Category Archives: Canning/Freezing

Canning Apple Pie Filling

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As part of a church young women’s project this fall, I have been teaching MiddleK how to can. We started with Applesauce, then promptly proceeded to eat almost all of it over that next week, which kind of defeated the “storage” role of canning. But it had been a long time since we’d had homemade applesauce around here, and I was glad to see the kids asking for that for a snack instead of chips or candy. So we bought A LOT more apples, and made LOTS more applesauce. With all of our apples we also made this Apple Pie Filling.

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Middle K also wanted to learn to make her own piecrust for her pie filling, and while the family waited for her to finally make a pie, we ate the pie filling stirred into yogurt, as an ice cream topping, or when no one was looking: straight from the jar.

Yesterday, Middle K, under extreme pressure from her siblings, found the time to create this beautiful apple pie. She made the crust all on her own, and she did a fabulous job!

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This canned apple pie filling is chock full of apples in a cinnamon brown sugar syrup. When choosing apples for pie, you want to choose a variety that does not get mushy when cooked, and is not overly tart, or you will need to add a lot more sugar to the syrup. We really like eating Granny Smith apples around here, but I don’t usually use them for pies, unless it is in combination with some sweeter varieties. I also like to use a combination of apple varieties, when possible. Then the different textures of the apples makes a nice balance in the pie. For this pie filling we used a combination of Golden Delicious and Fuji apples.

Good Apples for Canning:
Golden Delicious
Fuji
McIntosh
Jonagold
Rome
Jonathon
Cameo
Gala (but only in combination with another variety: they get kind of soft when cooked)

Not-So-Good Apples for Canning:
Red Delicious
Cortland
Gala (on their own)
Granny Smith (too tart on their own; texture is good, but they will require more sugar; good when combined with sweeter varieties)

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When making the apple pie filling, you can thinly slice or dice the apples. I like to dice them because they fit better in the jars and are a nice size for biting in a pie. The chopped apples are mixed with apple cider, sugar and spices, and left to macerate for an hour or more before cooking. This helps release some of the juice from the apples and helps meld the flavors. We kept the spices simple in our batches this year: just cinnamon and a little bit of nutmeg. For a more heavily spiced pie filling, you can add cloves, ginger and/or allspice.

The one special ingredient that you need for making canned pie fillings is Clear Jel. Clear Jel is a modified corn starch made specifically for canning. It is a thickener that will not loose it’s texture or become grainy after being cooked more than once (first while preparing the filling and processing the jars and then again when you cook the pie). I buy mine from a company called Walton Feed. I like that I can get sealed cans. Clear Jel is also available in bags from Amazon.

One problem that we did run into on a couple of our jars was “siphoning”. This is when some liquid from inside the jars seeps out while processing, or immediately after being removed from the canner. The filling is still safe to eat as long as the lid seals, but it does make for kind of a sticky mess and an increased likelihood that the jars won’t seal properly. We left 1” headspace on the jars before processing, but next time I will leave 1 1/4”. After doing some reading, another way to reduce siphoning is to leave the jars in the boiling water bath (with the heat turned off and the lid removed) for about 10 minutes after fully processing them. I will try this next time around. Supposedly, the drastic temperature change from the boiling water to the outside air can often cause siphoning. Pie filling is the only thing I have ever had this problem with. Luckily, all of our jars sealed, but I did mark the ones that had the siphoning problem so that we could eat those jars first.

When making a pie from canned filling, you simply prepare your bottom crust, pour in the filling, add a top crust or streusel topping and bake (for about 45 minutes at 400°F). A regular 8”or 9” pie plate will use one quart jar. For deep dish pie plates (which I have), I use one quart jar and one pint jar. So I can both quart and pint sized jars. You could also just use 1 1/2 quart jars and use the other half jar as ice cream topping.

RECIPE:

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Apple Pie Filling (for canning)
————-(adapted from LocalKitchen)

6 lbs apples** (about 16-18 apples, or 12 cups sliced/diced apples)
3 cups apple cider
1 cup dark brown sugar (or light brown sugar plus 1 tsp molasses)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract (or one vanilla bean, scraped)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
scant 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
(OPTIONAL: 1/8 tsp each: cloves, ginger & allspice)
1 cup apple cider
1/3 cup Clear Jel

In a very large bowl, mix together 3 cups apple cider, sugars, lemon juice, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and optional spices (if using).

Peel, core and coarsely chop or slice apples. Place apples in cider mixture as you cut them. Allow apples to sit at room temperature for at least 1-3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Strain juice from apple slices into a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix additional 1 cup of apple cider with the Clear Jel; stir into the cider mixture simmering in the pot. Return to a boil and cook until the juice has thickened, about 1 – 2 minutes. Stir in apple pieces with any remaining juice in the bowl. Return mixture to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Ladle hot pie filling into hot jars, leaving 1 1/4” headspace. Use a spatula or knife to remove air bubbles. Make sure that your apples are covered by the syrup. Wipe rims with a clean, damp cloth, place lid and ring on the jars, and process in a boiling water bath for 25 minutes for quart or pint jars. After processing, turn off heat and remove the lid from the canner, but allow the jars to sit in the water for 10 minutes before removing. This will help reduce siphoning (liquid seeping out of the jars). Remove jars from water and place on a clean, dry towel on the kitchen counter. Let sit for 24 hours. Check seal, remove rings and store.

Yield: about 3 1/2 quarts.

**For best results use a mix of Golden Delicious, Fuji, McIntosh, Jonagold, Rome, Jonathon, Cameo or Gala.

USING YOUR CANNED APPLE PIE FILLING:

Canned pie filling can be used to make apple pies, tarts, or apple crisp. Or spoon it onto ice cream or yogurt.

To make a regular 8-9” pie:use one quart of pie filling

To make a deep dish 9” pie:use one quart + 1 pint of pie filling (I can both quart and pint jars to make this easy. Or just use 1 1/2 quart jars and eat the other half quart as ice cream topping)

BAKING:Bake pies at 400°F for 30 minutes. Check browning on top crust. Add a Pie Crust Shield (you can make your own!) or foil to edges as they begin to brown. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until filling is bubbly and crust is cooked (check often to prevent over-browning of top crust)

I like to use this All Butter Pie Crust.

 

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Low-Sugar Seedless Raspberry Nectarine Jam

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One of the kids’ favorite jams from last year was this Raspberry Nectarine Freezer Jam. This year I played with the recipe a little, to reduce the sugar and to make it a regular canned jam (freezer space is precious!).
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Nectarines and raspberries are a great combination! Be sure to leave the nectarine peels on when cutting the nectarines. They help give the rich color to the jam. They will be strained out later with the raspberry seeds. Pressing pulp through a sieve to remove seeds is not my favorite thing to do. It is a lot of work, and it seems like such a waste to not use all of that good stuff. I don’t mind having raspberry seeds in things, so I save the seeds (and pulp that clings to them) in the fridge and add them to smoothies, or stir some into my oatmeal in the mornings. A little extra fiber is never a bad thing, right?!

RECIPE:

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Low-Sugar Seedless Raspberry Nectarine Jam

——————————–Yield: About 5 half-pint jars

3 cups chopped nectarines (do not peel)-about 4-5 nectarines
3 cups slightly crushed raspberries
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1 box no-sugar needed pectin
½ tsp powdered Stevia (or ¾ – 1 tsp liquid Stevia)**

Combine nectarines and raspberries in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Press through a fine sieve to remove seeds; discard seeds. Place fruit puree in a large saucepan with the lemon juice.

In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup sugar with pectin. Stir into fruit puree in the large saucepan. Bring to a hard boil (boiling doesn’t stop when stirred) over high heat. Stir in 1 C sugar and stevia. Return to hard boil; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Skim foam. Ladle into jars, leaving 1/8” headspace. Wipe rims of jars. Place lids on jars.

Place in a boiling bath canner or steam canner. Return water to a gentle boil. Process 10 minutes. Cool on a towel on kitchen counter for 24 hours. Check seal.

**My favorite is 1 tsp of Sweet Leaf brand Vanilla Crème liquid stevia

 

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Berry Picking and Raspberry Jams

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It is raspberry picking season here in western PA, and Little A & J helped me take full advantage of it last week. While older kids were off at youth camps, we spent a few days picking berries and making jams. And eating lots of berries on things like This:

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And This:

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We also made three different raspberry jams, two regular raspberry ones that I will share today, and a seedless variety with nectarines for tomorrow’s post. The first jam is a low-sugar red raspberry jam. I love how the fresh fruit taste shines in low-sugar jams, but they do have more of a fruit-spread consistency than the jelled set of full sugar jams.

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I make most of my jams with stevia as a sweetener. I use a little bit of sugar to help with the consistency and “sheen”, but most of the sugar I trade out for stevia. Stevia comes in many brands and forms (liquid: plain and flavored, powdered extract, “spoonable”, packets, crushed leaves), so you will need to do a little experimenting (i.e. tasting) to get the amounts just right.

I use the Sweet Leaf brand most of the time. In the past I have always used the powdered extract, which I highly recommend. This year I tried using their Vanilla Crème flavored liquid variety, and I really liked it. When making low-sugar jams, be sure to use the “no-sugar needed” pectin. For the SureJell brand, this is the pink box.

071311 027-1The second jam we made uses red, black and yellow raspberries. Black raspberries are smaller than the other colors, and have more a few more seeds. Their flavor also seems more concentrated. They make for good finger-staining when you are picking them! And teeth staining when you eat them. I actually prefer their taste over the red ones.

I made jam from just the black raspberries a few years ago, and it came out extremely thick (hold the spoon upside-down thick). So now I combine them with the red and yellow berries to get a better consistency.

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I don’t mind seeds in my raspberry jam, but if you prefer to make it seedless, start with about 1/2 cup more berries, and press through a sieve before adding pectin. If you want to make full-sugar jams, use the same amount of berries, regular pectin and 7 cups sugar (some recipes call for as much as 8 1/2 cups sugar).

RECIPES:

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Low-Sugar Red Raspberry Jam

——————–Yield: 5-6 half-pint jars

5 cups slightly crushed raspberries
1 ¼ cups sugar, divided
1 box no-sugar needed pectin
½ tsp powdered Stevia (or ¾ – 1 tsp liquid Stevia)**

In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup sugar with pectin. Stir into raspberries in a large saucepan. Bring to a hard boil (boiling doesn’t stop when stirred) over high heat. Stir in 1 cup sugar and stevia. Return to hard boil; boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Skim foam. Ladle into jars, leaving 1/8” headspace. Wipe rims of jars. Place lids on jars.

Place in a boiling bath canner or steam canner. Return water to a gentle boil. Process for 10 minutes. Cool on a towel on kitchen counter for 24 hours. Check seal.

**My favorite is 1 tsp of Sweet Leaf brand Vanilla Crème liquid stevia

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Low-Sugar Triple Raspberry Jam

————————-Yield: 5-6 half-pint jars

5 cups slightly crushed raspberries (3C red, 1C black, 1C yellow)
1 ¼ cups sugar, divided
1 box no-sugar needed pectin
½ tsp powdered Stevia (or ¾ – 1 tsp liquid Stevia)**

In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup sugar with pectin. Stir into raspberries in a large saucepan. Bring to a hard boil (boiling doesn’t stop when stirred) over high heat. Stir in 1 cup sugar and stevia. Return to hard boil; boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Skim foam. Ladle into jars, leaving 1/8” headspace. Wipe rims of jars. Place lids on jars.

Place in a boiling bath canner or steam canner. Return water to a gentle boil. Process for 10 minutes. Cool on a towel on kitchen counter for 24 hours. Check seal.

**My favorite is 1 tsp of Sweet Leaf brand Vanilla Crème liquid stevia

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Blueberry Syrup

blueberry-syrup

Blueberry Syrup
————(from Simple Bites)

5 cups blueberries
3 cups water
1 cup sugar (Turbinado or regular white sugar)
1 whole lemon, washed

Using a sharp paring knife, peel three or four strips of lemon peel from the lemon. Skin should be about 1/2 inch wide and not have too much of the bitter pith or white part on it. Then juice the lemon, and set both zest and juice aside.

Place blueberries and 1 cup of the water in a medium pot. Don’t worry about stems or leaves; they will be strained out later. Using a potato masher, crush the berries. Over medium-high heat, bring the berries and water to a boil, then lower the temperature to medium-low. Simmer berries for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. They will darken considerably.

Remove pot from heat and ladle berries into a fine sieve set over a heat-proof bowl or measuring cup. Using the back of a  ladle, press on the berry solids to extract as much juice as possible. Discard solids.

Wash out your pot, then add the remaining 2 cups of water, lemon peel(not juice yet), and the sugar. Bring to a boil and boil rapidly for about 15 minutes until the mixture thickens (or reaches 225°F). Add reserved blueberry juice and 2 tablespoons lemon juice and stir to combine. Boil another minute or two. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Remove lemon zest.

Using a funnel, pour syrup into clean jars. Top with lid and store in the refrigerator for up to six months. Or process in sterile canning jars with a boiling bath canner (Process half pints for 10 minutes; pints for 15 minutes).

Makes about 4 cups.

Serve over Cheesecake, Waffles, Pancakes, Ice Cream

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Not Just for Summer: Open-Faced Sloppy Joes and Baked Beans

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Sloppy Joes with Baked Beans is always sure to please even the pickiest of eaters in my house. Again it is all about the toppings around here: cheese and sliced green onions go perfectly with the simmered savory meat.

I know that baked beans are traditionally a summer barbecue food, but I prefer to make them when it is cold outside and I need to heat the house up with some extended oven baking time. I usually start with canned beans because I am rarely successful in getting good finished texture when cooking this with dried beans.

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Want the convenience of canned beans at the price of dry beans? Can your own with a pressure canner: 1 cup beans + 1 tsp salt in each quart jar. Add hot tap water, leaving 1” headspace. Process in a pressure canner at 15 lb pressure for 60 minutes.

Some in our family like to eat our Sloppy Joes open-faced. When I don’t have homemade bread on hand, I serve the Sloppy Joes on these thin sandwich breads, toasted:060610 009-1RECIPES:

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Sloppy Joes

2- 2 ½ lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
1/2–1  red or green bell pepper, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup packed fresh parsley, chopped or 1 Tbs dried parsley
1 1/2 cups water
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1/2 cup ketchup
1 Tbs chili powder
1/2 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1/2–1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dry mustard
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper
Pinch ground cloves

Hamburger buns or Homemade Bread, toasted
Shredded cheese
Sliced green onions or finely chopped red or yellow onions

Brown ground beef in a large skillet until thoroughly cooked; drain fat. Add onion, red or green pepper, garlic and parsley to the skillet. Cook until onions are translucent.

Add remaining ingredients (except buns and toppings) and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes. Uncover and continue to simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until Sloppy Joes are thickened as desired.

Serve over toasted buns (open-faced or full buns) with shredded cheese and onions for toppings.

**NOTE: Use a food processor to chop the onion, peppers, garlic and parsley if you want fine pieces that are less noticeable to children!

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Baked Beans

8-12 oz bacon
1 onion, chopped
2 cans (16 oz) white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans (16 oz) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (16 oz) tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs molasses
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp liquid hickory smoke flavoring
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Chop bacon and cook until almost crisp. Remove bacon from pan; drain grease, leaving 2-3 Tbs drippings in the pan. In the bacon drippings, sauté onion until soft. Combine bacon and onion with remaining ingredients in a 2-quart baking dish. Cover and bake at 300°F for about 3 hours (or 325°F for 2 hours), stirring every 30-45 minutes. Add additional water if the beans begin to stick to the pan.

Or cook in a crock-pot on low for 6-8 hours.

 

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How To . . . Roast Garlic

Roasted garlic adds a wonderful flavor to many dishes: salsa, steamed or roasted vegetables, grilled meats, soups & stews, pastas, mashed potatoes, garlic bread.

Roasting garlic is easy to do (much easier than peeling raw cloves), and can be done with either whole heads of garlic, or individual garlic cloves.

For Whole Garlic Heads:

Using a knife, cut off  the top of the head of garlic (about 1/4 to 1/2 inch), just enough to expose the individual cloves of garlic.

Place garlic head on a square of aluminum foil (Large enough to wrap around garlic head). Drizzle each cut garlic head with about 1 Tbs olive oil.

Wrap foil around garlic head and place on a baking sheet. If you are doing a large number of garlic heads at the same time, you could also line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, place garlic heads in the pan and then cover the entire pan with foil, instead of wrapping each garlic head.

Bake at 400°F for 30-40 minutes. The garlic cloves should be soft and slightly browned.

Remove foil, and let the garlic cool slightly. Use the tip of a knife to remove garlic cloves from skins. If the cloves are soft enough, you can also gently squeeze the individual cloves out of the skin of the garlic head.

Empty garlic skin

For Individual Garlic Cloves:

I like to use fresh garlic, but do not like peeling it, and I’m not always a good judge of how many heads to buy for the week. So I buy peeled fresh garlic cloves in 3 lb bags from Costco or Sam’s Club (in the refrigerated produce section):

I definitely can’t use this much garlic before it goes bad, and it really makes the refrigerator reek of garlic. Unless you freeze the whole bag! This has been a perfect solution for me. I throw the entire bag in the freezer (before ever opening it), and then pull out as many cloves as I need for a recipe. They thaw quickly just at room temperature, but you can also microwave them in a small bowl for about 10 seconds, if time is short. No more peeling garlic!

These cloves also work perfectly for roasting.

Place as many cloves of garlic as you want to roast in a small foil-lined oven safe bowl (like a ramekin). Or use a muffin tin if you want to do a lot at a time. Drizzle with olive oil (about 1 Tbs for 10-15 cloves) and wrap foil around cloves.

Bake at 400°F for 30-40 minutes. The garlic cloves should be soft and slightly browned.

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Sour Cherry Vanilla Jam

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The final two jams that we made last week were Peach Butter (recipe found HERE) and this Sour Cherry Vanilla Jam. The vanilla flavor was not as pronounced as in the Peach Vanilla Jam, but the jam was still really good. Slightly tart from the sour cherries and nice and thick. To get more of the vanilla flavor next time, I am going to soak the chopped cherries with the sugar and vanilla bean overnight before cooking the jam.

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RECIPE:

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Sour Cherry Vanilla Jam

5 cups chopped pitted sour cherries (about 3 lb)
1 cup cherry juice or water**
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 tsp powdered stevia
1 vanilla bean
1 box low-sugar pectin

Mix cherries, juice or water, 1 1/4 cups sugar, and stevia in a large bowl or saucepan. Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise and using the tip of a knife, scrape the seeds into the cherry mixture. Stir vanilla bean pod into the cherries. Let sit for 2-3 hours to overnight (strengthens the vanilla flavor in the jam).

Mix pectin with 1/4 cup sugar. Stir into cherry mixture. Bring to a hard boil (boiling doesn’t stop when stirred) over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove vanilla bean.

Ladle into jars, leaving 1/8” headspace. Wipe rims of jars. Place lids on jars.

Place jars in a boiling bath canner or steam canner. Return water to a gentle boil. Process 10 minutes. Cool on a towel on kitchen counter for 24 hours. Check seal.

Yield: 6 half-pint jars

**NOTE: The cherries I used were from a 10 lb bucket of pre-pitted sour cherries. I added 1 cup of the juice from the bottom of the bucket to the jam. If you are pitting your own cherries, you may not need to add this much additional liquid.

 

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Low Sugar Peach Vanilla Jam

072610 026-1 Of the five jams that we made last week (maybe of all the jams I have ever made), this is my very favorite. Fresh ripe peaches and flecks of vanilla bean. And low in sugar. What could be better.

Try it mixed into some homemade yogurt, or on top of ice cream.

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It is still too early in the season here for freestone peaches, but there are some good deals at the farmers market on some luscious, ripe non-freestone varieties. And for jam, these are perfect!

072210 035-1 To quickly and easily remove the peach skin, blanch the peaches in simmering water for 15-30 seconds, then transfer to an ice water bath.

072210 041-1 When making jam, the easiest way to crush your peaches, especially non-freestone varieties, is to take the whole peeled peach in your hand (over a large bowl) and squeeze. If your peaches are ripe, which they should be for a good jam, the peach flesh will be crushed through your fingers, leaving you with just the pit in your hand. Kids love this job!

To get as much vanilla flavor in this jam as I could without overcooking the peaches, I combined the crushed peaches with some lemon juice, 1 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp stevia in a large bowl. Then I added the vanilla bean (cut the bean in half lengthwise, then use the tip of a knife to scrape all of the seeds into the bowl with the fruit); stir in both the seeds and the vanilla bean halves. Let peach mixture sit for 2-3 hours, or overnight (in the refrigerator).

Leave the vanilla bean in while cooking the jam, removing it just before filling your jars.

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I love vanilla bean flecks!

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————

RECIPE:

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Low Sugar Peach Vanilla Jam

5 cups crushed peaches (about 4 1b)
1 ¼ cups sugar, divided
1/2 tsp powdered stevia
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 vanilla bean
1 box low-sugar pectin

Combine peaches, 1 cup sugar, stevia and lemon juice in a large saucepan or bowl. Split vanilla in half lengthwise. Scrape seeds into bowl with peaches. Stir in vanilla bean. Let sit for 2-3 hours or overnight (refrigerate if leaving overnight).

Mix pectin with 1/4 cup sugar. Stir into peach mixture. Bring to a hard boil (boiling doesn’t stop when stirred) over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove vanilla bean.

Ladle into jars, leaving 1/8” headspace. Wipe rims of jars. Place lids on jars.

Place jars in a boiling bath canner or steam canner. Return water to a gentle boil. Process 10 minutes. Cool on a towel on kitchen counter for 24 hours. Check seal.

Yield: 5-6 half-pint jars

 

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Overnight Whole Wheat Blender Pancakes with Raspberry Nectarine Jam

072210 031-1 Another jam we made last week was a seedless raspberry nectarine freezer jam (recipe from Kitchen Simplicity via Simple Bites). The flavor of the nectarines really complimented the raspberries. It did not set quite as firmly as some other jams, but that was perfect on these pancakes!

Next year I will definitely make this jam again, but I will try to make it lower sugar and as a regular canned jam, instead of a freezer jam.

072210 015-1 I love these freezer containers from Ball! Perfect for jam.

Little A wanted pancakes with jam and sausage for his birthday breakfast on Thursday. This sweet jam was a perfect topping for these healthy, but delicious, pancakes.

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I make these pancakes with kefir and whole wheat berries, blending them and then letting the mixture sit overnight. A quick blend again in the morning with an egg and some leavening, and they were ready to throw on the griddle!

They can also be made all in the same day, but the batter thickens up more if it is allowed to sit. For a slightly different flavor, try using other grains; often I will add some whole oat groats in place of part of the wheat.

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RECIPES:

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Raspberry Nectarine Freezer Jam
—————–(adapted from Simple Bites)

3 nectarines, pitted and chopped (do not peel)
2 cups raspberries
1 Tbs lemon juice
4 cups sugar, divided
3/4 cup water
1  package powdered fruit pectin

Use a blender or food processor to puree nectarines and raspberries. Strain through a sieve to remove seeds.  Add lemon juice and 2 cups sugar; let sit 10 minutes.

Stir water, pectin and 2 cups sugar together in a small saucepan. Bring to a hard boil; boil for 1 minute.

Stir into fruit mixture for 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved.

Spoon into freezable containers and allow to sit, sealed, at room temperature until set (up to 24 hours).

Store in the fridge for 3 weeks or in the freezer for 6 months.

Yield: about 6 half-pint containers

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Whole Wheat Blender Pancakes

1 cup wheat berries, oat groats, rolled oats or other whole grain
1 1/4 cups kefir or buttermilk or 1 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter or coconut oil
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbs honey or 1 pkt Stevia

Combine wheat berries (or other grains) and kefir (or buttermilk or milk) in a blender. Blend for 2-3 minutes. Let the mixture of grain and milk sit on the counter for 1 hour or overnight (refrigerate if using regular milk).

After letting the mixture sit, blend the grain/milk mixture again for about 1 minute.  While blender is running, add the egg and melted butter. Add baking powder, salt, baking soda, vanilla and sweetener and blend just until combined.

Cook pancakes on a hot griddle.

Makes about 12 pancakes.

 

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Low Sugar Strawberry Citrus Jam

072210 028-1 Summer is in full swing here; temperatures hover between 85° and 90°, with humidity levels making it feel a good 10 degrees hotter. So have we been hanging out at the swimming pool, or in the sprinkler? Or finding nice, cool activities to do inside? No-we’ve been canning! Seeing just how hot we can get the kitchen with multiple pots of boiling water and macerated fruit. I do have some great helpers in this effort. Mashing fruit with the potato masher is quite a coveted job around here!

And it will all be worth it come January when we are snowed in, cracking open a little bit of summer in a jar.

I tried several new jam recipes this week, including this Strawberry Citrus Jam. Made with strawberries and and a chopped orange (plus peel), it is quite tart. Not so tart that the kids wouldn’t eat it, however. They really like it. I do too. And I love how the orange really brought out the color of the strawberries. I make most of my jams low sugar (substituting all but one cup of sugar with stevia), and the lower sugar often makes the jam less bright and clear. But the added citrus really brightened up this jam!

If you do try this jam, take a taste before you add it to your jars, and adjust the sweetness to your liking.

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RECIPE:

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Low Sugar Strawberry Citrus Jam
—————————(adapted from Big Black Dog)

1 large orange
4 cups crushed strawberries (measure after crushing)
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp powdered stevia
1 box low-sugar fruit pectin

Grate zest from orange into a large saucepan (you should have about 2 tsp). Cut white rind from orange; discard. Chop orange pulp and add to the saucepan. Stir in crushed strawberries, lemon juice, sugar and stevia.

Optional step: Let fruit/sugar mixture sit for 1 hour to overnight (place in the refrigerator if you are going to let it sit overnight). Letting the fruit sit in the sugar will help sweeten the individual fruit bits. It also helps keep the fruit bits from settling in your finished jam.

Stir pectin into fruit mixture. Bring to a hard boil (bubbles don’t stop when jam is stirred) over medium-high heat. Boil hard for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

NOTE: This is a tart jam. Try the jam at this point. If it is not sweet enough, add additional stevia or sugar. If you add additional sweetener, return jam to a hard boil before filling jars.

Ladle jam into sterilized jars. Wipe rims; add lids and rings. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Let jars sit on a towel on kitchen counter for 24 hours to set. Check seal.

Yield: 6 half-pint jars

 

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