Rain, this time of the year, in northern Minnesota is pretty rare. We usually have snow, instead. The deer hunters are not enjoying being on stand in a cold rain! But, as the weather warmed up, the ground thawed, and I was finally able to get all my fall bulbs planted. It’s awful late, but I’m hoping they’ll do okay, anyway. Our granddaughter, Ava, got her first deer. I was wondering how that would go as she’s a huge, tenderhearted animal lover. But she has been raised to know where their meat comes from and had no trouble shooting a nice, fat yearling. It’s now cut up and freezer wrapped! Mason, Bill, and David are all hunting now, but nobody has seen a buck, only does and fawns. Will and I don’t hunt anymore as we have so much beef in the freezers it would be just too much meat. Now, isn’t that a problem? Ha ha!

I’m passing on to you all a bit of information I’ve learned. When it was getting cold, I asked Will to bring in the crate and bucket of carrots, off the front porch. He missed the bucket part and left it out there, where it froze into a big, carrot colored popsicle. Oh oh! Well, not wanting to waste them, I brought the frozen carrots inside and pulled carrots apart by hand, putting them into a sink full of warm water. Not hot. Just warm. I washed, peeled, and cut them up as they thawed. Still unsure of how they would turn out, I canned them as if they had not been frozen. When they came out of the canner, they looked perfect! I was amazed. Then last night, I opened a pint and made glazed carrots out of them. Wonderful! Who would have thought dirty, frozen carrots would thaw and be fine? Guess I’ve learned something useful.

These are the previously-frozen-in-the-bucket carrots, all canned up nicely.

I also canned up a big batch of Cowboy Candy with extra syrup. Then I ground up a shoebox full of Sugar Rush Peach and Ozark Sweet Snack peppers that I’d seeded. I used my Ninja blender, and they chopped up very nicely for relish. Using the Cowboy Candy syrup, I canned the relish, we now call Gaucho Relish. It turned out wonderful. It is plenty hot, though, so you won’t want to use too much at a time. But it’s very good! I called it “Gaucho Relish,” keeping the “cowboy” theme. After all, gauchos are South American cowboys! Now, all I have to do is get Will or David to carry it, along with the last boxes of tomato sauce and salsa down into the basement for me. It’s so comforting to know that all that good food is close at hand and safe down there for years and years.

Here’s the Cowboy Candy and Gaucho Relish. Isn’t it pretty?
I’ve got to wash this last batch of jars of tomato sauce and salsa so it can be put away in our pantry.

— Jackie


  1. Rain here in Michigan for two days too. Congratulations to Ava! Those carrots look wonderful.

    • And they taste great too! I was really surprised to have such nice results from frozen carrots in a bucket!

  2. I’m so glad the unexpected frozen carrot experiment went well! It would have been a shame to waste them.

    After a late weather cool down and two nights of 29 it’s now turned warm again with a couple days of 80. My cold weather garden things don’t know what to do! These temperature swings probably mean the cauliflower won’t make right. That’s usually a spring problem.

    A question. Can I collect bush bean pods with big fat seeds in them before they dry down on the plant or do they have to dry on the plant first? The row I was saving for collection were covered for those two 29 nights but the tops and outside foliage still got burned. The beans inside the plant and some of that inner foliage is still green. Should I pull the plants and hang them to dry? These are some gorgeous Blue Ribbon beans and I’d hate to lose the seed.

    • We’ve found that if the bean pods are leathery but not dry, the beans can be shelled out and dried indoors. If they are not leathery, I’d leave them on the plant and hope for a stretch of warmer weather so they’ll continue to mature. When pulled too early, beans tend to pucker up and not be viable.

  3. Jackie, my husband and I have been having a discussion about how long home canned items are good for. With just the two of us, and my canning a lot of garden and fruit produce every year, it does build up. (Even giving some away.). He thought that we should keep nothing over 2-3 years, but I hate to see all my work go to the compost pile. What’s the longest that you feel safe in using your canned goods?

    • Unless the seal fails the food won’t actually go bad. Over time it will lose nutrients and perhaps have some color fading, but it’s still quite edible. Tell him to look up the Kansas City Museum for a steam ship that went down on the Missouri River back in the late 1800s. It was dug up in a farmers field with the contents intact back in the 70s if I remember correctly. Scientists did tests on the canned aka bottled goods that were recovered and found that while nutrition wise it was a fail, safety wise they were safe to eat. Those canned goods were over 100 years old at that time. What I am getting at is as long as they are stored correctly your canning is good for many years. Hope that helps.

      • We ate some 11 year old food this year. Don’t know how nutritional it was but it fills the belly. It tasted good. And since it wasn’t the only food we had for weeks, nutrition was met with other foods if needed.

    • As long as your canned food was processed correctly and the lids are sealed, your food will remain good to eat indefinitely. I have three pints of pie cherries that I canned when my oldest son, Bill, now “fifty something” was learning to ride a two wheeled bike. Every year, I’ve taken a pint or two and used it for baking. As of this year, they’re still perfect. Yes, some foods do lose some color but even some store-bought foods are that way. Take pie cherries for instance. Unless they contain a red dye, they are a faded yucky red.
      The indefinite keeping of home canned foods is one of the main reasons I can!!

  4. Hi Jackie, so glad the carrots were saved. Will escaped the wrath of Jackie again. LoL. You and Will are such hard workers and you amaze me with your “get-it-done” attitude. Congratulations to Ava, good luck to the guys with their hunting.

    • I don’t think Will was in much danger. : ) Ava is still hunting as they are in a group at hunting camp, hunting as a “party”. So she could shoot a deer for Dad!

  5. I’m so glad you are getting rain. We are still so very dry here and no rain is forecast in the near future. It is beautifully warm, upper 60s which is rare for this time of year. I love the information exchanged here. This is my very favorite blog! Your carrots and relish look amazing. Congratulations to Ava! Atta girl! Sending prayers for a blessed week.

    • Thanks Marilyn. We enjoy the blog too. We’re still having rain, although last night it was freezing rain. Yuck! But, today, it’s melted and still raining.

  6. Processing 4 archery obtained deer here. Weather warmed up and I too got bulbs planted. Crazy weather up to 65 yesterday ( normally 40 max). Nice to be able to get more outside work done. It’s almost too warm for the wood stove and we’ve had to have some windows open. Is it warmer than usual for you? Thanksgiving coming-lots to be thankful for.

    • Wow! Four deer is a lot of processing. Yep, we got warmer weather, but only in the thirties. No open windows for us and the wood stove is happily cranking out heat. Glad to hear you got your bulbs in too. That’s a weight off our shoulders.

      • Depending upon where you are 4 deer can be a lot! I lived in Colorado where deer are nice size. Here in TX I think at times my goats are bigger than the deer! Up where you are you probably have real deer. In Colorado we would often get two elk a year for a family of 2.

        Your canned goods look BEAUTIFUL.

  7. Hey folks, I can potatoes, carrots, turnips, squash, whatever, in water; BUT I can them in BIG chunks around 2″ and they don’t get mushy. Can you preserve anything without water. Let me hear from everyone.

    • I have dry canned carrots and rutabagas with good results but it is not an approved canning method. A friend does potatoes too but finds they darken after a year’s storage. I do can my slightly browned hamburger, crumbled as it cooks, without water and find it’s much better than when I added water or broth. Again, not an approved method…..

      • Thanks, Jackie. So much to learn from your blog! You and other folks. I considered canning potatoes the dry way. Really glad to see your comment and experiences here about how long food lasts on the shelf after canning.

    • I guess it is. Our snow is all gone now, but I’m sure more is on the way that will stick until spring.

    • We just love everything about canning and it’s so much fun to watch those pantry shelves fill up to overflowing. Pretty jars of food!!

  8. Jackie, I have been canning potatoes and carrots without water now for many years. They are SUPERB!!
    For the potatoes you just chunk them up, soak in lemon water for a about an hour, pat them dry and put into the jar packing them down as hard as you can. Put a tsp of butter on top along with seasonings if you want. Pressure can as usual. Once cool enough to handle, just turn the jars upside down and right side up a few times to distribute the butter/salt. They are just like roasted, have a better texture and are absolutely delicious!
    For carrots, chunk and put into jar packing them in as hard as you can. Add butter and salt but no water. Process as usual. NO COMPARISON to carrots canned in water!!

    • Wow! Other than nutmeats I haven’t heard about canning without water. Sounds wonderful, is there a book/website/source for more information?

      Per your directions, is that all there is to it? How much lemon juice to put into the lemon water? When you say “chunks” are they 1″ size or bigger/smaller? I have a ton of potatoes and was going to can them via the standard directions but I’ll hold off now until I get a few more details nailed down.

      Canned vegetables too often taste soft and sad, at least to me. This year I canned green beans (with water) and added a small amount of pickle crisp to see if maybe that would reduce the mushiness. We haven’t popped any jars open yet though.

    • Have you had any trouble with your dry canned potatoes getting dark after a years’ storage? A friend has had that trouble. I do dry can some things but do most of mine the traditional (and approved) way, with water added.

  9. Jackie Love the relish pics! Do you leave your rings on all your jars? I hear advice both ways – store them with rings on or off.


    • After the jars are cool, I remove the rings, wash the jars and dry them. If I have too many rings, I will put them back on the jars for easy storage. The reason you should remove the rings is that especially when you don’t wash the jars, the sticky food juice under the rings can not only act like glue when you try to take the rings off to use the food but holds condensation, resulting on premature rusting of both the rings and lids.

  10. I have no issue with hunting deer etc. for food. I dislike trophy hunting – really, it takes no skill to kill a giraffe and for nothing but ego. Off soap box.
    It was 70 degrees here today and will be in the 50s during the day the next 10 days. But only down to freezing for 3 of the nights. I see a couple weeds popped up in the one perennial bed and plan on getting them this week.

    • There are many hunters here in Alaska who will hold out for a trophy, in fact many moose hunts require fifty inch racks or four brow tines! However I have heard of hunters who were cited for wasting meat because fish and game scraped a gallon bag of scraps off a boned out carcus! I have read that the meat from many game animals in Africa goes to the local residents from legal hunts. There it is poachers who waste meat.

    • I’m sure not a trophy hunter. My biggest deer was a 4 x4 buck. We like to eat a tender, fat deer so those nice forkhorn bucks are the best!! Around here, we’re all about the food, not the heads.
      Like Howard says, a lot of hunters sure waste meat! A friend saw mountains of deer carcasses piled up at a Twin Cities dump after deer season. Now that’s a crime!!!

    • If you want a trophy fine……. Wait for it……. AND THEN USE THE REST OF THE CARCASS! The trophy should be secondary. If you don’t want the meat….. donate it to someone who will use it. Waste not want not.

  11. yummy yum! relish, cowboy candy! frozen then, canned carrots, all the tomato salsa an tomatoes canned. you been busy! so glad you got in your bulbs. CONGRATULATIONS tender hearted Ava! takes a smart girl to understand this type of harvest. we are in another day of downpour. yesterdays break in the weather, i was able to plant the last of my garlic.
    enjoy the rainy spell before more snow. take care.
    i sure enjoy your comments, information and general knowledge. thank you Jackie! :)
    mary pacific northwest

    • Thanks Mary! I’m sure glad you got your garlic in. Something like that weighs on us, doesn’t it??

  12. yummy yum! relish, cowboy candy! frozen then, canned carrots, all the tomato salsa an tomatoes canned. you been busy! so glad you got in your bulbs. CONGRATULATIONS tender hearted Ava! takes a smart girl to understand this type of harvest. we are in another day of downpour. yesterdays break in the weather, i was able to plant the last of my garlic.
    enjoy the rainy spell before more snow. take care.
    i sure enjoy your comments, information and general knowledge. thank you Jackie! :)

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