Saturday I had a run in with some fruit at the farmer’s market and ended up with more than could fit in my  smallish fridge.


I found some blueberries, and some lovely ripe yellow apples. I set the apples on the counter in a bowl, and my house started smelling like September…time to throw everything in the pot to jar and fill the pantry.


I mixed blueberries, a package of frozen dewberries, apples, and the juice and zest of two lemons. I added some sugar, but not too much. I simmered the whole thing for about 20 minutes or so, and then let it sit for a few hours. Then I reheated it, and processed the jars in a hot water bath. Image

I am planning on making fruit tarts with pastry cream in the fall and winter. Nothing like opening a can of fruit dump pouring it into a pie shell and calling it homemade. Very easy later on down the line.

a pear tart

February 27, 2011

It is very exciting to turn these…

…into this….

…and this.

Emily and I picked these pears from a tree in my friend Mary’s back yard. They are seckel pears, a small, sweet, and delicate variety! Heli-Claire, my dad and I peeled them and preserved them in maple syrup with brown sugar and lemon juice last fall. Today I made tarts. I love the simplicity of opening a jar of preserved food, and having an almost instant dessert.

Tart crust: a basic pie dough. One recipe of dough makes two tarts.

Press the dough into tart pans and bake until dough is cooked through.

One quart jar of sickle pears preserved in maple syrup.

Reserve juice for boiling down into syrup.

Part of a vanilla bean, one cup cream, 1 T sugar, 1 T cornstarch, 1 T butter. Mixed, heated, and thickened to form a pastry cream.(Enough for one tart)

Layer the pastry cream in a baked tart shell. Place pears artistically on top. Don’t remove stems. (They were lovingly left in tact in the first place…) Drizzle tart with reduced maple syrup pear juice. Serve right away.

honey, pears, and yeast!

November 13, 2010

A few months ago I had an excess of pears and apples, and an interest in making mead. My friend Brenda makes mead, and it is quite yummy! I called her up, and she sent me a box of supplies right away!!

The steps are simple, but they do need to be followed precisely. Sterilize everything within an inch of its life, except for the fruit peels, which contain natural yeasts. Chop up the fruit (I used apples and pears in one batch and pears and lemons in the other), mix with yeast, and stir in a plastic fermenting bucket. Then cap it with an air lock, and let it ferment. I left my bucket in the basement for about 2 months. (No pictures of the first steps…)

Yesterday it was time to start the second step. The racking process. It is my understanding that this process is to rid the mead of sediments. It is done initially to get rid of the fruits, etc., and can be done again at a later time to remove more sediments.

Step one was of course again to sterilize everything! I washed my plastic tubing, my airlocks, a big spoon for scooping out the fruit, and of course, two new glass gallon jugs.

Then it was time to open the fermenting buckets. The smell was sharp and a little yeasty, but not unpleasant. I carefully scooped out all the fruit, which had sparkly consistency, almost carbonated.  There were a few quite rotten looking pieces, but mostly they looked okay.

Next step was to set up the siphoning system. Very simple and effective workings of a plastic tube. I placed the bucket on the counter, and the empty glass jug on the floor, and siphoned the honey colored mead from the top bucket to the bottom. Everything worked well, until I managed to overfill my jar and spill mead all over the floor…

Now the mead is safely in glass fermenting jars, with airlocks in place. Back to the basement for another 6 (or 8, or 10?) months until the mead is ready to be bottled! I tasted the mead as I was siphoning, and it was actually rather pleasant. And the rich honey color of the liquid is lovely to look at!

40 days and counting

November 7, 2010

I was talking to my friend Emily a few days ago and we started discussing baking, and Christmas break, and I remembered that I needed to start another batch of grapefruit wine. I made (and blogged about) this recipe last year, and it turned out so well that I decided to make it again.

It is a recipe from Saving the Season, and originates in Southern France. It is a simple recipe. Place sugar in the bottom of several very large glass jars. Layer fruit on top, pressing down a bit as you go.

Add a little bit of chamomile and vanilla, and top with vodka and wine. Then let it sit for about 4o days before straining into bottles. The jars are mixed a bit and topped off during the first week.

This recipe makes me want to live near citrus trees so badly!!!

green tomato chutney

October 3, 2010

When a recipe calls for 6 pounds of something, I need to realize that it will be big. Now I have a lot of jars of green tomato chutney. Cooked with apples, peppers, brown sugar, red wine vinegar, cumin, hot pepper, and clove.

I started out by slicing and x in the bottom of each tomato. Then I dropped them into boiling water so that the skins would come off easily. They didn’t. If anyone has any tips for removing the skins of green tomatoes, please let me know. I ended up leaving lots of skins on, especially on the tiny ones…I just didn’t have the patience.

While the tomatoes were draining with salt, I prepared the remaining ingredients. Apples, onions, shallots, and garlic. To this mixture I added the tomatoes, red wine vinegar, and salt.

And cooked, stirring frequently for about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, I ground up the spices:cloves, cumin, dried peppers, and yellow mustard powder. I added the spices, to the bubbling chutney, along with sugar, black currants, and more vinegar.

Then I cooked the mixture down and down. For quite a while longer. Til all the color was cooked out…and then jarred it.

three types of crab

September 25, 2010

When I told my mom the other day that I was going to make crab apple jelly, her response was that I could make crab apple syrup by stirring my finger around in sugar water. Hrmph!

I went out and picked some crab apples anyways (with my friend Ayni!), and we brought them home, peeled them, and processed them for jelly. We were debating quite a bit as to whether we should make jam or jelly, or butter, or sauce. I am not too much fan of jelly, as I like the fruit in the product. Most of the recipes that I saw for crab apples however were for jelly, so I decided at least once I would have to make it.

We picked a lot of apples, and had quite a pot of juice after straining the fruit. I split up the juice and sugar into three pots, and added some thyme to one, some rosemary to the second pot, and left the third one plain. Then I set out to boil the liquid (sugar, herbs, and fruit) until the fruit set. I boiled the plain version way too long, and the resulting jelly was rather clumpy.

The thyme jelly was boiled a little bit less (but still too much) and wast moderately clumpy. The rosemary was boiled just right, resluting in a firm-ish looking jelly, with a bit of jiggle to it.

Also, I squeezed the juice bag as I was extracting the juice (NOT RECOMMENDED for state fair competition jellies) so my jelly is cloudy. But I didn’t have to wait for 8-12 hours for all the juice to slowly drip out…

These jars of jam are intended for use with my dad’s savory herb cheese biscuits. I am imagining a layer of butter, and then a thin spread of herbed crab apple jelly!

I wait until it rains to pull the carrots in my garden. For some reason the soil is really hard, and it is nearly impossible to pull carrots out of the dry soil.

I was able to pull a bunch of carrots, purple and orange, and I mixed them with some diakon radish, rice vinegar, salt, sugar and minced pepper to make a quick pickle. I loosely adapted the recipe from The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich.

I chopped the vegetables into little strips and set them aside in a bowl.

Meanwhile, I chopped up several red chiles and mixed them with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. I heated the mixture to melt the sugar, and let it cool before pouring over the veggies. Which I then stuck in a jar in the fridge. They will last up to a week, but are better eaten sooner! I am sure that will be no problem.

pickled okra

August 30, 2010

My dad likes pickled okra. He arranged with a farmer at our farmer’s market to pick a whole bunch of tiny okra (the size that is best for eating too!). If you pick them too large, then they won’t even fit in the canning jar! The tiny okra were pricy, and okra is definitely going on my list for garden veggies to plant next spring.

I made the pickle with vinegar, hot peppers, okra and dill seeds. A recipe from the Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich. First step was to wash the vegetables, and then distribute them, and the dill seeds in pint jars. I ended up making 6 jars.

Meanwhile I heated vinegar, water, and salt in a pot, and then poured the brine-like mixture over the okra packed in jars, and processed the jars according to directions (15 minutes?). I remembered this time to remove the air bubbles (with a chopstick)!

I used a batch of vintage mason jars from my friend Jeanne, which made the finished jars of pickles extra cute!

a single serving

August 18, 2010

What to do when you have a few beautiful tomatoes that must be eaten, but you are full? Can them. In tiny jars, for single servings of pasta sauce.

I was canning peaches yesterday, and made along side a little pan of pasta sauce. I filled up two tiny jars with sauce, and processed them along with the peaches. I don’t think that I would have canned the jars if I hadn’t been processing the peaches already. It would have been too much boiling water for too small a result…

Now, when I am home some night, in the winter, I can open up one of my two tiny jars, and make noodles with sauce. And there won’t be any left overs!

just peachy

August 16, 2010

Kathy and I canned peaches today. When you can peaches, it seems like you have to can a lot. We picked up a 3/4 bushel box from the store (no peaches on my tree yet…) and canned quite a few (but not the entire box!).

Canning peaches involve lots of hot things.

Boiling water to slip off the peels.

Slicing the hot peaches and removing their pits.

Simmering sugar syrup for preserving the peaches.

Hot peaches into little jars.

Boiling jars.

Removing boiled jars from the boiling water…

Makes for a bit of time on your toes, in the kitchen with a lot of heat. Today was a perfect canning day though. A little breeze, sunshine, and, well, perfect. We successfully canned the peaches without incident. And made a little peach syrup as an afterthought!