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Strawberry, Mint, Pepper Jam

I know this will sound really strange, but oh, so yummy!

We had an abundance of strawberries a month ago due to Aldi’s having quarts of strawberries for $.49 – $.79 each.  So we ate strawberries. We froze strawberries.  And we made lots of jam.  In looking for new strawberry ideas I found several recipes for Strawberry, Mint, Pepper Jam.  Interesting.  Since we had all the ingredients we gave it a try.

Most recipes are an unique why of making jams and jellies involving marinating the strawberries over night and cooking with a candy thermometer.  I didn’t want to do that so essentially I just made up my own version based off the way I make Strawberry Jam.

Strawberry, Mint, Pepper Jam

5 cups mashed or strawberry puree

7 cups sugar

1 box sure-jell

1 tbles butter (optional for foaming)

10 – 20 whole peppercorns fresh ground

10 – 20 mint leaves shredded finely

 

I throw whole strawberries into the food processor and give it a whirl for just a second.  Just enough to leave it chunky still.  Measure out 5 cups.  Follow the directions on the sure-jell box.  Add the mint leaves and pepper while heating up the strawberries.  Here is where you need to play around with the taste.  We added a lot of mint but still didn’t have enough noticeable mint taste.  (Mint’s flavor changes according to the rain and weather, so it is temperamental.)  We add a lot of pepper but next batch we will add even more.  Process jam as directed from instructions.

The pepper somehow makes the jam not quite as sweet and gives it a little surprising zest.  It was hard to notice the mint after the jam was processed and cooled.  But just Strawberry Pepper Jam is really good.  I think I’ll make my jam like that more often than just plain Strawberry Jam.  I like the extra kick.


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Muscadine & Scuppernong Jelly

We had the opportunity of picking Muscadines and a few Scuppernongs this past weekend.  Picking grapes was a new experience for us and it was a very interesting field trip.  I think the kids will have a much better understanding of the verses in the Bible that refer to the vine, vineyard and fruit.  Anyway since we had the grapes we made jelly.  It was simple and worked out very well.

Muscadine Jelly

  • approximately 1 gallon of Muscadine Grapes
  • ½ teaspoon of butter
  • 7 cups of sugar or less if using light or sugar free Sure Jell
  • 1 package of Sure Jell fruit pectin
  • Some recipes call for cutting the grapes in half. But we didn’t, most just burst on their own.  If I found a grape that didn’t rupture I just stabbed it.  We just brought the grapes, in a small amount of water, to a boil and then simmered for 20 minutes mashing the berries periodically as they cook.

    Pour mixture into small gauged wire strainer or into a cheesecloth or jelly bag over a large bowl.  Pressed gently. The harder you press the less clear the final product.  The key is to not break down the seeds because that can cause bitterness.

    Measure 5 cups of the juice into an 8-quart saucepan, if you have slightly less juice you can add a small amount of water or apple juice to get to 5 cups, muscadines have a strong flavor. Add ½ teaspoon of butter to reduce foaming and 1 package of Sure Jell fruit pectin. Stir in up to 7 cups of sugar (I used 4 cups and light Sure Jell in some)  while bring to boil and allow to boil 1 minute while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off any foam. Ladle quickly into clean hot jelly jars to within 1/8 inch of the top and cover with lids.  Process in Water bath for 10 minutes.

    Scuppernongs can be done the same way or you can mix the grapes.  I like the Scuppernong Jelly the best!

    Muscadines make a deep dark purple jelly and Scuppernongs make a lighter jelly, similar to apple in color.  Mixed can be any color in between.

    When I finished draining the juice from the skins and seeds in the first batches, I boiled the original three gallons (from three whole batches of jelly) of grape skins, pulp and seeds in a small amount of water again. This made enough juice to make a whole ‘nother batch of jelly. (Waste Not, Want Not – Benjamin Franklin, not the Bible. :))


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Peaches, Peaches, Peaches

We were able to get two 25 pound boxes of peaches through the efforts of a friend.  These were very cheap due to being seconds so I expected there to be several that would have to be thrown out.  But no, these are very good quality and very big peaches.  Big peaches are so much easier to prepare.  My mother has some peach trees but they are the old-fashioned kind which turns out they have very little fruit by the time you peel and pit them.  So we spent all day yesterday preparing peaches.

Canned Peaches

Peel and pit peaches.

Slice peaches and fill sterilized jars with the fruit.

Prepare a sugar syrup using a ratio of sugar to water depending on how sweet you want the peaches.

I used a 1:4 ratio, 1 cup sugar and 4 cups water, light syrup.

Boil sugar water until sugar is dissolved.

Add 1 tbsp lemon juice to each jar or use fruit fresh per instructions.

Pour sugar water over peaches in jar to within 1/2 inch of top.

Cap with a lid and a ring.

Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Remove and cool.


Frozen Peaches

Peel and pit peaches.

Slice peaches into Ziploc bags or plastic containers.

Add 1 tbsp Lemon juice. Stir around to cover the fruit well.

Can add a sugar syrup but I left mine plain.

Seal bag or container.

Freeze.


Jam

Peel and pit peaches.

Dice small or process in food processor until you have 4 cups fruit.

Mix fruit, 2 tbsp Lemon juice and Sure-Jell in large pan.

Bring to Boil.  Add 5 1/2 cups sugar.

Return to full boil for 1 minute.

Fill sterilized jars, wipe rims and cap.

Process in boiling water for 10 minutes.

Remove and cool.

Be sure to follow the instructions for the fruit pectin you are using.  Sure-Jell and Ball Jelly are slightly different.

This jam has a lot of sugar but there are light and sugar free Sure-Jells.

The light or sugar free are good but they use lots more fruit for the amount they produce.


Peach Butter

Peel and pit peaches.

Add 1 Tbsp lemon per four cups of peaches.

Cook peaches in just enough water to cook until soft.

Process in food processor or mash with potato masher.

(I like the potato masher unless my food processor is already peachy.  I dislike dirty dishes if I can help it.)

Add 1/2 cup sugar to 1 cup mashed peaches.  Add sugar to taste, sugar isn’t as important here as in the Jam.

Cook on a very low simmer until thick.  Stirring occasionally or convince a little to sit and stir. 🙂

Fill sterile jars, seal.

Process in water bath for 10 minutes.

Cool.


Peach Juice or Syrup

Scrub all the peaches before ever cutting them.

Peel and pit into a large sauce pot.

Add 1 Tbsp lemon juice.

Separate out bad spots into a different container keeping just the good peel and pits in the pot.

Add water to the pot, enough to boil well.  I use about 1/2 the amount of the peels.

Boil at a slow boil forever, actually just a few hours.

Juice should cook down and turn a dark peachy color.

Cook until the juice is peachy and starting to slightly thicken.  Thicker if making syrup or thinner for juice.

Strain through a strainer, I don’t worry about a little pulp.

Pour into sterile jars.

Here is where you experiment.

Add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup sugar to 1 quart for peach juice, to taste.

Add 1 cup or more sugar to a quart for peach syrup.

Cap and shake well.

Process in water bath for 10 – 15 minutes.

Cool.

The syrup is good heated up and used over pancakes, waffles or Ice Cream.


Peach Jelly

I don’t typically make jelly because we like Jams better; however, you can use the unsweetened peach juice from boiling the Peach pits and skins to make jelly by following the instructions on a box of Sure-Jell.


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Zucchini Jam

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This is such a bizarre idea. The kids thought it sounded gross and it really wasn’t that pretty.  But it was so good, very similar to orange marmalade.

Zucchini Jam

  • 4 cups ground zucchini
  • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 (3 oz.) box orange Jell-O

In a large pot, cook zucchini for 10 minutes on medium-low, stirring constantly. Add in the pineapple, lemon juice, and sugar. Cook for 20 minutes. Add Jell-O and boil for 2-3 minutes to make sure the gelatin is dissolved. Ladle into freezer containers, leaving 1 1/2 inch headspace. Put into freezer when cool.

You can also water bath can these. Ladle into clean jars, put lids and rims on, then process in water bath canner for 10 minutes.

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