Friday, September 16, 2011

Southern Tomato Preserves

Isn't it pretty?  And my family never knew what it was made from.  Hubby loved it.  My 5-yr-old licked the spoon clean and would've gone back for more if I hadn't stopped him (ew, I'm a little germaphobic).  And my fifth-grader thought it was made with orange and lemon.  

You may recognize the recipe from my Pioneer Preserving Recipes series.  This is Tomato Preserves from down south.  It's made with yellow tomatoes, which are sweeter than the reds.  I used what I had, which was some yellow ones from my dad's garden, one orange and one pink tomato, which are sweeter than all my reds. 

I've doctored up the recipe a bit, the way I'd like to do it next time.  The original recipe is in the series.

Southern Tomato Preserves
makes 1/2 pint

1 pound small, yellow tomatoes
boiling water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 lemon, sliced thin

Pour boiling water over clean tomatoes.
Cover tightly 2 minutes.
Place the sugar and tomatoes into earthen or enamel bowl for 24 hours.
Drain into pot.
Set aside tomatoes.
Boil syrup.
Add tomatoes and lemon.
(If you're using any larger-sized tomatoes, go ahead and cut them.)
Cook just until thickened.
Fill sterilized jar and seal.

Delicious on crisp buttered toast!
Happy experimenting, friends!
Life is short.

Nasturtium Pods - Pickled

Have you ever eaten nasturtium pods? 
They're the fat little unripened seed pods of nasturtiums.  Developing where the flower dies off, we start to see them late in the summertime.  They have that same spicy quality of the rest of the plant (try the flower petals in your salad), but are also reminiscent of capers.
They've been known to be called "Poor Man's Capers".

I throw them in with my pickles, however if you have enough pods you can fill a pretty jar all to themselves.  You need to have a lot of nasturtium pods.  The plants aren't picky, but they do love to hang down.  They don't climb so much as trail.

From the kitchen of "The Complete Housewife", 1739.

Pickled Nasturtium Pods
1 3/4 cup

4 1/2 Tablespoons pickling salt
3 cups water
1 pint fresh, green, plump, nasturtium pods
4 whole cloves
1 pinch blade (ungrounded) mace
1/4 whole nutmeg
1 slice horseradish, 1 1/2" x 3/16' sliced thin
1 shallot, peeled
1 cup white vinegar

Dissolve 1 1/2 Tablespoons salt into 1 cup water.
Pour this over pods.
Let stand one day.
Make fresh brine the same way, let stand over pods one day.
Do the same on the third day.
On the fourth day, drain.
Put into sterile jars with spices and cover with vinegar.
Cover jar tightly with nonreactive cap.
Let stand at room temperature for at least one week.
After one week, may be stored refrigerated for one year or more.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Canning Labels - Free!

I saw these labels on Garden Therapy, a blog I was perusing the other day.  It got me wondering if there might be other free canning labels to be gleened from the web.  Once again, inspiration pays off.  I'll share my bounty with you.

Be sure to set your printer to have no borders, or your labels may print out too small.

Garden Therapy offers labels in plaid, polka dot, and solid
The solid colors are linen. olive, and pumpkin.


A Sonoma Garden shares her labels with us.  She even has some for Christmas!  Be sure to read her printing instructions.  I didn't and now have a dozen 1-3/4 inch labels.


Alenka's Printables shares labels that we can personalize. 
They offer both round and rectangular 2' x 4" labels.


These have got to be my favorite!  Kathy, At Merriment Design scanned some fabric to get these beautiful labels in rich colors.  My computer took a long time to upload the pages, but you get three pages of 2" labels that you can personalize (edit the text by clicking the text tool). 
Worth the wait!


At Sweet Preservation you can find all kinds of lovely labels.  She found these above at Bohtieque, an Etsy shop where someone sells all kinds of lovely labels.

This darling leaf design was found on the Notepourri Etsy Shop.


I just love this one!  It's from the Bitter Betty Blog. 
She has a great one for vegetables, too.


Miss Cutiepie puts this very vintage set of labels together
with an image from the Graphics Fairy.


It's difficult to see in this photo, but these labels are fun and bright.
You can find them at Frugal Living.
It's also where you find these spunky labels,
with crosshatch, zigzag, checks, and polka dots.


So I've been using this.

My new plan is to print out a few of these labels,
precut them while watching TV,
and have'em at the ready next time I finish a batch of preserves.
Probably green tomatoes.

Make those jars pretty, friends!

Green Tomatoes - 1 Dozen Recipes

In light of last night's threat of frost, the time has come to prepare ourselves for the inevitable Green Tomato Harvest.  Most years that means a bountiful crop.  Its a sad time.  No more sweet, juicy, red tomatoes.  Not until next July for us up here in zone 4.  Sigh.

Look familiar, zone 4?

End-of-Summer heartache
 Even the weatherman includes a garden advisory in his report.  "Potential for frost overnight, you may want to cover those tender plants."  For tomatoes we get a blessed two months.  After that we're relegated to the bland, tasteless grocery store variety.  So, so sad.

Ours did make it through the night, and we have warmer weather in store for a little longer.  However, it's time to prepare for the green tomato season.

I received these recipes in a Living on a Dime email a few days ago for Mock Raspberry Jam.  But get this, they use green tomatoes!  And what's nicer than having recipe?  Having it in two sizes, of course.

Mock Raspberry Jam 1
2 1/2 cups green tomatoes, grated or chopped well in a blender
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 (3 oz.) package of raspberry or strawberry Jello
Cook tomatoes and sugar on medium heat for 20 minutes uncovered. Turn down heat. Add Jello and cook until Jello is dissolved. Pour in sterilized jars or freezer containers. Stores in the fridge a couple of weeks and in the freezer about 6 months. Makes 2-3 pints.

Mock Raspberry Jam Recipe 2
4 cups green tomatoes, grated or chopped fine in the blender
4 cups sugar
1 (6 oz.) pkg. raspberry or strawberry Jello
Cook tomatoes and sugar 10 minutes over medium heat. Turn down heat. Add Jello and cook 20 more minutes. Pour in sterilized jars or freezer containers. Keeps two weeks in refrigerator and 6 months in freezer. Makes about 6 pints.

This recipe is one I found while researching green tomato recipes last year.  I still haven't tried lime pickling.  Maybe this year.  It's from, The Joy of Pickling cookbook.  An amazing book, if you get a chance check it out.

Southern Limed Green Tomato Pickle
6 pints

4 pounds green tomato
1/2 cup pickling lime
2 quarts water
1 quart cider vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons pickling salt
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seed
1 teaspoon allspice berry
1 teaspoon whole clove
1 cinnamon stick
2 cup onion, sliced

Cut tomatoes crosswise into 1/4 inch slices.
In large bowl, stir in pickling lime and water.
Add tomato.
Let soak 12 - 24 hours.
Cover with cold water.
Let soak 1 hour.
Soak 1 hour again.
Repeat a third time.
In a large, nonreactive pot, combine vinegar, sugars, salt, and mustard seeds.
Tie remaining spices in cheesecloth and add to pot.
Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugars and salt.
Add tomatoes and onion. 
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
Ladle vegetables and liquid into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
Adjust lids.
Process 10 minutes.

I found this recipe from the same book.  They're quite tasty.  Great with egg salad sandwiches.  But I wouldn't make more than the three pints, you may be stuck with them for longer than you thought.  If you omit the curry, turmeric, and ginger and, instead, add grated horseradish, and pepper you get Piccalilli, another green tomato recipe! 

French-Mennonite Curried Green Tomato Pickle
3 pints

2 1/2 pounds (2 quarts) green plum tomato, sliced 3/16 inch thick
(I wasn't this picky.  I just used my smallest tomatoes and sliced'em "pretty thin".)
1 medium onion, sliced thin
2 Tablespoons pickling salt
2 cups cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Combine green tomato and onion in large bowl.
Add salt.
Mix gently.
Let stand 8 - 12 hours.
Drain again.
In large, nonreactive pot, boil vinegar, sugar, and spices.
Add vegetables.
Boil again.
Reduce heat.
Simmer 3 minutes until vegetables are just heated through.
Pack into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
Adjust lids.
Process 10 minutes.

In 1973 Better Homes and Gardens Home Canning cook book gave us this recipe for green tomato dill pickles.  Better be sure you like them, this makes an awful lot.

Green Tomato Dill Pickles
5 quarts

5 pounds small, firm green tomatoes
Fresh dill heads or dill seed
Garlic cloves
Whole cloves
4 cups vinegar
1/3 cup salt

Wash tomatoes; slice 1/4 inch thick.
Pack tomatoes loosely into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
To each quart add 3 - 4 heads dill or 2 Tablespoons dill seed, 1 clove garlic, and 1 clove.
In saucepan combine vinegar, salt, and 4 cups water.
Bring to boiling.
Pour boiling pickling liquid over tomatoes, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
Adjust lids.
Process in boiling water bath (quarts) 20 minutes.

If you've been following my Pioneer Preserving Recipes series, you may have found some green tomato recipes.  There's Corn Relish from the Midwest.  There's Tomato Mincemeat, Ginger Tomato Preserves, and Mustard Pickles from the sweet and sour Pennsylvania Dutch.  And there's the Kennebunk Pickle from New England.  

I haven't gotten out west yet, but here's a little preview with something that sounds like a nice replacement for that tired taco sauce! One quart is a good size for a relish, I think we could put these into 4 half pint jars. 

Mexican Relish
1 quart

1 pint vinegar
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 green tomatoes
2 green peppers
1 onion
1/2 teaspoon horseradish

Heat vinegar, add chili powder, boil 10 minutes.
Add mustard and salt.
Chop vegetables fine.
Add vegetables and horseradish to sterilized jar(s).
Add boiling vinegar to cover.
(This is the end of the recipe.)
Leave 1/2 inch headspace.
Adjust lids.

Last, and most deliciously not least, is the quintessential fried green tomato.  If you haven't tried them yet, make this your year!  It's a can't-miss culinary delight.  I started making mine from the Betty Crocker cookbook several years ago.  I've tweaked it since then; replacing some of the flour with cornmeal for crunch, and adding a tiny pinch of cayenne to compliment the tangy flavor of the green tomato.

I don't measure any longer, but I've found this recipe from Martha Stewart.  She also uses egg, which, I imagine, helps it hold together that much better and fry up real nice.  I'm trying this recipe this year.

Fried Green Tomato
serves 4

5 medium green tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick 
1/2 cup flour
pinch cayenne pepper
salt & pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup cornmeal
cooking oil

Heat oven to 200°F.
Prepare baking sheet with paper towels.
Whisk together flour, cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pinch pepper in pie plate.
Whisk eggs in separate dish.
Combine cornmeal and 1/2 teaspoon salt in third dish.
Dredge tomatoes in flour mixture.
Coat in egg mixture.
Coat in cornmeal mixture.
Heat 1/4 inch oil in cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
Fry breaded tomatoes until golden on both sides.
Transfer to baking sheet, sprinkle with salt.
Keep warm in oven while frying remaining tomatoes.
Serve hot.

Green tomatoes will be celebrated almost as much as the ripe ones, once we learn to use them.  Happy saving, friends!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Thrift Finds

This is an exciting topic for me.  I'll be amending it periodically.  What's your exciting "new" find?  Don't be shy.  Here's a chance to give a shout out to your vigilance and economy.

I found this at a nearby garage sale for either 25 or 50¢.  It came with a bunch of artificial flower stuff in it, which they tossed for me.  It was minor cleaning for me, now I just love this sturdy, bright red bowl!  It's pretty and practical.

I collect these glazed flower pots.  They're very pricey lately, so my collection grows at a turtles' pace.  These were a jackpot find at a total of $4.25 for the lot!  I found them at an estate sale at an old farm not far from where I live.  The mid-size generally sell for about $15.00.  These are pretty and perfect for houseplants because they always have a drainage hole at the bottom.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cherry Bounce

I found these chokecherries last week. 
I've been doing a little research about foraging and edible wild foods lately.
These shiny black, pea-sized charms were glistening at me as I was walking along in search of walnuts.  I didn't find any walnuts on that trip, but I did harvest about a gallons-worth of these little guys.

I felt like I'd hit the jack-pot!
But, what to do with them.
There are only so many of them, only enough for one recipe.  My choices were 1.)chokecherry wine, 2.) chokecherry jam, and 3.) Cherry Bounce.

The first option sounds the yummiest, but I'm not sure I'm up for two wine experiments in one year, (I've got my beet wine maturing downstairs, one still fermenting - or something).  The second option sounds good, only we're up to our eyeballs in jams and jellies.  I opt for the third as it's the easiest and surest. It also seems like it will make great gifts at Christmastime.  I got this recipe from "The Foraging Gourmet" by Katie Letcher Lyle.

Prunus virginiana

I washed them, stemmed half of them, and washed them a couple more times.  Once all the leaves and other nature-bits were removed, I just put them through the juicer.
The photo above is what it looked like after juicing.
Kinda gross, ha?
Purple foam.
Well, that's something new.
Oh, and another thing, these tiny little chokecherry stones bounce.  Everywhere.

Well, a little reading suggests that straining the juice will yield a clearer product. 
I read that today. 
Yesterday, however, I decided to cook it down, which worked out okay.  I still skimmed off a bit of foam, but not as much as in the third photo.

I ran the chokecherries through the juicer twice, yet I still felt they looked moist.  So I scooped up a spoonful at a time into a double layer of cheesecloth and squeezed.  And squeezed.  Don't worry, if you've been brave enough to get this far, you already know this is a very messy recipe.  Wear an apron.  Hopefully my photo shows how nice and clear this last process came out.  Virtually no foam!  So I just poured it through a strainer into the rest of the batch.

I added my 3 pounds of sugar, according to the recipe, heated it just a tad - only enough for the sugar to dissolve, and stirring all the while so as not to scorch the pan.
At this point I turned off the heat and let it cool a few hours.

I returned later to another surprise.  It was quite thick and ice-like.  Reminiscent of a thin layer frozen, then easily broken with your spoon.
Well, I just mixed it up with the gallon of whiskey and pint of brandy and it's been fine ever since.  It's apt to burn your nose hairs off, so tell hubby.

After two weeks of stirring once per day, pour into pretty bottles and store until Christmas, when it's ready to drink.

Cherry Bounce

Stem & Pick over 1 gallon wild cherries
Mash into crock (only 12-20 seeds)
Add 3 pounds sugar
1 gallon good whiskey
1 pint brandy
Cover tightly
Let stand 2 weeks in dark closet
Strain and bottle

Have fun foraging, friends.  And be careful,  a little bit of bounce goes a long ways!

About Me

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As long as I'm on this journey, rambling through life's exhilarating highs and trudging heavily amongst it's incapacitating lows, I might as well share whatever may be gleaned from my little bits of wisdom and my many missteps. No room for judgment from this broken mama. I'm writing from my heart: raw, open, messy, but saved. And I'm still thanking God!