Plum Fresh

Or should it be more appropriate to call it “Fresh Plum” today?share a bit of love DIY Plum Sauce1

I obtained a large basket of perfectly ripened Italian Plums this week from a colleague. To avoid the inevitable fruit flies that have run havoc around my kitchen this summer, I opted to make plum sauce.

Plum jam was really on my mind, but then I realized I was plum (ha!) out of my main canning staples. Enter Plum Sauce.  It just sounds decadent over vanilla ice cream, cheesecake, scones, goat cheese toast, or even as a glaze on a slow roasted turkey breast- doesn’t it?

Here is what is needed:

  • 4 cups of washed & halved Italian Plums
  • 1 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon/lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice

In a large non reactive sauce pan, pour plums, sugar, spices and lemon juice. Simmer on low-medium for about an hour and a half while stopping to stir and to make sure the mixture doesn’t over boil.  220 (f) degrees should probably do the trick.  Your house will smell amazing. Meanwhile, prepare your jars for canning.  While the jars are still hot, spoon the sauce into each jar, and process using a water bath. Lick the delicious leftovers off the spoon and swoon at the late summer taste of beautiful Italian Plums.

share a bit of love DIY Plum Sauce2 share a bit of love DIY Plum Sauce3 share a bit of love DIY Plum Sauce4

Suburban Homesteading

Although I’ve grown fond of my current home, I don’t quite belong in the suburban area of Olympia. I am naturally drawn to the extremes of a big city or small town.  Lately, it’s definitely been on the smaller side of things. This is best demonstrated when I use my spare time to do a little homesteading. This can be anywhere from using local flora for decor, or making preserves from local bounties.

After a trip to my Gram’s orchard, I found myself with two large crates of our family pears amongst apples and Italian prunes.  In hopes of avoiding waste (and fruit flies), I took to the kitchen with mason jars and some patience. Pears were 1st.

The method is so simple:

Wash & Rinse

Cut pears in half

Remove the core

Peel and chunk

Add a squeeze of local honey and lemon juice in the bottom of each jar

Add the pears with some hot water

And finish in a water bath to seal

No unnatural additives, just pure, sweet home pears.

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Blueberry Rhubarb Jam

Of course, after a trip to the local blueberry field,  its natural to have the urge to make jam. How else would I use fresh local berries? Smoothies, berry salads, and pancakes will only get a girl so far.

I had a full rhubarb plant in the garden this year, so I thought I would throw it in the mix.

Blueberry Rhubarb Jam Recipe

Ingredients:

4 Cups Blueberries

1 Cup Rhubarb

1 Cup Sugar

1/2 Cup Honey (you can substitute for package of pectin)

2 Limes (Juice only)

Directions:

Start by adding sugar to rhubarb, let sit for 2 hours.

On medium heat, add honey, rhubarb/sugar mixture and heat until sugar is dissolved.

Squeeze in lime juice.

Bring to low boil, cook for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, skim any foam and pour into clean jars.

Set with a water bath, allow to rest on a room temperature counter top.

This recipe made about 10, 4 oz jars of jam.

Share and Enjoy.

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In a Pickle

I have been having many sweet memories of my late Grandpa in the last few weeks.  He passed away in 1998 from an aggressive brain tumor. He was my role model, my friend, and my partner in crime as a kid.   He and I had many things in common: We loved to fish, had a passion for music, loved our dogs, loved the garden, and LOVED dill pickles.  I have fond memories of Gramps and me in the kitchen, stewing up brine for our prickly cucumbers and anxiously awaiting the week we could open the first jar.

Today I ran across those same prickly cucumbers at my favorite farm stand and decided I would spend the afternoon making pickles.  I used the basic brine below and added my own special seasonings to carry on tradition. The smell in the kitchen reminded me so much of the good times we had when he was here. Even after 15 years, it felt like he was right there with me making sure those pickles were picture perfect.

Here are the basic ingredients for the brine used for three pounds of cucumbers, a whole bunch of dill weed, and 4 cloves of garlic:

2 Cups white vinegar

2 Cups water

1/4 Cups of Canning Salt

1/8 Cups of Sugar

Add all ingredients together on the stove, bringing to a boil. Keep at a slow boil for 15 minutes. Add to cucumbers, garlic, and dill weed in sanitized jars and fill to the top leaving 1/4 inch from the rim. Add the rims (also boiled for sanitation) and secure the rings.  Boil another 5 minutes to ensure sealing. Keep in a cool dry place for at least 2 weeks.