Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hello Again!

The sumac has lost its leaves since this photo, but I had to post it anyway.
The Wheel keeps turning.

I just checked the seven-day forecast. After a couple of days with highs in the 70s (and one night with a low of 60!) the weekend calls for a good chance of rain and (get this) snow.

Yeah. Snow.

It is November.

The other day I said that I wouldn't complain at all about snow this winter.
Because we need the moisture.

I am not sure that I am quite ready for snow yet, though.

Can't stop it, though.

One of the things I have enjoyed doing on some of these chilly mornings is making jam.

Two or three weeks ago I finally released the bell peppers to go where all good little plants go, eventually. The compost heap. After I picked all of the peppers, that is.

That meant I had peppers for making hot pepper jelly, which is mostly bell peppers, with just a few hot ones thrown in according to the heat level that you'd like. Last year's batch (which we still have several jars of) came out super hot. This year's batch, not so hot. So we'll just open one of each and mix them. Poifect!

I've also pulled jars of elderberries out of the freezer for elderberry jam. When it is all done, I will have more than I made last year, but not as much more as I thought I might have.

Anyway, here are my very own recipes. I use Pomona's pectin because it is an all natural pectin and I can adjust it for any size batch that I want. While most packaged pectins say not to make double batches (I've tried, they frequently don't gel properly) I have had no trouble with double batches using Pomona's. While a box of Pomona's is more expensive than the others, you don't use the whole package for a single batch. I can get three or so batches out of one package, depending on what I am making, as some types of jellies and jams use different amounts of pectin.

Naked trees in the golden light of sunset.
You also can make your own pectin by boiling down green apples... That's all I know about that, and I know that much only because one of my neighbors told me that she did it.

Ok. On to the recipes.

Pepper Jelly
3 ½ cups pepper puree (bells and hot peppers)*
2 cups cider vinegar
½ cup lemon juice
1 ½ to 2 cups honey (or 2 ¾ cups sugar)
5 teaspoons calcium water
4 teaspoons pectin powder

Mix pepper puree, vinegar, lemon juice and calcium water in a large saucepan. Bring to boil. Blend pectin in with honey or sugar. When liquid is boiling, add honey (sugar)/pectin mix and stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve pectin. Bring to boil, then remove from heat. Fill hot, sterile jars and cap tightly. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes (half pints) or 15 minutes (pints). Makes 3 pints or 7 half pints.
*From 1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds of whole bell peppers, green or colored. I used two jalapenos with seeds removed, but did not remove pith or ribs, but that was not hot enough. I will try 3 or more jalapenos next time. Other hot peppers can be used, according to availability and your taste.

Elderberry Jam
4 cups processed elderberries*
1/3 cup cider vinegar or ¼ cup lemon juice
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of clove
4 teaspoons calcium water
1 cup honey
3 teaspoons pectin powder
Mix elderberries (measured after processing out seeds), vinegar or lemon juice, seasonings and calcium water in large saucepan. Bring to boil. Blend pectin with honey. Once liquid is boiling, add honey/pectin blend and stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve pectin. Bring to boil and remove from heat. Fill hot, sterile jars and process in boiling water bath, 10 minutes for half pints, 15 minutes for pints. Makes 5 half pints.
*I have found that processing out the seeds, with a hand cranked food mill, is easiest when you freeze the berries, then thaw and process. I use to cook the berries, cool and then process, but that takes more time. And I think that the double cooking (since you need to heat the juice again before canning) destroys some of the flavor and nutrients. Both cooking and freezing break down the berries and makes them easier to process.

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