Tag Archives: homemade

Strawberry Apricot Jam

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Strawberry Apricot Jam

Strawberry Apricot Jam

This is the absolute best jam I have ever eaten! It is the perfect mix of strawberries and apricots and has a sweet and tangy taste that is out of this world! It’s the only jam I make that I don’t sell because I just can’t part with it! Have I mentioned it’s the best jam ever? Ok, so you get my point 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups crushed strawberries (roughly 6 cups whole strawberries to give you an idea how many to mash)
  • 2 cups finely chopped apricots
  • 7 cups of sugar
  • 1 box SUREJELL Premium Fruit Pectin
  • 1/2 tsp (doesn’t have to be exact) butter
  • 8-9 8 oz jelly jars

If you know how to make jam/jelly/preserves and are familiar with the process, you can skip over this part. Otherwise, let’s get the basics across:

  • Never ever try to double a recipe. If you need to make two or more batches of jelly, do it. If you try to double your recipe and do it all at once it will not work and the jam will not set. Don’t ask me why, I don’t make the rules.
  • Do not attempt to reduce the sugar in the recipe or it will not set and all of your efforts will be wasted. Also, I really do not recommend using any sugar substitute like Splenda or anything like that. I’ve done it before and it really doesn’t taste very good. Aside from that, sugar is a natural preservative and is part of the reason why you are able to can fruit and put it away at room temperature for months or even years at a time.
  • It’s usually best to wash your jars in the hot cycle of your dishwasher and allow them to sit in there while it’s still hot and steamy before you use them. So, the first thing I do before anything else is load my empty dishwasher (I don’t want actual dirty dishes in there during this process) and allow it to wash my jars on the hottest cycle it has. Meanwhile, I’ll start doing everything else I need to for my jelly. By the time I’m ready to use my jars, the wash cycle is over and they’re hot and ready to go when I need them.
  • Keep your seals in a pot of water kept on simmer over the stove. You definitely do not want it boiling, but you want it to be hot. You can keep your rings for the lids just on your counter top or wherever out of the way as there is really nothing you need to do with these to prep them.
  • You’ll need a dry measuring cup, liquid measuring cup, large saucepan, large stock pot, small sauce pot for seals,1 large bowl, 1 large mixing spoon, 1 potato masher to crush your strawberries, 1 metal dinner spoon, a ladle, and the items in the kits listed above. You’ll also need some sort of timer (you can use your microwave timer or even the timer on your cell phone if you have one).
  • Before you get started measure your sugar into a bowl and set aside so it’s ready. Timing is everything in the jam making process so it needs to be in a bowl and ready to go when we need it.
  • Have three pot holders ready to go. Two will be for picking up the sides of your pot of hot jam and the other will be to set on your counter top so you can put your jam on top of it.
  • Have a clean dish towel on your counter next to your third pot holder where you will put your jars when you are ready to fill them up. If making more than one batch of jam, use a clean dish towel each time. ** I had zero dish towels ready when I made this jam because laundry just wasn’t on my to-do list at the time. So I had a huge mess to clean up and that’s why my dishtowels are missing from the picture.**
  • You can re-use jars and can re-use rings, but you can never re-use seals. So save those jam jars and rings when you’re done with them! You can buy new seals for cheap at the store in the canning section.
  • Lastly, I realize some people have actual canning pots so you don’t have to purchase the cheap plastic basket. That’s fabulous and if you actually own one, you don’t need me to explain how this all works. However, if you’re wondering if you need to buy one of these, I would advise that no, you do not. It’s a very expensive pot that really you will only use for processing jars and is sort of like that giant turkey roaster you only bring out once or twice a year that takes up too much space in your kitchen. So, this recipe will be explaining the processing using the cheap plastic basket 🙂

1. First, prep your fruit and put it into your saucepan. Cut the stems off and cut strawberries in half of about 6 cups of strawberries into a large bowl. Then mash with potato masher until they’re sort of soupy looking but still have some yummy chunks of strawberries in there. Then using your measuring cup, measure exactly three cups of crushed strawberries into your pot. Then, wash and finely chop your apricots and measure two cups of those into your pot as well with the strawberries. Also, in your large stockpot, fill with water and bring to a boil and then put the lid on and turn to simmer. We’ll come back to this.

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2. Now sprinkle your SUREJELL onto your fruit and put your small pat of butter in there and bring to a boil stirring often. (The butter acts as an anti-foaming agent. You’ll see what I’m talking about here in a minute.)

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3. Once it’s boiling, pour your bowl of sugar into your jam and stir often. You want it to return to a full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop when you stir it) for exactly 1 minute, then remove your pot from the heat. This is where you use your pot holders to grab the pot and bring over to the counter top where your other pot holder is ready to go next to your dishtowel.

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4. Now grab your heated jars from your dishwasher and place them on your dishtowel near your jam pot so they can get filled up. Also, use your small metal dinner spoon and skim the top of the jam off and discard (I usually keep a small coffee cup next to me at this point in the process so I don’t have to reach all the way over to the sink to discard this, but you do whatever works for you). It’s not 100% necessary you do this, but it makes the jam look a lot prettier when it doesn’t have weird white foam in it. That’s why you added the tiny pat of butter earlier, because without it the foam would be 10x worse.

Now, using your ladle or liquid measuring cup and also your funnel from the canning kit, begin to fill the jars with your jam mixture and fill to 1/4 inch to the top. This is called your “head space” and it’s important you fill it to the correct line as it is important for the expansion of food during the canning process and for creating a vacuum in the cooled jars. Different things need different amounts of head space, and jam just so happens to be 1/4 inch. There are two ways you can measure this; the top clear line on the Ball jars are marked at the 1/4″ place, or you can use the ruler that comes in the canning kit.

**I ended up with 8 full jars and a little leftover, so I put that into a Pyrex small dish with a lid and will put that one in my fridge for immediate eating since it’s only a couple of tablespoons full.**

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5. Now, using a damp paper towel wipe off any jam that might’ve spilled on the tops of the jars before placing your seals on there. Then, using your magnet from your canning kit, get out your seals in the hot water you’ve kept them in on the stove top and being to place them on the jars.

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6. Now you will place the rings on your jam jars by using the “fingertip tight” method. That means, only tighten them using your fingertips as to not over tighten them. When your process your jars, air will need to escape to create a vacuum in the jars, so you don’t want the lids on too tight. Once your jars are ready, place your jam into the basket and lower into the boiling water in your stockpot. The water might stop boiling at that point since it will cool it down, so you will not start your processing timer until it is boiling again. Also, there needs to be enough water that the jars are covered with at least 2 inches of water. So, once it’s all boiling again, cover your pot with a lid and set your timer!

Altitude Chart/Timing Instructions:

1,001 – 3,000 ft – 5 minutes processing time

3,001 – 6,000 ft – 10 minutes processing time (most places in Texas)

6,001 – 8,000 ft – 15 minutes processing time

8,001 – 10,000 ft – 20 minutes processing time

If you’re unsure of the altitude where you live, click here to type in your city and find the altitude where you live.

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7. Once your jars are finished processing, you will remove them from the pot and set aside for 24 hours to cool and be left alone before putting up and storing away. You will hear the “PLOP!” of lids sealing as you take them out and set them down on your counter. You may need to process your jars in two cycles if you pot was not big enough to accommodate all your jars the first time (mine wasn’t).

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Is this not the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?! I mean, come on!!!

Strawberry Apricot Jam

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Applesauce

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Applesauce

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Every week at the grocery store I find myself buying two boxes of those applesauce squeeze things for my son. Only four come in a box, and they’re freakin expensive for what they are! So today I decided enough is enough – I can start making my own applesauce! My son loves it and I just bought a homemade baby food kit that lets you put baby food into squeeze pouches. This recipe made 16 pouches for me (roughly 8 cups of applesauce).

Ingredients:
8 apples (I used honeycrisp)
1 c apple juice (if you don’t have this, you can use water)
2 lemons
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c white sugar
1/4 c brown sugar

1. Peel your apples. I like to use an actual peeler instead of a knife because you keep more apple that way.

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2. Dump your apple juice into a pot or Dutch oven. I used a juice box!

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3. Slice your apples into the same size so they’ll cook evenly and at the same time. Then dump into your pot.

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4. Squeeze your two lemons in there.

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5. Bring to a boil for one minute, put the lid on, and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Stir halfway through.

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6. Once it’s done cooking, add both sugars, cinnamon, and stir together.

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7. Now take your pot over to your food processor or blender and work in batches to purée into a perfectly delicious consistency. It took me two batches.

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8. Now you’re done! You can put it into these squeeze thingies like I did, or save in a container with a top. I’m freezing my squeeze packs and pulling out a few each week so they’ll be defrosted and ready to eat in the fridge whenever!

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Chicken Noodle Soup

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Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup

There’s nothing better than homemade chicken noodle soup on a cool weather day, or when you’re recovering from an illness. Mmmm 🙂 This is only about a million times better than the canned version! I think the trick to making the chicken extra tasty is letting it marinade overnight in your favorite all purpose seasoning (something salt-free like a garlic herb seasoning) in the fridge (or at least for four hours if you can’t do it overnight). Let’s get started…

Ingredients:
1 package chicken thighs with bone and skin on
4 carrots
4 celery sticks (with leafy tops)
2 onions (I love sweet onions)
Chicken bouillon cube (as always, I use the Knorr brand)
6 oz egg noodles
1 stick butter
1/4 c flour
2-3 small garlic cloves chopped
Your favorite all purpose seasoning, salt, and pepper

1. Chop 1 onion, 3 carrots, garlic, and celery and place in saute pan. You’re going to reserve the celery leafy tops and bottoms, 1 carrot, and 1 onion sliced in half and place all of that in a pot to make your broth.
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2. Add your marinated chicken to the pot with the veggies and add your chicken bouillon cube and enough water to completely cover the veggies and chicken. Set to a boil and let this go for about an hour.
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3. Meanwhile, add your butter, salt, and pepper to your veggies in your saute skillet and set that on about medium heat. You don’t want to brown these – you want to sweat them out and cook until they’re soft and the onions are transparent. This should take about 20-25 minutes. You’ll notice in this picture there is only 1/2 stick of butter present. I decided halfway through cooking these they needed more butter. I think the lesson here is clear: When it doubt, add more butter! Amen.
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4. After your veggies are done cooking, add your flour and stir the veggies around for 3-4 minutes while the flour cooks through and it will thicken up the veggies. Then turn the heat off and set aside.
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5. At this point your kitchen smells delicious! Don’t worry, you’re almost done… Now you’ll get out a strainer and dump your broth and chicken pot into it, allowing the broth to go into a bowl under the strainer and then pick out the chicken to cut into bite sized pieces on your cutting board (discard skin and bones).
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6. Discard the stuff in the strainer and pour the veggies, chicken, and broth mix all back into the pot and bring to a boil. Also, I added about 2 cups of water after dumping the broth in to thin it out a bit, but you can use your own judgement here. Then add 6 oz or so of your favorite noodles (I love egg noodles here) and allow to boil until the noodles are cooked. That’s it! Now the most delicious homemade chicken noodle soup is ready to eat 🙂
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