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Homemade Yogurt

Posted on February 15, 2013 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I was fortunate enough to take a class last weekend about making different things with milk. I learned how to make yogurt, cheese, butter, ice cream, pudding, etc, and had a great time with other like-minded women. Some of the things I had done before, but I had never made yogurt! I couldn't wait to make some! It is so yummy, I will never buy store bought again!


What you need:

1 Gallon of milk

2 envelopes Knox Gelatin dissolved in 1/2 C cold water

1 heaping cup Sugar

2 Tbsp. vanilla

1 C Plain Yogurt with live cultures

Large pot

thermometer

container with tight lid



Heat the milk to 180 degrees F, then cool to 130 degrees.

Add the gelatin, sugar, vanilla, and yogurt.

Stir briskly with a whisk and pour into a container with a tight lid. I used the pitcher the milk was in.


The next step is letting it sit in a warm place for at least 8 hours. Three different options came up during the class.

1. Put into a large cooler and add 130 tap water around it. Close the lid.

2. Pre-heat your oven to 130 degrees. Turn off heat and set in the oven, keeping the light on.

3. I put mine in my dehydrator, set at 115 degrees and let it run for 8 hours (overnight).


Remove from holding area and stir well. It tastes so good just the way it is, but if you would like, you can add a small box of flavored Jello to the yogurt (see the pink yogurt in the picture).

Put into smaller containers and refrigerate.


Make sure you save some of your new yogurt to use as your starter for next time. You can use this instead of using the 1 cup tore bought yogurt!


And that's all there is! I can't tell you how long the yogurt will last, but I can say that it will be eaten in this house WAY before it goes bad! In the summer, I can't wait to freeze some in little popsicle molds for a yummy treat!


Pain, Pain, Go Away

Posted on January 31, 2013 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (1)

As you may know, I have already done a pain relieving salve, and I still adore it, but after doing some research, I can't ignore the benefits of these amazing herbal blends. And so, I share with you, two new pain salves.


Arnica (Arnica montana) has been used for centuries to soothe muscle aches, reduce inflammation, help bruises, and sprains. Arnica should not be used on broken skin, and should not be taken internally without the supervision of a medical professional.

I do want to add that Arnica montana is on the "watch list" due to heavy levels of harvesting. Please purchase this herb from a sustainable source, or better yet, grow it yourself!


Cayenne Pepper, another powerhouse for pain and reducing inflammation! The heat of cayenne (which doesn't burn on the skin, I promise) warms the body, dilating capillaries, and stimulates circulation. When using cayenne, and while applying anything with cayenne, ALWAYS wash your hands afterwards. I don't have to tell you how much it burns the eyes, nose, and mouth when touched.


Comfrey, oh my wonderful love comfrey...Comfrey is amazing for bruises, sprains, strains, broken bones, swelling, cuts, bug bites...you name it!


Rosemary and Peppermint Essential Oil not only smell fantastic, but are the perfect addition to any pain relieving remedy.


Alright, on to the salve recipes!


Arnica Cayenne For Pain Relief (Too Hot For Pain)


To start, we need to make an Arnica Cayenne infused oil.

6 oz. Arnica flowers (dried)

4 TBSP. Cayenne Powder

16 oz. Castor Oil (you can use olive oil, or another carrier oil)  I use Castor Oil because of it's ability to really penetrate the muscles


If you haven't made infused oils before, read how here.


For the salve:


6 oz. Arnica Cayenne Infused Oil

.75 oz. Beeswax

15 drops Vitamin E oil

15 drops Peppermint Essential Oil

15 drops Rosemary Essential Oil


Place the infused oil and the beeswax over a double boiler, and heat until the beeswax is fully melted. Remove from heat and add the essential oils and the vitamin E oil. Give it a good stir to distribute the new oils evenly. Quickly pour into tins or jars and allow to cool completely.


Don't feel like messing around making this? You can buy it here.



Arnica Comfrey For Pain Relief (Too Cool For Pain)


4 oz. Arnica Infused Oil

2 oz. Comfrey Infused Oil

.75 oz. Beeswax

15 drops Vitamin E Oil

15 drops Peppermint Essential oil

15 drops Rosemary Essential Oil



Place the infused oil and the beeswax over a double boiler, and heat until the beeswax is fully melted. Remove from heat and add the essential oils and the vitamin E oil. Give it a good stir to distribute the new oils evenly. Quickly pour into tins or jars and allow to cool completely.

 

 

Don't feel like messing around making this? You can buy it here.



In closing, I just want to remind you to please, please, please research EVERYTHING you read here and the rest of the internet. What works well for me, may be very different that you and yours.




 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese/String Cheese

Posted on January 24, 2013 at 11:20 PM Comments comments (3)




Making mozzarella cheese and string cheese is quick and easy! A few years ago, I bought a kit to make it, and I was addicted! Eventually, I would like to make my own cheddar, colby, and swiss, but let's start with the basics. Also, in case I forget, I post all temperatures in Fahrenheit.


Equipment:

* 1 gallon stainless steel pot or any aluminum or non-cast iron post.

* Thermometer (it will need to read accurately to 105 degrees F)

* Colander/strainer

* Slotted spoon

* Smaller Pot (will be used towards the end)



Ingredients:

1 gallon milk (not ultra pasteurized)

1 1/4 cup cool water (chlorine free)

1 1/2 tsp. citric acid

1/4 rennet tablet (or 1/4 tsp. liquid rennet)

1 tsp. cheese salt (optional)- you could also use salt substitutes or herbs to give it a different flavor

1/2 tsp. calcium chloride mixed with 2 TBSP of water- ONLY IF USING PASTUERIZED MILK)

**I buy my cheese supplies at Leeners, but you can get the supplies at health food store, brewery stores, and even some grocery stores.



1. Dissolve the rennet into 1/4 cup cool water. Stir and set aside. Keep the remaining rennet in the freezer for longer shelf life).

2. Mix 1 1/2 tsp. citric acid into 1 cup cool water until dissolved.

3. Pour 1 gallon of milk into your pot and stir vigorously as you add the citric acid mix.

4. Heat the pot over medium heat to 90 degrees, stirring every few minutes.

5. Once you have hit the 90 degree point, slowly add the rennet mixture stirring with an up and down motion. Continue to heat and stir until the temperature reached 105 degrees. (This is my favorite part- this is where the magic happens!)

6. Take off the burner, cover, and let sit for 15-20 minutes.

7. Pour into the strainer. The liquid you have is Whey- keep it or not...it's up to you. Gently press the curds together with the spoon and force more whey out of them. Squeeze out and drain as much whey as possible.


But wait...there's more....


There's two different ways to finish the process.


The Waterbath Method

1. Heat pot of water to 185 degrees f (I usually just eyeball it, but too hot will melt you curd, too cool will be ineffective- you want the cheese to soften)

2. Take your colander/strainer of curd and dip into the hot water. After several dips, take a spoon and fold the curds until they become elastic and stretchable. The curd will reach an internal temp of 135 degrees. (I have actually never truly checked this)

3. When it is stretchable, remove the curd and pull it like taffy. The stretching elongates the proteins. If it does not stretch easily, return it to the hot water for just a moment.

4. Add 1 tsp. salt or herbs and work into cheese Stretch the cheese until smooth and shiny. (Now would be an excellent time for a sample taste or two!)

5. You can now form your cheese into a log, braid, bite size pieces, or....string cheese! (take another sample- just in case. :) )

6. If you are not making string cheese, submerge the cheese into ice water and leave for 10 minutes. This cools it down and allows for your cheese to hold it's shape, protecting the silky texture from becoming grainy. And you're finished! This will keep for a week, or freeze for longer life...

**If you are making string cheese, while stretching the cheese, simply pull it into long strands and drop it in the ice water!


The Microwave Method

1. Ladle your curds into a microwave safe bowl, and heat for 1 minute.

2. Remove and drain off any remaining whey as you gently fold the curds into 1 piece. Add salt or herbs. (optional)

3. Microwave for another 30 seconds. Drain and stretch the curd. If it isn't easily stretching, place back in microwave for another 30 seconds.

4. Stretch the cheese by pulling like taffy until it's smooth and shiny. The more you work the cheese, the firmer it will be. (Now is the perfect time to eat some- just sayin')

5 You can now form your cheese into a log, braid, bite size pieces, or....string cheese! (take another sample- just in case. )

6. If you are not making string cheese, submerge the cheese into ice water and leave for 10 minutes. This cools it down and allows for your cheese to hold it's shape, protecting the silky texture from becoming grainy. And you're finished! This will keep for a week, or freeze for longer life...

**If you are making string cheese, while stretching the cheese, simply pull it into long strands and drop it in the ice water!


I have tried both methods, and actually do either, depending on how I feel at the time.


One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Four...

Posted on January 3, 2013 at 10:50 PM Comments comments (0)


This seems to be the time of year when potatoes go on sale- I picked up 100 lbs. of them for only $20. I did pull in about 60 lbs. from the garden this fall, but you can't have too many potatoes in your food storage. They are incredibly versitile, filling, and let's face it- comfort food. What does one do with 100 lbs. of potatoes?


Dehydrating Potatoes

Dehydrating is a great way to process potatoes for your food storage. They are light weight and easy to store, they have a shelf life of up to 25 years(when stored correctly), and once reconstituted, can be used like regular potatoes. You can dehydrate them sliced, diced, or shredded- in this case, I did sliced, but I think I will be doing some diced as well.


To Dehydrate Potatoes (White or Irish)

Wash well to remove dirt.

Peel (optional)

Cut into 1/4" slices

Set in boiling water 5-6 minutes, then

soak in very cold water for 15 minutes

pat dry

dehydrate at 125 degrees until crisp (about 8 hours)


I vacuum seal mine and keep the packages in a sealed bucket.


To reconstitute:

Bring two cups water to a vigorous boil, turn down to medium heat and add potatoes, and let sit for 10 minutes. Poke with fork- the potatoes are ready when the fork slips through the potato. Pat dry, and use as usual.


OR you can use them in their dehydrated state.


Scalloped Potates

2 cups dehydrated potato slices or diced

1 Tbsp dehydrated onion

2-3 cups water

¼ lb. grated cheese (or dry cheese)

2 Tbsp margarine

Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp dry milk + ½ cup water

½ cup bacon bits (optional)

 

Rinse and reconstitute potatoes and onions separately. Sauté onion in margarine until soft, but not browned. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Add milk, cook until smooth and thick, stirring continually. Add cheese, stir until melted. Remove from stove. Mix potatoes, bacon bits, and cheese sauce. Bake in a casserole dish 20-25 minutes at 325°.


Au-Gratin Potatoes

 

3 cups sliced or diced dehydrated potatoes

6 tablespoons of butter

3 tablespoons of flour

1 1/2 cups of milk

1 cup of shredded Cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Place potatoes in a shallow baking dish.

2. In a small saucepan over a low heat melt 6 tablespoons of butter.

3. Take the butter and add the flour to it. Stir well in order to blend together.

4. Gradually add the milk.

5. Continue cooking and stirring continuously until a thick sauce is formed.

6. Add the cheese and stir until the cheese melts.

7. Pour the sauce over the potatoes that are in the baking dish and mix them gently.

8. Bake potatoes at 400 for 30 to 40 minutes. Final product should be golden brown.


Potato Soup (makes 4 servings, 1 cup each)

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 small onion, chopped

1/4 cup chopped celery (if you like)

4 cups milk

8-ounce can whole kernel corn (if you like)

1 cup potato flakes (you can grind up dehydrated potatoes for this)

Salt and pepper (to taste)


1. Wash your hands; make sure your cooking area is clean.

2. Melt the butter or margarine in a large saucepan.

3. Add the onion and celery, cook them until they are soft.

4. Add the milk and whole kernel corn, and stir.

5. Heat the milk, onion and celery until the milk is hot but not boiling.

6. Turn off the heat and add the potato flakes until it is as thick as you like.

7. Add salt and pepper.



Canning Potatoes


Wash and peel potatoes

Leave small potatoes whole; cut large potatoes into quarters.

Cover potatoes with water in a large saucepot.

Boil for 10 minutes.

Drain.

Pack hot potatoes into hot jars, leaving 1" headspace.

Add 1/2 tsp salt to pints, 1 tsp for quarts (optional)

Ladle boiling water opver potatoes, leaving 1" headspace.

Remove air bubbles.

Process pints 35 minutes, quarts 40 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure in pressure canner.


You can use these as you would normally use potatoes.



Black Drawing Salve, Not Just For Granny Anymore

Posted on December 11, 2012 at 8:45 AM Comments comments (1)

Black Drawing Salve has been used for generations for splinters, bee stings, bug bites, infection, boils, and anything that needs to "draw" the poison out.

The main characters of this salve are Activated Charcoal and Bentonite Clay- both well regarded for absorbing poison from the body. This salve also has lavender essential oil (antiseptic, antibacterial) and tea tree essential oil (antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral)


What you'll Need

2 TBSP Beeswax
8 TBSP Coconut oil
1 TSP Vitamin E oil
2 TBSP Activated Charcoal
3 TBSP Bentonite Clay
5 drops Lavender Essential Oil (optional)
5 drops Tee Tree Essential Oil (optional)


Melt the coconut over a double boiler, add beeswax and melt.

Take off the heat and add the Vitamin E oil, Activated Charcoal, and Bentonite Clay- stir to dissolve (when you think you've stirred enough- stir a little more- by this time, it's black, and difficult to see if you've dissolved everything).

Add your essential oils, still stirring, and pour into tins or jars.

To Use: Apply a small amount to the affected area, cover with gauze, and replace daily.



As you can see this is very black, and can get messy- I will say that it hasn't stained my counter, and while the activated charcoal stained my hand, when it was in the salve, it didn't stain my skin.

Want to make this salve, but don't quite know where to start? How about our Make It Yourself Kit?

Want the benefits of this Black Drawing Salve NOW? You can purchase some here.


Pain Relief Salve, Herbal Decongestant Salve, and How They Are One

Posted on November 12, 2012 at 11:30 PM Comments comments (5)



When I started this planning this project, I had a recipe that I was going to follow. Nice, clean, easy...BUT, the mad scientist in me had other plans! BWAHAHAHA!


The original recipe used coconut oil as it's base. I was good with that...until I read a great article on the wonderful benefits of castor oil, in which is states:


"When used externally (rubbed into the skin), castor oil is able to penetrate deeper than any other essential plant oil. Rubbing castor oil on the skin can relieve pain, reduce inflammation, detoxify the body and boost lymphatic circulation." (read the rest of the article here.)


Well, that was enough for me to start tweaking! But I wasn't convinced that castor oil would be a solid enough substitution for the coconut oil, which, turns pretty solid as it cools...So, I tried both! When both batches were finished, I found that they needed more essential oils. Fine- into the oven at 150 degrees just until melted, add the essential oils, stir and let re-harden.


Then it was time to get all touchy-feely with it. Between the two, the castor oil won when it came to consistency. They both rocked though!


And now, I give you the tweaked, perfect recipe for pain relief AND an herbal decongestant!


Ingredients

1/2 cup Castor oil

2 tsp. Beeswax pellets

10 drops Camphor Essential Oil

10 drops Peppermint Essential Oil

10 drops Eucalyptus Oil


Place the castor oil and the beeswax over a double boiler, and heat until the beeswax is fully melted. Remove from heat and add the essential oils. Give it a good stir to distribute the new oils evenly. Quickly pour into tins or jars and allow to cool completely.


*Always, Always, Always try it on a small patch of skin to make sure your skin is good with ANY topical product!


Want the benefits of this incredible Pain Relief herbal salve but don't have time to make it? You can get it here!


But Wait! There's More!


What did I do with the coconut oil batch, you ask?! Well, on my To-Do list was also making an herbal decongestant salve. What I found was that the recipes were almost identical! AND, while making this, I felt the decongestant action of this salve! So, you can use either oil for both pain relief and taking care of your congestion.


Since I have it already made, I give you a lovely Herbal Decongestant!




Herbal Healing Salve

Posted on November 4, 2012 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (2)


This all natural herbal salve is great for just about everything! Use it on scrapes, cuts, minor burns, sunburn, chapped skin and lips, rashes, even ring worm. And it's so easy to make!




What You Need:


1 oz. Calendula Infused Oil

1 oz. Comfrey Infused Oil

1 oz. St. John's Wort infused Oil

1 oz. Plantain Infused Oil

10 drops Vitamin E Oil

20 drops Lavender Essential Oil

1/2-3/4 oz. Beeswax (I use Candelilla wax for vegan friendly recipes), depending on the hardness you like

Glass jars or tins


In a previous post, I talk about making Infused Oils. If you haven't already made these oils, and you want to start making your salve today, here's an alternative:


1/2 oz. Calendula

1/2 oz. Comfrey

1/2 oz. St. Johns Wort

1/2 oz. Plantain

6 oz. Olive oil ( I always make more than the needed recipe- 4 oz. for this recipe- some always gets lost)

Put the herbs in an oven safe dish and cover with oil. mix together to make sure the herbs are covered in oil. Place in a 150-200 degree oven for 2-3 hours. Strain with cheesecloth- make sure to squeeze all of the goodness out of the herbs!


Now, back to making salve...


Place the infused oils and the beeswax over a double boiler, and heat until the beeswax is fully melted. Remove from heat and add the lavender essential oil and the vitamin E oil. Give it a good stir to distribute the new oils evenly. Quickly pour into tins or jars and allow to cool completely.



Once it's completely cooled, label and used when needed! It will last at least a year. 


Want to make this salve, but don't quite know where to start? How about our Make It Yourself Kit?


Want the benefits of this incredible herbal salve but don't have time to make it? You can get it here!



11/12/12


Once you start making your salves, it's hard to stop- my newest addiction! By following the ration above (4 oz. infused oil to 1/2-3/4oz. beeswax) the sky is the limit! Here's a few amazing different salves to try:



Take Me Away


2 oz. lavender infused oil

2 oz. peppermint infused oil

1/2-3/4 oz. beeswax

15 drops lavender essential oil

5 drops peppermint essential oil

10 drops Vitamin E oil (optional)



Place the infused oils and the beeswax over a double boiler, and heat until the beeswax is fully melted. Remove from heat and add the lavender essential oil and the vitamin E oil. Give it a good stir to distribute the new oils evenly. Quickly pour into tins or jars and allow to cool completely.


This salve is amazing for dry skin- especially the rough patches on your elbows and knees. It's also perfect for headaches, nervousness, and stress! Massage it on your temples, forehead, or back of your neck, relax and feel the pain and stress leave.


Want the benefits of this incredible herbal salve but don't have time to make it? You can get it here!


For more information about the benefits of Lavender, click here.

For more information about the benefits of Peppermint, click here.

Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

Posted on November 3, 2012 at 10:05 PM Comments comments (2)

If you hang out with me on my Facebook page, you already know that last month, I processed 8 bushels of apples for applesauce and Grandma Allerup's Cinnamon Apples (blog posts of themselves). I saved all of the apple skins and cores to make my own apple cider vinegar.


Before I get into the instructions on how to make your own apple cider vinegar, I want you to know a few very important things about the process...


1. IT STINKS!! Within a matter of days, your house will smell like vinegar. This is not a joke, or an exaggerated claim. Please make sure that your family/roommates are up for this. My kids learned to inhale and hold their breath before opening the pantry door. :)


2. IT'S MESSY! During the first week, the fermentation process makes the apple cider bubble and overflow. Be prepared for this with a garbage bag and towel under your containers.


3. Fruit flies LOVE this stuff! Be prepared to deal with gazillions of them! Interestingly enough, I learned that some finished apple cider vinegar on a plate with a squirt of dishwashing liquid takes care of most of them.


Now, let's get to the fun!


What you'll need:


Apple scraps- cores, peels, the works. As far as I know, it doesn't matter what kind of apples you use. I personally used Red Delicious- it makes for incredible sugar free applesauce.


Glass or enamel containers- I used my crock pot insert, sun tea containers, and even went out and bought some big glass containers. I did see on some recipes that stainless steel is ok to use, but I am a stickler for glass or enamel.


Cheesecloth or flour sack towels- I started with cheesecloth, and ended with the flour sack towels. I prefer the towels to the cheesecloth. If you use cheesecloth, make sure you have LOTS of it around, and use several layers.


Rubber bands


Measuring cup


Water


Sugar



What to do:


1. Place your scraps in the container(s). The wider the mouth on the container, the easier, but I had both wide and narrow, and both worked fine for me. Make sure that whatever container you choose will not be missed for at least 1 week.


2. Cover your scraps with a mixture of 1 quart water to 1/4 cup sugar. Use this ratio to completely cover your scraps, multiplying as much as you need.



3. Cover with cheesecloth or flour sack towel for 1 week. A good fermentation temperature is between 65 and 75 degrees. I didn't pay much notice to the temps in the house- it was pretty normal weather though.


4. When a week is over, strain the liquid from the scraps. Since i was doing large batches, I had to get creative...




5. Return the liquid into the container and cover with cheesecloth (or flour sack towel), and let it ferment for another 2-3 weeks. Uncover it every few days to give it a stir and make sure it's all good in there. DO NOT scoop anything out that isn't a fruit fly or dirt speck, or mold (though I never saw any mold) !!! There is a "Mother" growing in there- she's very beneficial!




6. After three weeks, give it a taste. It took some guts out of me to actually taste it. I guess I'm just a chicken! Mine was not ready after three weeks. I think it's because I had them in two gallon containers- full up. I have a smaller container going right now- I'll have to update this post to say whether or not it's done quicker. The two gallon container WAS ready after 4 weeks! I didn't know how hard it would be to tell if it was ready, especially since my experience with store bought apple cider vinegar was very limited, but it's easy to taste!


7. Bottle it up like you would store bought. I put mine in canning jars. There is no need to seal the lid, and can be kept at room temperature. Raw vinegar will last indefinitely, though the flavor will "evolve".




Do not use homemade vinegar for pickling or preserving food in jars you plan to seal and store at room temp. Acidity levels in homemade vinegars will vary and a simple pH test strip might not give you a reliable reading of the pH of your vinegar.


Give it a try! If I can do it, ANYONE can!

How To Make Herbal Infused Oils

Posted on September 30, 2012 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (4)

Making herbal infused oils is one of the most basic herbal preparations. They contain all of the healing benefits of the herb, and can be used alone or in salves, ointments, lotions, liniments, creams, soaps, bath oils, massage oils, herbal rubs or a simple moisturizer. Do not confuse infused oils with essential oils- Essential oils are produced using a distilling process, and are more potent than infused oils.

 

There are several different ways to prepare infused oils. I’m just going to go over the two that I personally use.

 

The Solar Method

 

This method takes longer, but we’re letting the sun do all of the work. This is the method I use 95% of the time.

 

What you’ll need:

 


 

Herbs- I like to use dried herbs for this. If you use fresh, make sure you have washed and dried them thoroughly, then finely cut and bruise.

 

Mason jar with lid- this too will depend on how much oil you want to make. I have used both quart and pint size.

 

Carrier oil- I usually use olive oil or safflower oil, but you can use jojoba oil, or grapeseed oil as well. I have heard some people using coconut oil, but I don’t know enough about doing it this way to say yes or no.

 

Cheesecloth

 

Strainer

 

 

1. Fill the jar with herb. If you’re using dried herbs, fill 2/3 full. If you’re using fresh, fill until there is 1 ½ in headspace.

2. Cover the herb with your carrier oil. Leave about ½” headspace. Make sure there is at least 1 inch of oil covering the herb.

3. Cover and label! Make sure you use the plant name and the date of when it’s started.

 


 

4. Set in a sunny windowsill or countertop.

5. Shake at least once a day. I keep mine by my pet food- then I shake it whenever I feed the cats and dogs.

6. Wait 4-6 weeks, strain with cheesecloth, pour into glass bottle and store in a cool, dark place.

 

These will keep for at least a year.

 

 

The Oven Method

 

I use this method when I’m in a hurry. It still takes a few hours, but it’s a lot faster than 4-6 weeks.

 

What you’ll need:

 


 

Herbs- Again, I like to use dried herbs for this. If you use fresh, make sure you have washed and dried them thoroughly, then finely cut and bruise.

 

Carrier oil- I usually use olive oil or safflower oil, but you can use jojoba oil, or grapeseed oil as well. I have heard some people using coconut oil, but I don’t know enough about doing it this way to say yesor no.

 

Oven safe glass or ceramic dish

 

Mason jar with lid- this too will depend on how much oil you want to make. I have used both quart and pint size.

 

Cheesecloth

 

Strainer

 

 

1. Place the herbs in an oven safe, glass or enamel dish. Cover with your carrier oil. Give it a good stir to make sure it’s all together. Calendula is an especially bulky herb- make sure the oil gets in all of the nooks and crannies.

2. Put in a 200 degree oven for three hours- I have read to cover it, but I wasn’t taught that, so I don’t.

3. While still warm, strain through cheesecloth, pour into glass jar and keep in a cool, dark place.

4. Again, make sure you label your jar with the plant name, and date.

 

This will keep for at least a year.

 


 

There are other methods to infuse oils, as I have said earlier, but these two have never let me down.

 

 

Some of the herbs I commonly infuse are: Calendula, Plantain, Comfrey, St. John’s Wort, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Valerian, and Lavender. I generally get my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs- they have an impeccable reputation for quality, and their service is exceptional.

 

Whenever you're working with herbs, always do your own research- the internet is FULL of advice, some good, some not so good. I try and go with the Power of 3 approach- I need to see it in three different sources before I attempt it (and 1 always has to be a book). Yes, even question my posts! I don’t blog about something unless I have done it myself, but I am not you- I have no allergies, no skin irritations, etc..  And most of all, HAVE FUN! I admit, sometimes while in my lair, I feel like a crazy, mad scientist!

 

The Adventures of Grape Jelly

Posted on September 29, 2012 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)


I bought a half bushel of grapes! While I had made jam before, I had never attempted jelly, so grape jelly seemed perfect. I used the recipe in my Ball Blue Book of Preserving (my bible), so, for this post, I’ll copy this recipe with my own comments thrown in.

 

When I started out, everything was good…

 


 

First, I had to turn my grapes into juice. Some of you have special gadgets for this: not me.

 

Juice For jelly

 

Wash and stem fruit. Slightly crush fruit (Which is easily done as you pull them off the vine). Add ¼ to ½ cup water for each quart prepared fruit (I went with 1/3- a happy medium) in a large saucepan. Cover; simmer fruit until soft. (We ate dinner). Strain mixture through a damp jelly bag or several layers of cheesecloth to extract juice.

 


 

I could’ve stopped here and just canned the juice- If juice is to be canned, heat juice just to a boil. Ladle hot juice into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Adjust two piece caps. Process pints and quarts 10 minutes in boiling water canner.

 

 

I thought I had remembered seeing that it was supposed to sit and drain for 10-12 hours, but when I went back, I couldn’t find it…until I re-read it just now. (DOH!) But never fear, I created my own little press and pressed all of the juice out.

 

 

To Make the Jelly

 

This is where things got a little sketchy- here’s the recipe I intended on following:

 

Yield: 7 half pints

 

4 cups Concord grape juice

7 cups sugar

1 pouch liquid pectin

 

Put grape juice in a large saucepot. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in liquid pectin. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jelly into jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Adjust two piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

 

That would’ve been easy enough, except that I only had powdered pectin…I went frantically to the internet, searching for a ratio of liquid vs. powder… it gave me 2 tsp powder for every 1 oz. liquid. What? How many ounces in a pouch? I saw a few answers to that. So, quickly I went to the next page in my canning bible, which had a recipe for grape jelly using powdered pectin:

 

 

Quick Grape Jelly

 

Yield: about 5 pints

 

3 cups bottled grape juice, unsweetened

1 package powdered pectin

4 ½ cups sugar

 

(the rest of the directions remain the same as the last recipe)

 

My brain says, “ok, you have 20 cups of juice, you need to multiply by 6 2/3…but my brain had already computed it’s own crazy number for the amount of pectin. (instead of 6 2/3 packages, I somehow ended up with about 10 packages)

 

In the end, in spite of me adding way too much pectin, it turned out incredible! It’s very gelled, but my kids adore it! My youngest told me the other day that it’s way better than the other stuff. She ordered a peanut butter and jelly sandwich “with a lot more jelly than peanut butter…and make sure you use the really good stuff”.

 



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