Saturday, July 9, 2011

And just in case you think that all I ever do is sew....

For the fun of it, I thought I'd include some photos of some of my recent craziness...

Our neighbors are out of the country for three weeks--right in the middle of when ALL the plums are coming in, so they asked us to please pick up the plums.  This good pioneer lady can't stand to see wonderful fresh food going to waste.

At first I tried Plum Küchen. Slightly before it was finished cooking (in this VERY messy pan...apparently I drizzled a LOT of it all over as I put the plum slices in the pan.)

I used WheyLow in the first Plum Küchen, but there were lots more plums the next night, so I made another one. In that one I used WheyLow and I also used whole wheat flour -- less guilt.

There were leftovers, so I just messed around and put them into a pan. Next thing I knew, I had 2-1/2 pints of plum preserves  (I know the label says jam, but I didn't want to put a long word on the label--it's really preserves.)

Plum syrup (made from boiling the seeds with their bits of plum flesh attached, then squeezing in cheesecloth).  The one on the left is made with WheyLow Gold; the one on the right is WheyLow granular. 


 (For those of you who have never heard of WheyLow, it is a safe, natural sweetener made from whey, sugar, fruit, etc.--NOT a chemical such as Splenda, etc.  (For more info, : )  When I use WheyLow I can feel safe and enjoy a bit of sweet stuff without having to feel guilty or in fear for my life.

Then there were LOTS more plums, so I made 8-1/2 pints of plum preserves and two jars of plum syrup from the seeds (above photo, on the right).

The next time I visited the tree, someone had PICKED A BUNCH OF THE PLUMS!  At first I was irate, but I realized it was probably the actual owners of the house, so that's ok!  It was July 4, so I was relieved not to have to make more jam after such a wonderful weekend.  Instead I put 4 quarts of plums into the freezer, sliced for whatever.  If they don't work well for Plum Küchen after having been frozen, I'll just cook them up into more preserves this winter. The only thing I did was sprinkle a light layer of powdered WheyLow about every 2-1/2 inches as I filled the jar. There is probably a total of 2 tablespoons of powdered WheyLow in each jar.

I did say it was the 4th of July, didn't I? How about a Flag Trifle? (There are raspberries down under where you can't see them.)

Those plums kind of got my ball rolling, and today after my class ended at 4:30, I bought four boxes of nice organic strawberries and made no-cook, no-pectin, freezer strawberry preserves with Whey Low and lemon juice.  There were 14 6-oz servings. I had run out of jars, so I put it all into snack-size plastic bags.

After a very long search for my old recipe and online, I ended up making up my own syrup, cooling it quickly by putting the pan in a bowl of ice cubes and water, slicing the strawberries, pouring the syrup over them, and freezing. [This was NOT what I wanted at all, so I unfroze them the next day and made proper "freezer preserves" with pectin.]

I also stopped by a heritage orchard and bought 10 pounds of small, wonderful apricots. I wanted to experiment with the freezer preserves and no-cooking, so I put one jar into the freezer overnight. I don't think it will be a truly great test if it's only a few days, but before the apricots are all gone, I'll check and see if I should do some more that way. I will probably do the rest of this batch as cooked preserves.

[I don't imagine the apricots will have worked much better than the strawberries, so the next time I did a couple of jars properly with pectin.]

On the next day, I had to go to FOUR stores before I could find pectin and jars. And look what I found--thanks OSH!
I was SO happy to buy something that was not made in China! I took them home to clean...

In the same trip I went back to the orchard for 10 more pounds of apricots, and got 4 more boxes of strawberries, 4 pounds of plums (when the neighbor's tree seemed to have pretty much stopped producing), and 4 pounds of peaches. I decided to get it over with and turn my whole kitchen upside down and make it incredibly sticky and muck up the cooktop all at one time!

I purchased 3 dozen pint jars and 1 dozen half-pint jars. (I left all my jars with a friend in Tennessee--I KNEW I would want some again one day.) I restrained myself in the purchasing, and THEN I RAN OUT OF JARS! As you will see below, after I had used all of those jars, and all of the marinade, etc., type jars I had kept for various reasons, I ended up putting some of the syrup into a quart jar, and a bunch of the other stuff into refrigerator containers!



Ah so.... back to the sewing machine--my daughter's jeans need hemming.

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