Cranberry Candied Jalapenos

Cranberry Cowboy Candy!

I was making a batch of the infamous cowboy candy today. These recipes are famous and all over the internet. Since I was experimenting with the Cranberry Jalapeno Jam I had a revalation. WHAT would cowboy candy with the tartness of cranberries be like?

And. My friends. My dear beloved friends. I fell in love. Deeply in love. And now you can to.

Your welcome.

I started with the basic Cowboy Candy recipe but I did omit the garlic, turmeric and spices that often go with it. I sliced 3 pounds of jalapenos, leaving the seeds in them. You can remove the seeds for less heat.

IMG_20131117_085645_174

Then I boiled 2 cups apple cider vinegar and 6 cups sugar for five minutes to get it nice and syrupy. I added my peppers and cooked for five more minutes. I then added two cups of cranberries to the pot and cooked this for ten minutes to let all the flavors really combine. This let the cranberries plump up but they did not split or separate.

IMG_20131117_100919_169

Does that look wonderful? Amazing? Shocking? Make you wanna scream it from the rooftops amazing?

Then, I removed the peppers and cranberries and put these into hot jars.

IMG_20131117_101219_675

I cranked the heat up and hard boiled the syrup for five minutes until it was a thicker syrupy consistency. Then pour your boiling hot syrup over your cranberries and peppers.

Cry because it is so good. Or give it out as Christmas Presents. The syrup is such a beautiful red color!

Remove air bubbles, wipe your rims, don’t lick your fingers until later, then process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Cranberry Candied Jalapenos

3 pounds Jalapenos

2 cups cranberries

2 cups apple cider vinegar

6 cups sugar

Combine sugar and vinegar, simmer for five full minutes. Add Jalapenos and simmer five more minutes. Add your cranberries and simmer another ten minutes. Place your cranberries and Jalapenos into hot pint or half pint jars. Boil the remaining syrup hard, for five minutes. Pour this over the top of your cranberry Jalapeno mix with 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air pockets, wipe rims, place caps and rings. Process in Boiling Water Bath for 15 minutes.  This made 4 pints.

Cranberry Jalapeno Jam! Yes Please!

Cranberry Jalapeno Jam!

IMG_20131117_101758_207

Cranberries appear to be everywhere this time of year! I love them frozen in smoothies, cranberry sauce, cranberry relish, in fact, I can’t think of cranberry anything I don’t like. I was making a batch of candied Jalapenos and spotted my bag of cranberries and a new thought began to surface!

First I googled to see if I could find a cranberry Jalapeno Jam but primarily I found ones made with juice, and I wanted the whole berry texture. I only had liquid pectin, so I adapted the Jalapeno Jam to include less Jalapenos and added cranberries. Since cranberries should be water bath canned for 15 minutes, I increased my waterbath time to 15 minutes instead of the 10 minutes that is commonly used for processing jelly.

Let me tell you. Divine. More then divine. My daughter took the spoon and I didn’t see her for ten minutes. She is eyeballing the jar trying to figure out how to disappear with it!

I wanted my cranberries chunky but not whole, so I poured the rinsed bag of cranberries into the blender and added one cup of white vinegar. I pulsed these until they were a chunky texture. You could use a food processor or chop these, just happened that the blender was right there! One bag equaled about 5 cups of cranberries.

IMG_20131117_090655_130

Chopped them all up so they could blend well with the vinegar. I could have chopped the peppers here too, but did not think about that until later. I was excited. I live on the wild side.

IMG_20131117_090943_150

Then I chopped four peppers. The jalapeno recipe on my pectin box calls for 12 jalapenos and 2 cups vinegar, so I am quite sure that the one cup of vinegar will cover my four peppers.

I removed the seeds because I wanted this to have a bite, not be completely burning hot! You could leave them in for more heat thought. IMG_20131117_091252_603

 I combined the cranberries, vinegar and peppers together. Then simmered this for ten minutes (Time recommended to simmer cranberries in syrup by NCHFP).

IMG_20131117_092157_150

I then added 5 cups of sugar. The interesting thing is the Jalapeno recipe called for 6 cups, but apparently it didn’t make a difference with setting up. Maybe this is because the sugar in the cranberries? I also added 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp cloves. I really did not taste these in the final project though.  I brought this to a boil and boiled for one full minute.

I then added the liquid pectin and boiled hard for one more minute.

This did not create any foam. It went right into the jars easy as could be! I capped and water bath canned for 15 minutes.

Then, I licked the pan clean! Delicious!

Cranberry Jalapeno Jam

1 12 ounce bag cranberries (about 5 cups)

4 jalapenos, seeded and diced

1 cup vinegar

5 cups sugar

1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

1/2 tsp cloves (optional)

1 packet liquid pectin

Combine cranberries and vinegar. Pulse until these are well chopped but still have texture. Combine cranberry vinegar mixture with jalapenos. Place in large stock pot. Simmer for ten minutes. Add sugar, cinnamon and cloves, bring to a hard boil and boil one full minute. Add pectin, stir well and bring to boil. Boil hard one more minute. Place hot jam into hot jars. Remove air bubbles and wipe rims. Cap with lid and ring. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Then, you can thank me. It is that good. Promise!

Say it isn’t so Sweet Potato!!

I love sweet potatoes. I mean… I REALLY love sweet potatoes! Something about them sings to me!

IMG_20131116_122639_116

When I was a kid I had them once a year, covered in marshmellows and more like desert. There is NOTHING wrong with that. Trust me. I still love them… gooey, sweet, dessert on your plate before dessert. What is not to love?

And then I grew up. I was vegetarian. Then Vegan. Then carnivore again. Life happens right?

But somewhere in there I found that sweet potatoes are amazing in muffins, pancakes, hellooooo Sweet Potato Pie!

I also found they can take awhile to peel, cook, mash, get ready when you just want some sweet potato to quickly add! Do you know that anything that calls for pumpkin is even better when sweet potato is added? True! Try it!

And… AND… if you can them, and they are soft, not only can you just mash them up quickly but… they really do make the best and quickest marshmellow brown sugar sticky dessert on your plate. You can do it anytime.  Like… Friday night after a bad week or Monday afternoon at the start of the week. I won’t tell! Promise!

Canning Sweet potatoes is super easy!

First gather your sweet potatoes. Scrub them well . Cut your ends off (Well, you don’t have to, but it feels weirdly wrong to leave them on)

IMG_20131116_113304_393

Drop them into boiling water. These cook about ten minutes and then, when you pull them out, the skins should peel right off! Easy Breezy!

IMG_20131116_115842_021

But they are hot. Really hot! Can you see that steam? Go fast!

Then, you can quarter them or slice them into chunks. These are processed for 90 minutes so lean on larger chunks. Smaller ones may just fall apart. As you chunk your sweet potatoes, put them into hot jars. Cover these with boiling water, remove air bubbles, cap and process for 90 minutes.

IMG_20131116_124235_733

See! I told you it would be easy! NCHFP mentions that you can also can these in syrup if you are going for something sweet. I don’t do that because we use them in a variety of ways but you COULD do that if you wanted. Syrup mixes can be found here NCHFP Syrups

How to use these?

Mash and add to your mashed potatoes for a surprise

Substitute for pumpkin in muffins, pancakes or cookies

Make a sweet potato pie

Drain, rinse and sauté up with bacon and onions

Drain, slather with butter, brown sugar and marshmallows. I won’t tell. Promise.

I used about 11 pounds of sweet potatoes and this made 7 quarts. Scrub your sweet potatoes, boil for ten minutes to heat through and remove skins. Quarter or chunk them into uniform size. Cover with boiling water (or Syrup). Remove air bubbles. Replace caps and process for 90 minutes (quarts) or 75 minutes (pints) in a pressure canner.

Soup Day!

We love soup!

Chicken soup, minestrone, corn soup, veggie soup, bean soup, you name it we will eat it! Soup is one area of canning that you do get to flex your creative muscles! Following guidelines from NCHFP you can use any soup, bean and vegetable combination that you wish to use. Any bean or legume must be rehydrated first! Then, combine this with broth, simmer for five minutes and place into hot jars with a 50% solid to a 50 % liquid ratio. You then must pressure can for 60 minutes (pints) or 75 minutes (quarts) and TaDa!!

SOUP!

That being said, this is actually a slightly different version of Bean Soup from Ball Blue Book of Canning. I made some small changes but will discuss them. These changes remained in line with NCHFP, so I think we are safe!

Some items should not be canned. These include (but are not limited to)

*Butter/fat/oil

*Rice, Pasta, Grains in general (barley etc)

*Thickeners such as flour, cornstarch, arrowroot etc.

But if is a vegetable, meat or bean! Have fun and experiment!

For today’s canning, I decided on bean soup because we had baked a ham and had a quite large ham bone left. I removed the fatty outer layer and used the bone with some bits of meat attached. I also left out the hot peppers called for in the recipe and I added chopped carrots! Carrots go with soup, right?

First, I soaked 4 pounds of white beans.  Cover them with water and bring to a boil for two minutes. Then turn them off and set aside. When you start, they look like this!

IMG_20131116_110602_583

After an hour, they will look more like this!

IMG_20131116_125836_270

Then you want to drain the liquid out, place back into a large stockpot (or a roasting pan in the oven) with one chopped onion, 4 chopped carrots and 2 hamhocks, 1/2 pound salt pork or a ham bone with the majority of fat gone!

I like to bake mine in the oven so that I don’t worry about burning it, it also warms up my house and leaves the stove open for other food!

IMG_20131116_145036_319

However you cook it, you want to simmer this for two hours. This lets the flavors combine, the beans fully cook and lets the meat get really happy with the beans. Then, take your big soup bone out, shred the meat off of it and add it back in. Notice this is mostly meat and not the fat. Fat is not good in canning! It can really cause problems for sealing your jars, as well as insulate the bot toxin thus preventing heat penetration.

IMG_20131116_144916_653

Once they are all back together, bring your soup up to a boil. Pour your hot soup into hot jars and leave a good  one inch head space. With these, I go about 3/4 of the way with beans and veggies and the rest with broth. Your beans will continue to absorb that liquid so be pretty generous with it! These jars are actually a bit fuller then usual, I took some of the beans out, but of course THAT picture was accidently deleted.

IMG_20131116_152344_004

Then, remove air bubbles with your plastic spatula (NOT your metal butter knife), wipe the rims, cap them and place into your pressure canner. NCHFP calls for a different timing then Ball did, but I went with the Ball Blue Book time of 90 minutes for quarts (75 for pints) because this is so close to their recipe!

Then, when your done, they all cook together and are Happy!  This is a bit better picture of the level I typically go for bean soup! Perfect for a cold winters day!

IMG_20131116_182743_109

Bean Soup

4 pounds dry navy beans

4 hamhocks, a large ham bone or 1/2 pound salt pork

2 chopped onions

4 large chopped carrots

salt, pepper, seasoning to taste

Rinse your beans, cover with water and simmer two minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for one hour. Drain water and add beans, vegetables and meat back to stockpot or ovensafe container. Simmer for two hours until fully cooked. Shred meat (removing fat) and combine with beans, bring back to simmer. Place into jars leaving one inch head space. process for 90 minutes (quarts) or 75 minutes (pints). This makes seven quarts with enough left over for dinner for four.