Saturday, 13 July 2013

Adventures in Preservation (Cherry jam)

We have a cherry tree in our yard. It produces lovely little cherries, tart but not sour, and seemingly mountains of them. Last year I made a couple of pies and froze the rest. There are still several big freezer bags that I need to get through and it's already producing more! I needed to pick the first crop and I wanted to do something with them. I've been really interested in trying canning and found some great information and instructions so I felt ready. I bought my funnel, lifter, de-bubbler and magnetic lid wand and a dozen pint jars and figured cherries were the way to go.

I decided to make jelly, so I wouldn't have to deal with pitting and all that, but I kept running across this recipe for pectin-free jam. I had neglected to buy pectin, so I saw it as a sign. So I got out my new cherry pitter (which beats the pants off my old one) and spent two hours pitting cherries last night. I was worried I didn't have enough fruit as the recipe called for 2lbs, but once I was all done pitting I discovered that I had just over 2lbs. Meant to be!

I added the sugar and left them in the fridge to macerate. I really like that word....


Today, while my jars were in the dishwasher, I cooked the cherries till they were soft, but not falling apart.

After. This look about half an hour

Then, I added 1tblsp fresh lemon juice and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon and cooked it a bit more. I used my immersion blender to roughly mash the cherries as they were too small for my potato masher. I tasted the jam at this point and found it still quite tart, so I added close to 1/2 cup more sugar.


I tested the jam on a plate I had put in the freezer, putting a dollop of jam on the plate and letting it sit a few seconds. Then I drew my finger through it. The line didn't fill in, so it was good! I added 1 tblsp. amaretto and cooked it a little more, then filled two jars (well, almost). 
They look lonely. Must make more next time

I processed the two jars for 10 mins and they seem to have sealed! I'm pretty excited about this. The blog (Northwest Edible Life) I got this from had a link to an amazing canning resource put out by Virginia Tech. Link to pdf or epub download here


Thursday, 11 July 2013

Found fabrics - hiding from the heat version

Today was hot. Really hot. Like, my thermometer said 39 degrees hot. I do not like the heat. I am a spring and fall sort of person. I like sweaters and long skirts and being, you know, cozy. I do not like sweltering. It just doesn't work for me.

As such, today the kids and I took refuge in the basement, where it stayed pretty cool all day. I decided to use up some fabric lying around.

First up, a very nice salmon jersey. I think it's a modal blend, but I could be wrong. I've had it for a while. Given the weather, I decided to make a sundress.

I'm not too certain how I feel about it, but Ryan laughed at me when I said that since I always hate everything I make for myself at first. After wearing it all evening, I've noticed that I need to alter it a little. Not hugely, but just a couple of fixes due to the way the fabric wears.

Then I decided to make a new travel change pad for my diaper bag. The one we have is cheap vinyl and came with a different bag and is straight-up falling apart. So I dove into my PUL stash and came up with this:

Folded along stitched fold lines! I know, I'm so clever...
I like it a lot.. It's a top layer of waterproof PUL, with two layers of a heavy cotton underneath. I'm not too worried about making it fully waterproof as we're past the peeing-on-the-change-table phase (I hope). I was going to bind it, but decided to just serge the edges instead. I'm on this kick right now of using four different colors of small spools of thread in my serger, and although it means I have to change the spools every five minutes, I think it looks fun. As a bonus, I'm slowly using up my huge collection of half-used spools of thread!

I also started on a shirt for my dad and some diapers for the wee one. I'll post those when they're done!