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Archive for the ‘local’ Category

Ladies and gents, we have gel!   

We do not go through much jam in our house, but enough that I shudder at the price of a small jar of All Fruit at the store when I do pick some up.  It’s commercial so I am not exactly sure what is in it and the price!  Well, not this year.  I was determined I would make my own with local fruit grown by people I know, thank you very much.  Ahh, the trials of gelatin, the heat of cooking down…Pomona’s was what I was missing.  I’ve tried a few times this summer to make a jam of sorts and this time around it did gel!  We have Peach All-Fruit Jam…not peach syrup or peach reduction.

  I followed the all-fruit instructions that came with my Pomona’s Pectin.  It called for apple juice concentrate.  It turned out very tasty, not too sweet, and with a nice texture (gelled, but not firm.)  I am anxious to try another batch using honey for something with a bit more sweetness to it.  This pectin is different because it comes with two packets of powder, the pectin and calcium powder.  You make a calcium water and (if I am understanding correctly) this calcium water is what works with the pectin to gel your jam, jelly, or all-fruit.  There are recipes for many fruits including the standard apple, strawberry, raspberries, blackberries, peach, grape, and cherry.  I also noticed a marmalade recipe (YUM!) and a pepper jelly.  I have to interrupt this post to wonder how you would eat a pepper jelly.  I’ve never had such a thing and am intrigued…is it something I am missing out on, would it be a waste of peppers and time, and would my family eat it?  One thing I noticed missing was rhubarb, I used to love strawberry rhubarb jam and am thinking Pomona’s is the type of pectin I can wing it and figure it out.

Some photos are in order and thanks to my handy six year old I have quite a few to present (okay, I did a few of the photos, but the good one’s are hers.) Note: I have no clue what I am doing when it comes to “canning” things.  I did what my grandma does and that is no water bath and no pressure cook.  Apparently boiling the lids and depending on the heat of the product and the lids to seal the jar as it cools is not an “approved” method.  She’s been doing it that way since the 1940’s so I say it’s good enough for my house…just so you are warned I am not an “approved” homemaker 🙂

This is what Pomona’s Pectin looks like in case you want to look for it.  Also, my jar of calcium water (made from packet inside box) and a can of frozen apple juice concentrate. 

 

The older two enjoyed cutting, pitting, and peeling the peaches despite the look on their face (it’s serious work you know.)  Peeling had them a bit frustrated at times, but it does that to me too.  They were very careful not to waste the peach flesh and would have peeled the whole bag were it not for the bowl being just the right size (on purpose!)  Notice random camping gear, school supplies, and general kid items scattered amongst the kitchen.  It’s not usually this bad, but it’s never just-so.  My life in general is never just-so and I prefer to keep it that way.

 

While they worked on that, I boiled the rings and lids and then after the water settled back down slowly added in the jars so that everything was good and hot.  Grandma, are you reading…is this right?  Too late if not, but let me know as I’m planning another go around.

 

The twins (in booster seats in top photo background) were anxious to join in so they got to mash the fruit.  Well, they got to help mommy mash the fruit.  Very exciting for a two year old to help cook, makes them feel all grown up and big.  Especially if they get to climb up into the tall chairs at the island!

 

 

The recipe had me add lemon juice and calcium water to my mashed fruit.  Here it is in all it’s mashed glory, waiting to be heated and turned into delicious all-fruit jam for us to eat!

 

 

This part was fun.  You heat up the juice concentrate, pour it into a blender and then add the pectin.  It took about a minute of blending to get it all combined and ready to pour into the fruit.  Hmm, looks like it is time to clean the stove-top.

 

Heat the fruit to a boil, add the pectin mixture, boil again and that is it. I skimmed off the foam as I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to stay and figured it wouldn’t hurt for it to go.  the foam was what clued me in that it was going to gel.  By the time I skimmed it into a small bowl and stated the next step it has started to set.  Hooray, encouragement to not burn my hands on hot jars!

 

Removing hot jars with small metal tongs…not so bright.  They would slip on the metal and I’d get splashed with hot water.  If you look at the next photo in that pretty green pitcher, at the back is a pair of tongs that have coated tips that didn’t slip.  I managed to think of them by the last jar and gave them a try.  Good thing I keep them in that pitcher ready to use the instant I need them!  Life is about learning. 

 

This part wasn’t hard (the better tongs made it almost easy.)  I pulled a hot jar out and set it upside down on my towel.  With another towel, I would pick it up and quickly dry the inside before proceeding to fill it and top it with a hot lid and band.  By the last jar, I was fairly quick with it.  I had figured not to touch stuff with bare hands, reducing the momentary pauses for blowing on fingers and also a way to have it all arranged so it went together smoothly.

 

There you have it, eight jars of Peach All Fruit following Pomona’s recipe.  It’s not too sweet, but not tart…just like an actual peach.  The color is a bit different than sugar varieties, but that is to be expected.  We’ve eaten it on today’s bread, crackers, and I am thinking it would also be good to put a dab on some pork.  The best part of the day, not just making jam, according to my girls was "cutting the peaches open" and "hearing the jars randomly pop as the lids sealed" while they cooled.  No TV or computer required for today’s fun!

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local foods

I wrote a rather lengthy post about our food choices and planned on expanding on that some.  I’ll start with local foods seeing as this is the beginning of the growing season in our area. 

My eventual goal is to be able to grow and store much of the food we consume.  This is a lofty goal for a family of six.  Until then, when I can I try to buy local.  There are different reasons and a whole movement behind it.  This is just my take on it, for what it is worth.

When I buy my food local, I know where it was grown and in most cases know who grew it.  I know what methods they use to grow/raise their product.  I know that it hasn’t traveled across America’s highways to get to my table.  It hasn’t be treated in some manner to keep it “fresher” longer, it really is fresh.  The taste can not be compared.  Buying local also supports the people and businesses in our area.  I also can’t help but think that blooming where you are planted includes making use of what’s within reach.   I live in this lovely mid-western climate and feel like I should mainly eat foods that grow in this mid-western climate. 

On the other hand, I am not strict about it.  We do not ask farms how far away they are so they don’t go over our 20 mile limit…we have no limit.  I can not imagine raising kids without bananas, brown rice pasta, and avocados .  The day they start growing in back yards here I really will believe Al Gore and all his global warming hype.  Salt is not something harvested near me and it’s not going to disappear from our diet either.  If I go into an Asian market I’m not going to skip out on the rice and if they have dragon fruit I am way to sentimental to refuse just one. 

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