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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

I just posted a new blog post about the 2011 berry container garden on my other blog,  http://enjoytimeoutdoors.com .

High Hopes for the 2011 Berry Patch.

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This is the first in a series of “How To” videos covering an assortment of food preservation techniques.

In this video I walk through preparing and dehydrating beef steak strip jerky using a prepared cure/spice mix.

Please leave a comment with any questions, comments or suggestions.

Here’s the dehydrator I use- I’ve been using it multiple times per week since getting it and it works great!

I have since added an extra two trays, which expands the capacity by 50%. Well worth the investment…

Link to the dehydrator

Link to the extra trays

 

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First batch of blueberry jam

First batch of blueberry jam

I LOVE blueberry jam! For several years I’ve wanted to try making my own but never tried- until now. 

Every year when fresh blueberries are in season I’ll buy ten pounds of fresh Michigan blueberries.  In past years I’ve either eaten them fresh or froze them for the long-cold winter. 

This year is different.  Not only have I dehydrated them to make blueberry raisins, I made my first batch of blueberry jam. 

There are many great resources and recipes out there, but here’s the process I used. 

My recipe only uses two ingredients, blueberries and sugar (no pectin, no additives) 

The recipe- 

approx 4.5lbs of fresh blueberries (processed in a blender until smooth, it nets nine cups.  Its’ really more like a blueberry jelly when finished) 

6-cups pure cane sugar 

Preparation- 

1.) Boil canning jars (my batch netted approx six pints) 

2.) Sterilize lids in hot water (I heard you want them near a boil, but not to actually boil.  Mine were removed from heat when they were just about to start a rolling boil) 

3.) place several large spoons in the freezer to cool (I used three, so I could test and retest without having to wait for the spoon to re-cool)  

note- before I started filling the jars I added the funnel  and jar tongs into the jar pan boiling water- to help ensure they were sterile. 

The process- 

1. ) Sort, wash and blend blueberries until smooth (like a smoothie) 

2.) Combine blueberries and sugar in med/large pan and bring to slow rolling boil, stirring frequently.  Keep boiling and stirring until the mixture thickens and some remains on side of pan when you stop stirring.  I let mine boil for a long time (I’m guessing about 1/2hr to 1hr, but I didn’t time it). 

3.) Test the mixture- scoop a spoonful of mixture and hold over a plate (not over the heat).  Let it cool for a few seconds and turn the spoon vertical.  If the mixture drips off quickly, it’s not ready- if it slowly runs off as a clump, it’s ready. 

4.) Remove jars from hot water and set on towel 

5.) Ladle mixture into jars- leaving 1/2 inch headroom (I tried to fill them to the bottom of the lid threads) 

6.) Wipe top lip of jar and place sterile lid and lid ring (hand tighten) 

7.) Process in a water bath for 15 minutes (starting the timer after the water returns to a boil).  Be sure to have at least 1/2 inch of water above the top of the jars. 

8.) Remove from water and let cool.  The lids should pop on their own as the jars cool. 

9.) After cooled, wipe dry and label jars. 

10.) Enjoy 

11.) Share with friends and family (or not 😉 

If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment.

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Here’s the weekly vlog update for 18 July 2010 …

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I finally shot a video update of the container garden and posted it on YouTube.

I’ve been adding new containers almost weekly and plan to continue through the growing season.

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It’s been a while since an update…

Strawberries and raspberries are ripening about a combined (small) handful per week.  Just enough for a nice snack every now and then.  The blueberries are growing but not producing, but I didn’t really expect anything this year.

The lettuce blend is doing great.  We’ve harvested salads for two about four times so far, and it’s ready for another two large salads.  Two rounds of hand-picking cabbage loopers, but the lettuce bounced back great.

Peppers and tomatoes are all blossoming and setting fruit like crazy!  The first sweet pepper is about the size of a baseball, this past week about five peppers and a dozen tomatoes are growing to about the size of a gobstopper.

So far so good…  More updates and photos coming soon.

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Windy aftermathWhen I got home from work today I was surprised to find the growhouse on its side with all of its contents scattered upon the ground around it.

I thought I paid particular attention when I placed it down wind of the log rack, and even monitored it during some breezy evening earlier this week.  It appeared to hold fast so I didn’t think I needed to tie it to the log rack.

All was going well until I removed the two transplant blueberries from the bottom shelf.   I failed to consider that these were serving as the ballast for the whole growhouse.

Considering the mess, there weren’t too many damaged plants (the photo was taken after I regrouped everything).

Seeing that we have good weather forecast for the near future, I was thinking about transplanting many of these starts into their final containers.   I guess my decision has been made for me.

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