Canning up some Sweet Tea Concentrate

Homemade Sweet Tea in summer is a delight but if you forget to do it in time or you think you have a jug in the fridge and company shows up and you reach for it, only to see that its been mostly drunk already..

Dang, if you start new, you know the issue.. that Sweet Tea either is sun tea which takes time or it starts out hot..  That is where putting up some Sweet Tea into your canning jars can be a awesome thing indeed.

Tea is a low ph, so you either need to add the sugar and lemon to make it safe to water bath can or you are going to need to pressure can it.

Sweet Tea Concentrate

  • 20 cups of water
  • 7 to 10 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup of lemon juice
  • 15 tea bags of your choice.

This is such a simple recipe.. measure out your water bring it to a boil, then add your tea bags, let it simmer for five min and then take off heat and steep 20 to 40 min. Strain out the tea bags (I find they often break and I need to strain the whole pot though one of my linen cloths, if yours stays together better, good for you.. if in doubt, wrap the tea bags in cheese cloth)

Bring the tea back up to a simmer-boil and add your sugar an lemon juice, stir till the sugar melts and then jar up into pints and water bath process for 15 min.

Hubby likes his strong and so he drinks it at 2 to 1, I personally like it less strong and I love it at a 3 to 1.  Just crack a jar, pour into your jug and add your cold water and ice and stir and go!

Its worth putting up a batch to have on hand, I still make my regular sweet tea for the fridge but to be able to grab a jar to pack for a picnic or for when friends show up..

PS, add a little kick to this mix and wow does it make really good hard ice tea 🙂

Posted in Canning | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Haskap -Slow going.. yeild for 2017

The answer on if these bushes are worth it is still out.. they are one of the first flowering and fruiting bushes in our zone 5. The first spring berry to be harvested on the farm. I had bought two small bushes a number of years ago and they did nothing.. I am guessing that the male that was to be cloned on them died.. Then they died..

I finally ordered in four different females and two males in bare root state to keep the costs down and I planted them into the fruiting hedge row and I have babied them.. they barely grow.. I would like them to be putting on a foot a year and I might get three to six inches in growth per plant.

I did modify their soil a bit more last year and I think it did make a difference.. twice they have grown pretty well and then had a lot of breakage in the winter, I am thinking I might have to snow fence them for drifting this winter and see if it make a difference for a few years to get them keeping that grow they are getting.

This year was a small harvest, but we did get a harvest, and its only year three and they said four to five years till first good quality harvest. Enough this year to make 2 8 0z jars of jam.  Which means that I have enough to use the jam in a few different ways to see how we like it..

So far we agree that its like a mix in flavour between blueberry, Saskatoon and cherry undertones..  but only two types produced this year.. so we will need to try each one on its own before deciding on the taste for sure. its certainly a bright tart but sweet and full blend of flavours I will give it that..

http://www.fruit.usask.ca/haskap.html

Do you Grow Haskap? If so, do you have a favorite kind for Zone 5? Do you have good growth on your bushes? what do you use to feed them?  What do you do with them.. Everyone that commented on my local group was using them in pancakes or loafs, I appeared to be the only one that has made jam with them.

Everyone talked about how nicely they hold up their shape in pancakes and loafs, that they don’t get wet like a blueberry would.. good to know!

Posted in gardens | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lovage Harvest for 2017

Lovage is commonly known as a pot herb, it is a huge plant and those with limited space often remove this outstanding plant from their garden because of this.. I will be doing three collecting and harvests of this plant over the season.. One will be used for kitchen use for cooking, one will be for herbal use for salves or tea’s and one will be for use in my green mix for my winter use for livestock.

The most common thing that folks use Lovage for is a celery replacement in soups and stews, It is a very strong celery flavour, a little goes a long way. It’s leaves dry up nicely for storage and retain its flavour for the winter use till the plant is growing again the next year.

This is a tough garden plant.. it’s not fussy, its tough as nails and it gets big! mine is currently taller than my 5,10 hubby by at least a foot or so at the top. Its seeds can also be collected and used in cooking if you would like to do so.

However to me, that is the reason you should have lovage in your garden, (it’s a good enough reason) but it not THE reason..

It’s a well-studied plant and that means that its one of those lovely’s that has moved from “traditional use says” to the detailed studies say that this plant has “this chemical” and that it does this in the human body in this dose.

I adore plants that have both a traditional history but also a proven in the lab results! They just rock!

https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/10-benefits-organic-lovage/

It got good info in it but more important, at the bottom of the page, its got all the links to the medical studies to support its proven information..

I use lovage in a number of my skin salves, I use lovage in my homegrown herbal tea blends and I have been known to powder it and put it into my animal health green mix.

This Pot Herb should be dried and available in your pantry for far more than its strong celery flavouring 🙂

Posted in Garden | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Strawberry Season has arrived – Strawberry Jam Recipe

You know how you can make soup and you use up what you had.. Well, today the strawberry jam ended up the same way but my o my did it turn out to be yummy.

Dear Hubby has the last bit of the hot fresh made jam over his favorite treat icecream, I laughed and said it was just one of the rewards for all his hard garden work! The local u-picks are selling fresh locally grown strawberries at 4 dollars a pound, they are no longer selling by the basket or bucket but by weight at the end of your picking.   They are selling 3 liter pre-picked strawberries at 12 to 14 a basket at the local farmer stands.

Strawberry-Kiwi-Banana Jam

  • 1 and half pounds of strawberries cleaned, cored and sliced
  • 2 kiwi, skinned and sliced
  • 2 banana’s peeled and sliced
  • 8 cups sugar
  • 1/8th cup of lemon juice
  • 1 box of pectin

Process your fruit, heat in a deep steel bottom pot, allowing to come up to a simmer, then mash them together, add sugar and bring up to a simmer, simmer together for five min, then add lemon juice and follow directions on the pectin box per its use.

Into 8 0z or pint jars and into the water bath process for 15 min.

 

Posted in Garden harvest | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Rolled, Stuffed Bear Roast with reduction sauce.

Honestly how can you go wrong with rolled, stuffed, bacon wrapped roast..  It pretty hard to mess this one up..

Take your flat steaks or if you are using a roast, butterfly it into two equal portions and flatten them with the help of a meat tenderizer if you can or in our case, a hammer (it was a hunt camp.. use what you have LOL)

Make a homemade stuffing or a box one.. our homemade one was made with celery, onions, multi-grain bread, and salt, pepper, and Poulty seasoning blend, with butter. the extra was baked in a dish of its own to be served on the side.

Layer your meat down and then cover with stuffing, leaving a edge and then roll them together, and in this case as we were feeding three, I tied small to the ends and tied it into three lovely thick cuts..  it was a small roast and it took five slices of bacon wrapped around and into its tinfoil home, at 350 at 20 min per pound for a total of a hour.

The tinfoil was opened up for the last five min to help crisp the bacon.

Then the roast was taken out and allowed to rest for two min while the juices where put into a pan, with more butter and a touch of cream, the meat was then sliced at the twine lines and given one min on each side in the fry pan and then lifted out to the plates and the reduction was drizzled equally over all three just before serving..

This was served with roasted root veggies and whole roasted garlic head and the extra stuffing..  A outstanding way to introduce someone to bear..

Posted in wild foods | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Cracked Salt an Pepper Bear Bite’s Appetizer Recipe

Sorry about the touch Blurry Photo’s, Thought I had gotten it and no going back after it was all gone in about three minutes.

While I do understand that not that many folks have access to black bear meat (world-wide) but there is a thriving population and there are currently both spring and fall hunt tags available in Ontario..  You will remember the last time I had bear was at Big Brothers a number of years back.

So when I got asked if I would like a bear roast one night while I was up, I was all.. YES, please.. but in the end we re-worked the roast into appetizers, a flattened rolled-stuffed and bacon wrapped roast and two potions of stew or BBQ stick meat..

All fixin’s were done by my host but I will own that I took lead on the bear recipes, I make a Beef Version of this that Dear Hubby adores and if you don’t have dark Wild Game Meat (Bear,  Moose, Elk, or Canadian Goose Breast Meat) Beef will get the job done 🙂

Take half a pound of a solid piece of meat, Take off any silver skin, an bits of fat.. This can be a off-cut to point.. it does not need to a prime bit..  Once you have your cleaned meat, cut it into small cubes, you might lose a touch of bits that can go for ground or for stew but you need these pieces to be as close to even in cubes and in size as possible.

Now if you have not aged your meat before you processed it, then this step is very important, in a clean bowl.. let this meat rest for at least 15 min.. 30 is better, and come up in temp, you do not! want to cook this with cold or heaven help you chilled meat.. your meat needs to come up to room temp and be given enough time to relax at it.

In the bowl, you are going to crack at least a tsp of cracked salt and pepper over the meat and put 1 tbsp. of corn starch and mix it together till the meat is all coated, if anything sticks together, add a touch more corn starch.. each piece should be dry to the touch when you are done.

In a deep bottomed high sided pot or deep fryer, pre-heat your oil at med-high, your pot must be large enough so the meat is not really touching each other to much and that its all going to go in a single layer, otherwise the temp will drop to much on the fat and it will not turn out as well as it could.

So carefully lower each piece into the oil but do it as quickly as safety will allow, give each piece at last 20 to 30 seconds and then carefully, go in with your tool and make sure they all will lift off the bottom or shake your tray if using a fryer so they unstick..

It will take around 90 to 120 seconds of cook time an they will be golden brown.. lift and place the pieces on paper towel or a clean cloth towel to drain the fat off and then put on your plate, give one more tiny crack of salt and pepper over them.

Serve hot an you can serve with Ranch dipping sauce if you like.

These got a 5 Star rating from my hosts!

If you cut the meat cubes, twice the size and then flatten them with gentle careful whack of the rolling pin, and prepare and cook them the same way, but serve them with stirfry veggies and rice on the side, it will be a outstanding homemade Chinese supper..

Posted in wild foods | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Friends, Fire’s, Trails, and Lakes.. The hunting camp was calling!

I was blessed to be invited out to a dear friends place for a couple days (Huge Thank-you to Hubby and my farm helpers for working with me to give me a break!) and I had a outstanding time! Their hunt camp and land is just the most amazing place.. Hours on the Quads, Found some Chaga to bring home, lots of laughs, tons of amazing food (recipes coming on next post) and outstanding fires.

 

Posted in Life moves on daily | 1 Comment

Monday This and That post..

Good Morning Folks

What a crazy awesome busy week, Dear Hubby took the week off his office job and we went to work on the farm giving 110 percent..  We were up early each morning, crashing into bed early tired but content. We also started on our next Reno project, we are replacing one outside door, rebuilding the framing, reworking our deck to a point and re-doing the flooring at the entrance, taking it from lino that matches the dining room and kitchen and taking it to tile.

The last huge push in the gardens were done, now we are just in mop up mode with replanting and fall planting in Aug, otherwise, the planting is at 90 plus percent done. In fact, we were also in weeding mode, putting beans up the fencing and so forth. The strawberries are starting to come in, hundreds more are growing.. Boards are down to help collect the slugs daily and they are being feed to the ducks.

We had one good day of rain on weds which everyone loved, gardens, pastures and a refill off all the water barrels and so forth.. It was just misting at one point and I snapped a long distance photo of the flock grazing and when the auto program tried to clean it up, I got the below photo.. I love it, it looks like a painting to me..

The sheep are loving that they are out grazing daily for six hours on the pastures but sadly we lost our smallest lamb to a coy-wolf Bold as Brass, in full daylight hours with my horse’s on guard..  Hunting Camera’s have gone up, and protective measures are in place and the weaned lambs are only going to be allowed to graze in the “corral” pasture unless I am right there outside with the hounds.

So I have made the choice that I am going back to Hair Sheep only (other than Maude, she is awesome and gets to stay despite being a full woolie) so I sold both wool Rams, two wool ewe and butchered two more woollies past week.  I have put a reserve on a new lovely Hair sheep ram lamb that will join the farm.

This leaves me with only six Pure Hair Sheep Ewe’s with One Wool Ewe, plus three ewe hoggat girls that will butcher out this fall, plus my lambs.. seven of the lambs are already reserved for this fall’s butcher.

I have been canning every day this week..  I now have five kinds of mixed fruit with rhubarb, plus 4 batch of Rhubarb Juice canned up as well as lots of new Pasta Sauce. In total, close to hundred pints were processed this week and put into the cellar pantry. This went a long way to cleaning up the freezer from anything left over from last year.

I have only four of my 30 plants of rhubarb left to pick, and I am thinking of putting up some strawberry rhubarb pies in the raw form and freezing them for easy pulling and baking off as needed over the summer months.  Otherwise the plants will need to grow and recover from this major spring harvest..  so far I have harvested 234 pounds to date..  Some of it went to other folks for their use, but most of it went into our Pantry.

The dryer has been running non-stop, I have put up mint for tea, nettle for pot herb, and everything was finally all ready for harvest this week so I have been making a different Batch of Green Salve daily.

I have made a Heat Rash Salve, A wound Salve, an inflammation – bug bite or plant itch be gone Salve, Green Salve #4 and of a new “Dry Skin Be gone” Salve and a Sore muscle Salve..   The salve below is freshly poured, it set up into a nice light firm Salve.

As it turned out, I also needed to process some of my local raw beeswax to clean it up so that it could be used for the salves and balms.

We did get off the farm for a small trips.. one to the church basement wear I found these lovely huge and long curtains that fit my massive living room windows for a dollar each, I have a heavy thick-set for winter, but now I have a light summer set and it so matches my wall color 🙂

Otherwise, we were home on the farm, we washed walls, we cleaned pens, we trimmed sheep and goat feet, we gardened, planted, mowed, put the older grow out rabbits into pasture based tractors, we worked on our deck, and did repairs on this and that.

Well, you are caught up and I need to get back to my morning chores, I have canning on the go to get it done before the heat really hits, and its a double duty day, hubby left before 6 am and will not be home tonight till 9 or 10 pm..

I might get all my chores done an then slip away to the river for a spot of fishing and maybe a swim to cool off. We will see..

I had better get to it.. I am burning Daylight 🙂

 

 

 

 

Posted in At the kitchen table | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Freezer Spring Checkups- Counting is Bee’s Knees LOL

I have talked to friends that tell me that their freezers are pretty empty in the spring, and so they don’t need to do this much.. I have talked to other friends that don’t have clue what is even in their freezers, they only eat the top third that gets used and then replaced..

And then there are farmer friends that like me, run two or three freezers and slowly work to empty and shut down freezers as things get used up.. cleaning, leaving them open and wiped down with vinegar (me) or bleach them.

If you are on-grid a chest freezer is worth its weight, even a smaller apartment sized one will give you massive savings and with a pretty table cloth over it, can be used as a extra table, put baskets one it so that you just easily move the baskets and the cloth and now your useful top space allows easy access to your freezer.

Your freezer can be used as a ice chest if needed, I had a extra empty good size chest freezer that when I butcher in this spring heat, that I put pre-frozen blocks of ice or frozen 2 liter pop-bottles in and it keeps the meat chilled, giving me a very safe way to keep it at proper temps while I take a single quart or piece out to process, cut and wrap. If I had not had that choice, I would have had real problems keeping the beef or lamb meat cold enough till I can get it all done. Where there is a will, there is a way..

My big outside freezer is pretty empty, (or it was, its filling up now) but I had a good handle on what was in it.. its a meat only freezer, making and keeping things simple. When I do farm gate sales,  they are placed in this freezer only, different freezer, different building..  Its just worth that extra step to keep farmgate meats away from personal use meats.

However because we have no plans at this time do any sales, we are using it for our own use right now. The house freezer had a full count done on it.. and there was some waste.. In fact I had “lost” about 8 full bags of green beans to freezer burn.. the pig loved them.. me not so much..

I also found bits and bob’s of this and that fruit.. all small amounts, and it will be used in the rhubarb fruit mixes..  (can you believe it, hubby is weeding the strawberry beds and the first red strawberry of the year came into day June 13th.. many, many more coming!)

I shook my head when I found 23 6 cup bags of frozen tomato sauce that needed to still be processed and canned up..  Yesterday I did a batch and today, the last of it is on the go..

All done now , they processed out in batches of 8 bags to make a pint finished per bag and they opened up enough room for 2 deboned, processed yearling sheep..  very nice indeed.

So if you have done it already.. time to pull everything out of your freezer or freezers, do a full count on what you have left so you have a true look at where you are at in regards to what you are coming into 2017 with..

If you have done it right, you will have a goodly amount.. and by that I mean that if suddenly this year you got nothing coming in, that you would have enough.. as a farmer, we need to always be planning for a failure year.. which means everything needs to be planned for a min of a two year plan.. Three is better.. but considering that most folks today only have enough for 3 weeks, I will pat you on the back if you have a year worth, if you are planning, working, planting, harvesting and working for a full 2 years.. then I am thrilled for you.. and if you have the basic’s for 3 years, with all the other things in the works.. then I am so giving you the gold star!

My pantry is next.. I know what I planted, I know what I want to put up.. now its time to get that fully updated canning and drying pantry counted out so I know just what I need, as harvests come in, I will be able to see if I need to buy or not to fill the gap or if I have more of something else that can fill that gap.

How is your planting going in your gardens? How is your pantry holding up? Do you have your lists? Have you done your counts..

Live example, we use two 12 pound buckets of local sour cherries to put up my cherry sauce, my cherry pie filling and my cherry jam..

A) all three of my cherry tree’s are looking great and its quite possible that I might have more cherries produced on the farm this year.. in which case.. awesome.. good to go..

But if not.. then I know that I need 22 pounds of cherries for my normal put up..

Here is the trick.. I have to do the pantry count.. because I like to keep a mine of two year stock up.. I need to do my jar counts to figure out.. do I need 22 pounds for a one year refill or do I need 44 pounds to make sure we have the full 2 year put up?

However if the tree’s produce 65 pounds, then I would be either a) putting up three years worth, or I will need to adjust something else to put up less of it. Its a Balancing act and its always in flux..

 

 

 

Posted in Canning | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Canning Rhubarb Juice (Mock Pink Lemonade #2)

My dear hubby and my testers all agree, that the cooked, strained rhubarb tastes like rhubarb juice but everyone says that the stream processed takes like a wonderful Pink Lemonade version of it.

I have to admit that its delightful but I will agree that its not strongly “rhubarb”. I have got it down to pretty much figured out that with this springs rhubarb its a pound to a pint of finished product.

The cooked leftover is being dried, then ground into both fiber and flavour for baking, it dries down quite well because its had so much of the moisture already removed. Its my home grown zero mile bran to increase the fiber counts 🙂

You know how folks buy those tiny little cups of flavoured apple sauce.. well I am doing versions of Rhubarb Fruit mixes in pints for hubby to take for work over the coming year.. Vanilla Rhubarb, Rhubarb Mixed Fruit, Rhubarb and Strawberry (when they are ready) and Rhubarb and Rasberry and so forth.

I am working with ten pounds of rhubarb and 4 pounds of other fruit plus sugar and it works out to 12 pints of finished jars.

I has so surprised at the store, I had to take a picture of it.. clearly I am under valuing my rhubarb based on what I say the local farmer girls offering theirs for per pound.. wow.. 5 per pound on sale at a dollar off..

 

Posted in Garden | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments