Tag Archives: jam

Are you Hip?

Shannon and I talk to people all over the county and beyond about what we do and everyone has advice for us about what classes we should offer (it is sort of like being pregnant actually!)  After looking at all the requests, and discarding some of the more unusual (do people REALLY want to learn how to make their own shoes??) we put together our summer/fall offering.  In keeping with the national trend toward sustainable lifestyles and looking back at cool skills that are still relevant today, we put together what we think represents a pretty cool offering!

So, grab a gal or guy friend and join the WSU Kitsap Small Farms Team this summer in a  six-week adventure exploring the tricks and techniques to living a more satisfying and sustainable lifestyle!  Whether you want to preserve the best of the berry season with jams and jellies, take your home brewing to the next level, conquer your fear of pressure canning, make creamy fresh cheeses, learn soap-making, or your mission is to preserve the crunchiest pickle, Hip Homesteading has something for you!

Thursday Classes  10 am—1 pm

  • July 7th—Jammin’ ~ Make delicious jams and jellies
  • July 21st— Cheesemaking ~ Fresh cow and goat milk cheeses
  • July 28th—In a Pickle ~ Crisp and crunchy pickles and relishes
  • August 4th— Soap Making ~ Sweet-scented delights for the bath and body
  • August 11th- Under Pressure ~ Pressure canning and preserving low-acid foods

Fieldtrip:  Thursday, July 14th 6pm—9pm ~ Homebrewin’ @ the Slippery Pig Brewery with Brewmaster Dave Lambert

Monday Evening Classes  6pm—9pm

  • July 11th— Cheesemaking ~ Fresh cow and goat milk cheeses
  • July 25th—Jammin’ ~ Make delicious jams and jellies
  • August 1st—In a Pickle ~ Crisp and crunchy pickles and relishes
  • August 15th—Soap Making ~ Sweet-scented delights for the bath and body

All Classes are held at the Silverdale Community Center, except for Homebrewin’ which will be taught at: Slippery Pig Brewery, Finn Hill Rd, Poulsbo WA  98370.   Cost is just $35 per class, and as always 4H and FFA youth are FREE.

Register Online at: http://county.wsu.edu/kitsap/(click on “Calendar”) or by mail: WSU Extension Kitsap Small Farms Team, 345 Sixth Street, Ste. 550, Bremerton, WA 98337. For more information contact: Shannon Harkness at shannon.harkness@wsu.edu or (360) 337-7026.

Strawberry Jam and Euler Circuitry

The beginning of summer vacation certainly has been busy around here!  As my kids said goodbye to another year of school, I resumed classes for the summer session for college.  I am taking classes toward an Ag degree at Oregon State University.  Having been eleven years since completing an Associates degree, I have been pretty careful about the class-load and since Math is not a strong subject for me, I opted to make it my sole summer class.  Turns out, that was a wise choice.  Last week it was Euler and his formulas relating to circuits.  ((Gag))  This math class is a study of everyday math and I had already taken it once while studying in Hawaii.  Math is different in Hawaii, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.  Regardless, it didn’t transfer.

So, here’s me on my little farm running my clutch of little chicks on summer vacation to different activities wondering what in the world is “everyday” about Euler and his circuitry and graphs.  And then it dawned on me…perhaps I already know about Euler, but, I didn’t know that I knew!  Here’s where the farming comes into play…

A few weeks ago, Diane and I wrote about our daily lives living on a farm.  A lot of point A to point B and beyond.  And in order to get the maximum amount done, we have to be pretty efficient with our footsteps.  After all, we are pretty busy ladies. So, as I set out to do chores I think about what needs to happen to set my route.  Now, Euler was made famous for this when he solved a bridge problem (you should look it up, I can’t explain it very well) and companies who use an Euler circuit can save serious money!  So, if I use a  Euler circuit while doing farm chores, it will free up some time and energy to accomplish more important things, like Balsamic Vinegar Strawberry Jam!!!

And that leads me to the real point of my story.  It is finally strawberry time and we are on the cusp of raspberries, too!  Jams and jellies are a great way to explore food preservation and I would love to teach you how to do it!  Don’t worry, we won’t be discussing Euler’s circuitry.  My classes are FAR more interesting than that!  Plus, we will make a batch to share!  So, head on over to the WSU Kitsap Website and sign up for my class THIS Thursday!  This class will be from 10 am to 1 pm and is held at the Silverdale Community Center.  You will also notice that “Jammin” is a class from the Hip Homesteading summer series exploring everything from Jams, Pickles, Soap, Cheeses, Pressure Canning…there’s something for everyone!

If you are looking for local strawberries, Pheasant Fields Farm has them!  We spent an hour in her patch picking strawberries that she will sell at the Silverdale Farmers Market today!  These berries are the smaller more flavorful ones, perfect for a batch of delicious jam!

And as your going about your daily business, give Euler’s Theorum a thought…there just may be some time in your day to make some jam!

Farm Diary – June 4th

Okay, so people ask me “What do you do all day on the farm!?”

Farm and Ranch Living Magazine invites a farm family to keep a diary every month so you can get a taste of farm life through their experiences.  There are also a plethora of blogs out there chronicling life on the farm – if you look off to the right side of the page you can see our blogroll and check out what we read!  I have decided to give it a shot as well because then when people ask I can just sent them to Farm to Fork!

We have a small farm with chickens, hogs and a couple of cows. The cows (mainly Ellie Belle) dictate much of the chore schedule because milking is a twice a day, EVERY day activity! This morning went something like this:

7:45 ish – Assemble the milk bucket from bits washed last night in the dishwasher and grab the extra milk for the hogs, fill the wash bucket and head out. Hubby is already outside fixing the pull cord on the mower. It came off last night when I was mowing the lawn to feed clippings to the cows.

8:00 – Radio on, cow in the stanction eating grain, milking machine chuffing away nicely, getting grain ready for the hogs and Ellie kicks of the milker. Investigate a bit and find a sort spot on the end of one teat. I guess I would kick a bit too!

8:15 – Toss hay to the cows and head back inside to strain the milk and make more yogurt.  Think a gallon will be enough?  Hay customer was here early, thinking that we started at 8:00 rather than 9:00. We are early risers but there is lots to do before opening the doors!  Arnold had started on breakfast but went out to load hay so I finished making it.  We do a big farm breakfast on Saturdays because we typically don’t get done with hay until 2:00 or later.  On the menu this morning:  Fried red potatoes, fried eggs, toast with a choice of peach or strawberry jam, and milk.

8:45 – Doors to the shop open, lawnmower bits assembled and put away, kids feeding the hogs, I move the chicken tractors and fill the feeders and waterers.  Cindy comes for hay, visit for a minute, she offers to come and help butcher chickens on Tuesday!  Awesome!  We can use the help, she knows what she is doing and she will bring her knives!

9:00 – Go back inside and start a batch of bread.

9:15 – Outside, cows see the lawn mower and start bawling.  Mow for half an hour in the orchard and around the berries to make them happy.  Memo to self – pick rocks more carefully!

Quick story here – we always give grass clippings to the cattle.  They have a small pasture but it never has enough grass to keep them happy.  We have set up electric fence to give them more pasture (see the “Lawn Moo-ers” post) in the past but I have a “disrespectful” member of the herd right now that makes that a challenge.  He seems to think that fence posts are for scratching on so rather than staying inside the electric fence he requires something a bit sturdier.  Once he goes on to “greener pastures” we will be able to do that.  One day I could hear the cows bawling and wondered what was the matter.  In the past, if one was out or something was wrong the other cow would usually bawl and fret so I was concerned that we had a breach of security or similar.  I looked out and there was nothing the matter – they were just standing at the corner of the pasture looking expectant.  I couldn’t figure what was the matter until the neighbor’s lawn mower started back up!  I realized they could hear the mower from next door – behind the trees you couldn’t see it! – and figured it was dinner time!  I had to laugh.

10:30 – Run one of the kids into Silverdale.  I need to go to town today but I am not ready so I will have to make another trip!  So much for doubling up to save gas!  Before I leave I think – ooohh.  I needed to take care of the bread about now….

11:30 – Home – bread has risen nicely but it got left a bit too long and when I put the loaves in the oven they deflate a bit.  Bummer!  It will taste fine but it isn’t a picture perfect loaf.  Visit with Alice and Lori about raising chickens, the price of feed, protein content of broiler feed, chicken tractors, butchering chickens, 4-H projects, and trying to share the road with the Kitsap Tri-Babes during the summer!  They train at the local lake and bike on Holly Road most weekends beginning now.  Prepare for some slow downs on Saturday mornings by leaving a bit early!

12:00 – Bread out, and yes, it deflated.

1:00 – Hay crew in for lunch.  Leftover pesto chicken and pasta with green salad and deflated bread.  They don’t seem to care that it is ugly and eat half a loaf while it is still warm.  Need to bring up more jam from the downstairs canning pantry now!

2:00 – Post the blog, check the chicken water since it is so warm, move the tractors (too many chickens, not enough tractors, problem solved on Tuesday!) Then, run errands in town, get a few more bulb onions to finish the row, run to the church to photocopy something for tomorrow.

Tonight finds me doing chores again, prepping a Sunday School lesson, and maybe going on a date with hubby!

Don’t know about you but just thinking about all this has me worn out!  See you on Tuesday for a recap of the chicken processing and more of the Farm Diary!

Farmers on the Town

So, the other night Shannon and I put on our name tags (since it makes us look so much more official!) and went out on the town!  The Kitsap Community and Agricultural Alliance monthly meeting was a Meet the Farmer / Farmers Market Preview event and Potluck!  I am not saying that we were the country mice, but it was nice to get out and chat with Farmer Friends.  We put the WSU board up with the rest of the farmer displays and tucked into some amazing local food.  My new favorite?  Pickled Garlic Scapes!  Spicy, beautiful to look at and very tasty!  I am thinking that is what my scapes are going to do this spring!  I can’t wait for them to come up so I can get picklin’.

The rest of the meal was pretty tasty as well.  I must confess to a bit of pride myself – I can hold my own at a potluck!  But there was some tough competition!  Lots of varieties of bread, deviled eggs (yummo!), spring greens, chicken curry and nan bread…all washed down with Hummingbird Hill soda.  If you have never been to a KCAA meeting be sure and come next month!  You will be fed — physically and mentally — because they always have interesting speakers and programs.  For a complete summary of the event check out Brandy Williams’ post over at Kitsap Cuisine

Here is a pix from the smart phone – which apparently is the WRONG model for the awesome camera!

Speaking of picklin’ — Shannon recently posted about her food storage efforts — and canning and preservation are a huge part of that.  “In a Pickle” is her April class — check it out and get ready for summer veggies!

Like Shannon, I also have a large pantry, full of jams and jellies, pickles and sauces, fruit and juices, pasta, rice, beans, flour, and spices.  In addition, there are three (!) freezers full of meat and frozen fruit, berries, and veggies.  Right now we have about half a beef left from last summer, 10 stewing hens, a couple fryers, and a hog that we added to the larder last week.  There is also 10# of rendered lard — because you just never know when you  might need to make a killer pie crust for that rhubarb pie!  And, until the middle of February we also had onions, potatoes, carrots and garlic.  We still have a bit of garlic left — but the last of the stored vegetables are gone.  March to July is rice and pasta time!

We don’t buy many groceries — but we also spend a lot of time putting up.  Why?  Well, it tastes good, it is good for you, we know where all that food came from so there is no question about whether it is safe or healthy for the family, and it is thrifty!  The trade-off for our grocery independence?  We spend lots of warm summer nights sitting around the kitchen table snapping beans, hours peeling and canning peaches and tomatoes, early mornings in the garden picking baby cucumbers, and more than a couple cold fall afternoons butchering chickens!  It never stops from jammin’ with the berries in June until mid-November, by which time you have lost your will to can and are very thankful to be done.  A constant stream of empty jars come upstairs and go back down full.  Then abruptly, the process reverses and a couple at a time the jars in the basement pantry march back upstairs.  Peach-Orange-Pineapple Jam to slather on warm bread on cold winter mornings, dill pickles to crunch on with tomato soup and grilled cheese for weekend lunches, peaches for cobbler with whipped cream (thanks to Alexis the Princess Cow!) after Sunday dinners of roast beef, mashed potatoes and Bread and Butter Pickles.  I “go shopping” in the pantry a couple times a week all winter long and the emptied jars pile up on the counter until there is no more space, then I grab a box and tote them back downstairs where they wait on the bottom shelf of the canning pantry for the process to begin again!   This annual “uncanning” is more than an exercise in nostalgia — now it is hip and sustainable.  People blog about it — there are facebook pages devoted to preservation — and people are getting back on the train.   So, join Shannon and I this year as we share opportunities to fill your pantry in our classes, offer tips and recipes, and laugh a little at our failures (because there will be some — trust me on this!)

Don’t know how to get started?  It all begins with planting some seeds!

Christmas 101 – Farmer Style

This year was bountious – the berries were bursting, the peaches were juicy beyond reason, the cherries were lucious and the cucumbers brought me to my knees!  But – now because I am a compulsive canner and can’t let a single raspberry go to waste – I have a pantry full of ready made gifts to share with friends and family!  Tonight a friend and I were putting together some gift baskets to take to friends and these jars were ready to go!  From left there is peach, peach-orange-pineapple harlequin, garlic dills, pear-orange-pineapple marmalade and pear ginger jam!  I find the doilies during the year at yard sales and thrift stores for 50 cents to a dollar each.  They make a pretty topper to a jar of jam and I like to give them a bit of new life rather than letting them languish in a bin somewhere! 

Merry Christmas All!

Jammin’

The children’s book Jamberry riffs, “Raspberry, Jazzberry, Razzmatazzberry, Berryband, Merryband, Jamming in Berryland!”   Lately, our house has been  “Jamberry” central as I processed thirty-some-odd pints of strawberry jam over the last couple of weeks.   This is just the beginning as I make lots of jam  – strawberry, raspberry, peach, peach-orange-pineapple, strawberry-rhubarb – and we haven’t even gotten to the butters yet!  

We do lots of PBJ and it is a quick and easy gift to toss in a basket with a loaf of warm bread.  Jam is also the perfect way to flavor plain yoghurt – add some homemade granola for a quick and yummy breakfast or after school snack!

A couple of friends expressed interest in learning to make jam so I sent out an shout to the gals at church to come over to my house and learn the basics of freezer and cooked jams – expecting a couple people.  By the time I had 8 replies in the inbox I decided to regroup.  I picked a couple buckets of berries, scrounged around for some plastic containers, rounded up a couple of teens to keep an eye on the toddlers in the gym while we worked in the kitchen and we started jammin’! 

We did two types of strawberry freezer jam and then I did a quick demo of an old family favorite, “Jiffy Berry Jam.”   For the freezer jam I demo-ed the traditional, sugar-laiden, but never-fail fruit pectin recipe found in Sure-Jell .  With a jaw-dropping 4 cups of sugar for 2 cups of crushed berries, it is sure-to-please the under 10 set and a tablespoon contains enough sweetener to handily flavor a cup of plain yoghurt.  However, it could also put you in a diabetic coma!   This is the jam of my childhood – packaged in an odd assortment of cottage cheese and cool whip containers saved through the years it graced the breakfast table every morning.  The recipe, found on the insert inside the box, is simple, quick (once in the groove one can easily knock this out in less than 30 minutes) and bullet-proof. 

The second batch was made with Ball Simple Creations No-Cook Freezer Jam Fruit Pectin which uses 1 1/2 cup of sugar and 4 cups of crushed berries and unlike Sure-Jell which requires you to cook the pectin, only needs to be stirred for three minutes.  Resulting in a slightly softer set jam, with a more natural fruit taste, this version of freezer jam is a winner in my book.  Quick, easy, and lighter on the sugar!

There are several other brands of freezer jam pectin on the market – one made by Certo is similar to Sure-Jell but also requires the addition of corn syrup.  This has never been a favorite of mine because, recent demonization of corn syrup aside, it represented an extra bit of fiddling around with an ingredient that I inevitably discovered that I was almost out of after I started the process of making the jam.  Liquid pectin, sold in pouches, allows you to skip the step of cooking the pectin, but like Sure-Jell requires 4 cups sugar.   All the varieties of pectin yield about 5 cups jam and cost about $2-3 per batch depending on whether you get a bargain on the pectin or not.

My final batch was Jiffy Berry Jam – a no-added pectin recipe that comes from my maternal grandmother.  My mother always used this recipe for raspberry, blackberry and marion berry jam and while it doesn’t quite represent the instant gratification of the no-cook pectin jam it is the tops for taste!  A few years ago my mother and I were cleaning out some boxes left over from my grandmother’s estate and we came across the remains of her recipe cards, including this jam recipe, mixed with some old papers and strewn in the bottom of a box.  My mom, having her own box of tried and true’s, was ready to toss the entire mess when I jumped in and rescued them.  She died when I was a teenager so my relationship with grandma hadn’t matured and I miss the opportunity to ask her about the challenges she faced growing up during the depression.    Grandma didn’t keep a journal, we don’t have bundles of old letters, so all that remains are a few memories, stories passed down from my mother, and notes on some stained 3×5 cards like “needs more salt” or “good with pork”.  Growing up in a meat and potatoes household, the ethnic roots in the recipes were a bit of a revelation as well.  Eastern European, Northern Italian and German recipes, reflective of the diverse immigrant community in which my grandfather lived, apparently graced their table on a regular basis.  When I asked Mom why we never ate Italian-style “Meat Gravy” with pasta growing up she simply replied, “Your dad wanted pot-roast and potatoes.”  Here is the recipe – in the hand of Mildred Edna Calnan Toman.

 jiffy-berry-jam

I use a hand-held mixer to beat the hot sugar and berry mixture.   It does splash a bit so I cut a lid-sized piece of cardboard out of the bottom of a pizza box and cut a hole in it for the beaters to pass through.  This cuts down on the splatter and prevents the steam coming off the hot berries from cooking your fingers in the process.

  rasp-jam

The seeds in raspberries and blackberries are rich in pectin and the beating liberates it and gives you a firm set jam.  You can either put the hot jam  into hot jars and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes or let the jam cool slightly, put into plastic containers and freeze it.  Alternatively, you can just put it in the fridge and eat warm bread and jam for every meal for the next week – which isn’t so bad either!