Glass Storage Jars for Deer Jerky, Sumac, Oatmeal and Maitake Mushrooms

When guest come to my home one of the first things they notice is I don't have coffee, tea, flour and sugar in strange glass storage jars on my counter. I have things in very ordinary pickling jars that people that don't live in the country, don't recognize.

These foods are on those glass jars because like flour and sugar are to some, these are the staples of my life. The simple acts of nature that bring warmth to my table, and good taste to my meals.

Oatmeal in Glass Storage Jars

Oatmeal, some may think this food was put on the earth for those less fortunate to be forced into eating the sticky goo. Others love it. I use it for everything from pancakes, breads, cookies, and even animal feed. You can turn just a few pieces of fruit into wonderful crisps, or heat up a bowl of oats and cinnamon for a fast hot meal after doing chores in the cold. There just isn't much you can't do with Oatmeal.

Oatmeal was created around the depression when a man noticed that horses ate better then people. He took horse feed, oats, and made a healthy food that everyone could afford. This wonderful versatile food is one of the staples I keep in glass storage jars in my home that I could not live with out.

Wild Mushrooms in Glass Storage Jars

Mushrooms, not just any wild mushrooms, but Hen of the Woods, other names are Maitake, Sheep's Head and Ram's Head.

This wonderful versatile wild mushroom can be frozen, dehydrated, canned or used fresh. This huge mushroom can also be used in teas, with wonderful health benefits, soups, casserole replacing meat for flavor and texture and the list goes on. The flavor and sauces one can create with just this one mushroom are endless.

Feeling too sick to make your own chicken soup? Make some tea from soaking this wild mushroom dehydrated in a cup of hot water, or a pan of simmering water on your wood stove. The properties of the hen-of-the-woods are as good as, if not better than, your mother's chicken broth.

maitake or hen-in-the-woods mushroom

Hen-of-the-woods, Maitake, or Sheep's head mushroom

The Maitake mushroom grows around the base of oak trees. Lucky me, my home is surrounded by oaks. Every year about half of my oaks produce a wonderful 20lb plus sized cluster. This means I have the privilege of using all I want and hoping I get it all used up, before the next fall's harvest. Thus, the Hen of the Woods is a treasured staple in my home, and one I keep in glass storage jars on the counter for easy use. For you new mushroom hunters this is a safe one to start with as there are no lookalikes.

Deer Jerky in Glass Storage Jars

Around here corn fed deer is a staple food. Freezer space gets pretty limited come spring when deer hunting stops and you have all you will get until the next snow fall about 9 months away.

Storing enough deer meat for a years use is tricky at best. Dehydrating it makes good use of space and can be done with a variety of meats. Jerky is used in my home not just as a snack, as modern times have deemed its only use nowadays, but it can be re-hydrated in soups, stews and a bit of water in a frying pan along with morning potatoes or rice and a few eggs for a good, hot well-rounded breakfast.

How to Make Homemade Jerky

What makes jerky chewy is the way its cut. When the meat is cut long ways with the grain of the meat, it becomes chewy. If you cut your jerky across the grain, it is tender. For making your cooking jerky tender and what you want for snacks (if you like chewy snacks) cut it in long strips.

When I make jerky I'm normally doing a whole deer, or lamb, so I don't take time making it pretty or fancy. In a bucket I put a gallon of apple cider, a jar of soy sauce and a jar of Worcester sauce. This with some salt is all I do unless making snacks. Then I may sprinkle some flavorings on the meat as its added to the dehydrate. Simple, easy and right handy where I can grab a fast bite, or have it ready when I don't have time to defrost something for supper. Its meat on the go, country style.

Sumac in Glass Storage Jars

Last but certainly not least is Sumac. The photo shows little light pieces in the ground sumac.

These pieces need to be completely ground before the sumac flour can be used. They are hard and can't be chewed. The flavor of this flour is like raspberry and just like a raspberry the seeds will get ya.

So use your coffee grinder, or what ever you use to make a fine grind and powder this into a fine completely ground powder. Then use it like you would corn meal or flour. The flavor is well worth the effort.

Many people never think of using this as they believe sumac is poison. It is - if it's poison sumac. The sumac bush in no way can be confused with the poison variety.

Sumac flour has been used for millions of years by native people. Why when the land was settled its use was never picked up by white settlers I don't know. I do know that its taste is unique with many health benefits that wheat flour doesn't have. Wheat flour also lacks the wonderful fruity flavor that makes breads, puddings and teas something to talk about.

These are the wonderful things that live on my counter in glass storage jars. If you have something wonderful that is a staple food in your home. Please share it.

By Gypsy, our resident homestead blogger from One Sky Ranch
Gypsy's Wanderings Homestead Blog

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