10/27/09

12 Kitchen Tip: Storing Fresh Ginger Root


I had been using powdered ginger for years.

Then I discovered whole dried ginger. The dried ginger stored well and when finely grated, gave off a wonderful aroma.

Then I discovered fresh ginger root. There is nothing that can compete with the smell and taste of fresh ginger root. Unfortunately, it does not last long in the fridge.

If you go through fresh ginger root quickly, the best way to store it is in a paper bag in the vegetable crisper drawer in your fridge.


If you are like me, using ginger occasionally, the best way is to peel the ginger root and then freeze it.









When I want fresh ginger, I just pull it out of the freezer, use my microplane grater and grate away...

Try it. You'll never go back to the powdered stuff ~

10/20/09

8 Canning 101: Steam Juicing with Fruit

Steam Juice FruitMy last post gave you one way to make the best grape juice.

Here is another (EASY) way to make juice, using a steam juicer.
The juice is concentrated, you will use fewer bottles and use less space in your storage.

This is an aluminum one that my mom gave me.

There are newer, stainless steel models out there that are soooooo nice~
They can even be used as a steam cooker to cook veggies, meats, and anything your heart desires.

Well, almost anything.

This is juicing at it simplest form: the bottom pan holds boiling water, the middle section collects the juice, and the top is a steamer basket that holds the fruit.



When juicing, select ripe fruit.

No super squishy, over ripe fruit. Yuck.

Pictured here are my blue plums, washed and ready for juicing.

If the fruit is larger than pictured, you may cut them in half.

No need to pit the fruit.

Did you hear that? No need to pit the fruit.


Here are the last of my folk's Concord grapes, washed and stemmed.

I like to take the stems off, as they contribute a bitter taste to the juice.

Plus, if you stem them, your juicer will hold more fruit....


Here, you see a tube coming out of the juice collection pan.



This is really one of the 'set it and forget it' parts of canning.

Once the water is boiling, keep it boiling for up to an hour, as per juicer instructions.

Squeeze the clamp and the hot juice comes out~

Caution: This is highly concentrated stuff ~ If you want to drink it, you will want to add a cup or so of water to every 4 cups.



Here's a peek at my softened plums.

Some people take the first cup or two of hot juice and pour it right back into the fruit to get more juice.

If you want clear juice, leave the fruit alone.


If you don't care about more pulp entering your juice, go ahead and give it a good stir.

Or a good mash with a potato masher.


As for me, I'm saving my juice to make jelly later in the dead of winter, when all this Fall canning is done.

Just pour the HOT juice into clean, HOT bottles, clean the rims and put a heated lid on it. Screw a ring on top and FLIP it upside down.

Leave it alone for 12 hours to cool and it will seal. I promise.



Update:  After some research, I am finding out that turning your hot filled jars of juice upside down is NOT recommended by the state extension service.  The jars may seal, but you run the risk of the air space in the jar not being sterile and can turn your product moldy.  

For me, in Utah at 5,500 feet, I process my pints and quarts of juice for 20 minutes.

10/13/09

14 Canning 101: Concord Grape Juice

Canning Concord Grape JuiceI grew up on my mom's grape juice.

Did you know that grape juice is good for your heart?

It has many of the same good properties that studies have found in wine: powerful, disease fighting antioxidants.

It's even better when you make it yourself.

One time, I had a glass of the frozen concentrate. It was so sweet and syrup-y that I couldn't stand it.



This is the stuff I go for.

This is a 2 quart bottle that yields approximately 6 c. of juice.

Why 2 quart bottles? I get more juice...

If you decide to use 2 quart bottles, make sure you have a canner that is deep enough to have water reach the tops. Also, you will need a wire rack that will accommodate the larger jars.

This will be next on my canning purchase list. A stainless steel canning rack that will hold any size jar...



I just open it up and strain it.



The pruney left over grapes are thrown away.



Wanna learn how to bottle your own grapes?

O.k., let's get started.



Make sure your bottles are clean.

Always check for chips in the rim.


I keep them in my dishwasher until ready to use.



Fill a large bowl with Concord grapes.

Fill with water.

Swish the grapes around.

Drain off water. Repeat two more times.




You want to use clean grapes.


My mom's grapes are organic.

Nice~





Stem the grapes until you have a very full 2 c. measure.

(if you are bottling quarts, halve this recipe)

Check occasionally for any stems left on the grape.

Do not stem any pruney, shriveled up, or cracked grapes.






Pour the grapes into a clean jar.


Repeat until all jars are filled.




For each 2 quart jar, I put 3/4 c. sugar into a 2 c. measure and fill with boiling water.


You can adjust the sugar. For quarts, anywhere between 1/3-1/2 c. is good for extra sweet, ripe grapes.




I stir it until it is completely dissolved.

Pour this mixture into the jar.

Repeat for all the jars.

(Remember to halve the recipe for quart jars)


O.k. I don't have a pic for the next step.

Fill each jar with boiling water until you reach 1/2" headspace.

That means 1/2" from the top of the jar.




Have lids ready on simmer.







Clean the rim of each jar with a clean paper towel dipped in boiling water.

Place a lid and ring on each jar and tighten until snug.


Place each jar in hot, not boiling water.



Bring to boiling and boil for 30 minutes. This is for 4,500 feet of altitude. Check your canning guide to adjust for your altitude.

For quart jars, 20 minutes.

Take out and let cool, undisturbed for at least 12 hours.




Store bottled grapes in a cool, dark, dry place for at least 6 weeks to extract the maximum amount of juice.

My mom had a bottle that didn't seal and put it in the fridge, hoping to heat it up and re-can it. Three days later, she decided to taste it. It was soooooo good~ Decided to drink it instead of re-bottling it.


Open a jar and discover for yourself how good grape juice can really be.



10/7/09

4 Kitchen Tip: Frozen Raspberries

We did not have a bumper crop of raspberries this year.

But we did have plenty of blackberries~

I like to wash the berries,










Make sure they're well drained...







and place them on a cookie sheet lined with plastic wrap. I've tried parchment paper, which doesn't work.

Then put them in your freezer for about an hour.
Don't forget them!

Then put the frozen berries in a freezer bag (don't use your Food saver...it'll just crush them), label and date.

Now, you'll have fresh raspberries any time...for a dessert, smoothie, or when you're ready to do some winter jam canning~

If you have any great kitchen tips, please share....

10/5/09

4 Kitchen Tip: Freezing Mushrooms

I have a confession to make.

I do not like mushrooms. I just can't bring myself to even try them.

But my husband LOVES mushrooms~

and I love him, so....




I get a great deal on sliced, clean mushrooms at Sam's club.

Just plop them in a skillet, throw some butter on them and saute them until the juice starts to leave the mushroom.

Then I put them in a freezer bag, flatten them and get as much air out of the bag as I can.

Don't forget to label and date the bag.

Now, anytime hubby wants mushrooms, he just breaks off a portion, thaws it out and throws it on his hamburger, spaghetti sauce, or omelette.

When my husband is happy, I'm happy.

10/2/09

7 Kitchen Tip: Measuring Cocoa

The next time you get your cocoa, wait.

Don't rip the top off just yet.

Just rip of maybe a third of it.

I like this so much better than using the lid and making a mess......

If you have any tips to share, please do!
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