Friday, September 26, 2014

Apple Butter Recipe using a bushel of apples

I do not have many photos for this one :) just a simple recipe using a bushel (approximately 48lbs) of apples. You'll want to use sweet apples such as Red/Gold Delicious, Jonathan, MacIntosh, etc.

Step 1: Make Applesauce
~ Wash and quarter the apples. Remove any rotten or bad spot. Also remove the cores if they look bad or have worms.
~ Place apples in a large, heavy bottom stock pot. Add a quart of so of water, apple cider or apple juice. Cover and simmer until the apples are soft, stirring occasionally to prevent the apples from burning to the bottom.
~ Run through a food strainer/sauce maker. Kitchenaid has an attachment that does an excellent job, or you may use a manual one (Victorio and Weston are two examples, however there are many different styles and models available). The manual options work well too but take more effort (which is ok if you are healthy and strong) and cause a bit more of a mess.
~ You may stop here and can as applesauce (waterbath 15 minutes per pint and 20 minutes per quart 0-1,000ft altitude; add 5 minutes per each additional 2,000ft of altitude) OR you may continue on with the apple butter.

Step 2: Make Apple Butter
~ Return applesauce to the heavy bottom stock pot. Add the following ingredients:
1qt honey
1/4c cinnamon
1/2T cloves
1/2T nutmeg
1/2T allspice
~ Stir until mixed thoroughly. Cover, bring to a good simmer, uncover, continue to simmer and BE SURE TO STIR OFTEN! You do not want it burning to the bottom. An alternate way would be to use a large electric roaster on a low setting, or a roaster in the oven on a low setting.
~ Occasionally taste the apple butter: is it how you want it? Maybe you desire more cinnamon? More honey? Adjust the seasonings to suit your likes, but remember it will get sweeter as it cooks down, so be careful not to add more sweetener in haste.
~ Continue simmering and stirring until the sauce has cooked down considerably and has changed texture; this can take SEVERAL hours, so be prepared. You might have to turn it off over night and continue in the morning; it will be fine sitting out over night. The general guideline to knowing when it's done is to drop a spoonful onto a plate - if no rim of liquid forms around the mound of apple butter it is done.

not quite done but getting close

Step 3: Canning
~ The first step can be done towards the end of the apple butter cooking time. Be sure to have all canning supplies on hand, including about 30 pint jars, lids and rings. Wash the jars and keep them hot in the oven (I turn mine on to 250*f). Bring the lids and rings to a boil and then cover and keep warm till ready to use.
~ Have your canning pot ready too! Be sure the water is at a full, rolling boil before adding the HOT, filled jars. 
~ Fill each HOT jar with the HOT apple butter, leaving 1/4" headspace. Remove air-bubbles, wipe the rims clean with a damp cloth or paper towel, add lids and rings.
~ Gently lower the HOT, filled jars into the boiling water (be sure there's a rack! If you do not have a rack simply place a towel at the bottom of the pot). Be sure there is plenty of water to completely cover the jars. It's good to have more boiling water on hand if you need to add any more to the pot while the jars are in there.
~ Boil half-pints or pints for 5 minutes, quarts for 10 minutes (0-1,000ft altitude). 1,001-6,000ft = add 5 minutes. 6,001 and above, add 10 minutes.
~ Carefully remove jars and allow to cool on a wire rack or a towel. Do not disturb for about 12-24 hours.

I got more than this but this is all that I photographed

Step 4: Clean Up and Storage
~ Remove rings and check seals. This can be done in a variety of ways, including,
1. Press the middle of the lid with your finger or thumb. If it springs up or down it is not sealed.
2. Tap the top of the lids, one after the other, with your finger. They should all sound the same, a higher-pitched, ringing sound. If the sound is a dull 'thump', it is not sealed.
3. Lift the jar up by the lid. This is not always fool-proof, so I do all three methods in the order listed here.
~ Re-process unsealed jars again (place in cold water, bring to a boil and process as above) or simply store in the refrigerator.
~ Wipe sealed jars clean with a damp cloth and store in a cool, dark room.

Friday, September 19, 2014

How To Make Sourdough Bread

In this video I share how easy it is to turn a simple sourdough bread into something gourmet :~) Next time I hope to share how to make sourdough crackers ... and be watching for a video on how to can apple butter, coming soon.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Delicious Homemade Sourdough Biscuits

Better late than never I guess? I could have posted this a few weeks ago but never did get around to it. Sourdough biscuits are our most favourite sourdough products ... running a close first with sourdough crackers.

Here in this video I share how simple and quick it is to make these absolutely delicious biscuits. Enjoy!

Friday, September 12, 2014

D. I. Y. Homemade Deodorant that actually works

 After years of trying without results that pleased me well enough I am happy to report that I have finally developed a homemade deodorant that actually works.

Last spring I compared various homemade deodorant recipes, read about others successes and failures, and then developed what I thought would be the best formula. I wanted to do a post soon after using it but decided it would be best to try it out all summer long - the hottest time of the year and the best way to know if a deodorant actually works.

It is by far the BEST natural deodorant I've ever used ... MUCH BETTER than any natural deodorant from the store or online.

I purchased new, empty deodorant containers online but I also thought it would be nice to have a travel size deodorant for my backpack, so I purchased a travel size antiperspirant and attempted to wash it out. HORRIBLE MISTAKE. The junk never did fully come out, even with lots of dish soap and scrubbing, and what's worse, I smelled like the stuff for days. No thank you. I settled for a 4oz mason jar for my backpack.

This deodorant stayed solid until it got super hot. We do not have central a/c and our bathroom gets really warm. It was no problem for me though, I just used my finger and (to my surprise) actually preferred that way of applying it. I did adjust the beeswax amount in the recipe below - that should add a little more 'solidness' to it for the warmer months. If however you are concerned, just keep it in your fridge.

This is enough to fill 5 containers with a little extra (of course the size of the containers you get will make a difference on your yield. I used THESE containers).

180g baking soda
168g coconut oil
64g arrowroot
56g shea butter
45g beeswax
40 drops tea tree e.o.*
20 drops sage e.o.
20 drops rosemary e.o.
12 drops lavender e.o.
8 drops lemon e.o.
1/2t vitamin e oil (or about 4 caps)

* I chose the other essential oils based on their beneficial properties as well, however you may not have them all on hand. If this is the case and you are only able to afford one e.o., go with tea tree. Among other things, tea tree essential oil is antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, and is a deodorant. Some of the other oils have some of these properties as well, but tea tree has them all.

You might be wondering where to get all of these ingredients? I can tell you where I got mine, however you might have better options available in your area. I purchase from Rose Mountain Herbs (in this recipe, the shea butter), Azure Standard (baking soda, arrowroot, lemon, sage), Vitacost (tea tree and lavender), Costco (coconut oil), and Amazon (vitamin e and rosemary). We harvest our own beeswax.

The first thing you'll want to do is assemble all of your ingredients.

Next, weigh them out, putting the solid fats and wax together into a glass, heat-safe dish (such as Pyrex brand) or a double boiler. I do not have a double boiler, so I put my pyrex dish on top of a large mason jar ring in a pan of water. This elevates the dish enough and acts as a homemade 'double boiler' in a pinch. I've read in several places that microwaves may also be used, however we do not have one (nor do we want one).

Weigh the dry ingredients together and combine the essential oils and vitamin e into a smaller bowl or ramekin. Set aside until ready to use.

Now the next task is a bit tedious but once it gets going it goes rather quickly, so be careful! Gently stir your hard fats/wax in the double boiler/glass dish over steaming water (medium heat or so), until the wax and fats are melted. I started with just the shea butter and beeswax and added the coconut oil later since it was already liquid (it was pretty warm in my house).

The shea butter will melt before the beeswax. My beeswax is solid; you might purchase beeswax that is in little 'pebbles' called pastilles or pellets. These will melt much quicker than a solid chunk!

Once everything is melted and well combined, add the dry ingredients and mix well till thoroughly combined.

Allow this to cool a bit before adding the essential oil / vitamin e blend - you do not want to harm the beneficial properties of the essential oils with too much heat. Whisk these final ingredients in and pour into your chosen deodorant container. This will cool quickly,

Allow to cool completely before using (it's best to let it sit over night to be sure it's totally set). Store finished deodorant in a cool, dark place. If your home is warm, you may prefer to store in the refrigerator.