Summertime is ending (boo!) and with that comes a bumper crop of produce available almost everywhere: grocery stores, farmers markets, and on the side of the road! Not only is it great to be able to pick up fresh fruit and veggies for cheap, but there’s nothing quite like the taste of produce that tastes like it just came out of the ground. While this season of abundant fresh veggies & fruit doesn’t last long, there are many methods of preserving the flavours of the summer! I remember my grandmother always having a stockpile of preserves in the house in bottles of all shapes and sizes, and those same preserves gracing the supper table over the Fall and Winter. Now that I have my own home, and room to keep some bottled goodies, I wanted to dip my toe into the wide world of bottling. Although this is an old practice, I was a little hesitant – nobody wants to put that much work into something and have a big bottle of spoiled produce at the end of the road. So, this summer I decided to finally take the dive into doing some bottling – and I encourage you to do the same if you have a little time and some fresh produce.
My first project was a batch of Raspberry Freezer Jam, and I have to say – this was so easy to do, I can see myself making all sorts of jam next year! First, I bought some smaller jam jars at my local Wal-Mart. Unless you will be going through massive quantities of jam, I vote using the smaller jars so your jam doesn’t spoil before it gets used up. Then, get together the rest of your supplies: white sugar, your selected fruit, pectin (I suggest looking for the Certo Liquid Pectin – so easy to use), and fresh lemon juice. I picked my raspberries from the property of a family friend and it took me about an hour wading through the bushes to get a large mixing bowl full. I washed the berries very well before I made the jam, and I suggest cleaning your jars before you begin as well. In my box of liquid pectin, there was a very handy insert with recipes and instructions – and that is the recipe I used to make my jam:
- 2 Cups prepared (crushed with potato masher) raspberries
- 4 Cups granulated sugar
- 1 pouch of liquid pectin
- 2 Tbsp of lemon juice
Mix the prepared fruit with the sugar and let sit for 10 minutes. Add liquid pectin and lemon juice, stir for 3 minutes. Pour mixture into clean containers, seal jars, and let sit for 24 hours or until set. Refrigerate and use within 3 weeks, or freeze and use within 8 months.
See, how easy is that? Just mix together some ingredients and throw into jars. If you follow the exact recipe, it makes a thicker jam – use less sugar for a more runny jam. My only other tips would be: 1) even though you may have LOTS of fruit – when its mashed down it doesn’t equal much…that big bowl of raspberries only gave me enough for one batch of jam which fit into 6 of the smaller mason jars. If you want to make multiple batches of jam, stock up on fruit, or mix your fruits to make a tasty new combination. 2) Don’t lick the liquid pectin off your finger if you spill some – it tastes REALLY bad (that’s from experience).
After making the jam, I wanted to expand my bottling experience even more – and decided to make my own Spicy Green Beans! While this isn’t something my grandmother ever made, I feel like she would totally approve of me boiling vinegar and putting green beans in it. They turned out awesome as well, and are also super easy like the jam. All I did was cleaned my bottles, and followed the directions in the recipe (it involves tightly packing your green beans in the jar and mixing some other ingredients together and boiling them). Check out the recipe and method I followed from The Fortuitous Housewife. These spicy beans rival the expensive store bought type and are excellent in a Caesar or by themselves out of the jar!
As a bit of a bonus in this retro-housewife spree, I wanted to make one of my favourite desserts that my Grammy often whipped up as an after-supper treat – Lazy Daisy Cake. My memory of this cake is a little foggy – I couldn’t remember its name at first, but I could remember it’s delicious sugary topping and dense cake. Then, just as I was falling to sleep, the name popped into my mind and I knew it was a sign I needed to make the cake for myself (and my husband too, I guess? 😉 ) Thanks to Pinterest, I found the recipe and it is quite similar to what my grandmother made – and it has the yummy sugar topping down pat! If you want to try this retro treat, check it out at The Taylor House
All in all, I have been thoroughly enjoying my time in the kitchen, and I hope I gain the courage to try some other bottling recipes soon – I would really love to have some yummy dill pickles made too! I’m also loving the search for some of my grandmother’s old recipes, and I hope I come across more great old time favourites in my Pinterest searches. Are there any old-fashioned, Grandma-approved things you like to make? Bottling recipes or otherwise? I’d love to hear what is a traditional must-have in your family!
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a great week. Summer is almost gone, so enjoy that warmth while we still have it! 🙂