It is that time of year when everybody starts thinking about holidays.
If you live in the United States, Thanksgiving followed by Christmas or Hanukkah then New Years celebrations are in the immediate future. I know that I have plenty of things to be thankful for. This blog is one of them. It has allowed me to visit with each reader and tell them about what my family has taught me thru the years. I learned a lot from my Grandmother Austin. She started me on the trail of home canning that has brought me to this point. I wonder how many of you readers have a similar story, someone in your past that got you interested in canning. I would love to do a survey and find out just what the numbers would look like. I don’t have a way to do that, but I would really be interested in reading your story or just what brought you to my page. If you don’t mind, take a minute and send me a note and tell me your story. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org . Just click on the link and this will let you send me a message.
Well getting back to my subjects for this blog, holidays. I don’t know about your house but in my house all the holidays coming up mean eating, big time. With eating I want my products to play a big part in the good times. Mary Lynn and I made several special items this time of the year and I want to share them with you.
First off we will start with a couple of Butters especially for fall season. Pumpkin Butter is the number one butter followed closely by Sweet Potato Butter. What you never heard of these? Maybe one but not the other? Both are best this time of year because of the pumpkins coming into season and the best sweet potatoes in the market. Mary Lynn would go to the State Farmers Market and look at all the pumpkins for sale. She looked for a certain type of pumpkin, not the ones you might think. She looked for cooking pumpkins. This is best for baking. Why this type? This pumpkin is usually smaller, more meatier than the type that you carve faces in. You take this pumpkin and cut from stem end to blossom end around, dividing it into two halves. Take a cookie sheet and spray it with not stick non-flavored spray then place the inside of the pumpkin face down on the sheet. The outside of the pumpkin facing up. Bake at 325 ° for about 25 to 35 minutes, depending on the pumpkin size. After this, let cool, then carefully flip over to expose the cooked insides. Remove the seeds and other parts leaving only the walls of the fruit. Take a large spoon and scrape to remove the meat. Do this carefully so as not to get the outside skin of the roasted pumpkin. Place all the cooked meat in a food processor and blend til it is smooth. This is what we will use to make our butter. If this is too much, purchase canned pumpkin in the grocery. The canned will taste OK, but fresh is by far the best.
12 cups pumpkin, 4 1/2 cups apple juice, 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar, 7 1/2 cups sugar, 3 cups brown sugar, 3 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice and 1/2 teaspoon ginger. Mix all ingredients completely and put into crock pots, or cook on top of the stove in a large heavy cooking pot. Cook around 2 hours, mixing while cooking. Carefully ladle into 8 ounce prepared canning jars (washed and rinsed). Leave at least 1/4 inch room from the rim. Take a damp paper towel and clean rim. Place sterilized domes (rinse in boiling water) on top and screw rings on. Screw on finger tight, not loose or too tight. Place inside a pressure cooker to process the jars. Process in a boiling water bath with at least two inches water over the tops of the jars for 10 minutes.
This is one of the best tasting things you could ever eat on a toasted muffin or even toast. Mary Lynn had a thought while making pumpkin butter; what if you served it after dinner as a snack. Serve it with whipped cream cheese and ginger snap cookies, vanilla wafers and graham crackers. This might also work with sweet potato butter as well, but especially with pumpkin butter. Just take your snap or cracker or wafer and spread the soft cream cheese then add a dollop of pumpkin butter. If you don’t know what a dollop is, well it is less than a whole bunch and more than not enough…. do you get the idea? It has to be great. So there are always other methods of enjoying seasonal favorites.
12 1/2 cups yams in syrup, 12 1/2 cups solid pack, 4 cups apple juice, 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground allspice, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 14 cups sugar, 1 cup lite corn syrup. (You can cut the recipe in half to make less, but keep proportions same all the way thru.). Mix all ingredients, place in blender or food processor to completely mix (do small batches at a time). Use the syrup and apple juice to cut the thickness. Place in crock pots and cook 8 hours, mixing occasionally. Ladle into 8 ounces jars using the same instructions as above. Let cool and set over night.
Now we will move on to some more familiar holiday treats. Holiday relishes are different from ordinary relish; they don’t have to be jarred. They can be put into large bowls and refriderated til served. You can put them into jars if you plan on making enough to share or eat at another time. Remember carefully ladle the relish into 8 ounce canning jars that have been washed and rinsed then dried. Fill to within 1/4 inch from the top. Place a sterile dome (boiled in water) on and finger-tighten the ring. Process your jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove and let sit overnight. Check for unsealed jars, they must have new domes and be boiled again for 10 minutes.
How about different variations of a holiday standard Cranberries?
Whole Cranberry Relish
1 pound cranberries, 1 1/2 cups water, 2 1/2 cups sugar, 1 cup seedless chopped raisins, 1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped (Granny Smith really works nice here), rind from a orange and lemon, finely grated, and 1 cup walnuts – chopped.
Cook cranberries in water till all skins pop open. Add the sugar, raisins, apple and orange and lemon peel. Boil fifteen minutes. Remove from heat and add walnut meats. Place in a bowl that will go in your refrigerator. Let cool to set . Serve like you would cranberry sauce, but the taste is better.
1 pound cranberries, 1 1/2 cups water, 2 1/2 cups sugar, 1 orange rind grated, 1 cup orange juice. You can add walnuts to this, or almonds or pecans. A true Southern version of this would have to have pecans.
Cook cranberries in water till all skins pop open. Add the sugar and orange peel and juice. If you want to add nuts, add them now. Place in a bowl and chill over night to set up. Serve on a nice dish with Mandarin Orange segments scattered over the top. Really nice to look at as well as delicious to eat.
What Southern holiday feast would be served without Ambrosia? I know that when you read the recipe, many will say that their grandmothers didn’t have this or it had something else added. That is the fun of being the chef, you can make it any way you want. As long as it looks good and tastes better that it looks, the recipe will work. I have even had Ambrosia with peach slices.
Austin House Ambrosia:
5 cups drained, crushed pineapple, 1 1/2 cups orange juice, 1/3 cup orange peel, grated, 1 orange, peeled with membrane removed, chopped (be sure to remove seeds), 3 cups shredded coconut, 1 cup maraschino cherries, drained, chopped and blotted til no juice, 1 cup chopped walnuts, 1 cup chopped apple with peel (mix a red and green apple for best effects and taste).
Combine juice, pineapple and orange, simmer for 15 minutes. Add sugar, cook til almost jelly stage. Remove from heat and stir in coconut and blotted cherries. (Cherries that are not completely blotted will turn the mixture red, so blot as many times as needed to get dry cherries), add chopped apple and nuts. Remove from heat and let cool over night. This will not setup so it has to be served in small bowls. In my grandmother’s house we always put it over the top of a slice of home-made coconut cake with 7 minute frosting. I think the only holiday we didn’t eat coconut cake was 4th of July. I guess that is why my favorite cake has always been coconut. Try it on some of your favorite holiday treats and let me know which one you like best. Or better still, just eat it with nothing else. Hard to beat the flavor of this Southern Holiday tradition.
This will give you the chance to compare our products with the things you are making at home. Keep watching and reading.
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