Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Beneficial Barter

I grew up in the grape country of Western New York and though I've been away for a long while, my family still lives there. Where I live is moonshine country and after sending my almost 90 year old father a jar of Maraschino Cherries Stewed in Moonshine we decided to swap 'shine for grapes. My sister boxed up 35 pounds of Concord and Catawba grapes for me and shipped them down (incidentally, for less cost than what I could buy them for locally.) They arrived on Thursday last and by Friday we had them all jarred.
Steam Juicing the Grapes

35 pounds yielded 12 quarts of grape juice concentrate, 7 pints of grape jam, and 2 grape pies.

We are soaking the grape seeds and pulp in cider vinegar to extract the many benefits.

 A bit about grape seeds:
Although not particularly tasty, whole grape seeds are completely edible, and scientific evidence suggests that they are good for you, too. Packed with essential fatty acids, amino acids, and powerful flavonoids (such as proanthocyanidins), these little bitter seeds have been associated with a whole slew of health benefits. Eating grape seeds on a regular basis may, for example, improve cardiovascular health, reduce leg swelling and varicose veins, provide some protection against certain types of cancer, offer weight loss benefits, treat depression, and even fight yeast infections caused by Candida.
In addition, thanks to their remarkably strong antioxidant properties, grape seeds might (at least in theory) help fight certain skin conditions – such as inflammatory acne, psoriasis, and premature wrinkling of the skin – and some more serious health complications such as asthma, joint inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis patients, and problems related to eye health.
Whole grape seeds are naturally rich in flavonoids including gallic acid, catechin, epicatechin, gallocatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin 3-O-gallate, and perhaps most importantly, oligomeric proanthocyanidins. According to research, the antioxidant capacity of proanthocyanidins is 20 times greater than vitamin E and 50 times greater than vitamin C.
In addition, proanthocyanidins have beenshown to enhance the effectiveness of other antioxidants. As a result of the remarkably strong antioxidant power of proanthocyanidins, it is not surprising that supplement manufacturers have began to process grape seeds into pills and capsules.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Autumn in a Jar

I just canned this:
It might be called Apple Pumpkin Butter by some, but I think the picture sums it up better.

Here is the recipe if you'd like to try it. Beware the smell as it cooks, if drifts everywhere and makes your home smell like a scented candle.

You will need:

  • I used one pretty good sized pie pumpkin, cut it in half, scraped the seeds & strings out, cut it into 2"x4" slices and shredded on my cheese shredder. This worked a lot better than trying to chunk it up. 
  • I added 3 Granny Smith apples, shredded. 
  • 2T vinegar
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1t nutmeg
  • 1T each, cinnamon and ginger
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups water and more if needed. 
Cook until done, adding more water if needed. My yield was 3 pints of very thick butter. 

The smell was divine, the taste was even better. I got the idea to make some from a book I'm reading, it's the Foxfire book detailing the life and interviews with Aunt Arie. She mentioned that they would make pumpkin butter in HUGE quantities and store it in multiple 5 gallon crocks. I find that mind boggling, my little batch was quite a bit of work, but to make gallons is nothing short of amazing. 

Happy Autumn!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Conservo Steam Oven

I've been looking for a Conservo for a little while, scouring eBay and local antiques shops to no avail. There are always a few on eBay, but for more than I wanted to pay relative to their condition. Using auction zip I found one being sold at an auction in Georgia, bid on it and won!

Made by the Toledo Cooker Company and patented in 1907 it is made with a tin body and copper bottom. The bottom, filled with water, generates the steam that bakes the items within. A nifty, low tech kitchen "appliance", my present to myself for my birthday.

It came today and I wanted to try it out immediately, but I couldn't think of anything to bake. I mused a bit and decided to use up a jar of our homemade peach pie filling and make a cobbler. I had to bake it in two bread pans because the Conservo can't hold a regular size cake pan.

I knew from a friend's experience with hers that anything baked with one will be very moist, but a cobbler should bake up just fine, right?

YES! Light, fluffy, moist, steamy goodness. Perfection.