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What are you preserving today?

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Post by freebird on 23rd September 2012, 11:51 am

Grapes, aka homemade raisins (or are they sultanas?). Matters not. They are utterly and absolutely delicious. Why the bother? I always used to buy large raisins for my Christmas cake. Don't know what sort they were, but they were gorgeous - tasted almost of elderflower. Can't get them anywhere. So when I saw some large seeded grapes in the market (the sort that taste of elderflower), decided to have a go at making my own. Fiddly getting the seeds out, and so far they've taken 35 hours in the dehydrator. In terms of cost, probably not worth it, but for something special they really are sooo gooood. Looking forward to making the cake next week.

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Post by AngelinaJellyBeana on 23rd September 2012, 6:12 pm

Dandelion, I'm still trying to get my pan clean after a similar disaster trying to make some greengage jam! It's burnt solid on the bottom. I've even tried chipping it off with a screwdriver!!!! Bicarb hasn't worked at all
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Post by freebird on 23rd September 2012, 8:24 pm

AngelinaJellyBeana wrote:Dandelion, I'm still trying to get my pan clean after a similar disaster trying to make some greengage jam! It's burnt solid on the bottom. I've even tried chipping it off with a screwdriver!!!! Bicarb hasn't worked at all

AJB - if it's too bad for bicarb or washing soda, try oven cleaner (not on aluminium). Keep it covered so it doesn't dry out. After all, it gets some pretty noxious stuff off the inside of an oven (I just read this, by the way. Haven't tried it for myself).
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Post by Dandelion on 23rd September 2012, 10:42 pm

I'm glad I'm not the only one who uses a screwdriver in the kitchen - I was prizing the plastic top off an olive oil bottle with one this evening so I could wash the bottle out! But your pan sounds bad AJB - hope the oven cleaner sorts it.

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Post by Chilli-head on 29th July 2013, 11:17 am

I spent Frifday evening making blackcurrant jam. Basically just simmered bklackcurrants in water to cover, then stirred in the same weight of sugar as currants, and boil until 105C on the sugar thermometer. Set quite nicely, and the last part filled jar tasted good on muffins on Saturday morning ! I got 7 jars from one bush - I need to pick off the rest tonight. I'll make sorbet with those I think.
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Post by Dandelion on 29th July 2013, 11:30 am

Chilli-head wrote:I spent Frifday evening making blackcurrant jam.  Basically just  simmered bklackcurrants in water to cover, then stirred in the same weight of sugar as currants, and boil until 105C on the sugar thermometer.  Set quite nicely, and the last part filled jar tasted good on muffins on Saturday morning !  I got 7 jars from one bush - I need to pick off the rest tonight.  I'll make sorbet with those I think.
how will you make the sorbet CH?

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Post by Chilli-head on 29th July 2013, 11:55 am

Dandelion wrote:how will you make the sorbet CH?

Ahh.  Easy one, I've already put the recipe in this thread. !

Edited to add - just goes to show how behind things are this year. In 2011, I was makng the same sorbet a whole month earlier.
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Post by Chilli-head on 1st August 2013, 2:18 pm

A litre of sorbet made last night, with enough spare currants for another batch of jam, making 15 jars in total !
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Post by freebird on 1st August 2013, 4:58 pm

Chilli-head wrote:A litre of sorbet made last night, with enough spare currants for another batch of jam, making 15 jars in total !
Need some help eating it, CH?
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Post by Ploshkin on 29th August 2013, 1:30 pm

It must be Autumn - I've got the pickling urge.
Have just done a batch of Sticky Pickle with a couple of zeppelins from the courgette plant & some honey & have tried some pickled courgettes - sliced courgettes with some onion & red pepper brined & then put in a vinegar/sugar/spice mixture. If it works it's another one for the courgette repertoire.

I must go to town & get more vinegar before it gets taken off the shelves to make room for Christmas stuff (that happened to me last year at the beginning of September & I made a big loud fuss & demanded to see the manager who went off sheepishly to find me some bottles of vinegar)
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Post by Chilli-head on 29th August 2013, 1:40 pm

Ploshkin wrote:
Have just done a batch of Sticky Pickle with a couple of zeppelins from the courgette plant & some honey & have tried some pickled courgettes - sliced courgettes with some onion & red pepper brined & then put in a vinegar/sugar/spice mixture.  If it works it's another one for the courgette repertoire.
Things to do with courgettes, particularly slightly forgotten ones which have got a bit big, are always useful. There's plenty of space in the recipe section if you have any good ones ...

Does start to feel a bit like autumn doesn't it. Darker evenings make it harder to find time to get everythibng done. I did some deleafing and feeding of tomatoes this morning to try to hasten on the ripening. Summer has not been an especially great season for me, hoping autumn is a long and warm one.
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Post by polgara on 29th August 2013, 7:36 pm

I1m freezing beans & tomatoes. Shame I can1t freeze cuecumbers!!

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Post by freebird on 4th September 2013, 9:15 am

Currently got sliced courgettes, tomatoes, chillies, over-ripe bananas and melon in the dehydrator. I've not done melon before - just tried a piece and it's delicious.
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Post by Chilli-head on 4th September 2013, 9:56 am

I made melon sorbet once, but would not recommend it as a way of using surplus - no acidity to balance the sugar. Drying sounds a better bet.

I am always drawn to the idea of building a solar dehydrator for tomatoes and the fleshier, Mexican chillies, but I never got around to it. I also have this nagging doubt that by the time they are ripe, it will be too late in the year for the sun to have enough heat to dry them. Perhaps this year it might have worked ?
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Post by Ploshkin on 4th September 2013, 5:19 pm

Today I've made raspberry jam, pickled runner beans and crab apple & mint jelly.  For the first time there were enough crabs on my tree in the garden to be able to use some.  I've left the ones I can't reach as they are such a gorgeous red colour & anyway I expect the birds will appreciate them.

CH - I built a solar wax extractor earlier this year to recover beeswax.  Even though wax melts at a very low temperature I only found it worked efficiently during that really hot spell in July with temps in the high 20s.  I mounted it on a small sack barrow so that I could move it to follow the sun.  I got some excellent wax though & my wax block won the blue ribbon for best overall exhibit at our Association honey show.  I'd never done one before so I was quite chuffed.
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Post by Chilli-head on 4th September 2013, 5:27 pm

If it is not a silly question, what do you use your beeswax for ? This is probably not the right section of the forum to get into a big discussion, but if need be we aan start one in the crafty bit.
I get the wax from old frames from my FIL, which I extract myself. I use it to waterproof the inside of wooden vessels, and to make a sort of paste wax polish for wood.
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Post by Ploshkin on 4th September 2013, 5:44 pm

Well, at the moment I haven't yet used it for anything but I have bought some turps to make some beeswax polish.  It's probably a bit yellow for cosmetics but I would only do something like that for own use as the regulations for selling are horrendous.  I don't actually get much wax - I don't bother to recover old, black stuff from frames (makes good firelighters) & I don't get any white, cappings wax because I don't uncap with a knife, I use a hot air gun.
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Post by freebird on 16th September 2013, 11:45 pm

Chillies, courgettes, tomatoes and bananas in the dehydrator. One of my varieties of tomato has had blossom end rot on almost every fruit, and yet another variety in the same bed has had none. Anyway, I've found that the affected fruits still ripen, and I've been salvaging what I can from them and drying them. The unaffected variety is Legend, a beefsteak tomato - the first time I have successfully grown a beefsteak type. I've bottled 4lb of those this evening.

Dandelion, how did your bottling go last year? Did you sample any of the things you'd preserved?
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Post by Ploshkin on 18th September 2013, 10:43 am

You seem to do a lot of dehydrating FB - it's not something I've ever considered but you've got me pondering now. What dehydrator do you use?

I've just made my first ever plum jam from my own Victoria plums. I managed to rescue about 5lbs from the wasps (it's only a young tree) but to be fair to the wasps they had only gone for the ones that had a split in them. Have cooked up the bits from damaged ones for crumbles etc & have saved some to just eat.
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Post by freebird on 18th September 2013, 11:38 am

Ploshkin wrote:You seem to do a lot of dehydrating FB - it's not something I've ever considered but you've got me pondering now.  What dehydrator do you use?
It's the Excalibur 5-tray job. I initially considered getting a relatively cheap model from somewhere like Lakeland, just to try. However, reading the reviews, there seemed to be a lot of downsides, such as constantly having to swap the trays around, uneven drying, limited head space, and small quantities. I decided to go for the Excalibur as it is much more versatile, and the thing that tipped the balance was the fact that you can use it for rising bread. I've never had anywhere reliably warm to rise dough. It was expensive, but I think it will end up paying for itself.

The reason I thought about having one in the first place was because a few years ago I had a total freezer failure and lost everything. I also have very limited freezer space for garden produce. I do some bottling, but as the man is diabetic, I don't really want to be preserving things in sugar syrup, and anyway don't bottle vegetables.

My biggest drying successes have been chillies (I now dry all of my surplus, and deliberately grow for surplus) and courgettes. Trying tomatoes for the first time this year, as I had no crops to preserve last year. Other things I've done are onion slices, mushrooms, apples, pears, strawberries, grapes to make my own sultanas for Christmas cake and bananas - oh, and liver for dog treats.
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Post by Dandelion on 18th September 2013, 7:56 pm

freebird wrote:Chillies, courgettes, tomatoes and bananas in the dehydrator. One of my varieties of tomato has had blossom end rot on almost every fruit, and yet another variety in the same bed has had none. Anyway, I've found that the affected fruits still ripen, and I've been salvaging what I can from them and drying them. The unaffected variety is Legend, a beefsteak tomato - the first time I have successfully grown a beefsteak type. I've bottled 4lb of those this evening.

Dandelion, how did your bottling go last year? Did you sample any of the things you'd preserved?
I'm pleased to say that we ate our way through all of the rhubarb I bottled, and lived to tell the tale! (One book I used had a LOT of information about what could go wrong, including what to do if you suspected botulism. It seemed to major on phoning up Porton Down, or something like that, and I ended up a bit scared!!) I bottled a lot more rhubarb this year - maybe next year I'll go for something different.

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by Dandelion on 18th September 2013, 8:02 pm

freebird wrote:

The reason I thought about having one in the first place was because a few years ago I had a total freezer failure and lost everything. I also have very limited freezer space for garden produce. I do some bottling, but as the man is diabetic, I don't really want to be preserving things in sugar syrup, and anyway don't bottle vegetables.

My biggest drying successes have been chillies (I now dry all of my surplus, and deliberately grow for surplus) and courgettes. Trying tomatoes for the first time this year, as I had no crops to preserve last year. Other things I've done are onion slices, mushrooms, apples, pears, strawberries, grapes to make my own sultanas for Christmas cake and bananas - oh, and liver for dog treats.
I'm with you there on a freezer failure - that's why I started to bottle rhubarb. We managed to get the freezer going again, but it made me realise that even if you've got a warranty for your freezer no-one really cares if you have to throw away all your produce.
Two questions: How long does a batch take to dry? And how do you keep it when it is dry? Oh (I know this makes it three questions...) and how do you reconstitute the dried tomatoes or whatever to cook them?

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by freebird on 18th September 2013, 9:46 pm

Dandelion wrote:Two questions: How long does a batch take to dry? And how do you keep it when it is dry? Oh (I know this makes it three questions...) and how do you reconstitute the dried tomatoes or whatever to cook them?
It depends on what you are drying - herbs can take just a couple of hours, but grapes took over 24 hours. Courgette slices take about 7-8 hours, tomatoes 9-10, to give you a rough idea. We are on Economy 7 electricity, so I always start the drying overnight at the start of the economy period.

I just keep the produce in airtight jars (old jam jars, or larger preserving jars), but only really aim to keep it until next season. I believe if you want to aim for long term keeping, you need to consider vacuum sealing it.

There are various ways of reconstituting food. If I was making a stew and wanted to add the dried mushrooms, I would just put them straight in to the liquid. Other things I put in hot water, or cold if I can give them longer. I have found that hot water leeches the flavours more than cold. If I want chillies for a stirfry, soaking them for about 15 minutes in hot water renders them soft enough.

I'm very much a novice at this - only had the thing about 18 months, so still experimenting
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Post by freebird on 22nd September 2013, 5:33 pm

Just been bottling some more tomatoes, helped by my mil, who we believe is in the early stages of dementia. It was a nice activity to do together, with her skinning the tomatoes (I did the hot water bit, though) and chopping them for the bottles. After I had done the necessary in the pressure cooker, and tightened up the bands on the bottles, I held one up to show her. Look, I said, they're all done. What are they, she asked looking puzzled. Bless....
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Post by Dandelion on 22nd September 2013, 10:47 pm

She must have loved the soothing feel of doing a repetitive job and being useful (even if she couldn't remember what she'd been doing)
Thanks for all the info re. dehydrating food. Very interesting...

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by Boobiejmama on 15th October 2013, 1:21 pm

I am just experimenting with water kefir fermented vegetables, has anyone else done this?
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