Sheri Ann Richerson's exotic gardening, elegant cooking, crafty creations, food preservation and animal husbandry... all on two and a half acres in Marion, Indiana!

Canning

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cajeta

For those of us who have goats – and an abundance of goat milk – making and canning Cajeta is a great way to use some of that excess goat milk. When I made my first batch of Cajeta I wondered if canning it would cause it to obtain that nasty goaty taste you get from store bought goat milk products. The recipe made way too much to eat before it went bad so I decided what did I have to lose? If the Cajeta took on that nasty goaty taste I would feed it to the chickens – if not, I  would have a wonderful caramel dip to eat with fresh apples. I love caramel but find it difficult to buy organic caramel locally.

So, I made my first batch and canned the excess. It took over a year before I ate up all the Cajeta that I canned – and guess what? No goaty taste! When I opened my last jar several months ago I was sad. The goats were not in milk yet and so I knew that was the last of the Cajeta for a while. Once they came into milk it seemed there was always something taking up my time and I was not able – until today – to spend the afternoon making a new batch of Cajeta. I made it a little lighter in color this time around and slightly softer than before but it still tastes good and it will be easier to get out of the canning jars.

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I love looking in the canning, dehydrating, food saver section of the stores – especially during the canning season. With the recent increase in canning these past few years, numerous companies have introduced new products. Some are useful and others, well – they don’t live up to my expectations. For example, the jar tightener I bought last year that is used to tighten canning lids before you seal them. I found it was really hard to know just how tight the lid actually was and found I preferred tightening the lids by hand. I have not used it to loosen lids, but it might be useful for that.

Last night, while shopping at Meijer, I found two products I had not seen before – and they are certainly both winners. The first one was a four pack of dry herb jars. Now I know you might be thinking, why spend the money? They were $5.99. Frankly I know I could buy a dozen of these jars and the white plastic lids for cheaper, but these were cute – and they had shaker tops.

The holes are rather large, but if I really want to coat something with herbs, this is ideal and the lid stays open until you close it. The lids unscrew easily and the larger opening is wonderful for scooping out dried herbs with measuring spoons. The other thing I really like is – unlike spice jars – if the herbs start to draw moisture and stick, it is going to be very easy to scoop them out, re-dry them (as long as they haven’t started to mold) and put them back into the jar.

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Select highly fragrant, organically grown roses for eating.

  • 3 cups fresh picked, clean fragrant rose petals
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 packet powdered pectin

In a stainless steel saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, add the rose petals and cover the pan with a lid. Set this aside and allow it to steep for five minutes.

Line a colander with cheesecloth while the rose petals are steeping. When the rose petals are done steeping, pour the liquid through the colander making sure the rose petals are caught in the cheesecloth. Squeeze the cheesecloth so all the remaining liquid is removed from the rose petals. Compost the used rose petals.

Measure the amount of liquid to make sure there is still three cups of rose water. If any of the water has evaporated, add more water to make sure you have a full three cups.

Return the pan to a medium high heat; add in the pectin making sure to stir continually until the pectin is dissolved. Bring to a hard boil and stir in the sugar and lemon juice making sure once again that the sugar completely dissolves. Be sure to keep stirring the contents of the pan so the jelly does not burn.

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Five spice cherries in a canning jar.

Cherry season is here and after making two cherry pies, I really needed a different way to use up my pie cherries. I didn’t feel I was getting enough of a harvest to can since I was getting between a pint and a half and two pints of pitted cherries every three days. This was the first “big” harvest from my tree – and I hope next year I will get enough cherries to preserve some for winter use, but for this year, those fresh tart cherries sure did go a long way and taste good!

Here is my recipe for five spice cherries. I used mine – this year – to make ice cream.

  • 2 pints tart pie cherries, pitted
  • 3/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (each one was approximately 3 inches long)
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 tablspoon lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon licorice root powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon mixed peppercorns (pink, green, black and white)

I put the water, lime juice. powdered licorice root and sugar in a stainless steel saucepan and brought it to a boil. I boiled it – stirring continually – until the sugar was dissolved.

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Heat the topping up to release the aroma of rich chocolate and fresh raspberries. To use the hot topping on ice cream, allow it to cool slightly – and don’t forget to add dessert candies for an elegant look.

The holidays are here – and while this is something you might can when raspberries are on the vine, there is no reason why you couldn’t use frozen raspberries or even store-bought raspberries to make this recipe.

Simply preserve the extra by canning it and you will have a delightful dessert topper you can pull from your pantry whenever guests arrive.  Keep in mind that this particular recipe is more than just a sundae topper – it is an ideal topping for fruit, cheesecake and other desserts. Use your imagination and you will find numerous uses for this delicious recipe.

Jeffrey Rhoades found the raspberry-chocolate sundae topper very much to his liking. So much so – in fact – that he asked for seconds.

 

When making this recipe, keep in mind that canning anything that contains chocolate is tricky because you need to make sure the pH is right or the food will spoil. Chocolate is naturally low in acidity, so by combining a high-acid fruit with the chocolate, you alter the pH and thus make it safe to can. Here is the recipe – and the canning instructions.

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Jars of Orange-Cranberry Vinegar make a delightful holiday display – and are ideal for last minute gift giving.

Two of the main fruits one thinks of around the holidays are oranges and cranberries. These flavors – alone or combined – seem to compliment other foods that are generally on the holiday menu. Combined – the taste of oranges and cranberries – is a perfect marinade for turkey and chicken.

This vinegar is easy to make ahead of time – and I suggest you do – so the various ingredients that make up the vinegar have plenty of time to combine and mellow. Not only does this orange-cranberry vinegar offer the perfect way to spice up your holiday meats, but it makes an excellent gift that is pretty and practical. Keeping a variety of flavored vinegars on hand – along with squares of colorful fabric and ribbons – is an ideal way to make sure you have a gift for that unexpected guest that is sure to arrive over the holiday season.

Here is the recipe for the Orange-Cranberry Vinegar.  Canning instructions are included. The marinade recipe follows this one.

Orange-Cranberry Vinegar

  • 4 cups cranberries (fresh are best, but you can use dehydrated cranberries)
  • 3 cups white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 orange slices cut in quarters
  • 2 4-inch cinnamon sticks broke into pieces
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 5 pint-size canning jars, bands and lids (washed and sterilized)

 

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Blueberries are easy to can because all you do is wash them and put them in the jar. There is no need to cover them with a syrup.

Late spring and early summer brings an abundance of fresh berries and cool weather produce such as broccoli. Knowing how to use the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables while they are in season is one way to take advantage of them, another way – perhaps one that works better for some people – is to learn how to preserve the bounty so the fruits and vegetables are available throughout the year. This is a great way to save money on groceries – and while you will spend a good amount of time washing and preserving, all that work will pay off in the end especially when you are eating or baking with your own home canned blueberries in the middle of winter.

Blueberries – in my opinion – are one of the easiest fruits to can. You simply wash them and put them into sterilized canning jars, put the lid and band on and cold pack process them for 15 minutes. You can opt to use a sugar syrup to cover them, but there is no need to. The blueberries will make their own juice during the canning process. I have canned blueberries in a light syrup in the past, but why add all that extra sugar when there is no need to do so?

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Always put hot food in hot, sterilized jars for safety’s sake!

There’s a lot of talk today about the safety of canning food at home – something I am sure our ancestors did not fret over. Why? Because the art of canning was handed down from generation to generation making it possible for one to understand the art of canning on a much higher level than what many do today.

Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables before canning them, even if they were organically grown.

Cleanliness is one of the most important aspects when it comes to food safety. Anyone who has ever taken a home economics class can tell you that. In addition to clean pans, clean lids, clean caps and clean jars, the food must be cleaned too. Pesticides and other chemicals cling to the skins of fruits and vegetables. These must be washed off for safety’s sake. In addition to making sure all of your utensils are clean, the caps, lids and jars need to be sterilized. Do not skip over this step, even if you wash everything in a dishwasher. It only takes a second to dip the caps, lids and jars into the boiling water to sterilize them – and best of all, it means you do not need to heat the jars up because the sterilization process gives you “hot jars” to put “hot food” into.

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Canning jars being filled with lime juice in preparation for canning.

It is possible to make a variety of juice concentrates at home. This is ideal for people who have a bumper crop of fresh fruit and are looking for a new way to use it or for those who drink a lot of fruit juice throughout the year.

First you must remove the juice from the pulp. This is done either by squeezing the juice out by hand, using a juicer or a steamer.

Once you have separated the juice from the pulp, put the juice into a freezer-proof bottle with a narrow neck. Leave enough empty space in the top of the bottle for the liquid to expand as the juice turns to ice.

Once the bottle is filled, sit the bottle in a freezer bag just in case it bursts or the liquid overflows as it freezes and then place it in the freezer.

Once the liquid is completely frozen, turn the bottle upside down and place the neck of the jar with the frozen liquid inside a larger jar and let the liquid thaw.

You will notice that the frozen sugary, colored sugars will drip out first. When all you see is a white mass of ice, remove the bottle. The remaining ice can be set in a refrigerator while it finishes thawing and once it is in a liquid form again, drank.

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Red hot spiced apples and apples in syrup in sealed canning jars.

I prefer to can apples even though it is more work in the beginning. I have canned them with and without peels. Most people peel theirs before canning, but it is really up to you what you do. If you don’t mind the peels, don’t bother removing them.

There are many recipes for canning apples and I think I have tried them all, however, a friend said to me one day that canning apples in a plain syrup was the best way because they can be used for anything. I thought about this and decided she was right. Once you can apples for a specific purpose they may have an ingredient in them that makes them unsuitable for another use, so now I can all my apples using a light syrup. Here is my recipe.

  • 2 1/4 cups cane sugar
  • 5 cups of water

Combine sugar and water in a stainless steel pan.

Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Once the sugar is dissolved, reduce the heat to low so the syrup remains warm.

Fill clean, sterilized canning jars with apple quarters. Be sure to run your fingers around the tops of the jars before using them to check for tiny nicks. If you find any, those jars are no longer useful for canning.

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