My parent’s counter was getting too full of tomatoes at the end of the growing season so my Mom & I made up a batch of tomato sauce to enjoy over the winter.

I used this recipe from Better Homes & Gardens because the brown sugar & balsamic vinegar will really help take the bite out of the amount of lemon juice you have to add to each jar.  Plus the fresh herbs (basil, rosemary, parsley, lemon thyme & marjoram) will really make this a bright & summery sauce to enjoy when the snow starts to pile up!

Bring on the pasta!


It’s time for you to be put into the spotlight!

♦ 2011 Pantry Round Up ♦

It’s that time of year again!  Please e-mail me pictures of your pantry/freezer/dry goods/etc so we all can swoon over the food you’ve preserved this summer.

If you’d like to contribute, please e-mail: nicholeati (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Please include: pictures, your name, blog/website if you have one & what’s in the pictures! I’ll compile them all and show them off here and on my Facebook page.

Check out last year’s album is here: 2011 Pantry Round Up

My parent’s have a few lovely crab apple trees that line their driveway.  I love when they start to turn bright red and after last year’s harvest I was excited to put more of them up again.  Last year I dried a few large bucketfuls & fermented some (I didn’t really like the texture they ended up at).

I picked a large bucketful on Monday and half of it went into my steam juicer.  I cut off the blossom end, stem and cut them in half.  I used my knife tip to remove all the large seeds because I knew I wanted to use the mash that was left over.  I let the steamer go until I had 7 cups of juice and I put it into the fridge because I’m not a fan of canning into the wee hours of the morning 🙂

I love the beautiful color!

{Recipe} Crab Apple Jelly
(full USDA directions here)
7 cups crab apple juice
7 cups organic sugar

Start to heat up the juice and slowly stir in all the sugar to dissolve it.  Bring the mixture up to a boil.  Use a candy thermometer to watch when it’s at a full boil and let it go until the mixture is 8 degrees F above that temperature.  Remove from heat, quickly skim off foam, and ladle into sterile, hot canning jars.  Put on lids & rings and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes (for 5k’ elevation).  Let cool and check seals.

A nice fruit butter with a little zing!

The steam juicer basket was full of beautifully mashed crab apples so I decided to make some crab apple butter with the remains.  I ran the mash through my chinois to remove the skins and core pieces.  Making 2 quarts of puree was enough of an arm workout so I stopped there 🙂

{Recipe} Crab Apple Butter
(adapted from Preserving in Today’s Kitchen)
2 quarts crab apple puree
4 Tbsp sucanat or organic sugar (add more if you want it sweeter)
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground coriander

Put all of the ingredients into a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot and heat to a boil.  Simmer until you reach your desired consistency.  Put into jars, cool and freeze for later use.
* Note: I’m sure you could can this but I didn’t feel like it.

I plan on drying a few batches of crab apples again, I love snacking on them.  If I get really motivated I might make a crab apple marmalade that was also in the Preserving book linked to above & some pancake syrup.

How do you put up crab apples?

Auction Fever!

I’ve been going to auctions with my parents and Grandma for as long as I can remember.  The smell of an old fairground building and a cold, metal folding chair bring me back to my childhood every time I encounter one.  Looking through all the tables of old items was an endless adventure and learning how to sit still in a chair without raising my hands suddenly was probably a great skill to learn at a young age 😉

My Grandma’s house is full of antiques and she loved to collect items from an early age.  Her parents and grandparents came to the US from Holland with a few material possessions so the history and story behind items was very special to my Grandma.  She was given items to keep in her hope chest as a young lady and she never stopped collecting.

Estate auctions and antique stores were a couple of the ways my Grandma collected her prize possessions.  When I was over the other day giving her some beets from my garden she got very excited when I told her of the treasures I got at an auction last weekend.  She is almost 90 and her eyesight is not the best so she can no longer enjoy going to auctions.  But she does get a kick out of me taking after her in that way.  But the main difference between my Grandma and I?  I like to get items that I can use, not just pretty items to collect.  At least that’s what I tell my husband, but I do have a few collections that are just for looks: orange carnival glass and silver on crystal come to mind.

The auction I went to over the weekend was an estate sale of a family who has lived in Livingston, MT for 150+ years.  There were many beautiful pieces of history that were in great condition.  I bid on a lot of items but since my Mom said I can’t store anything else at her house (I’m still living in an apartment until my husband & I get our dream farmhouse) I didn’t go too crazy.  I picked up some cute colored plates, two sauerkraut slicers, a 3 gal crock, a few cast iron pans that need some work, a skinny wood door, and 10 boxes of glass jars/bottles.  The last item made me smile for a couple days straight!  It was like Christmas when I unwrapped all of them.  Most exciting for me was the Kerr jars from 1915; there are enough of them that they will be perfect for storing dry goods in my future pantry.

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My Dad also got some beautiful items for my Mom!  A crock bowl that is extremely light so it’s probably 100 years older than the other ones she’s collected, a nesting bowl set that came to Montana in a covered wagon and was in The River Runs Through It, and some crock handles to replace lost handles on their crocks.  I’m glad my Dad went during the day when I couldn’t be there as he was there when they auctioned off the crock I wanted 🙂

Over the winter I’m going to have to organize all of my collections.  I have boxes and boxes of items that I’ve gotten at auctions over the years.  It’s time for me to clear out some items that don’t interest me anymore and get a better inventory of all that I have.  That should be a fun wintertime project!

Do you collect anything?

Sorry it’s been a little quite on here lately, this month has been crazy busy and posting what I’ve been up to has taken a back seat.  August was full of harvesting, gardening, canning, foraging, swapping & celebrating!

Bozeman Food Swap

My friend and I hosted our 4th Food Swap and there was a great selection of goodies to trade.  Above is a grouping of pictures from the swap and here’s a blog post from a first time attender: Food Swap.  If you live in or near Bozeman please join our Facebook Page to learn about upcoming events: BZN Swappers.

A harvest from my small garden.

It’s amazing how much food comes out of a small garden, for my first one it’s been going really well.  I harvest once or twice a week and if anything is super ready my Dad picks it for me and sends it with my Mom to our store.  We’ve mostly been eating the produce fresh but I’ve also froze and dehydrated some.  Coming up I’ll have lots of tomatoes, peppers, carrots, beets, sugar beets, brussels sprouts, leeks, kale, cannellini beans and popcorn.

Smore Party!

And last but not least, it’s been my birthday month (what fun to be born at the end of the month and celebrate all month long)!  I received a beautiful steam juicer early in the month and then this last week has been a full on celebration.  I had a smore party in the mountains for my family and friends, my husband has been showering me with presents each morning, I’ll be going out to dinner on my actual birthday, and then we’re going on a quick road trip over Labor Day weekend with my parents.  I have to say my 30th Birthday has been grand and I’m sure each year after this will only get better 🙂

I hope you all are having a wonderful summer!

After making a big batch of raspberry items over the weekend I wanted to make a batch of seedless jam.  Usually I leave the seeds in to save time but one batch of seedless will be fun to have for special occasions.  When I went to pick raspberries I stopped by to pick up my Grandma who wanted to go along.  It’s too bad I didn’t take a picture because it’s great fun to see my Grandma (who will be 90 this year) picking raspberries even though her eyesight is very bad.  She can see the red and just feels them to see if they are ready.  She’s still going strong and picked a whole row & a half!  She likes to freeze her raspberries with a little sugar and puts them over cheesecake flavored pudding in the winter 🙂

It gets most of the seeds out.

{Recipe} Seedless Raspberry Jam
(Yield: 6 jelly jars)
3 lbs raspberries
2 lbs organic sugar

Run the raspberries through a chinois to remove the seeds or mash and push thorough a fine mesh strainer.  The chinois gets most of the seeds out but I also ran the puree through a strainer to get it even more velvety smooth.  Place the puree in a big pot, add the sugar, and stir to dissolve (you can put this mixture in the fridge if you run out of time).  Bring to a rapid boil over medium high heat, stirring continuously.  The mixture will foam up high so make sure your pot has high sides.  Turn down the heat and boil for 10 minutes.

Test the set of the jam by placing a spoonful on a frozen saucer, put back into the freezer for 4 minutes and then remove and tip the saucer.  It should slowly slide down the saucer in a glob when it’s set.  If it runs quickly keep cooking the jam and test again.

When done to your liking, ladle into sterile, hot canning jars.  Put on lids & rings and process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes (for 5k’ elevation).  Let cool and check seals.

It turned out beautiful!

My Aunt & Uncle have a huge raspberry patch and they always seem to go out of town each summer during part of the harvest.  They let me pick while they are away and that makes for a lot of raspberries!  I broke in my new steam juicer with the first batch I picked and made an assortment of goodies with the raspberries 🙂

Isn’t she a beauty?

The 11 quarts (I put more in after the pic) made more than 12 cups of juice.  Raspberry juice is pretty tart so I added 1 cup of sucanant to take the bite out just a little.  I canned 5 pints of the juice in a hot water bath for 15 minute.  This juice will be great to use as a base for sorbet or to make assorted drinks with… anyone up for some raspberry lemonade?

A nice mix of goods to enjoy later.

With the remaining juice I added another half cup of sucanant and cooked the juice down a little into a syrup.  I canned one jelly jar full to take to the next Food Swap I attend and the remainder went right into the fridge to use on oatmeal or to flavor my kombucha.

It was amazing to see how much the raspberries compressed in the juicer but I didn’t want all that goodness to go to waist so I put it through my chinois to removed most of the seeds.  Another cup of sucanant was added so the raspberry puree was not too tart (it was about 4 cups of puree and a little more than 1 cup of sucanat, just sweeten to taste but remember it will be sweeter as it dries).  I placed 3 Silpats in my dehydrator and spread out a nice even layer on each one.  They dehydrated overnight at 135* with some sour cherries and were perfect in the morning.  A piece of plastic wrap works perfectly to keep it from sticking to itself, just make it a little longer then the sheets on both ends and wrap tight.  When I feel like a sweet treat I can take scissors and snip off a section.  There was a little extra puree so that also went in the fridge to enjoy on oatmeal or over ice cream.

A yummy treat!

What else should I make with the raspberries I pick this week?  I already have seedless jam in the fridge that needs to be cooked and canned 🙂

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