Before I start the next blog, I need to bring things up to-date. I have been in hospitals since July 1, this is my first attempt to get back in action since then. I hope that you will pass the word along to friends and others that read and use my blogs. I hope that things will progress to the point were I am publishing new blogs on a regular basis, like before. I really need some new ideas to write about, so think about it and send me a comment or two with your ideas.
There really is a home canning product called a Conserve. I am going to ask you to trust me on this, I am unable to find a definition for Fruit Conserve online. The closest to a real definition is: A conserve is usually a mixture of fruit, often with raisins and sometimes nuts, cooked until it becomes very thick and chunky. Sort of sounds like a chutney doesn’t it. I want you to picture fruit cocktail that has been cooked til the syrup is thick and spreadable, that is a Conserve. Now I don’t want you open a can of fruit cocktail and cook it down. I just used the mixture of fruit as an example. I want you to use fresh fruits that you purchase and prepare. That is what “Old-Fashion Home Canning” is about. If you was going to use something canned you might as well save time, but not money, and use something from the grocery store.
For some reason most of the recipes I saw online were made with cranberries. The main reason for this is cranberries are tart and when mixed with a sweet fruit become something special. Think about Thanksgiving dinner. You almost always find cranberry sauce on the table. Many people are now making their own with fresh whole cranberries. Some are made using orange juice to cook the cranberries in.
My first recipe for you in this new group will be something right along that line.
Cranberry-Orange Conserve: 1 pound cranberries (or a whole bag). 1 cup water. 1 cup orange sections, diced into small pieces. 1/2 cup grated orange rind (use the small side of your food grater for this.You want something small and easy to mix) It might take 2 or 3 oranges for this. You only want the orange part not the white part that is between the rind and the fruit pulp. 1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice (not from concentrate). You can find many different companies making this in your grocery store juice section. Cut some of the orange into fruit sections, again without the white membrane or the tough divider that is between the sections. Cook cranberries in water and orange juice til all skins pop open. Stir constantly and the cranberries will burst open after a short time. Add the sugar and grated orange peel and orange sections. Boil fifteen minutes or until you get a thick preserves like product. Prepare your canning jars by cleaning them. The jars start from the box might contain all sorts of things you don’t want in you final product. If you have a sanitizing cycle on your dishwasher use that.
Ladle carefully into canning jars (not left over mayo jars, they will burst during the processing). Fill jars to within 1/4 inch of top. Using a damp paper towel, clean the rims of the jars. This will make sure the jars sealing. Place a rinsed dome on top and screw on the ring. Finger-tighten the ring. This means just tight.
Not over tighten or under. Over will not let air escape during the boiling water bath part. Not tight enough and water will leak in and spoil your hard work. Process jars in a boiling water bath that has at least 2 inches of water over the top of the jars. Carefully put in 8 oz jars. process 10 minutes in water bath. The best way to do this is with a canning pot that has a rack to hold the jars and handles that let you safety put your jars in the water and remove safety.
These are available almost everywhere you buy your canning jars. No luck there, then go to a old-fashioned hardware store. I am not talking about the mega-stores. The cost for this pot is usually under $15. These pots last for a long time and will make sure the proper way to safety do your home canning. After boiling, let the jars set on a cooling rack or towel till they are completely cool to touch. Check to see if all jars seal. If not you have to remove the ring and dome, clean the rim again and place a new dome on. You can still use the same ring. Reprocess in the water bath. If you only have 1 or 2 jars that did not seal. Put them in the refrigerator and eat them first. They won’t last long. Once you start to eat them, you will not be able to stop them.
Now that sounds like a lot of work, it is. But the results are well worth the effort. The first time you family eats this you will be able to stand proud because you made this and they love it. Want a little variety?
Make the very same recipe, but this time add 1/2 to 1 cup small pieces of pecan or walnut. You will have made Cranberry-Orange-Walnut Conserve or Cranberry-Orange-Pecan Conserve. This is still great on a English muffin, but now you have something that works great as a hors d’oeuvre. Just add cream cheese and a cracker. Your guest will love it. You could also use it as a side dish for your next turkey or baked chicken dinner. Use replaces that can of sauce. It won’t take many times like this and you will never buy the canned stuff again. Want another way to use this, try using it as a spread for your turkey sandwich. Also try using pita bread. Just spread in the pocket, add turkey and eat. So many ways to eat this, you will never run out of ideas.
Now I have you started down a Conserve Road, let’s try another. This is going to be
Peach-Orange-Pecan Conserve: 4 cups peaches (fresh is best but if you use canned blot the juice from the slices). 2 oranges grate the rind first then slice out the sections. 2 cups orange juice. 6 cups sugar. 2 cups pecan chopped finely. Use 3 Oranges if you need more balance. Cook oranges, and peaches in juice, for 3 or 4 minutes. This will make sure the mixture of flavors. Add sugar. Cook until jelly stage (or till real thick). Add nuts and cook 5 minutes more. Jar and process as above recipe.
This will work on toast, biscuit or cracker. So many ways to enjoy that you will make a bigger batch or cook more often. This could turn into something that your family and friends will look to you for. You might even start a new family tradition. Traditions have to start somewhere. Might just as well start one with real nutritious value instead of something made from a factory. Another important thing. Use the cream cheese that you enjoy. Don’t buy more expensive just to try this. It doesn’t need extra money spent, just time and love in the kitchen. Before you ask, I do not work for any company that makes cream cheese. I just love the taste when I use it with any of the conserves that we made.
I think I am going to close with this next recipe. Again, you can make it with nuts or not. You can add raisins or not (if you do the golden raisins work best). I like to call this Ambrosia because when I was growing up (and out). I am not naming it after a band that was popular in the 70’s or 80’s. My grandmother always made Ambrosia and served it with Coconut Cake. I will never get that out of my mind. It was so awesome. I had orange pieces, cherries, crushed pineapple and flaked coconut. She cooked it till it just started to thicken. She knew the cake would soak up the juice. I believe that most of us have similar memories of our childhood and eating something made by our grandparents or aunts or just a close friend. Ambrosia was a Southern Tradition, everybody had something similar. maybe a few different ingredients, but still the same idea. Well enough build up, let’s get cooking on the crown jewel of the conserves.
Ambrosia: 5 cups pineapple, crushed. 1 cup fresh orange juice. 1/4 cup grated orange peel. 1 orange, chopped be sure to remove seeds. 1 package of flaked coconut (I will leave the package size up to you). 1 cup maraschino cherries, drained, chopped and blotted til no juice leaks on to your paper towel. 6 cups sugar. 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). Mix completely so that coconut and cherries are all thru the mixture. Jar up and process with directions from above. if you don’t want to process this, you just want to chill and eat. For extra flavor add 1 pack of miniature marshmallows. Let set overnight in your refrigerator. You will not believe the taste or flavor. it is pure….Ambrosia. You know I looked up the meaning of Ambrosia. Wikipedia says: “In ancient Greek mythology, ambrosia (Greek: ἀμβροσία) is sometimes the food or drink of the Greek gods (or demigods), often depicted as conferring ageless immortality upon whomever consumed it. It was brought to the gods in Olympus by doves, so it may have been thought of in the Homeric tradition as a kind of divine exhalation of the Earth. Ambrosia is sometimes depicted in ancient art as distributed by a nymph labeled with that name. In the myth of Lycurgus, an opponent to the wine god Dionysus, violence committed against Ambrosia turns her into a grapevine”.
Now I don’t know about the last part. I can’t imagine anyone being turned into a grape-vine. I believe that is a little too intense. If they don’t want to eat your Ambrosia, that leaves more for you.
Just like the other Conserve recipes, you can add nuts but not raisins. My grandmother always had little pieces of pecan in hers. Mary Lynn made some with Walnuts and some with Almonds. They were both fantastic. I still like the one with the pecans better. It was a taste thing, it was the one I remembered. If you family has never tasted Ambrosia before, then they will not have a standard to compare to. So use any nut your like and use marshmallows or not. You are the cook, what you say goes. You make the rules!
Don’t forget…. let me know what you would like to make or any ideas you have for the next blog.I do take request. I don’t even have a “Tip Jar”.
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Don’t forget, if someone asks you can you can it?
Say YES I can can it.