Easy Grape Jam

I really miss grape jelly and jam. But I found a very easy recipe for a jam that is fresh with a great taste.

Grape Jam

  • 2 lbs. fresh dark purple grapes
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice or orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter (the butter will stop foam from forming on your jam)

Wash and drain the grapes. Mash them a bit with your hands or a potato masher. Add sugar, lemon juice and butter. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook for 10 minutes stirring often.  Drain using a fine mesh strainer and using a pestle or back of a large spoon squeeze all the juice out of the seeds and skin. Discard seeds and pour the juice back into the saucepan to cook for another 20-25 minutes. Take a small dish and place in the freezer.  After 20 minutes of cooking take a small amount of the jam and place on the frozen dish, if it spreads out you need to cook longer. If it sets up you can jar immediately.  Make sure your jars and lids have been serialized.  This recipe should make two – eight ounce jars, refrigerate.

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Fast, easy and fresh.

Sweet Pickle Relish

Both Joe and I grew up using sweet pickle relish in our tuna, elbow macaroni and egg salads so when I looked for it in Mi Comisariato and saw the price I decided that I needed to learn how to make some from scratch. Cucumbers and onions are inexpensive here and how hard could it be to chop them up, add some sugar and vinegar?

Well, not hard at all. Here is my recipe:

Sweet Pickle Relish

  • 8- 10 medium-sized cucumbers
  • 2 medium red onions
  • 2 large green or red peppers (red peppers look nicer in the jar)
  • 1/4 cup of sea salt

Peel and de-seed cucumbers, de-seed peppers and put in food processor, I used the disk that shreds this time and it gave it more of a texture instead of using the chopper which made it very fine.  Chop the onion. Add 1/4 cup of sea salt, please do not use the salt that has fluoride in it.  Add cold water to cover all ingredients and set aside for 2 hours.

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Next make the pickling base:

  • 2 cups of white vinegar
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons mustard seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

in a large pot add the above 5 ingredients bring to a boil and cook until sugar is dissolved.

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Now take your cucumber mixture and drain and squeeze moisture out and add to sugar mixture bringing back to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

 

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Clean and disinfect about 7 pint jars and lids. Fill jars, clean rims and put on lids. In a large pot half filled with boiling water place all jars and bring water back to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Remove jars from water bath and let cool covered with a dish towel out of a draft.  The lids should pop and be slightly indented, if they are not refrigerate and use within two weeks.

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Joe wants to know, “Now, where’s the hot dogs and mustard!”

Sauerkraut

Another one of my favorite ingredients, sauerkraut, is something you can not find canned here. I have seen it in specialty stores in Guayaquil for over $5 a large jar. So again I have taken it upon myself to make my own.

It is the easiest recipe of everything I have ever done because it has only two ingredients, fresh cabbage and sea salt. That’s it.

First thing I did was purchase a wonderful large enamel pot with a lid. Not easy to find and not cheap but I did find it in a small store in Bahia de Caraquez. It would also work with a crock or large glass container best if it had a cover but use your imagination to cover it. Do not use a plastic container, it could leach into your sauerkraut or vice versa. Clean the container and set aside.

IMG_2359Sauerkraut (this recipe will make 6-8 quart sized jars)

  • 2 large heads of cabbage, cleaned, core removed and quartered
  • 1/4 cup of course or sea salt

Shred your cabbage in a food processor using the disk that has only one large blade. This will cut your cabbage into nice thin strips just right for any sauerkraut dish. Place the cabbage in the processor cut side on the blade. If you do not have a food processor use a sharp knife and slice into thin strips. This of course will take some time. It is much easier with a food processor so if you do not have one ask one of your neighbors if you can use theirs.

With each batch of cabbage you remove from the food processor sprinkle a half teaspoon of sea salt over the shredded cabbage. Continue layering until you have used all the cabbage. Now is the time to get your hands into this and massage the cabbage to release some of it’s juices. Pack the cabbage tightly into the container. Using a plate upside down with a weight on top (I use my heavy mortar from my mortar and pestle to weight the cabbage down). Cover with the lid and clean dishtowel. Look at it after about 1 hour, thoroughly wash your hands and arms because you really need to get into this cabbage and massage it again – do this a few times over the next several hours. You should see a dramatic change in the packing down of the cabbage, it should wilt a bit and when pressed down will take less room in your container and you should start seeing liquid at the bottom. Press down hard with all your weight, I do this with the container on the floor to get more weight behind it.(none of you make a joke about the weight behind me). hee hee

Cover and set it in a cool place, out of the sun. I put it under my sink because every time I go to the sink which is 50 times I day I can smell the cabbage and pay more attention to it that way. Over the next 2 weeks, check the cabbage each day, if there is a foamy scum on top clean it off and repack the cabbage. After about 5 days taste the cabbage for a flavor change, it should start to taste like sauerkraut and not fresh cabbage. It should get limp and create a nice liquid, with a tart bite to it. If it tastes right to you at this point you should can. Always use clean, disinfected jars and lids. This is where I add a few sprinkles of caraway seeds – not necessary – just like that bit of flavor. Place in a canning jar water bath. Boil for 10-20 minutes, bring out and cover with a dry dishtowel. Over the next several hours you should hear the jars pop, the lids should be concave after several hours or the next day. If the lid is not concave place in the refrigerator and use within a few weeks.

Over the next month or so I will share some of my recipes that use this sauerkraut, I even have a recipe for a sauerkraut chocolate cake, yes you heard me right. .

 

Once Upon a Fig

Our time in Ecuador has been filled with small adventures, most of those adventures came while meeting new folks because of the blog. While we were still living in Salinas a reader Yusuf starting corresponding this was back in April 2011. He has followed our blog almost from the first post so I consider him a dear and treasured friend at this point.

When we bought this home and I was posting of the itty bitty yard with all its trees he suggested a fig. Where was I going to put a fig but when I saw one for sale while at the mercado in Charapoto what do you think I did, yes you are correct I bought it, what was one more tree in our yard.  It was a bitty thing and it has grown slowly. I’m thinking it will never bear fruit in our lifetime, well I was totally wrong.

San Clemente 4.8.2014 091 I was shocked to see the one and only fig on the ground a few days later but just assumed the tree to just to young to bear fruit but maybe next season. I have high hopes for fig marmalade.

Yusuf, thanks for your wonderful advice, suggestions and counsel for the past years. We are blessed to have met folks like you on our journey.

Fresh Apple Sauce

San Clemente 8.29b.2013 002While shopping earlier this week I saw a jar of apple sauce and the cost was unbelievable at almost $5. I would have felt like I was robbed paying that much for a quart sized jar.  So when Gonzalo came by a few days ago I paid $2 for 10 good-sized Chilean apples.  They look to be of the Gala variety and are sweet.

So I am making apple sauce.

Simple Apple Sauce

  • 2 lbs of peeled, cored and cubed apples
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (I used Panela)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 slices of lemon peel
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • pinch of salt

Bring apples and other ingredients to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes depending upon the size of apple cubes. Mash with a potato masher or put in a blender until the desired consistency. (I did neither and it looks great). Pour into clean canning jars and put in a water bath for 10 minutes. Cool away from a breeze. Refrigerate. Enjoy! Next time I may add some fresh strawberries.

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All Things Jalapeño

Tuesday while shopping in Mi Comisariato I found fresh green jalapeño peppers. That may not sound like a big deal to you but they are not often available so I picked up a big bag and yesterday I pickle some of those beauties as well as made my special Hot Pepper Jelly.

San Clemente 8.29.2013 002What I ended up with was two jars of pickled peppers, five jars of Hot Pepper Jelly (one has already been given to a friend) and one container of Jalapeño Pepper Sauce especially for Joe.  I have kept some seeds for planting and have some drying for hot pepper flake.

San Clemente 8.29.2013 003Hot Pepper Jelly

  • 6 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped jalapeños seeded
  • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper seeded
  • 1 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (I used 1 cup white vinegar & 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 t butter (this stops the foam from forming on the top of your jelly)
  • 1 box Sure-Jell (thanks to Susan & Jimmy for bringing this from the states for me) or 1 bottle of Certo
  • green or red food coloring (optional – the peppers turn an unappealing color when heated so this brightens it up)

Clean and sterilize your jars first. Set aside on a clean dish towel. Clean and seed your peppers and chop very fine (I use a food processor for this step), then add to a large pot with the sugar, vinegar and butter. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil for one minute, lower the heat to a simmer for 5 minutes.

If using Sure-Jell: In a small saucepan add 3/4 cup of water and the box of Sure-Jell using a whisk mix well and simmer gently until dissolved.

If using Certo: It is already a liquid, just add the bottle to the mixture.

Add to the pepper mixture along with several drops of food coloring.  Stir for a minute or two and turn off heat. Pour into sterilized jars, clean rim of jar of any drips, cap and allow to cool before refrigerating.

Serve with cream cheese on crackers.

San Clemente 8,29a.2013 005 Enjoy!

Mora Syrup

At least once a week Gonzolo, my veggie guy, has several selections of fruit besides oranges, melons and pineapples. He will have strawberries (frutilla), red grapes (uva), blackberries (mora) as well as the fruits for juice like tree tomato (tomato de arbor), passion fruit (maracuya) and naranjilla (not sure of the English name).

This past week he had mora berries so I bought several cartons and decided to make jam…

Kefir 8.11.2013 001 …well it actually turned out as Mora Syrup…First I just hate using a great deal of sugar in my recipes so normally for making jam you would use one cup sugar to one cup juice/pulp…I just think that is way too much so I use half the amount of sugar. Four cups of juice/pulp and two cups sugar…it has a nice tart flavor with just enough sweetness. But after bringing it to a boil (also, a little trick I learned  – add a dab of butter and it will not foam) lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. When I looked at it after it had cooled a bit it was a too runny for jam (Joe does not think so but I think it would flow off the bread) so it became Mora Syrup…and I am sticking to that story.

San Clemente 8.11.2013 002I made pancakes yesterday morning and we used the new syrup – excellent, fresh, no preservatives just fruit and sugar. And very easy to make. I will say that straining the seeds from the fruit is time-consuming but I did see a food mill while shopping in Guayaquil and that would make the job so much faster…so that is added to my wish list from the states…