Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Home made Garlic Olive Oil and 2 different ways to preserve garlic

I love garlic!!! and I could easily add it to every single one of my dishes. I have been successfully growing my own garlic for 2 years now. It is pretty easy. So what to do with all the garlic you have and how to keep it going for the whole year? You preserve it!!

You can keep fresh garlic for a long time if you just keep it in a cool, dry place, but it will eventually dry and go off. I have found out 2 ways of preserving the garlic that also gives me different flavor profiles (pungent and mild) that I can use in my meals. A delicious bypass product of the preserve methods is nothing more than great home made infused garlic olive oil - That is what I call a win-win.

Method 1: Pungent

Although not as pungent as fresh garlic, you can simply keep garlic longer by peeling it, and placing it in an sterilize jar completely covered with Olive Oil (I use Extra Virgin). Close the jar tightly and store in the refrigerator - it last for months and the oil gets infused with a nice mild garlic flavor.

Method 2: Mild

To get a milder softer flavor, pour olive oil in a heavy bottom pan, peel garlic and add to oil. Turn flame on and heat (do not let oil boil or you will fry the garlic). The intent here is almost like poaching the garlic. The heat will make it soft and the flavors will penetrate the oil. Once the oil is heated, turn it off and let it cool down. Get a sterilized jar and add garlic, fill jar with the olive oil and close lid. Store in the refrigerator for months. The extra oil in the pan can be kept on another jar or drizzling bottle - this is the best garlic infused olive oil ever!!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Grapes anyone? Here is my reduced sugar grape jam/jelly recipe

I got some grapes on sale and decided to do some grape jam/jelly - I am calling it a jam/jelly as it is a combination of a jam and a jelly - as I do not like the jelly consistency nor I like to have the skins on my jam. I did this as an experiment and it worked out very well. I was also shocked with the amount of sugar that traditional recipes call for - so I used a third less.

Ingredients: Red grapes (seedles1 pound), sugar (2 cups), lemon juice (1 tbsp)

We will be canning the jam/jelly so we need to sterilize the jars (see post on canning tomatoes for sterilization process).

Wash the grapes, put them in a pot squeezing them with your hands as you go. Add a little water and start cooking at medium heat

Keep cooking and stirring, after the grapes are soft, put them in my blender and strain them

Put it back in the pot and cook for a little longer, until smooth like in the picture. Then add the sugar and keep stirring until it bubbles and a thermometer has 212 C. Another way to see if it is ready is to put a little of the jam on a ceramic plate and place in the freezer for a few second and see if stays in shape. If it is too runny you need to keep cooking and stirring
This is the jam/jelly at boiling point
Once it is ready, pour into the sterilized jar ( I made only one pint jar), clean rim with a kitchen towel, put lid and band on and put in the canner with water covering it at least an inch. Boil for 5 minutes - always start counting the minutes after it gets to a rolling boil. Take the jar carefully out of the canner, put it i a kitchen towel and let it cool for 8 hours or overnight. When cool, press the lid with a finger to make sure it is sealed. If the lid moves up and down or if it makes a clik sound, you have not achieved a seal. Either refrigerate ad consume within 2 months or start the canning process again.


Other posts you may like:
Homemade Chipotle Cranberry Sauce

Have lots of tomatoes? Can them for rainy days!!!! It is so fun

Ready for an ice bath to peel them

So you want to know what to do with all your yummy tomatoes? I have been canning tomatoes a lot this season, as we cannot keep up with the production of my wonderful plants!!! I have found the exercise so fun and relaxing, so here I am sharing it with you - this recipe is for whole tomatoes, but you can also can diced tomatoes and sauce:

Pick the best tomatoes you can get (from the store or from your garden), wash them and peel them by putting them for a few minutes in boiling water and then removing them and adding them to a bath of cold iced water. The skin of the tomato will crack and it can be removed easily.

Sterilize a few canning jars, I can fit about 4 medium/large tomatoes in a pint jar, so you can guess more or less how many jars you need based on how many tomatoes you have. To sterilize, wash the jars and lids in warm soapy water, put the jars in a pot with cold water and bring to the boil. Once the pot gets to a rolling boil, keep it boiling for 10 minutes and then turn it off. Once it is off you can add the lids and cover the pot. Keep the jars in the hot water until you need them.

Sterilizing jars

Take your peeled tomatoes and put them in a pot with some water, boil them for 5 minutes and you will be ready to start packing

Boil them for 5 minutes

To pack the tomatoes, take one jar at a time, add 1/4 of a tsp of citric acid to the bottom for a pint size (1/2tsp for a quarter), the add the tomatoes, making sure you leave at least one finger of space from the top (do not fill to the rim)

you can substitute citric acid for lemon juice or vinegar 5% acidity
This jar is too full - either pack it down with plastic spatula or remove some tomatoes
Add a 1/2 tsp of salt to the top (1tsp for quarters) and fill the jar with the hot water from the tomato pot. Remember to leave at least 1/2 inch of space from the rim. With a plastic spatula, move the tomatoes around to make sure you do not have any air bubbles trapped in the jar. Clean the rims with a clean kitchen towel. Close the jar with the lid and metal band.

These jars have been filled to the right quantity

Put the closed jars on your water canner (Big pot with a grid at the bottom - you can buy it in supermarkets or online for around $30). Fill with warm water until the water is at least one inch over the jars and boil. Once it is on a rolling boil, boild hard for 45 minutes

Once the time is over, turn it off and carefully take the jars out. Put on top of a kitchen cloth and let it cool down overnight or for at least 8 hours.

Once they are cool, you need to test the sealing. Push the top of the lids with your finger. If it moves or makes a clicky sound it is not sealed. You can either refrigerate and consume within a week or start the canning process straight away. This has never happened to me yet!!!

Happy canning!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How to make your own yogurt... it is so easy!!!

This is not only easy but can also save you some money and the kids LOVE it!!! This yogurt is smooth, creamy and light. The flavor is so much fresher and nicer than store bought ones and you can make it for a little as a quarter of the price.  This recipe is for plain yogurt (no sugar added):

  • Half a gallon of milk (you can use whole, 2% or skimmed - the more fat content the creamier the yogurt - so it is your choice)
  • 8 oz yogurt starter ( For your first batch you need a small plain yogurt, after that you can use 8 oz of your own home made one)

  • Heavy bottom pan - big enough to hold half a gallon of milk
  • Food thermometer (you can do it without but it is more risky)
  • 5 pint mason jars (or any other glass containers - mayo jars work great)
  • An ice cooler - yeap! the same one you use for picnics and drinks during the summer

Sterilize your mason jars and lids (put them in a big pan and cover with cold water, put on stove on high and wait until it  reaches a rolling boil - boil for 10 minutes. Turn off and leave in hot water, covered until needed)

Put milk in heavy bottom pan and heat at medium flame until the milk reaches 85 C (if you do not have a thermometer - heat until it is just about to star boiling. This step kills any bad stuff that milk may have. Do not let it boil and stir constantly to avoid the milk burning at the bottom.

Once the milk is at 85C, turn heat off and let it cool down to 45C to 50C. If you do not have thermometer - this feels warm to the touch - it should not burn you. This will take a while 20 to 30 mins. If you want to do it quicker, put the whole pan om a bath of ice water (you can do this in the sink)

    Take a cup of warm milk and mix it with the 8 oz yogurt starter in a separate container, mix until smooth and no lumps. The pour it over the rest of the milk and mix well.

      Work quickly so the milk does not cool too much. Take your sterilized jar from the hot water and fill them up with the milk and close. You should have enough for 4 full pint jars and a small 8 oz jar that you will keep and use for your starter later.

      Put all the filled and closed jar in your cooler and covered with warm water (50C of temperature). Close the cooler and leave untouched for 3 hours or overnight - I normally do it overnight.

      The next morning open the cooler (the water will still be warm) and remove your yogurt jars and put them in the fridge - they will keep for 2 months. If you do the 3 hours, please check one jar to make sure the yogurt has hardened, if not, return to the cooler and leave for another hour - try it again.

      Do not eat your small 8 oz jar - (or half pint jar) it will be your starter for the next time!!!

      Enjoy!!! and please let me know how it worked for you.
      My girl's parfait
      My boy's parfait

      You can use the yogurt for eating with honey, sugar, fruit, parfaits, etc. It is great in smoothies!!

      Monday, September 13, 2010

      Making your own food is awesome!!!!

      And I do not mean just cooking, but actually growing, canning, preserving and manufacturing stuff. This year I have been more innovative than ever. I did my veggie garden as usual but got lots more vegetables: 3 varieties of tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onions, beans, brussel sprouts, okra, broccoli, spinach, lettuces, cucumbers, zucchini, potatoes, green onions, chives and a whole bunch of herbs. It have been so fun, the kids love to see the plants grow and to harvest the stuff.

      Then due to an over supply of tomatoes and cucumber, I decided to do some canning. So by now I have canned lots of tomatoes and made 3 different types of pickles. We opened our first pickled batch today and my son LOVED it!! that is what I called success! I also did some freezing of fresh tomatoes and some tomato sauce made entirely from the garden bounty :)

      A trip to Michigan and a close encounter with some raspberry bushes lead me to make some Jam. Thanks to an old recipe from a friend we also now have home made strawberry jam for my next triffles!

      A trip to Wisconsin got me into dairy - I have just finished my first batch of home made yogurt and I am tackling cheese later in the week - Mozzarella is the goal.

      I LOVE this. truly do.
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