Frugal Savings week 30 – 2014

Canning season really started this week! I bought 20 kilos of nectarines, 4 kilo of Spanish garlic, 7,5 kilo cherry tomatoes and 20 pineapples. This is what I made from it:

* canned nectarines in honey syrup 27 liter jars but 5 seals were broken. This never happened to me before. But my children know what to do with these open jars… the cost per jar is 0,60 euro cent.

* 14x 1/2-liter jars of pickled cherry tomatoes
* 4x 3/4 liter jars of whole cherry tomatoes The cost of the tomatoes were 15 euro. These jars were 0.83 euro cent per jar. I have to mention that I had all the other ingredients in stock so I didn’t calculate them for now.

*The pineapples I canned in a light syrup in pieces. I have a total of 19 liter jars of canned pineapple in a light honey syrup. Cost per jar: 1.05 euro cent per jar. Not really cheap but the difference between home canned and store bought canned pineapple is amazing. Home canned is next to the taste of fresh. My children love home canned pineapple as a dessert with some whipped cream.
From the leftover pineapple peels I started a bucket full of pineapple vinegar, for cleaning only. I am not fond of using fruit peels because you don’t know what is sprayed upon it. For cleaning purposes I think it is ok to use. The pineapple hearts and the juice I put in one of my sauerkraut jars and I think I will have a total of 10 liters pineapple vinegar but for consuming only. I use pineapple vinegar mostly to start a fermenting proces.

* I picked 2.5 kilo of blackberries and made the blackberry/apple fruit leather. I made 9 leathers. I cooked the blackberries so they release their juices and when it cooled down I put the cooked blackberries through a sieve. The blackberry pulp I mixed with some home canned apple sauce and put it on my 9-tray excalibur. I cut up the leathers in 4 or 5 long stripes and rolled them into baking sheets. I have made 40 little rolls. Now they are ready to go!

* 2x 1/2-liter jars of pressed eggplant with oregano and chili peppers. This is an Italian way of preserving eggplant and a wonderful addition to sandwiches and salads.

I still have the garlic left, but I have still time to do that.

We will have a wonderful winter again!

I added the wine to the vin de noix and finished my total of 8 liter blackberry vinegar.

Frugal Savings Week 29 – 2014

I am getting more accustomed with balancing my new out-the-house-work and homework, so I got quite some things done this week.

I made a start with my blackberry vinegar, which I made with home made white wine vinegar. I hope to make about 5 liters so I can give this vinegar as gift to family and friends. I get up really early in the morning and pick the blackberries which are ripe. It is not much yet but enough for making a liter of vinegar at the time.

I started vin de noix, a sweet wine made from green walnuts. It is not a cheap home made wine but it is fun to make. I made it with one liter vodka (13 euro), 1 kilo sugar (0.90 euro) and wine (2.33 for 1 liter) and I need 5 liters. The total amount of vin de noix will be approximately 7 liter. The costs per liter are 3.50 euro. That is when I count the most expensive ingredient: the vodka. I am lucky that my mom gives me 1 or 2 liters in exchange for some elderberry tincture and some blackthorn cordial. I think she wants a bottle of 2 of the wine port as well.

I got 4 (!) old jute postal bags and I will make them into a new slipcover for my couch. I already got 2 more so I think I will have enough. I will wash them and get started soon, I hope.

There were 2 small bags with potatoes left and I did can them. I love home canned potatoes because they are so versatile and convenient when I come home after work and want an healthy meal without being in the kitchen for 1 hour or more. I use them to make garlicky potato soup, oven roasted rosemary potatoes just to name somethings.

It is quite warm here so a lot of fruit and vegetables are not keeping up that well. I had about 2 kilo´s tomatoes left and I made 2 jars of 500 ml of roasted tomato ketchup. Better then throwing the tomatoes away!

Another thing I experimented with is eggplant. I bought some eggplants when they were on sale. I cut them into 1/4 inch slices and sprinkled them generously with salt and put them in my fruit press. I pressed the eggplants for a couple of days and tightened the press twice a day. When there was almost no water left, I got the eggplants out of the press and peeled them of each other. I put the slices in a large jar and topped it with home made wine vinegar. After a couple of days I put them in their final jar and put them on olive oil. This is an Italian way of preserving eggplants. It brightens up your salads!

Finally finished with the ‘last’ onions and made another batch of onion marmalade. It is so nice I spoon it on everything, well, almost everything.

Next couple of weeks I will be quite busy with inventory of my home canned food and knowing what I still have to can. I make a list with what I still have on the shelves and what I think I need. With that list it is easy to look for sales. For example: we like canned green beans so I always want at least 60 jars in the pantry, approximately 1 per week and a couple extra jars. I know that I am already low on jars, so I will order some more this week.

Blackberry season 2014 or what to do with blackberries

When I translate the Dutch word ‘braam’ I think of Bramble berry, while I should be thinking blackberry. We love blackberries and this year they are about a month early. Last year was a very good blackberry year and I canned a lot of jars of jams, preserves and syrup. I have still enough left. So I decided to do other things this year. This is what I will do and already did

I made blackberry vinegar. That is so simple to make. Get your blackberries, wash them or treat them you would normally do (I put them in cold water for a while so if there are little worms inside, they will get out). I let the blackberries air dry for a while. Put them in a large jar and cover the blackberries with your vinegar of choice (I use my home made white wine vinegar). Stir the concoction every day twice. After 3 to 5 days strain the vinegar and measure it. I use 450 grams of sugar for every 600 ml of vinegar. Cook the vinegar until the sugar is melted and put them into sterilized jars. I will give them as a gift this year. Blackberry vinegar is lovely to use in salads and in gravies to soften meat.

Another thing I want to do this year with blackberries is cooking them and put the cooked fruits through a sieve. The fruit pulp I will mix with some home made apple sauce and dehydrate it. It will be lovely snacks for the children to take with them to school.

Last thing I intent to do with blackberries is canning them whole in a very light sugar syrup. I want to can more fruits like this so we can make lovely fruit salads when winter comes.

I will post some pictures in a later post.

Frugal savings week 28 2014

With the new harvest on the way, it is time to preserve what is still in storage. I still had some potatoes, carrots and onions. I have canned the potatoes, made 4 carrot cakes and curried carrot soup. The rest of the grated carrots, I dehydrated. I made marmalade d’oignons, a lovely saucy-like onion marmalade, made with onions, red currant jelly and some balsamic vinegar. I reckon it is wonderful on (home made) cheese and with all kind of meat plates. The rest of the onions are also in the dehydrator.

Spring onions and celery were on sale so I got some extra to can. I made smoked spring onions pickles and celery pickles. I love experimenting with new condiments and pickles in my pantry. Moreover, I love eating pickles with every meal!
We opened a jar of pickled olive salad and it is seriously nice with boiled eggs or cold meats.

This week I did my diary things as well: I made yogurt, cultured buttermilk, ricotta and fresh farmers cheese. The latter will make a lovely take-to-work lunch. I will add it to a salad and drizzle some home made green pepper vinegar/hot sauce over it.

Blackberries are getting ripe so I will be canning them soon. I decided to can the whole berries in a light syrup, so they can be used in pies and cobblers. But I am sure they will taste fantastic in desserts as well.

I also bought some extra eggplants which I will pressure and then put in oil. That is an Italian way of preserving eggplant. I will make a new blog entry of it.