How to Make Elderberry Syrups and Jellies

How to Make Elderberry Syrups and Jellies with Fresh or Dried Elderberries
My friend, Tami, saw my comment on the Common Sense Homesteading Facebook page about wanting to experiment with elderberries, and embraced the challenge with gusto.  She and her family went picking, and came home with the entire car trunk filled with elderberries.  Bless her heart, I didn’t have time to help her process them the next day, so she stuck them in the freezer overnight and tackled them herself.  In this post we’ll share how to process fresh elderberries, plus how to make elderberry syrup and elderberry jelly with those fresh elderberries, and an easy recipe for a small batch of immune boosting elderberry syrup with dried elderberries. [Read more...]

Old Fashioned Chocolate Pudding Recipe

Old Fashioned Cooked Chocolate Pudding Recipe - like momma used to make, for pudding that tastes the way pudding is supposed to taste.

When I was a little girl, it was a special treat when mom took the time to make cooked chocolate pudding from scratch.  It was so much yummier than the instant boxed pudding.  I loved it straight out of the pan (someone had to make sure it was clean, right?) or chilled with the “skin” set up on top.  (The skin was my favorite part.)

We had some extra milk on hand this week, so I went digging for a chocolate pudding recipe that reminded me of the one mom used to make.  The recipe below is adapted from the Chocolate Yummy recipe in “Favorite Recipes of America:  Desserts“, published in 1968, which was one of my mom’s favorite cookbooks.  A little less sugar, a little more vanilla, and a different thickener, and we have a gluten free dessert that my youngest said he “could eat at least ten times in a row”. [Read more...]

How to Make Pumpkin Wine

How to make pumpkin wine. Classic spices and a little creativity come together in an usual pumpkin recipe that's sure to be a conversation starter.

Did you know you can make wine out of just about any fruit or vegetable with a fairly high sugar content?  One of my foraging mentors, the late Mike Jacisin, was willing to experiment with cooking and fermenting just about anything.  One year he was blessed with an abundance of onions, so he made a batch of onion wine.  Alas, said onion wine went down in infamy as the worst brew he ever concocted, and has become a running joke in our extended circle of family and friends.

This year we’ve been blessed with such an abundance of sweet onions that I’m seriously considering a small batch of the infamous brew, since I missed out on tasting the original, but thus far my husband has vetoed the idea.  :-)  Since he won’t let me ferment onions, I’d like to share how to make pumpkin wine.  Like Mike, I’m willing to bulk up my food and beverage storage with a wide variety of foodstuffs, and it’s fun to break out a bottle of an unusual brew for friends.  I am not a big wine drinker, but I love the rich, yeasty smell in my kitchen as the wine ferments.  Wine is pretty forgiving, too.  I’ve made batches that are better or worse, but nothing completely skunky like some of my beer brewing friends have encountered. 

[Read more...]

How to Make Hard Cider

3 Easy Ways to Make Hard Apple Cider- Hard Cider Recipes

The most basic hard apple cider can be made on your counter top in a matter of days, and is one of the easiest home ferments.  For long term storage, you need a bit more equipment, time and patience, but it’s still a fairly straightforward process.  I’ll share three ways to make hard cider in this post.

Did you know that back in colonial times, most apples were pressed into cider?  And since there was no refrigeration, the only fresh apple cider came right off the cider press.  The rest was served as hard cider.  The book Wild Fermentation notes that in Massachusetts in 1767, annual hard cider consumption was greater than 35 gallons per person – that’s a lot of cider! [Read more...]

Gram Irene’s Pickled Beets

Gram Irene's Pickled Beets - Pickled beet recipe that's pretty enough for a crystal bowl on a holiday table but easy enough to enjoy anytime.

When I was growing up, I remember many afternoons of sitting on the porch steps with a canning kettle full of steaming beets, peeling off their slippery skins to get them ready for pickling.  Although they been cooked, drained and covered in cold water, they could still hold a lot of heat, so tender fingers needed to toughen up in a hurry.  (My boys still squawk about how hot I keep the dishwater.  I think they need to peel more beets.)  Soon the canning shelves would be filled with jewel-like red jars.  There was always a jar of pickled beets in the fridge on hand for meals, and for the holidays they’d be served up in a fancy crystal dish.  Mom always canned up a big mess of beets each year, but I rarely made pickled beets since no one in the house would eat them except me.  Fast forward, and my eldest son has decided that he now enjoys pickled beets.  Given that he’s built like a linebacker, he can go through quite a few of them, so I figured it was time to dig out the pickling spice.  Here’s momma’s recipe.  It’s similar to the Ball Blue Book “Beet Pickles”, but just a little simpler on the spices. [Read more...]