More for the pantry

It’s so warm here in the great Pacific NW, but the days are so much shorter, the leaves are changing color, and it’s been wet out almost every day. Even though the temperatures aren’t changing much, I find that I am instinctually driven right now to put up and put away like crazy.

The past week I was constantly busy getting things made and put away – meals for the freezer; soaking and cooking white navy and black beans, and then getting them portioned for future use and also in the freezer; dehydrating a few things; making a huge pot of bean and veg soup and getting most of it frozen and put away; the jardinere I posted earlier this week; and a new attempt – jelly.

From the dehydrator:  I made some additional “sun” dried tomatoes for my own use, and also dried some crimini mushrooms I found on sale for use in soups, stews, etc. later this winter.

I hadn’t done mushrooms before but had been wanting to try them for some time. They dried much more quickly than I expected, and are nicely brittle-crisp, just like my books describe.

Starting weights:

  • Tomatoes – 1.1 lbs
  • Mushrooms-  13.33 oz

Jelly: I’d bought 5+ pounds of “Elephant Heart” plums at Yakima Fruit Market last weekend, planning to make jam. I waited too long, though, and many of the plums were so overripe that they were starting to split. No natural pectin there, so I decided to use them instead in jelly. I also had some organic blackberries from a purchase earlier in the week, plus some that had been in the freezer for a while and were in need of something to do.

As usual, I get started without re-visting recipes and instructions which I haven’t read in weeks. So, I got everything out and ready to go when I realized that you have to let the juice “drip” after preparation… minimum 2 hrs, best overnight. Great. So I went ahead and cooked down my two batches of fruit and got them set in home-made jelly bags to leach while I went about my day.

I used flour-sacking material, which I am guessing did a better job than “several layers of cheesecloth”, but not as good a job as a formal jelly bag. So, since the juice was already cloudy, I didn’t have too many issues with helping the process along by a few good twists and squeezes to get the last bits of goodness without waiting a full 12 hours.

From there, things went easily. I am getting into the rhythm of canning; no more filling jars and waiting 20 minutes for the water to come back to a boil. I also had a foam skimmer from my dad’s kitchen, never knowing what it was or what it was for until recently. But how nice to have the right tool for the job.

Followed the basics from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving for fruit jellies with pectin.




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