Maraschino cherries

Two of the neighbors have a lot of cherries on their trees and so we made our own version of Maraschino cherries this week. I had to make my own version because at Safeway the almond extract even imitation was $4.99 which was too much. I mixed vanilla extract/syrup with marshmallow vodka to substitute and i think it turned out great!

I don’t like getting too many contraptions for the kitchen but this cherry pitter is awesome and I don’t know why I didn’t get one sooner. Since the cost of the cherries was $4 total since we only bought a tiny amount and stole the rest, I feel the new toy is justified.

Maraschino Cherries

  • Brine:
  • Pinch of canning salt
  • 2 quarts water
  • 4-1/2 pounds pitted sweet cherries
  • .
  • Syrup:
  • 4-1/2 pounds sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 ounce red food coloring
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1 oz. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup marshmallow vodka


Bring water to a boil, add salt and stir. Let cool for 10 minutes, then pour over pitted sweet cherries. Cover and let sit overnight.

Drain cherries, discarding brine, and rinse in cold water. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, lemon juice, and red food coloring. Add the reserved juice and bring just to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar, and remove from heat.

Remove from heat and stir in almonds, vodka and vanilla extract.

Let sit overnight then strain and bring to a boil almost.

Wait till it cools a little and pour over the cherries in the jar/s.

Place in a water bath canner and process 20 minutes for pint jars or 25 minutes for quart jars.


Chocolate Oatmeal Stout 2

When we first made this I was all into watching the beer ferment and didn’t use my hydrometer. I know that I need to in order to get better and also avoid foaming overflowing bottles. I modified this recipe a little bit and added some coffee and a darker malt syrup. The yeast is ale yeast instead of the reused yeast for an herbal beer. I am having good vibes about this one but it’s slow to start fermenting bec

ause it’s only about 65 in here and before the carboy was in front of the heater so it was bubbling like crazy. I want to try and avoid the malt syrup and make my own from grain but I didn’t want to chance it this time. It will save money on the malt syrup which is spendy. 😦

 Amy’s Chocolate Oatmeal Stout

5 gallons

3.3 lbs. (3.0 kg) Briess light unhopped malt extract syrup
3.3 lbs. (3. kg.) Briess dark unhopped m

alt extract syrup
1.5 lbs. Crystal malt
4.0 oz. (113 g) black patent malt
6.0 oz. (113 g) chocolate malt
6.0 oz. (283 g) flaked oats
1.5 oz. Kent Goldings hops (boil 60 minutes
6 oz. cocoa nibs
4 oz. coffee ground
White Labs WLP002 (English Ale) yeast
O.75 cup corn sugar or regular sugar (for priming)

Step by step:

Steep the crushed malts and coffee in 2 gallons of water at 150 ºF (66 ºC) for 30 minutes. Remove grains from wort and add water to make 3 gallons (11 L). Add the malt syrup to your wort and bring to a boil.

Add the Goldings bittering hops and boil for 60 minutes. Add the Goldings finishing hops for the last 5 minutes of the boil.

Now add the wort to 2 gallons (7.6 L) of cool water in a sanitary fermenter, and top off with cool water to 5.5 gallons (21 L). Cool the wort to 75 ºF (24 ºC) — do not aerate (you want a high ending gravity for this beer!). Pitch your yeast and allow the beer to cool over the next few hours to 68 ºF (20 ºC), and hold at this temperature until the beer has finished fermenting. Then bottle or keg your beer and enjoy!

Herbal healing salve

This is the family heal-all salve that I use on most everything especially scratches and scrapes but also dry skin.

The beeswax was local as was my lavender and comfrey that come from my garden. I didn’t have enough calendula to use but saved some petals from a previous year.

You can use baby food jars or an empty, but durable container that won’t melt when you pour hot liquid in it.

Herbal Healing Balm/ Salve Recipe

For rashes, scrapes, small cuts, bruises, and very dry skin.

*1 1/2 c. olive oil
*1/4 c. dried comfrey leaves
*1/4 c. dried calendula petals
*1/4 c. dried lavender buds
*2 oz. beeswax
*15 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
*15 drops Lavender Essential Oil

Place dried herbs into a crock pot. Pour olive oil over them. Turn crock pot on low and let set for four to six hours. Strain infused oil. Discard herbs. Place infused oil into a 1 qt. saucepan and turn on low. Add the beeswax; stir until beeswax melts. Remove from heat and add essential oils. Pour into 1 oz. jars. Let cool and then seal.

*Makes approximately 14, 1 oz. jars. *Recipe may be halved, doubled, etc.

Wine oops

Oops on the blackberry wine. This is supposed to be an easy recipe but in fact I messed up because I didn’t print the recipe out and I didn’t have the laptop in the kitchen while measuring. I got too hung up on the pints of water instead. So instead of adding 2 1/2 pounds of sugar I added 6. I should have added 7 if I was really doing it the complete wrong way. So I have to go out and pick 3 more pounds of blackberries and then added some others from the freezer and some raspberries to double the recipe. I also added another yeast pack. The only kind I had left was the dry wine yeast which I use for mead. In the past I have had the meads not be sweet enough but I actually don’t know if it’s from lack of honey or my taste or the yeast used. So we shall see how this disaster of an experiment goes shall we?

This is the recipe to make the blackberry wine that you are supposed to follow to make about a gallon of wine.

4 1/2 pounds of blackberries

2 1/2 lbs. of regular old sugar

7 pints of water

a red wine yeast

optional is a campden tablet to kill wild yeast

Rinse the berries and heat them with 2 pounds of the sugar and let it cool.  Add 7 pints of water to the mixture and then let it sit till it’s cool enough not to kill your yeast. Disolve your yeast in a cup of warm water and mix. Then add the yeast to your bucket of the wine mixture and cover it with a lid and airlock or a bucket lid. Let it sit for 7 days and then strain the berries out. I mashed them through a sieve and then discarded the seedy part. A note about this part: I would suggest not composting this pulp because your chickens or other animals can get drunk and also the seeds could germinate themselves in your garden somewhere. I don’t trust blackberries at all. Add the rest of the sugar and then transfer the mixture to a secondary fermenting vessel. Leave it for 10 more days and then check to make sure it is finished fermenting. If it’s not bubbling you can rack it/transfer it to your bottles and then drink after 3 months.

Blackberry Mead

We have a lot of free blackberries growing in the field behind our house. The field was cleared 3 years ago to develop houses on and then the company went bankrupt. Anyways, I know that the berries have not been sprayed and we have picked them several times now to use in a cobbler and Melody made a blackberry soda with her berries using a blackberry syrup. I got the other supplies at the beer and wine supply store we have near us. You can also order these things online (like the yeasts, bottles, etc. but I don’t know about shipping all the heavier things). In 2000 I made wine after I got a whole setup for Christmas from my Dad. I have the basic items already so I only had to buy the honey and the yeast for this as well as a couple of smaller carboys with airlocks.

This is the recipe I used.

Blackberry Mead

3 pounds of raw honey
3 pounds of blackberries (give or take)
1 gallon water boiled if from tap
3/4 package of champagne yeast

All your equipment must be sanitized or sterilized before use. Ordinary unscented household bleach does the job fine. Put all the equipment (including the lid and stirring spoons) into the fermentation bucket, fill with water, and add 2 teaspoons of unscented bleach. Let it sit for 30 minutes. Drain the water through the spigot, rinse everything in hot water, and allow to air-dry.

Bring the 4 1/2 gallons of water to a boil. Well water, by the way, should be avoided because of potentially high levels of strong tasting minerals like iron. Boiling should remove chlorine from municipal tap water. If you don’t own a pot large enough to hold five gallons of water, boil as much as possible. You will add the remaining water to the fermenter later.

Once the water reaches a boil, remove it from the heat.

Wait until the water is cooled and then disolve the honey in the water. Do not boil the honey, as it reduces the aromatic quality of the finished mead.

Take a cup of lukewarm water out of the pot and sprinkle the yeast in it.

When the pot is cool to the touch (not over 80°F), pour the honey-water into the fermentation bucket and stir in the yeast mixture. Then add the blackberries in.

Seal the bucket and allow the mixture to ferment for two weeks. The progress of fermentation can judged by monitoring the carbon-dioxide bubbles escaping from the air lock: When they drop to one bubble every sixty seconds, fermentation has nearly concluded. Note that is only an issue during this primary fermentation; secondary fermentation has more to do with aging and mellowing and hence is more flexible. When primary fermentation has subsided, siphon the mead over to your secondary fermentation bucket or carboys and seal it with an airlock. Allow one to four months aging time. Do not open the fermenter, as this risks contaminating the mead.

When you decide it has matured enough (and the mead has cleared), you will want to siphon it into sterilized bottles and cap them.

Mead typically improves with age, so the longer you can wait to open the bottles, the better.

*  Mead is more expensive to make than fruit wine unless you have a free source of honey. I plan to make blackberry wine once the blackberry mead is out of the bucket.

* You can try to contact local wineries in your area to see if they have leftover or B grade grapes. They sometimes do as they only use the best ones for their wines. You are crushing them and adding sugar anyways so it’s completely fine. Our local wine and beer supply is getting grapes from the Yakima Valley soon and I still can’t decide if I should buy some or not.

Corn Relish Making

I love corn relish and although my husband doesn’t I decided to make three big jars this year. My Mom mentioned it’s good to eat at Thanksgiving so I felt it was my duty to provide it again! I also make a Thanksgiving pinata but that is another story.

I modified this recipe a little bit and I put regular onion in it and omitted the hot pepper.

Fiesta Corn Relish
makes about 2 pints

5-6 ears fresh corn
1 hot pepper, seeded and finely chopped (leave the seeds in if you like it really hot)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 c cider vinegar
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c red onion, chopped
1/2 c sweet red pepper, chopped
1/3 c green onions, chopped
1 t ground cumin
1 t pickling salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
2 T cilantro, chopped

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat.  Add corn and cook for 6 minutes.  Drain and cool until you can handle it.  Cut off the kernels until you have 4 cups of corn.  Put the corn into a large pot (not aluminum).

Add hot pepper, garlic, vinegar, sugar, red pepper, red onion, green onion, cumin, salt and pepper to pan with corn.  Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and let it boil gently for 20 minutes.  Stir in cilantro and cook for 2 more minutes.  Take it off the heat.

Ladle the relish into hot jars and process for 15 minutes using standard canning procedures.
hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.