Saturday, August 28, 2010

persevering to preserve

still slowly working away at canning here folks. I've got one (hopefully only one!) batch of jam left, then i've got lots of juice to make....   I also _hope_ to get the chance to can some apple pie filling (children permitting!) as well as do up some pickles... if i can get my hands on pickling cukes. No, i didn't plant any this year.

does anyone know of a locally set up bartering group/ co-op?  i'm just curious to see if there's anything like that available in my province, as i'd love to be able to do more bartering...

and now, a recipe for you!

blueberry-crabapple jelly on to cook!

simple Crabapple Berry Jelly

crabapples: at least 8 cups
berries: at least 3 cups ((note: i've tried blueberries, hawthorn berries and chokecherries, but try anything you like!)
sugar: 7 1/2 cups
2 TBS lemon juice
pectin: liquid type, one pouch

  a full rolling boil

Place washed crabapples in a large pot. Add water until fruit is _almost_ covered (just a few spots sticking out) Bring to a boil, and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the fruit is cooked through. put fruit in a strainer or jelly bag over a large bowl. Allow it to drain at least 4 hours, or overnight ((note: i tend to press/squeeze the pulp, as you'll get more juice, but you won't have a crystal clear end product. however... i don't care if it's clear or not!)

Repeat exact above instructions with your second fruit, into a second bag/sieve and bowl. (depending on the fruit, it can take anywhere from 5 minutes to nearly an hour to cook through. check frequently!)

as the cooking doesn't take long, prepare your canning equipment, and have it COMPLETELY ready before you start!
In a clean large pot measure 3 cups crabapple juice and 2 cups berry juice. if you are short on one, make it up with the other. if you run out of both, you can add as much as 1/2 cup plain water.
add the sugar and lemon juice
heat on high, and bring to a full rolling boil.
Add your pouch of pectin. bring back to a full rolling Boil. BOIL ONE FULL MINUTE!
take off the heat. continue to stir constantly for about 3 minutes.
pour into canning jars, and can in hot water bath for 10 minutes.
makes about 8 - 250ml jars

 yummy jelly!

note: this recipe is an adaptation of the crabapple jelly recipes found in both major brands of liquid pectin.
for more detailed canning instructions, purchase a good canning book, or try online.

one source is:  (though there are better sites for basic info, i happen to use the bernardin canning recipe book, and i love it)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

going nutty

over the weekend,  i read a post from a very interesting blog, the foraging family. they were discussing hazelnuts, and harvesting thereof. Now, just the day before, i had picked what i had told might be chestnuts, and a bit of stem in order to identify them. Hubby identified them as American Hazelnuts. Nice. I then went online to try and figure out when to pick said nuts. everything i could figure out said 'soon' so...  this weekend, i took little girl out for a short jaunt to go picking what nuts we could find. (with our poor weather, most crops were sparse, at best) 

little girl in front of a hazelnut bush

nuts ripening on the bush. the reddish leaf tone made it easy to spot other bushes amongst all the other shrubs

unidentified berries. anyone have any idea?

more unidentified fruiting plantlife. this one is a climber of some sort. can't figure out what it is though...

our 'bounty'....  perhaps 4 cups of husks... maybe a cup of nuts still in the shell?

a big difference in nut sizes. some were tiny, some were huge... and it didn't seem to correspond with bush size either. also, the pollination was obviously poor, as while most of the nuts i picked were singles or twins, a couple were four or five on one stem.
the instructions i have suggest finishing ripening them indoors before shelling... so i'll do just that. i know some of the nuts have holes in them, but i'm hoping to have enough to share a nice taste in a week or so.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

more preserving

today i'm going to show you one of the ways I'm processing the copious amount of apples available to me (thanks mom!)

this has got to be the fasted method out there, and allows me to make 'orchard fresh' pies, apple sauce, etc, even in the middle of winter... and without buying fruit from the store!

step one: pick some apples

step two: rinse the apples (i just use cool water)

step three: prepare a large bowl with water and about 1/4 cup of lemon juice. also prepare cookie sheets with waxed paper or parchment paper.

step four: slice and core apples, dropping slices into bowl of lemon water (peeling is an option i don't do, as the skins are thin on this particular type of apple. HOWEVER you can choose to peel them if you desire)

step five: drain apples by the handful, and spread them out in a single layer on the prepared trays

step six: repeat until you run out of apples, or space on the trays (or space in your freezer!)

step seven: place trays in freezer overnight, or until frozen solid

step eight: remove apples from the trays, place them in freezer-safe storage bags, and label with date and contents. These should keep at least 3 months (i end up using mine throughout the winter and following spring).

to use: substitute in place of fresh apples for crisps, pies, and sauces.  Also makes decent teething chews for toddlers (all the normal cautions apply).
   note: just take out as much as you need, keeping the rest of the bag frozen. if defrosting before cooking, DO NOT discard liquid (juice) as you'll need it (if you drain it off, the apples will be too dry)!

hopefully EVERYONE can preserve some apples now. it doesn't take long, and it is a great way to save some of that harvest of apples from the birds!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

preserving your produce....

Well, i'm in the midst of a canning and preserving craze right now.  It's completely appropriate for the season, fortunately, otherwise i'd look even crazier than normal ;)

So far in the craziness i have put up:
3 batches of apple butter (one of them raspberry crabapple)
2 batches of crabapple juice
2 batches of apple sauce
one batch of blueberry jam
one batch of blueberry syrup

and that's over about the last week

on today's docket is/has been:
rack crabapple mead into carboy
make juices for jelly (crabapple, chokecherry, blueberry, hawthorn)
make jam from said juice
freeze apples for future use
go pick hazelnuts
make and can apple-chokecherry juice
make pear jam

and any spillover that doesn't get done, gets done tomorrow!

and now, for a few pictures of the ongoing insanity:
the crabapple cyser just before being racked (looks a bit nasty, but smells divine!)
chokecherries (sparse this year, but huge!)

cooked berries hanging for jelly making

mmmm crabapples....

crabs hanging for jelly

that's all for now folks. gotta get back and squeeze my jelly bags (yeah, i know... but my patience is short at best)

i'll update with more pics etc again in a day or two!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Catching up 1.0 - sheep and fibres

Well, i got out of the house yesterday.... mom and the 4 of us went to the 'gathering of the flock' sheep and fibre event in Neepawa.  it was the first year for the event, and considering the crumby weather, i thought the turnout was pretty good.  the monkeys were pretty good, and i was able to look around at everything and buy a copy of Fiber Gathering straight from the author (her blog is here)! it looks like a pretty informative book, even though it's geared towards american festivals. i definately want to try making some hand-dyed yarn, like that in the book.  I also had a chance to briefly chat with her and one other spinner  (whose name i completely forgot. sorry!) about wheels, fibres and the like.... it was actually pretty nice to talk to other like-minded folk.

During our chat, i brought up fermented suint wool cleaning...  i'm currently testing the method. i'm not sure i 'love' it, but i've got a small section drying to test out how well it works. we shall see.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

a quick update

hey folks. this is a photo-free and very brief post. i just thought i'd update everyone on what's going on with me and mine. lets see....

Moving - gone from our old place, moved back to near my parents. Whether this is a short-term move or a long-term one will be determined primarily by where hubby gets a job. i kinda hope he gets something close by enough to commute, as i am NOT looking foreward to moving again.  Still living half out of boxes as we slowly unpack the many too many things we own.

Vikings - We had our big event of the year in Gimli, MB. it was fantastic, as always, and had a few hiccups, also as always. Daughter had a stomach flu for the first half, and Son decided now was a good time to go on a nursing spree (whether it was from stress, the heat, or a growth spurt, i'm still not sure), so i spent half my day sitting like a lump with him. The other half ended up being spent doing testing, as Hubby, Mom and I all decided to try to become testers for our Viking association (this will allow us to test others, and generally improve all the reenactor's knowledge and abilities when it comes to the 'living history' side of being a viking reenactor) Surprisingly, we all passed. Now i just have to do a few more things (like finish my second outfit) and i can officially accept the position. 

cooking and brewing - We just bottled our most recent batch of Metheglen (that's spiced mead) and we're waiting for the second carboy to clarify so that we can finish it up too (i expect it to be at least a month before it's done)  Also, just last night i started a 5 gallon batch of what i'm calling Rescue crab cyser (cyser is apple mead). hopefully it will turn out nicely... it's just waiting for hubby to get home with some yeast
In the next day or two i'm hoping to put up some of the baking apples (freezing them) and make some apple butter out of the crabs...  Mom's garden is looking fantastic. i can hardly wait for the ground cherries and tomatillos to ripen... not to mention all the tomatoes!

The weather has been super-hot and sticky around here, but as i look out the window, i see a pretty dark cloud mass to the south... could be we're in for a storm this afternoon. guess i should check the weather report and find out if their best guesses coincide with mine...  :D

as a side note, i've been following (in a broad sense) the problems the US government (and individuals) are having financially. Knowing how intertwined the Canadian government is with the US, i can't say i have much hope that if there is a crash/slide/downfall or other economic/political breakdown in the states, we will get by it anywhere NEAR scott free. You can, of course, look at everything going on and make your own mind on what you think is going to happen, but as for me? well..... lets just say i'm hedging my bets, and i plan on making sure my canned foods cupboard is well stocked this summer.

Take care to one and all, and keep your eyes and ears open!

(expect a photo post of some sort soon... once i unpack my camera cable!)