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I was able to get a good deal on some boxes of peaches and pears from Utah! So, this past week Lindsey, Maddy, my friend Betty and I did some canning at Lindsey's house. We did the peaches on one day and the pears 2 days later. We caught them both at their optimum ripeness!
I've already shared with you how to can peaches on this post. But, I want to share a couple of new things we did this time around. I've been canning for a long time, but this dog can always learn new tricks!
Every year, when I start to can something, I always refer to the National Center for Home Food Preparation, or NCHFP, to find out if there have been any changes or new developments in canning safety. Sure enough, this time there were some changes that I want to make you aware of before giving you my recipe for delicious Spiced Pears!
First of all, they have found that white fleshed peaches are not safe to can! White fleshed peaches are not acidic enough for water bath canning nor is there a method for pressure canning them. The best way to preserve them is to freeze them! Luckily our peaches were yellow!
Secondly, and I don't know if I just overlooked this before, but the site mentions that Hot packing peaches and pears will give you a better product than raw packing them... Now that one was a shocker to me because my raw packed peaches have always been delicious!
From what I learned upon researching that assertion, the problem they have found is that the fruit shrinks during the processing in the water bath. This causes them to rise up tightly in the jar leaving a lot of liquid at the bottom. Then, when the fruit falls, the liquid may not cover all of the fruit and the part of the fruit not covered can turn brown, although it is still safe to eat. Hmmm...
So, we decided to test out this idea when we canned our peaches.
Hot Pack Process
The Hot Pack process involves making your light syrup as usual but then adding the fruit to it and allowing it to come to a boil all together before adding the fruit and liquid to the jars. Then, leaving a 1/2 to 1 inch headspace and removing the bubbles, add the lids and process as usual.
To test this out, we did our sliced peaches the hot pack way. But, we noticed that there still was lift as the jars were sealed, but maybe not quite as much because we were able to fit more peaches into a jar. Then, I did some quarts of peach halves and then made sure that I really packed them in. Also, I carefully measured the headspace, removed the bubbles and added more boiling syrup as needed. By being more precise, I didn't notice a big difference in the amount of lift in my raw pack jars to my hot pack jars. So, frankly, I am probably going to stick with my raw pack method because it is easier, but be more careful to pack tightly, measure headspace carefully and to get those bubbles out.
Now Let's Talk About Canning Pears!
The process of canning pears is a bit simpler than peaches because you don't have to blanch them first to get the skins off. You can simply peel them with a potato peeler! It was so great having many hands doing the work together because one of us peeled, one of us sliced and cored and one of us filled the jars and kept an eye on the syrup and everything else! (We had 3 people working each day as Betty and Maddy came one day each!)
After our experience with hot packing the peaches, we decided to stick with raw packing the pears. As you can see in the picture above, there wasn't a lot of lift after the jars were processed. I made sure to :
While I was doing research about the hot pack, raw pack thing, I kept seeing ways to add other ingredients to your peaches and pears when you can them. One thing I saw was cinnamon sticks and whole cloves in the pear jars and I thought that they looked pretty! I decided to try it with a few of our jars just to see how they turned out.
Honestly, I was just guessing on the amount of spice to add to the jar. I didn't add any additional spices to the syrup. I was concerned that the spice taste wouldn't come through. But, I was wrong! These pears are so delicious! They taste just like Fall and I wish that I had done all of the jars like this! I am tempted to buy more pears just to be able to can more spiced ones! These are the type of things that make canning so enjoyable!
What a simple change and now these are my favorite canned fruit of all time I think. I know you will love them too!
Check out these other canning recipes and tips:
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One thing that I have been fascinated about lately, is regrowing my store purchased vegetables! It is so awesome to know that I can really get my money's worth out of the fresh vegetables that I purchase. When the stores had shelves that were much more bare than we are used to, It appealed to me to grow edible house plants that I could just clip leaves from and add to recipes whenever I wanted to. What a great way to add some freshness to your diet. Here are some of the items I've been growing and how I've been doing it.
Green Onions-One of the easiest things to regrow!
Green onions are a vegetable that you can practically watch grow. when you cut off the white part of the stalk that includes the rood end and place them in water. I use small jelly jars. In the photo above you can see the ones on the right that I just started, the ones in the middle that I have snipped a time or two and the ones on the right that are ready to be used. The great thing is that I can just clip some onion and then grow them again! They grow so well hydroponically that there is no need to ever replant them in soil, but you can if you wish.
Carrots are also super easy!
The great thing about carrots is that the tops are edible and they are feathery and pretty. After awhile, the roots may actually form into a new, weirdly shaped carrot, but I think the beauty of these carrots is to keep them growing inside as an edible houseplant and snip leaves as you need them. Later in this article I'll give you some suggestions about how to add these vegetables to your recipes.
To regrow carrots, purchase carrots that still have their tops on them. Generally, this will be in the organic section of the grocery store. Remove the greens and cut off about an inch of the top of the carrot. Place the top, cut side down in a shallow dish of water. Watch the water levels daily. I used filtered water from my Brita pitcher to water all of my plants. In a few days, you will see little sprouts coming up around the ring on the carrot. As they begin grow, you may also see little feathery roots begin to form. As the greens begin to get to be about 3 inches tall, transplant them into a pot with a nice potting mix and continue to water them. Don't put them out in the heat! Carrots like cooler temperatures, so they will do better indoors. (I learned this from sad experience.)
I often purchase produce from a local distributor. In one of the boxes was a beautiful head of leaf lettuce. I cut the root bottom off of the head and popped it into water. It quickly began to grow more lettuce! I talked to my sister Carol about it, and she told me that she regrows her lettuce all of the time! She has found that the best results is that once you transplant it into soil, water it from the bottom. So, use a saucer under your pot and put the water in there. Lettuce also prefers cooler weather, so if you want to put it outside in your garden, do it in the Fall or early Spring. Or, keep it in the house as a plant. You can cut off leaves as you like, or cut it all of the way back and it will regrow!
I've talked to you about beets before on this post. Anita gave me another supply of them, so I decided to see if I could sprout them. I plopped the tops of the beet root into water, much like I did the carrots. As you can see, one of them already had sprouts on it, so I left them to see if they would still grow. They did! After they all started sprouting well, I trans planted them into soil. They will eventually grow into beets, but I am mainly using the tops of these. The red and green of the leaves make lovely houseplants and the tops are the healthiest part of the plant.
Garlic-Many plants from one bulb!
You can simply take apart a garlic bulb and plant the cloves in soil, root side down, pointy side up and they will grow. But, Anita gave me this tip. Place the entire bulb in a jar with water in the bottom and the bottom of the bulb not touching. In a few days, the bulb will start to fan open and the individual cloves will begin to sprout. Next, you can take them apart and put them in soil and you have give your garlic plants a nice head start. Mine began to sprout and I put them in soil yesterday.
The great thing about garlic is, you guessed it, the tops, better known as the scape, are totally edible! You can use those nice green stalks just like you would garlic. Not only that, garlic will flower and you may also use the flower seeds to add garlic flavor to your cooking. Just like the garlic cloves, the greens and seeds contain a natural antibiotic, manganese and iron.
How I've Used My Edible Plant Clippings So Far and Plan to in the Future!
More Vegetables That I am Planning to Try to Regrow in the Future
When I give those a try, I will totally give you an update.
I am so excited that aside from an outdoor garden, I will have some easy indoor alternatives! Have you regrown any veggies from the grocery store? Tell me you experience in the comments!
This post contains affiliate links. I will be compensated for purchases made through those links at no additional cost to you. All views expressed are my own. Thank you for your support!
During this period of the covid-19 pandemic, I have begun ordering and purchasing produce from a local distributor. They have great prices and nice produce and I was even able to get yeast from them! One day recently, I ordered a bag of cilantro. It didn't sound like very much according to the weight of the bag. But, cilantro is very light apparently and the bag of cilantro that I got was HUGE! Knowing how quickly cilantro will wilt and get slimy, I tried to see if my daughters or son needed any. They all refused it, saying they had just purchased some! I started using it in salsa and every recipe possible, but I barely made a dent in that giant bag.
Fast Forward to my grandsons outdoor, socially safe birthday, where I sat having a conversation with Anita and her DL Julia, each 6 feet away from me, and I tell them about my cilantro dilemma! Julia, an excellent cook and baker, suggested that I could put the cilantro in olive oil and freeze it in ice cube trays! Then, when I don't have fresh cilantro in the house, I can just pop a cube of the frozen stuff in my recipe and it will still taste fresh! So, after I got home, I started looking things up about freezing herbs online. Isn't it amazing how many different methods you can find on there? I looked things over, and this is what I did:
I had one spare ice cube try to use to freeze my cilantro! In a food processor or blender, put 5 cups of fresh cilantro, stems and all and 3/4 cups of vegetable oil. If your blender won't hold that much, you will have to chop it in batches. PULSE the blender or food processor until the cilantro is chopped up and covered with the oil. I didn't want it to be a smooth cilantro puree, but to have leaves and bits of stem still showing. Then, I put about a tablespoon of the oily cilantro into each slot of the ice cube tray. I covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer. The beauty of this method is that when it is completely frozen, you can pop out the cubes and store them in the freezer in a plastic bag and then reuse the ice cube tray for something else!
Now, after using 5 cups of cilantro for that freezing project, you would think my problem would have been solved, right? No way, I still had half of the cilantro left! Well, while I had been looking up ways of freezing my cilantro, I remembered noticing herbal salts. Cue binging light bulb! I began with the obvious, Cilantro-Lime Salt. OH MY GOODNESS! THESE SALTS ARE SO EASY TO MAKE AND SO TASTY! I believe I have found this year's Christmas gifts! The possibilities are endless! I am going to give you 3 Cilantro Salt variations. Under each initial photo I will give you ideas for their use and how I have tried them so far. I think a set of 3 types of salts would make a great gift, or use other herbs to make salts, such as basil or thyme from your garden and give a variety of different salts in that way! I used little Rubbermaid or Zip Lock containers to store them, or you could use shakers or canning jars. I also designed labels that I am sharing with you to keep track of what is what and to give them a cute look.
In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together thoroughly. Then spread them on a sheet pan that has sides.
Place the pan, uncovered, into your oven set at its lowest heat setting. Leave it there for an hour or two until the cilantro and zest are completely dry. At this point you can start gathering the salt into the center of the pan, crumbling the big pieces of cilantro as you go.
This recipe filled 2 Rubbermaid 4 ounce containers as pictured. Then, I used Avery Address Labels #8160 to print little labels for my salts. Click the button for the PDF to print your own!
When I made the label for this one, I mixed up the onion and the garlic description on it, but you get the idea of why it is called CROG. This salt makes a great rub for any type of meat! I used it on salmon and it was fantastic. A little goes a long way to bring great flavor! I think on a beef roast it will be divine. I am trying that next. It would also be great on vegetables and in rice.
CROG Salt- A savory blend of Cilantro, Rosemary, Onion and Garlic
3/4 c. loosely packed chopped cilantro
1 bunch finely chopped green onions, green part only
6 cloves finely chopped garlic
4 long sprigs of fresh rosemary, off the stem and chopped
1 c. coarse kosher salt
Blend all together in a bowl as before and spread on a sheet pan. Because there are wetter ingredients in this recipe, it will take about 4 hours to dry well in the oven at the lowest setting. When finished, crush up the larger chunks into the mix. The tiny dry onion pieces will burst into powder! I may have had a little too much fun with that.
I was able to get almost 3 containers of savory CROG from this recipe.
1 c. chopped cilantro, loosely packed
6 slices of crispy cooked bacon, crumbled. Cut off any fatty, not crispy parts. If possible, lower salt would be great.
3/4 c. coarse kosher salt.
Like the other recipes, blend all of the ingredients together and spread them on a sheet pan. Dry in your oven with it set on the lowest setting. It took mine 3 to 4 hours to dry completely.
Scrap everything together on the pan, crumbling even smaller as you do so.
This recipe filled 2 containers.
The measurement of the ingredients is somewhat loose, and you can adjust them as you wish as you make yours. After making these recipes, I was able to bring down the amount of cilantro that I had to a manageable level. If you grow your own herbs or if you have access to a large amount of them like I do from a produce supplier, just think of the possibilities of making gifts this year! It was quick and easy with a great result. Now my mind is racing with other flavor combinations. Also, which containers did you like better? What other flavor combinations do you think would work well? Let me know in the comments!
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You know, I've gotta say that there are some people in my life that don't believe that pumpkin goes with everything.
Don't be one of those people. Those people are sad.
Pumpkin goes with everything. I really love finding new dishes and sprucing them up with pumpkin!
This week I made one amazing lasagna. It was vegetarian, and easily vegan. I will blog about it next week. First though, I need to blog about the sauce I used. Because it was fall, so I definitely had pumpkin in that pasta sauce. No regrets. I am probably also going to make spaghetti and use this pumpkin pasta sauce, because it is amazing.
Also, it is so easy to make, and you can make a lot at once and then can it and store it and use it again and again. So whatever pasta dish you have planned, you can throw some of this pumpkin pasta sauce on it.
Vitamin A everyone. Pumpkin, tomato, garlic, and Vitamin A everywhere.
There is truly nothing better.
So, here is how you make Pumpkin Pasta Sauce. Then, you can can it. Then you can save it. Then you can use it again and again in all your dishes that require sauce. Pumpkin sauce guys. It will change your life.
Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
1 15 oz can canned pumpkin
1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
2 TBSP olive oil
1 small can tomato paste
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1 TBSP garlic
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
Add all ingredients to a pot over medium heat.
Stirring occasionally bring to a simmer and heat for about ten minutes to let the flavor of the seasoning get well incorporated.
You can use immediately and store any unused sauce in the refrigerator for a week. Or you can can it and use it when you'd like. For canning directions, use the directions for canning found in this post.
Creators of Hot Cocoa Bombs! (copyrighted)
Helen Reynolds: Mother of six children , grandmother to eleven! I love to cook, craft and create things and I especially love doing that with my family, So, when my lawyer daughter, Lindsey, my artist daughter, Madalynn, and I came up with the idea of Hot Cocoa Bombs, this blog was born. Then, one more daughter, with her technical and science skills, plus creativity has joined in to round us out! Read more about us here!