Monday, September 29, 2014

Elderberry Rum Spritzer!

What do you do when you tear a tendon in your thumb at a bonfire? Yes, silly me. You make something alcoholic!

Elderberry Rum Spritzer


2 oz Rum
1 T Elderberry Syrup
Carbonated water
Sprig of mint


Put ice in glass. Add rum and Elderberry Syrup. Mix well. Add carbonated water. Mix and serve with mint sprig.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Crab Apple Onion Sage Jelly!

If you are looking for something different to make with your crab apple bounty, this is it! This is not a jelly for PB&J's. It is for glazing a pork roast or to be used with wild game.  It would also be great with cream cheese on crackers.  Because you use crab apples, you do not have to add additional pectin for it to gel.  I planted sage in my garden three years ago and it comes back every year in abundance. If, like me, you need a use for it, give this jelly a try!

Crab Apple Onion Sage Jelly


4 quarts crab apples (16 cups)
7 onions (about three lbs)
3/4 cup white vinegar
Handful of sage, chopped
Sugar equal to liquid


Remove stem, flower from end and any blemishes from crab apples.  Chop in half and add to stock pot.  Chop onions into large chunks and mix into crab apples.  Add water to level of fruit.

Bring to boil and simmer until apples are soft (30-45 minutes).  Mash gently just to break open apples but not so much to make mush. 

Strain in a jelly bag or use a fine mesh strainer several times.  Add 3/4 cup vinegar.  Measure liquid. For every cup of liquid, add a cup of sugar. Bring mixture to a boil.  Add chopped sage.  Boil until jelly begins to sheet/set (about 30 minutes for me).

Ladle into prepared jelly jars.  Water bath 15 minutes. 

Makes 6 - 8 half pints.

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Wild Grape and Crab Apple Jelly!

This is the best time of year for picking wild grapes.  Grapes are a difficult plant to pin down as to the exact cultivar. The closest I have come to determining the type of what I pick is that it is a fox grape, a wild Muscadine. It is small and not tasty raw. It has a pungent grape flavor and is somewhat tart. I have it on good authority that the flavor sweetens considerably after a frost.  However, it makes fantastic jelly in its current state. I tried it for the first time last year and, much like elderberries, was very hesitant based on the raw flavor. It has turned out to be one of our favorite jellies.  The added sugar really brings out a sharp grape flavor. I mostly add the crab apples as a form of natural pectin, but it adds a nice subtle flavor as well.  My jellies always set when I use crab apples and it is hit or miss when I use store bought pectin.

This recipe is versatile based on the amounts that you pick.  I aim for two gallon baggies of each grapes and crab apples.

Wild Grape and Crab Apple Jelly


Crab apples
Wild grapes
Lemon juice


Pick as much fruit as you like, just make sure that at least half of the fruit is crab apples (provides pectin). Remove the stem and flower at the other end from the crab apples. Remove any blemishes and cut in half and put in pot. Add de-stemmed grapes.  Fill with water until just barely covering fruit.

Boil until mushy and mash a bit. Strain in a jelly bag or fine mesh strainer (this is what I used, strained three times). Add liquid to clean pot. For every cup of liquid, add a cup of sugar. For every six cups add a tablespoon of lemon juice. Boil until it sheets/gels. Ladle into prepared jars.  Water bath 15 minutes.