We had a bumper crop of lilacs this year. My neighbor commented that his trees were so full of blossoms that he couldn't see the leaves. My small tree was loaded, too, so it seemed like a good year to experiment with eating some of them. One of my closest friends has made candied lilacs for her daughter's birthday for years by brushing the delicate blooms with egg white and and sprinkling them with superfine sugar, but I didn't think that would have as much appeal for my boys. They generally prefer volume to intricacy. [Read more…]
To can food at home, you combine canning safe glass jars, lids with rubber gaskets, food that's safe for canning and the right heat processing. Home canning allows you to preserve almost any food – even entire meals – but you need to follow the rules. I do the bulk of my canning during harvest season, but can fire up the canner any time of year. One trick I've taken advantage of is to toss whole fruit (like tomatoes) or fruit puree into the freezer, and then finish processing when the weather has cooled. In this post I’ll discuss how to can food at home safely, basic equipment for home canning, and general canning tips.
I first saw striped jelly in a Facebook group and thought that it looked absolutely beautiful. There was only a photo, no instructions. The person who shared the photo said that her daughter had made some up for a local farm market. The daughter had planned to price it the same as the other jams, but the mom convinced her to charge extra because of the labor involved. Mom was right again, as the striped jelly sold out almost immediately, even at a much higher price.
I was inspired to give striped jelly a try, so during the season, I saved and froze different types of fruit juice and puree. When my sister came to visit last weekend, she asked if I had any extra jams or jelly that her granddaughter could use for a school fundraiser. Since trying new ideas is always more fun when you have a “partner in crime”, I dug out my fruit stash and my sis and I made up 15 jars of beautiful fruit striped yumminess. Here's how we did it.
By the way – if you don't have a stash of fruit puree, remember that you can always use fruit juices or frozen fruit for jellies and jams.
Our neighbors have a beautiful pear tree that's over 50 years old, and each year they invite us to share in the harvest. Big tree = many, many pears, so over the years I've used many different ways to preserve pears. No matter how you store them – canning, freezing, drying, freeze drying or fermenting – their high sugar content makes them a naturally decadent dessert. In this post I'll cover both short term and long term storage options. [Read more…]
My early attempts at dill pickles were not very successful. I followed the FDA guidelines from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving, and ended up with tasty pickles with absolutely no crunch. I love my Blue Book, but these were not the pickles I was looking for. As I understand it, many commercial manufacturers add alum (basically aluminum) to give their pickles crunch. Needless to say, I wasn't going that direction. These no can dill pickles bring the crunch without the aluminum.
This recipe is from my neighbor Betty. Betty and I have swapped a lot of produce and recipes over the years (she's also my son's piano teacher and has become like a grandmother to him 🙂 ). Betty makes a simple old-fashioned brined dill pickle that doesn't require canning, and couldn't be easier to make. [Read more…]