reviewing the full kit, you can get…

You can also get these in regular vs. wide mouth jars but I personally prefer wide mouth for most fermenting.   Anyway I am very happy with this product.  The pebbles do a great job keeping stuff under the brine, everything cleans up in seconds with just hot water and they just fricken work, and like the FermentEm lids they are waterless so they can’t dry out, they are about as fool proof as it gets.

For more info see the video below where I give an over view and show a few of the ferments I have going right now.  And consider the Masontops Complete Mason Jar Fermentation Kit or specific components of it for your fermenting needs.

Remember you can always find the TSP Amazon Item of the day by just going to TspAz.com and by shopping at TspAz.com anytime you shop on Amazon you help support TSP and the work we do here no matter what you buy.

P.S. – The endorsement of this product should not be seen as a negative to my previous endorsement of the FermentEm product, both of these items are stellar, that said, so far I would give a very slight edge to the Mason Tops Pickle Pipes, they are just fantastic and store in such a small amount of space.

The Hands-On Home by Erica Strauss – Item of the Day

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is The Hands-On Home by Erica Strauss.  Erica of course is a one of the most popular members of our expert council so her book is what you’d expect from Erica, fing fantastic!

Erica designed this book to be the ultimate guide on the DIY home.  There are over 100 recipes, tips, and inspirational ideas in this great book.  It covers everything from cooking, canning and preserving to making your own nontoxic home and personal care products.

Over half of the book focuses on the kitchen with a wealth of information about how to organize and stock your kitchen to more effortlessly prepare delicious meals.  Erica is a former professional chef who knows how to build flavor into simple and delicious home-cooked meals.

She also includes details on Basic Food Preservation techniques such as water-bath canning, pressure canning, and lacto-fermentation along with a handy year-long food preservation calendar of what to put up when.

You guys know Erica from her appearances on the air, she is extremely knowledgeable and always super prepared.  So you just know her book has got to be awesome, how awesome, one review on Amazon is titled,

“The mayo recipe alone is worth it…but really, this book is amaze-balls.”

I am not sure what that actually means but if you read the full review by  N. Stoddard you will see that she was very excited about it.  In fact you won’t find a bad review on this book, not one, 109 reviews with 4.8 stars overall.  But what else would we expect from Erica.  So check out The Hands-On Home by Erica Strauss and if you have not done so yet add it to your kindle or your book shelf.

Remember you can always find the TSP Amazon Item of the day by just going to TspAz.com and by shopping at TspAz.com anytime you shop online you help support TSP and the work we do here no matter what you buy.

 

Excalibur 9-Tray Dehydrator – Item of the Day

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day the Excalibur 9-Tray Dehydrator.   There are a lot of options from Excalibur but I am going to confine my recommendations to just two models.  Those are the…

So what is the difference between the two.  Mainly that the heater, the thermostat and the fan are all a bit more beefed up in the 3900 and the 3900 comes with a 10 year warranty vs. the 2900s 5 year warranty.  Given the two are only about 60 bucks apart in price, you might think I would just say “buy the better one” but it isn’t so simple with this decision.

Personally I do own a 3900 but something changed in it since I bought mine.  The temp range of the 2900 is 95-155 degrees and the 3900 is now 105-165 degrees.  My older model 3900 ran 95-165, I am not sure why they made this change.  But here is my rule on dehydration, dehydrate as LOW as you can to get the job done.

So I now tend toward recommending the 2900 and saving the money but let me tell you the difference so you can make up your own mind.  Basically in addition to the warranty being 5 years longer, the main differences are as follows…

The 3900 has a “better”…

  • Heating element
  • Fan
  • Thermostat

Better in that they are higher rated and have a longer MTBF specification.  What is MTBF you ask?  Well, that is “mean time between failures”, meaning if you run them non stop the ones with higher MTBFs will last longer on average over time.  Here is the deal though, how often does the average person use a dehydrator?

Some people use them every week or multiple times a week, if this is you, I would recommend the 3900.  Most people, such as myself use them say 10-15 times a year, if that is you, I recommend pocketing the 60 bucks, getting the lower cost model and having the ability to dehydrate at 95 degrees.

What about the fact that the 3900 can go up to 165 degrees you say?  This point is irrelevant in my opinion, as there is NEVER any reason EVER to dehydrate anything at 165 degrees, EVER and yes that includes jerky.  Dehydration is dehydration, not cooking!  I recommend making jerky at about 130-140 degrees.

Again dehydration is dehydration, not cooking.

So here is my logic on this with the lower cost item.  First for the next 5 years, if anything does break Excalibur will replace it anyway.  All these parts are easy to swap out, if you can work a screw driver you can do it.  And if say in year six, your thermostat takes a dump, you can buy one for 30 bucks and replace it and still be 30 dollars ahead, IF it even fails.  Again if you use your dehydrator 10-20 times a year, it likely won’t.

In the end though if you are someone who is going to say, run a small business making beef jerky from your home, well, I would go with the unit with the 10 year warranty.  Personally though I do prefer to dehydrate vegetables at as low a temperature as possible.  So if I didn’t own one already and was buying for the first time today, I would buy the lower cost item.

Regardless though of which you buy, let me say this, in dehydrators at the consumer level, there is Excalibur and there is everyone else!  In my honest opinion frankly no one else even comes close!

I tend to be far away from being a “brand snob” I mean everyone knows I love Dewalt tools for instance but I will still recommend brands like Rigid and Porter Cable in some instances.  However when it comes to Excalibur they are so much better than any competitor there is simply no good reason to buy anything else.

Lastly, I know some will ask about some of the higher priced Excaliburs, my answer is buy what you want but I would not go above the 3900B for any reason.  Yea it is cute that for instance you can get a clear door, but I am not paying for that, it doesn’t do anything useful at all, if you want to see inside take the damn door off.  Watching a tomato dry isn’t actually exciting enough to gaze at for more than 30 seconds.

As for the model with a timer, no way in hell I am shelling out more than 90 dollars over the 2900ECB for a timer when I can get a Century 12 Hour Mechanical Countdown Timer for fricken 12 bucks!  A timer which can be used for other things by the way, then just my dehydrator.

A final word on dehydration for the homesteader.  Dehydration is a great way to go over say canning for a lot of gardeners.  Lets look at say tomatoes for instance.  How do you dehydrate a tomato?  Slice it, put it on a tray, stick it in the dehydrator for 6-12 hours and you are done.  Now many home gardeners end up with say a dozen or so extra tomatoes a week or every 2-3 weeks, are you going to can 12 tomatoes?  Does that make any sense?

As to longevity, I have not canned a jalapeno in over 6 years, why you ask.  Well because 6 years ago we had pepper harvest like this one, several of them.  Dorothy and I spent the better part of a week slicing and drying jalapenos, and we still have several jars of them left!  They seem just as good as the day I put them in the jar.

So if you are in the market for a dehydrator, I recommend choosing between these two based on your needs and either way you will not be let down…

Remember you can always find the TSP Amazon Item of the day by just going to TspAz.com and by shopping at TspAz.com anytime you shop on Amazon you help support TSP and the work we do here no matter what you buy.

P.S. – Many vegetables like peppers and tomatoes can simply be sliced and put into your dehydrator, others require blanching which is a short duration steaming them or boiling them.  If you are new to dehydrating I recommend Tammy Gangloff’s YouTube channel called Dehydrate2Store.  She stopped posting videos about 3 years ago but it is still the best how to dehydrate resource on the internet in my view, akin to a free ecourse in it.  Tammy also appeared on TSP all the way back in 2010 on Episode 367, so you may want to give that a listen.

P.S.S. – Want a great use for your dehydrated veggies, take some like say tomato, sweet pepper, a bit of hot pepper and spinach, toss them in your trusty Coffee/Spice grinder, make up some Yogurt Cheese with this powder mixed in, it is amazing and a tip I picked up from my buddy David last year.  And hey for a final note you can actually use your dehydrator to make yogurt!

Chard/Cary 9.5 quart Smart Pressure Canner and Cooker – Item of the Day

cannerEvery day I will bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is the Chard/Cary 9.5 quart Smart Pressure Canner and Cooker

In the past I have recommended the PowerPressure Cooker XL, as it was the only electric canner guaranteed to be safe for pressure canning by the manufacture.

The Chard is better in so many ways, while also being guaranteed safe by the manufacturer for pressure canning, it has several additional features that make me want to exchange my PowerPressure Cooker, they are…

  1. The Chard allows you to can quart vs. pint jars.  In fact with it you have the ability to can, four quart jars, six pint jars, eight jelly jars or ten half-pint jars in one batch
  2. It also does a separate water bath or steam function for water bath canning
  3. It uses true petcocks and hence can be used at higher altitudes then the PowerPressure Cooker
  4. It has twenty built in safety features to ensure your safety.

Additionally while I brought this product to you first almost a year ago it was constantly sold out and would go up in price as quantity dropped.  Cary now seems to have supply side worked out and they are readily available for under 120 dollars with free shipping.

Remember you can always see the TSP Amazon Item of the day by just going to TspAz.com and by shopping at TspAz.com anytime you shop on Amazon you help support TSP and the work we do here.

P.S. – The PowerPressure Cooker XL is available in sizes like 6 and 10 quart but that is all about capacity, none of them are tall enough for the lid to go on with quart sized jars inside of them.  I really don’t recommend it.

P.P.S. – I  have changed the item name here to the “Chard/Cary 9.5 quart Smart Pressure Canner and Cooker – Item of the Day” because the same product has been marketed under both names.  This is because Chard was founded Richard Carey, or as the brand came from riCHARD Carey, you can read about that here on the chard website.  Just know if the product says Carey or Chard it is the exact same product, I have verified this with the manufacturer.

Igloo Hybrid Stainless and Plastic Latch and the Igloo Stainless Steel Hinges

igloo

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is the Igloo Hybrid Stainless and Plastic Latch and the Igloo Stainless Steel Hinges.  Yep a two fer cause I know many of ya’ll need one or both of these.  I can see it now, that big giant white igloo cooler most of us at least one of, sitting out there with the latches broken off it.

I mean those cooler are great and affordable to boot, they hold a TON of stuff, keep ice for a few days and man you just can’t beat em.  But what always happens, the damn latches break off and though not as frequently the hinges fail.

Most people “live with it”, I mean unless it is strapped onto a cargo carrier shoved into a pintel hitch receiver, it isn’t going to just fly open right?  Well no but it will not close tight and it will tend to therefore not hold ice as well, besides that latch is there for a reason right.

The issue is clear, it should not be made of plastic, because here is the other thing many of us have done.  When we are at say Bass Pro or Academy Sports they sell these latches and hinges cheap, so we buy a set and in a season or two at most, they break again.  Seriously I haven’t been spying on you, this is just what happens to us all.

The solution is don’t use plastic and that is what you can get here.  The latches are plastic where plastic makes sense and metal where the plastic always and I mean always in time fails.  The hinges are just solid metal, which is how igloo should make these damn things in the first place.  This is an example of living like our fathers did, not only do you not just toss something out and instead fix it, but  you actually make it better than new.

I mean think about it, unless you do something really horrible to a cooler it lasts a VERY long time.  I have some that are 20 years old and still good, so why replace a broken part with something that will soon break again anyway.

So if you have igloo coolers that need new hardware check out the the Igloo Hybrid Stainless and Plastic Latch and Igloo Stainless Steel Hinges.

Remember you can always find the TSP Amazon Item of the day by just going to TspAz.com and by shopping at TspAz.com anytime you shop on Amazon you help support TSP and the work we do here no matter what you buy.

PS VERY IMPORTANT THIS TIME – First and foremost the hinges come as a pair, the latch is a single unit.  The reason they do this is some coolers only have one latch OR sometimes you only want one.  So if you need two, order quantity two.

Next if you look at the negative reviews for the latches you will see claims they do not fit.  They absolutely do fit, if you install them correctly.  They are designed a bit different from the plastic ones and must be installed a bit differently.  The photos below come from a review by Moxy on Amazon but I could not figure out how to link to Moxy’s images directly so I am including them here.  They make it VERY clear what the people bitching about fit are doing wrong.

wronghinge

righthinge

Easy Weight – Fermentation Weights – Item of the Day

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day are Easy Weight – Fermentation Weights.  I really like these things, though I have yet to order them.  They started turning up in my sales reports and I have done enough research to recommend them.

Frankly the idea is so simple that it really doesn’t seem much could go wrong with it.  In the past I have reviewed many products for fermenting in jars including the FermentEm 8-Piece Fermenting Kit and the Masontops Complete Mason Jar Fermentation Kit.  Both are great products that let you ferment with standard mason jars.  The MasonTops product also offers what they call pebbles, small round glass weights to hold your ferment under the brine, I have them, I really like them, but I don’t love them.

Why do I like them but not love them?  Well, they are smooth and a bit hard to put in nice and level and a bit of a pain to remove as well, as they do fit so perfectly.

Frankly I think I am going to love the Easy Weight – Fermentation Weights because they offer the function of the pebbles with the added feature of something as rudimentary as a handle.  This idea is so simple you wonder why someone didn’t do it sooner.

When you are fermenting the biggest rule to follow is “keep it under the brine and everything will be fine”.  These guys let you do that and make it convenient too.  At 21.99 per four they are quite affordable at about 5.50 a piece.  Do note they only come in one size, wide mouth mason jars.  Frankly I don’t use anything but wide mouth jars for fermentation anyway, so check out Easy Weight – Fermentation Weights today and make your fermentations even better than they already are.

Remember you can always find the TSP Amazon Item of the day by just going to TspAz.com and by shopping at TspAz.com anytime you shop online you help support TSP and the work we do here no matter what you buy.

Matiz Gallego Sardines – Item of the Day

sardines

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is Matiz Gallego Sardines and you can get them in either a 5 count pack or a 25 count pack.  Oh dear friends the reasons these items are being featured are many, let us take a look at a few.

First I try to feature items not just of good quality but stuff I use, and I eat these a few times a week.  Due to the fact that I like them and that they are a good source of Omega 3 fats, which the average person is largely deficient in.  I eat them strait from the can, wrapped in lettuce with yogurt cheese, on Flax Crackers or as part of a lunch time salad.

Secondly lets talk about those Omega 3s.  Sardines and herring are about the best source of them on the planet.  Because these small fish are very low in the food chain.  So while fish like mackerel, tuna and salmon are great for Omega 3, they also carry a fair load of mercury and other toxins.   Not enough to never eat, you body can deal with some exposure to toxins, it it couldn’t’ we would all be dead.  But you need to eat something like this about 3-4 times a week for a good omega 3 vs 6 balance and you should not rely on large ocean predator fish that often.

Third is quality.  I am a sardine connoisseur, I love the little guys!  So I scoured the net for others reviewing sardines and one name constantly was at the top of most lists, Matiz.  When I tried them I found out why.  These are not your cheapo sardines that would be better as cat food.  There are only 3 to a can, because they are beautiful plump little guys!  Yes gutted and deheaded but skin and bones on as good sardines have.  Mild smelling compared to other sardines, caught in the waters off norther Spain and Portugal, where the best of the best come from.

Fourth, no junk!  No extra preservatives, no garbage, Here is the entire list of ingredients, sardines, olive oil, sea salt.  Fantastic.  Never and I mean never buy sardines with mustard sauce, soy bean oil, etc.  Packed in their own oils and olive oil is best, just like these guys.

Fifth this is a perfect prepper storage product!  Think about where preppers struggle to keep a good storage up.  That would be high quality fats and meats, with nutrient dense caloric yield.  Well the ones that just came in have an expiration date of 2022!  You know I say eat what you store and store what you eat, well with this even if you only eat them a few times a month, that is no problem.  In each can you get 228 calories, 130 in high quality fats and 98 from one of the best sources of protein on the planet.

So why not give Matiz Gallego Sardines a shot and whether you pick up a 5 count pack or a 25 count pack is up to you.  Do let me caution, these are the best sardines I have ever eaten but they are still canned sardines.  They are not magical, they don’t taste like chicken, they taste like small ocean fish.  So if you in general do not like sardines, you likely will not like these either.  However if you “sort of like them”, this may change your entire sardine world.  Far less fishy tasting, more clean smelling, nice firm flesh and man they go good with a bit of avocado.

Remember you can always find the TSP Amazon Item of the day by just going to TspAz.com and by shopping at TspAz.com anytime you shop on Amazon you help support TSP and the work we do here no matter what you buy.

 

 

 

FermentEm 8-Piece Fermenting Kit – Item of the Day

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is the FermentEm 8-Piece Fermenting Kit.  Recently I featured my favorite fermentation crock and got an email that said the following…

Jack I want to get into fermented foods but would prefer to make a lot of different small batches, what is the best and most fool proof way to ferment in jars.

There are many ways to ferment in jars, one can simply drill out a ball jar lid and insert a airlock like for making wine, but it isn’t fool proof. This item is as close as possible to that.

The key is these are waterless locks, there is no water to dry out, or be sucked into your jar.  These guys solve that problem and they go on ANY wide mouth ball jar.

And for only 33 dollars you get 8 of them.  That is only $4.12 a piece!  And with this you could have a half gallon of kraut in one jar, a quart of Tomatillo Salsa in another, a quart of Celery Mint Salad in another and say a pint of garlic scape paste in another.  Then you’d still have 4 more lids to work with.  You might even keep half and give the other half as a gift if depending on how much fermenting you want to do.

Some additional items you may want to consider getting along with this include…

  • Fermented Vegetables by Christopher and Kristen Shockey – This is my favorite book on fermenting vegetables and far and away the best book on the subject for people new to the art of fermentation.
    9
  • Sauer Stones – Large Glass Fermentation Weights – You don’t need special weights for this but they are really nice, and they are foolproof.  I prefer them to say using a bag full of water.  As a fermenter you learn fast, keep things under the brine and all will be fine.

And you guys know what, at 11 days till Christmas there is still time to have some fermented veggies on the Christmas dinner table.  So if big expensive crocks have been putting you off on this skill set, pick up some ball jars and the FermentEm 8-Piece Fermenting Kit and get fermenting.  Your family and your body will thank you for it.

Remember you can always find the TSP Amazon Item of the day by just going to TspAz.com and by shopping at TspAz.com anytime you shop on Amazon you help support TSP and the work we do here no matter what you buy.

German Style Fermentation Crock – Item of the Day

crockEvery day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is my favorite German Style Fermentation Crock made by TSM Products.  I first found this item about 5 years ago and have used it many times since buying it.  It comes in four sizes, 5L (1.3 Gallons), 10L (2.6 Gallons), 15L (3.9 Gallons) and 20L (5.2 Gallons).

I personally have the 10 liter model and to me it is plenty large enough.  Frankly the 5L model will make quite a bit per batch.  And while fermented foods keep quite well in the cellar or fridge but I prefer them quite fresh while they are still nice and crisp.  Additionally making them is so simple it is no big deal to just keep running batches of what ever you want as needed.

My main focus with fermented foods is taste and health not storage, so I personally think I would have been just fine with the 5L model.  The main use I would see for something like the 20 liter model would be for someone who is making product for a group or large family.  Please consider all this before deciding you need a huge crock.  Two whole cabbages fit in my 10L model with room to spare, that is a LOT of kraut.

Many people ferment in jars, this works, but it never comes out as consistently good for me as when I use my crock.  There are a few reasons for this in my view.  First and foremost is uniform temps, the thick ceramic construction holds a steady temp with minimal fluctuation.  Next is the total darkness of the environment.  Then you get a dead simple airlock with the water holding rim at the top.  Finally the stone weights hold everything nicely under the brine so you don’t get any funny stuff going on with exposed veggies.

I do make my share of sauerkraut with this thing.  My favorite variation is adding about 1/3rd by volume of cabbage shredded carrots and and equal amount of shredded apple, and a good helping of caraway seeds.  Man is that stuff fantastic on brats!  The key is never cook it, just gently warm it when serving it with things like your meats.  This way all the beneficial bacteria stays alive.

What about slow cooking pork in kraut you say?  Okay well then just do it, and at the end add a few tbs of fresh uncooked kraut to each plate.

My absolute favorite thing to make is my own signature brand escabache  though.  There are many varieties of escabache, some fermented and some done with vinegar.  The one that inspired mine is generally in a small bowl on every table in any good “hole in the wall” Mexican restaurant in Texas.  You know the kind of place where a margarita contains only tequila, lime juice and orange liquor, vs koolaid mixer and comes in a high ball glass vs. a fish bowl?

This brand of escabache consists of simply carrots, onions, jalapenos in a pickle brine.  Though every place will tell you theirs is “special”.  The best versions are always fermented and seen as a digestion aid.  To make mine I broke with the standard to make it bit milder and get by product of amazing pickled garlic.    Here is my recipe.

Equal amounts of the following vegetables cut to the shape of your liking, I like thin long strips….

  • Sweet Peppers (several colors make for a great eye appeal, use red, orange, yellow to contrast with the green jalapenos)
  • Carrots (again I cut them into thin sticks)
  • Jalapenos (seed half to go a bit more mild, seed all and you get almost no heat.  Tune in to today’s show for a major short cut on this)
  • White Onions (cut again in long strips)
  • Garlic (go to Albertsons Grocery, they sell whole pealed cloves in clam shells in the produce area for about 3 bucks, this is a great deal and saves a lot of time.  Don’t slice the garlic leave the cloves whole.)
  • Salt water (enough to cover, I use 2 TBS per quart, the standard is 1-3 per quart.  Use sea or kosher or pickling salt)
  • One hand full of black peppercorns

It could not be more easy, just stick everything in the crock, cover with salt water, put your stones on and wait about 7-10 days.  I usually cover the top of my veggies with grape leaves (muscadine or wild fox grape leaves are fine for this).  It keeps the little pieces from escaping and the tanning keeps things crisp.  Some use oak leaves but I have never tried this.

If you want to kick start fermentation, put about one tablespoon of whey from some yogurt into the brine.  While not necessary it is very helpful.

When done to your taste, put in ball jars and store in the fridge, it will be very good for 30 days and quite good for about 60.  After that to me anyway it gets too fermented even in the fridge which is why I make about 2-3 quarts per run.

Well, then there is the garlic, that stuff keeps for months.  So when I make a batch I usually buy 2-3 of the clam shells of garlic.  I jar up about half with the escabache and half by itself for cooking or snacking, man is spicy garlic great stuff.

Another plan this year is to make up some fermented Jerusalem artichokes.  Haven’t tried those yet but heard they are very good and it avoids the um, well side effects that make some call them fartachokes!

So if you have been thinking of adding fermented vegetables to your diet (and you really should) check out the German Style Fermentation Crock today.  At only 57 dollars for the 5 liter model it will pay for itself in a batch or two and give you better quality pickled veggies then you could ever buy in a store.  And unlike a ball jar, it will look awesome on your counter whether you have a batch running or not.

Remember you can always find the TSP Amazon Item of the day by just going to TspAz.com and by shopping at TspAz.com anytime you shop on Amazon you help support TSP and the work we do here no matter what you buy.

P.S. – Christmas is coming and if you know a person that like fermented veggies, this would be an amazing gift for them.