Monday, December 20, 2010

Make A Wish Pomegranate Jelly

Good Monday morning Jammers.  Have you been good little elves, getting your baking done and yummy treats together to share with loved ones this Yule season?  I’ve decided to add some pre-measured and bagged biscuit mix to my jam filled goodie bags for the neighbors.  I will hopefully have them ready to deliver by Thursday.  I spent yesterday relaxing and watching football while still managing to whip out a batch of snickerdoodles.  I had no idea my honey loved them so much!  I had made a batch to take to our friend’s annual boat parade party on Saturday night and it was the first time I had ever made them.  Now I just need to find a good recipe to keep on hand since both of these batches were done with a pre-packaged mix.  Anyone wanna share a good recipe?

The next recipe that I want to share with you is one I did a few weeks ago for a plain and simple pomegranate jelly.  I love pomegranates and they were in all the stores at the time but I was really NOT looking forward to juicing them NOR was I looking forward to the cost of purchasing them, at $2 a piece, considering the fact that I needed 6 of the buggers.  I found a recipe that uses bottled 100% pomegranate juice and realized it was on sale that week!  I was in luck, it turned out to be a pretty inexpensive batch, compared to some of the others I have made.  I researched the associations of the pomegranate and found the most popular ones were wishes and renewal.  I thought it would be perfect as a Christmas jelly for my gift bags. 

Make a Wish Pomegranate Jelly

2 16oz bottles 100% pomegranate juice
1 1.75oz package powdered fruit pectin
1/2 teaspoon butter
5 cups sugar

Preheat canner, sterilize jars and prepare the lids. In an 8 qt pan combine the juice, pectin and the butter.  Over high heat, bring mixture to a full rolling boil that can not be stirred down, stirring constantly.  Add the entire amount of sugar and stir to dissolve.  Return mixture to a full rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.   

Remove pan from heat and skim off any foam.  Fill hot sterilized jars with the jelly, 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 7 half pint jars.

This jelly had a perfect set and I am very happy with the texture and flavor however it is not the “prettiest” jelly in the cabinet.  Bottled juice is not a bright red color so the jelly was a dark brownish red but the flavor makes up for the looks, I assure you.  I have since done this one again using a pomegranate blend.  I’ll post it another time.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday (whichever way you choose to celebrate it) season and may your New Year be prosperous and joy filled. 

Till next time, Be Blessed and Be Sweet!

P.S. – Sorry there are no pictures for this one.  Crying face

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Herby Jelly

Good morning Jammers, hope you were snuggled, warm in your beds last eve…it was downright COLD!  Even, here in Florida within 2 miles of the beach we were below freezing.  We made sure to go down to our community garden plot and stake & drape clear plastic over our babies.  We are simply blown away by how much they have grown in the last week and a half thanks to “zoo poo” which can be picked up for free at the zoo for community gardens, like ours, by the truck load.  There is a huge pile of it and we were lucky enough to be there the day it was being offloaded.  We talked with the guy that picked it up ad it turns out he volunteers at the zoo and also has a plot with us.  He explained that the poo is strictly vegetarian coming from the elephants and the giraffes.  It is filtered/sifted once and there are other big sifters available for us to use there, at the garden, if we want to.  We simply laid a fine layer across the garden and WOW…our squash and cabbages really loved it.  We will head down there later today and uncover them, since we are not supposed to hard freeze again till Monday.

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I wanted to get the last recipe posted from our crone’s canning day.  I had decided that we could do sort of a create-your-own type recipe, so I pulled the little pamphlet from a box of pectin and saw a recipe for a herb jelly, using herbs of your own choice.  My gardening partner and I discussed what herbs we had seen at the group herb plot at the garden and came up with doing a mint-basil jelly that could be used with meats or maybe shortbreads.  She stopped at the garden on her way to my house that morning and fresh harvested the herbs by hand.  I did my research on the properties of the herbs we were using and it turns out the basil is for wealth (among other things) and mint is for money.  Guess what was on my mind while we were making this one.  Can you say dollar signs $$$.  If you needed some extra funds to cover an expense or something like Christmas I would suggest something like this with your dinner meal to help facilitate your efforts to bring that cash in.  It would be good to burn some pine incense and a green candle near your hearth while you are making this one.  Here's the recipe:

Herby Jelly

2 cups finely chopped organic mint and basil (50/50)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened organic apple juice
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
5 1/4 cups sugar
1 1.75 oz package Original Fruit Pectin (powdered)
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter

Preheat canner, sterilize jars and prepare the lids.  Combine 2 cups finely chopped herbs with 1 1/2 cups unsweetened organic apple juice, 1 cup water and 1 cup vinegar in a medium non-reactive saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, remove from heat and let steep 20 minutes.

Strain with a fine meshed strainer and add 3 1/2 cups prepared juice to an 8qt non-reactive stockpot.  Stir in the pectin and the butter.  Bring mixture to a full rolling boil, over high heat, that can not be stirred down.  Add premeasured sugar and return to a full boil.  Boil hard, 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and skim any foam, if necessary.
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 5 half pint jars.

So far, I am not a huge fan of this batch.  The herbs are not as strong flavored as I would prefer them to be and I can taste the vinegar.  We sampled all the batches that day with crackers and I was not impressed but I have yet to still try it on meat so I guess you could, in all fairness, say the jury is still out on this one.  I have noticed a mint jelly recipe on the same page and it is just mint and water, no vinegar.  Maybe next time I will try an herb blend with that recipe.  Have any of you done a strictly herb jelly before?  Give a gal some feedback here…which herbs did you use and how did it come out?

So remember, I mentioned learning something MAJOR from my non-canning crones?  My canning fairy had left me another canning set so I would have backups on the basic equipment and it was a good thing, because my jar lifter had started to come apart with the little black rollers that grip the jar breaking apart when I had them in the hot canner.  I was still using it but I decided to go ahead and pull the new backup one out towards the end of our canning day.  I had done ONE STINKING BATCH when there, right in the bottom of my boiling canning water bath are the little rolling bars which have broken off AGAIN.  I scream ARRRGGGHHHH and everyone drops what they are doing and wants to know what was wrong.  I explained how this was a brand new jar lifter and it had come apart before I was finished using it on it’s first batch! 
The girls started gabbing and gawking and looking at me all weird and one of them spoke up and said “Hey, I think I remember watching my family member can and…uhhhh…doesn’t it go the OTHER WAY?”  Huh???  No way, they all were in agreement that I was using it upside down and here I was 20 or so batches into my new found passion and I was supposed to be teaching them…well, let just say it was five minutes before we all could stop laughing.  I tried it the “correct” way and wow, what a difference.  It is so much more stable and grips way better than before.  Huge DUH, on my part.  I love my friends for setting me on the straight road…I guess it does take a village to do a LOT of things!

Till next time, Be Blessed and Be Sweet!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Peppery Pumpkin Butter

Good morning Jammers, hope you all slept well.  It has finally gotten cold here and there is a chance for our first inland freeze.  Our house is out near the beach and we should stay warmer, but our friends well inland may need to cover their winter plants tonight.  Brrrr!  I’ve got on my fuzzy, aloe infused, woobie socks to keep my tootsies warm and an extra blanket on the back of my office chair to snuggle under.  Come to think of it, I need to bring in the electric throw to plug in for the night so I can stay toasty.  I hope you are all staying warm and cozy.

Two of the recipes that we did on our group Jammin day were pumpkin varieties, per the request of some of the ladies.  Now, I did warn them all of the recommendations for proper handling and canning of pumpkin.  We used the canned pumpkin again and I told them all to keep it refrigerated, even the sealed jars.  I honestly don’t think any of the jars of it lasted more than a week or two!  I had one report that a friend shared a jar of the Peppery Pumpkin Butter with her neighbor and the feedback was something along the lines of “it’s the best we’ve ever had and would love to invest in a company to manufacture it”.  The neighbor and her husband apparently ate the whole jar in one sitting.  I could not think of a better compliment! 

The first of the two recipes used that day was the basic pumpkin butter that I had previously posted.  Look at the archives if you are interested in that one, just be aware and research the data out there on food borne illnesses and canning pumpkin.  I recommend using canned pumpkin (which has already been heat processed by a commercial canning method) and keeping it stored in the fridge.  The new recipe I came up with is based on the ancho apple butter that I made.  Someone had requested adding ancho pepper to the pumpkin butter, so, that was our second batch that day in the pumpkin category.  We were drawing on the thankfulness aspect of working with the pumpkin recipes that day and the pepper just added a bit of punch to the power of the pumpkin.  Refer to the previous pumpkin post, if you want, for the associations of the spices in the butter.  I am calling this one Peppery Pumpkin Butter and I hope you enjoy it as much as everyone else did.

Peppery Pumpkin Butter

3 ½ cups canned solid pack pumpkin
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground Ancho pepper powder
4 cups sugar
1 ½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 3oz pouch liquid pectin


Preheat canner and prepare jars and lids. In an 8qt pan combine the pumpkin and spices, stirring until smooth and well blended.  Gradually stir in both sugars and the butter.  Over medium-low heat, heat the mixture, stirring constantly, until the sugars are dissolved.  Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a full rolling boil, still stirring constantly.  Stir in contents of pectin pouch and return to a boil.  Boil for 1 minute, stirring all-the-while. 

Remove pan from heat and quickly skim off any foam (mine did not have any) from the top. Ladle the butter 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 until the seals have popped and the jars are cooled.  Store them in the refrigerator and use within 4 months.

Makes about 7 half pint jars.

Again, I did not have any pictures from the pumpkin recipes that day, so sorry.  The best I could give you is maybe a picture of an empty jar because that is all that is left!   

Remember when I mentioned the small kitchen fire from that morning?  Watch for the next post and I will share what my “non-canning” friends taught me about my equipment and they showed me how my equipment SHOULD be used to keep it from breaking!  (I have 2 broken jar lifters in my posession right now and one of them was brand new that morning)  Embarrassed smile  We had so many laughs that day…life is not fun unless you know how to laugh at yourself, trust me!

Till next post, Be Blessed and Be Sweet!