Monday, October 28, 2013
I love home grown carrots. You can grow so many unique heirloom varieties with pretty colors and unique flavors. Some of my favorite carrots are spicy, red dragon carrots and sweet, fat, orange Parisienne carrots. Carrots can be stored with their green tops trimmed in a bucket of sand through the winter. However, I like to pressure can carrots some years when I end up with a huge batch of carrots. Pressure canned carrots can be stored for 3 years in a cool dark place. One of the nice things about pressure canning is that you can grow crops on a rotation since the canned food will last for more than 1 year. I really like that there is not rush to eat the pressure canned food like there is to make sure jams and jellies are all eaten every year.
I rarely add salt to my pressure canned items because I prefer to add salt to final dishes and not basic ingredients since I am very salt sensitive and do not like salty foods. If you choose to add salt to these carrots, then use iodine free salt. Fine sea salt without iodine or canning salt will work for canning.
The canned carrots come out soft and sweet. After opening they can be pureed as a base for carrot soup or baby food. My older kids enjoy them reheated in a small sauce pan over medium heat until warm all the way through. They will eat them as a side to dish to any meal. I like them because they can be served on a busy night after diving practice as part of a quick meal.
This recipe is NOT safe for boiling water canning. According to the National Center for Home Preservation, an average of 17 1/2 pounds of carrots is needed for 7 quarts of carrots or 11 pounds of carrots is needed for 9 pints of carrots. A bushel of carrots weighs 50 pounds and yields 17 to 25 quarts of carrots.
Ingredients (makes about 1 quart) from Blue Book Guide to Preserving p 67 and National Center for Home Preservation
2-3 pounds of carrots per quart, sliced 1/4" thick
1 tsp iodine free salt (optional)
1. Place carrots in a pot. Cover with water. Bring the carrots to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and simmer the carrots for 5 minutes.
3. Put the carrots in hot, sterile jars leaving 1 inch headspace.
4. Add 1/2 tsp of salt to pint jars or 1 tsp of salt to quart jars, if desired.
5. Ladle the hot water over the carrots leaving 1 inch headspace. Remove any bubbles from the jars using a bubble remover.
6. Place the hot lids on the jars and adjust the bands around the jars.
7. Process in a dial gauge pressure canner for 25 minutes at 11 lbs of pressure for pints or 30 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure for quarts. Alternatively, process in a weighted gauge canner at 10 lbs of pressure for 25 minutes for pints or 10 lbs of pressure for 30 minutes for quarts.
Posted on Homestead Barn Hop
Friday, October 25, 2013
Every year our Spanish classes growing up would celebrate El Dia De Los Muertos with El pan de meurto and Mexican hot chocolate. I wanted to give my homeschooling group a taste of this Mexican holiday a few years ago, so I decided to make some sugar skulls for our group to decorate along with some marigold necklaces from flowers grown in my garden. The sugar skulls take 2 days to make from start to finish. They can be a bit labor intensive, but they are worth it in the end. Decorating these sugar skulls has been one our group's favorite events. The skulls were decorated using royal icing which dries hard. Candies, feathers, and plastic gemstones can also be used to decorate the sugar skulls as well.
The skulls are not intended to be eaten because the ingredients are handled a lot during making. However, everything in the sugar skulls is edible. A few of our kids did eat their sugar skulls, so make sure you have very clean hands when making sugar skulls. You should avoid making sugar skulls during a rainy week because the skulls will not dry properly. I currently live in a rainy climate so I used a dehumidifier in the room where I made the sugar skulls to combat our rainy weather. The sugar skulls turned out fine with the dehumidifier in the room. The sugar skulls can easily be made months in advance and stored in a cool dry place until decorating time.
There are several mold options for sugar skulls. Larger molds take more sugar and meringue powder and therefore are more expensive to make. Small molds to not give you a lot of decorating space. I think the large molds look the best when decorated, but my budget only allowed me to make medium size skulls because I was making skulls for a large group of kids. The meringue powder can not be skipped when making sugar skulls otherwise the sugar skulls will not get hard and hold their shape. Bulk meringue powder can be found on-line or in places that sells cake decorating supplies. I got my meringue powder from a local kitchen store.
|Large Sugar Skull|
Ingredients (yield 10 large skulls, 40 medium skulls, 200 mini skulls) from Sugar Skull Making Instructions
Sugar skull mold (can be ordered here)
10 lbs of granulated sugar
1/2 cup meringue powder (about 2 ounces)
7 tbsp water
thick cardboard rectangles to hold the sugar skulls (I used 2 rectangles per skull)
Royal Icing (recipe below)
1. Mix the sugar, meringue powder, and water together with your hands. The sugar should be fully moistened and feel like cool sand in your hands. When you squeeze some sugar in your hands, the sugar should hold together and leave an impression of your fingers in the sugar. If the sugar falls apart, then add a 1 tsp of water at a time until the sugar is moist enough.
|Too dry: needs more water|
|Large Mold: contains a front and back mold|
|Medium size mold: contains a font and back mold|
5. Allow the sugar skulls to dry for 24 hours. If you are in a humid environment, then run a dehumidifier in the room while the skulls are drying.
|Finished skull with no decorations|
Royal Icing Recipe (makes enough for 5 pounds of sugar skulls) from Sugar Skull Making Instructions
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup merinegue powder
2 pounds powdered sugar
Optional: concentrated paste food coloring (not the liquid drops)
1. Mix the water, meringue powder, and powdered sugar with an electric mixer until peaks form, about 9 minutes.
2. Add optional coloring. I dip a toothpick into my paste coloring then I dip the toothpick into the icing and stir. It is better to go too light and add more color since you can not remove color.
3. For pasting sugar skulls I add an extra tsp of water to make the icing more runny. For decorating, you can add an extra 1-3 tsp of powdered sugar to make it stiffer if you want firmer icing. Firmer icing is harder to place into pastry bags with tips for decorating, but I find it easier to control once in the bag. This is up to personal preference.
Other Day of the Dead Activities:
1 Day of the Dead and Sugar Skull Tradition
For more information on the Day of the Dead see my El Dia De Los Muertos pinboard
Children's Books about the Day of the Dead
The Day of the Dead by Bob Barner and Teresa Mlawer
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
I love smoked paprika, and I grow paprika peppers every year in my garden, so I decided to try my hand at making my own smoked paprika. Paprika peppers are grown the same way that you grow a bell pepper, so they are very easy to grow. Each pepper gets to the same size as a large red bell pepper. In fact, you could substitute a large red bell pepper in this recipe if you do not grow paprika peppers or you could try smoking and dehydrating another one of your favorite pepper plants.
Homemade smoke paprika has a heavier smoked flavor than store bought smoke paprika. The color is also brighter compared to store bought smoked paprika . I zest the smoked and dehydrated peppers by hand so my smoked paprika looks like small flakes instead of a fine powder of store bought smoke paprika. If you have a food processor, then I could attempt to make a powder using a food processor. However, I do not own a food processor so I have to use the more laborious method. Two peppers makes ½ pint of smoked paprika. We use this smoked paprika for Texas Mesquite Smoked Brisket and in chili recipes. You could even skip the zesting steps and just use strips of the smoked paprika directly in your chili recipe. This smoked paprika makes a nice economical DIY gift for someone who loves to cook.
Ingredients (makes about ½ pint) from my own kitchen
2 large paprika peppers (or other favorite pepper)
Wood chips (I used a small handful of hickory wood chips)
1. Core and remove the seeds from the peppers. Slice the pepper into ¼ inch strips.
2. Poke some holes in two pieces of aluminum foil.
3. Place 1 piece of foil on the bottom rack of the grill. Add a small handful of chips on top of the aluminum foil.
4. Turn on the grill. You only need to heat under the wood chips. Heat the grill to 150 degrees F. I usually keep my flame on low setting.
5. Place the second piece of aluminum foil on the top rack of the grill above the wood chips. Place the peppers on top of the aluminum foil.
6. Close the grill and smoke the peppers for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes the peppers will have shrunk in size, become darker in color, and the edges might be curled up a little.
7. Allow the peppers to cool to room temperature.
8. Place the pepper strips in the dehydrator. Dehydrate for 8-10 hours at 125 degrees F (or use the temperature suggested by your dehydrator.) The peppers will be dry and flexible. If the peppers are mushy, then dehydrate for another 1-2 hours. If the peppers are crispy and not flexible, then you have dehydrated them for too long.
9. At this point you can use the peppers in strips in chili recipes or you can zest the peppers to make small flakes. We zest the peppers for dry rubs.
10. Store in an air tight container. We use half pint mason jars.
Monday, September 16, 2013
This is a sponsored post. When I was a kid Washington was known for apples. I remember a local grocery chain bragging on a radio ad that they carry Washington apples, but did you know that Washington also grows great stone fruits? A lot of the beautiful stone fruits (cherries, peaches, plums, and nectarines) that you see at many grocery stores also comes from Washington. During peak season Washington fruits are excellent for canning. The peaches and nectarines are huge compared to our local peaches and nectarines!
This year the Washington State Fruit Commission sent me peaches and nectarines to can and share a recipe with you. I love fruit syrups for pancakes. Every year we make lots of strawberry and blueberry syrup, but this year I wanted to make some peach and nectarine syrup as well. Peach or nectarine syrup is very delicate compared to strawberry or blueberry syrup. The peach syrup came out a little lighter in color than the nectarine syrup. The peach or nectarine syrup is excellent on pancakes or over vanilla ice cream. I am also kicking around the idea of making a peach or nectarine baklava similar to how I made a strawberry baklava using strawberry syrup.
Ingredients for Peach or Nectarine Syrup (about 3 pints)
3 lbs of peaches or nectarines, pitted, pealed, and sliced
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups sugar
fine mesh strainer
1. Place peaches/nectarines and lemon juice in a large pot.
2. Add water until just barely covering the peaches or nectarines. The amount of water needed will depend upon the size of your pot and how thickly you cut the fruit. I needed 8 cups of water.
3. Simmer the fruit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes the fruit will be soft.
4. Strain the fruit from liquid. I got 6 cups of liquid. The fruit is still very flavorful and full of fiber so it can be used in smoothies or made into popsicles.
7. Add the juice and sugar back to the pot.
8. Boil the syrup while stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar.
9. Ladle the hot syrup into hot, sterile jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust two piece lids.
10. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
11. Store in a cool dry place for up to 1 year.
Monday, August 19, 2013
I discovered just how delicious peach salsa can be when I lived in the middle of peach country. I will admit to being skeptical about fruit salsa since I had only experienced tomato salsas, but peach salsa is wonderful. Peach salsa is sweet, spicy, and refreshing. Opening up a jar of peach salsa reminds me of summer which I have come to appreciate more since moving to an area with four distinct seasons. There is something refreshing about enjoying a jar of peach salsa when there is a few inches of snow on the ground.
I like this peach salsa recipe because it uses lime juice to give the salsa a little extra flavor. The original recipe calls for white vinegar, but I used white wine vinegar because I like the more delicate flavor more with peaches. For the vinegar, the acidity needs to be at least 5%. The original recipe also calls for 4 jalapeno peppers, but I used 3 small cayenne peppers instead because most of the members of my family does not like the flavor of the jalapenos. There is a lot of cilantro in this recipe, 1/2 cup, which tends decrease in flavor over time. If the cilantro flavor has diminished a lot after opening the jar of salsa, then I add some fresh cilantro upon opening the jar to freshen up the salsa. I also soak my red onion in cold water for 5 minutes before slicing to remove some of the bitterness of the onions.
Ingredients (makes about 3 pints) modified from Bernardin (Ball's Canadian counterpart)
6 cup peaches, diced
1 1/4 cups red onion, diced
3 cayenne peppers, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, loosely packed
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
2 tbsp honey
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1. Simmer all the ingredients together for 10 minutes.
2. Pack into hot sterile jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
3. Adjust lids and process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
My freezer is currently filled to its maximum capacity with meat, strawberries, and blueberries. Over the winter we will eat all of the frozen berries, but I still had a few from a friend that we could not finish up fresh before they went bad, so I decided to can some blueberries for baking. Blueberries for baking are simply blueberries that have been canned in water. The berries can be used just like fresh berries in baked goods like blueberry muffins or blueberry bread. To use them in baked goods, drain the juice and add the berries to your recipe.
The water that the blueberries are canned in will turn blue and sweet, so it can be added to smoothies as a special treat as well. The trick to making good blueberries for baking is not to over cook them. If you over cook them, they burst open. I try to can berries that are all about the same size, but I accept that some of the smaller berries are going to burst open. I find that simmering 2 minutes is a good amount of time to get the blueberries hot all the way through without bursting the berries.
Ingredients from Blue Book Guide to Canning p 18
2 pounds of blueberries per quart
1. Simmer 1 cup of water per 2 pounds of berries.
2. Place the berries in the simmering water and bring back up to a simmer.
3. Simmer berries about 2 minutes or until hot though out. Be careful not to over cook the berries.
4. Pack the berries in hot jars. Pour the hot water over the berries to fill the holes between the berries. Add more boiling water to the jars if you run out of water that was used for simmering. Leave 1/2 inch headspace.
5. Process pints and quarts for 15 minutes in a boiling water canner.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
This is the best ice cream I have ever made. In fact, this is the best ice cream that I have ever eaten. I thought about how I wanted this ice cream to taste for 3 days. I knew I wanted cherry ice cream, but a basic cherry vanilla did not appeal to me right now. I kicked around the idea of a chocolate cherry ice cream, but a chocolate ice cream sounded too heavy for summer. Then it hit me, I wanted to add red wine to the ice cream. I love red wine and dark chocolate, and I love red wine with hints of cherry flavors, so I decided to play around with these three flavors to make this ice cream.
The ice cream is amazing. The cherries absorbed a lot of the red wine, so every now and then you get a nice intense taste of wine when eating the ice cream. The dark chocolate pairs perfectly with the cherries and red wine. For this ice cream, use quality ingredients within reason. Use a red wine that is drinkable, but there is no need to use your most expensive bottle of wine. I used a quality dark chocolate that I would not normally purchase. The best part about adding alcohol to the ice cream is that it keeps the ice cream soft when you freeze it after eating right out of the ice cream maker. The picture above is what the ice cream looks like after it came out of the ice cream maker.
You could even freeze cherries that are in season right to make this recipe later in the year. The cherries in this recipe are cooked, so there is no need to worry about soft cherries once you thaw out frozen cherries. I would cook the cherry juice with the cherries if you are using frozen cherries. This ice cream would make a nice Valentine's day dessert.
Ingredients (makes about 1.5 quarts) inspired by Food Network Magazine
1 1/2 cups cherries, cut in half and pits removed
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
3.25 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
1. Simmer the cherries, 2 tbsp sugar, and red wine in a small nonreactive sauce pot for 20 minutes.
2. Place the cherries in the refrigerator for 2 hours to overnight.
3. Heat the milk, cream, vanilla, and the rest of the sugar in a saucepan until the temperature reaches 170 degrees F while stirring constantly.
4. Place the milk mixture in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
5. Place the milk mixture in an ice cream maker, and churn for 30 minutes or until thick (follow manufacture's instructions on how to use your ice cream maker.)
6. Add the cherry solution to the ice cream maker once the ice cream is thickened. Stir until well combined.
7. Add the dark chocolate to the ice cream maker and stir until well combined.
8. Serve immediately in the soft serve stage, or put the ice cream in the freezer overnight to serve with a firmer texture.