Category: Fruits


 

I can, can you? Sure you can! Canning is not hard to do at all, especially if you pick a really easy project like canning fruit. This year I received a box of luscious peaches from Washington state. They were perfectly ripe, but a bit crushed in spots due to poor handling in transit. Instead of canning slices or halves, I used the fruit—some perfect and some not so perfect—to make peach ketchup!

Peach ketchup is a lovely peachy color, but it tastes very much like tomato ketchup. Taste it before you can it, and adjust the spices and sugar to suit yourself. Use really great tasting fruit, it should not be brown or overripe, but if it is soft in spots, that’s ok. Use the tangy sweet and sour ketchup just as you would regular tomato ketchup. It’s particularly great on potatoes.

 

 

As in years past I am proud to be a  “Canbassador” for the Washington State Fruit Commission and to tell you about the Can-It-Forward event, sponsored by Ball Brand.

August 16th, 2014 International Can-It-Forward Day
Check out this site for a live webcast of canning demonstrations with chefs, as well as recipes and tips

Sweet Preservation
A go-to resource for canning and freezing stone fruits, offering how-to-tips, recipes, health information, customizable canning jar labels and more

Here are more of my picks for great canning resources:

Punk Domestics
A community site with recipes and tutorials for canning, preserving, cheese making, foraging, drying and dehydrating and pretty much anything that is culinary DIY

National Center for Home Food Preservation
This is kind of the “bible” for learning how to safely preserve food at home, there’s even a self study course

AND NOW THE GIVEAWAY!
This year Ball Brand is offering one lucky reader a fabulous prize package of:

·   New Limited Edition Spring Green Heritage Collection Jars, these limited edition jars commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Ball brothers’ “Perfection” Jar and come in a beautiful green tint.  These are being produced only in 2014 and are available in both pint and quart varieties.  (Pint retail value: $9.99 per case/ Quart retail value $12.99 per case)

·   Fresh Herb Keeper is an ingenious container to keep herbs fresh for up to two weeks. (Retail value: $12.99)
·   Dry Herb Jars are a perfectly-sized solution for storing your dried herbs. Great for storing seasonings, spices and rubs too! Stackable, low-profile design makes pantry or drawer storage more efficient than old, mis-matched containers. (Retail value: $4.99)
·   Frozen Herb Starters preserve your fresh seasonings in ready to use cubes filled with butter, oil or other liquid for easy and flavorful meal starters. (Retail value: $11.99)
·   5 Blade Herb Scissors  with stainless steel blades to gently cut and evenly slice herbs like basil, parsley and cilantro. (Retail value: $9.99)
·   Ball Blue Book with 125 pages that will guide you while you learn about preserving, this book provides information on equipment, instructions for the preserving method and recipes! (Retail value: $6.49)
Leave ONE comment telling me what you’d most like to can or preserve and I will choose a winner at random on Wednesday August 20th, 2014. In order to win you must have a US mailing address and you must include your email in the field where it is requested (it will not be publishes and no one will see it but me).

Peach Ketchup
Makes 8 1/2 pint jars


5 lbs fresh ripe peaches, pitted and peeled and cut into chunks*
2 – 3 cups brown sugar (start with 2 cups and add more to taste)
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 Tablespoon kosher salt

In a large pot, bring peaches, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, seasonings to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer about until peaches are very soft about 15 minutes.


Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peaches to a blender or food processor. Process until pureed and return the peach puree to the pot. Gently simmer and reduce for hour and mixture is thickened.

Transfer peach ketchup to hot sterilized canning jars. Wipe rims and seal with clean lids and rings. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath or according to manufacturers’ instructions. Let cool to room temperature and store. Open jars should be stored in the refrigerator, just like tomato ketchup.

*To peel the peaches you can score, blanch, and shock the fruit, but I find a very sharp vegetable peeler also works great and is much less bother.

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: My thanks to Washington State Fruit Commission for the fruit and Ball Brand for the canning and preserving supplies.

The Benefits Of Eating Grapes

Do you always eat grapes? A lot of people eat or consume grapes in different forms. A lot of people eat the fruit itself, while others may consume grape jelly or drink red wine; known worldwide as to have come from grapes. It is common knowledge that grapes are generally good for a person’s body. But what exactly can are the health benefits of grapes?

Grapes are 65-85% water, 10-33% sugar (glucose and fructose), phlobaphene, gallic acid, silicic acid, quercetine, anin, glucosides – mono delphinidin and delphinidin, fruit acids, like apple acid, salicilic acid, phosphoric acid, lemon acid, amber acid, formic acid and a little bit of oxalic acid, pectins, tannic substances, salts of potassium, magnesium, calcium, manganese, cobalt, iron and vitamins B1, B2,B6, B12, C, E, K, folic acid and enzymes.

Eat Grape

Grapes will also require some pruning if you want them to do their best. You can not understand how to grow grapes until you realize the necessity behind pruning. Pruning is something that has to take place to have the best grape vines that there are. If you were to never prune your vines the roots would be overworked trying to spread nourishment to every single cane. By doing that, none of the canes are going to get enough nourishment making for an over all weak plant. When this occurs, the crop that you will have waited so long for will be a pitiful display of what your vine is capable of. But if you do the pruning that is needed, all the vines that are left to grow will be strong, creating an abundance of grapes.

Grapes contain reservation primarily in their skins, seeds and the pomace, and it is also found in blueberries and peanuts, though to a lesser extent. We should all be thinking about how to include this wonder nutrient in our diets, as the list is growing all the time about what it is capable of, including preventing heart disease, lowering cholesterol and even increasing our lifespan.

Fresh, organic grape juice made with a leaf and vine tip is an excellent tonic to support liver function, relieve menopause symptoms, high cholesterol, and inflammation. This can be done by juicing a bunch of organic grapes with a juice extractor.

Trim and prune your grape plants whenever possible, but do this gently as not to “shock” the plants that these might wither and die. Use the sharpest tools only to keep the damage minimal. Grape fruits usually emerge from a year old plants, on stems that have been established from the previous year. Year old plants have smoother barks, while older ones (those that are beyond their prime) have course and shaggy barks. Trim and prune away the older plants, but keep some of their roots intact. These may yet still yield cuttings which you can keep for future plantings. Trim some of the runners, especially those that grow beyond the area of their climbing supports.

Bananas, always popular in Japan, are the rage right now as people claim they are losing fat by being on a Banana diet. The demand for bananas in Japan has resulted in a national shortage of the fruit in Japan.

The claim is that if you eat one banana with room temperature water in the morning it will boost your metabolism and curb your appetite all day.

Japan has created specialized holders to carry their precious bananas. Here is a “Hello Kitty” Banana holder.

In Hilo, Hawaii our rental house came with a back yard full of mature banana trees. Until we started living with them, we didn’t realize how little we knew about bananas.

Bananas aren’t trees; they are a type of grass and the trunk is a pseudo-stem or fake stem that grows upright as tall as 25 feet.

After the “tree” reaches full growth, a flower comes from the trunk on a drooping stem.

The flower sets fruit and then drops its purple petals one by one leaving behind a bunch of bananas. When the first banana in the bunch turns yellow, it is time to harvest them, though many growers harvest them while they are green. The banana tree dies after the bananas ripen. New baby banana trees or suckers sprout and replace the dead trees.

Our first banana harvesting experience began when our neighbor came over to tell us that one of our bunches was ready. Until that time we had no idea when we should pick the bananas and several bunches had clearly been left too long. Since the bananas she pointed out were dangling from one of the taller trees, the best approach seemed to be to use our new aluminum ladder tree to get high enough to cut down the fruit.

Standing on the highest step to get a grip on the bunch, I cut away at the cord with a sharp saw. In no time the thick cord was cut putting the full weight of the bananas on top of me and crushing the ladder underneath. I ended up in a heap on the ground next to the flattened ladder and the bananas landed on the other side of the wall landing with a thump into my neighbor’s back yard.

We didn’t know that a bunch of bananas can weigh 50-110 pounds, far exceeding the weight the little ladder could bear. Luckily landing on my butt, I had no injury from the fall.

Our neighbor graciously cut the bunch up into “hands” and distributed the bounty in the neighborhood.

Our second banana harvesting experience I felt more confident since we had asked around and found that the way to get the bunch of bananas off the tree was to lean it down rather than climbing up to the bananas. The second bunch was on a smaller tree so the method was tried as I misunderstood it. I cut the cord slowly so that the bunch leaned down to where I could get a good hold of it, but after a few cuts the banana bunch broke free and fell to the ground since they were way too heavy for me hold on to with one hand while cutting with the other. The saw, which was stuck in the cord, was sent hurtling into the air with a loud twang as the tree sprang back up when the bunch broke off. I dodged out of the way as the saw came crashing back to earth; fortunately the saw didn’t hit me or anyone else.

For the third attempt, I convinced a local farmer friend to assist me and show me how to harvest a bunch of bananas. He had already shown us how to maintain the bananas, cutting down the dead trunks and pulling off the dead leaves. The trunks are mostly water and incredibly heavy to move and cutting the trunks squirts a thick juice every direction covering anyone nearby. I learned from him that harvesting bananas is notoriously risky, even if you know what you are doing. Lots of things can go wrong when you are dealing with a forest of trees with 100 pounds of dead weight dangling from above. Farmers harvesting a bunch from one tree can have a bunch fall on them from another tree. He showed me how to harvest the bananas as a team; banana harvesting is a two person job. He showed me how cut notches on the banana tree trunk (at about chest height) each a little deeper than the next so that the whole tree slowly bends down horizontally allowing one person to hold onto the bunch as the other cuts the cord so it can be pulled off the tree.

There is an urban legend of weight loss that occurs just by living in Hawaii. We wonder if some of the weight loss is due to the effects of eating so many bananas. The fresh and plentiful bananas in Hawaii taste more like cream to us than fruit so we didn’t think of them as a diet food. We hope the Japanese are right that bananas actually help you lose weight.

Beautiful Tomatoes

Are you tired of the beautiful tomatoes you are buying at the grocery store only to get home to discover they taste like cardboard? Ever wonder why they have no flavor?

Tomatoes from large commercial suppliers must be able to withstand long distance travel and extensive handling. For this reason the varieties grown are developed primarily for these qualities and not for superior taste. Due to the long distance travel these tomatoes are harvested early, shipped to a warehouse where they are then “gassed” (sprayed with a ripening hormone) and sit until ready to ship to retailers. Vegetables can begin to lose their nutritional value within 24 hours after harvest and the loss continues the longer they are off the vine. By the time these tomatoes reach their final destination they have little to no nutritional value as well as being tasteless.

Heirloom tomatoes on the other hand are thin skinned and can be damaged easily but will have exceptional flavor. They are a bit more difficult to grow because they are more susceptible to pests and disease but the effort is worth it in the end.

There are also many hybrid tomatoes that are superior in taste but don’t ship easily like heirlooms. In fact my favorite is the Celebrity tomato. Better Boy, Big Beef and Cherry 100 are all fantastic hybrids. The quality hybrid list can go on as long as the heirloom list. In fact I am so impressed with so many hybrid tomatoes I have included many varieties along with an extensive list of heirlooms in my garden this year for you to enjoy.

Hybrids:

Celebrity- A long time favorite for outstanding flavor.

Better Boy- Big meaty red fruits.

Big Beef- Large sandwich type tomato.

Juliet- Sweet plum tomato.

New Girl-Early and great tasting.

Roma- Cooking, canning or paste.

Heirloom:

Brandywine- Most widely grown heirloom. Deep pink skin and red flesh.

Cherokee Green- Bold acidic flavor. Orange with green stripes.

Green Zebra- Tangy salad tomato. Yellow blush with green stripes.

Japanese Black Trifle- Pear shaped fruit with rich flavor. Burgundy with green shoulders.

Moskvich- Rich taste. Deep red and extra early.

Nepal- Meaty old fashioned tomato flavor. Bright red fruits.

Pruden’s Purple- Early brandywine type. Dark pink skin and crimson flesh.

Red Pear Piriform- From Italy.Old fashioned sweet flavor. Pear shaped fruit with green ribbed shoulders.

Rose- Similar to brandywine for taste. Deep pink meaty fruits.

Striped German- Bi-colored yellow and red fruits. Complex fruity flavor.

Yellow Brandywine- Orange version of brandywine. Rich flavor.

Kordalik- Red cherry tomato. Russian.

Hillbilly- From North Carolina. Bicolor beefsteak tomato. Yellow with red blush.

Mortgage Lifter- From West Virginia. Delicious red beefsteak tomato.

Tiny Tim- Small cherry tomatoes.

Black Cherry- Delicious black cherry tomatoes. 1 inch.