Monday, August 25, 2014

"Can" You Dig It? I'm Back In Business!

My broken power cord came today.  I mistakenly said it was my battery, but it was my power cord that broke.
I do also need a new battery.   But at least I can use my laptop now.
Well, I did it.  I ventured into canning!  I have wanted to learn for a long time now.  This was the time.  My friend gifted me with a huge box of Zinfandel Grapes that were grown on her daughters orchard in Temecula.  They sell their grapes to a local winery.  They are small, and have seeds, but I thought I could still make some jellly with them.
I must have watched 25 different you tube videos on jelly making.  However, none gave instructions on how to do this using grapes with seeds.  I do NOT recommend that you do as I did!  Make it easy on yourself, and buy grapes WITHOUT seeds!  I had a MESS going, but was determined to make jelly!
At first I thought that I could remove the seeds, and still retain some of the grape skins for the jelly, but this was not possible.  I was about to give up, but then decided to go another route, and remove all seeds, skins, pulp, and strained, and strained, and strained the grapes, until my fingers were raw, and my feet ached from standing on my very unforgiving brick kitchen floor!
It was about 104 on this day.  I had to go and get my little bedside fan and roll my butcher block to allow for the fan to blow directly on me.  Finally, I wound up with just the juice from the grapes, and I was ready to begin the jelly making process.  I don't have the proper equipment for this, so I used a tall pot that I use for steaming tamales.  ( A favorite thrift store find )
I was concentrating pretty hard while I was actually boiling the jelly mixture with sugar and pectin, that I didn't take any photos.  My pot worked okay, as it had a rack for lifting, and was tall enough to allow for the water to fully cover, but I could only do a few jars at a time.  So it took quite a while to get all of them done.
I finished the grape jelly, and decided to make some sweet pepper jelly with my jalapenos.  I had the fever!
This recipe sounded good to me.  I don't typically like spicy things, but pepper jelly is sweet, with just a little kick.  I like it as a sauce to baste pork or chicken.  I like it as an appetizer, with cream cheese or another soft cheese and crackers.  So here we go....The recipe called for using 12 medium jalapenos.  Mine are small, so I used more.  My first mistake!!!
I used my food processor to puree the peppers.  When I took the lid off, I nearly choked.  I should have known right then, that it was going to be too hot!!!  But I proceeded.  I added the sugar, the apple cider vinegar, the pectin, and stirred the directed time, all the while, holding my head away from the pepper fumes!!  I poured it into the jars, and then into the water bath just like the other jelly, and hoped for the best.
After the pepper jelly, I had enough roasted tomato sauce to jar and process three large containers of sauce.  When all was said and done, many hours after beginning, I had a beautiful basket of jellies and sauce.
 I had not bought the labels yet, but aren't they pretty anyway?  And just so you don't think it all went off without a hitch..................
 That is one entire spilled jar of pepper jelly.  Sticky.....thick....HOT...pepper jelly!!!  Aw well.  This is what I tasted for heat.  Oh my, it was way...way...way too hot!!!  But a couple of days later, my Mom and I opened up one of the jars to try it.  It was far too hot for us.  So she suggested mixing a jar of the grape jelly, with the pepper jelly.  Oh wow!!  Was THAT ever good!!!!!  We were saying how great it would be on a pork roast.  Or ribs.  Or even chicken.  I actually grilled some pork chops using this as a basting sauce and it was fabulous!!!!  So all was not lost in the too hot pepper jelly.  I will make more and tone it down with the peppers.
After spending an entire day canning, I knew that I would be doing it again.  In fact, just a couple of days ago, I found a good sale on strawberries, and guess what?
I had enough berries to make two batches of jam.  I bought some more jelly jars, and even invested in a canning bath.  SO much easier!  I could do one whole batch at a time.  Greatly reducing the time spent on my feet!
These berries were so plump and sweet!  I proceeded with the directions, and it all went so smoothly.  I had done enough research and now knew just how to best sterilize jars, lids, and rings.  I had my system down pat, and thoroughly enjoyed the process.
I love the little "popping" sound that the lids make when you take them out of the water bath.  This is how you know that the process was done correctly, and the lids have sealed.  I have put their cute labels on them.  
I have put the cooled and processed jams and jellies back into the cardboard canning boxes that the jars came in, and I have two full for gift giving!  I have already given out a dozen or so.

I will be making more very soon!!!!   It is so good!!  I have been enjoying it on my sourdough toast!   I think the one pictured below is the grape jelly.  The strawberry jam is thicker and has seeds.
If you have been wanting to can, and were a little unsure about it, I encourage you to try it!  It isn't hard, but there are a lot of important steps to follow to ensure the safety of your food items.  And there are some very good and inexpensive tools you can purchase that will help immensely!  I highly recommend the wide mouth canning funnel.  Also the magnetic lid lifter, so as not to burn your fingers when removing the hot lids from water bath.  And of course, the canning bath set with wire lift is a must if you will be making more than just a few jars.  I had a jar lifter that I purchased at a thrift store not too long ago.  Give it a try.  I am sure glad I did!!!  Next year I will be doing a lot more canning of my garden goods!!
I have been trying to read along on your blogs with my ipad, but it is not operating correctly, and keeps bouncing out of whatever I am trying to read.  So I will be getting caught up with you in the next few days.  
Come on back soon.
XO  Kris


Linda said...

OMG! Woman.....take a break!
I made jam the lazy way....freezer jam!
My hat goes off to you dear friend!
We have Miss V for a sleepover...I am pooped!
Enjoy your week...
Linda :o)

Jeanna said...

Your canned goods look fabulous. I've always wanted to try canning, especially peaches but have been intimidated by those YouTube videos.

However, you've inspired me to take another look. Hope you enjoy some of your jellies and jams...don't give hem all away, save some for yourself.

Deb~in~Denver said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deb~in~Denver said...

I wish I could bottle your energy! Everything looks yummy! Our old neighbor use to make pepper jelly and it was SO good! I've been on the lookout for some like hers...sweet with a hint of hot. Glad you are back in business!

Teresa Kasner said...

Kris, you always amaze me with your energy and determination. I swear, you should run for president. I'd vote for you! I'm glad you're back in the blog business.. I missed you!
((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Joolz said...

I have made a few jams (strawberry and dried apricot) and pickles and chutney's and there is no comparison to store bought.

People love receiving a jar of homemade preserves because not many people do it nowadays.

You certainly had a day of it, phew!

Cheers - Joolz xx

Bethany said...

My dad wanted to try canning so he bought all kinds of stuff to try. We have enough strawberry jam, peach spread, tomatoes and pickles to last out a few centuries. He wanted to try this to see if he wanted to plant a garden... Men! LOL. My poor mother :)

Betsy said...

Yeah! You're back! You have been missed. Your canning looks great and I can only imagine how hard you worked. Last year I canned lots and lots of tomatoes, chili sauce and Zuchinni relish in one day. I had back spasms for days afterward from standing so long. You are putting me to shame girl! I need to bet some strawberries and make some jam.

Gracie Saylor said...

Over fifty years ago I can remember "helping" my mom beans?...mincemeat? but on my own I have never been as brave and productive as you, Kris :-) I enjoy viewing the fruit of your labor! You and your mom were so clever to combine the grape with the pepper jam. I've only tasted pepper jam a few times. It had just enough zip, I can imagine yours will be a treat to use even if you have to tone this batch down a bit. xx

Taciana Simmons said...

Wow you are a busy bee my dear friend. How wonderful. I have canned in the past but mostly just for jams and hellos. This year I'm very much into dehydrating fruits. It's so good, I love it and I much prefer the fruits dried. You are so brave and make so much and with your beautiful and bountiful garden you will be able to can a lot. If you do grape jelly again there is a juicer ( I bought at bimart here not sure if you have it there) all u have to do is wash the grapes, you put it with the branches, even leafs if u want, seeds n all. It has 3 parts and you put it in the cook top. When the water starts to biol on the bottom it cooks the grapes and the juice comes out perfectly.myou don't have to work at all. I had lots of grapes at our old house and have made grape jelly for years .,I love it. Can't wait to see what you will come up with next ... Caning is great and a wonderful way of eating healthy.

Holly said...

Girl, you wear me out! You are so busy but everything you do comes out great. That jalapeno jelly sounds great for pork. Proud of you!

Home Meadows said...

Congrats on your canning success! I've never canned, but is something I want to try. All your jams and jellies look great. My SIL cans with concord grapes that have the seeds in them (she's in PA). Not sure how she does it though. Have a terrific day. Heather

From the Kitchen said...

I'm tired just reading about your canning adventures. I'd love to run into you on the street when you're gifting some though!!


mynestofyarnandbuttons said...

I nominate you Kris for the TOP Preserve Maker! Yummy yummy yummy is all I can say! One thing about preserve making is the sticky mess. Some of MY worst kitchen clean ups have been from jam making. BUT it is so worth it! 🍓
Enjoy my friend, xoRobin

Sarah said...

You've been busy! Holy smokes! I'm quite impressed. The pepper jelly looks sooo good!

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

OH my...everything looks so good! That grape jelly is a labor of love...deserves solid gold lids lol! The idea to mix the pepper jelly with the grape is genius...I want to eat at your house! You make me want to start canning...I've only made freezer jam.

45th Parallel Quilter said...

I love, love, love to can. I do pickles (dill and bread and butter), spaghetti sauce and tomorrow I am canning a bushel of tomatoes. Haven't tried jelly/jam yet as a friend down the road makes FANTASTIC jelly/jam and we barter canned goods ... LOL Glad you enjoyed it ... a "throw back" to the good ole days!

Amy at love made my home said...

It is lovely to have you back Kris with computer and camera working again! You certainly have been going for it on the canning front haven't you, you are definitely well stocked for winter. I wondered about the grape jelly making, if you had boiled them up - the grapes - and then strained them I wonder if you would have gotten the juice out and left the pips and so on behind? What do you think. I am thinking that I might try some grape jelly later in the year when our grapes ripen so I wondered what you though. xx

Pam said...

How funny that we both did canning recently. I was intimidated too but I am so glad I did it! I usually make freezer jam but I think I will be trying canned jam now.

Good idea to mix the too hot pepper jelly with the grape jelly!

Pammy Sue said...

Good for you! Canning will be great for all your veggies you get out of your garden. I made some jellies once -- grape made with store-bought grape juice, wild plum jelly with some plums my mom brought me from Oklahoma, and some pineapple-orange jelly. I didn't have any of the gadgets you have and I haven't made any since. I'm not sure it was worth the time for me, but it was a learning process. I ALWAYS have a fan in the kitchen because I get so freakin hot! Glad you got your laptop fixed!

Patrica said...

Oh my, you're in trouble now! You'll be putting anything that's not nailed down in jars! It all looks delicious and I know from experience just how much fun you had in spite of how much work it all is.

Nana Go-Go said...

I would have gently simmered the whole grapes until they were soft and then strained them through some muslin overnight to release the juice - trying not to squeeze the bag or the jelly is apt to go cloudy. You made a great job of it nevertheless. Hope your poor feet have recovered! x

~Niki~ said...

I tried it once with handmade salsa and failed. the salsa spoiled. that was back when youtube was not available. I might try it again someday. looks great!

corners of my life said...

Wow - it made me tired just reading about all you did. Great job - you should be very proud.

Susanne Tyree said...

I am so proud of you!!!! I have been canning for 42 years and love, love, love it. It is so nice to be able to open a jar of your own stuff and know that if there is anything in it that doesn't belong it would be your own sweat, lol. I worked at the Heinz ketchup plant 2 seasons years ago and I know what goes into that ketchup. My kids got so they wouldn't even eat any spaghetti sauce but what I made. Ragu and Prego was a no, no, and if you ate the sauce you cleaned the plate up with the garlic bread. My husband said one time, "gee you want us to lick our plates clean?" LOL. After that I had him do the onion chopping, the banana peppers and the garlic and he knew then about all the work. I got smart one day and rough chopped stuff, cooked it for a couple hours, then chopped it all in the blender, put it through the food mill and then back into the big roaster pan to cook on low for another 24 hours. That thickened it up. I loaded my dishwasher with the canning jars and that saved time, the jars would be clean and hot, then filled and processed. I did a post on canning sauce. When I ran out of jars I would freeze it and that was okay too. I have done grape jelly....honey, that is one of the messiest jobs. I use a funnel colander lined with cheese cloth, then press them through after they cook awhile. That removes all the skins and seeds and what you are left with is the juice. The hot pepper jelly, my daughter makes that, and you are right, it is good over cream cheese with crackers, but I think she removes the seeds. Oh, can you tell, I think I know it all, lol, nothing worse than a know it all now is there. I wish I lived close to you, I would have come and helped you, at least stood and washed the utensils and lent a hand. Those tile floors are murder.
Have a good one,
(((HUGS))) Susanne :)

Mereknits said...

My goodness you have been busy, good thing your cord broke when it did because you haven't had a second to blog. Hope your Mom is doing well Kris.

Nicolle said...

My mom makes the sweet pepper jelly, and it's always been one of my favorite things! We like to eat it on a cracker with a little cream cheese. Heaven! Everything you make always looks so delicious. I'd love to hang out in your kitchen with you!