Showing posts with label Canning and Preserving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Canning and Preserving. Show all posts

Jun 8, 2017

How to Make Celery Salt (Plus: How to Dehydrate Celery)

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We have but one celery plant in our garden, yet it's enough to supply all our celery needs. That's because celery is a "cut and come again" plant, meaning you can cut off the stalks and new ones will grow in their place. Given that our plant is prolific, and given that it's getting huge now that it's spring, I recently cut all the larger stems off and decided to preserve them as celery salt (SO delish on meat and eggs!). I also made some plain dried celery.

Dehydrating the celery was easy: I cut up the stalks, laid them on dehydrator trays (covered with fruit roll sheets that prevent small pieces from falling through the trays' holes), set the dehydrator to 135 degrees F., and waited for the pieces to dry. It only took about 5 hours. These chopped, dried, stalk pieces are perfect for adding to soups and stews, come cool weather.

But I also had a ton of celery leaves I wanted to do something with. When I cook with fresh celery, I normally chop up the leaves and add them to whatever I'm cooking. They add celery flavor, but not crunch. So I dehydrated the leaves, too - and could have left them as is, to also add to soups and stews. But instead, I made really yummy celery salt.





How to Make Celery Salt

You can make celery salt with dried celery leaves, dried celery stalks, or even with celery seeds (but not seeds designed for planting in the ground; they may be treated with chemicals). For salt, I  recommend sea salt, since table salt or iodized salt will impart a less pure flavor. You may use either coarse or fine salt.

1. Powder dried leaves, stalks, or seeds. I used a food processor, but you could use a blender. If you're using leaves, a mortar and pestle, or even your fingers, will also do the trick.

2. Combine the salt and celery powder. The ratio you use is a matter of personal preference. I used half and half (equal parts), but some people prefer a 1:2 ratio, using more of whichever flavor, salt or celery, they want to emphasize.

3. Pour the celery salt into an air tight container, like a glass jar with a lid.

Watch this video to see just how easy it is!



May 23, 2017

Does Dehydrated Food Lose Its Nutritional Value?

dehydrated fruit, dehydrated vegetables, dried fruit
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site! 

Years ago, when my children were toddlers and I first dipped my toe into the world of home dehydrating, I remember a friend saying, "But why? Food loses all it's nutritional value once you dehydrate it!" In years since, I've heard similar thoughts from friends and readers - but the question is, are they right?

First, let me be clear that today I'm only addressing home dehydrated food. Store bought dehydrated food usually has sugar and preservatives added - which is definitely not something I want for my family. Home dehydrated food, however, has no preservatives and no added sugar (unless you chose to add it). In addition, I'm discussing food that's dried either by the sun or by a conventional electric food dehydrator, not food that's preserved in a home freeze drier, which is something else entirely.

Does Dehydrating Remove Fiber Content? What About Sugar?

A common belief is that dehydrated fruit and vegetables do not contain fiber. This is untrue. The fiber does not dry up and float away - in fact, compared to fresh fruit, there's more fiber in proportion to weight. This is why dried fruit is often used as a remedy for constipation; there's simply more fiber per bite than fresh food can offer.

I also think it's important to note that the carbohydrates or sugar in food do not diminish when that food is dehydrated. Just like fiber, sugar stays put - which means dehydrated food has a higher sugar content than the same food in fresh form.

Plums prepared for dehydrating.
Does Dehydrating Remove Minerals?

Some sources claim dehydrated food loses no minerals, while others claim food "generally retains its mineral content well during the drying process." However, if you blanch food before dehydrating - a practice sometimes used to help retain the food's color and vitamin content - it will lose more minerals than if you don't. Still, the mineral loss is scant.

Does Dehydrating Remove Vitamins?

The quick answer is: To a certain extent. The amount, and which vitamins, depends upon the methods used to dry the food.

According to Harvest Right, the makers of a home freeze drying (not dehydrating) machine, canned food retains 40% of its nutritional value, while dehydrated food retains 60% of its nutrients. (Home freeze dried food, they claim, retains 97% of its nutrients.)





This jibes with what I've read elsewhere; a nutritionist in The New York Times states that a cup of fresh, halved apricots "is 86 percent water, with 74 calories, and a cup of dried fruit is 76 percent water, with 212 calories. Fresh apricots have 3.1 grams of fiber versus 6.5 for dried; 0.6 milligrams of iron versus 2.35 milligrams; 15.5 milligrams of vitamin C versus 0.8 milligrams; and 149 retinol activity equivalents of vitamin A versus 160."

According to the University of Missouri Extension Office website, Vitamins A and C are most likely to see a reduction through dehydrating because they "are destroyed by heat and air." In fact, if you cut a piece of fruit, it will begin losing those nutrients right away, just from air exposure. In addition, heat - including heat used in cooking or dehydrating - reduces the amount of vitamin C in any given food.

What About Enzymes?
Dehydrated tomato paste (made from tomato skins).


Whenever you heat food, some enzymes are lost. However, the low temperatures used in home dehydration are less likely to kill enzymes than cooking that same food.

How to Prevent Vitamin Loss in Home Dehydrated Food

The single best way to preserve as much of the nutrients in home dehydrated food is simply to dry it at the right temperature. This is one area where an electric food dehydrator trumps using the oven or a solar dehydrator to dry food: Controlling temperature and keeping it low equals more nutrients in the finished food. This easy guideline ensures that almost all the food's original nutrients remain in place. So it pays to follow the standard heat recommendations for home dehydrating:

Herbs - 95 degrees F.
Nuts and seeds - 105 degrees F.
Fruit and vegetables - 135 degrees F.
Pasta - 135 degrees F.
Meat - 160 degrees F.

Dehydrating jerky.
Other things that can help retain nutrients in home dried food include:

* Pre-treating by dipping vegetables and fruit in lemon juice or citric acid. This not only helps prevent browning, but it helps preserve vitamin A and C in the food. Unfortunately, this treatment can also reduce thiamine in dried food.

* Blanching vegetables before dehydrating helps preserve their carotene...but it also lowers a food's vitamin C content and may cause a small amount of mineral loss. Steam blanching is less likely to reduce nutrients in food than blanching in boiling water.

* Not letting the food sit in direct sunlight. This is why dehydrated food should be stored in a dark location - and also why solar dehydrators should have a shading cover (like this one).

* Slicing food evenly, to ensure you don't over-heat and over-dry smaller pieces. Using a mandoline to slice makes this much easier. (This is mandoline I use.)

* Rotating dehydrator trays to prevent over-heating and over-drying of some portions.

* Planning ahead. If a food is likely to only take a couple of hours to dry, for example, don't put it in the dehydrator at bedtime, or by morning it will be over-dried.

Related Posts:

* Making Dried Apples in an Oven
* Drying Tomato Skins to Make Easy Tomato Paste
* Why I Love My Dehydrator
* How to Make Jerky in a Dehydrator

May 8, 2017

Bumbleberry (Mixed Berry) Jam - with no pectin, lower sugar options!

canned, freezer, no pectin, lower sugar
I originally posted this recipe in 2011, and it has remained a family favorite. (My sis says, "This is the BEST jam I've ever tasted!")

Recently, however, I wanted to make a batch for the freezer (instead of canning it and making it shelf stable) and realized that if I wasn't going to can it, it didn't need nearly as much sugar - and no pectin, either. 

So today I'm re-posting this delish jam, with notes on both canning it and making it as a lower sugar, no pectin freezer jam.

From 2011: This weekend I opened the freezer and was once again confronted with a bag of frozen strawberries and another of raspberries. When my son was tested for food allergies, we bought these bags and the nurse removed a single berry from each to use in the testing process. Since then the bags have sat, undisturbed, in our freezer. What to do with them? Especially since they'd been in there nearly a year.

We don't eat much jam in our household, but I do occasionally give it to the kids. And jam always makes a great gift. So I wondered if I could find a jam recipe that included both strawberries and raspberries. My Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving had the solution: Bumbleberry Jam. All I had to do was add a few of the frozen blueberries I also had on hand.

Incidentally, some people hesitate to use frozen goods for canning, but in most instances, it's fine. These days, frozen foods are flash frozen at their peak, so they are often more fresh than the "fresh" produce you buy at the grocery store. For this recipe, since the berries must be crushed with a potato masher, (EDIT: This is optional when making freezer jam) I recommend removing the berries from the freezer long enough for them to partially thaw.

The jam came out terrific. In fact, my 2 year old just threw a temper tantrum because I wouldn't give him more than one serving.




For Shelf Stable, Water Bath Canned Bumble Berry Jam:


1 cup crushed blueberries
1 cup crushed raspberries
1 cup crushed strawberries
6 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons powdered pectin

1. Review the guidelines for using a boiling water canner, if necessary.

2. Prepare jars and lids.

3. In the large pot, combine the crushed blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and sugar. (EDIT: Please note that you cannot reduce the amount of sugar required in the canned version of this recipe, or it will not set.) Cook and stir over high heat until the mixture reaches a full boil that can't be stirred away. Add the pectin. Boil and stir constantly for 1 minute. Remove the pot from the heat. Skim off any foam.

4. One jar at a time, fill hot jars with jam, leaving 1/4 in. headspace. A funnel makes this job tidier. Use the handle of a plastic or wooden spoon to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rim of the jar clean with a towel. Place a lid on top of the jar, followed by a screw band. Secure until the band is finger tip tight.

5. Using the jar lifter, place the filled jar in the canner. Repeat step 4 until the canner is full or all the jam is used up. Make sure the jars are completely covered by water.

6. Cover the canner and bring the water to a boil. Boil the jars for 10 minutes*, then turn off the heat. Wait 5 minutes and remove the jars from the canner and place on a wire rack or a thick towel to completely cool.

* NOTE: If you live at a high altitude, read this important information about adjusting canning times.

For No Pectin, Lower Sugar Freezer Bumbleberry Jam:

1 cup crushed blueberries
1 cup crushed raspberries
1 cup crushed strawberries
1 cup+ granulated sugar (to taste)

1.  Place a small plate in the freezer.

2. Pour the berries into a heavy, medium-sized saucepan. Add 1 cup granulated sugar. If desired, use a potato masher to mash up the berries.

3. Place the pan over medium heat and stir the ingredients until the fruit juices begin flowing. Turn the heat up to medium high, stir often, and bring mixture to a boil.

4. Stir constantly while jam thickens. Add more sugar, to taste, if desired. Boil jam while stirring, until the mixture reaches 221 degrees F. (Click here for more tips on testing jam for doneness.)

5. Pour hot jam into hot canning jars. Put on lids and allow jars to come to room temperature. Transfer to the freezer.



Apr 12, 2017

How to Make Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut in a Mason Jar

Now is a great time to make homemade, DIY sauerkraut. It's healthier than store bought (because all those good probiotics are still in there, whereas most store bought sauerkraut is "dead" of probiotics), cheaper than store bought, and fun and easy, too. Here's my preferred method - which, incidentally, does not require any special tools. For written instructions, click here.





Oct 25, 2016

How to Dehydrate Figs

how to dry figs
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I am a complete fig novice. Before we moved to our rural homestead, I'd never even tasted a fig (unless you count Fig Newtons.) And since I've been constantly behind since we moved here, it's little wonder I haven't found time to research taking care of the four fig trees that came with our property. So it was a bit of a surprise when we started getting a bumper crop in October!

Originally, I'd wanted to make some fig jam with a bumper crop, but since the fire destroyed this summer's worth of canning, I just haven't have the heart to can anything. Plus, now that the pole barn is gone, I have pretty much zero space for storing canned goods. I thought I might use up all the figs in various recipes, but discovered almost all recipes call for dried figs. (This makes sense, because ripe figs are highly perishable and most stores therefore only carry them in dehydrated form.)

But drying figs at home? It seemed a dubious endeavor. Truly ripe figs are super-moist. Wouldn't it take forever to get a ripe fig dry? Turns out, the answer is no! Figs dry surprisingly fast and well.

By the way, you can use either a food dehydrator or your oven for this project. However, because  ovens can't go to the low temperature that's best for drying fruit, the end result will be a little less flavorful and nutritious. (Thinking of buying a dehydrator? You do not need an expensive, fancy machine. I love my Nesco American Harvest, which is both affordable and long-lasting. You can buy additional trays for it, if desired.)



How to Dehydrate Figs

1. Cut off one fig's stem; discard. Cut the fig into quarters. (I've seen people dry fig halves, but because it takes longer for halves to dry, and since most recipes call for chopping up dried figs, anyway, I chose to quarter them.)


2. If desired, dip the fig quarters into a mixture of equal parts lemon juice and cold water. I didn't do this, but it does prevent the figs from browning while dehydrating.

3. Place fig quarters on the tray of a dehydrator. Make sure they aren't touching. Repeat steps until all the figs are on the dehydrator trays.



4. Dehydrate at 135 degrees F. until figs are completely dry, but not hard and brittle. Test a larger piece by biting into it or breaking it in half with your hands. If any liquid oozes from the fruit, it's not fully dehydrated.

5. Store dehydrated fruit in glass jars with air tight lids in a cool, dry, dark location. Dehydrated figs are best used within a year.


How to Dry Figs in the Oven

1. Follow steps 1 and 2, above.

2. Place a wire cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet and place the fig quarters on it.

3. Dry the figs using your oven's coolest setting. If you have an oven warming drawer, I recommend using that instead, since it will usually go to a lower setting than the oven itself. Test fruit doneness, using the method described in step 4, above.

4. Store dehydrated fruit in glass jars with air tight lids in a cool, dry, dark location. Dehydrated figs are best used within a year.

 

Aug 23, 2016

Understanding Pectin

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information.

 Even among many life-long canners, pectin is a mysterious thing. How does it work? Why are there different types of pectin? What's it really made from? How can you use it and get consistent results? Recently, I chatted with representatives from some of the most popular commercial pectin-making companies, then coupled the information I gleaned from them with my own research. The result? Some definitive answers.

What is Pectin?

Speaking non-technically, pectin is a component (basically, a starch) found in the tissue of all fruits. Under-ripe fruit has more pectin than fully ripe fruit - and some fruits naturally have more pectin than others. Apples, quince, and citrus, for example, all contain higher amounts of pectin than other fruits.

For the purposes of canning, pectin is used to thicken and jell jams and jellies. Pectin will only jell, however, when it's cooked to the right temperature (210 and 220ºF, depending upon altitude). Cooking it cooler or hotter than this will produce jams and jellies with too much liquid. In addition, pectin typically requires sugar in order to form a jell.





Pectin "In the Old Days"


If you look at 19th century canning recipes, you'll never find one that calls for pectin. That's because canners relied on the natural pectin found in fruit, plus a long cook time, and perhaps even the addition of just enough under-ripe or tart apples, to create a jell. In fact, it wasn't until the early 1800s that scientists discovered that pectin is what makes jams and jellies jell, when mixed with the proper amount of sugar.

Here's a good explanation of how pectin works, from the British newspaper, The Guardian:
"Pectin was first isolated by French chemist Henri Braconnot in 1825 and was named from the Greek pektikos, which means congealed or curdled. It is a polysaccharide so, like cellulose and starch, it is made up of long chains of sugar molecules. In fruit, pectin is concentrated in the skins and cores where it acts as structural 'cement' in the plant cell walls. In jam, pectin forms a mesh that traps the sugary liquid and cradles suspended pieces of fruit.
"Branches that stick out from the long chains of pectin bond with each other to form the three dimensional network that jam makers crave. In a solution, these branches are reluctant to bond, first because they attract water molecules, which stops them bonding, and second because they have a slight negative electrical charge, which means they repel one another.
"To solve the first problem we add sugar, which binds to the water molecules and frees up the pectin chains to form their network. The negative charges are reduced by acid naturally found in the fruit or added to the mixture. The acid reduces the electrical charge on the pectin branches and so allows them to bond. To increase acidity lemon juice can be added. But be careful: if your mixture is too acidic, this will damage the pectin."

Citrus pith is an excellent source of pectin. (Photo courtesy of
Commercially Made Pectin

There are two types of commercially made pectin: Powdered and liquid. By and large, most canners in the United States use powdered pectin. It should always be used as directed on the package, and there may be slight but important differences in the instructions, depending upon the manufacturer.

Liquid pectin is added near the end of cooking. Many expert canners prefer liquid pectin, saying it produces a softer jell than powdered pectin, as well as more consistent results. Again, you should always carefully follow the manufacturer's directions for use.

Powdered and liquid pectin are not interchangeable. In fact, which type you use is determined by the recipe you're using. You cannot successfully use liquid pectin for a powdered pectin recipe, and vice versa.

There is some controversy online about what commercially made pectin is made from. Some say "mostly apples," some say "mostly citrus pith," while others say - believe it or not - mold. The answers came easily enough from producers of commercial pectin:

A Sure-Jell Certo (Kraft) representative responded to my inquiries, saying their pectin is made from lime peels.

Ball's representative said their pectin is made " from apple pomace, which is rendered as a byproduct of juice manufacturing. The Ball Canning liquid pectin is derived from citrus peels."

Connie Sumberg of Pomona Pectin said, "Our pectin is made from the dried peel of lemon, lime, and orange, after the fruit has been juiced and the oil has been pressed out of the peel. Pomona's Pectin contains only 100% pure citrus pectin, which is vegan, gluten free, and GMO free. There are no additives, preservatives, sugar, or dextrose. There are no corn or apple by-products." She also noted that other brands of pectin contain additives and sometimes preservatives; some, like

Interestingly, I have yet to find any commercial pectin that is organic - and both apples and citrus are some of our most heavily sprayed crops. 


No Sugar Pectin

Pomona's Pectin is a little different from the other available brands in other ways, too. Unlike most commercial pectin, which need the right amount of sugar to create a jell, Pomona's actually uses calcium to make a jell. This allows canners to use less - or even no - sugar in their jams and jellies, or to easily use alternative sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or stevia. Pomona's is more costly than other commercial pectin, but each box also makes up to four batches of jam or jelly, which is more than other brands.

Other pectin makers also have low- or no-sugar pectin available; these can be used with fruit juices, sugar substitutes, and honey.




Homemade Pectin
Homemade pectin.


Some canners enjoy making their own pectin from under-ripe apples or crab apples. It's not a difficult task, but it does take a lot of apples to make much pectin. (However, it's a great use for all the tiny, immature windfall apples you'll get if you don't thin your fruit.) Some expert jam makers dislike homemade pectin, however, because it can lead to inconsistent results (due to the fact that you have no way of knowing exactly how much pectin is in any given batch).

In addition, jellies made with homemade pectin may turn cloudy - not a big issue for most of us, but something to consider if you plan on entering your jelly into a competition - a local fair, for example. In addition, homemade pectin (and commercially made powdered pectin, too) will likely lead to any fruit in your jam rising to the top of the canning jar.


No Added Pectin Recipes

It's perfectly possible to make fruit jams and jellies without adding any pectin whatsoever. However, the fruit must be cooked down longer, which results in a different look to the finished jam or jelly - and a more cooked flavor. In addition, compared to making fruit with added pectin, it will take considerably more fruit to make the same amount of jam or jelly. The upside is that you can often use less sugar in no-added-pectin jams.

When making no-pectin-added jelly, you may wish to add some under-ripe fruit to help the jelling process; although I have never personally had a problem getting a jell even when using quite ripe fruit, results vary depending upon the natural pectin amounts found in various fruits.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Ivey Rock


Testing for the Perfect Jell

Unfortunately, pectin doesn't jell jams or jellies until the mixture cools down. That's why my favorite way to test for jell is to use a thermometer. Just stick the thermometer into the pot when the jam starts boiling, and once it hits 221 degrees F. (105 C.), remove the pan from the heat. It's okay if the jam looks too runny, because, again, it will thicken upon sitting.

Troubleshooting Pectin

Here are a few of the most common jam and jelly making problems canners encounter - and their solutions.

Lumpy: Too much pectin.

Stiff: Too much pectin; overcooked.

Runny: Too little pectin; jam not cooked long enough; jam overheated.

Too soft: Overcooked; undercooked; insufficient acid; recipe doubles or otherwise increased; jam or jelly not allowed to sit in the jar long enough to set properly.

Too Stiff: Overcooking; too much pectin; too little sugar. 

Weeping: Storage space is too warm or the temperature fluctuates; too much acid.

Moldy: Not processed in a water bath canner for 10 minutes after putting in the jar; poor seal on jar; jars stored in too warm or bright a location.

Related Posts:

* How to Make Apple Pectin
* Other Uses for Homemade Pectin
* Peach Jam With No Added Pectin
* Bumbleberry (Mixed Berry) Jam
* Apple Pie Jam
* Dandelion Jelly


* Title image courtesy of


Aug 17, 2016

The Lazy Way to Freeze Green Beans

In case you haven't noticed, I have a lot going on! That's why it's nice to have super easy ways to preserve things from the garden. For example, when I realized there was a crop of green beans that needed picking yesterday, I decided right then and there I was going to freeze them the "lazy" way.

Now, the "correct" way to freeze green beans is to bring a pot of water to a boil, drop in the green beans, and set the timer for 3 minutes. When the 3 minutes are up, immediately drain the green beans and submerge in a bowl or sink of ice water until fully cooled. Pat dry, place in freezer bags, and pop into the freezer. It's not hard, but it does take a wee bit of time, especially if you have a large crop of green beans.



However, a few years back, I discovered that this method (called "blanching") isn't absolutely necessary. Yes, scientists say it preserves the beans' nutrients best. But, actually, I rather prefer my green beans frozen without blanching. And not just because it's easy; I also find that not blanching the beans mostly does away with the weird squeakiness blanched and frozen green beans have!


The Lazy Way to Freeze Green Beans

1. Wash the beans in cool water. Thoroughly, pat dry.

2. Pinch off or cut the stem ends. If you like, pinch or cut off the tail ends, too. Leave the green beans whole, or cut them up, as desired.

3. Place the green beans in a freezer bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible.


4. Pop into the freezer.

It doesn't get any easier than this, folks!


Jul 25, 2016

Sorting the Fruit Harvest - An Easy, Practical Method to Avoid Waste

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information.

When you buy fruit, even in bulk, the sorting has already been done for you. You just pick the fruit
that looks freshest, pay, and you're done. But when you have even one fruit tree, you'll soon discover you need to put a little more thought into gathering fruit. The method doesn't have to be complicated or terribly time consuming, but if you sort your fruit, you'll waste a lot less of it, and preserving it through freezing, dehydrating, canning, or cold storage will be much easier. Here's how I go about sorting our fruit.

Step 1: Windfall

When I gather the harvest, I always look for windfall fruit first; this prevents me from stepping on it and making it inedible. ("Windfall" just means fruit that has fallen to the ground due to wind or ripeness.) Some windfall fruit is too rotten or squashed to do anything with; I leave that on the ground for the critters and the soil. If you prefer, you can compost it. But if you gather windfall fruit every day, you'll find much of it is still useful. Don't worry if it has some bruised spots, bird "bites", or other less than pretty parts. You will cut those parts away later. I like to put all the windfall fruit into a separate bucket or bowl. (And, by the way, collecting windfall fruit is an excellent job for kids!)



Step 2: Harvest the Tree

Next, I like to gather everything I can reach by hand, then use our fruit picker for the rest. If you want, you can try to sort the fruit as you pick, putting the very ripe (its-gonna-be-bad-tomorrow) fruit in one bucket and the rest of the ripe fruit in another. I prefer to get all the picking done without sorting, so I put all the picked fruit into one bucket (or more, as the size of the harvest dictates).

Step 3: Check the Ground Again

Often as I pick fruit, more fruit falls from the tree, so after harvesting the tree, I look around on the ground again for good fruit and place it in my harvesting bucket(s).
Sorting a plum harvest.

Step 4. Final Sort

When I bring the fruit indoors, I put the windfall fruit aside and separate the fruit that's super ripe (its-gonna-be-bad-tomorrow) from the rest of the ripe fruit.


Ta-da! I'm done sorting!






What to Do With Sorted Fruit

Super ripe (its-gonna-be-bad-tomorrow) fruit: Eat it within hours; or prepare it that day in a dish (like cobbler or pie); or preserve it. Super ripe fruit is, in my opinion, best preserved by making jam or maybe pie filling. However, I usually freeze the fruit whole and make jam or filling when I'm not so overwhelmed with preserving the rest of the harvest.

Windfall fruit: This type of fruit often has bruising, so it's also good for jam, pie filling, or (in the case of apples) applesauce. Or, eat it within hours of picking off the ground.

Ripe fruit: Eat fresh, whenever possible. I recommend sorting through the ripe fruit every day, to look for fruit that is getting super ripe. Always eat this fruit first, or freeze it, or preserve it in some other way so it doesn't get wasted. Ripe fruit is also excellent for dehydrating; canning whole, halves, or in slices; or freezing in slices.

A Note About Harvest Abundance 

Recently, a reader commented that I should give much of my fruit to charity. We do give away some of our harvest, but we also think long term about our family's needs. Many Americans think only about the food needed for today or tomorrow - or maybe for the next two weeks. But homesteading philosophy dictates we think ahead at least a year. So yes, we have too much fruit for our family today, but we don't have too much fruit if we think in terms of the year. The reason I preserve so much while the harvest is ripe in the summer is that this food will be our fruit when fruit is no longer in season. This way, we aren't encouraging the modern idea that food should be shipped or trucked thousands of miles to us, and we know we can always have healthy fruit that hasn't been sprayed with chemicals or canned with unwholesome ingredients.

Jul 18, 2016

What to Do With a Bumper Crop of Plums

A few days ago, I finally got around to counting the trees in our orchard. We have nine apple trees and eleven - yes, eleven! - plum trees. Fortunately, they don't all ripen at the same time, but currently I have two trees that need daily harvesting. We can't possibly eat all those fresh plums before they rot, so I'm planning ahead: What else can we do with all these plums? How can I preserve plums for winter? Here's what I've come up with:

Canning Plums

* Plain canned 
* Mulled plums
* Plum Sauce
* Plum Butter (a really thick jam)
* Spiced Plum Jam
* Low Sugar Plum Jam 
* 2 Ingredient, No Added Pectin Plum Jelly 
* Simple No Pectin Plum Jam
* Plum Pie Filling 
* Pickled Plums

Dehydrating Plums

* Basic Instructions
* Plum Fruit Leather 

Freezing Plums

* Basic Instructions

Other Plum Recipes

* Plum BBQ Sauce
* Savory Plum Sauce 
* Plum Glazed Pork Ribs
* Plum Salsa, Sorbet, Chutney 
* Plum Lemonade
* Oven Roasted Plums
* Chocolate Plum Cake 
* German Plum Cake
* Plum Crumble 
* Plum Cobbler 
* Plum Cobbler with Cake Like Texture
* Plum Shortcakes
* Plum Tart 
* Upside Down Plum Cake 
* Sugar Plum Jelly Candies 
* Plum Kuchen 
* Plum Oat Muffins 
* Plum Coffee Cake Muffins
* Plum Bread Pudding 
* Plum Bread
* Plum and Banana Bread
* Plum Popsicle
* Plum Ice Cream 
* Plum Kombucha
* Plum Wine 
* Plum Vinegar 
* Lacto-Fermented Plums

BONUS: Plum Pie Recipe

This recipe is from my cookbook Easy As Pie: 45 From Scratch Pie Recipes - which is only $2.99 for the Kindle or $6.99 in paperback. It's got just about every fruit pie recipe you could want, plus recipes for vegetable pies, cream pies, and much more.



Pastry for 2 crusts

7 fresh plums (about 1 lb.), sliced, skins intact
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup quick cooking tapioca
1 tablespoon butter

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Roll out one crust and place in a 9 inch pie plate. Refrigerate. Keep the remaining pastry in plastic wrap in the refrigerator.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar and tapioca. Add the plums and gently toss. Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

3. Spoon the filling into the prepared pie plate. Cut up the butter and scatter over the top of the filling. Roll out second crust and place over the filling. (If desired, make a lattice top crust, as pictured here.) Seal and cut 4 slits into the crust.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 - 50 min. or until the filling is bubbly and the crust golden. Transfer to a wire cooling rack.


* Title image courtesy of Michelle Tribe.

 

Dec 29, 2015

Most Popular Posts 2015 - and All Time!

I've been blogging at Proverbs 31 Woman for six years (and have written over 1,140 posts!), but honestly, I never have any clue which posts are going to be the most talked about or viewed. They say the Lord works in mysterious ways, and judging by what posts are most popular here, I have to agree! It's always a pretty eclectic list. I hope you enjoy it!

(P.S. Want to see more popular posts from Proverbs 31 Woman? Check out the Pinterest page "Most Popular Posts at Proverbs 31 Woman.")


Most Popular Posts from 2015:

1. Why I Don't Watch HGTV (And Maye You Shouldn't Either)

2. Free Art History Curriculum: Edgar Degas (this whole series is popular, but this is the most popular post from the series)

3. How to Kill E.Coli on Vegetables and Fruits

4. No Fail Healthy Pie Crust Recipe

5. Keeping the House Cool in Summer (With and Without AC)

6. 12 Old Fashioned Birthday Party Games for Kids

7. How to Make a SCOBY for Kombucha

8. "I Am..." A Self Worth Craft for Kids


Most Popular Posts of All Time:

1. How to Train Chickens (and Get Them to Do What You Want Them to Do)

2. Best Free Apron Patterns on the Net

3. 6 Ways to Teach Kids the Books of the Bible

4. Best Ideas for Upcycling Jeans

5. How to Clean a REALLY Dirty Stove

6. How to EASILY Clean Ceilings and Walls - Even in a Greasy Kitchen

7. Canning Pickled Green Beans (Dilly Beans)

8. Easy Refrigerator Pickled Beets

9. Freezing Apple Pie Filling