Fruit and Spirits – Summer Vacation Day 11/70

I’ve been trying to do research looking at how foods, particularly fruits and vegetables were put up for long term storage in europe.  From what I can tell, fruit storage entails a lot of alcohol and/or sugar. We don’t drink much, but a little syrupy, fruity nip on a cold winter day sounds fairly nice.  I thought I’d try a variety of different techniques to see which work well and give good results.  Perhaps we’ll have a winter solstice tasting party.

Todays produce rescue was small but tasty: strawberries, raspberries, and some melon for the chickens.  We have a lot of strawberry jam so I decided to use the strawberries to make a Strawberry Ratafia.  The sliced berries (about 2 cups) were combined with 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup vodka, about 1/2 bottle of red wine and almost a bottle of Riesling.  This will rest in the refrigerator for 4-5 weeks before being strained.

I also started a  couple of Rumtopf in small cheese crocks.  I sliced a cup or so of strawberries from the garden and added them to the bottom of the crock.  Then I added half of the weight of the berries in sugar and topped it off with dark rum to cover.  I added a plastic plate to keep the berries under the liquor and will be adding fruit periodically as it ripens.  From what I’ve read, this will be ready to top ice cream with at Christmas time.

*this evening I also added about 1/2 raspberries with sugar to each crock


The Second Flood – Summer Vacation Day 10/70

On Wednesday I was able to salvage 7 dozen roses, 3 packages of carnations, 3 packages of Gerber daisies and 15 miniature rose plants. On Friday when I got there to see what was available, there was a bushel basket of red, yellow and orange peppers – over 50 of them – they were just a little oddly shaped. I spent the evening finding recipes and came up with those below.

Pretty Pickled Peppers  (Adapted from Bon Appetit)

  • 4 bell peppers – seed removed and sliced into rounds
  • 1 small white onion – thinly sliced
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup + 1T sugar
  • 3T water
  • 3 springs fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic – thinly sliced
  • 1t crushed red peppers
  • 1/2t kosher salt
  1. Add the sliced peppers and onions rings into a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a small pot, bring the vinegar, sugar, water thyme, garlic, hot dried peppers and salt to a boil until the sugar and salt dissolve.
  3. Pour the hot brine over the peppers and onions and cover with plastic wrap until the liquid is cool.
  4. Once cool, tightly stack the vegetables into a sterile jar and pour the brine over top, making sure that all the vegetables are submerged. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  The pickles should last up to 1o days.

Sweet Pepper Jelly

  • 6 large red or orange bell peppers
  • 1 1/2 cups tarragon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 7 cups white sugar
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 T  pectin powder
  1. Chop the peppers along with the vinegar in a food processor, until finely chopped.
  2. In large pot, bring all ingredients to a boil, and continue to boil on medium heat for 20 minutes.
  3. Pour into sterilized jars and seal with a hot water or steam bath for 10 minutes. Makes 9 pints.

Canned Pimentos

  1. Put whole peppers into boiling water 12 to 15 minutes or place in a moderately hot oven to 6 to 8 minutes. Dip quickly into cold water; peel, stem and cut out seeds.
    ***this method was a bust.  It was so much easier just to char the skins and steam them.  I did do about 8 peppers using the boiling water, but they float so only one side gets hot and the peels were very hard to remove.
  2. Flatten pimentos. Pack into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Add no liquid.
  3. Put on the caps and rings. Process pints and quarts 35 minutes at 10 pounds pressure.

A Flood of Tomatoes – Summer Vacation Day 8/70

Last night, when we picked up the reclaimed produce, there was a virtual avalanche of tomatoes.  I think I counted about 50 of them.  All of the Roma’s went into the dehydrator for drying and the rest (about three pounds) were turned into Tomato Jam this morning.  I ended up getting 4 half pints from this recipe.  In addition to the tomatoes, we also got a pint of fresh raspberries, some apples, corn, sweet potatoes, lettuce, celery and sweet peppers.  I have a bunch of sweet red peppers now, so I’ll have to find a good way to put them up.

Tomato Jam

  • 3 pounds tomatoes -seeded and chopped
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup  lemon juice
  • 1 T fresh ginger – grated
  • 2 t dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t cumin
  • 4 t low sugar pectin powder
  1.  Combine tomatoes, sugar, lemon juice, ginger, red pepper flakes, salt, cinnamon, and cumin in a pot and bring to a boil over medium-high.  Stir frequently and reduce the heat to a simmer until the mixture thicken to a jam-like consistency.  Sprinkle in the pectin, stir and simmer for one more minute.

  2. Process in half pint jars in a steam or water bath for 15 minutes.

Piggy Posts – Summer Vacation Day 7/70

I can’t believe that summer is already 10% gone and it’s still cloudy and rainy. Wahhhhh. Oh well, since today is crummy outside, I’ve decided to play inside.

First I put up a couple of jars of reclaimed Cherries – the Bing cherries are in vodka with sugar, the Queen Anne Cherries are in Brandy with sugar.  I just cut the stems back to about 1/2 inch and layered them with sugar before covering them in the alcohol.

I also have a batch of Bacon Jam on the stove.

  • 1 1/2 lbs bacon – cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large onions – diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic – diced
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup coffee
  1. Cook bacon in a pan over med high heat until they are slightly browned. Remove and drain, reserve one tablespoon of bacon grease in the pan
  2. Add the onions in garlic to the bacon fat and cook until translucent.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and the bacon to pan and stir. Cover and simmer for 2- 3 hours or until liquid becomes syrupy.
  4. Place the mixture into a food processor and pulse until it becomes jam-like.
  5. Pack into a jar and store in the refrigerator.

Another Rainy Weekend – Summer Vacation Days 4 & 5/70

Sat:  Today war began summer reorganization and cleaning.  I found two cedar shelving units on Craigslist for storing the jams and jelly.  Then I had to find a spot for the shelves.  We finally settled on the living room since our house has very little wall space. They look great – I do need to find the camera and get some pictures of some of these things.

Sun:  We hit the thrift stores today and came home with a Romertopf Clay Baker for only $4.00.  I gave it a good scrub and will have to try it soon – I feel a roast chicken in our future.  We also found a bag of dried moss that I think will find a place in a gardening project.

Lazy Days and Garage Sales – Summer Vacation Day 3/70

Yesterday I was down right lazy.  I didn’t sleep well the night before so imagine my surprise when I woke up and looked at the clock – – – 10:40!  The day was half over, so I apparently made the subconciuos decision to do nothing all day.  I did wander out about noon to check for vegetable (none ready yet) and stopped at an estate sale on my way home.  I was able to pick up a really great old mixing bowl ($5); a huge, blue & white, transferware platter ($4); a small glass jar; and a Moulinex Jeannette food slicer grinder ($3).  I do love a good estate sale.

The boys got home from basketball camp about 1:00 and I asked them if they wanted to go back out to other garage sales.  They were game so we headed off.  The pickings were a bit slim, especially for Noah, but I did find 6 small glass bottles ($.10 each); 2 slat-glazed candlesticks and a pitcher made in Colonial Williamsburg (.$75 each); and a cute little pottery honeypot ($3).  We also found a new bakery for cupcakes and poppyseed bread.

So in general, I made nothing new today,  except some memories……and that’s just fine for me.  I think a nap may be in order.  I love the summer!