Friday, October 8, 2010

Applesauce from Fletchington Farms!

A sure sign of fall at our house is a pile of apples waiting in the summer kitchen.

Ella was such a good helper this year.  She was able to work the apple peeler and peeled nearly all the apples.  I had to do a few by hand because they were too large/soft for the peeler.  Any one interested in making apple sauce, apple butter or apple pie, I would strongly suggest getting a peeler like mine.  It makes using apples a breeze.  They get peeled, cored and sliced all at once.  I just cut them into pieces the size I need.

Apple sauce is a great 'first' for the beginning canner.  Not in the least because it's done when it's cool  :)

Peel, core and slice as many apples as you want.  I used 1/2 bushel of Honey Crisp apples.  I often use Cortlands or Empires.  I like my sauce to have some body.  If you like a very smooth sauce then try MacIntosh.

Put the apple slices in a large pot (or pots) and add enough water to cover the bottom about 1/2 inch.  Leave the pot uncovered and simmer over low until it is 'sauced' as much as you like.  Depending on the apples you chose, I sometimes find I need to mash the apples to help them along.  You can also do the applesauce in a crockpot.  I rarely do it this way because it takes so long. 
After the apples have cooked for a while.  Give them a taste and see if you need some sugar.  I use brown sugar because it has more taste.  The Honey Crisp were so sweet they didn't need any sugar, even for my sweet tooth.  I also add some cinnamon, but that can be left out too.

Sterilize your jars, I use pint jars because that's the size that works for my family.  Fill jars with hot applesauce, leaving 1/2 inch of head space.   Put on lids (that were in boiled water for 5 min) and process in boiling water for 15 mins (20 for qt jars).

Peaches are nearly as easy.  I didn't make any this year, but I'll share my recipe anyway. 
Scald peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds.  Cool quickly in cold water and peel off skin.  Either slice or halve the peaches (as you wish).  Meanwhile, have your choice of syrup ready.  I do it 'old school' and use a heavy syrup just like when I was a kid.

  Here's a chart so you can chose yourself:

Light:      5 3/4 c water and 1 1/2 c sugar
Medium:     5 1/4 c water and 2 1/4 c sugar
Heavy:      5 c water and 3 1/4 c sugar

Boil sugar and water together.  Add peaches and boil again for 3 minutes.  Pack into hot, clean jars.  Add additional syrup to cover.  Leave 1/2 inch headroom.   Process in boiling water for 20 minutes (pints) or 25 minutes (quarts).

A delicious bit of summer in the middle of winter.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Green Tomato Salsa

Here's another "green tomato" inspired recipe!

Green Tomato Salsa...

it's a different take on salsa, good on meat or just with some tortilla chips!

You will need:
7 cups of chopped, cored green tomatoes
2 cups worth of red onions, diced
4-5 jalapeno's (a few more if you LOVE heat!!)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice, (roughly 4-5 limes)
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

-Firstly get your jars ready...this recipe will make enough salsa to fill 6 250 ml jars, get them on the stove & sterilized.  Bring tomatoes, onion, peppers, garlic and lime juice to a boil in a large stainless steel pot.  Boil for 5 minutes.  Get your jars and fill, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace.  Put on your lids and screw bands, and boil in a water bath canner for 15 minutes.   Take them out and place on a level surface!

That's it!  What a delightful thing to do with your green tomatoes!
xo maureen

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Homemade Pizza Sauce!

The tomatoes have been abundant this year.  Here's a great thing to do with the bounty...make some homemade pizza sauce!  I know our family has pizza at least once every few weeks...this is a great alternative to store bought!

You will need:
25-28 tomatoes
2 large onions, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp basil
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp celery seed
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp summer savory

-Peel and puree tomatoes...I used my food processor to puree.  Put them aside in a very large bowl. 
Mince your onions and garlic.  Put your olive oil in a deep sauce pan and saute onions and garlic until translucent.  Add tomato puree and the rest of the ingredients.  Stir well to blend and bring to a boil.  Turn down to low head and simmer for 1.5-2hrs to reduce and thicken, (or longer if need be).  Pour into freshly steralized, hot jars.  Put in a water bath canner for 25 min. (250ml size).

This recipe yielded 13-250ml jars.

Oh, I know we'll be SO grateful to have this in the pantry on pizza night!

xo maureen

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fruit Relish from Fletchington Farms!

I'd like to give a BIG welcome to a "real life" friend and fellow homeschooler Paula!  Go check out her blog at Fletchington Farms!  This gal is a real life homesteader...she farms, cooks, sews, knits, preserves...truly an inspiration!  

This next recipe is very special to me. It’s one of the very few recipes I have that I know my Great Grandma used to make. I have her old cook book but who knows which ones she used. This Fruit Relish
was made every year and my Grandma still makes it, and now I do too.
Not too many people make fruit relish at home, but up here is seems to be more popular. Up here they tend to call it Chili Sauce, which I find confusing because I think chili sauce is more like ketchup in consistency (like Heinz Chili Sauce). Where as my Fruit Relish still has all its parts visible. Start this recipe early in the morning.  You don’t have to babysit it, but it takes a while.

Fruit Relish
*recipe says 8 qts, but it seems to change every year

24 large tomatoes, you want tomatoes to be the majority of the ingredients
6 peaches
6 pears
6 apples
6 onions
2 red and green peppers
1/2 c pickling spice
2 T salt
3 c white sugar
4 c vinegar

-Peel and dice everything. You want the pieces no larger than 1/2 inch. Tie the pickling spice into a cheesecloth bag. Mix ALL the ingredients into a large pan/pot. Let stand for 3 hours. Then simmer, uncovered, until thick. My recipe says 2 hours, but I have never had it ready that quickly. I simmer over a fairly low temperature that way I don’t have to worry about sticking and burning.  You want it thick but with plenty of liquid to fill the jars -hope that makes sense.

Pour into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-1/4 inch headroom. Seal and process in a hot water bath for 20 minutes.

How to Peel Fruits Easily:

-Bring a large pot of water to boil. Put in a few fruit you want to peel, sometimes it’s easier if you cut a X in the bottom. Let sit in the water a few seconds then carefully lift out and set aside for a couple of minutes. If you are not cooking the fruit, put it into a cold water bath to stop the cooking. If you are using the fruit for
something like fruit relish, the cold water is unnecessary.


Green Chili Sauce...

I'm starting to have tomato impatience...the darn things just won't ripen, (and I've heard it said from many a farming folk in this Valley of ours that I'm not alone)!
So...what's an impatient girl like me to do?  Bring on the Bernardin Home Preserving Bible, (er, I mean book).

You will need:
18 cups cored and chopped tomatoes
3 onions, chopped
3 large celery stalks, chopped, (I used 5 med sized ones)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 hot red pepper, finely chopped
3 cups white vinegar
2 1/2 cups lightly packed brown vinegar
4 1/2 tsp pickling salt
4 1/2 tsp pickling spices, (tied in a cheesecloth bag)

-Combine all the vegetables, vinegar, brown sugar and salt in a large stainless steel saucepan...add your pickling spice mixture which you have lovingly tied in a cheesecloth bundle.
Now bring it all to a roaring boil, stirring frequently for a few minutes.  Then bring down the temp and boil gently for 3 hours or so, (until mixture reaches desired consistency)...stirring occasionally, (to prevent scorching).  Discard cheesecloth bag.  Put into freshly sterilized jars, (250 or 500 ml sized are best).  Put on lids and screw bands and put in a water bath canner.  Can 15 minutes for the 250 ml sized or 20 minutes for the 500 ml sized.  Remove jars and place on a level surface for 12-24 hours.  Label and store in a cool, dark place!

*I think this sauce would be great served on rice, or added as a sauce for a stirfry!  It's not too spicy, but really seems to have a unique flavour!  Although it did take a long time to make, it really wasn't much work after the chopping was done!

It yielded 10-250ml sized jars...not too bad for an evening of canning!

xo maureen

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Canning Adventures with Simplicity Mom!

Woohoo!  Our first guest post...welcome to the delightful Stephanie G from Simplicity Mom
Please go and check out her blog and her journey towards living more simply and sustainably! 
Here's the post:
I think it's safe to say we're getting this home canning thing down. I'm still nervous about the pressure canner. I just know it's going to explode and take me out. But I can practically water bath can with eyes shut. Not only is it a practical way to save what we reap but it provides a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction. Plus, hubby usually helps and we have a good time together in the kitchen, sort of like a "date night" over boiling water and bubbling fruits and vegetables.

Ever the doomer, Hubby likes to point out that to be a well rounded, sustainable and prepared family, we should explore other food preservation techniques. He's not a pessimist per se....more, he sees the direction the world is headed and believes that we should be as prepared as possible for what may come. It's a good combo: he's a survivalist, I'm an environmentalist and proponent for simple living....we're getting prepared, treading lightly on the earth and becoming happier people in the process! Anyway,Hubby thinks that at some point in time, there may not be canning supplies to be had. Whether flood, or famine or whatever, what happens if we can't get canning lids? How would we preserve our food? Aside from buying out the stores, we have turned to the book Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning. This book details food preservation old school style. We're talking drying, lactic fermentation, alcohol, vinegar and oils. Any of these methods can be used to save your harvest and you don't need canning lids or electricity.

The first experiment was radishes. I've begun to look at radishes like I look at zucchini. Tasty for the first couple weeks and then you are so overrun you don't know what to do with them. Hubby decided he would used lactic fermentation to preserve them. He filled the jars with clean, trimmed radishes, occasionally adding salt and packing them down tightly. Thinking the radishes might be bland, he tossed in a couple of cloves of raw garlic for good measure. Then, he covered them with boiling salted water and put them in the pantry to do their thing.

All was well for few days. The water had turned a lovely pink color and the radishes bobbed happily in their brine. I don't quite remember when I started noticing the smell. I would catch faint wafts of something I couldn't quite put my finger on every time I opened the pantry. Then, after about two weeks, I came in the house after a morning of errand running and when I breezed by the pantry, I was overcome by the pungent stench of something rotting. I tore the pantry apart expecting to find a moldy potato or a dead rodent. But no. I took one whiff of those jars of radishes and nearly passed out. I didn't even save the jars. I threw all six of them in the trash, unopened. Lesson learned. Radishes are best eaten fresh, straight from the garden. Save the lactic fermentation for something else!

After the radish disaster, you would understand why I might be hesitant to try any more of these "stone age" preservation techniques. However, we had a sizable carrot crop which we harvested so as to make room for fall plantings and not a lot of freezer space. So....hubby decided we should try preserving them in oil. The carrots were scrubbed, trimmed and sliced. The spears were blanched in vinegar, packed loosely into jars, sprinkled with herbs and spices and covered with olive oil. That's it. And though I was skeptical, they are the BEST carrots I have ever eaten. They are supposed to cure for couple of weeks but they are already bursting with flavor. I've never seem my kids eat so many carrots in one sitting! Really. I'm not a big carrot fan but these would be great as an appetizer, chopped in a salad or straight out the jar. And work was minimal. No hot boiling pots, no timers....easy peasy.

As happy as I am that the carrots were so much more successful than the radishes, I still think the classic canned good is my preferred method of preservation. We will continue to experiment but just in case....I think I'm stocking up on jars and lids!! 


*Thank you Simplicity Mom!
I know I'll be checking out that book for sure!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sundried Tomatoes in Oil!!!!

Every year I plant WAYYYYYYY too many cherry tomatoes and mini plum tomatoes!
Last year I harvested them, dried them and froze them, but to be completely honest with you, I wasn't inspired often to head down to the freezer to get them out. 
Then I read about a new way of preserving oil!
So, here's how I did mine.

Start by cutting them into smaller pieces.  For the plum tomatoes I cut them into 3 slices, for the smaller cherry tomatoes I cut them in half.  You can also use larger tomatoes, just make sure you cut them into thin slices.  Put them in a bowl and marinate with some olive oil and salt.  I used about 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 Tbsp of sea salt.  Let it sit for 15 min to overnight.

Spread your tomatoes on a dehydrator sheet...and put your dehydrator on about 100 degrees for approximately 18 hours, or until your tomatoes are sufficiently dry, (you want them very very dry).  You can also dehydrate them in an oven on low temperature

This is what your dried tomatoes should look like.

Using a freshly steralized jar, put in your tomatoes and some sprigs of rosemary, basil and oregano.  Cover it all up with olive oil and keep it in the fridge indefinately!

*I would recommend using organic olive oil if you can

This recipe is loosely inspired by "RAW...the Uncook Book" by Juliano.
(he recommends putting in a clove of garlic, but my fear of botulism prevents me from doing this)!
If you're into raw food it's a great, colourful uncook book that I would highly recommend.

Happy preserving and putting away!
xo maureen