How To Raw ( Uncooked) Pack Fruit In Simple Syrup — Another Tutorial


If you want to preserve fruits, without sacrificing the fresh fruit flavor. Raw packing with simple sugar syrup is the way to go.

The most common or the favorites to pack this way seem to be plums, pears, and peaches. Later in the season I will discuss these, but this evening we will discuss the littler fruit coming into season.

Following all the rules about sterilizing and processing (click here for that,) you seal in that fresh flavor with out loosing the fruits’ lovely texture.

Here’s what to do.

1. Fill the canning jar just up to the neck with the rinsed and drained fruit.

2. Fill the canning jar just up to the neck with a simple syrup (recipe follows)

3. Cover.

4. Process.

Blueberries, Cranberries, Currants, Gooseberries, Elderberries (presumably mulberries, Jen) — in pints 15 minutes; in quarts 20 minutes

Altitude adjustments — don’t forget to add 1 minutes to the processing time for every 1000 ft above sea level that you are.

What about the syrup?

Well, there are 3 basic kinds, light, medium and heavy syrup.

The syrup recipe you use depends on the sweetness of the fruit. Jen and her super sweet mulberries will probably want a light syrup, while cranberries might call for a richer, more sugary syrup.

Note: feel free to substitute honey for half the sugar in any of the following, if your a honey fan, that is.

Yield: 5 cups (each quart of fruit may take somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 to 2 cups of syrup.

Light Syrup (Simple Syrup)

2 cups sugar ( or 1 cup sugar + 1 cup honey, for example )

4 cups water

Medium Syrup

2 & 3/4 cup sugar ( gee, I wish I knew how to do the little fraction do-hickey on this computer)

3 & 1/2 cups water

Heavy Syrup

3 & 1/2 cups sugar

3 cups water

Procedure:

1. Mix the sugar and water in a pan and let it soak for about 10 minutes without heat.

2. Over low heat, stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves.

3. Increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Just briefly to get rid of the gritty texture.

4. Lower the heat and keep warm until you are ready to use it.

Other in the beginning canning series:

How To Make Jam — A Beginner Tutorial

How To Make Jam — The Canning Supplies

How To Make Jam — The Easy Canning Process

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam — without added pectin

Strawberry Lemonade

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Neighborly Advice Vol. 5: Neighboorhood Gone Wild With Free Food


A. Onion Grass  B. Mint  C. Violets  D. Dandelion

A. Onion Grass B. Mint C. Violets D. Dandelion

With beginner articles on Mason Bees; Mushrooms; Crystallized Edible Flowers and Fruits; Dandelion Bread, Soup, Salad, Casserole and Wine; Violet Jelly; Sugared Violets; Stuffed Wild Grape Leaves; Outdoorsy Kid Activities, you could say we’ve gone a little wild this week. Join your neighbors for a new adventure!

Congratulations to Jen Neff, the only one to get all 4 correct in the You’re Eating WHAT From Your Lawn Quiz.

After we harvest some wild goodies, let’s head into the kitchen to make a feast from our foraged finds.  Don’t be afraid.  Open your palate to something new.  We’re all adults here.  If we are brave enough to step out of our comfort zone, then we open ourselves to a whole new world of learning, adventure and … well, free gourmet food.

In The Kitchen/ Into The Wild

Surfer Sam inspired the creative juices for this weeks edition with the following comprehensive article.

Everything Mushrooms — varieties, recipes, etc.

Langdon Cook’s new book, Fat of the Land: Adventures of A 21st Century Forager sounds like my kind of adventure. From his blog we have…

Dandy Muffins and Bread

Here are more dandelion recipes from all over…

Dandelion Fritters

Dandelion Pesto

Dandelion Soup or Dandelion Salad w/ Eggs or Italian Dandelion Casserole or Dandelion Wine

And just look at all the fun we can have with violets.

Violet Jelly

Sugared Violets

Crystallized Edible Flowers and Fruits

I am particularly eager to try the two recipes that follow as I have never tried either.

Stuffed Wild Grape Leaves

Simple Delicious Fiddlehead Fern Recipe

Waiting to be mounted to get morning sun, afternoon shade, one of my semi-homemade mason bee homes.  Attracting more pollinators means more garden goodies!

Waiting to be mounted to get morning sun, afternoon shade, one of my semi-homemade mason bee homes. Attracting more pollinators means more garden goodies!

In The Backyard Barnyard

How to Build a Mason ( Orchard ) Bee House

Beneficial Bugs: Mason Bees

Attracting Pollinators

Mason Bees

Shaw, age 6, explains how to make candied violets.

Shaw, age 6, explains how to make candied violets.

Up In The Tree House

Make Your Own Printable Birthday Cards

Candied Violets — So Easy A Child Could Do It

Sorry for the quickie edition

In case you missed the past editions, here are the links:

Neighborly Advice Vol 1pizza dough, making jam, using a pressure cooker, learning to knit, rescuing lost stitches, adding goats to your backyard

Neighborly Advice Vol 2 — kool-aid dye, spinning wool, kids’ activities, natural egg dyes, keeping chickens, line drying clothes, making applesauce, finding your sanity, pickling eggs, frugal groceries, growing peas, tomatoes and even worms

Neighborly Advice Vol 3 — grocery budgets, foraging free food, starting a garden, seed tape, hemming pants, chickens, turkeys, fruit trees, goat cheese, fermentation, kid’s activities and my favorite book sale

Neighborly Advice Vol 4 — making marshmallows, starting a garden, planting potatoes, herbs and onions, charming row markers, slow-roasted tomatoes, foraging free food, kids’ activity to-do list, 100 ways to cook eggs, tabletop gardening, and even starting an aquarium

Candied Violets — So Easy A Child Can Do It


Well, happy Friday, everyone!  My son has a project for you.

This time each year my lawn is full of violets.

Shaw, age 6, making his candied violets.

Shaw, age 6, explaining how to make candied violets.

Here’s a nice beginner cooking project that brings Spring to the kitchen. Shaw will show you how to make candied violets and how he adds them to his favorite dessert, ice cream.

Let’s begin:

1. Pick a nice sized bunch of violets from a chemical-free lawn.

2. Gently rinse them in a colander and allow to drain.

3. With the help of an adult, separate two egg whites.

4. Beat the egg whites with a wire whisk, until just frothy.

5. By holding the stem, dip each flower in the frothy egg whites. Make sure the flower is completely covered with egg white.

6. Lay the eggy flower in a little bowl of sugar. Spoon sugar from around the violet to cover it.

7. Gently shake the excess sugar from the flower.

8. Dry on a sheet of waxed paper.

French Vanilla Ice Cream with Candied Violets and pictorial instructions, of course.

French Vanilla Ice Cream with Candied Violets and pictorial instructions, of course.

Now, decorate your cup cakes or add them to your ice cream. Surprise your friends by showing them how to eat a little bit of Spring.

What ways can you think of to add violets to your food?

This week’s “Neighborly Advice” will include more advanced violet recipes for more formal use.

Join us for the fun. Let’s get picking!

You’re Eating WHAT from the Lawn?! — A Quick Quiz


What are these four food found in my front lawn?

What are these 4 foods found in my front lawn?

Here’s the deal. Name as many as you can and offer at least one use for each.

Serious and silly answers are welcome.

As this will launch a series of adventures, if you have an actual recipe using any of the above as a main ingredient, please e-mail it to kitewrite@gmail.com. That way you can get credit and be a featured recipe in the neighborhood.

Go ahead, guess! I double dog dare you.

(Neighbor Nancy reties her apron and heads out to pick a zillion of “C” for an upcoming recipe.)

Note: 5/8/09 — Oh, I am very entertained!  Get your guesses in.  Answers will be in this Saturday morning edition of “Neighborly Advice.”   Tomorrow’s theme is “Neighborhood Gone Wild”

BTW, forgive the picture, it will not stop raining here.  Lighting is terrible.

Hint — the stem on “B” is square.

Great Depression Recipes: Rhubarb Tapioca


Keep rhubarb pieces petite since tapioca is little, too.

Keep rhubarb pieces petite since tapioca is little, too.

Join me as I head back to the rhubarb patch and we shall make some goodies.

As I have gotten a lot of requests for more of this kind of thing, here is another Great Depression recipe courtesy of the USDA circa the 1930s.

And remember, if this doesn’t suit your taste, check the Cooking/Baking Basics or Waiting-For-Payday Categories at the right for other ideas. Or try the “search” bar above the little calendar.

Rhubarb Tapioca

hm … probably the two most mysterious foods in one recipe, which, of course, means we have to try it.

Ingredients:

4 cups Rhubarb, cut into little pieces

2 cups Water, hot

1/2 cup quick-cooking Tapioca ( Isn’t it all quick cooking these days, 80 years later? Who knows? Check the box.)

1 + 1/2 cups Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Salt

Procedure:

1. In the top of a double boiler, over steam, stir the rhubarb, water and tapioca for about 15 minutes. No double boiler? Click here to make do.

2. Stir in the sugar and salt.

3. Cook for about 5 more minutes, until the tapioca is clear and the rhubarb is tender.

4. Chill thoroughly and serve it plain, with whipped cream or, perhaps garnished with a strawberry slice or two.

More rhubarb  harvest, storage and recipes to come.

Now here is the big question:

I never buy tapioca, but I always seem to have it. Why is that?

Does this happen to anyone else?

Making Do: How To Make A Double Boiler


Left: store bought double boiler. Right: homemade version that works just as lovely.

Left: store bought double boiler. Right: homemade version that works just as lovely.

Hello there!

So, you bumped into a recipe that calls for using a double boiler and your stuck. hm…

Yes, they can be expensive. And no you probably shouldn’t try that recipe without one. Usually by the time a recipe actually calls for a double boiler, it is sensitive enough to need one.

Here’s what to do:

Grab a relatively small sauce pot and find a heat safe bowl that will fit on top of it. When you fill the bottom ( the boiler part of you double boiler ) make sure that the water line is well below the bowl as it sits on top. It is the steam or heat from the water that warms the bowl and not the actual water.

I have functioned without a double boiler for years. Only recently did I receive one as a Christmas gift. While it is very nice, it tends to live in the back of the cabinet. If I am in a rush, I still just plop a bowl on top of whatever pot is closest at hand.

If you require a lid, any one that fits is fine or just try placing a plate on top.

Making do made easy. Tada!

BTW, you’ll need a double boiler for tonight’s Great Depression Recipe: Rhubarb Tapioca.

How To Plant Potatoes In Containers — Tons Of Options


Whether you are trying to avoid contaminated soil or teach the whole first grade where in tar-nation their food comes from, growing potatoes in containers is a fascinating pursuit.

Potatoes are nifty in that all the good stuff is going on under ground away from your curious eyes. Unless you are planting them in those giant clear plastic snack barrel, you never really know what’s going on under there until you dig ’em up. Surprise! There they are.

Let’s take a look at a variety on container methods.

Just click the link that interests you.

Growing Potatoes …

..in Straw — highly recommended for busy, busy teachers or anyone else that wants perfect, no-dig potatoes. Notice that the timing mentioned is for a specific locale. Now, combine this idea with any container below.

..in a Plastic Bag — plus good basic potato growing info.

…in Pots

… in Tires

… in a Garbage Can

… in a Wire Cage — perfect for those odd pieces ( 10 feet ) of welded wire or chicken wire left over from some other project

… in Biodegradable Boxeslook about half way down the page

or simply

… in a Bag of Compost.

For more on the basics of potato growing, I highly recommend Cornell’s clear, concise guide for the home gardener. Click here for potatoes.

For more gardening articles, check the beginner gardening category on the right.

Happy planting!

Any other ideas?

Sour Dough Starter Tutorial


Thanks to Rhonda, a dear reader, for the great tutorial that follows. Her sour dough has been alive for years.

With bread prices on the rise (tacky pun fully intended. If a writer doesn’t intend a pun, they should use a dad-blasted thesarus. Sorry. Pet-peeve.)

Oh dear, where was I?

Ah yes, expensive bread. Making your own is a great alternative. However, yeast prices are no picnic either. So, sour dough it is. Once you get it going, your set. And there are ever so many thing you can do with it.

I do love expert advice.

Here it is, pasted directly from the e-mail

Hi Nancy,

Well, I finally found a few spare minutes to start this sourdough “recipe” (if you can call it that).

First of all, let me stress how important it is to use organic ingredients at least to start your starter to help your starter get a good start in life. Water needs to be non-chlorinated, and the fruit you use should be organic. Just bear with me. I use Bob’s Red Mill, but I live in the Pacific Northwest and his mill is local (less than 40 miles from my house). Grinding your own is good, too, if you have your own mill (the fresher the better). For water, please use filtered water or good tasting well water with no chlorination. Alternatively, you can buy good spring water from the grocery, or if your tap water tastes good, just set some out overnight (lightly covered with a kitchen towel to keep the bugs and dust out, the chlorine will dissipate over 24 hours). Don’t use metal with your sourdough, just a plain old wooden spoon will do just great.

So, you will need:

3 organic apples for juicing or a bunch of organic grapes
5 pounds organic wheat flour (either whole wheat or all-purpose)
2 pounds organic rye flour (rye is a traditional flour for starters… it just seems to really jump start your starter)

That’s it for ingredients. I will walk you through day-by-day… (all are estimates, depending on the “growing” conditions in your kitchen – I have a relatively cool house, 60 degrees during the day and about 68 in the evenings, you definitely do NOT have to keep your house at 85 degrees. )

DAY 1: Juice three fresh organic apples (or a bunch of organic grapes to equal about 1 cup juice), strain and place liquid in a partly covered jar or jug. (I use a quart canning jar with plastic wrap placed over the top, poke about 7-10 holes in the plastic with a toothpick).

DAYS 2-7: When the juice is obviously bubbly and fermented, pour it into a glass or ceramic (not metal), add 1 cup flour wheat flour (all-purpose or whole wheat, or a mixture of both) and ½ cup rye flour and leave, covered with plastic wrap poke with holes or in a loosely tied plastic bag.

DAYS 4-10: Add another 1 cup flour and ½ cup rye flour and ¾ cup water, mix well and leave on your counter. At the end of day 10 (or before 10 days), there should be visible bubbles in the mixture, but if not, no worries, your starter is just taking its time and developing some lovely flavors for you. Don’t stress out over this, it is NOT brain surgery or rocket science, think of it as a garden, some seeds just take longer to germinate is all.

DAY 11: Add another 1 cup of flour (again, white or wheat), ½ cup rye flour and ¾ cup water. Stir and leave on the counter, loosely covered.

DAY 12: Discard half the mixture and add another 1 cup of wheat flour, ½ cup rye flour and ¾ cup flour, stir and leave on the counter as before.

DAY 13 AND BEYOND: Repeat the above every day until your starter is alive and jumping. You will know this because the starter will rise up the sides of the bowl in between feedings and will start to smell sharp and cidery (before you stir it down it might smell like alcohol – this is just fine, it is a by-product of the yeasts and bacteria “breathing”). If you feel the need to get the starter going more quickly, feed it twice a day. I know this seem a little wasteful, but you will only be throwing it away (put it on your compost pile) for only a few days. When it doubles in the container in less than 24 hours we are ready to make some bread, cake, waffles, pancakes, biscuits, et cetera.

The starter as it gets mature, after it sits for a day or two will usually develop a layer of liquid on the top. It will range in color from clear to gray to black. Any of these colors are just fine, this is called “hooch” and is normal. If, though, you see a pink or red color on the top of your starter, just throw it out and start over again. Usually if you keep your starter fed and happy you will not have off colors or smells.

Seems like a lot of work, but it is more like a pet, you have to feed it, water it, and clean up after it, but the end result is beautiful, yummy baked goods, and no more reliance on the grocery store for that expensive dried yeast.

Nancy, next week I will walk you through your first loaf of bread and give you some ideas as to how to use up those discards. I will also teach you how keep your sourdough happy and how to store it in the refrigerator. I use my starter three to four times a week, so I don’t usually keep it in the fridge, but when I go on vacation, I cold sore it, either in a really cold root cellar or in the refrigerator.

Hope this is helpful, if you have ANY questions, don’t hesitate to shoot me an e-mail.

Sorry, no pictures; that is a little out of my comfort zone. 🙂

Gotta go, my sourdough is calling me, she’s hungry and ready to help me make some lovely waffles for tomorrow morning.

Ronda

Well, I don’t know about you, but I fully intend to hold her to the further sour dough lessons.

Feel free to ship question to me and I will bundle them and forward them to our new beloved expert.

Thanks Ronda!

Who wants to go with me to her house for waffles? I have a gallon of maple syrup from this years harvest to bribe our way in the front door.

Neighborly Advice Vol. 4 — Mostly Gardening Edition


Climb over the fence and join your neighbors in a learning adventure.

Climb over the fence and join your neighbors in a learning adventure.

With beginner “how – tos” on making marshmallows, starting a garden, planting potatoes, herbs and onions, charming row markers, slow-roasted tomatoes, foraging free food, kids’ activity to-do list, 100 ways to cook eggs, tabletop gardening, and even starting an aquarium, you’ll find some new adventure to begin this weekend.

We shall start with some simple wise advice for everyone

A Survival Guide For The Economic Times

Now that the weather is getting nicer, it seems that everyone is either in the kitchen or in the garden.

In the Kitchen

Since we are cleaning up the grill for the season, how about making the freshest fluffiest marshmallows for a little after dinner roast? Okay, who knows all the words to Catalina Magdalina. ” Oh, she had a funny name, but she wasn’t much to blame. That’s what she’s called just the same, same, same… OoooH..”

Ahem. Sorry. Once I get singing, things just get right out of hand.

Homemade Marshmallows

Oh my! Look what Joel and Dana are up to. Someday, I’m just gonna show up on their doorstep for…

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Eggs are still one of the more affordable proteins out there. Plus, if you have a backyard flock you are always looking for recipes. Well, here’s…

100 Ways to Crack an Egg

In the Garden

So you’ve wondered what the heck are they talking about with all these different kinds of seeds. Oh look! Finally, a clear, concise explanation.

Organic, Heirloom and Regular Seeds Explained

Everyone should know how to plant potatoes. Let’s watch this family to learn their simple, common method. Very easy.

Planting Potatoes

Next, we’ll turn to the experts for info on…

Planting Onions

Herbs for the Home Garden

Here’s two nice little getting-started-in-gardening tutorials. You can do it.

How to Build a Raised Garden Bed

How to Start an Organic Garden

Once you get your stuff in the ground, you should try making these simple charming…

Row Markers

I don’t know about you, but I like to bring a little of the outdoors in. Why not try…

Indoor Tabletop Cactus Garden

And to calm ourselves, nothing is more peaceful than an aquarium. And guess what? When it’s time to change the water, give it to your garden. Aquarium water is wonderful fertilizer!

The Home Aquarium

Up In the Treehouse

Young or just young-at-heart try something new.  It's an adventure everytime.

Young or just young-at-heart try something new. It's an adventure every time.

100 Things to Do Before Kindergarten

In the Wild (Free Food Through Foraging)

Cattails

That’s it for this week’s edition. See you next week for more tips from our smart neighbors.

Go outside and plant something.

In case you missed the past editions, here are the links:

Neighborly Advice Vol 1pizza dough, making jam, using a pressure cooker, learning to knit, rescuing lost stitches, adding goats to your backyard

Neighborly Advice Vol 2 — kool-aid dye, spinning wool, kids’ activities, natural egg dyes, keeping chickens, line drying clothes, making applesauce, finding your sanity, pickling eggs, frugal groceries, growing peas, tomatoes and even worms

Neighborly Advice Vol 3 — grocery budgets, foraging free food, starting a garden, seed tape, hemming pants, chickens, turkeys, fruit trees, goat cheese, fermentation, kid’s activities and my favorite book sale


How to Plant Potatoes


30# of seed potatoes cut for curing

Seed potatoes cut for curing outside in the sunshine

Oh! I am very so glad you could join me today. Grab a cup of fresh coffee from the pot and let’s have a little chat about potatoes.

Since potatoes are a surprising source of vitamin C and are ever so prolific and easy to grow, let’s give it a go.

For each pound you plant an okay yield is about 10 pounds and a great yield about 20 pounds.

Personally, I forget to weed them, or forget to hill them enough as they grow or forget to even harvest them… once. I yield around 10 pounds per planted pound. Obviously, if you try, I’m sure you could do better.

Let’s begin.

Start with nice seed potatoes… oh, any kind you like is fine. Russets seem to have a zillion eyes and are usually an easy start. Katadin, Kennebec and Yukon Gold are all good keepers and generally easy enough to find. Well, at least at the seed and feed in my neck of the woods.

Cut each potato with a clean, sharp knife so that each piece contains one or (better) two eyes and is no smaller than an inch. Avoid putting the freshly cut side against the cutting board or touching it any more than necessary. Think of it like an open wound. You don’t want to introduce germs or viruses.

Carefully lay the pieces on their skins, in a single layer on any flat thing you’ve got. Place them in the sun for at least one whole day for the cuts to cure.

Why?

So they are less prone to disease when you plant them. If you cut your hand wide open, would it be wise to jam it directly into the soil or might you give it a little healing time?

Planting:

I like deep beds. They are like raised beds minus the expensive, bug-attracting wooden sides. The 4’wide bed is never walked on and entirely reachabe from one side or the other.

Now imagine a domino. A double five to be exact. Okay with an extra dot between the left 5 and right 5. This is my planting pattern. A little staggered with no plant any closer than 20″ for maximum yield in a minimum space.

Now imagining that pattern, plant your seed potatoes 3 of 4 inches deep. The first five potatoes you plant will look just like the 5 from a pair of dice.

You know, I was going to take a picture, but by the time I finished putting them in and hiked back up the hill…I was just too pooped to care.

Hopefully, this makes sense.

Feel free to ask for clarification. In tomorrow’s “Neighborly Advice Vol 4” there will be another method. And they took pictures. In my defense, there are 4 of them planting and just one of me.

Did anyone understand that?

Where the heck did I put that tube of muscle rub?

If you go to the kitchen, could you grab me a cup of coffee, please?