Strawberry Fruit Leather

  
When strawberries are in season, I usually try to make several batches of fruit leather for my family. Rolling strawberry fruit leather on wax paper strips makes for a delicious, nutritious, summer treat.  

On my daily drive home from work, I pass a local strawberry farm so I usually stop by to pick up a few buckets of fresh berries. There are lots of recipes for fruit leather, many encourage the addition of sugar and lemon juice. For me, I’d rather find the sweetest, freshest berries possible, pulse them in a blender, and pour them into trays to dehydrate. Simple and sweet, a pure delight. Here’s what I do…

Start with sweet fresh berries… Mine are freshly picked

  
Puree 6 cups of fruit and evenly pour onto fruit leather dehydrator sheets.

   
 Dry at 135 degrees for 4-8 hours. Using your finger, press to make a small indentation in the fruit leather. It should not be wet or sticky. It should be tacky. Check in a few areas around the fruit leather disk. Peel the disk off of the silicone sheet while still warm.  Lay on a sheet of waxed paper.

   
 
Using a scissors, cut into strips and roll up tightly. Store in a lidded container in a cool, dry place.

   
   
Make plenty because they disappear fast! 

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While I used 6 cups of strawberries, here are a few adapted recipes recommended by Nesco Dehydrators:
3 cups applesauce
3 cups strawberries

Or, try mixing:

2 cups applesauce
2 cups bananas
In a blender, puree all ingredients. Pour onto Solid Fruit Roll Sheets.

Place on dehydrator trays. Dry at 135º F for 4 to 8 hours, or until leathery. 

Remove from sheets while still warm. Let cool, slice and wrap.

Roll and store in dark, dry, cool place or in freezer.

  
Of course, It’s always fun to make a very berry smoothly with the leftover purée.

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Sparkling Christmas Jam

Around the holidays I love to make special “gifts from the kitchen” for friends and family.  Most times, I make batches of cookies, breads, candies, or snack mixes.  This year, I made brown bread loaves and Sparking Christmas Jam for everyone.





I was doing a major house cleaning and I had stumbled upon a few boxes of cute little jelly jars.  I was in the mood for a major cleanup and I was trying to get rid of anything I hadn’t used in a while.  This wide mouth batch would work just fine for gift giving jars. I remembered that I had loads of frozen strawberries and cranberries in the freezer that I could use for the intended mix, so I quickly scrubbed the jars in warm soapy water and began to prep the recipe.  Here are the instructions that I used.  

I must admit, the recipe is not very precise and of course, canning is a precise science. When processing for home preservation where items are to be stored on shelves, I only use tested, reputable recipes. Therefore, I processed the jars as instructed but I asked those receiving a jar to KEEP IT IN THE FRIDGE for safety purposes.  I gave them cold, refrigerated jars to remind them where they should be stored. No need to get anyone sick via an oversight when canning! 

This is a scrumptious recipe.  Great with bread and butter or tea and toast… I’ve already gotten a few requests for another jar next year. The beginning of a tradition…?





Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  Let’s make this a good one!

Lemony Strawberry Jam

I was recently asked to do a food demonstration at a local county fair.  I thought it might be fun to showcase some of the new home food preservation products and make some lemon and strawberry jam.  I bought a bag of lemons, some sugar, pectin and fresh strawberries for the occasion.  A few portable appliances were easy to load into the back of my car and plug into the electrical outlet at the Home and Family Arts Building.  I had a blast making jam for all of the folks visiting the fairgrounds.  I was happy to answer questions and drum up some new found interest in canning.  If you have never preserved food or if you’re looking for a fresh new way to can fruit with ease, check out some of the new items on the market and get busy canning nature’s bounty!



Sprinkle in the pectin…

Add the crushed strawberries…

A fresh additon… lemon zest

Time to give this a stir…

Add sugar and bring to a rolling boil…    This is an amazing little appliance.  Portable, electric, and easy to clean…  Small batch canning is highlighted with this jam and jelly maker.

Getting ready to process…

Set to “canning mode”…

Simply delicious!

Lemony Strawberry Jam

Strawberries

Lemons

Sugar

Pectin

Check out the recipe at the link below.  Follow the recipe exactly as written.  This is a must when preserving foods.  No substitutions, unless directed.  Always use reputable, tested recipes for home food preservation.

https://www.freshpreserving.com/lemony-strawberry-jam—ball-auto-canner-recipes-br1393.html

Iced Sour Cherry Muffins/Quick Bread



One of my co-workers sent me a text the other night.  She wanted to know if she might be able to successfully dry some of her sour cherries in the oven.  Her cherry tree had produced a bumper crop of fruit and she was creatively thinking of ways to preserve the bounty.  I quickly suggested she borrow my dehydrator as it is super easy to dry fruits and vegetables in this portable unit.  In return, she offered me some of those beautiful sour cherries.  I felt like one lucky girl!  

I quickly pitted, chopped and bagged the fruit to put in the freezer as I wasn’t quite sure what I would make with them.   Cherry pie filling… sour cherry jam… muffins … scones?  I settled on Iced Sour Cherry Muffins. What a great choice as these muffins are tart and sweet, packed with a good dose of sour cherries. The recipe only needed two cups worth of fruit so I froze the rest of the cherries for another day, another recipe.  I used some of the batter for muffins and the rest for a small loaf of quick bread.  Again, I am one lucky girl! 

 
Iced Sour Cherry Muffins/Quick Bread 

 ¾ cup buttermilk 

 ¼ cup orange juice 

 ⅔ cup canola oil 

 1 large egg 

 1 teaspoon orange extract 

 1 heaping tablespoon orange zest 

 2 cups flour 

 1 cup sugar 

 1 tsp baking powder 

 2 cups sour cherries (pitted and chopped) 

 2 tablespoons brown sugar and cinnamon instant oatmeal (optional) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If making muffins, line pans with paper liners or use silicone muffin cups.  If making quick bread, spray small loaf pans with cooking spray.   

In a medium bowl mix together buttermilk, orange juice, extract, canola oil and egg; mix well.  Next, add the orange zest, flour, sugar, and baking powder; mix well.  Carefully fold in the cherries, just until combined.  Scoop batter into muffins cups about ¾ full. Sprinkle with instant oatmeal mix (optional).   

 Bake for 25 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean.  (If making 7×3″ loaves, fill and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.)

Let rest for a few minutes, and then transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before icing. 

 For glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon milk or orange juice

In a medium mixing bowl, combine ingredients and mix well. If glaze is too thick, carefully add extra juice or water (a 1/2 teaspoon at a time) until mixture is smooth and creamy. Lightly drizzle glaze over cooled muffins.

Bumbleberry Jam



As the spring season ushers in warmer temperatures, I am focused on the blossomed plants that will soon produce ripe, succulent berries. My last year’s supply of Bumbleberry Jam is running low so I am hopelessly awaiting the opportunity to pick fresh berries and the prospect of an abundant canning season. 

There is nothing sweeter than a freshly baked scone or a slice of whole grain bread slathered with creamy butter and a heaping scoop of Bumbleberry Jam.  We also enjoy pairing the jam with a hearty helping of extra crunchy homemade peanut butter to assemble the classic PB&J.  Oh, it’s all so berry delicious!

Below you will find the link for this incredible jam.  Always remember that using a reputable source for canning recipes is imperative.  Some of these sources include the National Center for Home Food Preservation, University Extension Websites, and Ball or Bernardin Recipes. These organizations have thoroughly tested recipes making sure to focus on food safety guidelines.  

It’s relatively simple to make jam.  Follow the directions exactly as written and you’ll end up with a safe, delicious product.  Most jam recipes require an abundance of crushed berries…

Then you’ll often need some pectin and sugar…



You’ll need a large pot to mix all of your ingredients together according to the directions…



After processing the jars in a water bath canner for the recommended time, you’ll let the jars sit to cool for 12-24 hours…



The Bumbleberry Jam recipe can be found here:

http://www.bernardin.ca/recipes/bumbleberry-jam.htm?Lang=EN-US

Ball has a recipe for Mixed Berry Jam that tastes delicious as well.  Here is the link:

https://www.freshpreserving.com/mixed-berry-jam-%7C-mixed-berry-recipes—ball-fresh-preserving-br1276.html



Sweet and Spicy Pickled Peppers




The first day of fall has hit the Midwestern region and it seems that gardens are producing a bounty of veggies that need to be picked and processed before the cooler temperatures set in.  Once again, a few local growers were kind enough to share an abundance of beautiful produce that was beyond what they could consume.  I was thrilled to see a small bag of assorted hot peppers in the mix.  The orange, red, and green, color combination would make for a beautiful display in canning jars. Because I would only have enough to fill one large jar, I decided to make refrigerator pickled peppers rather than canning them with a water bath method.  This is a quick and simple way to make the great tasting flavor of the peppers last as they sit on the refrigerator shelf and marinate in the sweet and spicy vinegar solution.  Use these peppers to top an Italian salad or to add some flavor to a grilled sandwich. Simply delicious!






Sweet and Spicy Pickled Peppers

2-4 cups sliced peppers

2 cups white vinegar

1⅓ cup water

1 tablespoon canning salt

2 tsp sugar

Canning jar(s) with tight fitting lid(s)

Wash jar(s) with warm soapy water; air dry.  Pack the sliced peppers in jar(s).  Set jar(s) aside.

In a saucepan, combine vinegar, water, salt, and sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar completely.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Pour mixture over the peppers making sure they are completely covered. Twist on a tight fitting lid and store in the refrigerator. As the peppers sit, the flavors will develop. Store refrigerated for 4-6 weeks.





Fresh from the Garden Refrigerator Pickles

I was pleasantly surprised this week when a co-worker brought in a big bag of freshly picked pickling cucumbers and plopped them on the break room table.  She announced that the cucumbers were from her father’s garden and that anyone was welcome to take as many as they liked.  Straight away, I scooped up a good majority of the pickles and packed them away for one of my favorite summer projects.  When I returned home from work that evening, I began the task at hand, slicing the veggies for my refreshing refrigerator pickles.  

This recipe yields several jars of a delicious, crunchy, sweet condiment.  Use a variety of green, red, or yellow  peppers to add a bit of color to the mix.  You will love the ease at which this recipe comes together (ridiculously easy). More importantly, you will love the taste of these refreshingly delicious refrigerator pickles!





Fresh from the Garden Refrigerator Pickles

1 cup distilled white vinegar

1 tablespoon salt

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1/4 cup mixed pickling spice

6 cups sliced pickling cucumbers

1 cup sliced onions

1 cup sliced green bell peppers

In a medium saucepan, bring vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil. Simmer until the sugar has dissolved, 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, drop a teaspoon of pickling spices into the bottom of each sterilized canning jar.  

Tightly pack the mixture of cucumbers, onions and green bell peppers into jars. Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables, covering vegetables completely.  Twist on lids and store in the refrigerator for three days before serving.