Posts Tagged With: organic food

Deer Meat, Pretty Girls and The Ghost Women.

It seems to me that family traditions are become fewer and fewer with each year. We talk less, spend time together less and often it is too late when we realize we needed information that has already slipped away. So to prevent that from happening today my husband and I spent the day teaching two of my younger girl friends the art of skinning, quartering and cutting up a deer to make into venison burger.

So when Danielle and Samantha asked me about our life style here in West Virginia, hunting and deer processing came up. They both asked if they could learn more about butchering and how we prepare the meat that we hunt. It was a wonderful day of being outside spending time with  two pretty girls and my husband.

 

So the morning started with the 4 of us in the garage with a nice buck hung and ready to skin. The process is easier when the deer is still warm but with this deer we wanted to the girls to help learn the process from the beginning. Tom took time to explain the steps needed to cut through the skin and the processes of pulling the hide down over the body to the head of the deer. Each girl taking turns pulling and tugging. Then he showed each girl how the quart the deer and cutting off anything we don’t butcher. Slowly, we moved the quartered pieces into the house to be cut up and ground into burger.

Each took a cutting board and knife and begin to talk about the different cuts of meat that people use. We made roasts and talked about stake and stew meat. We talked about our favorite ways to make jerky and what people do to cut the “gameness” of venison.  We eventually had a tub full of venison chunks that would be ready to grind in a few minutes.

 

As we talked, laughed and told stories I had the distinct feeling of the past coming to life. As if generations of women were watching us and reflecting on our work. A tribe of woman from Danielle’s Alaska, a group of farm woman from Samantha’s Ohio and a group of homesteading woman from my West Virginia, all crowd around us in spirit. They whispered their comments, talking about how they once smoked, canned, dried and froze the meats that men and boys brought home. How they took pride in their work and how hunting and butchering were shared activities in families. How no one was left out, everyone was expected to help in providing for the long winter months.

As we break for lunch, I make a pot of venison barley soup and thin slices of tenderloin fried until brown for steak sandwiches. We eat together and talked about our homes, fulling our bodies with the goodness that our hard work  produced. The ghost women of the past seem satisfied with our skills for today. They know that their grandchildren have learned some of the skills that kept generations of our ancestors alive. Lessons that the ghost women are happy that we are sharing.

Tom takes time to help with the grinding as I stuff it into bags. We feel the ghost women retreat, they shower their blessings on my family and home as they fade away. I take the bags to the freezer and close the lid. I stop in the gray light of the basement and say a prayer of thanksgiving to all of those who have helped me on my way to becoming one of the keepers of this knowledge and a woman of the woods.

6 point white tail buck

It is not often in the modern world we are asked to share our traditions with others. So, I was so happy to have these two pretty girls come and spend a day with me learning a skill that I have repeated a hundred times over the years. It was wonderful sharing my life with people who want to learn about it and want to be in some way a woman of the woods also.

 

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, cooking, deer, deer hunting, family traditions, Hunting, organic food, rural life, Venison | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

Surprise! That is not a cantaloupe.

Have any of you with gardens planted what you thought was one seed and ended up with some thing different. This happens at my house every few years when I by plants already started . I have even bought two trees that had incorrect labels. Both times I was trying to buy  Bartlett Pear trees and ended up with ornamental Pears that had no fruit.  So why should it surprise me that I ordered cantaloupe seeds from a reputable see catalog and got a surprise.

Honey Dew Melon ??

Honey Dew Melon ??

My husband was the one to notice that the skin of  our cantaloupe was not the heavily netted skin that you would expect. That was when we though we had something different and that was about two weeks ago. Now as you can see we have a wonderful green Honey Dew to enjoy with dinner tonight.

Surprise Honey Dew salad

Surprise Honey Dew salad

I have often wondered how people who collect, store and sell seeds keep all of them organised. So this kind of mix up does not happen. I have even experienced wild cross-pollination of pepper plants. Turning my sweet bells into a hot bell mix. Not that we were complaining because we always raise both and eat lots of peppers but this melon mix up was an out right mistake of identity.

So as summer comes to a close and my garden is still full to the rim with fruits and vegetables of all shapes and sizes I just wonder if my water melons will be yellow instead of red and if my sweet potatoes with be blue instead of orange… It might just happen because my pumpkins are white and my Cantaloupe is now a Honey Dew.

Categories: gardening, Homestead, Honey Dew Melon, organic food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Wine Making part 2: Dandelion Wine the Fermentation.

As all of you should know by now my New Years Resolution  was to learn more about and try to make fermented foods and drinks.   So far, I have learned to make  sauerkraut ( Toms family has made it for years so I had a lot of help on that one)  and now wine. There are several others I want to do like brine pickles, pickled beets ( I love these and have made them before) and maybe if time allows yogurt and farmer cheese. The items I am making are in the order of availability. Dandelions are everywhere so this just made sence to use for my first wine project. I  Have already posted about the equipment needed for this project and you can find them at preparations for Dandelion wine making part 1. In this post I will cover the ingredients and steps to get you through fermentation and the next post will cover racking and bottling and ageing.

After gathering your equipment and washing everything  and sanitizing it (I use a store-bought cleaner that has a chlorine base but does not taste like it) your carboy, funnel and buckets are ready to collect the needed flowers of  Dandelions.

just opening dandelion flower

just opening dandelion flower

 

Christopher picking Dandelions with a plastic kife

Christopher picking Dandelions with a plastic knife

We collected about 4 quarts of flowers that day,enough for my recipe that calls for 1 quart of flower petals to every gallon of wine. I was hoping to make about 3 gallons of wine this time.

After picking you need to remove any of the green that is still attached to the petals. Things like the stem and base of the flower. If you do not remove them they will give the wine a bitter after taste. I sat on the back porch cleaned the flowers for about an hour. This is the hardest part of the process and the most time-consuming. When finished I had Three quarts of very nice petals with very few green leaves mixed in.

Dandelion Petals

Dandelion Petals

I rinsed the flowers and tossed them around to make sure I had no full flowers that Christopher had been playing with on the porch or any bugs or leaves in the batch. I then heated about two gallons of water on the stove until a slow boil. Then poured the hot water over the petals in a five gallon bucket. Letting this mixture sit covered  for 2 or 3 days. Making the tea we will need to make the wine.

3 quarts dandelion petals with 2 gallons hot water. to make the "tea"

3 quarts dandelion petals with 2 gallons hot water. to make the “tea”

After three days I strained the tea throw a fine sieve that you saw in the top post getting almost every petal out. This made a nice yellow tea that is the base for the wine.

Strained Dandelion tea

Strained Dandelion tea

To  this tea, I added my fruit, spices, water, Campden tablets and sugar.

The first thing I added was a half a gallon of water…. I will be adding more later and some apple juice.

The fruit I am using are for flavor more than anything. Citrus fruit does not ferment fast or easy but it does add the acidity that you need for good flavor. My recipe calls for 1 lemon and 3 oranges . I add them and 1 box ( 2  1/2 cups) of white raisins to the tea. The raisins provide a nice flavor and a nutrient base for the yeast to grown on. I Also add 2 cups of 100% apple juice for the same reason as the raisins. At this time I also add spices to the tea. I use cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. I love mulled wine so I just thought I would save myself a step an add the spices into the wine, just a personal preference here.

Lemon, Orange and white raisins for a golden wine

Lemon, Orange and white raisins for a golden wine

 

100% apple juice as a nutrient starter for yeast adding more gold color

100% apple juice as a nutrient starter for yeast adding more gold color

Campden tablets get crushed and added to wine mixture

Campden tablets get crushed and added to wine mixture

cinnamon stick for flavore in wine

cinnamon stick for flavor in wine

Now lets talk about the Campden tablets for a second, They stop wild yeast growth and lots of bacteria and sanitize your wine, they help to remove chlorine and other water additives. I used filtered bottled water for my wine but if you use tap water this will help remove the flavor. My easy to fallow rule is one tablet for 1 gallon of wine. I Crushed and added them to the tea and fruit mixture to kill any wild yeast that could be growing on the fruit.Wild yeast loves over ripe fruit so do not use it as it could turn the wine you are working so hard to make into a nice rotten batch of vinegar. Stopping the wild yeast also lets you introduce the type of yeast you want for wine making.  You can certainly use regular old bread yeast to make wine but if you want to make the best tasting wine it is better to use a yeast for your type of wine. Also Campen tablets let you control the length of fermentation better. You know when you add the yeast and how much yeast, rather than letting wild yeast control you.  So adding the tablets now stops any strange bacteria and yeast growth that you may have accidentally added to your brew and you start out with a nice clean fresh product to add the  Montrachet yeast to. You should add the Campden tablets at least 24 hours before adding the yeast.

The next and most messy is adding the sugar that the yeast will have to convert into alcohol. The general rule is 4 cups sugar  per gallon of wine. In my case I added twelve cups of sugar to the tea and then took a measurement with a tool for wine making called a hydrometer.This is a way to measure the sugar content in the wine and  project alcohol level of the wine after fermentation. They are a complex tool and you may want to learn more about how to use all the things they can do. The tool is also used in beer and liquor making.

Hydrometer flouting in the tea mixture

Hydrometer flouting in the tea mixture

Thermometer and Hydrometer

Thermometer and Hydrometer

After taking the reading off the hydrometer I went to the included chart and 1.09 specific gravity = dry wine and we wanted something a little sweeter so I needed a specific gravity around 1.11 to 1.14, sweet wine runs 1.15 to 1.17. I measured in at 1.10 so with 12 cups of sugar I was low for the sweetness I was looking for.My projected alcohol count was to low also  at about 8%. We need more sugar to make a product that was med-sweet and had an alcohol content of 12%. So I added 4 more cups of sugar, mixing them in two at a time and taking a measurement each time.My final product was 1.130 specific gravity and projected alcohol content a little high at 14%. I will adjust the alcohol content later at bottling by adding water to the mixture to reach the exact amount of alcohol in the batch if that is a concern. Since this is a home-made batch it will not matter too much as I am not selling this in the retail market.

Organges, Lemons, spices and raisins are added to the tea

Oranges, Lemons, spices and raisins added to the tea

Now that we have added all of our flavorings to the tea, the half gallon of water, the campden tablets, and almost ten pounds of sugar to the tea, we are ready to let this mixture sit for about 48 hours.This steeps the raisins and spices flavor into the tea/sugar mixture. This also gives the campden tablets time to kill any wild yeast  before adding in the my wine yeast.

So two to three days later I open up my bucket and see this.

soaked raisins oranges and lemons floating in tea

soaked raisins oranges and lemons floating in tea

The mixture is ready for yeast and getting the fermentation started.

To get the yeast ready I placed 2 cups warm water in a measuring cup with a thermometer and looked for a temperature between 100 degrees and 105 degrees. I opened the package of yeast and dumped it into the water, mixed and waited for the yeast to get frothy, around ten minutes. I then add it to my bucket of fruit and tea and mixed well. The tea will start to bubble very shortly after adding the yeast.  

warm water with thermometer and yeast

warm water with thermometer and yeast

I got my yeast off the internet from northernbrewer.com a nice med to dry wine yeast that can handle higher amounts of alcohol. Yeast will eventually die from too much alcohol.This one is good up to 13 % alcohol per volume, table wine is usually 12% and home-brew is usually about 14% if you like a sweeter wine higher if you like a dryer wine. We are hoping for an alcohol percent about 12%. I also bought my campen tablets, air lock, bottles and other supplies at this website.

This bubbly frothy mixture we now need to strain out of the “primary” ferment container into the “Secondary” or Carboy bottle. I just took a slotted spoon and pulled out the larger pieces of fruit and spices then strained the remaining tea mixture through a muslin fruit straining bag over my funnel. Get a large one if you hope to make other fruit wines or jelly this one is a med size and would have worked better if it was just a little bigger.

straining the fruit must from the new wine

straining the fruit must from the new wine

Now remove the funnel and add a universal bunghole with an hole and the air lock itself.

bunghole and airlock in place

bunghole and airlock in place

Fill the airlock half way with water to allow for the Co2 to escape and to prevent air from entering the bottle.  Again you do not want any wild yeast or germs or bugs into the wine.With in just minutes of moving this bottle to its hiding place it began to move the water in the air lock into one side of the tubes and was bubbling out Co2 out the top.Within hours our home was about 72 degrees and the bubbling was constant.

 

carboy with airlock hidden away under my kitchen counter

carboy with airlock hidden away under my kitchen counter

I placed the “secondary”  carboy under my kitchen counter. It is out of the families way and in the shade from the sun. Ten days from now I can taste a nip and do another check with my hydrometer to see if all the sugar is gone and to see what % of alcohol we have. If I hit 14% we know that we are at the end of fermentation.

The next post at the end of the ten days will be about racking the wine and bottling it. This is the final steps in the process and then ageing the wine about 6 months to a year in recommended.

 

 

Here is my recipe for Dandelion wine

 

16 cups of sugar ( about ten pounds)

2 1/2 gallons filtered water, two cups warm water for yeast

3 quarts dandelion petals. We picked about 4 to get this

3 oranges

1 lemon

2 1/2 cup golden raisins… or one box

2 cups apple juice

2 cinnamon sticks

20 whole cloves

1 packet powered wine yeast

3 campden tablets

and fallow the above directions…

Thank you for stopping by this  is my most exciting project of the year.Hope you enjoy it as much as I have making it!

 

Categories: Dandelions, fermentation, Foraging, home brewing, organic drinks, wild food, wine | Tags: , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Weekend Forage Feast, Chives and Watercress

my weekend collection of foraged foods, Ramps, Parsnips, Watercress, Chives, a land turtle shell and a shelf mushroom( not edible)

my weekend collection of foraged foods, Ramps, Parsnips, Watercress, Chives, a land turtle shell and a shelf mushroom  (not edible),but fun to look at.

The spring has finally arrived for a few days here in the mountains of West Virginia. I am so thankful for the warming sun. The weather was finally warm enough (even in my cast) we were able to spend the day with family friends foraging on and around their homestead. We are in the middle of Ramp season here and the whole state is out looking for the wonderful wild leek. The community dinners have started and the cooking has begun. I have written about Ramps the Wild leek  before for those of you who have not heard of them. Today’s Post is going to cover a couple of other wild greens that grow and ripen at the same time in the spring as Ramps. First, is another wild onion that all most everyone has heard of and that is Chives. Another aromatic member of the onion family.

wild chives

wild chives

This little guys packs a punch of wonderful hot peppery goodness in the greens although the bulbs are sweet. This is a very close photo of what they look like and makes them appear larger then they are. The tiny leaves are not round like a green onions but more a flat ribbon. They are a Kentucky blue grass-green rather than the blue /green/gray of wild onions. These also grow more like a grass in clumps rather than the single stem of wild onions. The field we were working in looked like this with thousands of chives clumps above the short growing grass of spring.

Photo of wild chives growing the back yard photo by Pamela Silvestri

Photo of wild chives growing the back yard photo by Pamela Silvestri

I gathered 5 or 6 clumps of these flavorful plants and took home enough for several meals. I also wanted to transplant a few so that I would have them ready next year. So now I have a pot full that I can grow right on the porch and I will get to see them bloom each summer. The other green that we collected  were Watercress and sadly they are at the end of the their season already. They are early bloomers and are most tasty before they get the hard stalks with blooms.They are primarily a March green one of the first that is found every year.

Watercress close up

Watercress close up

They are most often found around the edges of a creeks or streams but in our case here in West Virginia they will grow any where their is a damp place this includes under the eves of my house where the water runs off the roof. This is a photo of the full-grown plant just before blooming.

Watercress growing in the back yard about to bloom

Watercress growing in the back yard about to bloom

The flavor of watercress reminds me of spinach and the nutritional value is twice or three times that of iceberg lettuces . So it is an easy to use addition to any salad or cooked green. So with some of the freshly foraged foods that we found with our friends Kenny and Sylvia we were able to make  a couple of nice salads, a skillet full of fried Parsnips and a couple of dinners with fried Ramps. All free, All organic and with twice the nutritional value of store-bought foods.

My friends and the property that we foraged  on this weekend

My friends and the property that we foraged on this weekend

The salad that I made was the highlight of our dinner last evening. A ramp, watercress salad with pecans and blue cheese crumbles.

Ramp Watercress and Pecan salad

Ramp Watercress and Pecan salad

The this salads recipe adjusts  with any ingredients that you find that day but this is what we used for dinner that evening. Watercress, Ramp, Pecan salad. 1 cup iceberg lettuce torn into bite size pieces 1 cup baby spinach torn into bite size pieces. 1 cup Watercress torn into bite size piece. 4 ramps cleaned and diced small. 2 table spoons blue cheese crumbles. 1/3 cup pecans chopped. topped with 2 table spoons fresh chopped chives. Tom and I like this salad with a nice light vinaigrette or a sweet Russian or French dressing. I served this salad with broiled pineapple slices and Teriyaki pork chops. It was a wonderful light spring meal.

Teriyaki pork chops, Candied grilled Pineapple and wild greens salad

Teriyaki pork chops, Candied grilled Pineapple and wild greens salad

I encourage you to think out side of the “Produce Section” box. Finding and eating wild food is a skill that I am still building on every year. I try to add at least one new wild food to my foraging every year. I encourage you to look at your yard or property as a place to feed you family and grow better heath.Not only with in your garden but the wild weeds that grow near your home. I also encourage you to think about taking care of your own family in a time of trouble. Eating the weeds is just another way of preparing for an uncertain future. I know my family will eat well even when others may not.    “Just food for thought “.                                      Thanks again for stopping by and eating along with me.

Categories: Chives, cooking, Foraging, Hardwood forest, Homestead, organic foods, ramps, Watercress, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Organic Store Bought Juice makes Great Cherry Jelly

small jars of organic cherry jelly

small jars of organic cherry jelly cooling

The easiest way to make a jar of home-made jelly or jam is hiding on a store shelf and we just never think of using it.  For small batches of jellies and Jam there is no reason you can not use a store-bought juice.The only requirement   is that the juice must have NO sugar added. 

Our small town Kroger is closing, so I did what everyone does when a store closes. I hit the sale shelves for bargains. Well the one I found most interesting was that 100% organic, no sugar added juices were clearanced down to $1.00 for 32 oz.  So I bought a couple along with 10 pounds of organic sugar and a 50% off sale of pectin. I knew that a winter jelly mix up was in order on one of these cold snowy days

organic black cherry juice

organic black cherry juice

As with any jelly making that I do, I look up what I want to make in a Ball canning book and read up on what the recommendations are for this type of juice. Black Cherry is very sweet when compared to a choke cherry or sour cherry. The more sour the fruit the more acidic it is, so my juice will be low in acid. I chose to use two table spoons of lemon juice to correct this problem and  followed the advice of my cook book and used two full packets of Sure-Gell  liquid pectin.  So with just 3 cups of a nice flavored juice and 6 1/2 cups of sugar, a little lemon juice and some pectin I was able to put together about 7 half pints of organic jelly in about thirty mins for about 1 dollar a jar. Not a bad way to spend a morning if you ask me and my family.

As always I wash and sterilize my jars, lids, and rings in a boiling water bath. I always add at least on extra jar to what the directions say, I have many times had about a full extra jar of jelly after filling.

boiling water bath full of jars lids and rings

boiling water bath full of jars lids and rings

Then add the juice, sugar and lemon to a 7 quart stock pot and raise the temperature slowly to a rolling boil

boiling cherry juice, sugar and lemon juice

boiling cherry juice, sugar and lemon juice

Let this mixture boil one minute then add two packets of liquid Pectin. Slowly return mixture to full boil that will not beat down with stirring and cook one full minute. Remove from heat and remove any foam with spoon.

cleaning jelly jars

cleaning jelly jars

Ladle very hot syrup into prepared jars that are cooling on towels. I some times use rubber gloves for this as getting burned by hot sugar syrup is a terrible. I also use a canning funnel keep the jars as clean as possible. If all goes well a nice thin veil of jelly will form across the top of each jar as soon as it cools a bit. I then take a spoon and slide this film and all the bubbles off the top each jar, dispose of this thick foamy jell into a bowl or saucer. Wipe down every jar making sure the top lip is very clean to make a good seal on the lids. Seal jars  with clean rings and lids allow to cool and wait for the typical popping sound of a seal jar.

Black Cherry Juice jelly

3 cups black cherry juice (mine was organic)

6 1/2 cups of sugar ( mine was fair trade organic)

two table spoons  lemon juice

One full box, two pouches liquid Pectin

7 half pint jars lids and rings

With the remaining bottle of juice I plan to make an organic Black Cherry Jam adding in a blender full of thawed no sugar added black cherries to this basic recipe. I will still need the lemon and the two pouches of pectin but this will use up the other juice and add a little texture to the spread.  The family loves the idea and has already started eating the jelly.

toast with organic black cherry jelly

toast with organic black cherry jelly

Categories: canning, Jelly, organic Black Cherry, organic foods, Preserving | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Apple Cider Jelly and Apple Butter from One Batch of Apples

aplle cider jelly my best jelly so far

half pints of apple jelly

  This summer I was so fortunate to receive a gift of about 60 pounds of apples from a neighbors tree. I made several things from the free organic apples, pies, apple sauce,  jelly and apple butter. The nice thing was that with the raw apples I could make both apple jelly and apple butter out of the same apples. A two for one deal. I was happy when I realised that all I needed was apple pulp for the apple butter and just the juice for the jelly and they could be worked back to back. If I could just get a whole day to do it all.

fresh picked apples

fresh picked apples

  I though about what I needed to do to combine the recipes for both the apple jelly and apple butter. I needed to make a juice or cider then  I could make apple butter as soon as I was able to get the apple pulp through the food mill and into the slow cookers. I did use two slow cookers for this batch  of apple butter each holding about 2 1/2 quarts of apple pulp.

  The process is a simple and easy one. I cut up unpeeled small apples into quarters. The ones I used for the apple jelly/butter  were smaller than the ones for apple sauce and pies. I placed the apples on the stove with about a 3/4 full  pot full of water (about 4 quarts of water). Cooking the apples down to a sauce took about 20 minutes. This time I wanted the skins and peals still on as I cooked the apples down. The natural pectin in the apple skins would help the jelly set up later in the process.

small quartered apples in stock pot with water

small quartered apples in stock pot with water

   Once it appears that the apples had cooked down I strained the chunky sauce through two sheets of cheese cloth in a strainer to remove the majority of the juice. Once cooled, I pressed the juice out into a bowl.

Apple pulp, sauce in strainer with cheese cloth

Apple pulp, in strainer with cheese cloth

Pressing apple sauce to get remaining juice

Pressing apple sauce to get remaining juice

  I poured the juice into half-gallon jars to let the juice separate a little more so the jelly would be clear from using only a juice with no pulp. I let it rest over night to make the jelly in the morning. The remaining thick  pulp is slowly processed through the Foodmill when cool.

unfiltered apple juice

unfiltered apple juice

  Then I run the remaining plup through the food mill to remove the peals, seeds and lumps.

food mill over pot ready for apples

food mill over pot ready for apples

without the apple peals the sauce should look like this

very thick apple sauce ready to turn to apple butter

very thick apple sauce ready to turn to apple butter

   I then moved the thick sauce to two slow cookers added the sugar and some spices and  covered  the mixture and let cook on low for around 18 hours stirring every 4 or 5 hours.Near the end of the 12th hour I add more spices and sugar to gain a sweeter,stronger flavor. Taste testing and thickness testing is good at about 12 hours.

two slow cookers 1/2 full of apple butter ingredants

two slow cookers 1/2 full of apple butter ingredients

   While the apple butter cooked all night and some of the next morning, I had time to clarify the apple juice. I slowly poured the juice off the top of the jars and then restrained the pulp at the bottom with 4 sheets of cheese cloth. This really cleans the juice if done slowly to remove as much of the pulp as possible. I washed out my cheese cloth between jars of juice to clear away any clogging apple bits.When I was finish straining I poured the clear juice into a stock pot to make the jelly. Measuring out 5 cups of juice at a time.

1 gallon fresh apple juice on stove ready to turn to jelly

1 gallon fresh apple juice on stove ready to turn to jelly

    As with any jelly, jam or butter you need clean sterile jars, lids and rings. I was boiling them about the same time I was pouring the juice through the cheese cloth that way they were  freshly sterile and warm when the jelly was ready to ladle into the jars.

     The idea for this jelly came from my childhood. My aunt often invited my mother, brother and I over for at least one holiday dinner every year. Often it was Easter dinner and as I was so little she always offered me apple cider  to drink instead of the wine that the adults drank during Easter. I loved the warm drink , she would serve her cider in a white teacup with a slice of orange in the bottom and a Cinnamon stick tipping out the top of the cup. I drank more than my fair share of the cider and wanted to make something that tasted like what I remembered as a kid and this is what I came up with.

Following the basic instructions for an apple jelly recipe in the Sure Jell box you will need.

5 cups apple juice

2 table spoons strained orange juice or lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

7 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon butter or margarine

1 pack liquid Pectin

1. measure correct amount of juice into sauce pot. Add 1/2 teaspoon butter or margarine to reduce foaming if desired.

2. stir sugar into fruit juice bring mixture to a full rolling boil( a boil that does not go down when stirred)  over high heat.

3. Add liquid pectin quickly. Return to full boil and boil for one minute exactly stirring constantly. Remove from heat and ladle  into prepared jars. leaving 1/8 inch head space. skimming tops of jars with wooden spoon to remove foam.

4. Wipe jars, add lids and rings place in a boiling water bath canner, adding enough water to cover jars with one to two inches of water. Bring to a gentil boil and process for five minutes. Remove to cool on clean towels and listen for the lids to pop and seal as cooling. Some jelly takes time to set up.. apple is not usually one of these as the natural pectin and the Sure Jell make this a firm fast setting jelly with a gold color and tiny spices mixed though out.

Apple jelly in jars

Apple jelly in jars

 Then as the jelly cooled I took time to look over the apple butter again. The  teaspoon test is the best way to see if you apple butter is thick enough to put in the jars. When you think the color and thickness is getting where you have reduced the apple sauce mixture about one inch inside the crock pot take a teaspoon and scoop out a small amount of the apple butter and turn the spoon side ways and see how much juice seeps out of the sauce. Ideally their will be almost no juice leaking out of the apple butter.It should be a dark almost chestnut-brown color and very thick much to thick for apple sauce. I adjust the spices and sugar about the time the juice is about gone  to make sure the flavors have time to blend together.Usually a couple of hours before I stop simmering the apple butter.

finished slow cooker apple butter

finished slow cooker apple butter

Slow Cooker Apple Butter made from Apple Sauce.

1. 4 quarts apple sauce in a 5 quart slow cooker or 2 slow cookers with apples split between them.

2. 4 cups sugar split, three cups at beginning of cooking the other added if needed at the end of cooking.

3. 1 tablespoon cinnamon

4. 1/4  teaspoon cloves

5. 1  teaspoon allspice

Mix together and cook on low for about 16 to 18 hours if using one slow cooker, about 9 in two slow cookers. Ladle into clean sterile jars leveling about 1/8 inch head space. Wipe jar lip and cover with lids and rings. Cover jars with two inches of water and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. Remove jars to cool and check seals and enjoy.

finished jars of apple butter 2013

finished jars of apple butter 2013

  This project turned into one of the best ways I can think of to use up a large buckets of smaller apples. With a 8 quart stock pot full of cut apples I ended up with about 9 half pints of cider jelly and about 5 pints of apple butter. I repeated this process twice and had enough jelly and apple butter to give out as holiday gifts this year and still have a few for our family until the next crop of apples appears. 

  Thanks to my lovely Aunt Marjorie Snyder and her love of making jams, jellies and serving me the best apple cider ever!

Categories: apple butter, apple cider jelly, apple sauce, cooking, Jelly, organic foods, Preserving | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wild Turkey, and our the dinner table

  Turkey season in West Virginia starts on the first week of May and runs through to the end of the month. My Husband started hunting the timid birds as  teen with some success, but  had taken many years off from hunting them recently. With more time to pursue hunting, Tom thought it would nice to see if turkeys were still in the area. Within  two trips to the woods he brough home this. A nice gobbler that was not to old to eat and enjoy.

Tom and Christopher with years first wild turkey

Tom and Christopher with years first wild turkey

Then  my husband teased our older son Cody  “you need to see if you could keep up with the old man” and get one for himself. Well in “show up  my dad style” my son also got his turkey the very next day. Two large gobblers in two days what a great weekend.GE DIGITAL CAMERA

 So early friday morning I got my first lesson on wild turkey cleaning, processing and cooking. With the help of family friends, we were able to get a quick lesson on cleaning a turkey.Ken suggested that we “NOT CLEAN” the whole bird. “You will only need to clean the whole bird if you are not going to roast it” he stated.Ken also suggested that we only “remove the breast and thighs of the bird to eat and leave the rest.” So by mid morning,working on the tail gate of our pick up, my husband and I removed the parts of the bird that we planed to eat. We also removed the tail fathers and wings for crafts with natural fathers. By skinning the bird instead of plucking it, the entire process took less than 20 minutes we had no feathers to remove and no entrails to clean up. The meat was fresh and clean and ready to eat or freeze quicker then I could drive to the local store to buy meat.

  With the meat removed, washed and frozen. I started the process of looking and asking friends about their favorite Wild Turkey recipes. Wild Turkey is extremely low in fat and moisture and can easily be over cooked. So, with this in mind I went to the National Wild Turkey Federations web site for help…at www.nwtf.org/tips_adventures/recipes.php. They have a nice collection of recipes and Tom and I chose one for Turkey cutlets.

 The process is very simple and the list of ingredients is short, almost everyone will have these items in their home. All of these items can switched out with store-bought organics… making a 100% organic main course

2 whole wild turkey breasts

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/3 bottle of zesty Italian salad dressing ( I use Wishbone)

1/4 of a pound real butter

First take the wild turkey breast and cut slices across the grain of the meat about 1/4 of an inch thick. The slices will vary in size, some  large and some small. I also cut the tender strip of meat that is on the back of the breast and removed the tough tissues  from its middle section before cooking.  

Place all the these pieces into a  gallon zip lock bag adding enough zesty italian salad dressing to cover the turkey and mix dressing  into the  meat to cover every piece.

Let sit in refrigerator for about 3 hours.

Turkey cutlets after  marinading for 3 hours

Turkey cutlets after 3 hours in marinade

heat 3 teaspoons butter in large skillet and roll cutlets in remaining ingredients of flour, salt and pepper mixture.

Fry cutlets over low heat until turkey is firm and is easily picked up with a fork. This may take more time for larger cutlets and short time for smaller ones.

Wild turkey rolled in coating mixture

Wild turkey rolled in coating mixture

Turkey cutlets cooking

Turkey cutlets cooking

 Brown them slowly on both sides( low to low-med heat) adding butter as needed. I remove the first batch to a paper towel covered plate, putting them in a 200 deg oven to keep warm, as I fry the next batch of turkey. Two breasts easily feeds 4 to 5 adults and we have found that the kids love these home-made turkey tenders also.When serving the cutlets if they are not cooked to long, we omit any sauces. But, if you like to dip chicken/ turkey in a  sauce we used honey mustard, and it was very good.

The flavor of the turkey is mild, yet more buttery then domestic turkey,  cooked this way it has become a family favorite. As of this weekend, we have eaten every bite of the 4 turkey breasts the boys brought home this spring. My family will have to wait until next year to have this dinner again, and that is a long time coming. Now I may just have to get my gun out and get my own next year.

Happy hunting and cooking, hope to have another Wild Turkey recipe posted soon.Wild Turkey Pot Pie… this one is our own family creation. I just have to redo the spices and type up some thing our family already loves.

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, back woods, country cooking, Hunting, organic foods, West Virginia, wild food, Wild turkey, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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