Real Food
Savor the flavors of everyday real food, fresh from the garden or stored on your pantry shelves.

Take a Bite into Vegetable-Based Beyond Burgers with these Recipes

Cheesy Wisconsin Beyond Burger

Most of us don’t raise our own beef cattle, let alone slaughter them on the farm. Even vegetarians may crave a great burger from time to time, topped with homegrown tomatoes, lettuce and perhaps, homemade mayo. Burgers made with mushrooms, soy beans or beets, while delicious in their own right, often miss the texture or “meaty” taste of a beef burger. But with Beyond Burger from Beyond Meat, you can get the great flavor, taste and nutrition of a burger without ever having to take a bite into beef.

My wife and I had a chance to try Beyond Burgers at the National Restaurant Association’s NRA Show in Chicago recently and we picked up some more to try at home and with our very omnivorous son who’s become quite a beef burger connoisseur – especially for those sourced locally, raised on pasture and organic.

The Beyond Burgers are plant-based with the protein largely from peas, yet have more protein than a comparable beef-based burger. Interestingly, the Beyond Burger also has more calories, sodium and fat than a typical beef burger according to its nutrition label on the package. Beyond Burgers are free of antibiotics, hormones, GMOs, soy or gluten. As for taste, texture and flavor, they’re so good that my son wanted seconds. Vegans will love these.

 Beyond Meat Burger Comparison

The Beyond Burger can be grilled or fried in a skillet, with the patties turning from red to brown on the outside as they cook, staying firm. The burgers take about 3 minutes per side for cooking, sizzle like beef when fried, look like a burger between the bun after cooked -- and even “bleed,” thanks to the beet juice inside them.

Sold in either the refrigerated or frozen section of a grocery store, often in the meat section, Beyond Burgers can be found in many national chains like Whole Foods, Safeway and Kroger. They must remain refrigerated prior to use and completely thawed in the refrigerator prior to cooking.

“Our ingredients are sourced from well vetted and trusted vendors, some domestic and some international,” explains Allison Aronoff, Communications Manager for Beyond Burger. “Beyond Meat uses potato maltodextrin, which is non-GMO and while we aren't currently certified organic, we hope to secure certification in the future.” Beyond Meat is clearly on a mission to feed the planet while improving human health, conserving natural resources and lessening the impact of large-scale livestock on climate change by providing a delicious, plant-based burger alternative.

We came up with a few burger recipe variations that use our seasonal abundance at Inn Serendipity Farm and Bed & Breakfast, like cucumbers, garlic, tomatoes and spinach. Always looking for new ways to enjoy cucumbers, we love using Tzatziki sauce in the place of ketchup, relish and mustard for our Grecian Beyond Burger. Since we’re known for our German red garlic and are fortunate to have the Emmi Roth Cheese Factory in Monroe that makes many award-winning varieties of European style cheeses, we put the two together for our Cheesy Wisconsin Beyond Burger.  Skip the cheese or substitute non-dairy options for yogurt and make either burgers completely vegan. We served both our versions on soft pretzel burger buns from Pretzilla.

 Grecian Beyond Burger

Grecian Beyond Burger

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 medium cucumber, finely diced, draining away excess liquid
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup Greek yogurt
• ½ tbsp lemon juice
1/8 cup fresh mint, chopped finely
½ tsp salt
4 pack Beyond Burgers
7-8 large spinach or lettuce leaves
1 large tomato, sliced
4 small pita rounds or brioche buns

Directions for tzatziki sauce:

In a small bowl, mix together the cucumber, garlic, Green yogurt, lemon juice, mint and salt.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.

Directions for Grecian Beyond Burger:

Prepare Beyond Burgers, following the package instructions.

On top of lower bun, add a layer of spinach or lettuce, then the grilled or fried Beyond Burger. Top the burger with a dollop of Tzatziki sauce, tomato slice and bun.

Cheesy Wisconsin Beyond Burger

Serves: 4

Ingredients for Garlic Aioli:

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 cloves, crushed

Directions for garlic aioli:

Mix thoroughly, mayonnaise, garlic and salt.

Refrigerate unused aioli for up to one week.

Ingredients for burger:

4 pack Beyond Burgers
¼ pound Roth Prairie Sunset cheese, sliced
1 large tomato, sliced
5-6 lettuce or spinach leaves

Directions for Cheesy Wisconsin Beyond Burger:

Prepare Beyond Burgers, following the package instructions. After flipping once, add slice of cheese to melt on top of the burger.

On top of lower bun, add a layer of spinach or lettuce, then the grilled or fried Beyond Burger with cheese. Top the cheeseburger with a dollop of garlic aioli, tomato slice and bun.

John D. Ivanko, with his wife Lisa Kivirist, have co-authored Rural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winning ECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by the wind and sun. Both are speakers at the Mother Earth News Fairs. As a writer and photographer, Ivanko contributes to Mother Earth News, most recently, 9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son Liam, millions of ladybugs and a 10 kW Bergey wind turbine. Read all of John's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Homemade Deviled-Ham Spread

 

There’s always a bit of ham leftover from a baked ham. I always save that last bit for future bean pots but sometimes there’s more than needed. That’s when I make up a tub of deviled ham spread. It’s something like the old classic Underwood that comes in the paper-wrapped can, but it’s better, fresher and I know exactly what’s in it.

And, it seems nearly free for the making. Probably all the ingredients are already on hand. You’ll want a mini-prep food processor for this.

This recipe comes out a little on the spicy side, with a definite bite. If you’re serving small children or a “delicate palate” leave out the Colman’s. If you taste and think it could be spicier, add maybe a drop of Tabasco sauce. Here’s the recipe for the sweet pickles I use.

Makes 7 ounces

Ingredients:

• About 6 ounces of cooked, leftover baked ham
• 2 tbsp diced sweet pickle
• 2 tbsp mayonnaise
• 1 tsp Dijon mustard
• ¼ tsp Colman’s Mustard powder*
• 1 tsp syrup from the pickles
• 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
• several grinds of the pepper mill

Directions:

1. Cut the ham into small chunks, less than an inch and put into the bowl of the mini-prep. Give it a couple pulses to get started.

2. Add in the rest of the ingredients and process to a nice spread, not quite smooth. Stop a time or two to scrape down the sides. When it’s almost smooth, give it a taste and decide if it needs more zing for your taste. Add a drop of Tabasco or maybe a dribble of pickle syrup or a dab of mustard.

3. Spoon the spread into a crock, cover tightly and store in the fridge. It will keep for at least several days. Serve as a cold sandwich spread or on crackers for a quick nibble.

Wendy Akin is happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Oven Roasted Chicken Recipe from Chef Schuster of Ollie Food and Spirits

ollie-chef_3763

Whether you built your own outdoor, wood-fired oven or purchased one like we did from Forno Bravo, pizzas are just one of the many items that can be made in your oven. From artisanal breads to roasted chicken, with a little practice, your oven can be used for a wide range of dishes. Thanks to the cottage food law in Wisconsin, we’re perfecting our Latvian rye bread. Sometimes recipes can leave your indoor kitchen smoky. So, being able to prepare an oven roasted dish outdoors may make the best sense.

On a recent culinary excursion to Ypsilanti, Michigan, I had a chance to savor a farm-to-table meal at Ollie Food & Spirits where Chef Travis Schuster prepared his mouth-watering Helen’s Chicken, an herbed breadcrumb encrusted, oven roasted chicken. The moist chicken with its unique pesto coating blew me away with its flavor.

As it turns out, Chef Schuster is serious about farm-to-table cuisine at Ollie Food & Spirits, having spent some time in the growing fields as a farmer himself. “The food is important and unbelievably delicious, sure, but the real benefit for me is getting to know these people that I rely on for ingredients,” he explains related to his approach to working with farmers.

“This is how we build strong, lasting communities and foodways,” Schuster says. “I want to get to know a person, their stories, what drives them. I'm way more likely to pay top dollar for a pretty good tomato from someone who is passionate about taking care of the land than for a ‘perfect’ tomato from someone who's just trying to make money. Luckily, the farmers I work with are both passionate about the land and grow mind blowing tomatoes.”

“The stronger the interpersonal relationships within our foodways, the more sustainable and secure they become,” he adds. “This is something that industrialized and commodity farming completely destroyed. If I need something for the kitchen and one farmer doesn't have it, odds are they'll point me to a neighbor. Conversely, if a farmer comes to me with an ingredient I don't have a need for, I can usually find another chef that does. We all want each other to succeed, and success for us means a healthy community with easy access to nutritious and sustainable food.”

Under Schuster’s direction, Ollie Food & Spirits’ menu changes every couple of months and is based on what’s seasonally available and fresh locally. “I came to cooking from farming,” shares Schuster. “I started off interning and volunteering, and eventually met someone like minded and we leased an acre. We sold produce to several restaurants. I'd always had an amateur passion for cooking and it was only a matter of time before I followed the food into the kitchen.”

After some nudging, Chef Schuster shared his amazing chicken recipe below, perfect for those of us with a wood fired outdoor oven, since roasting the chicken at a high temperature can result in some smoke. “This is a recipe from my childhood based on the herbed breadcrumb encrusted chicken breasts that my grandma would feed us whenever we visited her home in Dearborn, Michigan,” explains Schuster. “While I don’t have much of an appetite for boneless skinless chicken breasts coated in canned breadcrumbs these days, I often yearn for the comfort and warmth of my grandma’s kitchen, which I hope you’ll find captured in this dish.”

“The idea behind this method of roasting a chicken which I picked up working at Spencer in Ann Arbor is to dry out the skin while locking in moisture, using salt and exposure to open air,” explains Schuster. “You then roast the chicken at a very high temperature so that the outside crisps up perfectly while the desired internal temperature is hit so quickly that very little moisture has time to escape. The result perfectly crispy skin and juicy, flavorful meat.” He’s not exaggerating on this point one bit.

“To roast the chicken, get the oven very hot,” advises Schuster. “At the restaurant, we roast the chicken at 500-degrees Fahrenheit, which tends to produce quite a bit of smoke, so make sure there is some ventilation.” This is why an outdoor, wood-fired oven makes perfect sense for this recipe. For those who want to give this recipe a try inside with a conventional home oven, prepare yourself for a smoke detector nightmare. Make sure you can vent your kitchen and be able to open the windows, if need be.

“For this method you’ll want a four to four and a half pound bird,” he adds. “And, of course, always try to get a fresh, local, free-range bird. The difference in flavor and texture is between a small farm bird and what you find in the supermarket is monumental.” His last point is nothing new for many of us homesteaders raising our own broilers.

Helen’s Chicken

By Chef Travis Schuster, Ollie Food & Spirits

Ingredients for Chicken

1 whole chicken (fresh and free-range, if at all possible)
¼ cup kosher salt

Ingredients: For the Simple Pesto Rub

2 cups basil (try and find some different varieties, we use a blue basil that has wildly unique flavor)
1 cup greens (we use our leftover turnip and radish greens, but pretty much anything you have about will do: spinach, arugula, chard, etc.)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil (or whatever oil you prefer to cook with)
juice of half a lemon
1½ tsp. salt
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs, toasted to a light gold

Directions

1. The day before you want to roast the chicken, remove it from its packaging and pat it dry with paper towels. Set it on a roasting rack over a cookie sheet and rub all over, inside and out, with salt. “It will seem like too much, but it’s not, trust me,” says Schuster. Once nicely covered with salt, put in the bottom of your fridge (not in a drawer) UNCOVERED, and let rest overnight.

2. To roast the chicken, get the oven very hot. At the restaurant, the chicken is roasted at 500-degrees Fahrenheit, which tends to produce quite a bit of smoke. Make sure there is some ventilation. An hour before you’re ready to roast the chicken, pull it out of the fridge and let it sit out to take the chill off of it. Just before roasting, truss the chicken and place it on a roasting rack. Roast the chicken until the internal temperature hits 155-degrees Fahrenheit, rotating once.

3. While the chicken roasts, make the Simple Pesto Rub. Combine everything in a food processor or blender and process until smooth, scraping down the sides once or twice. If you don’t have either of those appliances, simply mince the greens and basil up and stir everything together in a bowl.

4. Once the chicken is out, lower the oven temperature to 450-degrees Fahrenheit. Now apply the pesto and breadcrumbs to the chicken. The easiest way to do this is to put on a pair of latex or vinyl gloves to protect your hands from the hot bird, and rub the pesto all over it. If you don’t have gloves on hand, try using a silicone brush or wait until the bird cools enough to apply it by hand without gloves.

5. Once coated in pesto, sprinkle all over with a hefty layer of toasted breadcrumbs, using your hands to press some onto the sides and legs. Place the bird back in the oven (careful, the pan is likely still hot!) and roast another ten to fifteen minutes, until the internal temperature hits 165-degrees Fahrenheit. Let the chicken rest for ten minutes before carving.

John D. Ivanko, with his wife Lisa Kivirist, have co-authored Rural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winning ECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by the wind and sun. Both are speakers at the Mother Earth News Fairs. As a writer and photographer, Ivanko contributes to Mother Earth News, most recently,9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living”. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son Liam, millions of ladybugs and a 10 kW Bergey wind turbine. Read all of John's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

 

Baking Powder Biscuits, Step by Step

 

I’ve been away for a while, but have a whole new approach to my blogs for you. With the blessings of MOTHER, and my wonderful editor Heidi, we have decided to do recipes with step by step photos. This first one will be an easy one, Baking Powder Biscuits, but the results will be fabulous. Everyone loves a hot biscuit, slathered with butter. My mouth is watering just thinking about this. In this new approach, you will be able to see (almost) each step, starting with the ingredients, the mixing, cutting, and baking. Also, I feel this is a more personal approach, because you will walk with me through the entire process. You will get everything but the heat of the oven and the smell of baking biscuits.

Let's begin with the ingredients:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup butter, chilled & cubed
1 cup buttermilk

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, place the flours, cornstarch, baking powder and soda, and salt. Stir.

3. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until there are no large pieces.

4. Add the buttermilk, stirring with a fork to make a dough. If the dough is too stiff or dry, you may add some more buttermilk.

5. Once dough has come together, turn out on a floured board and knead briefly.

6. Pat dough into a square or round (depending if you want square or round biscuits) about 2 inches thick.

7. Cut into squares about 2 inches square, or use a round cookie cutter or biscuit cutter. I use a pizza cutter for the square ones, goes very quickly and easily. 

8. Place biscuits on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.

9. Bake until they are golden brown on top, about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them, you do not want them over baked. 

10. When done, cool on a wire rack, or for immediate consumption, slather with butter, enjoy.

Biscuits do not keep well in my opinion and are best eaten fresh, still hot from the oven. For shortcake, do cool them, split, add strawberries and cream, voila, you have dessert.

You can follow the further adventures of Sue or sign up for a class at her website: www.svanslooten.com or email: susan.vanslooten@icloud.com.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Monticello’s 11th Annual Harvest Festival: Following Jefferson's Passion For Gardening

Biscuit making demo

Biscuit making demo with Paula Marcaux

Under clear blue skies and perfect weather, I had the pleasure of attending the 11th annual harvest festival at Monticello. Could there possibly be a better place to hold this type of event? After all, Thomas Jefferson was consumed with keeping detailed weather notes, twice daily for over 40 years. This data was used for several uses but primarily to help with crops.

Jefferson was an avid seed-saver and laid the groundwork successful farming practices in America for future generations. He tried in failed in many an agricultural experiments and said this: “One success is worth 99 failures.” Although he failed in producing sufficient grapes for wine production he is often said to be the father of the Virginia wine industry-which is thriving lately.

September 8th was the opening of the event on a smaller scale than Saturday the 9th. Three classrooms and three other venues hosted classes on a variety of subjects like:

Baking biscuits and breads in an open fire
Exploring regional heirloom wheat with Paula Marcoux
Ferment your garden harvest with Dawn Story
From seed to garment: cotton and flax with Cindy Conner
Boiling water-bath canning with Leni Sorensen
Home-based edible oil processing with Chris Smith
19 other classes or garden walks were available to attend on that first day.

I sat in on the boiling water-bath canning session where I learned I don’t have to sanitize the jar lids. Since three years ago the new technology has rendered this part of the process obsolete. Leni said she merely holds them in a pan of hot water until needed. I also learned that by using a steam canner, I could process smaller batches and not be dealing with a huge pot of boiling water like I’ve been doing.

Preserving Cabbage

In the fermenting class, I learned how to preserve cabbage by simply slicing it and rubbing the cabbage with sea salt. Dawn showed us how to pack the cabbage into the jar, then press it down with a few uncut leaves of cabbage and an apple. This provided enough pressure to let the cabbage ferment properly. She also showed us how to make beverages like kombucha and water kefir soda on day 2.

Thomas Hatch gave tours of Jefferson’s garden and spoke of our third president’s love of gardening. Jefferson had a garden terrace cut out of the east-facing hillside for a perfect vegetable garden location. This garden bed is still in use over two hundred years later. I loved seeing the late-fall veggies still vigorously growing and marveled at the scarlet bean vines that grew long and tall up the arched supports.

Day two was the big event. Around 1,500 attendees gathered for the tastings, seed exchanges, presentations, and food trucks. At “Between the Farm and Table” we heard the challenges of small livestock producers have in processing their livestock and getting it to your table. Some of them related that current regulations for butchering and slaughtering are becoming increasingly difficult. The regulations for such production are written by mega-producers, not the FDA, and make it harder for small producers to thrive. The panel pointed out that in Europe small farmers don’t have this trouble.

My favorite presentation was by Barbara Pleasant. Her talk was “Plant to Preserve” and I followed some of her advice on what to do with an abundance of cucumbers. Her book, Home Grown Pantry was available for purchase afterward and I’ve benefited on some new methods of preserving both cukes and jalapeños from my organic garden. You might recognize Barbara as an editor of past Mother Earth News magazine issues. She definitely knows how to teach this subject.

Good Food Onsite

Food trucks were on hand to serve a hungry crowd. My favorite was the North Cove Café’s truck from the mushroom farm of the same name. They served 6 items, both meatless and meaty that were delicious. I went all-vegetarian with their Shi-tacos and Oyster Mushroom Seacake-a meatless take on a crabcake. The shitake tacos were a crowd favorite and mine too.

Mushroom farm's food truck

North Cove Mushrooms brought their food truck

Vendor tents were set up selling everything from mushroom growing kits to pies. I attended a demonstration by the local Wegman’s grocery store chefs showing how to make sushi at home using sustainably raised salmon from New Zealand. A chocolate making demo showed the old way of grinding cocoa nuts on a stone surface with a stone device like a rolling pin.

The petting zoo with common farm animals was a big hit with kids. I saw a type of sheep that was the cutest critter at the event called an Old English Southdown that was hapy to pose for photos. Pigs, donkeys, and goats were also a kid magnet nearby. There was an art table where children could make their own artwork including hats. It was fun seeing them walk the grounds wearing their handmade art.

Old English Southdown sheep

Cutest in show would be this Old English Southdown sheep

Even if I had spent 8 hours at this Saturday event there was no way to see it all. With an admission price of $28 most visitors would want to get all they could out of this all-day event. The staff opens Jefferson’s home for walk-through tours, instead of the usual guided tours, so I was able to make my house visit shorter than usual. The house tour is a good place to start the event.

If you go next year it’s best to arrive early to get a good parking space. There’s plenty to see and do early on and most formal presentations and tastings start at 10:30. Lodging in Charlottesville is reasonably priced and the restaurants in the downtown area are some of the best farm-to-table eateries in the country. If you’ve never been to Monticello, 2018 would be a great time to make it your first visit.

Kurt Jacobson has been a chef for over 40 years and after being schooled in the U.S. Coast Guard, he trained in many restaurants under both kind and maniac chefs. Kurt is starting his fifth year of container and raised-bed organic gardening. Kurt is a full-time professional freelance travel and food writer. Follow Kurt at www.tasteoftravel2.com.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Kale Salad Recipe

Kale is such a versatile and good-for-you vegetable. It’s rich in vitamins and minerals, you can eat it raw or cooked, it makes great-tasting and healthy chips for snacking, and you can add it to fruit smoothies for a big nutrition boost with no noticeable effect on the drink’s other flavors.

good kale

One of my favorite ways to eat this superfood is as a salad. But not just any old salad. The recipe I’m about to share comes from my cousin Caryn, who blogs over at One Whole Human. She’s converted many a former skeptic into kale fanatics with this salad. She’s sort of the Pied Piper of kale—people will follow her anywhere once she’s promised them a bowl full of this yummy salad.

The best thing about this salad, other than its delicious, wholesome goodness, is that you can mix up a big batch and have a whole week’s worth of healthy, light lunches at your fingertips. You won’t mind eating it day after day, either—it’s that good. In fact, it gets better after it’s sat in the fridge for a day or two, because it “cooks” in there, blending flavors and softening the vegetable’s flavor and texture.

Let me get this out of the way, right up front. What I’m offering is not so much a recipe as a list of ingredients accompanied by some tips. How much of which ingredient you use depends on the size of your kale “bunch” and your personal preferences. As a guide, I’ve listed mine in parentheses.

Kale Salad Recipe

Ingredients:

1 bunch of kale (Mine comes from the garden, so I use as much as will fill up a large mixing bowl.)
lemon juice and olive oil in more or less equal proportions (I use about 2 tablespoons of each.)
minced garlic (I use a couple of good-sized cloves.)
salt, to taste (You need at least a little salt. I use a few healthy grinds of coarse sea salt.)
grated Parmesan cheese* (I’m partial to Parmesan, so I sprinkle liberally.)

Directions:

1. Tear kale into bite-size pieces, discarding tough stems. Place kale in large mixing bowl.

2. Add remaining ingredients.*

3. Mix well. (You may want to mix with your hands, lightly massaging the kale, to ensure that all ingredients are well mixed and to help soften the kale a bit.)

Remember, this easy-to-make salad can be prepared in advance. In fact, that’s preferable—as I said, it gets better with age. But if you can’t wait (that’s me), you can dish up a bowl right away. It will still be delicious. Serve it as a side at dinner or add a few tortilla chips, a baguette, or some other crunchy for a delicious, healthy, filling midday meal.

* While adding the ingredients all at once is the quickest way to make this salad, I’ve found it much more satisfactory to mix in the Parmesan after the salad has been dished into individual bowls. The reason is simple: because of the olive oil, the cheese stubbornly sticks to the sides of the mixing bowl and stays there instead of making it into your mouth. And that would be a real shame.

Happy eating!

Carole Coates is a gardener and food preservationist, family archivist, essayist, poet, photographer, modern homesteader. You can follow her Mother Earth News blog posts by following this link. You can also find Carole at Living On the Diagonal where she shares her take on life, including modern homesteading, food preparation and preservation, and travel as well random thoughts and reflections, personal essays, poetry, and photography.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Make Your Own Pectin for Homemade Jams and Jellies

 

You can make your own pectin for summer jams and jellies. It’s easy, it’s economical, and you can make summer fruit jams with less sugar and less cooking. Don’t substitute your homemade pectin in the overly sugared recipes used for Certo or SureJel. That would be defeating the purpose.

Choose very green apples, even unripe if you can find them. Grannies, Rhode Island Greenings, or crab apples are good.  The smaller apples are usually less expensive, so these are an economical choice. Follow the proportions below and multiply to make the quantity you will need.

Five pounds of apples makes 3 cups of liquid pectin and optional 4 cups apple sauce.

Ingredients:

• 5 pounds hard, very green apples
• Juice of one lemon
• 10 cups filtered water

Directions:

1. If you get your apples from a store and suspect they have been waxed, get the wax off. Dip the apples, one or two at a time, in boiling water same as you would to peel tomatoes.

2. Peel the lemon before you juice it and save the fragrant zest for another use. Have the water with lemon juice ready in a good-sized stock pot. Don’t bother to peel or core the apples. Pull the stem and then cut the apples into eighths. If you have larger apples, cut again so you have pieces about an inch square. As you cut, drop the pieces into the water so they don’t turn brown.

3. Over high heat, bring to a boil and cook the apples until they are quite soft, about 30 minutes. Let them cool a bit so you won’t scald yourself. With a slotted spoon or spider, dip out the apple pieces. Be sure to pour any extra liquid back.

4. Now pour the liquid through a colander to get out any pieces of apple. Rinse out the colander then line it with a double layer of cheesecloth and pour the strained liquid through back into the original pot. Let this drip for hours, even overnight.

5. Measure the depth of the liquid in the pot with either a ruler or a wooden skewer. Mark the depth and mark the half point. Over high heat, reduce the liquid by half. As it reaches this concentration, you can see that it’s jelling; there’s a light skin on the surface. Turn off the heat and let the pectin cool.

I don’t like to add any sugar to my pectin, so instead of canning, I freeze it in 8-ounce freezer tubs. One of these tubs is enough for most batches of summer fruit jam, jelly or marmalade.

Waste Not, Want Not: Homemade Applesauce

You can make some nice applesauce with the soft-cooked apples. Run them through a food mill to remove all the cores, seeds and skins. Add a judicious amount of honey or other sweetener and the spices you like in applesauce. You can heat the sauce to boiling and ladle into jars for canning. Process in boiling water for 20 minutes for pints or half-pints. Or, you can put the sauce into freezer tubs. Leave ½ inch headspace, let cool completely, then pop into the freezer.

Alternative Directions

If you don’t have a food mill but have a little extra time at the starting point, peel and core the apples, but put the pectin-rich cores in a cheesecloth packet and toss into the pot to cook. Then you need only give the apple pieces an easy mash before adding sweetener and spice for sauce.

If you just don’t care about applesauce, the cooked apple pieces can go to the livestock – poultry, pigs, goats, cows — or to the compost. Don’t waste them.

Wendy Akin is happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.