Friday, 6 October 2017

Home-Made Pectin




Home Made PECTIN out of the
Apple Juice Scraps
from : homegrown.org



This 101, on making pectin, comes from HOMEGROWN member Anne, the kitchen scientist, organivore, urban homesteading neophyte, throwback foodie, tinkerer, keeper of cookies, and, yep, mom behind Food Retro. You might remember Anne from her excellent 101 on how to build your own self-watering container. Thanks so much for spreading the pectin power, Anne, and please keep the good ideas coming!


Do you love making apple pies, applesauce, and apple butter? Do you enjoy squeezing every last penny out of your produce and mourn the waste of all those cores, rinds, seeds, and peels that go into the compost bin? Do you make homemade jams and jellies? Do you want to add another notch to your “been there, done that” belt? Welcome to homemade pectin!

WHAT IS PECTIN?
Pectin is a polysaccharide and water-soluble fiber that is part of plants’ cell walls. It occurs naturally in many fruits, especially apples and citrus. Extracted pectin is used as a thickening agent in jams and jellies since it forms a very thick, clear, shiny gel.

I'VE SEEN ALL THESE PECTIN-FREE RECIPES FOR JAM, SO I THOUGHT PECTIN WAS BAD. 
Absolutely not. It’s perfectly safe and natural. Pectin sometimes comes under fire for use in jams and jellies because it requires a fairly large amount of sugar and a little bit of acid to set. While there is some wiggle room, you’re going to have boundaries when you cook with pectin of either a store-bought or a homemade variety; it simply will not set if you don’t meet its requirements. If you’re trying to cut sugar from your diet or if you consider yourself a bit of an artiste when it comes to homemade jam, you might not like playing by pectin’s rules—but going rogue means you’ll end up with syrup.

The other thing that puts pectin on some people’s hit list is that store-bought varieties come with ingredients added to improve uniformity in performance and taste. The added gunk varies, but it commonly shows up in the form of citric acid, sodium citrate or potassium citrate (for acidity), and sodium benzoate (preservatives). What’s the source of this stuff? Who knows. Dextrose, usually commercially manufactured from corn sugar, is also a common ingredient—a big no-no if you’re trying to avoid GMOs and high fructose corn syrup. Sugar-free pectin is even more chemically strange, but we won’t go there.

All of which makes homemade pectin all the more appealing! As long as you’re OK with sugar, there’s no reason to avoid pectin, if you make your own.

HEADS UP: HOMEMADE PECTIN IS NOT CERTO OR SURE-JELL! 
Depending on dozens of factors—including what you use to make it, what fruit you add it to, how hard a set you like, and how long you boil it—pectin can be a bit of an adventure in preserving, and you have to be flexible in using it. Since each batch will have its own taste and personality, you’ll need to test and adjust recipes. But don’t worry: As long as you’re comfortable reading the signs of a good set and using ratios as a guideline, not a law, you’ll be fine!


WHAT DO I NEED TO MAKE PECTIN? 

Glad you asked! A big pot. A little water. And apples! Lots of apples. Sometimes citrus, but we’ll get to that later. Let’s stick to apple pectin for now.

Pectin levels in apples can vary considerably from unripe to ripe, type to type, and tree to tree. You don’t want to use ripe or overripe sweet varieties for making pectin. Best choices for pectin are crab apples; sour, small, unripe apples that have fallen early; and scraps including cores, seeds, and peels. 

The scraps are where the pectin concentration is highest. Throw them in a bag and save them in your freezer until you have enough for a pectin batch. If you’re using lots of peels and cores, try to add at least a few whole “reject” apples, since

they’ll yield a better tasting end product.

If you’re hard pressed, you can use any whole, tart apple, such as Granny Smith. This is a sad waste of good apples, though, and requires a lot more reducing because the tastiest part of the apple also has the least pectin. If you don’t have enough cores and peels, buy more apples, peel and core them, and freeze the tasty parts for pies—or make crock-pot apple butter!

STILL WITH ME? HERE'S WHAT TO DO.
1. Quarter any whole apples and put them and your scraps in a large stock pot. Fill with just enough water to cover.

2. Bring the pot to a high boil and reduce to a simmer, uncovered.  Stir periodically. You want to keep going until the cores are mushy. You should be able to mash them against the side of the pot with a spoon. This stage can take a minimum of an hour but probably more like two to three hours.   

3. Prepare your sieve and receptacle. This will look either like a bucket or a bin with an old t-shirt fastened to the top as a strainer or like a colander lined with several layers of cheesecloth sitting on top of your bucket or bin. Sterilize the cheesecloth or shirt by boiling it or pouring boiling water through it ahead of time.

4. Remove the mashed apple mixture from heat. If you’re pouring into a plastic bucket or container, make sure the

mixture has cooled enough so that you don’t melt your container. Pour the apple mush into your sieve and cover to keep curious kids/animals/bugs out.

5. Wait for the slimy liquid to drip out. This is your pectin! This will take anywhere from a couple of hours to overnight. Don’t force the liquid out by pushing it because you’ll force some of the fiber through your sieve, and then your pectin will be extra cloudy and carry more apple fiber into your end product. Wait for it!

6. When the draining is done, dispose of the pulp. Bonus points if you mill the seeds and peels out and use the fiber, maybe as a baking filler.


7. Test your pectin using rubbing alcohol. (See “How do I know my pectin is done?” below.)

8. If your pectin fails the alcohol test below, transfer your pectin stock to a clean pot and bring it back up to a boil over high heat. The goal here is to reduce the pectin so that it’s concentrated enough to use. Test your pectin periodically using the alcohol test.

9. When the pectin reaches your desired concentration, you can refrigerate it until use or preserve it by water-bath canning for ten minutes (following your canning guide, of course) or by freezing it for up to one year.

HOW DO I KNOW MY PECTIN IS DONE? 
If you’re using lots of whole apples, you may need to reduce your liquid up to 50 percent or more. If you’re producing from mostly peels and cores, you may find that you don’t have to do any additional reduction at all. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to test your pectin by using rubbing alcohol.

Pour a little pectin into a bowl and chill it. This test will not

work with hot pectin. Pour rubbing alcohol (70 percent isopropyl) into another bowl then pour the cold pectin into the alcohol. Sufficiently concentrated pectin will congeal in the alcohol within a few seconds and will produce a solid blob that can be removed with a fork. 

Do not eat or drink the tested pectin or the contents of the bowl. Dispose of it safely.

The pectin’s color is not an indicator of doneness but rather of the source of the pectin and how much it is reacting to its environment (mostly the pot and applied heat). I have found that my pectin reacts when heated in certain metal pans and will turn a pink or a pinkish brown. If I reheat it in my stockpot or my glassware, it stays a shade between pale

lemony yellow and yellow-pink.


I MADE PECTIN! NOW WHAT DO I DO WITH IT? 
There are few hard and fast rules and ratios when making jam with homemade pectin. They’re more like rules of thumb. You’re going to have to experiment in scale depending on the quality of your pectin, the hardness of your desired set, and the type of fruit you’re making jam from.

The one important rule for homemade pectin is to add it at the beginning of your cook with some lemon juice, usually at least 2 or 3 tablespoons per batch. The sugar is best added after you’ve hit a boil and the fruit has softened to your preference. 

You will want to start with a minimum of 4 tablespoons of pectin per cup of fruit or fruit juice (for a loose set and/or naturally high-pectin fruits) and work your way up to a full cup of pectin per cup of fruit (for a hard set and/or low-pectin fruits). 

Keep track of the amount of pectin you’ve used, because you need the final ratio of pectin to sugar to fall between 1:1 and 5:7, depending on the amount of pectin already in what you’re making and how hard you want your set to be. Most complaints I’ve seen about homemade pectin not setting properly involve people using more pectin than sugar.



Wednesday, 20 September 2017

My Favorite Cole Slaw


My Favorite Veggie Coleslaw


Cole Slaw
I am dead serious when I say I could eat this slaw ALL DAY, EVERY DAY.  It’s crunchy, cool, creamy, and spicy – all in one bowl and it’s a deliciousaccompaniment to spicy beef or pork dishes, such as Chipotle Sloppy JoesBeef Carnitas, or as above, on Bacon-Wrapped HotDogs.  
1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
2-3 Tbs. light mayonnaise
1 Tbs. cider vinegarjuice and 
zest of 1 lime
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 – 16 oz. package coleslaw mix (the packages vary in size depending on the brand)
1 cup shredded carrots
1 red bell pepper, cut into very thin strips
1 jalapeno, seeds and membranes removed, minced
To prepare crunchy coleslaw, combine yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, and red pepper flakes in a mixing bowl; add coleslaw mix, carrots, bell pepper, and jalapeno, tossing to coat.
Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper, as desired.  Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.
Now You’re Cookin’,
Chef Alli

Carnita's Recipe



Big Bold Beef Carnitas


Bold Beef Carnitas
After recently purchasing an electric Cuisinart pressure cooker, I have totally fallen in love with this method of cooking for my busy family.  This is a dish that we really enjoy and one that I can have on the dinner table in about 30 minutes, start to finish, thanks to the pressure cooker.  Note: If you don’t have a pressure cooker, check the special directions below for making this recipe in the oven.
3 lbs. chuck roast, cut into 2 inch chunks, trimmed
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. kosher salt
2 tsp. ground cumin, ½ tsp. smoked paprika, 1 tsp. chile powder
1 tsp. chipotle sauce
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 cinnamon stick
zest of 1 orange
1 cup orange juice
½ cup lime juice
Preheat pressure cooker on browning setting and add oil, salt, cumin, paprika, chile powder and chipotle sauce; when mixture is hot, add cubed beef; brown beef in batches, then return all beef to pressure cooker.
Add onion, garlic, oregano, cinnamon stick, orange zest, and juices; cover pressure cooker, lock lid in place and bring to high pressure.
Cook beef at high pressure for 25 minutes; allow pressure to release naturally.  Remove pressure cooker lid and transfer beef to a preheated, oiled cast iron skillet set over high heat. **To prepare beef in a conventional oven, prepare as above, but add more juice (or broth) to the pot you are using, making sure beef is about halfway submerged; cover pot with a tight fitting lid and cook at 350 degrees F for 4-5 hours, or until beef is very fork-tender, adding more liquid if needed.
Using two forks, shred beef in skillet, then add just a bit of the cooking liquid from the pressure cooker to the skillet.  Cook beef over high heat just until it gets a good “crisp” on the outside, watching carefully so beef doesn’t burn, adding cooking liquid from pressure cooker, a little at a time, as needed.
Serve beef with skillet-browned corn or flour tortillas, salsa fresca, sour cream, and cilantro OR topped with my favorite veggie coleslaw.
See in another Post in Larch Kitchens - "My Favorite Veggie Coleslaw"
Now You’re Cookin’,
Chef Alli



My Favorite Veggie Coleslaw


Cole Slaw
I am dead serious when I say I could eat this slaw ALL DAY, EVERY DAY.  It’s crunchy, cool, creamy, and spicy – all in one bowl and it’s a deliciousaccompaniment to spicy beef or pork dishes, such as Chipotle Sloppy JoesBeef Carnitas, or as above, on Bacon-Wrapped HotDogs.  
1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
2-3 Tbs. light mayonnaise1 Tbs. cider vinegarjuice and zest of 1 lime1/4 – 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakeskosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste12 – 16 oz. package coleslaw mix (the packages vary in size depending on the brand)1 cup shredded carrots1 red bell pepper, cut into very thin strips
1 jalapeno, seeds and membranes removed, minced
To prepare crunchy coleslaw, combine yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, and red pepper flakes in a mixing bowl; add coleslaw mix, carrots, bell pepper, and jalapeno, tossing to coat.
Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper, as desired.  Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.
Now You’re Cookin’,
Chef Alli

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Lemon Squares

Lemon Squares      Bake @ 350 degrees (15-20 min.)

1 package      golden cake mix
1/4 c.             butter
1/8 c.             water
1 lrg.              egg
1 c.                 coconut

Mix together and put in a 9"x13" cake pan.
Put veg. oil on the palm of your hand and press down.
Bake @ 350 degrees (15-20 min.)
Cool it in pan.

1 lemon Pie Filling (cooked kind)
Mix it up and pour on top of the bottom layer of Squares.
Whipped Cream for the 3rd layer of the squares. (as much as you want)

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Easy Cucumber Salad



Ingredients
Vegan, Gluten free
∙ Serves 4-6
Produce
  • 2 tbsp Chives, fresh
  • 2 lbs Cucumbers
Baking & Spices
  • 2 tsp Granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
Oils & Vinegars
  • 1/4 cup Apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil


1. Mix dressing

2. Toss, cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Tomato Cucumber Salada

I found this recipe at the following site:
https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/tomato-cucumber-salad/

Tomato Cucumber Salad

Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
Tomato Cucumber Salad garnished with red onion and fresh basil. One of our favorite fresh and healthy summer side dishes! 
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings6 servings
Calories65 kcal
AuthorLauren
Ingredients
  •  cups cherry tomatoes , halved
  • 5 mini cucumbers , sliced into 1/4'' coins
  •  teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon  red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper , to taste
  • 2 tablespoons diced red onion
  •  tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Instructions
  1. Add cherry tomatoes and cucumbers to a bowl. Drizzle olive oil and vinegar on top. Season with salt and pepper. Toss everything to coat. Garnish with diced red onion and fresh basil.

Monday, 4 September 2017

California Grilled Veggie Sandwich

         California Grilled Veggie Sandwich

Recipe by: Heather Johnson
"I came up with this recipe to entertain friends. Since I am a semi-vegetarian and love to BBQ, I am always inventing something new. The first time I made this, my meat-lover friends raved about this dish! I prefer mesquite coals over gas barbeques...however, either works fine."
     1/4 cup mayonnaise
            3 cloves garlic, minced
            1 tablespoon lemon juice
            1/8 cup olive oil
            1 cup sliced red bell peppers
            1 small zucchini, sliced
            1 red onion, sliced
            1 small yellow squash, sliced
            2 (4-x6-inch) focaccia bread pieces, split horizontally
            1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
            Add all ingredients to list


Directions
         In a bowl, mix the mayonnaise, minced garlic, and lemon juice. Set aside in the refrigerator.

         Preheat the grill for high heat.

         Brush vegetables with olive oil on each side. Brush grate with oil. Place bell peppers and zucchini closest to the middle of the grill, and set onion and squash pieces around them. Cook for about 3 minutes, turn, and cook for another 3 minutes. The peppers may take a bit longer. Remove from grill, and set aside.


         Spread some of the mayonnaise mixture on the cut sides of the bread, and sprinkle each one with feta cheese. Place on the grill cheese side up, and cover with lid for 2 to 3 minutes. This will warm the bread, and slightly melt the cheese. Watch carefully so the bottoms don't burn. Remove from grill, and layer with the vegetables. Enjoy as open faced grilled sandwiches.