Archived entries for preserving food

Slow Cooked Apple Butter

Its apple season again! Now that I don’t have the dread of the return to school, I love the fall! Its all about apples, pumpkins, crisp mornings and eating lots of food to “bulk” up for the winter. I got a good 10 lbs to pack on so I can survive my winter hibernation. Lets get started. Just kidding guys, this recipe won’t bulge your bellies as long as moderation is kept in mind AND you can now enjoy your apples GLUTEN FREE.**


apples are always gluten free, dummy.

Slow Cooked Apple Butter
makes 12 pins

20-25 lbs apples, skinned and cored
6 c. apple cider or juice (or 4 c. water)
4 c. sugar
1 Tbs cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp all spice

You can use whatever apples you want for this, but a sweet apple is best. The softer it is, like a Mac will cook faster. If you use something hard like honey crisp, you will just have to cook it a bit longer and use a blender to help break down the pulp. But just go with your bad apple self. There are no RULES.

Wash, skin and core your apples.

Put apples and cider in large 5 gallon cooking pot and bring to a boil. If you don’t have a pot that big, get one. If you can’t get one, use two pots. Or half the recipe. Or you can choose to go to another recipe where they don’t do everything in bulk.

Cook apples down on medium heat until they begin to form apple sauce, about 1-2 hours.

Add sugar and stir until sugar is melted. Add spices and stir. Bring heat down to low and cook uncovered to allow excess water to evaporate. Cook until the apple butter has thickened. Joy of cooking describes consistency as: sheeting from a spoon and suggest for testing, “putting a small quantity on a plate. When no rim of liquid separates around the edges of the butter, it is done.”

For my part, I cook for about 6 hours after I add the sugar, stirring occasionally to keep from burning to the bottom of the pot. I let it cool overnight and when I test it in the morning, its good to go.

Place in sterile jars and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Freezing Blueberries

Its blueberry season! You won’t get as tasty blueberries any other time of year, so make hay while the sun shines.  Be a good little ant and store some food for the winter.  Here’s the best simple way to ensure quality in your frozen berries.

Freezing Blueberries.

1. Wash berries and drain until nearly dry.

2.  Lay berries flat on a cookie sheet.

3.  Place in freezer.  Freeze for 24 hours.

4. Remove from freezer, remove berries from trays and put into freezer bags.  Mark date and put back into freezer.

And, done.

Strawberry Freezer Jam With Honey

I’ve been wanting to try making Jam without so much sugar.  The best natural substitute for sugar seems to be honey, however, honey is very expensive.  Recently I was given a bunch of honey form the hives on my in-laws property.  Finding myself honey rich, I decided to finally try out a natural jam.  I found this simple recipe and decided to give it a try.

Strawberry Freezer Jam with Honey
makes 4-5 pints

  • 4 c. crushed strawberries
  • 2 1/2 c. honey
  • 1 box of Sure Jell
  • 4 Tbs cornstarch
  • 1 c. water

Wash, stem and crush strawberries using food processor or potato smasher. Measure out and pour 4 cups of strawberries into a bowl and set aside.

In a pan, mix honey and sure jell.  Mix water and cornstarch until cornstarch is completely dissolved.  Add water/cornstarch mix to honey.  Bring to a rolling boil.  Allow to boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Mix into strawberry mixture until well blended.

Pour strawberry jam into clean jars, leaving 1-2 inches of head space to allow for jam to expand during freezing.  Allow to stand at room temp. for 24 hours.  Cover and place in freezer.
____________

I think this recipe turned out very tasty.  Its a bit runny for a jam, but since I use my freezer jam more often as a sweeter for plain yogurt, I don’t mind mine being more syrupy.  I think one might try perhaps adding a few tablespoons more of cornstarch to achieve a better consistency.

 

Pickled Pears

I keep finding seckel pears at the market this year.   Thora loves them as children love all mini sized foods, so we’ve been buying them a lot.

This last batch, I decided on a whim, to pickle.  Why not?  They’re so cute, they’ll look even cuter stuffed in a jar with spices and a sweet brine in my pantry.

I’m using seckel pears, but you could try any pear cut into sections.

Pickled Pears

  • 3-4 lbs pears

Brine:

  • 4 c. vinegar
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. honey

Per pint jar (double for quart):

  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 thin slice of lemon peel

Wash pears and cut in half.

Mix brine ingredients and bring to a boil.

Stuff jars with spices and lemon.  Stuff jars with sliced pears.  Pour boiling brine over pears.

If canning, process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Allow pears to sit for 4-6 weeks before eating.

 

 

Pickled Green Tomatoes

Pickled green tomatoes are sooooo good.  A serious party pleaser as well as gourmet garnish to spruce up your next hot dog night.  They are as easy to make as they are to eat.  Yum! Who doesn’t love pickles?  Enough talking, lets pickle.

Pickled Green Tomatoes

  • 10 lbs small green tomatoes
  • 5 c. vinegar
  • 5 c. water
  • 1/2 c. salt
  • garlic
  • mustard seed
  • dill seed
  • crushed red pepper

Prepare tomatoes: Wash and remove stems.  You may want to cut large tomatoes in halves or quarters.  I find its best to use small ones you can leave whole.

Prepare canner: Start enough water to cover your jars in canning pot.  It usually takes a while for this amount of water to boil, so I usually start this first thing.

Make brine: Add water, vinegar and salt to pot and bring to a boil.

Prepare jars: Wash and clean jars.  Heat up with hot water to temper jars for brine. (Don’t skip this step or you might have a bunch of broken glass all over when you add your brine.) Boil jar seals to prepare for sealing.

Stuff jars: Fill jars with spices and garlic

per pint jar (double for quarts):

  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp whole mustard
  • 1/2 tsp dill seed
  • 1 clove of garlic

Stuff jars as full as possible with tomatoes.  Make sure nothing is sticking up above rim of jar.

Add brine: Pour boiling brine into jars leaving half inch head space.  Wipe edges of jar to remove any materials which might impede lids from sealing.  Seal using boiled seal and screw on lid.  Screw lid on tight.

Process: Process in rapidly boiling water: pint jars for 5 minutes, quarts for 10.  Beginning timing when water in canner comes back to a rolling boil.  When time is up, remove from water and allow to cool on counter top.  Do not jostle jars as it can impede a proper seal.

Once jars are cooled and sealed, mark with contents and date.  Put in your pantry and feel good about a job well done!

 

 

Tomato Juice

Not only is homemade tomato juice awesome and delicious, its a great way to get rid of ulgy damaged tomatoes.  I usually make this last, after processing my whole tomatoes and marinara, so I can use any excess juice or scraps from the other tomatoes.  Nothing makes for an amazing spontaneous brunch party then a quick bloody mary with your own juice.  Let’s get juicy.

Tomato Juice

  • Tomatoes, juiced
  • optional: salt

Core tomatoes and remove any bruised or damaged bits.  Place tomatoes in a pot and simmer on the stove top for about 20-30 minutes to soften up and allow for easy juicing.  Pour into a food mill to remove skin and seeds. If you are lucky enough to have a juicer, you can just use that and skip the simmering step.  However, I would still suggest running the pulp waste through a food mill to get as much juice as you can out of the tomatoes.

Bring tomato juice back up to a boil.  If its a bit watery, you can cook it down until you get the flavor you want.  Salt to taste.

Wash enough glass canning jars needed for tomato juice.  Temper by dipping in the boiling water of your canning pot.  Sterilize canning lids in boiling water.

Pour tomato juice into hot jars Wipe edges of jar to remove any materials which might impede lids from sealing.  Top with sterilized canning lid and ring

Process in boiling water canner 15 minutes for pints and quarts.  Beginning timing when water in canner comes back to a rolling boil.  When time is up, remove from water and allow to cool on counter top.  Do not jostle jars as it can impede a proper seal.

Once jars are cooled and sealed, mark with contents and date.  Put in your pantry and feel good about a job well done!

Easy Roasted Marinara

Have a ready to go marinara in the pantry is one of the best time savers for an easy weeknight pasta dinner.  After spending an hour or two skinning tomatoes for canning my whole tomatoes, I very rarely have the patience to do any more putzy work.  I love my roasted marinara, because its super simple and requires very little work.  I just throw a bunch of cored tomatoes into a roasting pan with a few onions, garlic and a bit of spice and slow roast until nicely cooked. Blenderize into a sauce and then can.  EASY!  I’ve blogged about it before, but here’s my general recipe.

Easy Roasted Marinara

  • 10-20 lbs tomatoes
  • 2-3 onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • head of garlic, husks removed
  • 1-2 Tbs dried thyme
  • 1-2 Tbs dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Core tomatoes and remove any bruised or damaged areas.  Cut into large chunks.  Mix ingredients together in 1 or 2 large roasters. Lightly coat in oil.

Place in oven and roast 3-5 hours.  Mix occasionally.  I roast until excess tomato juice has been reduced and there is a light crust of blackened tomatoes/onions.  Remove from oven and allow to cool down enough to touch.

Start water boiling in your canning pot.  Heat enough water to cover jars 1″ when placed in canner.  Allow for water displacement of filled jars.

Using an immersion blender or a food processor, blend until you a desired consistency.  Season to taste. Bring marinara back up to a boil on stove top.

Wash enough clean glass jars for your marinara.  Dip in boiling water to temper glass for boiling marinara.  Sterilize canning lids in boiling water.  Pour marinara in jars leaving 1/2″ head space.  Wipe edges of jar to remove any materials which might impede lids from sealing. Remove air bubbles from jar. I usually use a chopstick. Top with sterilized canning lid and ring.

Process in boiling water canner. 40 minutes for pints. 45 minutes for quarts. Beginning timing when water in canner comes back to a rolling boil. When time is up, remove from water and allow to cool on counter top. Do not jostle jars as it can impede a proper seal.

Once jars are cooled and sealed, mark with contents and date. Put in your pantry and feel good about a job well done!

Easy Canned Whole Tomatoes

Whole tomatoes are one of my top pantry staples.  As I spoke about in my last post, rising concern for health risks with store bought canned tomatoes has made it even more important to can my own.  We usually reserve the more meaty Italian plum/roma varieties for canning whole, although you can use any type.  We’re going to do fresh pack which means the tomatoes will not be cooked first and will be processed with boiling water. (You can also use tomato juice). Its an easy process, in terms of skill, but can be a bit time consuming.  However its worth it. So, lets get going.

Canned Whole Tomatoes: Fresh Pack in Water

  • Tomatoes
  • salt
  • lemon juice
  • canning jars and lids

Wash and rinse tomatoes clean.

In a pot of boiling water, blanch tomatoes for 30-60 seconds.  If you want your tomatoes to retain their shape, don’t over boil, as it will make your tomatoes become mushy.  However, it doesn’t really matter if they get mushy, and it sort of helps them fit in the jars better.  Its merely a matter of your personal aesthetics.

After blanching, use a knife to remove the core.  Remove skins.  They should peel right off without use of a knife.

Boil some fresh water for filling jars, 1 cup for every pint, 2 cups for every quart.  In your canning pot, begin boiling water to prepare for processing.

Wash enough glass canning jars needed for tomatoes.  Temper by dipping in the boiling water of your canning pot.  Sterilize canning lids in boiling water.

To prepare jars, fill each pint jar with: (Double for quarts)

  1. 1 Tbs lemon juice
  2. 1/2 tsp canning or kosher salt
  3. Stuff as full as possible with skinned tomatoes
  4. Fill jars with boiling water  leaving 1/2″ head space.

Wipe edges of jar to remove any materials which might impede lids from sealing.  Remove air bubbles from jar.  I usually use a chopstick.  Top with sterilized canning lid and ring

Process in boiling water canner.  40 minutes for pints. 45 minutes for quarts.  Beginning timing when water in canner comes back to a rolling boil.  When time is up, remove from water and allow to cool on counter top.  Do not jostle jars as it can impede a proper seal.

Once jars are cooled and sealed, mark with contents and date.  Put in your pantry and feel good about a job well done!

 

Healthy Home Canned Tomatoes

Its tomato season!  With all the information coming out in the past years about how purchased canned tomatoes contain BPA,  which increases one’s risk factor for heart disease, obesity and diabetes, I feel like its more important then ever to can my own tomatoes.

Luckily, my parents always have a huge garden and can send me home with a few bushels.  This year, I think I made off with about 70 lbs of tomaters!

There are so many different things you can do with tomatoes, and each recipe is super easy.  So, whether you have your own tomato plants, or you can get a good deal at a farmers or produce market, you may want to think about canning your own to increase your health and happiness!

I’ll be canning mine as juice, roasted marinara, pickled, and whole.  Over the next four posts, I will share my quick and easy techniques.  So lets get canning!

Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups: Raspberry Leather

Remember those super fun fruit snacks your loving and doting mother would pack in your school lunches?  Yes, I am talking about the much beloved fruit roll-up.  (Ok, I am probably dating myself here, but…) In the 80′s this was the jam.  Or dried jam really.  Well, if you wish to mix a bit of the nostalgia of your youth with the staunch DIYness of your hipster adulthood.  This post is for you.  This recipe is super simple, easy and will make you look very green and down homey.  Ok, lets make fruit roll-ups.

First though, I have to bullshit a bit about my life.  Anywho, for a few glorious days this summer, I was raspberry rich, after scoring cases of organic raspberries for $3 a piece.  However, the reason they were this cheap is because they were right on the verge of going bad.  Obviously.  So, as I am a total hedonist.  Nothing but 6 cases would do.  I used 4 up making freezer jam.  So, that leaves 2 to contend with.  What is a good way to make a good raspberry last?  Dry it into fruit leather!   Lets do it.

Raspberry Fruit Leather

  • Fresh Raspberries (or another berry of your choice)- at least 2-3 pints per tray.
  • honey (or another sweetener of your choice)
  • cheesecloth (optional)

Really the only ingredient which is mandatory is the fruit.  All else is up to you.

Short version: 

Process fruit until smooth.  Optional: Remove seeds with a cheesecloth.  Optional: Sweeten with the sweetener of your choice, honey, sugar, what have you.  Line baking sheets with syran wrap.  Pour raspberry mixture in and dry in oven for 12-24 hours at about 100 degrees.

Longer Version:

Here is the same basic recipe with a few more notes and directives for the worry wort in you.

Process the fruit: Crush your berries.  A food processor works best because you want to pulverize the berries and make your mixture as liquid as possible.  If you don’t have a food processor, a blender works well too.

Remove Seeds (Optional): I get sick of picking raspberry seeds out of my teeth, so I am option to remove as many seeds as possible.  To do this, simply line a bowl with cheesecloth, pour in your raspberry mixture and squeeze the pulp out. The cheesecloth will catch most of the seeds.

Sweeten To Your Taste (Optional): Depending on the flavor of your berries, you might want to add a bit of sweetness.  For this batch I added some honey to sweeten.  I suggest starting with 1 tsp a time, stir and taste.  Keep adding until it matches your mood.

Dry: Now to get the sweet roll-up feel, line a few baking sheets (depending on the amount of raspberries you are working with) with Syrian wrap.  Make sure to cover bottom and sides.  Pour raspberry mixture into the pans, so that the bottom is covered uniformly with a thin layer of raspberries.  You want it to be thick enough to cover the whole tray, but not too thick, as it will take longer for it to dry out.  I suggest going for thinner over thicker.  Shake/jiggle trays to get an even consistency.

Dry in oven at 100 degrees. If you have an oven with a warmer setting this is often around 100.  If you are like me and your lowest setting is 250, I suggest preheating the oven to 250.  And then turning it off when you put your trays in.  12-24 hours at 100 degrees will do the trick, depending on the humidity.  I was making my leather during a crazy heat wave in Chicago, so I didn’t worry about the oven temp.  I stacked them in my oven and allowed them to sit for about 24-48 hours with the oven off the whole time.

Assemble Roll-Ups: Peel syran wrap away from trays.  Roll up and cut into the desired width.  Store in air tight ziplock bags.  They should stay good for 3-6 months.

When you serve them, make sure to tell everyone you ONLY use locally sourced organic raspberries and  locally sourced organic lavender honey.  I don’t care if you really did or not.  I won’t tell.  Its just very important to keep up our obnoxious hipster cred.  That is all.  Have a great day.



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