Friday, August 28, 2009

A Mess of Raspberries

Today was an eventful day. I got off shift at 8 am, got home around 12:15, and gathered up the troops to go raspberry picking. There is an organic raspberry farm near us and, in the 3 years I've been going there, I have never seen the raspberries so plump or plentiful. All the rain, I guess. Anyway. It took me less than an hour to fill a huge bucket, and the kids helped with little buckets. In total, we picked 7 pounds of raspberries, but that included 1.5 pounds for our friend's children who participated in the picking. So we brought home 5.5 pounds.

"Mom? I'm only going to help pick if you make me a pie. Please? I want a pie."

So I made a fresh raspberry pie. Baked a frozen pie shell for 12 minutes, filled it with fresh raspberries, and topped it with a thick sauce consisting of 1 c. sugar, 3 T. cornstarch, 1 c. crushed raspberries, and 1/2 c. water, boiled until thick. The pie then was refrigerated until after dinner. And it was GOOD. Mmmm.

On to the canning! After some soul searching and discussion with the family, we decided we had enough jam. *gasp!* However, I had just enough left to make raspberry syrup. Out came the food mill, which made a big mess, but got me exactly 6 cups of puree. And a lot of leftover seeds (more on that later). I decided I didn't have time tomorrow so I would tolerate some solids in my syrup, and started stirring. I looked away for 1 second (or so it seemed) and it boiled over! What a mess - much, much worse than the food mill! And, (this is the worst part, since I hate wasting things), I lost probably 3/4 c. of syrup. Drat!

The final yield was 3 pints, 2 12-ounce jars, and 1 half-pint. Plus a little extra which we will likely use for breakfast.

The leftover seeds were forced into a bottle and white vinegar was added, maybe we'll get some raspberry vinegar out of it. We also brought out a bottle of vodka and added some of the pulp to it as well. Another experiment. The rest was frozen in case any of these experiments are successful or there are others out there who know what to do with seedy raspberry pulp. Do you have any suggestions?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Raspberries and Chocolate

It was my birthday the other day. My husband made me a wonderful, chocolatey, rich cake with fudge icing. He used almost an entire half-pint of raspberry jam for the middle. It's AWESOME. It reminds me of our wedding cake except the frosting is better on this one. And the kids even let me eat the cherry. Now, that's love!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pears...In a Jar

"What are you making, mommy?"


"In a jar."

"Yup, in a jar."

Our friend (and blog member) Abigail has a pear tree and is up to her elbows in pears. She gave me 10 pounds (yup, I weighed them) of pears which I have converted into pears in syrup. Instead of halving them, since they were many sizes and shapes, it was easier to cut them up in a large dice. It made the final amount smaller but the quarts are more tightly packed. I also ended up with 1 1/2 cups of pear flavored light syrup to which we added water and a little ice and made a sweet pear flavored drink. The pears in syrup recipe was from the usual place, the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. It was actually pretty easy, and peeling 10 pounds of pears was not as bad as you might think. Better than peaches, that's for sure. The pears were also perfect for canning, since they were crisp and not overripe. I'll be bringing a quart back to Abigail in a little while. She was thinking about making wine from some of her harvest, but I'll let her comment on that if she likes.Oh, and Abigail? I have juicer envy.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Exciting News!

When I started this blog, it was meant to be a way for me to remember things about canning - changes to recipes, things that worked or didn't, stuff like that. It's become more than that - another way to connect with members of my family, meet some interesting people out there in the world, and share my experiences on this particular subject. Now, thanks to this blog, I get to share in a different forum.

A live canning demo.

At a kitchen store in Boston. Check it out at

Isn't that cool?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mango Madness!

So, I was at Whole Foods yesterday, ("Uh, oh!" you say...) and they were selling crates of mangoes. A crate only holds 8, and it was not a huge savings but enough that I could finally put my plan of canning mangoes into action. The reason we were at the Whole Foods was we were looking for something for dinner. We ended up with chicken thighs, marinated and then grilled in the zesty peach BBQ sauce. Yum! A success!

Anyways, I had saved some halves of uneaten bananas in the freezer so I thawed them and used them for this: Exotic Mango Banana Jam Delite. When I added the lemon juice to the bananas, it actually perked up the color, as they were pretty brown after being frozen and thawed. However, since I only had 1 cup of mashed banana, I used a cup of chopped golden kiwis. I also used a whole vanilla bean rather than a half. This made 6 half-pints and a little extra. And it smells wonderful!

After that, I made a variation of mango jam using nectarines. "Mangorine Jam," I'm calling it.
3 c. chopped mango
1 1/2 c. chopped nectarines (skin on)
2 T. lemon juice
1 package powdered pectin
5 1/2 c. sugar

This resulted in 7 half-pints. I'm done for the day, since I have to work overnight tonight. While I was working on these, the kids were entertained by those little peg board bead things. I would like to thank the inventor of those things - they kept the kids busy for hours!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Camping Connection

The folks at caught my entry about camping and have linked to it. They share some interesting stories about camping found on blogs all over. Mine is rather tame compared to some of the entries on there! Go check them out!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Camping Trip a Success

From the canned goods perspective.

I fed a lot of fish but none of them fed us. That's OK. This was the nicest campground we've ever been to. It was clean. And quiet. And teeming with kids. There are activities every weekends. Yesterday happened to be Smokey the Bear's birthday so the campground staff threw him a birthday party. With a park ranger, forest fire fighters showing off the big truck and the equipment they wear when they fight fires, face painting, crafts, and Smokey himself. And cake!
We ate a quart of the chili with shredded cheddar, some of us made sloppy joes and some just ate the chili in bowls. We had pickles but did not open the bean salad. The first night we ate the peach mint salsa (one of the jars hadn't sealed so I kept it cold and brought it). I ended up giving the small jar of strawberry-rhubarb jam to our camp neighbors across the way. These were people who we knew through our older child (classmate in preschool and pre-K) and hadn't seen in 2 years. And here they are, setting up camp right across from us. Small world.

Every morning a guy from a local farm drove through with a little truck and trailer, selling local produce, meat he aged himself, homemade sausages, honey, some canned goods, maple syrup. Basically everything you might need in a campground but might not have brought. BRILLIANT. The first morning we bought fall strawberries and fudge. This morning we bought raspberries and shitake mushrooms which his neighbor grows.

It was 48 degrees when we woke up this morning. In August. Wow.

Lots of good food, lots of fun - fishing, bikes, swimming (the water was COLD), s'mores and stargazing. And the best weather we've seen in a long time. How awesome is that?

Thursday, August 6, 2009


The last of the peaches were used tonight to make 4 half-pint jars of Peach Mint Salsa, from The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving. I doubled the recipe to finish up all the peaches. Plus I got to use a green pepper, jalapeno, and honey from the farm share and mint from my garden. It smells more minty and citrusy than peachy in the kitchen tonight. Oh, and I have no idea how this is going to taste - I didn't try it before I canned it. Once I finish I can put the canner away until the next crazy purchase and work on freeing up some room in the pantry in the meantime.

For the camping trip tomorrow (for which I still need to buy bait), I will be bringing some chili, pickles, 3 bean salad, jam, and some of this salsa. Obviously we're not backpack-camping. But this way, I don't have to keep as much in the cooler. Which doesn't fit in the car unless I put it on its side. Oops.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Still Working On Those Peaches

Not too many left now. 1/2 a bushel is a LOT.

First thing I made today was the Zesty Peach Barbecue Sauce from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. It smells divine. It tastes divine. It only makes 5 8-ounce jars, not 8. Just so you know.

Then after a bunch of errands and a trip to the dentist, I got to work on 2 more peachy things: Fruit Ketchup, from the same cookbook, and Peach Soup, from Preserving Summer's Bounty. The soup is for dinner tonight, but it had to be chilled, so I had to get it going early. As far as the ketchup goes, I only had enough tomatoes for 1/2 batch. For this, I brought out the food mill:
The ease of setting up the food mill is countered only by the difficulty of taking the $&%*&^#@ thing apart and cleaning it. But it really is easier than running stuff through a sieve. Especially during applesauce season. Note to self: move the coffeepot next time.

I hope to make some peach salsa with the last of the peaches. Maybe tomorrow night. I'm pretty tired.

I ended up with only 1 8-ounce jar of ketchup for all that work. Hardly seems worth it. Tastes pretty good, though for future reference if your kids do not like "spicy" foods, don't put the cayenne pepper in.

Oh, yeah, and I bought more jars. It's a sickness.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Mr. Sipya, I'm thinking of you

You know how it is. You have a memory of something from your childhood and, no matter what, every new experience just doesn't stack up. You try, you keep an open mind but, nope, it's not IT.

I have this problem with bread and butter pickles.

When I was growing up, just down the road was a little farm stand. Mr. Sipya's farm stand. Probably his was one of many, but it was to his that we went. Mr. Sipya was a nice little elderly man who made the best bread and butter pickles EVER. Or so it seemed at the time. His little farm stand closed down long before I left home for college, but those pickles have become legendary in my mind, and nothing I have eaten since can match them.

I have tried to find his recipe. I googled for him, and the name of our town, and did not have any luck. I am now on my 3rd different recipe for these pickles, hoping that this batch might be THE ONE. (Granted, batch #2 wasn't really an effort to match his pickles considering I was using rice vinegar.) But I am holding out hope that today's batch is closer.

Wish me luck.

Busy Day Ahead

I have a 1/2 bushel of B-grade peaches and 1 peck of small pickling cukes in the fridge waiting for me to have some time. This afternoon.

Last night I whipped up a batch of cherry-peach-apricot jam after I got home from work. But I haven't had a whole lot of time since I worked back-to-back 12 hour days over the weekend. I'm psyched to make dill pickles with whole cukes rather than sliced and, when I found the tiny cukes at a farm stand, HAD to have them!

(Later today...) Grand total is 7 quarts of dill pickles, 7 quarts of peaches in syrup, and 3 quarts of bread and butter pickles. Still have a lot of peaches left but finished off all the cucumbers. I am officially out of jars. And space in my pantry.