Festive Raspberry Dressing & Vinegar

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Over the summer I did many canning project using raspberries. One that I started back in July was infusing white wine vinegar with fresh raspberries. Although this was probably done sometime in August, things were so hectic, I never got around to finishing it.

The other night I needed a special salad dressing to perk up a ho-hum salad at dinner. Remembering the raspberry vinegar steeping under the counter, I decided to finish up the Raspberry Infused Vinegar and whip up a batch of Creamy Raspberry Vinaigrette. These recipes can be found on Simply Grateful Canning and Simply Grateful Cooking.

Being able to use the projects I worked on over the summer now that it’s cold and sometimes dreary, means the world to both me and the family. Cranberries aren’t the only “festive” fruit to use this holiday season, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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Recipe Catch-Up #1 – Raspberry-Blueberry Preserves

Raspberry-Blueberry Preserves

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4 Cups Seedless Raspberry Juice

5 Cups Fresh or Frozen BlueBerries

3 Cups Sugar

1/4 Cup Lemon Juice

5 Tbsp. Clear Jel mixed with 5 Tbsp. Water

  • Combine raspberry juice, blueberries, sugar and lemon juice in large stock pot. Bring mixture to a near boil.
  • Add Clear Jel slurry and bring to boil. Boil for one minute or until thickened. Remove from heat and let sit five minutes.
  • Ladle preserves into hot jars, wipe rims, adjust lids, and process in water bath for 15 minutes.

Yield: 11 – 8 oz. Jars

This preserve is excellent on toast, English muffins, bagels, or just about anything, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Three Canning Projects At Once – Layered Berry Spread

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A few years ago I came across an article in a magazine while standing in the check-out line at the grocery store for layered jam. The idea was to layer two separate jams in the same jar before processing in the water bath. This year I finally decided to give it a try using raspberry and blackberry seedless spread.

The first step in making a layered jam is to prepare each jam.

Raspberry Seedless Spread

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4 Cups Strained Raspberry Juice

2 Cups Sugar

3 Tbsp. Lemon Juice

5 1/2 Tbsp. Clear Jel mixed with an equal amount of Water

  • Combine fruit juice, sugar and lemon juice in stock pot. Bring to near boil. Turn heat to medium-high and add Clear Jel slurry. Bring to boil and cook for 1 minute.
  • Remove from heat. If making a layered spread, cover and set aside. If canning individually, ladle spread into hot jars, adjust lids, and process in water bath canner for 10 minutes.
  • NOTE: If not canning this spread as a “layered spread” the amount of Clear Jel and water to 3 Tbsp.

Blackberry Seedless Spread

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5 1/2 Cups Strained Blackberry Juice

3 Cups Sugar

6 1/2 Tbsp Clear Jel mixed with an equal amount of Water

  • Combine fruit juice and sugar in stock pot. Bring to near boil. Turn heat to medium-high and add Clear Jel slurry. Bring to boil and cook for 1 minute.
  • Remove from heat. If making a layered spread, cover and set aside. If canning individually, ladle spread into hot jars, adjust lids, and process in water bath canner for 10 minutes.
  • NOTE: If not canning this spread as a “layered spread” the amount of Clear Jel and water to 5 Tbsp.

Blackberry/Raspberry Layered Seedless Spread

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  • Fill hot jars half full with either blackberry or raspberry seedless spread. Let spread sit in jars for 5 minutes.
  • Ladle second spread carefully into half-full jars. Be sure to ladle hot spread into jars by allowing it to slide down the sides of the jar, this will ensure that the layered effect is visible.
  • Wipe rims, top with hot lids and bands, and process in water bath canner for 10 minutes.

This particular project did not turn out exactly as I had envisioned because my raspberry spread was darker than anticipated and the color differentiation between the two spreads was hardly noticeable. Next time I try making a layered spread, I will use two spreads/jams that have a more noticeable contrast.

Although this particular project did not turn out exactly as I wanted, I am glad I tried it. I ended up with some raspberry spread canned separately, blackberry spread canned separately, and then several jars where I layered the two. Experience is the best teacher and even though the jars of layered spread might not be as impressive as I had hoped, I now know how to remedy this in the future, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

2015 Michigan Cherry Recipes #5 – Raspberry-Cherry Preserves

Although raspberries are not my favorite summer fruit, I do like to can with them when I can combine them with other fruits. Combining them with some sweet cherries seemed like a good idea. The sweetness of the cherries I hoped would tone down the tart, distinct flavor of the raspberries.

Raspberry-Cherry Preserves

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2 Cups Seedless Raspberry Pulp

4 Cups Sweet Cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped in food processor

3 Cups Sugar

1/4 Cup Lemon Juice

4 Tbsp. Clear Jel dissolved in 4 Tbsp. Water

  • Combine raspberry pulp and coarsely chopped sweet cherries in large stock pot. Add sugar and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
  • Increase heat to medium-high and add Clear Jel slurry. Bring to boil and boil for one minute.
  • Remove from heat, ladle into hot jars, and process in water bath for 10 minutes.

This preserve proved to be a good combination of sweet and tart. Some raspberries can be very sweet, but I have always found them to have a tartness to them regardless. Using twice the amount of cherries as raspberry pulp helped tone down the dominating flavor of the raspberries and allowed the two fruits to meld into a mouth-watering preserve.

Michigan cherries are by far my favorite fruit to can. 2015 has thus far been a good year for canning and definitely a good year for cherries, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

2015 Strawberry Canning #2 – Raspberry-Strawberry Spread

I have been canning for 28 years but have yet to win a single Blue Ribbon for my efforts.  This is due in part to the fact that I have never entered any contests, but even if I had, I seriously doubt my canning results would warrant any ribbon, blue or otherwise.

When I can I am concerned with two things, taste and making something healthier than can be bought in the store. I don’t follow recipes as written most of the time because usually they call for more sugar than I want to us and many require wait time for liquids to clarify.  You would be hard pressed to find a jar of jelly or syrup in my pantry that is not cloudy.  This is for two reason:  First and foremost, I like to have some pulp in my jellies and syrups because I believe this produces a tastier product and when I press liquid through cheesecloth, a sieve, or process through a food mill, I want every last drop of liquid I can get from whatever fruit I am using. The pulp doesn’t change the consistency of the end product, but the pressing does make it nearly impossible to end up with a clear jar of jelly or syrup.  Second, I am impatient.

The second project I decided to work on with the strawberries I picked this week was based on a recipe from Blue Ribbon Preserves by Linda J. Amendt, Raspberry-Strawberry Jelly.  I say based on because although some of the ingredient measurements are the same, I changed up the procedures, amount of sugar and thickening agent. I didn’t want to lose any of the fresh strawberry or raspberry flavors by clarifying the juices or cover up the taste of the berries with a ton of sugar. And if you’ve read any of my previous posts on canning jams or jellies you know I’m a Clear Jel kind of canner.

Raspberry-Strawberry Spread

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To Make Juice:

7 Cups Sliced Strawberries

7 Cups Fresh or Frozen Raspberries

1/2 Cup Water

Spread Ingredients:

5 Cups Juice

4 1/2 Cups Sugar

2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice

7 Tbsp. Clear Jel dissolved in 7 Tbsp. Water

  • Place fruit and water in large stock pot.  Bring fruit to boil and boil uncovered 10 minutes.  Remove cooked fruit from heat and puree with stick blender. Run pureed fruit through food mill or fine mesh strainer to remove seeds.  Press to extract as much juice as possible.
  • Return strained fruit juice to stock pot adding sugar and lemon juice.  Heat over medium-high heat to near boil.  Stir in Clear Jel slurry and bring to full boil.  Boil 1 minute.  Remove from heat, ladle into hot jars and process in water bath for 10 minutes
  • This recipe made seven 8 ounce jars plus one 4 ounce jar.

I called my version of this a “spread” rather than a jelly because the consistency with the Clear Jel is easier to spread than I consider a true jelly to be.  Since starting to use Clear Jel for 95% of my jams and jellies, I won’t even consider using something that would produce an end result of something that tears up bread when I try to spread it.  The only exception to this rule might be cranberry sauce but even then I’m willing to forego the cranberry ‘mold’ option and just spoon it out of the jar.  It tastes the same and actually being able to spread it on a turkey burger is more important than having it slide out of the jar in one chunk.

My canning might never earn me any “Blue Ribbons” from a local county fair, but having Hubby finish off an entire jar this morning on his breakfast crepes says more than winning any contest ever could, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Triple Berry (Cranberry/Raspberry/Blackberry) Spread

My kitchen appliance/gadget wish list is long and full of tons of things that I need, want, and can only dream of ever having. On this list, at the very top, is an upright freezer to store all the canning jars I want to fill with pies, cheesecakes, meals, and quick-fix snacks.  Along with these, I would store all the fruits and vegetables I freeze every year for use during the long Michigan winters.

Right now I have a chest freezer and refrigerator with a freezer in the basement as well as the freezer in the refrigerator in the kitchen.  These freezers are constantly full and I am continually needing to reorganize everything inside of these in order to store anything new.  It is truly a source of stress that I don’t enjoy dealing with on a daily basis.

Much of the fruit that is stored in the basement freezers are there to be used in canning projects that I have not gotten to either because of lack of time or lack of ingredients.  With the stock of cranberries I picked up in October and November of 2014, I am now able to possibly make a dent in some of that fruit and clear out some space.  As much as I’d rather just go out and get that upright freezer that I’ve been wanting for so long, it’s still not in the cards.

Hubby and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum on whether or not this is a necessary expense or not.  I suppose I can survive without another freezer, and it is a “want”, but no matter if I were to use up all the fruit that is waiting to be canned, the fight for freezer space would continue.  It’s one of those unwritten laws I think.  No matter how much space I have, it is never enough.  So why do I think another freezer would solve all my problems?  Well it wouldn’t, but boy it would sure be fun filling that new freezer.

Anyway, seeing as chicken thighs are on sale this week and I want to stock up a bit while the price is good, I pulled out several bags of cranberries, raspberries and blackberries, to try a combination recipe that I thought would be fun.

Triple-Berry Spread

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  • 3 Cups Cranberries (12 oz bag)
  • 3 Clementines
  • 3 Cups Red Raspberries
  • 3 Cups Blackberries
  • 3 Cups Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. Clear Jel mixed in 1/4 Cup Water

Peel and section the clementines.  Combine the clementines with cranberries in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped.

Put processed cranberry mixture in a large stock pot and add remaining berries and sugar.  Bring this to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and puree using a stick blender.  Strain the puree through a fine mesh strainer to remove cranberry skins and berry seeds.

Return strained puree to stock pot and add Clear Jel slurry.  Bring mixture to full rolling boil and time one minute. This thickens very quickly so be careful, it spatters terribly.

Remove from heat and immediately ladle into hot, sterilized 8 oz. jars.  Top with hot lids and process in water bath canner for 10 minutes.

This recipe will yield 7-8 oz. jars.

Making a dent in the overflowing freezers in the basement is great, but having this new spread to add to my ever-growing list of tasty spreads is even better.  One more cranberry project under my belt, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

 

2015 Canning To Do List

Now that the holidays have come to a close, I am anxious to get back to some canning.  Up until last winter I really didn’t know that there was canning beyond summer and fall.  Last winter however I canned many things and am ready to start my list of canning projects for the next couple of months.

The first thing on my to do list are sweet potatoes.  These were bought when I found them on sale for $.28 a pound at Thanksgiving.  I don’t have as many as I’d like, as we’ve been eating them, but I am excited to give these a try.  I want to use the canned sweet potato for pies as well as a side dish for pork or poultry.  Seeing as the pumpkin I canned last fall turned out so well, I am confident that these will turn out also.

Next, I have raspberries and blackberries in the freezer from last fall and definitely want to make some things with these.  Combining these with the cranberries I froze in November and December, I’m sure I can come up with some tasty syrups, sauces, and concentrates.

Mentioning cranberries, I made some plum-cranberry sauce last November to use on turkey burgers and it turned out perfect.  I am definitely going to make more of this.  I went to several grocery stores today to see if I could find a few more bags on clearance, but everything was gone.  I hope I bought enough to keep me happy until next November.

Sweet potatoes, raspberries, blackberries and cranberries should keep me busy for January.

Once I clear out some space in the overflowing freezers by using some of the berries that are frozen, I’d like to do something with white potatoes.  I found several recipes for canning potatoes that I want to try as well as methods for freezing and dehydrating.

White potatoes, as long as I can find a good deal on them, should keep me busy in February.

For March I plan on making more sauerkraut and canning cabbage in several other ways that I’ve wanted to try. Being that cabbage goes on sale for about $.14 a pound around St. Patrick’s Day, I will definitely be stocking up. Freezing, canning, and dehydrating are all on the agenda.

That’s it for the first quarter of 2015.  I have lots of jars itching to be filled in the garage and pantry shelves in the basement emptying, making space for new concoctions.

I should keep track of how many jars we go through a week.  Last week I counted only 6 jars on the counter that we’d emptied.  During the holidays though there were a few weeks that we went through more than a dozen or more.  At the end of the fall canning season October 2014 I had seven dozen jars of freshly canned food on the floor in the pantry because I didn’t have enough shelving.  Now the floor is clean and the shelves have gaps in them.

Already I’m having to ration the pickles I canned last summer.  With Grace going through a jar a week, we won’t make it till harvest time — thus why the pickle A-Frame is going to have a matching companion next year.  300+ pickles harvested for 2014 and going for 400 – 500 for 2015.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Holiday Season 2014 is over and a brand new 2015 is just beginning, full of potential and possibilities, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Pineapple Days, Raspberry Nights

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Canning, canning, and did I mention canning! That is what I did today and if I hadn’t run out of sugar, I’d probably still be doing it. Plus my feet feel like they are on fire, my back is aching, and I’m tired, but heck, if I had sugar I’d probably never have stopped. So much to can and I haven’t even gone strawberry picking yet.

This morning I spent six hours making another batch of Pina Colada Concentrate without the pulp this time, a batch of Pineapple-Kiwi Jam, and a batch of Lemon-Pineapple Preserves. Any normal person would have called it quits after this, but I wasn’t tired of canning, just tired of canning pineapple. So I set my remaining seven pineapples aside for another day and decided to start working with raspberries.

Last week my favorite grocery store, Meijer’s had raspberries on sale for $1.00 per 6 oz. package. I picked up ten packages and stuck them right in the freezer. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to do anything with them right then, so seeing that raspberries freeze quick and easy, they went in the chest freezer until I could get to them.

Taking the berries from the freezer I spent the next couple hours making Raspberry-Lemonade Concentrate and Raspberry-Lime Jam. I hadn’t worked with raspberries in a few years, but knew I didn’t like the seeds. This meant using my food mill to strain out most of the seeds. A few I can stand, all is just too much.

Following are the recipes with photos. The Pina Colada Concentrate update can be found in my prior post: Frozen Pina Coladas the rest are new. All of my jam/preserve recipes today used Clear Jel as the setting agent. This is only the second time I’ve used this for something other than pie filling.  I am still learning how much to use. Any changes that I’d suggest based on the final consistency are noted at the end of the recipe. I hope you try some of these, all turned out very tasty.

Pineapple-Kiwi Jam

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3 Cups Chopped and Peeled Kiwi (about 9)
2 Cups Fresh Crushed Pineapple with Juice (1 pineapple)
1/3 Cup Water
7 Tbsp. Clear Jel
3 Cups Sugar

Peel and chop kiwi.

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Core and puree pineapple.

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Combine kiwi, pineapple, 1/2 Cup sugar and Clear Jel dissolved in 1/3 cup water in large pan.

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Bring jam to boil, careful it does not stick. This is very thick so it will stick if you do not watch it closely.

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Once it boils, it will start to burn if you don’t add the sugar immediately. Add remaining sugar and bring to boil.

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Boil jam for 3 minutes. The mixture will be very thick. To thin you could add additional pineapple juice or water.
Ladle jam into jars and put on lids. Water-bath can for 10 minutes.

***This jam turned out much thicker than I like it. Clear Jel does leave it still spreadable, but I prefer a softer set jam and would suggest decreasing the Clear Jel to 4 Tbsp. next time.

Lemon-Pineapple Preserves

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3 Large or 5 Medium lemons, squeezed of all juice, strained (shells reserved)
3 Pounds Fresh pineapple, cleaned, cored, and pureed (about 2 whole)
2 3/4 Cups Water
4 Tbsp. Clear Jel
6 3/4 Cups Sugar

Combine lemon shells and seeds in a cheesecloth bag or jelly bag.

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Combine lemon juice, pineapple, and cheesecloth bag in large stock pot. Bring to boil and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes.

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Remove cheesecloth bag and add 4 Tbsp. Clear Jel mixed in 3/4 cup water. Add 3/4 sugar and bring to boil. Boil for 2 minutes.

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Add remaining sugar and boil for 1 minute more.

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Ladle into jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Cover and seal. Process in water-bath canner 20 minutes.

***The consistency was perfect, however, although tart, I could not taste “lemon” in this preserve. I might consider adding the zest of one lemon to see if it would make it more lemony next time.

Raspberry-Lime Jam

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5 Cups Raspberries
1/2 Cup Water
2 Limes
4 Tbsp. Clear Jel
1/4 Cup Water
5 Cups Sugar

Combine raspberries and 1/2 cup water in stock pot. Bring to boil. Turn down and simmer for 10 minutes to release juices. With immersion blender puree raspberries.

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Run berries through food mill. This should give you approximately 2.5 cups of strained pulp.

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Zest one lime and juice two.

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Combine lime zest, juice, raspberry pulp, 1/2 cup sugar, and 4 Tbsp. Clear Jel dissolved in 1/4 cup water in stock pot. Bring to boil for 2 minutes.

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Add remaining sugar and boil 1 minute longer.

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Ladle jam into jars, cover and seal in water-bath canner for 10 minutes.

***The consistency was good for this jam. The lime flavor however was very slight. I would use the zest of two limes rather than just one next time.

Raspberry-Lemonade Concentrate

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6 Cups Raspberries
4 Cups Lemon Juice, fresh or bottled
6 Cups Sugar

Combine all ingredients in large stock pot and bring to boil.

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With an immersion blender/stick blender puree the liquid till smooth.

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Heat to 190° over medium-heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Put the concentrate though food mill to remove seeds.

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Return concentrate to pan and bring back up to 190°. Remove from heat, ladle into jars, cover and process in water-bath canner for 15 minutes.

To reconstitute: Mix one part concentrate with 1 1/2 cups water. Or for a more refreshing alternative, try making a Frozen Raspberry-Lemonade Smoothie (recipe follows).

Frozen Raspberry-Lemonade Smoothie

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1 3/4 Cup Raspberry-Lemonade Concentrate
5 Cups Ice
1 Cup Water

Combine all ingredients in blender.

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Blend until smooth.

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Serve in a tall glass. Could garnish with fresh raspberries and a wedge of lemon.

The canning went fast and by 3:00 this afternoon I was done canning and on my way to making dinner. I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to get out of the kitchen. Thankfully, dinner is done, I’m out of sugar, and tomorrow is another day, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.