Great Depression Recipes: Blackberry Cordial


Back in before my homesteading days, back in the day dreaming phase, I used to reread Anne of Green Gables. Just the book and I relaxed on a blanket, down by the creek in the shade of some ancient tree or another.

Also a fan of the Wonder Works movie, I remember being mortified by the raspberry cordial incident with Anne’s kindred spirit Dianna Barry. Anne not being familiar with raspberry cordial, accidentally serves Dianna Currant Wine or some such beverage. Dianna gets magnificently drunk and Anne is blamed.

All I can remember thinking is, “that would happen to me”

Anyway, on with our recipe. Try this recipe for blackberry cordial. Then enjoy experiencing the Anne of Green Gables series as an adult. No better way to spend a summer day.
Blackberry Cordial

Ingredients:

1 Quart of blackberry juice ( Crush however many blackberries you need to yield one quart of juice.

1 pound of sugar

1 teaspoon of ground cloves

2 teaspoons nutmeg

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons allspice

1 pint of brandy

Procedure:

1. Crush enough blackberries to yield one quart (4 cups of juice)

2. Combine the berry juice with the sugar in a non reactive ( non aluminum ) saucepan.

3. Tie the spices in a cheesecloth and add the bag to the pan.

4. Bring to a gentle boil and keep gentle boil for 15 minutes.

5. Skim and cover the mixture until it cools.

6. After it is completely cooled, add the brandy.

7. Bottle and seal.

My notes claim it will keep for years. However, there is no mention of waterbath or processing time. So if you have ever made this or know anyone who has, please let us know.

Does it even need to be processed?

Will just cranking the lid on the mason jar be enough?

Please let me know so I can add the details.

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Great Depression Recipes: Orange Honey Sauce For Ice Cream


Well hi there,

I bet you thought I was swallowed by my weeds.   Almost.

Nothing says summer like ice cream social, but who can afford to buy those toppings.  Try making your  own.  I bet you’ll be glad you did.

Here’s another Great Depression recipe courtesy of the USDA from way back when…

Orange Honey Sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup honey

1/4 cup of finely chopped orange peel

1/2 cup orange juice ( orange juice concentrate mixed to directions is the most affordable option)

1/8 t. salt

Procedure:

Combine ingredients.

Place bowl over a pot of hot water.  (The most energy efficient and frugal method would be to boil  about 3 cups or so of water in the microwave and place the ingredients bowl above the hot water.

Don’t cook it. Just allow the ingredients to sit over the hot water for about 30 minutes to combine and mellow.  Oh, I might give it a little stir now and then just to help it along, but maybe not.  Your choice, dear reader.

After the sauce cools a little, serce it over any flavor ice cream you like.

Save a scoop for me and see you next time.

Note about the oranges: In this day and age of spraying the heck out of everything or waxing fruits,  take a good look at the orange peel to be sure there is nothing on it.  Or perhaps try an organic orange.  Of course, the term certified organic can really drive the price up.  Many farmers practice organic methods but can not be labeled as such due to the lengthy and costly certification process.  So just open your eyes and look at the fruit.  A little vegetable brush scrub never hurts either.

When And How to Harvest Potatoes


Well, hello there.  I’m so glad you joined me today.  I could use a hand.  Grab a garden apron, a 5 gallon bucket and a garden fork.  We are gonna dig some taters.

Those lovely little white flowers on the potato plants signal that it is time to dig for “new” potatoes.  Little sweet baby potatoes that are such so much better than anything you will find in the grocery store.

“New” potatoes are a luxury.  If you are gardening for survival, I recommend leaving them in the ground to grow to their full size.  Full size potatoes can be dug anytime after the entire plant dies and looks terribly sad and brown.   Letting them grow means higher yield overall.

However, I can never resist at least digging a dinner’s worth of “new” ones.

So whether you are digging them young or waiting for maturity, here’s how you do it.

Using a garden fork, gently poke a large circle around the potato plant.  With each poke give a little upward lift to the soil.  After the soil is loosened, put the garden fork in a deeply as you can and turn over the entire plant.

If you have a little helper at your side, have him root through the soil for any potatoes left below.  If not, you’ll have to poke about yourself.  It’s funny.  No matter how well I harvest, I always find a renegade potato the following spring as I rotate crops.

There is no rush to harvest them.  Take your time.  Dig some for dinner.  Dig now, dig later.  They are not fussy.  Just be sure to get them all before the ground freezes so hard that you can’t get them out or else you’ll be enjoying a tougher tater after spring thaw.

If you are container gardening, simply shove over your container and lets them spill out.

Another time we will discuss storage issues like canning and root cellaring.

Happy digging!

Blubarb Jam –Easy Beginner Rhubarb Blueberry Jam


I used to wonder who these people were that managed to have rhubarb at the same time as blueberries. Well, it turns out that if you don’t consume the whole rhubarb patch as Rhubarb Crunch, there will be enough for Blubarb Jam.

Okay, so it took a couple of years of plant dividing to get enough rhubarb, but –oh– I think it was well worth it.

Blubarb Jam

Ingredients:

3 cups rhubarb, finely chopped

3 cups blueberries

6 cups sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

Procedure:

1. Chop you rhubarb very finely with a super sharp knife to eliminate that horrid, stringy rhubarb texture.

This is a good idea to keep the non rhubarb fans quiet. Generally, if guests aren’t yanking the equivalent of bitter celery strings out of their jam, they will find it delicious. It’s all about the texture with rhubarb.

2. Mash the bluberries, then measure out your 3 cups.

This is an excellent activity for a little kid. Tarp the floor. Smock the kid. Hand him a potato masher, a pie plate of blueberries and set him loose. There is no wrong way to mash them. If some of the blueberries stay whole, that’s okay too, because it adds texture to the finished product.

3. Dump all the ingredients, except the sugar in a large pot.

Make sure to use a non-reactive ( non-aluminum) pot about three times the volume of the jam. Big Pot.

4. Start by adding 4 cups of sugar.

As you heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring all the while….

When the sugar is dissolved, use a clean teaspoon to test the sweetness. I keep a huge stack of clean teaspoons by the pot, taste and pitch in the sink for cleaning so that I don’t contaminate my jam.

Be careful. The mixture can be extremely hot!

Now, is it too tart?

Add more sugar a little at a time, stirring, dissolving and clean spoon tasting as you go.

Keep track of how much sugar you add, because this is the recipe for your family and you will want to be able to reproduce the jam again without all the silly tastings.

Your next batch you will just dump the whole amount of adjusted sugar in right at the start.

5. Bring to a boil.

Be careful it doesn’t boil over. Again, big pot!

6. Reduce the heat to keep the mixture at a gentle boil.

Occasionally, pull your mixing spoon through just to be certain you ar not burning the bottom.

7. Test for sheeting.

As the mixture thickens, lift some out of the pot and let it drizzle back in. You are watching for those drips to thicken and pull toward one another.

8. Remove from heat and skim the foam.

9. Pour into sterilized canning jars and process for 20 minutes.

For more info. on the final steps or beginning canning check out these articles:

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

How to Raw Pack Fruit With Simple Syrup

or poke around in the cooking basics category to your right

or try the search bar.

Happy Jamming.

More blueberry recipes are on their way. Feel free to e-mail me your favorite blueberry recipe, so we can share it here.

Please let us know how your blubarb jam comes out. Questions, concerns or horrible, but delicious mishaps are always welcome.


How To Make Strawberry Lemonade — Summer Entertaining


Thanks for dropping by. Grab an old apron from the linen closet and join me in the kitchen. Today we will be making and canning a big batch of my favorite summer party beverage.

This nifty Great Depression recipe came from that mysterious old recipe box I found at a church bazarre.

This sweet lemonade is great for summer entertaining because it mixes so delightfully with lemon-lime soda, iced tea — or any other thing you can dream up to make a party punch.

Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate

( or Strawberry Lemonade for the sugar tooth )

Ingredients:

4 quarts of strawberries

4 cups (1 quart) of lemon juice (fresh or from a jar like “ReaLemon”)

3 quarts water

5 cups granulated sugar ( or try some brown sugar for an interesting twist )

Procedure:

1. Hull and pureé the strawberries.

2. Mix all the ingredients together in a stock pot.

3. Heat to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Do not boil. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved to remove the gritty texture. This is a quick, short step, if I remember correctly. Although I could be wrong and I won’t know for sure until the strawberries are ripe…

Anyway,

4. Remove from heat. Stir and Skim off any foam.

5. Laddle into 5-7 quart jars or 10 -14 pint jars

Oh, you get the picture.

6. Place in boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

Be sure there is at least an inch of water above the canning jars.

Altitude adjustment: Add 1 minute more in the water bath for each 1000 feet you are above sea level.

7. After you remove the jars to cool, listen for that wonderful popping sound of your jars sealing.

Now, you have a lovely strawberry lemonade concentrate for any time of year.

Serve chilled. Due to the richness of this recipe, I suggest you cut the lemonade with water or perhaps a lemon-lime soda

For example:

1 quart of Strawberry Lemonade concentrate + 1 quart of water

or

1 quart of Strawberry Lemonade concentrate + 1 quart of lemon-lime soda

or

1 quart of concentrate + you favorite sun tea.

Other beginner canning tutorials:

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

How to Raw Pack Fruit With Simple Syrup

What is your favorite summer-time beverage recipe?

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam — without added pectin


Good morning. I’m glad you could join me. Grab an old apron from the linen closet and join me to make delicious Strawberry Rhubarb Jam.

If you are new to jam making, you might want to skim the Jam tutorials first. The links are at the bottom.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Ingredients:

3 cups Strawberries, hulled and mashed

3 cups rhubarb, finely diced

5 cups of sugar

Procedure:

1. Mash berries and dices rhubarb.

Mash the strawberries to extract all their lovely flavor. Using a very sharp knife, cut up the rhubarb into tiny pieces.

2. Mix strawberries and rhubarb with the sugar in a large pot.

It may seem silly , but a large pasta pot is best to avoid a big boiled over mess.

3. Cook to a rolling boil, stirring frequently.

4. At rolling boil, reduce temperature to keep the mixture boiling– just not too furiously.

Cook forever, maybe 30 or 40 minutes, while you only scrape the sides and checking that the bottom is not sticking.

5. Check for sheeting

When the jam pulls together in a thick gloppy drip, remove from heat.

6. Skim any foam.

7. Put in sterilized canning jars.

8. Process for 20 minutes.

Don’t forget to add 1 additional minute of water bath time for every 1000 ft. you are above sea level.

Other tutorials in the easy canning series:

How To Make Jam — A Beginner Tutorial

How To Make Jam — The Canning Supplies

How To Make Jam — The Easy Canning Process

How to Raw Pack Fruit With Simple Syrup

Strawberry Lemonade

Blubarb Jam — Blueberry Rhubarb Jam without added pectin

If you are a jam maker stopping in for a visit, how does your recipe differ? We are always open to hints, and recommendations.

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

How To Make Jam — The Easy Canning Process


I’m ever so happy to see you today. Grab a cup of coffee and join me in the kitchen for our beginner canning tutorial.

Okay, so you’ve tried your little test batch, adjusted the sugar and are ready to can like crazy. Just wait ’til you open one of your long term storage jars on some blustrous winter morning. All the tastes of Summer. Yum!

Here were the first steps, in case you missed them:

How To Make Jam — A Beginner Tutorial

How To Make Jam — The Canning Supplies

Here we go:

1. Wash everything.

Every pot, spoon, tong, tool, jar, dome lid and band. Plus, every surface you might possibly use.

2. Place mostly dried jars, on their sides, in a slow oven ( 200 degrees Fahrenheit ) for one hour to sterilize a load of jar at once.

3. Meanwhile place all the tools, dome lids and bands in a pot of water no cooler than 180 degrees Farenheit for no less than 15 minutes.

3a. Set stock pot of water for water bath on high so it comes to a boil just before, your jars go into it. Yeah, this can take a while.

4. Make the jam of your choice.

5. After you skim any foam from the surface, pour the wicked hot jam into jars, using a canning funnel to keep things clean. This is called hot packing.

6. Using the magnetic lid lifter, place a dome lid on each hot jar.

7. Using the magnetic lid lifter to remove the bands from the scalding water, place them over each band.

8. Dip your hands in a giant bowl of ice water for a moment and screw on each band. Use a jar wrench to tighten, if you have one.

Note: If you have delicate hands, you may need to thrust your hands back into the icewater between each jar you tighten.

9. Place the jars into the boiling water bath.

Note: there should either be a canning rack or a bunch of band lids on the bottom of the water bath to prevent the jars from directly touching the bottom of the pot. Also, there should be at least 1 inch of water above the tops of the jars.

10. Process for 15 minutes.

Yup, that just means leave the jars in the boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Altitude adjustment: For every 1000 ft. you are above sea level, add 1 minute.

So for example: I live at 1050 ft. so I process my jam for 16 minutes. High Mountain Muse probably processes hers for a year and a half way up there on her mountain top.

11. Using the jar lifters, take the jars out of the water and set them to cool on whatever clean flat surface is left.

12. As the jars cool listen for that delightful popping sound of each jar sealing. You can tell it is sealed when you run your finger over the dome lid and it has sucked down. Man, that is a satisfying sound!

There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a rainbow of sparkly jams all set to nourish your family until next canning season.

Now, who’s baking the biscuits?

How To Make Jam — A Beginner Tutorial


Strawberry, blueberry, currant, raspberry, blackberry,boysenberry, loganberry, gooseberry, ad infinitum. This is the basic any-berry method.

Simple jam made without store bought pectin requires only three ingredients: fruit, sugar, lemon juice. Simple and inexpensive, particularly if you are growing your own fruit.

Making your own preserves is one of those projects that you end up saying, ” Wow! I didn’t know it was that simple.” It is.

You could use store bought pectin like Certo or Sure-jell, but here are a few reason not to.

1. Using store-bought pectin drive up the cost per serving. Alot.

2. Contrary to a what a popular jam site says, using store bought pectin requires more sugar than basic country jam. More sugar, more expensive, less healthy.

Do let’s dive in.

Strawberry jam, blueberry jam, raspberry jam, any berry jam.

Ingredients:

1 cup of crushed fruit

1 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Procedure:

1. Crush the fruit.

Some recipes will try to encourage you to throw the fruit in a blender or food processor. Don’t. The resulting jam ends up with a very hollow flavor.

Crush the fruit with a potato masher or even a super clean soup can to extract all that fresh berry flavor.

2. Stir all the ingredients together in a ridiculously large non-aluminum (non-reactive) pot.

These days most modern pots are not aluminum.

For this particular recipe, I would use the deepest sauce pot I own. Not quite a stock pot, but nice and deep.

Why such a big pot?

Well, as you bring the jam to a boil, it will froth up like crazy. Even as much as 3 times its original volume.

3. Bring it to a boil over medium high heat, stirring frequently.

Watch it. If the jam is going to boil over, this is the time. Some people add a teaspoon of butter to reduce foaming, but I have a use for the foam so I never add butter. Your choice.

4. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle boil. Stop stirring.

Reduce the heat so the the bubbles keep coming up, but nothing too furious.

Some people stir through the whole process. I don’t. You want to occasionally draw the spoon through to be sure your not burning the bottom. But if you stir the whole time, you are reducing the temperature and increasing the cooking time. I am just to busy for that silliness.

However, if you are terrified of burning it and this is your first time, there is a comfort to stirring constantly. Your choice.

4. As the jam starts to thicken, test for sheeting.

“Test for what?!”

All right, now settle down.

Sheeting is simply the name for how the jam appears as it drips off the spoon.

I use a non-slotted metal spoon. Scoop up some of the boiling jam and slowly dump it back in. It is the last little bit that you are going to watch.

As the jam is just starting out, you will notice that it drips off the spoon in several places.

When the jam is ready it will “sheet.” The drips will pull towards one another to make a more gloppy big drop. As the drops pull towards one another that gooey bit of jam between them is the “sheet.”

I will try to capture a picture of in the next couple of weeks as strawberries come into season here.

6. Remove from heat and skim off the foam.

Using a large metal stirring spoon skim the foam off the top of the jam. Most people dump it, but I reserve it for another goodie.

Time to make a decision.

Are you going to eat it in the next couple if weeks or would you like to can it for much later?

Today, I will assume you are going to eat this first delicious attempt. A post on processing will follow.

If you are going to eat it relatively soon or you are testing the sugar content (more on this later,) simply pour it into any clean glass or pottery container. Not plastic, ’cause it just might melt. If you let the jam cool in the pot a bit, a clean sour cream container would work fine. Pop it in the frig. You are done.

Now, who is going to do the dishes?

Troubleshooting:

Too sweet or too tart– everyone has different tastes plus every year the berries are slightly different. Try this recipe then increase or decrease the sugar from there. I usually find this a bit sweet for my strawberries, but better with strawberry-rhubarb or blueberry. Don’t be afraid to play with it. That is how you learn to make the best jam.

Yes, the more little batches you make the better you will get.

Too runny — it wasn’t cooked long enough. Call it a “sauce” and use it on waffles or over ice cream. My first jam experience resulted in 6 pints of blueberry sauce. It was delicious.

What to do with the skimmed off foam:

Fold it into whipped cream to ice a cake.

Mix it with cream cheese to make a delicious fruit dip.

Fling it at your enemies. It sticks!

Smear it onto waffles immediately and invite me over.

Frugal Berry sources:

Inexpensive jam doesn’t come from store bought berries. Here are some other ideas.

Your garden

Farmers’ Market — especially just at closing time. You just might be able to strike a good deal, because the farmer wants to unload them and not take them back to the farm

Pick-your-own — check for local U-pick places by calling your county extension agent or try these links:

Pick Your Own.org

or

Local Harvest.org

Other beginning canning tutorials:

How To Make Jam — The Canning Supplies

How To Make Jam — The Easy Canning Process

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam — without added pectin

How to Raw Pack Fruit With Simple Syrup

Strawberry Lemonade

Blubarb Jam — Blueberry Rhubarb Jam without added pectin

What are you going to try?

Any problems or questions?

Planting Soybeans (Edamame) Quick Guide


Just a quickie about planting soybeans (edamame ) in the garden.

Soybean (edamame) spacing —  After last frost at about the same time as corn

If possible, soak seeds overnight to help germination.

Saying is: “if it is dry don’t even try.”

Plant about 1″deep.

In containers: 2″ spacing

In Rows: 6-10 seeds per foot with 15-30″ between rows

Intensive deep bed: Spread (scatter) seeds evenly to create about 3-4″ between plants in any direction  ( This one is an estimate.  It leaves more spacing due to lack of rows, but also nearly eliminates the need to weed after decent leaf developement

Square foot: 16 per square  ( possibly more )

Farm seeding rate: 80 pounds per acre

For higher yield and more nitrogen for the soil, try inoculating them.  Outstanding for crop rotation or in the planting season before introducing an orchard.

Sorry just a quickie, but I kept getting searches for this. In my zone, this is still 3 week away in my notes.