Hot Pepper Jelly

This year we had a bumper crop of peppers. In addition to stringing over 100 hot peppers, we sliced and froze 10 gallons of bell peppers, made pepper relish and hot pepper jelly.  This this the first time I have made pepper jelly, the recipe that I used was from the University of California.  It was very quick and easy to make.

Pepper Jelly

4 or 5 Hot peppers cored and chopped

4 medium Bell peppers cored and chopped

1 cup white vinegar (5%)

5 cups white sugar

1 pouch liquid pectin

*Put half the peppers and half of the vinegar into a blender; cover and process until peppers are liquified.  Repeat with remaining peppers and vinegar.

*Combine the pepper and vinegar mixture with the sugar in  a large saucepan and boil slowly for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

*Add liquid pectin and boil hard for 1 minute.

*Skim foam from the top of the jelly.  Pour Jelly into canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.

*Process 1/2 pint or pint  jars in hot water bath canner as follows:

0-1000 ft  – 5 mins

1001-6000 ft – 10 mins

above 6000 ft – 15 mins

Yield – 5 half pint jars

We really liked this recipe.  The jelly is very flavorful but not too. It is really good served over a soft cheese, like cream cheese, with crackers.  If I get ambitious, I might even get really crazy and try making homemade cream cheese.

Canned Meat..no not Spam

I have wanted to try canning meat for some time now. This week my Aunt called to let us know that they had a cow going in to be butchered and wanted to know if we needed any beef. It was actually perfect timing since we just ran out of ground beef last week. (We buy all of our meat from local sources, mostly family members and neighbors) So, I took this opportunity to have 30 pounds of meat cut for canning. The butcher cut the meat in 1-2 inch pieces and put it in 2 large bags.

I used a recipe from the Ball Blue Book of preserving to can the beef. Here are the directions.

Cut meat into 1 ½ – 2 inch cubes, removing fat and gristle. Simmer meat in water to cover until hot throughout. Add ½ teaspoon of salt for pints and 1 teaspoon for quarts, if desired. (I did some with and some without) Pack hot meat into hot jars, leaving 1 inch headspace. Ladle hot cooking liquid over meat, leaving 1 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust 2 piece caps. Process pints 1 hour and 15 minutes, quarts 1 hour and 30 minutes, at 10 pounds pressure in a steam-pressure canner.

It was actually really easy.  The more I use my pressure canner, the more comfortable I get with it.  I have one Mirror pressure canner with the jiggle weight and one Presto canner with the dial gauge, so I can have 14 quarts going at once.  Because I like to multi-task I prefer the Mirror canner. For this batch, 30 pounds of meat yielded 19 quarts, although I’m sure you could pack a little more meat in each jar.

I am really looking forward to having the convenience of opening a precooked jar of meat for shredded beef sandwiches, BBQ beef or a quick soup.  My mother-in-law used to can venison in this manner.  If the Handyman gets a deer or two this year, I might try that too.

****Update:  I couldn’t help myself, I opened a jar.
 1 jar canned beef (drained)  add 2 large squirts Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce
Stir in skillet over med heat until warmed through.
 = Delicious BBQ Beef****
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Blueberry Pie Filling

Last night I finally got my blueberry pie filling made.  I was disappointed when 3 of my jars didn’t seal.  Ive never had that happen to pie filling before but my only thought is that I may have gotten them a little full. However,  this morning as  I ate a bowl of Greek yogurt with a spoonful of blueberry pie filling on top, I could feeling that disappointment melting away!  It was SO good, even if I had to share half of it with the little man child who climbed up next to me and repeated demanded, “Booberries mama, booberries.”

Here is my recipe-

Blueberry Pie Filling

6 quarts Fresh Blueberries
6 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups Clear Jel
7 cups cold water
1/2 cup lemon juice

 Wash and drain blueberries. Combine sugar and Clear Jel in a large kettle, stir. Add water. Cook on medium high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Add lemon juice and boil 1 minute stirring constantly. Fold in berries immediately and fill jars with mixture without delay, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Adjust lids and process. Process in boiling water canner (pints or quarts) 30 mins for 0-1000 ft altitude.
Yield -7 quarts

A love affair begins…

When we built our house in 2004 we purchased all new appliances.  Unfortunately we spent alot of money and they just didnt last.  Last week the last of these appliances, the dishwasher died. (more on this later)  Last fall while I was canning our stove quit working. Well actually the stove top worked but the electronic board on the back of the stove got too hot from the canner and melted, so no oven.  We ended up borrowing an extra stove from my mom since we couldnt decide what we wanted. I knew I wanted a gas stove with knob controls for both burners and oven.  I can alot and didnt want to ruin another electronic panel.  Unfortunately the only stoves I could find meeting that critieria were made with cheap wobbly grates (not so good for canning) or were Way out of my budget, ie. Wolf and Dacor.  Then on a visit to Lehmans Hardware we came across several Unique brand gas stoves.  They have no back electronics, knobs on the front, solid surface heavy duty grates and best off all no plug!  They require no electric, they have 2 9volt batteries to light the burners and thats it.  While we dont loose power that often, this is a big plus in my book.  Here it is, okay, I admit this was before the canning started!  🙂

Ive been using it for about a month now and  love it! It cleans well and heats up fast. I really couldnt be more pleased. (Well maybe if it had 6 burners instead of 4)  We used to have a microwave over the stove but instead decided to opt for a more substantial vent with no microwave.  Yesterday was the first time I canned on it and it was SO nice to have all that extra space for moving pans and jars.  So here’s hoping for a long love affair with my new Unique stove.

Fall is upon us..its applesauce time!

Its been a busy September!  Our county fair is in the 3rd week of September and we all had different projects entered.  We were all very excited when both the girls won ribbons for their baking and arts and crafts projects.
We have been busy canning and preserving. Last week we canned over 100 quarts of applesauce including fruit blends of blueberry-apple, pear-apple and peach-apple.  They are delicious! I found the recipe over at Family feed bag (http://www.familyfeedbag.com/2011/08/applesauce-fruit-blends.html)  Everyone at my husbands work looked  forward to sampling  a new flavor everyday last week. A gentleman from my mom and dads church has an orchard and was selling upick apples for $3.00 and $6.00 a bushel.  They had some spots but made Great applesauce! We were so excited to get the apples at a good price, that when we went to the orchard we just kept picking and picking.   In fact the little ones and I went back this morning to help a friend pick her apples and couldn’t help but pick another 1/2 bushel of Fujis. ( For $3.00 how can you go wrong?)  We have been so blessed with our own garden as well as from others generosity this fall. I bought the peaches from another local orchard for $31.00/bushel.  We also canned 42 quarts each of pear and peach halves.  We bought pears for $28.00/bushel and got a bushel free since they were super ripe. My mom has the best blueberry patch around and always welcomes us to pick as much as we like.  We are so truly blessed! I am looking forward to finishing up the last of the garden canning and putting the garden “to bed” for the winter.  Honestly, I’m almost out of quart jars anyway, I guess Ill have to add that to my list of things to find for next Spring.

 Applesauce blends (from left) Pear Apple, Peach Apple, Spiced Apple, Blueberry Apple

Rose and Mowgli at the apple orchard.