Canning, Recipes

A weekend of Applesauce

My eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach this weekend. I went to our local market to buy apples for applesauce, and the price was so astonishingly great that I bought two bushels instead of one. Yay apples!

Apples_Bags

I spent all day Sunday (from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) making applesauce — with a little help from my older sister who was in town — and only got through one bushel. Considering it took seven hours, I don’t know when I’ll get to using the next bushel — hopefully one night this week. I think I’ll turn the remainder into apple butter. Yum!

Anyway, if you want to read about how I make applesauce or see one of the few videos I’ve made for A Smith of All Trades, check out my applesauce post from 2012. My dad, little sister and I have made applesauce each year for the past three years. After the first year and a limited supply of sauce, I started doing a batch with the family and a batch on my own. This weekend was my batch and I made 28 jars (24 quarts, 4 pints). Next weekend, the plan is to do it again with my dad. Double the help = half the production time!

Apples_Cans

In my 2012 post I shared a bunch of different add-ins for the applesauce. It is a family tradition to doctor the applesauce with things like vanilla, cinnamon red hots, brandy, candy canes — all sorts of stuff! This year, I added in fireball whisky. I’d never had it before, but our family friend suggested the cinnamon flavor would taste great in applesauce. Well, he was right. It might be my new favorite thing to add in!

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Garden, Graphic Design, Life

Farmers Markets — Eat local!

This post is going to ramble a bit. Consider yourself warned.

I am not a huge fan of summer weather. Maryland summers are humid, hot, sticky, stormy… I am more of a spring and fall weather kinda girl. That being said, summer really is the best season ever. The days are longer, schedules free up, activities are more active… and my favorite… the food! My garden has been doing really well this year. And just like last year, I want to really expand my planting area in the future. I only did a little expansion this year, mainly because I didn’t want to fork over too much cash money.

I’ve got 10 tomato plants, peas, strawberries, green beans, lettuce, peppers… all sorts of goodies. And what I don’t grow in my garden, I have been really enjoying shopping for at local farmers markets! It’s great to eat local foods and to support small businesses and farmers.

I am so lucky that we have a farmers market ON CAMPUS at the University of Maryland. Every Wednesday I walk over and buy delicious, fresh goodies. This week I bought blueberries, raspberries and tomatoes. Did I mention we also have a sustainable food truck!?! I bought a lamb sandwich and fresh lemonade. It was AMAZING. The vendors sell so much yummy stuff (hormone-free meats, fresh-baked pastries, dipping sauces, fresh eggs…). You name it, you can probably find it there — well, as long as it is in season.

As if that wasn’t awesome enough, Howard County offers a traveling farmers market. I’ve only gone once at the beginning of the season, but it too was a great experience. I bought fresh eggs and some yummy greens. Fresh eggs are amazing. I want my own chickens… too bad my dog would probably play with them to death.

I’ve really gotten into eating fresh, organic produce lately so I am going to interrupt my own post to share some awesome blogs I’ve stumbled upon recently and I love. If you are interested at all in eating organic or less processed foods, check out these three awesome blogs: Food Babe, 100 Days of Real Food & Deliciously Organic. I’ve got a whole organic chicken in our crockpot cooking for dinner tonight using a recipe from 100 Days of Real Food. My step sister also has an impressive blog about eating healthy: Fuel My Family. They are all awesome — check ’em out.

Also, don’t worry. I’m not about to turn this into a health food blog. Just figured I’d share since I started rambling about vegetables today 🙂

OK, back to farmers markets.

The real reason I wanted to write this post was to talk about how Dana, my bff, has started selling her baked goods at a farmers market in Laurel! That’s right, Little King’s Confections will be at the Main Street Farmers Market EVERY THURSDAY! I am so proud of her 🙂

Little Kings

Little Kings Farmers Market

Little Kings Confections

Little Kings Confections Market

OK, ramble almost over. See that logo on Dana’s booth? Yup, I designed it. It was really simple to do in Adobe Illustrator. I used the fonts Lavenderia for “Little King’s” and Code Light for “Confections.” The crown was a free clip art that I swapped from black to white. It is adorable 🙂

 

Little Kings Confections logoo

Happy ramblings & happy Friday!

Recipes

Homemade Strawberry Jam

Homemade Strawberry Jam

I got the most random appliance for Christmas (I asked for it, btw) — a jelly and jam maker! I absolutely love making homemade jams and jellies and thought I’d share a recipe or two with you guys.

Today I made strawberry jam. It’s the hubby’s favorite and it is so soooo delicious. I like making my own because I don’t have to put nearly as much sugar in it as the store-bought jellies. Plus, it is tastier.

Here’s what you need (yes, real measurements! I know, that’s crazy coming from me.):

  • 2 lbs Strawberries
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1.5 tbsp pectin
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Before I start I should add that this recipe will work on the stove as well. The jam maker is preset to make jam or jelly and has a stirrer in the middle so nothing burns. It’s just a glorified pot. (But it is awesome!)

First, cut up your strawberries into little bits. If you like your jam chunkier, leave some bigger chunks of the fruit.

Next, mash your berries with a potato masher to get some of the juices loose and the strawberries extra squishy.

IMG_0062

Add your strawberries, butter and pectin to your jam maker and turn it on. In my jam maker, the preset time for jam is 21 minutes. If you make it on the stove, cook on medium heat for about the same amount of time.

Side note: I had no idea what pectin was before I started experimenting with my jam maker, so here’s what I’ve learned. Pectin is a natural substance found in apples that helps fruit to gel up. For fruits with a lot of pectin in them, you do not have to add pectin to make the jam or jelly (although it doesn’t hurt). Berries don’t have a lot of pectin, so you need the added stuff. I buy mine on Amazon.

After 4 minutes, add in your sugar. Cover and walk away and let the pot do its work.

Jam

Come back in 21 minutes to a steamy pot full of delicious jam. If you want to can your jam, do it immediately while the jam is still boiling hot and you won’t have to boil your jars to seal them. Simply place your seal and your lid onto the can after it is full, then flip it upside down. The heat from the jar’s contents will seal the jar and make it last for about a year.

The jam will also burn badly if you spill it on yourself. I learned this the hard way after spilling a bunch of boiling peach jam on my hand. Be careful!!!

If you are going to use some right away, plop it into a container and place it in the fridge. Once it is cool, try it out!

jam on toast

(Don’t just my white bread. … It’s what the hubby likes and mine was out :p)

The main reason I am sharing this recipe is that when I got my jelly and jam maker it came with a recipe book. This recipe book called for a ton more pectin (which is expensive) and a TON more sugar. I’m talking three cups. Gross. I think the recipe I have here is a really good one that I plan to use from now on with this jam.

Enjoy!