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Scuppernong Jelly 2016

Scuppernong grapes

Scuppernong grapes

 

Well, this year hasn’t been too productive in my usual spots for wild foraging my Muscadines; so, I wound up purchasing some Scuppernongs at the local farmer’s market. Scuppernongs are the green/gold variety of Muscadines. I think the flavor is a little lighter, and maybe has a little honey note to it. (I’ve thought about making a Scuppernong mead, but haven’t done it yet.) I bought a “one gallon” bag of grapes for $10.00 and weighed them when I got home. It was literally one big grape over four pounds. Of course, I ate about 4 or 5, so it was about 3 pounds and 14-1/2 ounces when I started the jelly making process.

Mashing and boiling the grapes.

Mashing and boiling the grapes.

The recipe that I’m using is from the USDA Guidelines…pretty much have to do that if I want to be able to enter my final product in the N.C. State Fair Food Preservation competition. (I’ve entered a number of things over the last four years and won two first place blue ribbons and several second place ribbons.) Here’s a link to the recipe: http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_07/grape_jelly_powder.html   But keep in mind, things don’t always work out perfectly regarding volume.

Grapes after 10 minute simmer.

Grapes after 10 minute simmer.

This time, the grapes I had yielded only 3-1/2 cups of juice…even though the recipe only calls for 3-1/2 pounds of grapes and a cup of water. The recipe is based on Concord grapes, though…maybe they provide a better yield than Scuppernongs. Anyway, to get to the 5 cups of juice that is called for, I strained my grapes through a cheesecloth bag that I created and hung from a cabinet and allowed to drip into a bowl.

Extracting the grape juice.

Extracting the grape juice.

After squeezing the pulp, I put another 1-1/2 cups of water in a pot on the stove and boiled the cheesecloth bag in it, like a teabag for ten minutes. I poured the now-flavored water into the bowl and re-hung the bag to drip. I’m trying to keep the flavor from getting watered down.

The juice is now refrigerated until I’m ready  to continue the process tomorrow. This allows any sediment to settle and reduces the chance of tartrate crystals forming in the final product. The juice will be filtered through cheesecloth again before continuing.

Next Day: I ran the juice through cheesecloth and held back a tiny amout of sediment. I needed to add about a 1/2 c. of water to make 5 cups total.

Almost ready to can.

Almost ready to can.

Followed the rest of the recipe instructions and ended with nine 1/2-pint jelly jars and processed them in the water bath canner for 5 minutes. Now they sit for 24 hours. (I love hearing those lids popping as the vacuum seals them to the jars!)

Jars of Scuppernong jelly.

Jars of Scuppernong jelly.

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2014 Crab Apple Jelly

Getting ready to boil the crab apple juice.

Getting ready to boil the crab apple juice.

Yes, it’s time for my award winning crab apple jelly! For the recipe and last year’s notes, check out this link: https://mmmfoodies.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/crabapple-jelly-2nd-place-at-nc-state-fair-2012/

The only differences this year are that 1) I had to forage my crab apples from a neighbor because our HOA Board of Directors had all the ones on community property cut down. *steam*

Community crab apples cut down...have to rely on a neighbor.

Community crab apples cut down…have to rely on a neighbor.

and  2) I used about 5 lbs of crab apples instead of four. I wound up with 7 cups of juice, but I only used six cups and did not have to add any water.

Cooked and strained crab apples=juice

Cooked and strained crab apples=juice

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for another winner at this year’s North Carolina State Fair!

Finished crab apple jelly

Finished crab apple jelly

Now I need to figure out what to do with 21 more pounds of crab apples before they start rotting!  I only need so much jelly…maybe one more batch for gifts. I’ll probably do another batch of hard cider…my little counter top extractor is a bit under sized for the job, but it’s all I have. One of these days, I’m going to burn out the motor. Maybe I’ll get a press some day…when I have substantially more money!

 

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Organic Homemade Pesticide for Your Garden

A jug and a spray bottle. a batch of organic pesticide.

A jug and a spray bottle. a batch of organic pesticide.

Last year, I decided to build a raised bed garden, so that I might grow a few things on my otherwise desolate little spot of earth. I was moderately successful…I had a bunch of squash and grape tomatoes, some jalapenos and bigger tomatoes…my green beans were a bust.

Raised garden. About 6'x12'

Raised garden. About 6’x12′

But I’m learning! Last year, I found on Pinterest, an organic pesticide that I made at home. This year, I’m starting to get something chewing on my pepper plants, mainly and some Swiss Chard. So, I went to look it up on my board and found that the link was dead. I did a little searching and found another similar recipe. It called for a fresh jalapeno, which I did not have; so I remembered the other recipe used cayenne powder and that the important thing is the capsaicin, the “hot” ingredient in peppers. The following recipe is what I put together for this year. A couple of notes: first, be VERY aware of your hands, eyes and tender tissues. You may want to wear gloves. Do NOT rub your eyes, scratch your nose or use the bathroom during this process without thoroughly scrubbing your hands FIRST! Second, my recipe isn’t 100% organic when I use Dawn brand dish detergent; but, if you get something like Seventh Generation or other brand of dish detergent that is vegetable based and organic, you can get back that last 1%. Happy bug deterrence!

Ingredients in food processor.

Ingredients in food processor.

 

Homemade Organic Pesticide

1 Onion, peeled, cut into large pieces

1 teaspoon Cayenne Powder

1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

1 gallon Water, hot (not boiling, just hot from the tap)

1 tablespoon of dish detergent. (Use 2 tablespoons if using organic)

In a pot big enough to hold more than a gallon of water, add the water. In a food processor or blender, add the other ingredients except the detergent and process at high speed for about a minute.

Puree mixed with a gallon of hot water.

Puree mixed with a gallon of hot water.

Onions, cayenne, red pepper flakes, pureed.

Onions, cayenne, red pepper flakes, pureed.

 

Stop, scrape the sides down, and process a little longer. Using a couple of layers of cheesecloth (or an old t-shirt you can discard afterwards), strain the pulp from the liquids.

Pot with cheeseloth.

Pot with cheeseloth.

The pulp can be composted or thrown away. Using a funnel, add the detergent to a storage container with a closable cap or lid and the dish detergent. I use a class carboy from my local brewshop, but you could wash out an empty milk jug. Fill a spray bottle with the solution and make sure you mark it with a warning and use it only for this purpose!

A jug and a spray bottle. a batch of organic pesticide.

A jug and a spray bottle. a batch of organic pesticide.

Clean all your supplies well…the dishwasher is a good idea for anything that will fit. And WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY!!!

Apply as a mist or spray on your plants. This is not a bug killer, it is a deterrent. You don’t need to spray streams on the bugs themselves.

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