Monday, August 29, 2016

Days in the kitchen

These past few days have seen us busy with preserving food. My wife had picked a whole lot of black and red currants, I picked gooseberries in our garden, both yellow and red and we are having our very first brambles!! All these berries, or at least the ones surviving the initial onslaught from bush till bucket, ended up as syrup and jam. And plenty of it. Most of the black currants became syrup and the jam was black & red currants, white and red gooseberries and brambles. But I must say we are burning through those quite rapidly. Nothing beats the taste of homemade stuff and the jam and syrup gets used in a lot of things, not just sandwiches and drinks.
The black currants have been used .... twice! Once to make syrup and after we had extracted the juice we froze the remaining berries, which we used in the jam as well. Nothing thrown away and this way the jam is not as runny, so less sugar is needed to create the jelly. We used up to 30% of the normally required amount of sugar and the taste is amazing!
And I did something new; canning peaches in honey syrup. I roughly followed Corina's recipe, which you can find here; marblemount homestead, how to can peaches with honey. I must say roughly, since we do not have peaches growing here, so they were store bought. I also had to store them in the fridge for 2 days, before I could use them. And I did not use mason jars, but weck-jars. Y´know, the ones with glass lid and rubber seals.
Her syrup mixture was followed roughly as well; 6 quarts + 3 cups = roughly 6 liters + 7,5dl, so 2,5dl of honey for every 2 liters of water.... if my math is correct and I must admit it is NOT my strong suit. And it was a success!! Everyone loved them!! Taste real good with vanilla icecream!

Jams to the right, goulash next to it, then the peaches and black currant syrup to the left
And while I was going to can anyway I thought I'd kill 2 birds with one stone: increase the food supply by adding a few jars of goulash. The second bird being emptying the freezer by using older supplies to create room for fresh ones.
But that was not all. Now we were in the mood for it, so we continued. There was boxes of rhubarb left in the freezer.... and strawberries.... and still some red currants and black currant mush. Yup, another batch of jams was whipped up. And in order to further stock up on ready meals and use all those zucchini we harvested, we made zucchini soup, which also contains a good deal of bacon, onions, carrots and garlic. Topped off with some cream it really is good. A fulfilling and hearty soup, ideal for autumn like weather. Which we are having incidentally.

Making jam from fresh berries is very easy. You weigh the amount of fruit and calculate the amount of jamsugar needed. We used used 300 grams of sugar for 1000 grams of fruit. Slowly heat the fruit to a boil, whilst stirring and then add the sugar. Keep stirring!! Allow to slowly boil for 2-5 minutes, fill your jars, put on the lid and put aside up side down. Allow to cool, before you turn the jars the right way up. Now a vacuum is created.

When canning, preparation is essential.
Clean and check the jars, lids and rings for damages and fit. We always sterilise the glassware by putting it in the over for 10-15 minutes at 125C. The rubber seals are boiled briefly. We allow the glass to cool down a little, so they can be handled somewhat better. Then we fill them with the warm food (75C+) and when sealed place them in the cooker, where the water is about the same temperature. Then it really depends on the sort of food we have for how long and at what temperature we heat it all. The sterilisation process also helps reduce tensions withing the glass, due to temperature differences.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds great! I made jam with locally grown peaches using very little sugar (I am pre-diabetic) so 1/4 cup of sugar for 4 lbs of fruit and it was awesome! Love this time of year.