jelly en-US 8 Good Reasons to Learn Canning Now <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-good-reasons-to-learn-canning-now" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="canning" title="canning" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Although my mother made her own preserves for years, I didn't bother to learn. I could always pick up exotic chutneys or fancy jams in local stores. We didn't live in places where we had fruit trees or many berries, so I didn't find any compelling reason to learn. (See also: <a href="" target="_blank">Homebrewed Beer: The Result</a>)</p> <p>And then, we moved.</p> <p>While I was thrilled to suddenly have mangoes, cherries, passion fruit, guava, berries, and other fruits in abundance, I also realized that they were going to go to waste unless I did something with them. My husband bought me a canning set from the hardware store, which came with a great instruction book, and I learned how to can. So, why should <em>you</em> learn how to can?</p> <h2>1. It's Really Not Hard or Scary</h2> <p>Folks, if <em>I</em> can make jelly, so can <em>you</em>. After making a batch of mango jam a couple of weeks ago, my neighbor said, &quot;I want to learn, but all that sterilizing and boiling and stuff intimidates me.&quot; It's not like you need a sterile laboratory. You do need to follow the steps closely, measure ingredients, and time the stages. That's it.</p> <h2>2. Waste Not, Want Not</h2> <p>Besides dealing with our own produce, it is not unusual for a neighbor to show up with <a href="" target="_blank">a bag of fruit</a>. Sometimes at a farmers market you will find a great deal on large quantities. If you learn to can, you can put those mangoes, berries, apples, or whatever to good use. We have even made white wine jelly, which is delicious and can be made from very inexpensive white wine. Wise Bread's Thursday Bram has shared a <a href="" target="_blank">great mint jelly recipe</a>, complete with very easy instructions.</p> <h2>3. You'll Always Have Christmas, Hostess, or Other Gifts</h2> <p>People seem to enjoy receiving jams, jellies, and chutneys as gifts. I love the fact that they are all done well before the Christmas &quot;rush.&quot; It is also really nice to have an inventory of <a href="" target="_blank">gifts ready to go</a> for emergencies.</p> <h2>4. You Can Save Money</h2> <p>I just made mango jam, which cost me .25 per jar. The cheapest mango jam I could find to buy was $2.49 a jar! That's a pretty amazing savings.</p> <p><img width="605" height="454" border="0" src="" alt="" v:shapes="Picture_x0020_6" /></p> <h2>5. DIY Is Fun</h2> <p>I know, that sounds silly, but it's true. Learning how to preserve food really is fun, especially if you are a person who likes DIY projects.</p> <h2>6. Minimal Storage Required</h2> <p>Some DIY projects take up a lot of space, so when I started canning, I was a little worried about that. However, all of my equipment fits nicely in a 58-quart plastic storage container.</p> <h2>7. Canning Equipment Is Inexpensive</h2> <p>My <a href="" target="_blank">canning kit included</a> a black granny-ware canner (yes, that's a funny description), a jar lifter, a funnel, 12 jars with lids and bands, and the Ball Blue Book canning guide. It was about $65 five years ago. The sets are widely available in hardware stores and on the Internet. The Ball set is extremely well-made and it has held up beautifully. My neighbors all bring back their empty jelly jars, as well as others they collect, which is very nice. I rarely have to buy new jars. You can often find canning jars at yard sales, and you can even get reusable jar lids now.</p> <h2>8. Mistakes Are Delicious</h2> <p>My mother's best accidental creation was dubbed &quot;Plum Runny.&quot; Meant to be plum jam, something went awry, so we tried it on pancakes as syrup. It was amazing, and from then on, she just made Plum Runny. I personally have a store of Lilikoi Syrup in my pantry, which is similarly fantastic. In some recipes, if your jelly hasn't set, you can simply re-make it, to get the consistency desired.</p> <p><em>There are great books out there for beginning canners, and the Internet has loads of information. I would love to hear what kinds of preserves you have made &mdash; please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="8 Good Reasons to Learn Canning Now" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Marla Walters</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Food and Drink canning food preservation jam jelly Thu, 30 May 2013 10:36:34 +0000 Marla Walters 976224 at 11 Ways to Update Peanut Butter and Jelly <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-ways-to-update-peanut-butter-and-jelly" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Kid with sandwich" title="Kid with sandwich" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="146" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most of us have been eating peanut butter and jelly sandiwches since we first moved to solid food. Inexpensive, quick, and easy to pack, it's unsurprising that many of us continue to nosh on these sandwiches well into adulthood. But the ubiquitous PB&amp;J can also get a little boring after a while. Try one of these easy variations to add some excitement to the old sandwich. (See also: <a href="">Sex Up Your Sandwich: Ideas for Budget-Concious Brown Baggers</a>)</p> <h3>1. Use Other Butters</h3> <p>Cashew butter, almond butter, and sesame seed butter all taste great. Most &mdash; especially cashew butter and almond butter &mdash; are available in both crunchy and smooth.</p> <h3>2. Make PB&amp;J for Breakfast</h3> <p>What's better than peanut butter and jelly? Peanut butter and jelly drenched in maple syrup. Rachel Ray has a recipe for <a href="">peanut butter and jelly french toast sticks</a>.</p> <h3>3. Go Elvis</h3> <p>The King loved his peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Give a hat tip to Elvis by adding sliced banana between your peanut butter and jelly. Or try other fresh fruits like sliced apples or pears.</p> <h3>4. Grill It</h3> <p>The bread gets toasty, and the filling gets gooey and warm. It's a perfect quick winter comfort meal.</p> <h3>5. Add Raisins</h3> <p>...or dried cranberries, chopped prunes, or any other dried fruit.</p> <h3>6. Prepare a Pina PB&amp;J</h3> <p>Sprinkle a layer of shredded coconut (preferably unsweetened) between the peanut butter and the jelly.</p> <h3>7. Lose the Bread</h3> <p>Almond butter and jam with raisins between two rice cakes is one of my favorite travel snacks &mdash; plus it's <a href="">gluten-free</a>. You can also try PB&amp;J wrapped in a tortilla, on pizza crust, or on banana bread for a decadent dessert sandwich.</p> <h3>8. Toast Up PB&amp;J S'mores</h3> <p>Add a layer of peanut butter and a layer of jelly to graham crackers before smushing them in with chocolate and a soft marshmallow.</p> <h3>9. Prepare PB&amp;J Pie Pockets</h3> <p>These handheld <a href="">peanut butter and jelly pockets</a> look a little like Uncrustables, but feature peanut butter and jelly inside of a flaky pie crust.</p> <h3>10. Use a Savory Jelly or Jam</h3> <p>My mom gave me a jar of red pepper jelly for Christmas. It's a great pairing for cheeses, but also makes for a totally different peanut butter and jelly experience.</p> <h3>11. Put PB&amp;J on Your Burger</h3> <p>This might sound like an example of two sandwiches that should never meet, but <a href="">peanut butter and jelly burgers</a> are popping up at restaurants across the United States. The key, it seems, is to choose your jam carefully. Very carefully.</p> <p><em>Do you make a great, atypical peanut butter and jelly sandwich? What variations am I missing? Share in the comments!</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="11 Ways to Update Peanut Butter and Jelly" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Meg Favreau</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">Food and Drink articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink easy recipes jelly lunch ideas Peanut Butter sandwich ideas Fri, 20 May 2011 10:36:21 +0000 Meg Favreau 546183 at Getting Started with Preserving: Mint Jelly <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/getting-started-with-preserving-mint-jelly" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When I was little, my grandmother would can all sorts of things. She had a big garden full of produce that would wind up in jars in her pantry. She'd pick up grape juice on sale and make her own grape jelly. She'd even head down to the bulk store and pick up more fruit and vegetables to can on occasion. On the other hand, I can't remember my mother ever canning anything. With a pretty big garden of my own, along with a habit of also shopping in bulk, I've found myself following in my grandmother's footprints. I've had to figure out where to start, though, because I don't remember quite as much of how my grandmother canned certain things as I would like.</p> <p>If you're considering where to start with canning, I'd recommend mint jelly. It sounds like a strange choice &mdash; what do most people use mint jelly on besides lamb? But the mint jelly you make yourself will be far different than the neon green stuff you find at the supermarket, and it's an ideal starter recipe because it's surprisingly easy to make. It also doesn't hurt that if you're also into gardening, mint is a great starter plant.</p> <h3>A Basic Mint Jelly Recipe</h3> <ul> <li>1 1/2 cups mint leaves</li> <li>2 1/4 cups water</li> <li>2 tbsp lemon juice</li> <li>3 1/2 cups granulated sugar</li> <li>3 ounces (1 pouch) liquid pectin</li> </ul> <p>You'll need four clean 8-ounce mason jars, along with a boiling-water canner and cheesecloth. If you don't have a canner, you can use a large saucepan or stockpot that is at least 3 inches deeper than the height of your jars. I've yet to find cheesecloth at my grocery store, but the local craft store always has it.</p> <p>Place your jars on a rack in the canner and fill both the jars and canner with cool water, until the water reaches the top of the jars. Cover the canner and bring water to a simmer over medium heat, but don't let it boil.</p> <p>Set the screw bands for your four jars to the side &mdash; you don't want to heat them. Place the lids in a small saucepan and cover with water. Heat the water over medium heat until it simmers, but don't let it boil. Keep your lids warm until you're ready to use them.</p> <p>Rinse your mint leaves thoroughly. Shake of the extra water and chop the leaves finely. Place the leaves and water in a large saucepan. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it boils, remove the pan from heat, cover, and let it steep for ten minutes.</p> <p>Pour the mint liquid into a sieve or colander lined with cheesecloth. Let it drain until you have 1 3/4 cups of liquid without mint leaves. In a clean saucepan, combine the liquid, lemon juice, and sugar. Bring it to a full rolling boil while stirring constantly. Add the liquid pectin and allow it to boil for one more minute as you stir. Take the pan off the heat and skim off the foam that has built up on top of the mixture. Move fast, though, since jellies can set up for quickly.</p> <p>Remove a jar from the canner and place a canning funnel in it (a canning funnel is just a funnel with a very wide mouth). Pour the hot jelly into the jot jar very carefully. Leave 1/4 inch of space between the jelly and the top of the jar. Wipe the jar rim and threads to remove any food residue. Take a hot lid from the water and place it on the jar. Put the screw band on the jar and fasten it to fingertip-tight. Put the jar back in the canner and repeat the process with the rest of your jars.</p> <p>When all four jars are full, lower the rack back into the canner. Your jars should be covered with at least one inch of hot water. Cover the canner and bring it to a full boil. Allow it boil for ten minutes. At the end of that time, turn off the heat and remove the lid. After an additional five minutes, remove the jars, without tilting. Set your jars in a draft-free place and let cool for 24 hours.</p> <p>Check the seals on your jars after 24 hours. Take off the screw bands and press down down on the center of the lid. A sealed lid will be curved downward and won't move when you press it. If a jar didn't seal properly, it must be refrigerated or used immediately or reprocessed.</p> <p>There are a lot of steps in this recipe, but nothing that's actually hard to do. As long as you can boil water, you can make mint jelly. This type of jelly tastes great with a lot of different items. Personally, I like it with my biscuits in the morning.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Getting Started with Preserving: Mint Jelly" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Thursday Bram</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Food and Drink canning jelly mint jelly preserving Tue, 26 Jan 2010 17:00:02 +0000 Thursday Bram 4864 at