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

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.

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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.

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Michigan Apples Keep Judy Hustling

Bushel baskets available at Lehmans.com or Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio.

Bushel baskets available at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

I was a busy bee over the weekend. Bought a bushel of mixed apples grown right here in Michigan, and made applesauce and apple butter. Sounds so simple with so few words, but it’s actually quite a lot of work, even though I significantly changed two labor-intensive steps.

I have a food press, one of those cone-shaped dealies with a wooden pestle. It’s hard work to press apples with their peels, cores, seeds and stems through it, and you’re constantly cleaning out the scrap. I also have an attachment for my Kitchen Aid that will separate the scrap from the apple flesh, but I didn’t want to dirty more dishes. Continue reading

It’s Super Simple to Freeze Fresh Fruit!

fresh blueberries

Fresh blueberries, clean and ready to freeze.

Recently, I got to share how I can foods for my allergy-aware family.

And I realized I need to share how I freeze seasonal fruit too. It’s just like canning: I know exactly what’s going into my produce, and (even better) my kids love it!

One of my daughter Moriah’s favorite breakfasts is frozen blueberries. Last year we were gifted a large bag of them. I’m going to talk mostly about how I froze blueberries, but the idea is the same for any seasonal fruit. 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

Tomatoes: Keeping Beyond Canning

The quality you want from Lodge, in a great preseasoned steel skillet! In stock now at Lehmans.com or Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio.

The quality you want from Lodge, in a great preseasoned steel skillet! In stock now at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

Try these ideas

Since tomatoes are the number one most popular vegetable for the home gardener, most of us find ourselves with a glut of them before the season is over. Canning takes care of a lot, but sometimes we can’t even give them away fast enough once they get into production mode. When that happens, it’s time to think seriously about what to do with the excess.   There’s always the compost pile, but who wants to waste a good tomato?

Frozen Green Tomatoes for Frying

If you like fried green tomatoes, it’s a simple fix to freeze them for later. Slice them uniformly just as if you were going to fry them, then dip them in whatever mixture you like. Lay them out on a wax paper covered cookie sheet and freeze until they’re firm. You can then put them in freezer bags or containers and remove them individually when it’s time to cook them. Don’t let the tomato slices thaw before frying, but place them quickly into a hot, oiled skillet. They will taste as fresh as if you just pulled them off the vine – a real treat on a snowy winter day!

Making tomato sauce with Roma

Roma Food Mill in action at Galen Lehman’s place. Get your own at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

Frozen Tomato Sauce  If you have a lot of tomatoes and want to can tomato sauce or make ketchup, but can’t stand the thought of adding even more heat to an already hot summer’s day, puree your tomatoes and get them ready to make sauce, then freeze the puree until the warmth from the stove will be welcome!   When you’re ready to can, thaw the sauce and cook it down until it’s ready and that’s all there is to it. If you don’t want to can it, cook it down first and freeze it in one or two cup portions.

Cookie Sheet

Neutrally non-stick, our recycled steel cookie sheets works hard for you in the kitchen! At Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio, and at Lehmans.com.

Freeze Whole Tomatoes  But don’t freeze them in a lump that you have to hammer apart when you only want one or two. Instead, remove the skins (or not, if you don’t mind them), core and place on a wax paper or parchment paper covered cookie sheet in the freezer until they’re solidly frozen. Remove them quickly and put in freezer containers or bags, then you can simply use as many or as few as you need.   Since tomatoes thaw and then reheat quickly, just plop them into your stew or soup or leave in a dish long enough to thaw for other purposes.

5 racks, food dehydrator

Electric food deyhydrator works for fruit/veggie leathers too. At Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio, or at Lehmans.com.

Still have more? Sun dried tomatoes are a specialty, but you can make them easily. They are exactly what they sound like: Dried in the sun. A dehydrator is excellent for this, but you don’t even need that. A flat surface that can be protected from insects–a cloth will do it.

Slice the tomatoes thinly and uniformly, place them where they won’t touch each other and leave in the sun, covered by a cloth until they are leathery to crisp. (Keep your cloth in place with clothes pegs or binder clips!) Store tomatoes in a closed container, and keep in a cool, dry place. Check them now and then as they tend to absorb moisture. If they do, you can redry them in the sun, or dry them out again in the oven. Use a very low temperature, leave the door open and watch them so they don’t burn.

You can even dry tomato “leather” to use as sauce in cooked dishes. Make a puree of the tomatoes and cook it down as much as you can to speed the drying process, then spread it on a leather dehydrator sheet. This is a solid sheet, usually of plastic that won’t let the liquid seep through. Use a plastic sheet over a tray in the sun if you need to, but it will take longer than a dehydrator or sun-drying sliced tomatoes.

When the leather is finished, you can store it in sheets, break it up or pulverize it in the blender for a tomato bouillon of sorts. Be aware that if you pulverize it, it will turn hard after awhile. A little cornstarch mixed in well before storing will prevent that.   Don’t waste even one of those precious globes that you worked so hard to grow!

 

At A Glance: Pressure Canners, Water Bath Canners, Pressure Cookers

10 qt High-Quality Pressure Canner

10 qt High-Quality Pressure Canner

“I need a pressure cooker for canning season.” Here at Lehman’s, we hear that sentence often! And we know what you mean, we really do. You want a pressure canner to put up your produce. Here’s a quick comparison of pressure canners, water bath canners and a look at what a pressure cooker can do for you.

You should be able to click on the photo for a larger, linked image if necessary.

Click here to find out more about Lehman’s high-quality, reliable, gasket-free USA-made Pressure Canners.
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