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Archive for the ‘freezing’ Category

I’m pretty excited about this jam.

Typically I make the low sugar recipes but all I had was a box of the full sugar pectin so I changed the recipe (a HUGE jam-making no-no) and amazingly it worked!

There is still a little more sugar than fruit but I didn’t have the guts to lower the sugar any more. Maybe next time.

Spread this stuff in your daily toast and you’ll quickly become addicted. While I do not like plain blueberry jam, the small amount of blueberries swimming in the strawberries is perfect in this jam.

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Strawberry Blueberry Freezer Jam
Adapted from the Sure Jell recipe

2 1/2 cups crushed strawberries
1 cup chopped blueberries
4 cups sugar
1 box (1.75 oz) regular Sure Jell pectin (not low sugar variety)
3/4 cup water

Measure exact amount of fruit into a large bowl. Measure exact amount of sugar into the fruit and give it a good stir. Let stand 10 minutes or so.

Stir pectin into the water in a medium saucepan (mixture will expand while cooking). Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. It will start out lumpy. That’s ok. When it reaches a full rolling boil (does not stop boiling when stirred), set the timer for 1 minute and cook while stirring. When time is up, remove from heat and stir into the fruit mixture.

Stir the jam until the sugar is fully dissolved. Pour into freezer containers or jars, leaving room for expansion during freezing. Let set at room temperature for a day before freezing or refrigerating.

Yield: about 7 cups

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I suppose this week is a lot of preserving recipes. I’m sorry if you aren’t busy with this yourself. I’m probably boring you to tears. But this is my life at the moment and so I’m going to blog it!

We love this basil pesto. It’s the one I used for this recipe. Oh, this one, too. I even have another recipe written up using it. Just haven’t gotten around to posting it. So many things to document these days!

Basil Pesto

Adapted from Simply in Season, page 163

1 cup (2 oz) packed fresh basil leaves and tender stems

1/2 cup (1 1/4 oz) packed fresh parsley leaves

2 medium cloves garlic

1/3 cup (1 1/4 oz) walnut pieces

1/2 cup (1 1/4 oz) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

1/2 t salt

1/2 cup (3 3/4 oz) olive oil

Put everything in a food processor (1 batch fits in a mini) and puree until the herbs are just in tiny bits. It won’t get completely smooth. Use immediately or freeze in ice cube trays. Pop out the frozen cubes of pesto and store in a bag or jar in the freezer. Keeps about a year.

Yield: about 1 cup

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Sometimes I feel like Wonder Woman. A very tired Wonder Woman. Do you feel like that occasionally? On days where you just keep going and going? Like yesterday, for instance. I hopped slowly slid out of bed, jumped climbed into my clothes, and skipped drug myself downstairs and out the door. There were chores to do. Feed the dog. Get the paper. Feed the chickens. Water flowers.

Soon after, breakfast was needed. I made everyone pancakes because there were 20 pounds of blueberries in my fridge (and 20 in Grandpa and Grandma’s, too). It was a festive blueberry pancake breakfast, full of tired hollers of “sit back down!” and “would you please finish your pancakes?” and “don’t spill your milk!”.

And then there was harvesting. Green beans. Broccoli. Red beets. Those blueberries needed frozen, too. I set to work, dragging my unwilling feet behind me.

Green beans were first. I am SO glad to have Grandma around these days. (Not that I’m not normally glad!) She does my beans for me. After I pick them, I set her up with a bowl and bucket and she goes to town. I was able to cut, blanch, and freeze the broccoli and freeze 15 pounds of blueberries while she ended and cut beans. Thank you Grandma!

Jada helped her, too.

When they finished that, it was lunch time. A hodge-podge of leftovers, blueberries, and some cherry pie (recipe to come).

At 12:30, I blanched the beans and threw a load of laundry in the washer.

By mid-afternoon I was beat. Happy, but beat. The red beets were cooking on the stove so I sat my beat Wonder Woman rear on a stool and blogged. Don’t let all this complaining fool you. I am super happy about all this work! I should be ashamed of myself for even saying I’m tired. I’m privileged (and terribly thankful) to have so much food.

Now let’s settle in with a little how-to. I’ll give you some step-by-step instructions on freezing broccoli. At least, this is how I do it. As with canning, I don’t always follow what’s “proper”. I do like my mom and it works just fine for us.

So here’s the deal:

1. Procure a pile of broccoli and cut it into whatever size pieces you wish, including the stems (but not the thickest, tough part of the stem). I used to do large two or three-bite size pieces but last year I noticed someone (mom? aunt? grandma?) doing it in very small pieces. This made more sense since it takes up less space in the freezer and is easier to eat. Boy am I dense.


2. Give your little helper a piece, which he will promptly chew up and spit out.

3. Fill your blancher basket with broccoli and put the basket in the pot. Fill with water to cover. This is just to ensure that you have the perfect amount of water in the blancher. I don’t like when it’s boiling and I set the basket in only to find that not all of the veggies are covered in water.

4. Remove the blancher basket of broccoli and put the pot, covered, on the stove. Bring to a full, rolling boil.

5. Slowly set the basket full of broccoli in the pot, poking down any floating broccoli with a spoon.

6. Quickly cover and set the timer for 2 – 3 minutes. Small pieces for the shorter time and large pieces a bit longer. I think this is where my methods differ from the “proper” ones (tell me if I’m wrong). I’ve read that you are supposed to bring the water back to a boil (after setting the veggies in) before setting the timer. In my opinion, this just turns the veggies to mush. Till you cook them like this, freeze them, and then cook them again to eat, they would be so soft it’d be like eating baby food. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a baby anymore. I like my veggies to have a little more bite than that.

7. Anyway, while the broccoli is blanching, fill the sink with cold water.

8. When the timer yells at you, quickly remove the basket from the pot, allowing the water to drain back into the pot, and dump the broccoli in the sink full of cold water.

9. Swish the broccoli around a bit. Drain the water, which is now very warm, and fill with cold water and ice. You want to chill the broccoli pretty quickly. I know you can dump it straight into ice water but that takes tons of ice. I never remember to makes big bags of ice so I cool mine down with cold tap water first.

10. Drain the now cold broccoli in a strainer. Repeat steps 5 through 10 with as many blancher baskets of broccoli as needed, being sure to bring the water back to a full rolling boil between batches.

11. Dump the broccoli into large plastic containers in a 2 or 3 inch layer.

12. Freeze.

yup. blurry picture.

13. Once frozen, bust up the thick layers of broccoli by slamming the containers on the counter. Bag it up in big bags or individual meal-sized bags. And that’s that.

This is how I freeze lima beans, peas, green beans, carrots, cauliflower, and sugar peas. I’m probably forgetting some veggies, too. Just prep them how you please, blanch them for 2-3 minutes (depending on the size and density of the veggie), dunk in cold water, drain, and freeze. Pretty simple process, though it feels very overwhelming when there are so many other things that need done, too.

P.S. I finished the beets (I’ll post about them soon), hung up that laundry, made cabbage and hamburger casserole and roasted broccoli for supper (both will be posted about), disciplined the dog several times for chewing on my clothes pins, gave the kids snacks and kisses, and washed several rounds of large pots and bowls. Guess what I did in the evening? Cleaned up the supper dishes, crashed on the couch, tied shut squash blooms for hand pollinating tomorrow (more on that later), pulled some weeds, straightened up a row of unruly strawberry runners, lounged about outside in the yard with the kids, and finished this blog post. It was lovely.

Yes. I took the picture myself. Don't laugh. Brad wasn't home so I had to!


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