Archive for the ‘canning’ Category

The last few posts I shared pictures of the feral pears, my brother Eric and I harvested.  They finally reached a good stage of ripening,  so he and I got busy peeling, and quartering them for canning. These pears were not as symmetrically and smoothly formed as ones from the store. Nor were they perfect, as they come from a tree which was either left over from an old homestead or were truly wild, planted by a bird or critter. It took a bit more time to get them peeled and cut up and no way are they actually quarters! LOL Some might be, but the majority are just whatever shape they ended up;-o I weighed them when we were done, and we have 7 pounds in these two bowls


We had a pot on the stove with 6 cups of water, 2 cups of honey, and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda , in it.


Heated the liquid up a bit and added the pears to simmer in the syrup for about 5 minutes


Assembled my jars and tools while the pears cooked and got the water to a full boil in the canner.


See that tool with the red handles, balanced on the edge of the bowl? Invaluable tool I pilfered from my husband’s tool shed. It has a magnet on one end. That is soooo handy when fishing hot flats and rings out of that bowl of boiling water! Mechanics use it to fish out fallen bits during vehicle repairs.


Filled the jars up for water bathing in the canner. Half plain and half spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice.

End results… 11 pints:)


Canned Pears

7 pounds of peeled and quartered pears

9 cups water

3 cups honey or sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking soda for every 1 cup of honey

Start a big pot simmering with the water, honey and baking soda. Add the prepared pears and cook them for 5 minutes.

Ladle the pear and syrup into your clean canning jars. I ended up using 11.

Process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes.

Can be spiced with your choice of spices:) I used allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg in mine. I just put a pinch of each on the top of some of them. Gave them a good stir through with the handle end of  my wooden spoon before sealing and processing in the canner

You will notice in my post I said I used 6 cups of water and 2 of honey for my syrup. Which deviates from the recipe. I wrote the recipe the way I will do it next time. I was shy a bit of syrup when filling the jars, and improvised by filling the rest of the way with apple juice. So, I decide to increase the proportions in the recipe, thinking I would rather have too much syrup than not enough. If I end up with a small glass extra, cool! Sounds like a tasty drink:)

We found our pear tree, at the edge of the woods. I like to imagine some other woman, in the past, planting and harvesting from this same tree. Many times you can find fruit trees and other edible stands of plants, near spots which were old homesteads.

I started destemming more elderberries while the canner was going. I ended up spending 4 hours total destemming last nite. I plunked on the couch with  bowls around me and watched 2 silly movies when I did it;-) I decide to dry some of them in my dehydrator. I had found the nicest tool to use with berries, herbs or other small things. It is a Clean-A-Screen by American Harvest company. It has little finger places along its side so that when you are through drying your harvest, you can lift the screen out and flex it, thus loosening the berries or whatever else you might have dried that is sticky. I am certain many of you already use this, but it was new for me!



Today I have been invited to a friends apple orchard to watch and learn about making apple cider! Have a beautiful day, wherever you are. Honey and herbal hugs to you from Comfrey Cottages



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Fig Poultices for Breast Health
jessica and katee, i hope you both see this:)

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a couple of the jars i made of elderberry tincture today while watching Disney’s Earth video.  i had watched it once before and all i can advise is, if you haven’t seen it, you should! marvelous music, wildlife video and earl ray jones narrates. what more could you ask for! it was fun to sit and tease the frozen elderberries off their stems while watching this wonderful movie! i had harvested these elderberries awhile back and just did not have anytime to do anything with them besides the elderberry honeys i did. so froze the rest of them, right inside my carrying basket, in the basement deep freeze until today, when i took out some more to work with. i still have ALOT in the basket and will be doing more things so stay tuned for when i next have a spot of time. here is a pick of my frozen berries


you can see in that deep freeze some goats milk i have frozen for lovely cheese this winter, and also some jars of lemon balm tea, which will be a ray of sunshine one day soon:) you can just see the elderberries peaking out so you can imagine how many i got that day of harvest! i love that carrying basket! my husband won it at a turkey unlimited event i think


the other day i went to the recycle center and since we don’t have glass recycle here, someone had left all these lovely wine jugs! i grabbed them and they have been riding in my car for a week. i just today have a spot of time to myself to have hauled them inside and given them a good cleaning. i will fill a couple with water and store in our basement for an emergency and just cap and save the others until needed for whatever project i think up i need a container like that for!lol


my friend garrett has a lady ginkgo tree and has always complained about the smell of her ripened fruit. i have always tried to tell him that he shouldn’t cut her down, but after working with her fruit getting the nut out, for an hour, i wouldn’t really want to open any window during the fall if she was outside my window. garrett brought me a nice big bucket full and i spent a nauseating hour hulling them yesterday. they smell like vomit, no kidding just horrid.



but surprisingly, the nut, after being rinsed repeatedly and then baked in an oven at 275 degrees for 25 minutes, taste and smell fine! they did smell some though while cooking i will admit. my poor daughter michelle,  my oven is out so i baked them in her oven and i smelled up her whole house! thanks michelle for putting up with your mom!lol anyway, the nut itself cracks very easily and inside the nut meat is a pretty green. they just taste a bit bland, maybe just kind of green, you know what i mean, and a texture a bit like a bean. i will let you know when i try adding them to different dishes and how that does. for now, i think i will just crack one or two a day and nibble on them. lisl meredith heubner did an excellent article on ginkgo and i encourage you to read it. i followed her lead on this , my first time harvesting them. if for some reason you can’t read the link for her article, she said to tell you to just friend her on facebook and then you could read it under her notes section of her profile.

been busy with the end of harvest also. lemon balm honeys, comfrey, lady’s mantel, pineapple sage, thyme, and the last of the chamomile drying. a few infusions with the pineapple sage, which is very yummy . going to freeze a few of those in the deep freeze for later:) i used a recipe tina sam’s of the essential herbalist blog had posted.  that magazine is invaluable! other than that, been saving a few seeds from the garden some butterfly weed seed, marshmallow and others. dandelion trying to help with the butterfly weed seed!lol


and a little surprise. chickweed planted herself in this old watering can! had to hurridly pull out the copy of herbal roots zine, for march as that issue of this monthly herbal pdf kristine lovingly creates, had chickweed as the star of the month. for those of you who don’t subscribe, i highly recommend kristine brown’s wonderful herbal roots zine!


so much more i could tell you but night is coming too fast these days and i still am trying to get alot done today!

big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages!

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In our neck of the woods, Fulton Co. Illinois, we have our Scenic Drive on the first and second weekends of October. Even though it was a bit rainy and gloomy on Saturday, my hubby and I decide to venture out to a few of the surrounding communities.  My husband and I always particularly enjoy Mt. Pitsgah. There are quite a few Native American vendors and activities there.


my hubby ordering a buffalo burger


and some of the Native American’s were drumming, which always touches me

Yesterday, which ended up being the pretty day, found me in the kitchen, processing the wild plums Katee and I had harvested earlier. Aren’t they pretty? Well, they might be pretty but next to impossible to peal and de-pitt without loosing most of the fruit, so after muddling through with that through about 6 plums, (I waste no time when I see something is fruitless to continue!), decide to throw them all in the pot with a bit of water and just let them cook down!


so instead of the original plan of jam, I changed to jelly! lol  after letting them cook until all the skins had separated, I gave them a thorough mashing and into the jelly bags the lot went!


Note the three pretty carnations at the sink. My dear granddaughter Lily left those in my vehicle Saturday, saying they were just to show she loved me! awww

I used one package of sure jell, 4 cups of the wild plum juice and 1 cup of apple/grape juice mixture, 3 1/2 cups sugar and 1 cup of honey. I really wanted to make jam as I knew how I wanted to do that with absolutely no extra sugars added, but… this is what I came up with for the jelly. The 1 cup of honey in place of 1 cup of sugar seems to have done well, so I might try substituting 2 cups of honey next time, and oh, since the honey counts a liquid also, I reduced the juice by 1 cup also.


24 hours later and all looks well. All the jars seem well sealed and it looks as if the ratios must have worked as it is well set!!


Was this worth the fact that soooo many things didn’t get done due to the time invested in gathering and preparing these lovely jellies? Well, the time spent in the wild with nature and Katee was priceless. Getting to work with a new wild gathered food, priceless again! Luckily it is pretty nice out today so maybe after Dylan goes home I can get the supers off the beehives as we had a light, patchy frost last nite. Then hopefully some last minute herb trimming and hanging to dry. Crazy gardening year! My tomatillos are so lovely and swollen but I imagine I won’t get a ripe one before a hard frost. Just last month the bees were busy pollinating them. I have heard from many gardeners that they too had bounty on some things, and famine on others. I am thankfully to have experienced this wild harvest though and will gladly sacrifice the tomatillos in exchange for her bounty with the wild plums!

Big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages!

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white aster aster

so yesterday i played nanny/granny to dylan all day. at 3 we went to meet lily and evan, and breven and brodie, as dylan had not seen them for awhile. after letting them all play awhile,  i brought dylan to his house and lily came home with me for for some private mama time. when i brought her home around 6 i was itching to be outside some more. lily and i had worked on closing up most of the ventilation holes on the hives and blocking the wind from the underneath sides. it has been getting so cool at nite. well, i decided to just drive out west of town and see what i could see. i soon spied some lovely native aster growing. now the bees LOVE asters, and i thought cool, think i will stop and dig some up to transplant. so i get out and get my shovel (i always carry a shovel lol)  and was happily digging an aster up, when a county police car pulls up behind me with his lights on! he gets out and asks me what i am doing. i tell him i am digging up a native aster. he looks at me weird, talks in his shoulder microphone and then asks me again what i am doing, but this time with a look of confusion. i say”i am digging up a native aster to transplant into my yard. i am a beekeeper and i just thought i would bring my bees home a present as they love asters.” he still looks a bit confused, but talks in his shoulder mic again and then says, well for me to be careful as it is a busy road, and he gets in his cruiser and departs! afterwards, while driving back to town it occured to me why he had shown up lights ablazing…. without thinking about it i had chose to go digging within site of the guard towers of our local prison! i wonder if they thought i was going to dig a tunnel?! lol hmmmm wonder what they will think tomorrow when my friend val and i go just a bit further up that hill to harvest sunchokes!!!lol

big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages!

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the right side of the pic is a plant i was really hoping would show up! angelica! i like to stick to working with herbs that are either indigenous to my area or those easily grown here in central illinois.  to the left of the angelica is black cohosh, which is a native species here. i had planted these angelica seeds in this spot, near the black cohosh, way back last spring. well we had such torrential rains on and off all spring and i never saw a thing growing where the angelica was planted, aside from some grass, that i thought they had washed away. imagine my surprise and delight when they finally appeared within the last month! i have always wanted to grow angelica. such a lovely name, and such a history of culinary and medicinal uses angelica has. anti-inflammatory properties, lowers fevers and acts as an expectorant, digestive disorders and bowel complaints are some of the medicinal uses for angelica. for culinary purposes the stems may be candied, cooked with rhubarb, tart fruits and berries to reduce acidity.  and many other lovely way. plus the leaves and seeds are aromatic and may be used in pot-pourris.

such a weird year weather wise, with much more rain than usual, and much cooler temps also. hopefully these plants will overwinter well and i can transplant them to a couple spots in my gardens next spring! i have been quite alot of second flush blooms with these wetter, and cooler days also. i had some echinacea, beebalm, st. john’s wort, verbenas, feverfews, etc put out some lovely second displays of flowers recently!

big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages:)

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So it has been nearly a month since I havested honey and bottled some up. Due to all the family things, printer problems, problems finding proper paper here in our little town, etc. etc. I Have just today been able to properly work on the labels. What do you think?


I would have liked to put raw and organic on my label, but since the harvest is just going to be used by family and friends, I thought this was busy enough! If I were ever going to sell honey though, I would have to explore the laws on adding those two descriptive labels to see if I could qualify to use them. I don’t see why not as the honey is raw and organic, but who knows, and anyway, not an issue right now anyway!lol

So Lisa, aka Hootie, my dear sweet patient friend, the next stop is the post office to send you a properly labeled bottle as your prize in my blog giveaway last month! Sorry to be late dear! I am so very excited about this label! I just love the pic of the sweet bee and the comfrey flower! I am so excited in fact, that if any of you would like to leave a comment , I want to pick another name to give another bottle to!  Drawing Friday!

Thanks to all of you who have shown me such support and well wishes through all this! Big herbal and sticky honey hugs to you all!

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Canning With Children

I love to involve kids when canning the sweet things! Lily helped me with applesauce yesterday. She faithfully washed each and every apple and…. enjoyed the fruits of her labor!



wow, am i going to miss her next week when she starts full time kindergarten!!

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