Tag Archives: canning

Concord Grape Jelly

11 Oct

A few weeks ago, we got a bunch of grapes in our CSA. At first I had no idea what kind they were, and when I took a bite, it was definitely not pleasant. A quick Google search led me to my answer, Concord Grapes.

So what do you do when you get a bunch of Concord Grapes in your CSA? You make Concord Grape Jam, DUH.

I’m telling you, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches will NEVER be the same once you’ve made your own Grape Jam. It’s unreal. It’s magical. It’s the best thing ever. The only sad thing about this jam is that I only was able to make one jar and now it is almost gone. Must.Get.More.Grapes.

The link will have the original recipe which makes about 3-4 jars. The recipe below is enough for 1 pint of jam.

Concord Grape Jam
Recipe from The Hungry Mouse

Ingredients

  • 1lb Concord Grapes
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
Directions
  1. Skin the grapes by pinching one grape between two fingers and grabbing the meat of the grape. Separate the grape skin and the grape meat into 2 different bowls.
  2. Add the skins of the grape to a food processor with half of the sugar and process until liquefied. Grape skins stain EVERYTHING, so be careful, ok?
  3. Combine the pureed skins and the grape meat in a heavy bottomed, medium sized sauce pan. Add the lemon juice and the remaining sugar and stir to combine
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Then reduce to a simmer and let it cook down for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally again and making sure the jam doesn’t burn the bottom of the pan.
  5. Place a small plate in the freezer. Strain the jam using a mesh strainer into a heat proof bowl until just the seeds are left.
  6. Take your plate out of the freezer. Make sure it is cold to the touch. Spoon a small amount of the jam onto the plate and return to the freezer for ONE minute.
  7. Take the plate out of the freezer and hold it on its side. If the jam runs down the plate, return the mixture to the pan and reduce further. Repeat the test until the jam doesn’t slide down the plate.
  8. For a second test, move the jam a little by running your finger from the bottom to the top. If a slight skin forms, then it is done.
  9. Place into sterilized jars and either process in a hot water bath or let them sit to room temperature before putting them in the fridge.

 

 

Freezer Pickles with Carrots

5 Sep

I hope that everyone is enjoying their Labor Day weekend, which is the official end to summer. And it’s also the end of being able to wear white. Which I don’t really understand. But I suppose that’s an issue for another day.

Today, I want to talk about failure.

And success, but first, the failures.

So, many of you don’t know, but I take karate and have since 2007 (yes, I AM a ninja, thankyouverymuch). I took it when I was a kid but I had a lapse of about 8-10 years where I didn’t take it. I’m currently a brown belt, and therefore only one belt stands from me and black belt status. I’m suppose to be maybe probably testing for my black belt next summer, but again, another story for another day.

ANYWAY, to get to the damn point already, this Labor Day weekend was our organization’s tournament. It’s held every two years in a different city, and this year it was held in Boston. So obviously we had to represent. I competed in three different events. Again, if you know me, you know I’m VERY competitive.

My goal for this tournament was to place in each of my events. Sadly, I fell short on all three. I’m pretty sure I tied for 3rd in weapons kata (form) but because they add back the high and low, I ended up in 4th place.

But where I REALLY disappointed myself was in sparring. There were only 4 girls total in my sparring round, so I had a pretty good chance of placing. Well, didn’t I just have to go and screw that up by being disqualified in my first round for low kicks. And I was winning too. Needless to say, I was both rattled and incensed for my second round, and ended up losing that round as well, though fortunately I wasn’t disqualified.

I was pretty upset, needless to say. Even though I could find some comfort that the black belt (I’m pretty sure he is a 2nd or 3rd degree) that gave me my medal called me a great fighter, I was still disappointed in myself. My dojo-mates congratulated me and told me I did great, I just couldn’t shake the feeling of failure. It wasn’t until I had a good cry in the bathroom and came back out to cheer my fellow dojo-mates that I felt better.

Which brings me to failure #2. I’m training for my third half marathon in October, and today was suppose to be my first double digit training run. Well, needless to say, BIG fail. I barely eeked out 6 miles. I’d never had a run go that bad before, and I still haven’t decided if it was due to me not eating enough, not drinking enough, or just not having my head in the game.

Now so this blog post isn’t TOTALLY depressing, I’m going to tell you something I did that was NOT a failure. That was these freezer pickles. Let’s just say that making these pickles were stupid easy. You basically just mix the cucumbers in salt, let it sit, add the vinegar and salt solution, stick it in a zip lock bag, throw it in the freezer for the night, take it out and let it thaw, and BAM, delicious pickles.

At the end of the karate tournament all the black belts that are Needan and up (2nd degree & up) get to do their competition. My Sensei was among them. Sadly he did not place in any of his events, but that’s not to say he didn’t do amazing. Because he did. But I think watching him not win gave me some perspective. I’ve only been a brown belt for about 4 months, I’m pretty sure all of the other girls in my events had been a brown belt for at least a year. I didn’t get last place (well, except for in sparring, but there were only 4 girls anyway). My husband told me I looked scary angry when I was sparring.

Perhaps I was being a bit ambitious with my goals of placing. It was my first tournament in about 10 years. And even though my failed run from today reminded me again of my failure at the tournament, I just have to realize that crap like this happens, you have to live and get over it, and then just kick ass the next time.

Which I plan on doing.

So uh, if you see my on the streets, I wouldn’t mess with this running ninja.

Unless I’m giving out these delicious pickles.

 

Freezer Pickles
From the Joy of Pickling

Ingredients

  • 2.5lbs pickling cucumbers, thinly sliced 
  • 2 tbsp pickling salt (fine grained salt)
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1.5 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
Directions
– In a large bowl, toss cucumbers slices with salt and let them stand at room temperature for 2-3 hours. Drain
– Mix the remaining ingredients in another bowl and pour the mixture over the cucumbers and mix well. Refrigerate overnight, or at least 8-10 hours.
– Pack the cucumber mixture and liquid in freezer bags or a rigid container and freeze.
– Thaw the pickle in the refrigerator for 8-10 hours before serving it.

 

Daring Cook’s: Apple a Day

14 Sep

I’ve always been intrigued by canning. However, I was also a little terrified. I mean, it seems like there are so many rules you have to abide by and there are so many opportunities for something to go wrong. So I was rather excited and anxious all at the same time when I saw this month’s Daring Cooks challenge which was food preservation and canning. I decided to go with apple butter because it is delicious and I came up with about 25 different ways of using it.

Who doesn't love delicious apples?

I did a search for apple butter and came up with this recipe from Simply Recipes. I halved the recipe since I didn’t want to make a lot of apple butter, and I ended up making about 4 jars with a little more left over. So without further ado, Apple Butter!

The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Apple Butter

Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes

  • 2lbs of apples (I used Fuji)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • Sugar (See below notes)
  • Salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • rind and juice of 1 lemon

Cut the apples into quarters, leaving the skin and core alone. Cut out any damaged parts. Put them into a large pot, add the water and vinegar, and cook until the apples are soft, about 20 minutes. Mash the apples and using a sieve extract as much puree as you can. Use a pestle or something similar to get all the goodness out. Measure the amount of puree and add a 1/2 cup of sugar per cup of puree.

I had about 5 cups so I added 2.5 cups of sugar. Then add the rest of ingredients and taste to make sure it is to your liking. Here comes the part where A LOT of patience is needed. Cook, uncovered, in a large thick-bottomed pot on medium low heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Cook until thick and smooth (about 1-2 hours).

Now onto the canning. I’m kicking myself for not taking pictures but I’ll try to be as specific as possible. First I took my canning equipment and sterilized them by placing everything in a 200 degree oven and baking for 10 minutes. I took some boiling water and submerged the tops of the cans in the boiling water. Then I VERY CAREFULLY poured the delicious butter in. I brought a huge pot of water to boil and using tin foil since I did not have a canning rack, I very carefully submerged the cans into the boiling water, making sure that they did not touch. I let them boil for about 10 minutes and then removed the cans. Within about 5 minutes I heard the beautiful *POP* of the lids being sealed and voila!

I have to admit, it was a lot easier than I ever thought it would be. I can’t wait to use up the delicious apple butter! Look for some upcoming recipes! And I can’t wait to can again!

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