Condiments

Cooking with Mama

©Nissa Gadbois | All rights reserved

Last week, Geo and I gathered about 5 pounds of crabapples from one of our trees and made some crabapple jam.  I love this time of year.  There is so much to remind us of God’s bounty, so much to be thankful for.   How blessed we are to be able to feed ourselves from our own land, from foods that grow wild all around us.

Besides food, we are surrounded by medicines.  The youngest five went down with a cold virus just three days after their older brother had surgery to repair a shattered knee.  I was able to make a strong medicinal tea from elderberries we harvested from around the barn.  I’m happy to say that they are all feeling better.

William, our 16 year old, is recovering beautifully from his surgery, too.  Thanks be to God.

And that crabapple jam?  It was delicious spread on our homemade sourdough bread. 

 

Crabapple Jam
A gorgeous, rich spread for toast or biscuits.
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Ingredients
  1. 5 lb fresh organic crabapples
  2. 1 1/2 c. water
  3. 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar (with mother)
  4. 1 1/2 c. raw honey, agave nectar, or organic sugar
Instructions
  1. Place fruit, water, and vinegar in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook fruit until they burst, about 20 minutes. Run fruit through a food mill or sieve. Push pulp through the sieve and discard skins and seeds. Place pulp back into the pot and add honey. Heat gently until honey is completely dissolved and incorporated.
  2. Using a jelly funnel, fill clean, hot jelly jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Process in a hot water bath for 10-15 minutes. Remove and cool.
Notes
  1. This recipe results in a very thick jam. If you were to add mulling spices, you would have a beautiful crabapple butter. The flavour is astringent. Consider serving with butter or cream cheese, or on a piece of shortbread. It would also be lovely served alongside a beautifully roasted pork loin.
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Crabapples ©Nissa Gadbois

{Real Food, Pure and Simple} | Lilac Jelly

Last month, the little ones helped me make some lilac jelly.  Our farm has been overrun with lilacs.  We are so overrun with them, in fact, that we will be dividing them and selling the potted lilacs to farm visitors next year.  That way, everyone can own a little piece of the farm (and make their own jelly, too!).

It was such a lovely day.  We threw open the kitchen windows while we worked.  The scent of lilac blossoms permeated the air. It doesn’t last long enough, lilac season.  This country jelly is a clever way to preserve it, in edible form, until next year.

I began by filling a 5 gallon bucket with lilac panicles, early in the morning, before the precious oils evaporated.  it is really important to get them early for the best results.  Remember to shake off the little critters.

We plucked the individual blossoms from the panicles.  You don’t want the green bits because they can make your finished jelly bitter. And when we made the infusion, we were surprised to see that the pretty pale purple blossoms produced a pale green liquid.

 

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

 

William kept us entertained by catching butterflies and moths, bringing them to the window to show us.

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

If you aren’t familiar with making jelly, you just need to remember these things:

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

  1.  Your maximum batch size should not exceed 10 c. of infusion.  If, like me, you need to make much more than that, make your infusion in one batch and divide it into smaller batches before adding pectin and sugar.
  2.  I recommend ALWAYS using low-sugar/no-sugar pectin from real fruit.  This allows you to adjust your sugar content to your taste.  For this recipe, I cut the original amount of sugar by half.  My recipe below is exactly what I used.
  3. Always add pectin to the infusion and boil BEFORE adding sugar. 

Lilac Jelly

Lilac Jelly

10 c. lilac infusion

1 c. lemon juice

1 jar powdered pectin (low-sugar/no-sugar)

10 c. organic sugar

In a large roasting pan or steam pan liner, on top of the stove, pour lemon juice into the infusion.  Slowly stir in pectin with a whisk to prevent lumps.  Bring to a hard boil (one that can’t be stirred down).  Add sugar all at once, bring back to the boil and cook for about 1 minute.  Turn the heat off and pour jelly into prepared jars.  Wipe the rims clean, place lids.  Process in a water bath for 10 minutes (or as long as needed for your altitude).    Viola!  That’s it.

I’m not bothered by foam, but you can disperse it with a pat of butter or oil during the second boil.  Skim off any remaining foam.  It is still perfectly good to eat.  It just isn’t as pretty to some folk.

ETA: I TOTALLY forgot to give instructions for the infusion!  Mea culpa. You want:

10 c. lilac blossoms

11 1/4 c. water

Bring to the boil, reduce to simmer.  Simmer for 40 minutes, take off the heat and allow to steep overnight, covered.  In the morning, strain the blossoms and press all of the liquid out.  Measure the liquid.  If you need to, add some water to ensure that you have 10 c. of infusion.

 

If you missed lilac season, you can purchase some of ours here.

 

 

Red Easter Applesauce

My attempts at charoset are legendary failures, at least in my book. I had my first taste of it {and subsequently fell in love} at a church seder in junior high school. I have never been able to replicate it at home. Ever. And I have tried several recipes. Every Easter. To go with our lamb. Because it is a perfect combination. Or should be.

This year, I have decided to deconstruct the recipe and modify a family favourite. And by happy circumstance {being that I am about 13 months pregnant}, I made it today to save myself a last minute kitchen rush while trying to run our family back and forth to Triduum services, or to prevent me from waking with the Marys to get it fixed before the lamb and fixings go on to cook.

It is a WINNER!

Red Easter Applesauce

Red Easter Applesauce:

  • 1/2 peck of apples, washed (preferably organic, I used MacIntosh)
  • 1/2 c. red wine (your favourite)
  • 1 T. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Halve and core the apples, place them into a covered roasting pan. Add wine and cinnamon. Bake, covered, for 1 hour. Cool slightly. Run through a fine sieve or food mill to remove skins. Serve!  You could even top your serving bowl with toasted or glazed walnuts.  Yummy!

Makes about 5 cups.

 

This is how I put up our 50 quarts of applesauce every autumn (minus the wine and cinnamon). It is the best applesauce you will ever have. It needs absolutely no sugar because the natural sugars are allowed to develop during baking. It is a totally different flavour and texture to the boiled type. Even with the same apples. Trust me.

 

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{Family Centered Kitchen} | Cranberry Sauce

We eat a lot of homemade cranberry sauce here from late October when the first fresh cranberries begin to arrive, right through to January or February when they disappear again.  Our favourite is smooth sauce, and this one is sublime – and simple.

{Family Centered Kitchen} | Cranberry Sauce

 

Nissa’s Homemade Cranberry Sauce

  • 3 lb fresh cranberries, picked over
  • 4 c. sugar (I love using organic sugar)
  • 4 c. water
  • 1 T. whole cloves

 

{Family Centered Kitchen} | Cranberry Sauce

Place everything in a great big soup pot.  Bring to the boil.  You’ll hear those berries POP! and that when you know that they’re doing their thing. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until all of the berries have popped and the liquid begins to look thick and glossy.  Give them a stir every few minutes.

 

{Family Centered Kitchen} | Cranberry Sauce

There is natural pectin in the berries, no need to add a thing.  You’ve just got to cook them long enough to get the full benefit.

When the berries are done, remove the pot from the heat and press the pulp through a sieve or a food mill {I’m longing for one of those to make my job easier!}. The wider and shallower the bowl/dish, the faster the sauce will set up.  That’s important when you simply can’t wait until tomorrow to dive in.

It’s not difficult to make this most glorious ruby sauce.  I promise you will never eat the stuff in the tin again.

*Tip: Serve butternut squash or pumpkin bisque with a dollop of this sauce right in the middle.  Also quite nice spread on crackers or toast {for breakfast the morning after Thanksgiving}, or plopped into a bowl of hot cereal, or made into a PBJ.  Or, just grab yourself a spoonful straight from the bowl.  Yummy!

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