3.28.2017

Homemade Vinegar



Homemade Vinegar what could be better.  I am not sure how I missed not making my own vinegar earlier. For a preserver of food it is a gift that will keep on giving. There are so many thing's we buy and just really never think of making. It seems like every time I go to a new store that honor's the old traditions of long ago I find something new.






I go up North so much and they opened this great store a while back. Preserved and as they so eloquently put it "They are the hardware store for developing your Pantry".

I have so many tools for my food preservation that it is ridiculous but do not take this wrong it is just enough. I do not indulge in new fangled shit and try to stick with the basic tools to get the job done. SO with that let us get started.

I have a small crock I use to fermented hot pepper's for Hot Sauce which from that you can make your own Cheyenne Powder it is endless. The point being I decided to use the same jug for this project. The pictures show you it but it is 6" x 7".  I happened to get it at a housewares store. I think it is used for holding large utensils on the counter. Well regardless it works. The tools you will need top get started are simple.

Tools and Ingredients

A crock to size
Vinegar Mother
Liquid Ethanol (Alcohol)
Cheese Cloth
Rubber Bands

Clean your crock well.   Pour the mother into the crock. On top of that pour your liquid being used to make the type of vinegar.

The recipe I am using is for a Balsamic Vinegar is easy it is a1 to 3 ratio . 1 part Mother and 3 parts Ethanol (Alcohol).
The portions are Universal 1 to 3 !

The Vinegar Mother is used for all your red based vinegar's. You can reuse it. I used a Red Wine Mother for my balsamic only so far because it was the first one I had ever purchased. But like I said prior you can use other's to get started.

I am waiting for my order of Apple Vinegar starter and White Wine starter. 






So proportionally most vinegar's use identical portion's from one to another. So once you get started and get the results you want you can just copy your recipe with the appropriate Vinegar Mother and Alcohol (Ethanol).  I use a dark Merlot 2 buck Chuck from Trader Joe's to be exact.








Let us get started I started out with an 8 oz. jar of Red Wine Vinegar Mother. I put this into my vessel and added one bottle of Merlot wine. This filled up my little crick just fine. I gave it a little stir. I then cover it with a double layer of cheese cloth then secured it with a rubber band. Make sure you keep your vessel in a cool dark place.




A few tips here.

A dark area is because to much light can slow and even stop the process.
The cheese cloth keep the air flow and keep out any fruit flies that may want to find a home.

I keep most all of my homemade recipes as simple as possible I find to many tools just get in the way.
Alright-y you will let this sit for three weeks. Then bring it out and check if it is what you want. Take a small piece of white bread and put a few small drop on the bread and taste. The bread takes the harsh taste away letting you taste the flavor and avoid the acid or throat burn. It can happen if the acid is to high.

If it taste good then it is time to strain it. If you want a more pungent vinegar just put the cheese cloth back on and let it sit longer. Test it each week.



Once you have the taste you like it is time to strain. You can strain it using something as simple as a coffee filter, cheese cloth or paper towel. I have a strainer I use for my Pomegranate Jam as well as my Grape Jam.

I left my vinegar to drain for a few hours in a strainer it is a longer process. I do not mind this because of the purity of the strain no cloudy stuff. And just a note do not smooch it.

If you smooch it you will ruin your original mother and get cloudy. Nothing wrong with that but the mother is good forever when it comes to making more vinegar.








Once your vinegar has strained take the cheese cloth from the original jug and rubber band it back on the crock. Dump the mother and liquid onto that cheese cloth and then return it to the original jar with added liquid for your next vinegar.  You do not want to squeeze the mother.







I know looks disgusting but it is the mother and we must respect our mother's. I put my mother back into the original jar using a funnel add enough liquid from the batch I made to keep it happy. It is like a sourdough starter it is going to make you endless vinegar.




There is my beautiful Balsamic (red wine) Vinegar. I found that the Merlot makes the tastiest Balsamic Vinegar and it really brought my Strawberry Balsamic Jam up a notch. I also make a killer Cherry Balsamic Jam during the season of Cherry.


This is just one of the bottles I saved in my bottle collection.  I always save cork's for the purpose of bottles that do not have a top.



I sure hope this help if you have any question's just leave a comment or email me. The easiest way to figure out the vinegar ratio is it is 1 to 3 . One part Vinegar mother to 3 parts fresh (Alcohol) ethanol. 


I just ordered two new Vinegar Mother's to experiment with. I ordered a Cider Mother, Plain Vinegar Mother. I will be making the Champagne Vinegar and a Apple Cider Vinegar with those. I hope this has inspired you to take on another simple DIY project. Nice thing is this one you can make leave and go on with your business for a few weeks. Love that! 

Disclaimer: This is not an all inclusive recipe for making jam. You should have a basic knowledge and understanding of the canning process before proceeding. Please consult your local Center for Home Preservation for additional information and available classes.


3.22.2017

Blackberry Peach Jam

Blackberry has become quite abundant in this part of California and the addition of Peaches from Washington State makes this a beautiful creation.


I have noted that since I have started to use my copper pot the jam does gel better due to the great heat I get from this copper pot. With that said this combination of Washington Peaches and California Blackberries is superb.








The ingredients like most of my jam's are simple we need fruit , sugar and lemon. Pectin is something you may add on your own ( Use the instruction's on the box) but we have become pretty pectin NOT here. The reason is a simple one the heat to gel point. Plus I have tried to get back to the most natural Jam I can. 

So let's get all our ingredients together for this jam.



Ingredients

6 cups peeled/chopped peach's
4 cups of blackberries
2 to 3 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice


Start by getting your water-bath ready for you jam. I will put my clean jar's into the water-bath while I prepare the jam.

And a note I know "they" say that you do not have to warm the lid portion of the top but I still do. More times than not I hear that lids are not sealing and I say Nah Nah heat the lid.

That is the lid part with the rubber !






And another thing do not let the photo's just below fool you yes I do start my large batch's with some whole sliced peaches but I smooch them once I get the boil going. I give you the instructions for smaller batch's.




 And you might want to keep a cup of each fruit on the side. Why Lani? Because you can add them after the smooching to get a bit more texture to your jam. Love to bite into a piece of fruit when eating on toast!





So get your blackberries into your pot and stir on low with your lemon juice. This is the time we smooch. I have always used my good ole' potato smasher for this part.








Now add your chopped peach's. Continue to smooch and stir on medium heat. Once you get the consistency you are comfortable with add the sugar a cups at a time also add the additional fruit.







You want to bring your batch back up to a boil stirring with each cup to make sure you have dissolved each cup of sugar into the mixture.





Have your thermometer monitoring your batch remember without pectin you need a boiling point of 223 degree's. Pectin users follow the packet directions





Once you get your jam up to the right degree's have your jar's ready and warm. Pour your jam into the jar's until you are 1/4 inch from the rim. Once filled wipe your jars rims clean and cap. Have you water bath to a rapid boil prior to adding the jar's. Ok ready to add the jar's to the water-bath. Keep them covered and in the water-bath for 10 minutes. Once done remove and let them cool. Once cooled remove the twist portion of the top and wash your jars. Label and store with out the twist.


Disclaimer: This is not an all inclusive recipe for making jam. You should have a basic knowledge and understanding of the canning process before proceeding. Please consult your local Center for Home Preservation for additional information and available classes.

3.19.2017

Blueberry Lavender Shrub


This is the first Shrub I ever attempted. It is part of the FIJ Challenge I am participating in. All that information is at the end of this post. I have heard of Shrub's through my canning time but never attempted it.

What is a Shrub you ask? That is such a very complex subject that I will have to try to break it down. My answer is a bit simple but to the point. It is a fruit and vinegar based drink additive. It is simple to make and delicious to add to any beverage.




But the word Shrub itself is long lost relative of the Arabic word Scarab! 

It's complex but the history is fascinating.

I got the book Shrub by Michael Dietsch.

And that is where we will start with a simple and delicious Shrub going by the name

Blueberry Lavender Shrub. 




Ingredients

1 Pint of Blueberries
1 Cup of Sugar
8-10 Lavender Sprigs
1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

To start I am lucky to have some beautiful lavender in my garden.


Wash your blueberries and lavender !




To start in 2 separate bowls. Place your blueberries into the bowl with the cup of sugar and crush then stir the two ingredient's to combine them.

Cover the bowl and let it sit in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. You can check it each morning and crush or stir as needed.




Next in the other smaller bowl put your vinegar and lavender sprigs.
Make sure the bowl is non-reactive store this in a dark and cool area. I use my pantry. No refrigeration necessary!







I did the straining a bit different than the book called out. I gathered all the necessary equipment. My stuff , the book, strainer and bottles the scrub will go into.

First I removed the lavender sprigs smooched them to remove any yummy liquid tossed the sprigs into the compost bin. I mixed my vinegar into the larger bowl with the blueberries and stirred it and let it sit for a few hours to mix together in merry mix-time!





I let this sit for 2 hours it was a happy mix ! I used my hands to mush more. I always glove up when doing any kind of preserving.






I don't care how many time I wash my hands I want to know nothing got into my jar's but the ingredients.



 Alrighty now it is time to strain.











Position your fine-mesh strainer over the bowl. Your bags should let most of the liquid go thru. It takes a while so leave it to drain naturally. This could take an hour.

















I smooched the bag. I found this time the looser I left the bag in my hands to smooch the better it released the liquid. 


 No sure yet what but something will come to mind. I waste nothing.







The smooch stuff that is left I put into a small bowl as you see right to the left. Oh and note the gloves LOL. I froze the smooch so I have time to decide what to do with it. I think to blend it and make a nice marinate might be great!  










I chose a couple of bottles to store it in. One is just the standard Salad Dressing bottle the other is one from my collection of bottles. I never throw away a good bottle. the uses are endless.

Well I sure did enjoy this Challenge from Food in Jar's. I still need to get some Jelly made. I will attempt this perhaps this afternoon.




Disclaimer: This is not an all inclusive recipe for making jam. You should have a basic knowledge and understanding of the canning process before proceeding. Please consult your local Agricultural Extension Service for additional information and available classes.


3.15.2017

Dehydrating Citrus



Citrus Drying,  I know that it seems almost impossible that someone who has been preserving food as long as I have has not Dried Citrus. To dehydrate any citrus is brilliant and so very easy. When I think of all the little citrus that has sat and watched me waiting to be sectioned for Great Marmalade. And as most of you know to make a fresh and great marmalade it takes a lot of time.






I have been a part of a great Challenge this New Year of 2017 through the Food In Jars Website. Even if your not a part of it play along I am learning a lot. And remember Knowledge is power in the canning world!


So last month's project used salt I made some awesome Citrus Salt and it is all the rage in this canning family. 







So I have the gift of living in SoCal and with that comes a bounty of citrus of every sort. Today I got a box of Blood Oranges from a neighbor and I have some Meyer from my own tree's and some limes left from another jam project.





Not so many pictures this round ! But this is a simple and very worthy project for you to do. Never waste anything if possible. In this picture I show you how I take even the ends that are cut off and squeeze the juice from them for jam, drinks or what ever it is easily frozen in jar's.




Alright y then just slice you citrus in 1/4 inch thin slices. Place your slices on your dehydrator shelves and dry on. My dehydrator has no temperature so I dry until my stuff is dry no moisture left. I also will take the tray's and put them on the table for a day or two to let the citrus air dry more. Seal them into air tight container and use in you water, cooking there are so many uses but that is yet another post! 

You could also use your oven. Just take a cookie sheet with a rack and put them in the oven for a few day's. Do not forget them.


I don't recommend a low oven so many do not go low enough to properly dry them but try whatever works for you. I am of the belief that if it works do it.












Well all dried and in their cute little jar's in the Pantry of Wonderful!


Here are some links to help your journey ! Spoon Fork Bacon and  Food in Jars 

3.07.2017

Pectin to use or not to use Pectin

Now I am the first to say "Yes" I used Pectin for many a year's when I first started to preserve food.  I did not see myself ever getting Jam to set. I do not make Jelly although that may change this month of March coming upon us. I am a jam girl and with that I have learn-ed through trial and many a class and information from so very many sources I now make my jam's Pectin Free. Going Pectin free is not always easy but there is one central idea

Most products including Commercial Pectin have deities of Corn which means

Sure Gel Ingredients : Dextrose , Citrus Acid , Fruit Pectin

The Dextrose and the Citrus Acid are "typically" GMO based and and are derived from corn. So when looking at the box the fruit pectin is no issue it is the dextrose and citrus acid are . Also if you are like me the amount of sugar you are required to use to get a good set with boxed pectin is unbelievable. it is 5 to 8 cups of sugar per batch. and your batch of jam is only using a 2 to 4 cup ratio. That is up to 85% of your jam bring sugar.

I pride myself on the fact that we use all natural citrus pectin in all my recipes. I did start out using commercial pectin in my jam's but soon realized the impact it had on the taste of the jam's and my waistline.

Well what about low sugar pectin's. Same thing but worse.

Sure Gel Ingredient's : (GMO corn) dextrose, fruit pectin, numeric acid, sodium citrate.

Ball RealFruit Classic Pectin Ingredients : Dextrose (GMO Corn) and what is Assists Gel?????

Now in spite of all this there is the Pomona Pectin that is claimed all natural pectin less sugar. yes I have used this also and the only reason to not use it is that the Citrus that they use for the pectin is from citrus that has been prayed with all kinds of pesticides.

Look I am just on a journey to get all the information on what we can and how to do it safely. We all are getting back to the basic for the last 10 year's and I think fact's are important. Needy to say what ever you decide to do it is all good no matter what you just need to make sure you are informed.

Just a few words on the Pomona Pectin so far the best thing for you to use if you are concerned about chemical's. This Pectin is all natural using Low Methoxyl Pectin. This is extracted from the peels of the citrus fruit. You see Pectin consists of a complex set of polysaccharides that are present in most primary cell walls of plants. LM Pectin is synergistic wit the Locust Bean Um. It is typically used in low calories jellies and low sugar content products. You can order straight Low Methoxyl Pectin itself from The Modernist Pantry. I use this site for alot of my Cooking Ingredients. The logo is 
Information comes from The Healthy Home Economist