canning can get to be a lot of work, and tiring. It always comes at once! We have less than two months to preserve a year's worth of food! so, I make little put up jobs, that are fun, easy, quick...to have for Thanksgiving, Christmas...or when the wind is howling and it is COLD and gloomy!!! These are all things we all use at some point in time....
STORE BOUGHT MUSTARD ( making mustard takes a lot of product and time!!)
Mixed herb mustard- 1 c of mustard of your choice
1 1/2 t, each, crumbled dried tarragon, thyme, sweet marjoram (or basil), and a pinch of oregano.
1/2 t minced fresh, or dried chives
1 t finely chopped parsley(fresh or dry)
a splash of lemon juice
pinch of salt, and pepper
Mix together well...store in fridge and use on your next sandwich!!!!
yields- 4-5 c
6 c blueberries, fresh, or 2, 1 lb. bags from the freezer.
3 c white vinegar
5 T sugar
Crush the berries well..do not puree them. Use only half the berries this time, for the crushing...freeze the other half for later.
Combine berries and vinegar in a 2 qt. jar, or crock, and mix well. Cover container well..few layers of plastic wrap over the top, then the jar lid, or crock lid, or plate, if no crock lid. Set mixture off to the side of your counter...out of sunlight. Stir everyday for 3 weeks.
After 3 weeks- strain the vinegar off the berries.
Stir vinegar and sugar in a stainless steel pot, bring just to simmer,simmer, uncovered, 3 mins. Skim any foam off the top(remember from your jelly making days? Sugar + fruit+ heat= foam?!). strain vinegar thru a fine sieve, with cheesecloth inside. Bottle! You can put it in separate bottles for gifts,or in quart jars for storage at home. Add a few whole berries for garnish.....
This will keep just as long as any other store bought vinegar.....on your shelf..away from heat and light....if a sludge happens at the bottom ( from the berries) it is ok...will not cause it to go bad, or kill you.Use for your salad dressings, or use as the ONLY dressing. Some people like just vinegar on their salads.
You can do this with strawberries- add 6 T sugar. Cherries- add 6 T sugar. Blackberries, 6 T sugar- the amount of vinegar is the same. Red raspberries do not need sugar added.
Cider vinegar is best for using with herbs,and also red wine vinegar- it is all a matter of what you like.
Fill a quart canning jar with vinegar, leave a 2" head space, for shaking. using dry herbs, (you will need "bunches", not from the bottles at the store), add 1 cup, to the vinegar. Cover with a lid, shake.....store on the shelf, and shake each day for 3 weeks. Strain, and re-jar. Some people heat the vinegar to just simmer...the heat can destroy some of the herb flavoring..so..I don't do it.
Your choice of herbs are many- the favorites I use are, mint, basil, tarragon (pretty strong), dill, rosemary, oregano, thyme, savory,chives.
It is nice to have flavored vinegars on the shelf, come winter...you can make an oil and vinegar dressing, using your newly made...
OLIVE OIL WITH HERBS
Use a quart canning jar- fill with fresh herbs- just like your choice for making vinegar- you can add a few peppercorns to it also. Cover the herbs with oil- almost to the brim. cover with a lid, and store in a cool, dark area for a month. It will be ready then. Now, leave the herbs in it! Use the oil, as you normally would, and keep adding oil to keep the herbs covered in it.....after about 6 months or so..the herbs lose their flavoring...so, strain the rest of the oil, and use it.! You can refrigerate this oil, but it will get cloudy, because of the cold. The oil will be fine.
To 1 c sugar, add 1 t dried lavender flowers, that have been broken by hand a little(they are tiny flowers)
add 1 vanilla bean cut in half
These sugars are nice in tea, or anything you use that you want to have a special taste added....You can increase the recipe- the standard is the 1c to 1 t.
while clarified butter is the creme de la creme, for cooking, frying, baking, it is also a very good preservative covering...for....
For the butter: use 2-4 sticks of unsalted butter (depends on how much you think you will need), in a pot. heat the butter to simmer, and watch it.....for 15 mins., it will bubble and look foamy, that means all the moisture is being removed. Simmer on low another 5-10 mins...do not stir.You will know it is ready when the boiling action is less and the foam looks like it is getting dry. Do not let the butter turn brown! So WATCH it.remove from the heat and let cool 10 mins- also allows the sediments to settle. carefully pour off the clear golden liquid, into a small jar, small crock for the fridge, a small anything...stop pouring when the sediment is too close to coming out with the butter. Let the clarified bitter cool til it congeals then store in fridge. The rest of the butter and sediments in the pot, can still be used in any type cooking you want. Season veggies, noodles.
BLACK WALNUT POTTED CHEESE
1/4 lb.sharp cheddar(not processed cheddar), shredded
1/4 lb. Monterey Jack, shredded
6 T softened butter
2 T dry white wine
Small pinch of ground mace
1/2 c medium chopped black walnuts( they have a fuller flavor), if not, use English walnuts.
clarified butter for sealing
Beat the cheeses and softened butter together, until creamy. don't try to make it TOO creamy, some texture is nice.
Beat in the wine and mace. May need a little more wine, if mixture is not soft enough. Stir in the walnuts.
Pack potted cheese tightly into small crocks ( like the size of custard dishes- can actually use custard dishes!) Try to push it down, so there are no air pockets...do the best you can. Leave a 1/4 " head space. Cover with clarified butter! Make sure the butter touches all sides of the dish. Let cool, then store in fridge, ready in time for Thanksgiving, Christmas. Makes fun gifts. Let come to room temperature before serving. You can wrap this in plastic wrap and freeze....but, it is meant to be for some use in the next 6-7 months. Now you can tell your friends you made cheese!!!!
You can do the same technique, to make a beer cheese
POTTED BEER CHEESE- "RABBIT"
3/4 lb. grated cheddar cheese
1 t dry mustard
2/3 c smooth flavored beer
1 stick softened butter
1 t Worcestershire sauce
generous pinch white pepper
Salt, to taste- may not need it
clarified butter for sealing
Place grated cheese in a bowl,add dry mustard and beer. Stir mixture,press the cheese down so it is covered by the beer, cover the bowl ( I use a linen towel), let sit overnight.
Place softened butter in bowl and beat til creamy. Add the cheese mixture, Worcestershire sauce, white pepper and salt. Beat til very smooth and creamy- can use a food processor- the salt and pepper is to taste- depends on the cheese. Pack in small crocks, leave 1/4" head space, seal with clarified butter. Let come to room temperature before serving.
Neither of these cheeses tastes like alcohol, when done.......so if you are not a person that drinks..this will not be a problem...the wine and beer add to the preservation.
FOR THE HOT DAYS.....that are behind us, we hope! But August is yet to come!!! A fun cooler.
1 c sugar
1 1/2 c water
1 c mint leaves
1 c lemon juice
1 c grape juice
12 oz. ginger ale
(if you don't have mint leaves handy...use 3 mint tea bags). Combine sugar and water in pan, simmer for 5 mins, pour over mint leaves (tea bags), add lemon juice, cover and let steep 1 hr. Strain off mint leaves, or remove tea bags. Add grape juice, and before serving, add the ginger ale. Makes 2 qts.
This is also the time of year to be cutting and drying your flowers and herbs. Cut Tansy and hang in bunches upside down form the ceiling to dry for winter arrangements, cut your herbs in bunches and do the same, tie and hang upside down. silver King Artemesia is ready...cut and you can form swags and wreaths with it right away, fresh, and it will dry in that shape- just hang somewhere to dry, if giving as a gift, or hang on your wall now. You can also cut it to stand in crocks, as it retains the shape easily, dries slowly and smells so earthy and woodsy! Lass all winter, I sometimes put drops of scented oils on the leaves in the dead of winter..so the room will smell like lavender or lilac. If you have Money Plant- Lumneria- it is time to cut it and separate the thin seed casings, so the "silver money" is exposed, and you can save the seed to plant in another place in the yard next Spring, or share Lamb's Ears is ready too...cut the purple flower stalks before they open, they are prettier , but you can still cut them if the flowers have opened , just shake them well to remove the miniscule seeds.....and dry, upside down. In about 2 months time, all will be dried , the stalks will be firm and they will stand upright in anything you use for a display, or arrangement.