Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cranamon Jelly

Good morning Jammers!  I trust you all had a “hearty” thanksgiving, we sure did.  From food, to spirit, to laughs and good times, “hearty” describes our weekend well.  We have so much to be thankful for.

I have so much to catch up on from my canning day with the ladies a few weeks ago.  Just a reminder, I did not really have a good working camera that day, I’m sorry.  Use your imagination, heheheee.  My last post was for the Crapple Jam and this one is for the second of the cranberry recipes.  It’s a cranberry cinnamon jelly and it was the first time I was getting to use my “make shift” jelly bag.  To set the mood for the energy you want to enhance your recipe with it is helpful to know and attune yourself with the properties of the ingredients you are using.  I am trying to cover as many of these as possible but am also trying to not repeat too much information at the same time.   If you want to know the associations of something that is not listed in a particular recipe, check out the “Labels” section to the right and look for the ingredient in the list and click on it.  It will take you to a previous post that discusses that particular aspect or ingredient.  Also, remember, an ingredient may have several properties but you can focus and draw from any one or more of those you wish.

For this recipe, I drew on the cinnamon for power and spirituality and the cranberries for protection and to ward off negativity.  I can imagine strands of cranberries with a few cinnamon sticks strung in sideways being added to a long pine garland and strung around the front door during the holidays.  What better way to protect and empower that warm Yuletide spirit that you create all around your hearth and inside of your home this season.  I can smell it now, can’t you?

Cranamon Jelly

2 pounds fresh cranberries
2 cups water
4 cinnamon sticks
2 cups sugar for each 2 cups juice

Put the cranberries in a nonreactive saucepan with the water and 3 cinnamon sticks, then simmer until the fruit is very soft and the cranberries“pop”, stirring occasionally.  Remove the cinnamon sticks and squash the cranberries with a potato masher to extract as much juice and flavor as possible.  Spoon the fruit and liquid into a scalded jelly bag or cheesecloth suspended over a large bowl, and let the juice strain through without forcing, for a few hours or overnight.  Do not squeeze the bag or the jelly will be cloudy if particles of fruit escape into the liquid.    


The next day, preheat canner, sterilize jars and prepare the lids. Measure the juice into a nonreactive saucepan.  Add the right amount of sugar and the remaining cinnamon stick.  Stir the mixture over low heat until the sugar dissolves, then boil rapidly until the setting point is reached, 220o.  Stir from time to time to prevent the sugar rich mixture from sticking and burning.   


Remove the pan from the heat and skim any foam from the surface and remove the cinnamon stick.  Pot the jelly into the hot sterilized jars.  Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp clean cloth and add the lids and rings and place jars in preheated canner.  Bring canner to a boil and process for 10 minutes.  Remove the jars and place on a towel on the counter and leave undisturbed for 24 hours.  Check the seal before storing. Use within 12 months.

Now notice, that in this recipe there is no added commercial pectin.  That’s because cranberries, like apples, have a very high natural pectin content.  The consistency came out beautiful.  There are other things that were left to be desired with this one, though.

I did not have a jelly bag so I improvised with 4 layers of cheesecloth clipped to a mesh strainer suspended over a bowl.  Now, granted, we did not let this one sit overnight but it did sit almost 4 hours and I was very disappointed in the juice results.  I know what happened and why…we let the berries simmer too long and the pectin came out and the whole mixture was gelled when we put it in the cheesecloth.  Another thing was that I forgot to soak the cheesecloth in hot water (called scalding).  For 2 pounds of berries we only yielded 2 cups of juice, which made only 3 half pints.  I figure, I came and I tried and the next time I will make it easier on myself (and cheaper) and go with a bottled organic 100% cranberry juice and see what my results are like. 

The flavor and texture are lovely and this will be gorgeous in my Yule baskets.  I will be making more of this one in the next few weeks and I’ll let you know how it comes out.  Till then…Be Blessed and Be Sweet!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Crapple Jam

Good Saturday morning Jammers!  It feels like so long since I have sat down to write to you all.  I meant to have a post to you all at the beginning of this past week but life was turned upside down when my son returned home from a camping trip with a stomach bug and ended up in the hospital with severe dehydration.  He is back to normal now (requested a 2nd dinner last night) and I am left feeling like I lost a week but am so eternally grateful that he is well, I never want to see him like that again!  Last Saturday, I hosted a jam making day with a few of my fellow Crone’s and we had a blast.  No one could really decide on a specific recipe to make, we were all just looking forward to having some fun and making some memories together.  A few of the ladies would be passing the main farmers market on their way here and wanted to know what they could pick up.  I started thinking about a theme for the recipes and decided that since we were so close to Thanksgiving we should make that our theme.  I came up with 5 recipes for us to make with everyone taking them all home at the end of the day.  We were going to make 2 cranberry recipes, 2 pumpkin recipes and a creation of our own of a herb jelly.  Candles were lit (vanilla and pumpkin ones), jams, jellies and butters were made along with a few great memories and we will start with this one….

Well, let’s just go ahead and come out and say it…down and dirty…”I set the kitchen on fire”.  There, I admitted it!  Very first batch too…I had completely forgotten about boiling over my pot of zipper peas 2 nights before.  The peas had been cooking in a mixture of water and butter.  I had wiped the stove top BUT had forgotten to lift the stove top and wipe under it and inside the burner ring.  So, all the ladies arrive and one of our batches was to be a cranberry cinnamon jelly and we were starting with whole cranberries so we got that batch started (the recipe will be the next post) so the juice could start to drain.  I put the cranberries and water in the big pot and set it to high and turned around to join in the conversation.  A few minutes later, we smelled smoke, butter burning from within the depths, and so, I flipped on the exhaust fan above, thinking it will stop any moment.  Well, we were watching this smoke and all of a sudden is goes, poof and there is a flame licking the side of the pot.  I reached over and turned the heat off but the flame is spreading and getting bigger on the side of the pot.  The closest Crone to me suggested we take further action so I immediately thought of the “ji-normous” box of baking soda (it was considered a grease fire, after all) that was stored in the island at my back.  In one swift motion, I told her to not move the pot yet, until I was ready, and I grabbed the box and opened it and we both counted to three.  She moved the pot and in one swift toss, the fire was doused in a thick layer of white.  We then had to stop all the gears from turning and clean the stove and the soot from the pot.  A comment was made to the effect of how calm and cool it was handled.  Now that the hearth was christened for the day we continued with our cranberry recipes, among a gaggle of giggles and down-right laughter.  The jelly batch was started so the cranberries could drain over the jelly bag a few hours while we made the rest of jams.  I’ll post that recipe next and am going to go the the first one we actually finished which was a cranberry apple jam recipe that had been posted on the website Food In Jars.  See their post here, http://www.foodinjars.com/2009/11/gift-in-a-jar-apple-cranberry-jam/ .  I call this one my Crapple Jam.  Cranberries are known for their healing powers (see NPR’s recent article here http://www.npr.org/2010/11/12/131272331/bow-down-to-the-medicinal-power-of-cranberries ) and also are thought to spiritually give protection and ward off negativity.  Maybe there was another reason, other than pure decoration, as to why they were strung up and hung around the house during the winter in olden times, hummm?!?

Crapple Jam (Cranberry Apple)

8 cups of peeled and diced Golden Delicious apples
4 cups of whole cranberries
6 cups sugar
1 cup water
2 lemons, zested and juiced

Preheat canner and prepare jars and lids.  Combine the apples, cranberries, sugar and water in a large pot (use a big one, this jam will bubble) over high heat. Bring to a boil, skimming off the foam that develops on the top of the fruit. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the cranberries pop and the apples soften. 022

Add the lemon zest and juice and simmer until the liquid in the pot begins to thicken (because both apples and cranberries are naturally high in pectin, you won’t need any additional pectin to help this jam set, as long as you cook it until thick and syrup-y). 025

Ladle into the hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth and add the lids and rings, turning the rings until just finger-tight. Place the jars in the preheated canner and bring canner to a full rolling boil. Process jars for 10 minutes (adjusting according to your altitude, if necessary) then remove canner from heat. Let canner sit for 5 minutes, then, carefully remove hot jars from water with a jar lifter and place them on a towel on the counter and leave them undisturbed for 24 hours. Check the seals before storing and use within 12 months.

Makes about 10 half pint jars.

This jam is so wonderful…not too sweet, not too tart but a perfect balance.  Slightly chunky but yet a smooth texture.  I can’t wait to serve it Thanksgiving morning on a hot buttered croissant. 

An my apologies for the lack/quality of photos.  The digital camera was away on a camping trip and the only camera I had to use was the video camera which does not take great stills.  The next few posts will be picture poor, I am sorry! 

We are off to work in the garden for a bit this afternoon and shop at the Beaches Green Market…wonder what goodies I will come home with today, hummmm?  I’ll get another post ready in the next day or two.  Check back later.

Till then, Be Blessed and Be Sweet!

Friday, November 19, 2010

So sorry for not posting this week…

I am so sorry there have not been any posts this week...my 12 year old son ended up in the hospital (his first ER visit/hospitalization) and he has been getting my 110%. I will have recipes and such posted next week, I promise!

Thanks for being patient with me and understanding.  I hope you are all planning some good family memories around your hearths for Thanksgiving next week.  We have a LOT to be thankful for around here this year, namely a return to good health!  How about you?

Till then, Be Blessed and Be Sweet!  (and be Thankful for the good things in your life and all the bad things out in the world that you do NOT have in your life)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Feels like Christmas…

I have spent the last few hours feeling VERY frustrated.  I have spent hours trying to publish my latest post (Triple “A” Butter) but every time I did it was messed up…pictures not where they were supposed to be or paragraphs split up and strewn randomly throughout other paragraphs.  I was ready to SCREAM!  I have been typing up my posts in my word processing program that came loaded on my laptop and would then copy and paste it into Blogger.  It would never transfer pictures so I would have to add them one by one after I pasted the text.  It has been happening on other posts but this time it was really bad and kept getting worse every time I tried again.  I did a Google search to see if any others were having problems like this and found a blog that talked about similar problems.  Their suggestion was to paste it straight into html, which I tried but it still messed it up.  Adding pictures in html was a visual nightmare for a non-geek like me.

All of a sudden, like a light shining down from the heavens one post stuck out from some brilliant person that had the same issue.  They said to just use the new Windows 2011 Live Writer program.  It specifically lets you write blog posts and it automatically publishes them when you are finished and ready.  I found that it was already loaded on my computer and so I tried it as a last resort.  WOWZERS!  It does so much more and anything I have done in the past including some really cool features for the photos, including watermarks and frames.  It saves a copy, like I was doing in the word processor program, and I like to have backup copies of my posts.  It feels like Christmas morning!  I love it and highly recommend it for anyone who blogs. 

P.S. – Sorry to all of my followers for all the duplicate postings of that recipe in their email inboxes while I got it figured out.  Rolling on the floor laughing

Triple “A” Butter

G’mornin Jammers!  I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween/All Hallows Eve/Dia De Los Muertos.  It’s the time of year around here that we like to honor our ancestors and all those that have walked this earth before us.  I spent lots of time thinking and remembering all the great times I had with my great-grandmother, my Grannie.  She would love all the new jams and flavors out there now.  I would have loved to have sat with her just one more time and munched on one of her fried pies or maybe a bowl of her wonderful sour cherry cobbler.   I’m gazing at her picture hanging here in the office, right now…love ya Grannie!  Gasp…..I just remembered that I have one of her handmade bonnets and matching aprons in my keepsake box that she made for my mom.  Grannie would always put on one of her bonnets to go to the garden and a matching apron.  Maybe I’ll pull them out for a picture or two.


I wanted to post the last recipe that I made, weekend before last.  My inspiration came from a fellow food blogger, Tigress.  See her post at http://tigressinajam.blogspot.com/2010/10/ancho-apple-butter.html .  Her apple butter recipe is different from mine, so, I decided to stay with what I like and just modify my own.  Did you know peppers have a heat scale they are rated on? It’s called the Scoville Heat Index and it ranks peppers from zero (Green Bell Peppers) to one million (an extremely rare Ghost Pepper is rated at over one million and is the hottest pepper in the world). Usually one of the hottest that is used on a day-to-day basis is a Habanero Chili which rates at 150,000 - 350,000. Jalapenos usually rate around 2,000 to 5,000+.  Anchos, like I used in this recipe, rate under Jalapenos at around 1,000 - 1,500.  I love their smoky flavor and always keep a pouch on hand from our favorite spice shop in Old Town, St. Augustine.  We’ve been known to drive the 45 minutes there just to pick up various salts we ran out of.  They have an amazing Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt that is fabulous on meat and my son loves his big block of Bolivian Rose that he uses a tiny grater with.  Back to the chili peppers though, did you know that the term Ancho refers to the dried version of the Poblano Pepper (just like to chipotle being the smoked version of a jalapeno)?  I didn’t.  


The associations related to the apple butter part of this recipe are the same as before.  The properties of my apples are choices, (they are used in many ways throughout different cultures and periods as tools for divination), health (haven’t you heard the old saying, an apple a day keeps the doctor away?), and love (apple bobbing was originally for boys to bite into the apple of his true love as the girls had polished and marked the apples on the bottoms before floating them in the tub).  The cinnamon was for power and spirituality, the allspice was for health and prosperity and the cloves were for health, kinship and love.  Apples were one of the main things used back in Victorian times for love charms.  Did you ever twist the stem of an apple while chanting the alphabet and what ever letter you were on when the stem popped off was the first letter of the person’s name that you were going to marry?  We did it all the time…oh the memories.  Peppers, in general, are for protection against negativity.   Have you ever seen those long bunches of peppers, usually dried, red ones, strung together and hung in kitchens?  Now you know the reason why some folks may choose to hang them in their kitchens.  The Ancho along with the Mulato and the true Pasilla form the "holy trinity" of chiles in Mexican culture.  In honor of their association as part of a trinity, I am naming this creation my Triple A Butter.

Triple “A”  Butter


4 pounds tart apples (I used Granny Smith)
2 cups unsweetened organic apple juice
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons ground Ancho Pepper powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter

Rinse apples in cool water and drain well.  Core, peel and chop the apples.  Preheat canner, sterilize jars and prepare the lids. In an 8 qt pan combine the apples and apple juice.  Over medium heat, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until the apples are soft, about 30 minutes.  Remove from heat. Press apples and juice through a fine meshed sieve.  Return the pulp to the pan and stir in the sugar, butter, Ancho powder, cinnamon, allspice and cloves.  Over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Increase the heat to medium and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat and simmer until thick, about 30 minutes.  As the butter thickens, stir constantly to prevent scorching.  023                               024


Remove pan from heat and skim off any foam.  Fill hot sterilized jars with the butter, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth and add the lids and rings and place jars in preheated canner.  Bring canner to a boil and process for 10 minutes.  Remove the jars and place on a towel on the counter and leave undisturbed for 24 hours.  Check the seal before storing. Use within 12 months.

Makes about 6 half pint jars.


This butter had a perfect texture and will taste wonderful as a final glaze over a slow roasted pork loin.  We enjoyed it with peanut butter on sandwiches this past weekend at the Boy Scout event we attended.  The heat is perfect and is really more of an aftertaste in the back of your throat.  It is a perfect addition to really spice up your traditional apple butter recipe.  Again, as with so many of my other creations, this one has MANY possibilities.

I have a blank slate right now as far as my next batch goes.  I have quite a few in my book that I want to try but I am getting special requests, too.  I want to get the beer and sangria ones made as a trial for holiday gifts but the requestors are adamant for an apple-rum something or a pomegranate something.  Guess I better get busy! 

On another note, I was at the grocery store this past weekend picking up supplies for my first scratch cheesecake and saw peaches on sale so I picked up enough for a small batch to can.  They were pretty firm so I thought they would have a few days to ripen, which was perfect since I was so busy.  Well, last night I realized they were quite soft so I picked on up and gave a good long whiff and…nothing, nada!  None of them have any fragrance at all.  Living in Florida we have some unusual growing seasons compared with the rest of the US, so I thought I may just be picking up a late batch.  Boy was I wrong!  I will be talking to the produce manager next time I see him.  These are simply awful.  I decided not to waste jars on fruit that has no smell so I thought I would chop them up and throw a cobbler together tomorrow.  I have a basic recipe passed down in my family called Cuppa-Cuppa-Cuppa and peaches are usually my first choice for it.  As I chopped them up last night half of them were very brown all the way through but, yet, not spoiled and there was hardly any juice to them.  I added some fruit protector and lots of sugar, hoping to make it syrupy enough to use.  I covered the bowl and popped it in the fridge…we will see what it’s like later. 

Till next week, Be Blessed and Be Sweet!