Friday, March 9, 2012

Canning Beets, Grapefruit Juice, and Japan Plum/Kumquat ?'s...

So first off, we have a ton of fruit, etc trees/plants in our yard. Plum, pecan, grapefruit, orange, satsuma, tangerine, 2 kinds of kumquats, 3 or 4 kinds of figs, 2 kinds of persimmons, Japan plums (aka loquats), blackberries, 2 kinds of muscadines, you get the idea. For the most part, I can come up with multiple things to do with all these. I'm stumped on a few though. I love to eat Japan plums right off the tree, but there's got to be other stuff to do with them. I've looked online and come across a few recipes for cooking with them, and a good bit on jam/preserves. I even saw one with packing them in salt for 10 years before you eat them.

Has anyone ever tried these? Do you have any other/better suggestions? Can I just hot/raw pack them and put them in fruit salad? Run them through the dehydrator for a snack?

I have a similar question with kumquats. We have 2 kinds of these - one sweet, one sour. I don't eat them, but I do make kumquat/orange marmalade for my parents and brother to eat. I've dehydrated them once, and they made a crunchy snack my brother and dad liked. Got any other suggestions for canning? Think I could slice them up, hot/raw pack them and use them in fruit salad year round? I hate having food go to waste in the yard, but I'm stumped.

Now, to share what I actually did can a few weekends ago.

19 quarts of grapefruit juice. I don't drink it, I hate grapefruits, but my brother loves it. The tree is huge, and I barely touched it to get the 15-20 gallons of grapefruits we used.

I also did a batch of pickled beets that same weekend. I didn't have any fresh ones, so I used store bought canned stuff (sigh) but they work just as well. Santa brought a ton of the Tattler canning lids for the holidays this past year, so now I can stick them on just about everything I can this year. :)

And just cause my daddy took a picture of it for me to put up here: I present the rack of canned/dried food. It's not as packed as it was before Christmas, but it's getting filled up again. I didn't have room for the ~100 quarts of pears I hot packed last year on there, so they have floor space. The majority of the remaining junk on/near the floor is plarn (plastic yarn) that I crochet with, or the bags to make it with. Sigh...I need to clean house. ;)

New Soaps and a New Mold!

So I've been wanting a big 5lb loaf mold for soaping, but the prices are outrageous. Rather than break down and buy one, I convinced my dad to help me make one from scrap wood and a few nuts/bolts from the hardware store. The result works great! I got the basics from Keith Brown's wonderful tutorials on youtube. Go check them out if you're interested in making your own mold. My dad and I edited a few things, stuck washers on the bolts before the wing nuts, etc, but basically kept the same idea. SO without further rambling, pictures!

Both ends are removable. I drilled the holes wrong on one side, so I had to put me an up arrow to know which set of holes to put on the bolt. I spent about $4 to make this between the bolts and screws. All the wood was scrap. I recommend making it the 18" suggested in the videos. That's the perfect length to put Reynolds freezer paper in and not have to cut anything. I just stuck seperate little squares on the end pieces, screwed it down tight and taped down the big middle piece. It worked great, no leaks or anything.

So, the soaps that were made (a few weeks ago now, haven't had time to post this...). I did 3 types: goats milk, shaving soap, and the loaf one. The descriptions are in this post.

Goats Milk:

Still not too fond of the look of this one, but here's the Shaving Soap:

And my favorite of all the one's I've made so far, done in the fancy new loaf mold is the Peppermint Chocolate Swirl:

What do you think, world? :P My picture taking skills haven't improved - these were done by my dad with his  fancy camera he uses to take pictures of deer and stuff when he's hunting.