Sunday, August 24, 2014

New Changes in Canning Lid Procedures???

It seems that Jarden (the company that manufactures Ball canning jars and lids) has made some changes in their recommendations on how to use their lids... No boiling???

Read the real scoop at Living Home Grown!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Corn Cob Syrup

After I cut off and canned my corn, I made corn cob syrup from the cobs...

I put all the cobs in my bid stockpot and covered them with water... brought the water to a boil, lowered the heat and simmered them, covered, for two hours.

I then drained the liquid into another pot and discarded the cobs.

 I then added sugar to the "corn juice," adding one part sugar to two parts liquid... for example, I ended up with 13 cups of juice, so I added 6 and a half cups of sugar... white or brown sugar may be used... I used half white and half brown sugar... more brown sugar will result in a darker "corn syrup" and all white sugar will make a light, almost clear syrup.

I stirred in the sugar(s), brought the mixture to a boil, and boiled gently until the mixture reduced and thickened to a syrup consistency.

Meanwhile, I washed, sterilized, and heated my jars and lids (I used half pint jars).

Once my syrup had reached the thickness I wanted, I added a little vanilla extract (optional) and filled my jars, leaving a half inch headspace.

I wiped the jar rims with a damp cloth and tightened on my lids to fingertip tightness.

I processed my jars in a boiling water bath (covering the jars with water) for 10 minutes.

After processing, I removed the jars of syrup using my jar lifter and set them on a folded dish towel on the counter to cool and to listen for the PING of each successfully sealed jar.

The syrup will be yummy on pancakes or waffles... and I'm sure there are other uses I haven't come up with yet!

Mr. G said, "Baby, you used that corn from the Rooter to the Tooter!"

I even saved the silks for a medicinal tincture! But that's another story for another day!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Canning Corn

Honestly, I don't usually can corn... it freezes so nicely and is much less work to freeze than it is to can... but alas, I have no more freezer space and a bushel of beautiful sweet "peaches and cream" corn... so I canned it.

I'm also really really lousy at cutting corn off the cob... Mr. G bought me this handy dandy corn cutter made by OXO that helped TREMENDOUSLY! But I'm still pretty lousy at it.

To make cream corn, you take a knife and barely cut the tops off the corn kernels, then you take the knife edge and scrape all the goodness (milk)... I remember my Nanny Sensing (my Mom's mom) making cream corn by the bushel when I was a kid... she would have corn all over the counter, the wall behind the counter, down her apron, and even on her glasses as she worked.

To make whole kernel corn, you cut the... you guessed it... whole kernel! off the cob.

I think I do something in between when I cut off corn... I cut MOST of the kernel off... and then I can't stand leaving anything behind, so I scrape the cob with a knife edge and get the rest... It's the best I can do... and I like corn that way, so we're all happy!

HOWEVER you take your corn off the cob, canning it is the same way.

I cold packed my corn... which means I cut it off the cob and then put it in the jars without heating it up or anything.

Before I was ready to pack my corn, I got my jars and lids nice and hot by putting them in boiling water on the stove for 10 minutes or so.

I've heard horror stories about canning corn... overcooking, even burning those golden kernels... I learned that the trick is NOT to pack the corn in the jars too tight, allowing room for plenty of water.

I canned my corn in pints... I packed, VERY LOOSELY, my raw corn into my hot, sterilized jars. Don't press it down, shake it down, NUTHIN'! Just loosely ladle it into the jar.

Then poured in boiling water to fill the jar, leaving a half-inch headspace. I added a half teaspoon of canning salt (this step is, of course, optional).

I wiped the jar rim with a damp cloth.

Then a tightened my hot lids on to fingertip tightness.

I processed my pints of corn in my pressure canner at 10 lbs. pressure for 55 minutes. (Corn is a low-acid food and MUST be pressure canned, no way 'round it, corn spoils way to easily to take any chances)

After the corn processed and the canner cooled down and the pressure in my canner dropped naturally and on its own to zero, I removed the jars using my jar lifter and set them on a folded dish towel on the counter to cool... and to listen for the PING of each successfully sealed jar.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Canning Blueberry Syrup

I ended up with 2 four-ounce jars, 7 eight-ounce jars, and one 12-ounce jar
of blueberry syrup... plus a bit left over.

Our blueberries have been ripening over the past couple of weeks... but this week they've stepped it up a notch and I'm picking every couple of days. Mr. G has had a hankering for blueberry syrup over pancakes like they used to have at the original IHOP... back in our younger days.

So, I made him up a batch of blueberry syrup!

Since I failed to take photos of my process due to the fact that I decided to make this delicious syrup in the middle of the night... and since I followed exactly the recipe on the PickYourOwn website... I'm just going to link below to that site so you can follow their most excellent tutorial on canning your own blueberry (or any berry!) syrup. It's BERRY delicious!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Wild Honeysuckle Syrup

When I was growing up, honeysuckle blooms were so much fun... they meant summertime to us! They smelled so very sweet and we'd pick them and ever so slowly and carefully pull the stamens out and suck off the drop of tasty nectar from each one. Sweet and sticky and yummy!

My parents were always trying to get rid of honeysuckle... I never understood this as a child... it was so pretty and smelled so good... and gave us a delicious summertime snack! But, as we found out, honeysuckle is prolific... invasive really. So Daddy chopped it down, pulled it up, anything he could do to rid our yard of this invasive vine. At my grandmother's house, there was always a huge honeysuckle vine growing just outside... and up the side wall of the outhouse... made visiting that smelly place much sweeter!

When Mr. G and I moved back to the country a few years ago, we found we had honeysuckle growing near our front deck... being hardened against it as a child, I immediately began pulling it up to rid our yard of its invasive nature... Mr. G liked the stuff! He begged me to keep it! So we kept one small vine, with my warning to him that it would take over the porch... it has! But it smells so lovely this time of year... takes me back to barefoot, lazy, summer days with my siblings and cousins wandering the woods in the heat of summer, wading the creek and "falling in" to cool off... climbing trees, making "playhouses" underneath the pine trees with moss for our carpets and beds, and picking honeysuckle blossoms to suck the sweet nectar from them.

Since we now have a massive honeysuckle vine attached to our front deck and it showers us with its delicate, sweet-smelling blossoms several times each summer, I decided that SURELY honeysuckle has some usefulness... so I began scouring the internet and books to find out.

Guess what? Honeysuckle is indeed a useful, beneficial plant!

According to WebMD, honeysuckle (or as it is sometimes called, woodbine) "is used for digestive disorders including pain and swelling (inflammation) of the small intestine (enteritis) and dysentery; upper respiratory tract infections including colds, influenza, swine flu, and pneumonia; other viral and bacterial infections; swelling of the brain (encephalitis); fever; boils; and sores. Honeysuckle is also used for urinary disorders; headache, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer. Some people use it to promote sweating, as a laxative, to counteract poisoning, and for birth control. It is sometimes applied to the skin to reduce itching and inflammation."

From BellaVista Farm... honeysuckle medicinal benefits:
  • clears toxins
  • kills or inhibits germs
  • coughs and asthma
  • natural antibiotic used for staph or strep
  • reduces fever and heat in the body
  • for reducing ulcers, sore throats
  • clears congestion
  • used for acute symptoms NOT chronic symptoms
  • reduces rashes from poison oak
  • cuts that have become infected
  • tea used as an eye wash
  • headaches
  • helps nausea and vomiting from Hepatitis C
After finding all the medicinal benefits in honeysuckle, a plant I once thought of as a pest, a weed, something to destroy... I set about looking for recipes.
A favorite of ours is Wild Honeysuckle Syrup... it's delicious as a sweetener for tea and soothes a cough and congestion when you have a cold or the flu...
Here's how I make it...
First I pick honeysuckle blossoms when they're full and sweet smelling... if a few leaves get mixed up in them, no problem, they're good too, just not as sweet as the flowers (just no berries, they're toxic).

2 cups of honeysuckle blossoms
4 cups water
1 cup honey
In a saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a boil, stir in the honey suckle and reduce heat, simmering for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and strain. Return to warm pot and stir in the honey until it is dissolved.

Now... once you've done this, you can...
1. Store your syrup in a lidded jar in the fridge for up to a month.
2. Freeze it in ice cube trays, then store the cubes in a plastic bag in the freezer for up to 6 months.
3. (which is what I do because I make more than 2 cups worth of blossoms at a time) Can it!

I heat my pint (or half pint) canning jars to boiling to sterilize them and I keep them HOT... then I simmer my lids and rings and keep them hot. Once I dissolve the honey into the warm honeysuckle "tea" I then ladle the mixture into my hot canning jars, twist on the hot lids and set them on a folded dishtowel on the counter to cool and seal.

This is the only recipe I make that I DO NOT process in a boiling water bath or pressure canner... and here's why I don't...
There is a large amount of honey in this recipe... honey is a natural preservative and never goes bad.
Boiling the mixture, in my opinion, would kill the benefits of the honey in the syrup, I just heat it up gently.
If your jars and your lids are HOT and the liquid is hot, the jars will seal as they cool on the counter.
If it would make you feel better, and "safer" to do so, you could process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. I prefer not to so I keep all the benefits of the honey as well as the honeysuckle.

To use this mixture for a cold or cough, take 1 ounce every 4-6 hours. Do not give to infants or children under 2 years of age.
Now, just so you know, I am not a medical professional, so must add a necessary disclaimer to using this recipe as a remedy... we use it for coughs and colds, but use it yourself at your own risk. Thanks.
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