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Archive for September 19th, 2010

We eat a lot of jelly. On toast, in homemade yogurt, in oatmeal, on PB&J sandwiches, it just seems to disappear from this house.  With a recent good deal on strawberries and mango’s I decided to whip together some jelly.  Both the fruits were past their “prime” but not past being able to be made into a nice jelly.  For record, those two flavors are just amazing mixed together. I do not have exact amounts of the fruits, it’s pretty much a wing it but for each pint of strawberries it is one mango.

Strawberry-Mango Jelly

Strawberries, cleaned and sliced.  (I used 3 pints)

Mango, peeled and sliced off pit. (3 mangos)

3 cups sugar

1 box sure-gel

Take clean fruit and put in blender with 2 tbsp lemon juice.  Puree then transfer to pot on stove.  Bring to boil over medium heat.  Add sure-gel and return to boil stirring frequently 10 minutes.  Add sugar and bring to boil again, boil 5 minutes or until desired thickness set.

Process in hot water bath 20 minutes for 1/2 point and pint jars.

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Daughters Play Purse

My daughter loves to mimic me, for a long time I’ve caught her stealing my purse to pretend with.  Today amidst all the canning I managed to put the final stitches on her new play purse.  The stitches are not perfect but for doing it between batches, unable to set up sewing machine as table and top of sewing cabinet filled with canning jars,  and in a hurry (throw it all together in two hours or less hand stitching), I consider it an accomplishment.

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I make a lot of pizza’s…we have pizza night once a week at this house which the kids just love.  I also make pizza pockets for my son’s take to school lunch and my daughters eat at home lunch so she can be “just like the big kids”.  I can in pint jars as it seems to be just the right amount for what I need at a given time to make several pizzas and pockets.  This sauce also makes a good dipping sauce for bread sticks and mozzarella sticks.

Homemade Pizza Sauce

5 pints tomato sauce (or make sauce from scratch with what tomatoes you have on hand, recipe follows).
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped sweet peppers or bell peppers
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons salt
5 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons black pepper
3 teaspoons basil
2 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch

Place your sauce in a big canning kettle.  Cook the onions, pepper and garlic in a little tomato juice or water until tender.  Place them in blender and puree before adding them to the sauce in kettle.  Add your herbs, sugar, salt and pepper and let cook.  Bring to boil on medium heat stirring frequently to keep from scorching.  Keeping a soft rolling boil going, let the tomatoes cook down and mingle for one hour or longer until reduced and thickened.  Mix cornstarch with a bit of water and add for further thickening if desired or needed.  Ladle into jars and cap.  Process 25 minutes for pints, 35 minutes for quarts in hot water bath.

Homemade Tomato Sauce

20 lbs of tomatoes (1.5 peck)

Put in canning kettle of boiling water and boil until skins split.  Plunge into ice bath and let cool slightly before peeling off the skin.  (Do not discard this as it can be dried, powdered and used in flavorings).  Put the skinned tomatoes into a food processor or blender and puree.  (You can also use a Squeezo if you want to be rid of the pulp and seeds, I personally don’t mind them…again if you do, don’t discard the pulp mix as it can also be dried and powdered).

Place the tomato “juice”  into canning kettle and bring to rolling boil over medium heat.  Stir frequently to keep from burning.  It will boil up and foam, and boil down again.  Keep boiling and stirring until it’s well reduced and thickened.  This will take a while and expect roughly two to three hours.

Once reduced, ladle into jars and process 25 minutes pints, 35 minutes quarts in hot water bath.

**If you like, you may add a cup or two of sugar to the sauce.**

***I like a smoky taste to my tomato sauce I plan to use for pizza or spaghetti, so at point before jarring,  I take the canning kettle out to the grill filled with hickory wood.  Setting it on the grill I let it sit in and over the produced smoke for three hours or longer to allow the smoky flavor to absorb into the sauce. ***

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Furry Helpers

My little helper.  This pup has cataracts in both his eyes but it sure didn’t stop him from being part of the action today.  Here he is begging for samples of whatever that good smell coming from the stove is.  His brother who is also blind and had both eyes removed, seems to rather enjoy the warmth of the room as he dozes, right in my walk path. 

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I love mushrooms, in sauces, making gravies, on pizza’s or in general dishes. There is nothing better then mushrooms.  Often times our local groceries or the farmers markets have sales on mushrooms “past prime” meaning they don’t look as white and beautiful as they desire for eye appeal.  When this happens I make sure I’m first in line to snatch up the shipment boxes full of these little gems.

Canning Mushrooms

Button mushrooms, morel mushrooms, shitake, portabella mushrooms.

Citric acid (Fruit Fresh)

Salt (if you desire)

Wash mushrooms and sort by size for Button, Morels, shitake and baby portabella’s.  For large portabella’s slice into thumb tip size chunks.

Leave soak in water for 10 minutes before beginning processing.

Place in large sauce pot and add 1/2 tsp citric acid (to prevent browning).  Cook gently for 15 minutes and hot pack in jars covered with fresh boiling water.  (I personally like to use the water I boil them in, so my mushrooms are not as “clean” looking as fresh water would offer. but then it holds extra nutrients lost in fresh boiled water).

Process in pressure canner, 10 pounds pressure for 45 minutes for pint jars.

Hint: If you do prefer to use fresh water to cover mushrooms, don’t throw out the nutrient water you boiled them in. Rather cool it to room temperature and use to water houseplants, herbs or garden plants.  They will thank you for it.

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I had frozen some cherries that I planned to make into jelly earlier this year.  Today as I was already hip deep in canning, I figured it a good time to pull them out and make them into jelly.

Canned Cherry Jelly

6-8 cups pitted cherries, ground.  (I put them in a blender with a little water it works wonderful.)

4-6 cups sugar (4 for sweet cherries, 6 for tarts)

1 box sure-gel

Place the ground cherries in sauce pan and heat to boiling. Simmer 10 minutes stirring frequently.  Some at this stage then drain them through a cheese cloth to get the liquid but not the cherry bits. I don’t bother. I personally like the little pieces of cherry in my jelly as it is slathered on hot toast or muffins.

Add pectin and 1/4 cup sugar to cherries and bring to boil over medium heat.  Stir for 5 to 10 minutes constantly to keep from burning.

Add sugar and continue to stir. Bring to boil once more and boil for 1-2 minutes.

Test for “thickness” by keeping a metal tablespoon in ice water nearby.  Ladle some of the jelly onto the spoon and let it cool to room temperature.  You want it to stay on the spoon.  If it does not, add a bit more pectin (1/4 package at time) and test again.

Once at thickness desired, ladle into jelly jars and lid/ring.

Place in hot water bath for 5 minutes.

Remove and let cool, enjoy the “Ping” of a job well done.

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What do you do with the inevitable little bit of corn that doesn’t quite fill a jar when canning? Why make Texas Caviar of course.  This stuff is my downfall. I could eat entire ice cream buckets of the stuff without blinking an eye.  Best of all, it’s healthy for you.  At least once a month this becomes our main meal in this household providing protein (beans), vegetables and starch all in one.  You can eat it just as it is with a spoon, or using tortilla chips to scoop it up.  We do both depending on how we feel that particular day.

Texas Caviar

1 can black beans, drained.

1 can corn, drained

1 tomato, diced.

1/2 onion, diced.

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1/4  cup red wine vinegar

1/8 tsp – 1/4 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

Mix together last 6 ingredients into a dressing.  Put the other ingredients into a large bowl and pour dressing over.  Refrigerate at least 24 hours before serving to allow flavors to mingle.   Serve with tortilla chips.  Absolute heaven.

PS: for those that like a little “kick”  dice 1-2 jalapeno peppers and add to mix.   You can also dice up green peppers to add for a different twist.

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The carrots gave up the ghost today as they were dragged from their warm soil beds to grace winter shelves in a gracious display.  Canning carrots is very easy given you have a pressure canner.  All it takes is a bit of time and preparation to prepare the carrots for canning.  While some cold pack their carrots I prefer to blanch them first in the same hot water I use to cover them in cans.

Canning Carrots.

Carrots

Water

That’s it…two ingredients.  You can add salt I imagine if you desire but I do not allowing the carrots to provide their own natural sweetness.

Peel your carrots and slice into a large canning kettle.  Cover with water and let blanch 5 minutes until plyable but still holding a bit of firmness when tested.

Using canning funnel place into jars stuffing as many as possible. Cover with water you blanched in.  Run a knife or spatula around inside of jar to eliminate air bubbles.

Seal jars with lids and rings and place in pressure canner.  Process 10 lbs pressure for 25 minutes (pints) or 30 minutes (quarts).

That is all that is to it !

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