Sunday, August 31, 2014

Homemade Spiced Apple Cider

September and Apples
Those two words just seem to go hand in hand.
The smell of apples in late summer and early autumn
just bring a stirring in the soul 
that conjure up visions of frosty mornings,
falling leaves, bright orange scool busses,
and apples.
Whole apples being kept in whole form
are not my forte.
Keeping in whole form + fuzz + funky odor - I'm a pro.
Needless to say, 
we preserve them in different ways.
This year in addition to our own apples,
we have had three boxes given to us.
One box will be cored and dehydrated.
The other two boxes as well as our own
were juiced for spiced apple cider.
Our neighbor has an apple press that we were able to borrow.
Washed up our apples and the press
then got to 'work.'
As we juice it,
small pieces of apple make it into the juice.
It went into my big ol' coldrun
and my big ol' canning pot.
(Lots of cider:)
Into the juice went
cinnamin sticks
allspice
bay leaves
cloves
dried oranges
nutmeg
mace
Isn't it just beautiful?
I wish the screen was scratch-n-sniff for you.
As it was simmering,
the house smelled just incredible.
As it went into the jars,
it was strained.
We ended up with 18 quarts and 1 pint.
It might be a little work now,
but come winter when the snow is flying
and we are bringing wood in to stoke the fire,
a nice hot cup of cider might just taste pretty good.

The recipe if you're interested:
2 qts fresh squeezed apple juice
2 tsp. whole cloves
2 bay leaves
2 cinnamin sticks
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. mace
1 tsp. allspice
2-3 dried orange slices
1/4 cup brown sugar if your apples are not a sweet variety.
(I also added 1 stick cannella which if you are unfamiliar,
you can find in the hispanic section of the grocery store.)
Heat to boiling then reduce heat and 
simmer about an hour ~ stirring occasionally.
I hot-water-bathed the quart jars 20 min. though I read
as little as 10 min. and as long as 25 min.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches





Friday, August 29, 2014

Cautionary Heads Up for Home Canners

Just thought I would pass this on and hopefullly
save some angst for a few folks.
I have a friend who has been canning for many years.
This year, she has had several jars that did not seal.
She had bought some new jars and used the new
lids and rims that came with them.
New jars used to come with the lids inverted.
They now come with the seal side down
just as they are to be used.
In packaging them this way then sending them through
the heat and cold of shipping,
the lids actually seal.
So when you buy new jars/lids/rims,
the lids are actually in used condition.
There was no problem with her old jars
when using lids from a box of new lids.
Just thought I would pass on that little 'heads up.'

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Seed Saving

If you grow a garden and find yourself drooling
over seed catalogs come about February,
you might consider trying to save your own seeds.
You might find your outlook changes a little.
While, I like to think, "Oooh & Aaah, that looks good."
In truth, I need very few seeds after saving seeds for only 2-3 years.
I now think, "I'm only spending $3.42 on seeds!" 
(or whatever small amount it is as opposed to a weeks pay)
Beens and radishes are very easy.
The plants keep the seeds all nice and tidy in a pod.
Here we have spinach.
(We had a rain between seed harvests.  I didn't keep the black looking ones.)

Those little seeds just roll right off for keeping.
I would suggest doing so on a tea towel or placemat, etc.
If you try to do it on a table, 
they are great at escaping by rolling right across the slick surface
and across the floor.
Today, I plan on planting a new row of spinach from my package
that I purchased this spring,
and a row of these that I just saved
in order to test germination.
This year I am going to try my hand at saving carrot seeds.
They require heirloom seeds to start with,
then don't produce seeds until year two.
Our carrots are looking pretty good so will leave a few in the ground
and see what happens next year.

A couple of important tips:

*Hybrids don't usually produce seeds that will germinate.

*Slimey seeds should be washed then dried (tomato, cukes, etc.)

*Keep seeds in a dry place.

*A quick internet search will provide a plethora of informtion
for your favorite veggies.

*Start with just one or two of your favorites:
you'll find you want to save more next year.

*If I can do it, you can too.  (My joke is that
my garden thrives upon neglect;)

I look at seeds like money in the bank.
I know next year, not only will I be saving on seed purchases,
but will also be saving substantially on food purchases.
It's just another way to save money and eat well.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Monday, August 18, 2014

Choke Cherries and Money Savers

Yes, we are still alive.
We have just had a lot of life come at us at once.
I'll fill you in on that later,
but wanted to show you.
 Here are my choke cherries all picked, cleaned, 
and ready to juice for some jelly.
(Working on Christmas gifts now.)
What do you think of that great metal bowl?
It is actually one of two.
I call them my fruit bowls.
They are just deep and wide enough to hold a lot of fruit
without crushing it.
They were purchased for $1 each ~
on clearance in the automotive section of the store.
They are really for changing oil.
Also, if you need buckets,
check out the automotive department.
The same buckets that you will find in the cleaning section
by the mops and brooms is often
a fraction of the cost if you get them in the auto section
of the same store.
The only difference being maybe the color.
Other items you might find cheaper over there are
scrub brushes, buffing/polishing cloths, and spritzer bottles.
If there is something you need along those lines,
you might just check out the automotive dept.
before buying it from the 'regular' dept.
and save yourself a couple dollars.
Tonight, we'll be cleaning the elderberries
into the other bowl:)

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches