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Archive for the ‘preserving’ 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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Oh this is delicious. If you have rosemary and sage going crazy in your garden and you recently pulled your garlic bulbs and have one that lost it’s top, this is the perfect time to put them to use.

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Last week I pulled my garlic and happened to have one’s top come off in the process. I typically braid my garlic so I figured I would use this bulb right away, even though you are supposed to let garlic cure before using it. Anyway, I had just a couple of days prior found a recipe for an herb rub which I thought sounded yummy. So I picked the herbs, peeled the garlic, and made this rub.

I’ve only made steaks and grilled chicken with it so far but I am excited to add this mixture to potato dishes. I think it will be especially tasty on those “crash hot” potatoes that made the blog rounds a few years ago. I first saw them on The Pioneer Woman’s site. I’ve made those things several times with just plain rosemary and could. not. stop. eating them. Pretty sure I’ll love them even more with some sage and garlic!

But this post is not about potatoes. It’s about herbs. Beautiful, fresh-picked herbs. Love their scent.

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So go grab some handfuls of sage and a bunch of rosemary and get to chopping!

SONY DSCHerb Rub

Adapted from a David Lebovitz recipe

1 huge bundle fresh sage sprigs (6 oz)

1 handful fresh rosemary sprigs (1 1/2 oz)

1 whole garlic bulb (1 1/2 oz)

1 T coarse kosher salt

Strip the leaves off the sage and rosemary. Peel the garlic.

Now, I used my food processor but you can hand-chop this as well. However you choose to chop, you want the mixture to be pretty fine. I couldn’t detect any garlic pieces in my mixture after the processor was finished. Once the herbs and garlic are chopped up, stir in the salt. Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet with sides. Let air dry for a day or two until all the moisture is gone. I also stuck it in the oven after I was finished baking when the oven was still just warm (not hot) to speed up the process.

Store the herb rub in an air-tight jar.

Yield: about 1 3/4 cups

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Saffron Harvest

A few years ago my grandma gave me a few saffron bulbs. I planted them in my herb garden and promptly forgot about them.

And I continue to forget about them every year until October when they start blooming and I suddenly notice the bright purple blossoms among the dead and dying herbs. I’m always slightly surprised. And then very excited. I love harvesting the stuff.

It’s quite easy, too. Mid-morning, on a nice, sunny day, simply pick the blossoms…

…and pull out the red stigmas. There’s always 3 in each flower. Then let them dry before putting in a jar and storing in your spice cabinet.

The saffron blooms only last one day so it is important to check your patch every day and harvest accordingly.

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The morning after returning from the cabin found me in the garden. I picked all of this:

proceeded to make my kitchen look like this:

and ended up with all of this:

Pictured from left to right: salsa, roasted tomato sauce (2 kinds), tomato chunks, and tomato juice. Not pictured: a large pot of cooked beets that got frozen, 3 bags of cucumbers (still sitting in my fridge), a few roasted red peppers (method to come soon), eggplant parmesan, and a big bag of zucchini that got turned into zucchini pizza.

Oh August, I have such a love/hate relationship with you!

(Don’t get me wrong, I’m very thankful for the abundance. It’s just daunting sometimes.)

Now let’s have some eggplant parmesan. We (Brad, Tage, and I) love this stuff but it was like making Jada eat sandpaper…every bite went down hard. But don’t let her dislike of the stuff deter you. This is a wonderful late summer recipe. It’s easier on your health than traditional eggplant parmesan in that the eggplant isn’t deep fried, just lightly pan fried. And I particularly love the tomato sauce. It makes the dish, in my opinion. Simple and chock full of veggies.

Eggplant Parmesan

Adapted from The Central Market Cookbook, recipe submitted by Rose Meck

1 medium eggplant

1 cup bread crumbs

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 T chopped fresh parsley

2 T chopped fresh basil

1 t salt

4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 T olive oil

1/2 t salt

2 T tomato powder* or paste

1/2 – 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch thick slices. Lightly fry in a bit of oil and place in a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

Mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, herbs, and salt. If you use homemade bread crumbs and freshly grated cheese, you may wish to run them through the food processor to make them really fine. Sprinkle this mixture over the eggplant slices.

In a sauce pan, simmer the tomatoes, onion, pepper, garlic, and oil for about 20 minutes. Add the salt and tomato powder or paste. Blend with a hand blender just a little to smooth it out a bit. I like my sauce to be half smooth, half chunky. Spread the sauce on top of the eggplant.

Bake at 375 for 15 to 30 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted.

Serve: 4-6

*Tomato powder: I dry tomatoes in my food dehydrator until crispy and then blend them up to make a powder. I use this in place of tomato paste in most recipes. If you want, you can stir water into it to actually make a paste but if there’s already liquid in the ingredients, I just throw the powder in.

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*Once again, I do not necessarily follow the tested methods of canning. But this way works for me.

I love me some pickled beets. So sweet. They are such a pretty addition to a bland winter plate. And beets are loaded with nutrition, though the amount of sugar used might just counteract with that.

1. Acquire a large bowl of beets.

2. Scrub them, leaving the tails and 1/2 inch of the stems attached. This is to keep all the color and nutrients from bleeding out while they cook.

3. Put them in a big pot and cover with water.

4. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer until soft, about 45 minutes to an hour.

5. Drain and let cool until you can handle them.

6. Cut off the tops and tails and peel them. The skins just slide off. It’s fun.

7. Cut into little bite-size chunks and put them in a pot.

8. Admire your pretty purple philanges.

9. Put your jars in the oven and preheat it to 220.

10. Bring your lids to a boil in a pot with water. Turn off heat and keep covered until ready to use them.

11. Put the pot of beets on the stove and add the sugar and vinegar. The level of the juice should be about even with the beets.

12. Bring to a simmer and keep at a simmer while you fill the jars.

13. Take a hot jar from the oven and fill it with beets and juice, bringing the juice level to within 1/4 inch of the top of the jar.

14. Wipe off the top of the jar using a clean, damp cloth.

15. Top with a lid and screw on a ring, tight but not too tight.

16. Let cool on the counter before removing the rings and washing the jars in nice, soapy water (if necessary).

Pickled Red Beets

Adapted from my grandma’s recipe

7 1/2 pounds  fresh red beets, roots and 1/2 inch of stems still attached

3 cups cider vinegar

4 cups sugar

Put the whole beets in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until soft, 45 minutes to an hour. Drain the water and let cool until handle-able. Peel the beets and cut off the roots and stems. Cut into 3/4 inch cubes.

Put the cubed beets, vinegar, and sugar in a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to help the sugar dissolve. Reduce heat and keep at a simmer while you fill your hot, sterilized jars with the beets, bringing the beet level up to the bottom ring and the juice level to within a quarter inch of the top of the jar. Top with hot lids and rings. Let sit undisturbed until sealed, about 18 hours. Remove the rings, wash the jars (if needed), and store in a cool, dark, dry place until ready to use. Best if left to sit about a month before opening.

Yield: about 4 quarts

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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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