Category Archives: Canning/Freezing

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:

Low-Sugar Red Raspberry Jam

  • Servings: Makes 5-6 half-pint jars
  • Print

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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

Low-Sugar Triple Raspberry Jam

  • Servings: Makes 5-6 half-pint jars
  • Print

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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

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Blueberry Syrup

  • Servings: Makes 4 cups
  • Print

blueberry-syrup

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).

Serve over Cheesecake, Waffles, Pancakes, Ice Cream

Makes about 4 cups

 

Recipe from Simple Bites

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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:

Sloppy Joes

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2- 2 ½ lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
½ of a red or green bell pepper, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup packed fresh parsley, chopped or 1 Tbs dried parsley
1 ½ cups water
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
½ cup ketchup
1 Tbs chili powder
½ Tbs brown sugar (or golden low-carb sweetener)
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
½–1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dry mustard
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
¼ tsp Tabasco sauce
¼ 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!

Baked Beans

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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
½ 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
½ 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.

How To Roast Fresh Garlic


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.

For Individual Garlic Cloves:

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:

Sour Cherry Vanilla Jam

  • Servings: Makes 6 Half-Pint Jars
  • Print

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5 cups chopped pitted sour cherries (about 3 lb)
1 cup cherry juice or water**
1 ½ cups sugar, divided
½ tsp powdered stevia
1 vanilla bean
1 box low-sugar pectin

Mix cherries, juice or water, 1 ¼ 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 ¼ 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:

Low Sugar Peach Vanilla Jam

  • Servings: Makes 5-6 Half Pint Jars
  • Print

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5 cups crushed peaches (about 4 1b)
1 ¼ cups sugar, divided
½ 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 ¼ 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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