Homemade Maraschino Cherries: Easy, Delicious, Fun!

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I decided to try out a recipe for homemade Maraschino cherries for my summer beverage and dessert enjoyment. Who knew it was so easy – and soooo delicious? Continue reading

Canning/Freezing Prep Checklist

These classic clear glass jars have preserved literally tons of fruits and vegetables over the past 125 years. A true symbol of America's past, they still work great for today's home canning.

These classic clear glass jars have preserved literally tons of fruits and vegetables over the past 125 years. A true symbol of America’s past, they still work great for today’s home canning.

Summer is almost here, and our garden is ahead of schedule. We’re getting ready to put strawberries and jam in the freezer and harvest season will be here before we know it. Since I always seem to find myself hunting for missing supplies or running to the store for freezer containers while a pile of produce wilts on the counter, I came up with the following checklist to better prepare for canning and freezing this year. Hopefully you will find it useful as well! Continue reading

How To Can Homemade Soup

Homemade canned soup – the ultimate convenience food!

I love soups of all kinds. They are a one pot meal. Fewer dishes, for one thing – gotta love that. Soups can stretch your food budget. A little meat goes a long way. And you can use leftovers in delicious combinations. If you start soup early and let it simmer slowly it will make your house smell wonderful!

Crock pot soups are the best. No last minute rush to get dinner on the table. Soup is a great excuse to make my homemade bread. I’m such a bread person!

Prepare ahead of time by canning your own homemade soup. It is easy to do, but there are a few safety tips to remember. Soup always needs to be pressure canned. Remember, any vegetable or meat will be a low acid food and all low acid foods must be processed in a pressure canner for safety. Do not add noodles, rice, flour, cream or any milk or any thickeners. All these can be added when you heat the soup to serve it. If you are using beans or peas they must be cooked prior to canning. Continue reading

The Recipe That Will Save You From Drowning In Zucchini

zucchini relish in pot kathy h.We are drowning in zucchini. I find them hiding under leaves I would have sworn I checked the day before but here they sit, as big as baseball bats and crying out to be used. Some is sautéed with diced tomatoes and onions and served over rice or pasta. Some is gently steamed and served as a side dish. Still more is shredded and bagged in two cup measures to be turned into fall breads and winter pancakes. Still, I’m left with a lot of huge green squash.

The solution to this bonanza of squash for me is zucchini relish. It has much to recommend it. First and foremost, it uses a lot of zucchini. I make double batches and the recipe I use calls for 10 cups to start, so I can get rid of a lot of squash with Continue reading

Simple Tricks to Keep Apples and Pears Fresh In Freezer!

 

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Canning apples is wonderful, but sometimes you just have too many apples to get processed before they start to go bad. That’s when the freezer comes in awfully handy!

Step by Step Guide on How to Freeze Apples

  1. Fill a large bowl with cold water
  2. Sprinkle enough table salt in the water to cover the bottom of the bowl (this is done to keep the apples from turning brown while you are cutting the remainder of the apple)
  3. As you cut the apples or pears, drop them into the bowl of salt water
  4. Once bowl is full, strain fruit and drain water out of bowl. 
  5. Place fruit into Ziploc bags or freezer safe containers
  6. Place fruit into freezer

How I learned how to Freeze Apples

One of the great things about freezing apples is that you can thaw them for a pie, toss them with sugar and cinnamon for baked apples, or even save them to can when it’s more convenient.

There’s a trick to freezing apples, though. Do it wrong, and they’ll turn a completely unappetizing shade of brown.

In the past, I’ve tried following the recommendation of soaking apples in a bowl with lemon juice added to prevent the slices from turning brown as I processed them. But that never did really work well for me. They always seemed to turn brown no matter what I did.

Adding citric acid, or Fruit Fresh, can also prevent your chopped fruit from turning.

Ball Fruit Fresh

Fruit Fresh is another thing you can use to keep preserved fruit looking good. At Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio, or at Lehmans.com.

But I just hate to have to stop and run out to get just one thing.

I’d finally given up on trying to freeze fresh apples and pears, until one day when I happened to meet a woman who taught me her secret. My family had taken a day trip to the mountains, and we stopped at a quaint little Mom & Pop Diner for lunch. As I got my four children seated in the little booth, I smiled at the sweet elderly couple who sat at the table adjacent from us.

My husband was up at the front placing our order when the nice lady leaned over and said, “What beautiful children you have!” I thanked her, of course, and the ice was broken for a conversation to ensue.

I told her we were looking at some property for sale in the area, and she began telling me all about how much she loved the area and about her own home there. She shared that she had fruit trees…My ears perked up when she mentioned her trees, and I asked her if she canned her apples and pears.

She shook her head. “Oh no, I don’t do much canning anymore. I just freeze my fruit now. It’s much easier.” Curious, I asked how she managed to keep her fruit looking nice in the freezer. And to my delight, she shared the trick she’d learned from her mother growing up.

Ball Preserving and Pickling Salt

You can use Ball’s Preserving or Pickling Salt too! Rinse well. At Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

Before she starts cutting up her fruit, she gets a large bowl and fills it with ice cold water. Then, she sprinkles enough table salt in the bowl to cover the bottom (she doesn’t ever use any measurements).

As she cuts her apples or pears, she drops the slices into the bowl of salt water to keep them fresh as they wait for the rest of the batch to join them.

When the bowl is full, she strains off the fruit, rinses and drains it well, then packs it into Ziploc bags or freezer-safe containers to be stored in the freezer. I asked her if the fruit ever tastes salty, and she said it never did, you just have to rinse it well.

As I eagerly listened to her explaining her method, I could hardly wait to give it a try myself. Before we headed back home, I found some locally grown apples and pears, and determined to freeze them using her instructions.

And guess what? It worked beautifully!!

Freezer bag of frozen apples

My apples, frozen and gorgeous! It just takes table salt and a good rinse.

I couldn’t have been more excited. My fruit looked just as white and crisp as it did the moment I cut it. And it stayed that way for months, until I was ready to whip up my favorite fruit crisps.

If you’ve ever wondered how to freeze apples and pears… now you know! Like I said, canning fruit is a lovely thing to be able to do, and I highly recommend that everyone learn how.  But when you need a little change of pace, freezing is the way to go!

Editor’s Note: This post was first published in November 2013.

Water Bath or Pressure Canners: What Works for You?

Ball Blue Book Food Canning Guide

Ideal for beginning or experienced home canners–The Ball Blue Book has the best and most up-to-date home food preserving information. Available at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

When folks new to canning start out, one of biggest questions asked is this one: which kind of canner should I use? And the answer most often heard is this one: “Well, it depends. What are you canning?”

As frustrating as that might be, that fuzzy answer isn’t out of line.

It really is important to know what you’ll be canning. Depending on the acidity level of the food, different processes and methods are used. Continue reading

What To Do With An Abundance of Apples?

Stainless Steel Cider Press

Stainless Steel Cider Press

Oh, what to do with an abundance of apples? It has been the year of fruit here in Massachusetts. The trees are weighted down with peaches, pears and apples. There are so many that I’m receiving whole cases as gifts from people who have more than they can eat or preserve. So what to do with this gift from the trees (and from desperate neighbors)?

First of all, if you have your apples in a root cellar or cold storage, you have time to process. It’s not like tomato season!

Options abound. I have already pressed 120 pounds into cider. Next up will be canning. I want to do sauce but I also want to do pie filling. On a cold winter’s day, I can get away with a pot of soup for supper as long as I have a hearty dessert. I do NOT have a family that considers a bowl of soup supper otherwise. If the filling is sitting in a jar the whole thing takes minutes as I keep rounds of pie dough in the freezer waiting for the night I need a great dessert or a pot luck contribution. So let’s make pie filling today.

Continue reading

Manage Your Homestead’s Food Supply Successfully

A LOT of just harvested garlic bulbs!

How do you process all this garlic? Dry some, crush some! Click for more info about Lehman’s super garlic press.

When you grow and raise a lot of food, one of the tricks to making it pay is managing the inventory. That means record keeping, not always my favorite thing but necessary if I am going to avoid waste.

Last month we harvested our garlic and it was phenomenal. I harvested 15o heads. That might seem like a lot but we are garlic lovers and I need enough to eat and to save for seed for next year. The biggest bulbs were pulled out immediately. The temptation is to eat those but that would leave me inferior seed. I put those heads away to plant in this month, and dry the rest to use throughout the year.

Continue reading

4 Simple Steps to Cure And Keep Winter Squash

A perfect butternut squash--make sure yours are this clean when you put them in cold storage.

A perfect butternut squash–make sure yours are this clean when you put them in cold storage.

It is hard to believe that summer has wound down, and we’re all looking at fall gardening chores already.

One of those fall gardening chores is the harvest and proper curing of my Butternut Squash. Butternut Squash is one of the most popular types of winter squash.

Don’t get confused with that term. By no means does that mean that you plant or harvest your squash in the winter. It simply means that the squash was bred to be harvested late in the season, and eaten throughout the winter. Continue reading

Canning Makes It Easy To Handle Special Diets!

Here you can see my 'pineapple' zukes, left, and drink concentrates, center and right. I use Ball® and Kerr® jars.

Here you can see my ‘pineapple’ zukes, left, and drink concentrates, center and right. I use Ball® and Kerr® jars.

When I was growing up in Kent, Ohio my mother and grandmother canned tomatoes every Labor day. I hated it, I just wanted to be normal and buy tomatoes from the store in a real can not a jar that we said was a can. I didn’t want the bees swarming our hot house and I wanted to tell my friends of some fun activity that we did- not can tomatoes!

I smile when I think of that young girl that so desperately wanted to fit in and be cool. Now I have given up and embraced the country world I am in and love to can. I love the freedom I have when I pull a jar off the shelf and don’t need to read the fine print or call the company to make sure it won’t harm my family. I also love that I can look at recipes in canning cookbooks and not have to make any real dietary changes. Continue reading