Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Cure for the Common Cold, Chicken Noodle Soup (-the noodle)

If you read my previous post, you learned that I hate canned carrots.  But, I have so many in my garden that I need to preserve some of them in canned form.  The rest will just go down in the root cellar.  Just about the only thing I will eat canned carrots in is Chicken Noodle Soup. So I decided to make some. 

 Besides, it is the cure for the common cold ya know ;-)

I do not put noodles in my soup when canning.  The reason?  I do not like mushy noodles.  All you have to do is get some yummy egg noodles, and boil them in water.   While they are cooking you reheat a jar of the soup.  Once the noodles are cooked you drain and add them to your soup.  Bing, Bang, Boom, No more mushy noodles.

I know a wonderful lady at my local farmers market who has free range pastured poultry, and all natural grass fed beef.  (here is her blog, I love  Kathi she's awesome!)  Yesterday, I bought one of her big chickens to make this.  The chicken I bought from her is about 4.5 pounds.  You can use a bigger chicken, or smaller depending on the amount of soup you would like to make.

First thing I did was thaw out my chicken and rinse it off, inside and out (I threw away the heart and liver).  I wore gloves when I did this just because I'm a little OCD about Germs.  I then grabbed my giant stainless steel heavy bottom pot, tossed my chicken in there, and filled it up with water, until it covered my chicken by about 1 inch of water.

Turn the heat on high and bring to a boil.  Once it starts to rapid boil, you'll want to turn your heat to a medium high, or 6.5 on my stove, just so it simmers.

As it cooks, the chicken will start to float up to the top of the water.  This is fine, just make sure to stir it around periodically and turn it over in the process.

You'll want to keep stirring it periodically.  At this point, my chicken has been in the pot about 2ish hours. 
(I didn't actually time it, but you'll want to cook it until it's joints get loose or the meat falls off the bone.)

Once it's cooked you'll want to remove it from you broth.  I let it rest/cool off for a little while. 

While the chicken is cooling, I turn my stove up to high and bring my broth back up to a rapid boil.

Then I start cleaning and chopping up my veggies.

Get out your handy dandy veggie scrubber and start cleaning!  Scrub all of the dirt and grim off your carrots.

Chop of the tops and the ends.  If you have rabbits, (like me)  they love the greens from carrots.  Or you can add them to your compost pile if you don't.

I slice my carrots pretty thin, maybe a 1/8th to 1/4 of an inch.

This is a 4 cup measuring cup, and as you can see, my cup runnith over.

So once I have all of my carrots cut up, I get all of the meat off of my chicken.  Make sure that you do not include the cartilage, or the bones.  This can take a little while to do, especially if your chicken isn't cool enough.  This ended up being about 5 cups of meat.

I add the chicken, back into the pot.  Along with 1 large Vadilla onion, 2 cups of chopped celery, and 2 cloves of Garlic.  All of which I got at my local Farmers Market. 

I <3 my Farmers Market!  And everyone who works there!

  I also added 1 T of canning salt, and pepper to taste.  

You can add other herbs if you want, but keep in mind, if you use fresh herbs their flavors tend to intensify once pressure canned. (I didn't add any to mine)

I let my soup boil and cook for about 5 minutes; then I added my carrots in.

 I let it cook a little longer, but only as long as it took me to wash, peel, and cube 5 fist sized potatoes.  Then add them to the mix. 

I only let them cook about 5 more minutes.  You don't want to cook them thru.  Remember you will be pressure canning them and they will cook thru in there.  If you cook your potatoes all the way thru, they will either disintegrate, or be very, very, very mushy.  No bueno either way.

I put them in Hot Sterilized Jars.  Wipe the rims and put the lids on.  As you can see some jars will have more goodies in it then others.  I actually ended up with about 5 jars of nothing but chicken stock (which you can still can with your soup and use in other recipes)

I added 3 quarts of Boiling water and 2 T of Vinegar to my pressure caner before adding the jars.  Then I put the pressure caner on high until steam comes out of the top and the safety pops up.  Then I add my weight (15 pounds of pressure).  Once it starts to rock gently I set my timer for 1 hour 15 minutes for pints, and 1 hour 30 minutes for quarts.   Once your time is up, remove your caner from the heat, allow the pressure to dissipate, the safety to drop, and remove your jars.

This is what they look like when they come out of the caner. 

I ended up with 18 pints and 1 quart jar of Common Cold Cure.

When it comes time to cook, just boil up some egg noodles and add them to your soup when you are reheating it.  Never have a mushy noodle again!



So I personally can not stand canned carrots.  Its the sweet with the mushy I can't do... 

But the other members of the family like canned carrots, so since we planted some this year, I decided to can them. 

I first sent up my jars in sections of one pressure canner load.

Try to use a fresh of carrots as you can.  I pulled some up from the Garden, but you can also buy some from your local farmers market, or the store if you can't get to your farmers market.

I trimmed the tops off to make them easier to work with.  Grab your handy dandy Veggie Scrubber and get to work! 

You can see that they look kind of dry and dirty, the brush helps to get the little spots of dirt out.

You can see in this picture where I have and have not scrubbed.  This gives you some kind of idea of what they should look like.

This is a fully scrubbed carrot.

Cut off the tops and a little of the bottom.

I place mine in a colander to rinse off one more time.  Remember your carrots came out of the ground, it doesn't hurt to add an extra rinse.

I just give them a good cold rinse.  Make sure to check each carrot one more time to make sure you got all of the dirt and grim off.  If you don't, you might have gritty canned carrots.

So, as you can see, it's a Boy! lol  When I was digging up my carrots I came across this little guy.  Those with a sense of humor will appreciate this.  lol

Once you've rinse them all again you'll want to chop them up.  Well how big you ask??

This big.  I placed a quarter next to it so you can see the size.

You can leave your carrots in bigger pieces, or make them more into medallions.   The cooking time is the same either way.  I did this size, because its a good eating size.

Add your carrots to hot sterilized jars.

Add 3 quarts of water to your pressure canner, along with 2 T of vinegar if you have hard water.

For each Quart jar you'll want to add 1 t of canning salt.  YES THERE IS A DIFFERENCE!  Table salts have a filler in them which make your water cloudy when canning.

and 1/2 t of canning salt for Pints.

I ended up with 5 pints, and 1 quart jar.

Prepare your lids by pouring boiling water over your 2 piece lids.

Pour boiling water into each jar leaving 1 inch of head space. 

I run a knife along the edge of the jar, to get out any extra air bubbles.  If you need to you can also add some more boiling water to make up for the air lost.  Just make sure you leave 1 inch of head space.

Wipe the rims, then put the 2 piece lid on and screw on until finger tight.

This is what they look like before you can them, I've noticed with carrots that there isn't as much shrinkage as with other veggies like green beans.  For the most part, they will stay the same size once they come out of the pressure canner.

Put them in your pressure canner.

Put the lid on, and turn your burner on high.

Once steam starts coming out of the top, and the safety pops up...

Put your weight on (10 pounds of pressure).  Once your weight starts to rock back and fourth gently you'll want to set your timer for 25 minutes for Pints, and 30 minutes for Quarts.

When they come out this is what they'll look like. 


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wild Plum Jelly

Soooo... I accidentally deleted all the lovely pictures I had taken of the steps, HOWEVER.... I did manage to salvage the Video....

So here is the Recipe:

5 1/2 Cups of Wild Plum Juice
(to make the juice look at my previous post on how to make wild plum juice, found here,
7 1/2 Cups of Sugar
1 package of Powdered Pectin.

First you add the juice to a heavy bottom stainless steel pot.  Add you're Pectin make sure you break up all of the clumps, some will still remain, but they will eventually break up as it cooks.  Stirring constantly bring it to a boil, then add the Sugar.  Bring the mixture back to a rapid boil, and boil hard for 1 minute.  If you watch the video, I have a couple of tips to get rid of the bubbles that will form at the top of the jar. 

Sorry for the lack of pictures :(  I was so bummed when I realized.

Thanks for watching ^u^ and your understanding!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Apple Butta

So I had some left over apples, and I decided to make a fall favorite in my house. 

Apple Butter. 

It so easy to make.  My daughter often helps me out :-)  Just grab your Crock Pot and some apples and you are good to go.

I have a friend in Texas who is diabetic, so I made this batch sugar free to send him some.  You honestly can not taste the difference between the sugar and sugar free version.  Most people don't even know it's sugar free unless you tell them, even then they usually don't believe you.

When making apple butter many people will tell you that you have to use a specific type of apple.  You can really use whatever you have available.  This time of year usually you can find every type of apple at the store.  Whenever I make apple butter I try to use the sweeter apples rather then the sour.  If you start with sweeter apples, then you won't have to add as much sugar.  You can use sour apples, but it will have a different taste and you'll have to add more sugar. 

I use either one type or a combination of Fuji, Honey crisp, Gala, Red Delicous, and Macintosh.

This batch is made with Macintosh Apples.

Here's what you'll need:
12 pounds of apples, No sugar added apple juice, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, Splenda (or sugar), and Splenda Brown Sugar (or regular Brown Sugar).

First I grab a big measuring cup.  I like a 4 cup one because you can add everything to one bowl and have less dishes.  You'll want to add about 1 cup of brown sugar to your cup first.  I do it first because you have to pack it down, and it's hard to do if you add the splenda or sugar first.

Then add about 1 cup of Splenda to that.  If you don't want it as sweet you can use less sugar or splenda.

To the same cup I add 1 T of Cinnamon

1 t of ground Cloves

and 1 t of nutmeg.

Use a spoon and mix everything up.  Make sure to get the brown sugar off of the bottom and mixed in thru-out, then set it aside.  You'll be layering the splenda/sugar mixture in your crock pot alternating from apples to splenda/sugar.

Set all of your apple in your clean sink basin full of cold water to wash them :)

Coring apples can be kind of a pain.  I've tried those sun shaped apple corer slicer do-dads that are supposed to be so easy and time saving.  They aren't.  Often times you end up spending more time trying to line it up, only to have the center be off and you have to cut out the seeds by hand.

These are the steps I've found that make coring apples so much easier.
First you'll want to cut off one big chunk of the side.  Make sure that you get as close to the core as possible without actually cutting into the seeds.  Sometimes you'll get the seeds in there, its ok, just pick them out.

Do the same to the otherside.

You'll want to cut the smaller sides off the same way as the first big chunks.

Then cut the last time off.  With enough practice, you'll be able to do this rather quickly.  Much more quickly then those silly sun apple corer slicers.

You can see that I've cut close to the seed, but not actually close enough that the seeds fall out, or are cut.  This just takes practice.  Don't get discouraged if this isn't easy at first.  I've done a lot of apples in my time.  So I've got my technique down.

When you get ready to put them in your crock pot yo'll want to set the apple on its flat side down on your cutting board.  Then slice into smaller slices length wise.

Then turn then and cut them into smaller little chunks.  The smaller the pieces, the more you'll be able to fit in the crock pot.  But don't make them super teeny tiny, and they don't have to be all uniform.

Scoop them up using you knife and hand.

Then add them to you'r crock pot.  This is the point where I turn it on to its High setting.

When the bottom is filled with apples so you cannot see the bottom...

You'll want to grab your splenda/sugar mixture and use your spoon to sprinkle some over the top of the apples.

Then, you'll add more apples.

I add apples until I cannot see the splenda mixture.

Then add another layer of the splenda/sugar mixture.

Then add another layer of apples.

Then another layer of the splenda/sugar mixture.

Then another layer of apples.

and yes.... another layer of the splenda/sugar mixture.

and yes.... another layer of Apples.

and Yes again.... another layer of the Splenda/sugar mixture.

Then the second to last layer of apples.

At this point your apples will be kinda full in your crock pot.  Add the rest of the splenda/sugar mixture to this layer of apples.  It will either be a lot, or hardly any at all.  You want to add this before your last layer of apples.  The reason you put this on now instead of after the last layer of apples, is the lid.  The Splenda/sugar mixture will stick to the lid more then the apples. 

So you'll put your last layer of apples on top of the splenda/sugar mixture.  You're also going to add about 2 cups of apple juice over the top.  Pour it in slowly and make sure you pour some over most of the apples.  This will collect some of the splenda and spices at the bottom of the crock pot, and help to cook the apples.  You can use water if you prefer it.  The apple juice just adds a little sweetness without sugar, and another layer of flavor.

Put your lid on top of your apples.  As the apples cook the lid will slowly fall down to the rim of the crock pot.  You can have your lid be a little higher, but just keep in mind if you fill it too full, it could boil over the sides.

You should have already turned your crock pot on high while you were cutting up your apples.  Once you put the lid on you'll want to set your timer for 1 hour.

This is what your apples might look like after the first hour.  Sometimes they don't look like they have cooked very much.  Thats ok.  I usually don't stir the apples until the morning.

When that hour is up, you'll want to set your crock pot to low, for 15-16 1/2 hours.  I usually set it for longer, because if it's done early, great!  But if it needs to cook for longer, you'll have your time already set and ready to go.

Usually I'll cut up the apples before I go to bed.  That way when you wake up in the morning your house will smell amazing!

This is what it will look like when you wake up in the morning.  You can see that the apples have cooked down, and started to turn brown around the edges.  At this point I stir it around and make sure it's all mixed up.

This is at about 15 hours.  You can see it's cooked down a little more and also is a little browner.

At this point I let it cook with the lid off for about 30 min.  This will let some of the liquid cook off.  If you have more liquid you will need to cook it a little longer, and if its a little thick then I wouldnt cook it any longer.

Once I let it cook a little longer, I get out my emulsifying blender.  You can ladle all of this into a food processor, or blender, but this is the easiest way I've found to blend it all.  Plus less dishes.

When it looks about like this you're ready to get your jars out.

If it is too runny you can cook it a little longer, just put the lid back on but leave it cracked a little.  It will start to splatter if you leave the lid off.

Ladle them into your sterile jars.  I ended up getting about 13 half pint jars from this batch.

Put them in your boiling water canner and process for 10 minutes.

When it's all done enjoy with Biscuts or Toast.  I personally just eat it with a spoon right out of the jar.  ^u^