Posts Tagged 'instructions'

Finally, my time to Shine

Everyone loves mason jars. Everyone. And they’re popping up all over the place. Now, seeing as how I’m one of the biggest mason jar fans in the country, people send me stuff about jars when they see it. Something I’ve been sent a lot is “Moonshine” in mason jars. Apple pie, blackberry, cherry, etc. Now we all know that they aren’t actually moonshine, as they are lawfully produced and sold in the US, under the watchful eye of the ATF. But…I bet they are tasty.

So that brings us to this idea. I started looking and asking around for recipe ideas. Most of what I saw said 1 gallon of apple juice, one gallon of cider, various aromatics, and a bottle of Everclear. Now, if you take 256 ounces of non alcohol, and add 25 ounces of alcohol, you end up with a product that is 9.7% alcohol by volume (19 proof). I’m pretty sure they make Porters stronger than that. That wouldn’t do.

See, I’m leaving shortly on a 12 day Mule Deer hunt in a forest that is dropping well below freezing every night. I need something that will keep me warm. Either by consumption or ignition. It’s moonshine for god’s sake. Not a White Zinfandel. It should burn the hair off the chest of those who have hair, and grow hair on the chest of those who have none. So I decided I’d create my own.

20131026-021628.jpgGraham’s Apple Pie Moonshine

1 – 750ml bottle of Everclear 190 proof Grain Alcohol
1 pint Apple Juice
1 pint Apple Cider
1/4 C Brown Sugar
2 Cinnamon Sticks
2 Nutmeg…uh, Nuts?
1/2 Apple (variety your choice)

Toss the brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, and nutmegs (still super confused at to what to call these) in a pot.

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Measure out two cups (1 pint) of the juice and cider. Who needs measuring cups, right?

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Add the liquids to the pot and stir to dissolve the sugar. Heat. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

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Now, why didn’t we add the Everclear? Two reasons. 1st off it evaporates at like 188 degrees. If you boiled the cider and Everclear for 20 minutes you’d be left with a hard cider, not moonshine. The 2nd is that Everclear is no joke. This stuff is basically pure alcohol at 190 proof.

20131026-022542.jpgIf you have a gas stove and you off vapor enough Everclear you could start a fire. So keep the booze on the counter and the cider in the stove.

After 20 minutes turn off the heat. Using a canning funnel and ladle. (Seriously, you could put the stuff in anything. From a decorative bottle to a Tupperware container. But I love mason jars, so it’s going in a mason jar.) Catch one cinnamon stick and one nutmeg and drop them in one quart sized jar. Grab the others and drop them in the 2nd jar. Then try to get one pint of cider mixture in each jar. Eye balling is ok. Remember to set your mason jars on a towel or wooden cutting board. Cold countertops, especially Granite ones, can cause the jars to shatter once hot liquid is added to the cold jars.

20131026-023122.jpgLet the mixture cool at least 20 more minutes. The longer the better. Then add the bottle of Everclear, divided between the two quarts. Slice your apple in to….slices. (Don’t like the sound of that sentence.) Drop 2-4 slices in each jar. I used Honeycrisp, because they are the undisputed champions of apples. But you could use Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, whatever.

20131026-023658.jpgSo before you put that lid on, lets talk some science real quick. Let’s just say you decided not to let the cider cool. You just added the Everclear into the hot jar of cider. Then you toss your lid on, secured down with a ring, and walk away. What’s going to happen? As we discussed earlier Everclear evaporates at a relatively low temperature. Which means that alcohol is turning into vapor and that vapor is beginning to take up space. What happens when there is more vapor than space? Big Badda Boom. Now I’m not saying that your jar is going to explode. But I’m also not not saying that. However it’s very likely that the weak aluminum lid comes flying off the top with great force.

So if you don’t have the time to wait for whatever reason do the following. Fill your sink with the hottest water that your faucet will muster. Lower your jars into the sink. Start turning the faucet from hot to warm as you let some water drain out of the sink. Then turn your faucet from warm to cool, and then cool to cold as you continue to let the water slowly drain from the sink. Do this until your jars are cool. The transition has to be slow or your jars will shatter. Ok, back to the fun.

I like to mark my jars so the kids don’t think it’s a treat they can snack on.

20131026-024350.jpg Let’s do the math on this shine real quick. 2 pints of juice and cider is 32 ounces. 750 mL of Everclear are 25 ounces. Added together that’s 57 ounces. If 25 of those ounces are alcohol what proof is this? 43.86% or 88 Proof. Now THAT’s a lot closer to real shine.

This stuff only gets better with time. And no need to worry about processing. No bacteria can grow in this high of an alcohol content. In future batches I’m thinking about withholding 1/2 cup of apple juice and adding 1/2 cup of Fireball Whisky instead for an additional cinnamon kick.

I plan on using this to Irish up my hot apple cider around the campfire, as well as keeping a flask on me for those dusk and dawn hunting hikes up north.

If you have a shine recipe feel free to share or link it in the comments.

Happy canning!

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The Holy Trinity Of Bloody Mary Toppers

Update: This recipe won a 1st place Blue Ribbon at the 2013 Arizona State Fair in the Pickles, Relishes, and Spiced Fruits category.

After I made my Dilly Beans I got some feedback. “Put them in a Bloody Mary” they said. “The spicier the better” they said. “And add some pickled asparagus and pickled Brussels sprouts too!”

I thought this would make a wonderful idea to bring to a holiday party. Some mixer, vodka, and a variety of pickled vegetables and olives as toppers. But the idea of toting several quart jars around with me in December wasn’t appealing. Then it hit me. Why not do them in the same jar?

I started reading the NCHFP’s directions on pickling each of the individual vegetables. The real difference was that asparagus and brussels sprouts are processed for 10 minutes whereas the beans are only processed for 5. So I did some asking around and found someone who said that they processed their dilly beans for 10 minutes and they still come out crunchy. And with that was born the idea for the holy trinity of Bloody Mary toppers. But the idea of those three things hanging out in a jar together seemed awfully green to me. So while I was at the store I picked up those miniature red, orange, and yellow peppers as well as purple pearl onions.

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Bloody Mary Pickle Mix
Asparagus
Green Beans
Brussels Sprouts
Mini Sweet Peppers
Pearl Onions
Garlic
White Vinegar
Pickling Salt
Water
Dill
Black Peppercorns
Mustard Seed
Dried Red Chiles
Red Pepper Flake

I decided to go with the same brine and seasonings as my Dilly Bean recipe, except that I also add mustard seed to the jars.

Let’s start with the Brussels sprouts. First off, did you know they grow like this?

20121201-214458.jpg I never really thought about or imagined what Brussel sprouts look like as they grow, but I guess I thought it was more like tiny cabbages coming out of the ground. Turns out they grow on gigantic stalks that look like DNA. My wife picked up two of these stalks to use for Thanksgiving. It turns out that was twice as much as we needed so we had one left for this project. She told me ahead of time that she’d started by cutting the little sprouts off of the stalk. However she quickly discovered that simply snapping them off was much quicker and more efficient. So if you buy your sprouts like this, simply start at the bottom and snap them off, working your way around to the top.

20121201-214745.jpg These bad boys are going to be cut, blanched, boiled in brine, and then sitting in a jar for who knows how long. So you want healthy, tight, clean little sprouts. I started by trimming the stem just a little bit and then pulling off any leaves that weren’t firmly wrapped around the sprout or had blemishes. Then I sorted them into two piles, big and small. I cut all the big ones in half so that their total size were about equal.

20121201-215040.jpg Get a pot of water boiling and drop your sprouts in. Set a timer for four minutes. Blanching helps start the cooking process to make them tender, improves the color, and can help kill harmful bacteria. After four minutes immediately remove them and place them in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.

20121201-215203.jpg For directions on how to blanch the pearl onions see my entry on pickled beets.

Get an assembly line going for your jars. Put the dill, garlic, black peppercorns, mustard seed, red pepper flakes, and dried red chili in each jar. Then start working on your Tetris skills. Each jar needs asparagus, green beans, brussels sprouts, mini sweet peppers, and pearl onions.

20121201-215610.jpg I found it easiest to stack the very vertical beans and asparagus against one side of the jar and then fill up the remaining space with the oddly shaped items. The onions and garlic fill the little recesses left over. Try to get a fairly even mix of vegetables in there so that the last person to the jar isn’t stuck with four green beans and a half of a brussels sprout.

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20121201-215813.jpg Follow the directions from the dilly bean recipe to make your brine. Pour your hot brine over the vegetables. Add your clean lid, clean ring, finger tighten it, and place into a water-bath canner.

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Process for 10 minutes. Once the time is up remove the jars carefully and set them on a tea towel or cutting board where they can have a chance to cool slowly and undisturbed.

20121201-220102.jpg And there you have it. First off, these are some of the coolest looking jars that I’ve ever made. Second I think they’ll do well as gifts or as favors to the host or hostess of a holiday party that you are attending. Since they are pickles remember to make them three weeks ahead of the date that you need them so they have time to brine. Also my peppers are desperately trying to float to the top. I found out afterward that to avoid this you can take a small knife and cut one or two slits and each pepper. This will allow the air to escape and the pepper will suspend in the liquid.

Set this jar out with some picks and a bowl of olives and your guests have their choice of what to place on their Bloody Mary. Alternatively this would also make a good accompaniment to a cheese or antipasto platter.

Do you have a different combination of pickled vegetables you enjoy? What are your favorite Bloody Mary toppers? Let me know.

Happy canning.

Of Cranberries and Apples

I waited and waited for cranberries to drop below $1 a bag. And my favorite low cost produce store sold out without ever reaching that price. So I finally folded and bought 15 bags at $1.50 a piece. I think this is the cheapest I’ll find them.

I had an initial game plan. Half would be Odessa’s, to make Odessa’s Cranberry Sauce. The other half was to be mine to make a sort of apple cranberry chutney I’ve been wanting to try.

Unfortunately (fortunately?) the Internet is an amazing pool of awesome information and ideas, and I stumbled across something I couldn’t resist. Pickled Cranberries.

And with those ideas stirring in my head I went in to the kitchen. 9 bags of cranberries for Odessa, two to pickle, and four for chutney. Or so I thought.

I should mention that this post won’t be very picture heavy, cause I was cooking my ass off tonight. Felt like everything on every burner needed my constant attention. And I was interrupted by two mishaps. One by my kid, and one my own doing.

Odessa started with her recipe first. It’s still my favorite cranberry sauce. And I could have two jars a month and be happy.

Cranberry Apple Chutney

24oz cranberries
20 apples, cored and rough chopped
9 cups sugar
4 lemons, zested and juiced
4 cups water.

This is a recipe that I found through Instagram, and then modified. The original recipe, as it was provided to me called for 8 cups of apples, 4 cups of cranberries, 6 cups of sugar, and one lemon. I based my math off of the amount of cranberries that I had left. But that was nearly 16 cups and I didn’t have it in me to add 24 cups of sugar to something.

I chose to go with Granny Smith and Fuji apples to stick with the red and green holiday theme.

20121128-014819.jpgFor what it’s worth, Fuji apples do not hold up to cooking, a little key point that I forgot. Opt for Lady Pink, Braeburn, Honey Crisp or other firm apple instead, if given the choice.

I used my handy dandy apple corer/slicer and cut the apples into 6 slices. Then I rough chopped the slices into pieces.

20121128-014748.jpgPut the water in a large pot, heat, and add the cranberries. I gave the berries about a five minute head start over the apples. As the cranberries start popping add your apples to the pot. Once the cranberries and apples start to cook and release more liquid add your sugar as well and stir thoroughly mix. Cook for approximately 10 to 15 minutes until the cranberries and apples begin to cook down. Then add your lemon zest and juice.

20121128-015454.jpg I tasted the chutney after originally having only added 6 cups of sugar. That still seemed a bit too tart. I added another 3 cups of sugar, bringing the total to nine, simmered, and taste it again. That seemed like a good amount.

Continue to cook for approximately 10 to 15 minutes until the mixture thickens.

20121128-015541.jpg Pour your cranberry chutney into clean mason jars, apply your lid and ring.

20121128-015644.jpg Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes for pints.

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20121128-020016.jpg This ended up making 14 pints.

As I was looking around the web for cranberry recipes I came across an idea for pickled cranberries. Pickling is my most recent obsession. The author suggested adding a spoonful of pickled cranberries to club soda and gin, or tossing them in olive oil and topping a goat cheese and arugula salad with them. This sounded way too delicious to pass up.

Pickled Cranberries
24oz Cranberries
3 cups apple cider vinegar
3 cups sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon allspice berries
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon juniper berries (I didn’t have these, and didn’t want to run out to the store. I’ll add them next time)

Place the allspice, clove, peppercorns, and juniper berries in cheesecloth and tie off.

Combine the vinegar, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and spice bundle in a pot and heat to a boil. Add the cranberries and cook for 5-10 minutes until the cranberries have popped. Bring the mixture back to a full boil.

Remove the spice bundle and cinnamon sticks and set aside. Ladle the cranberries into jars, and then add brine to the 1/2″ headspace. Cut the cinnamon sticks in half and add a piece to each jar.

Lids, rings, and 10 minutes in a water bath. As these are pickles, let them sit for a while before opening and enjoying.

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**Update**
The wife cracked a jar of the pickled cranberries today and made herself a cocktail of tonic water, gin, and some cranberries. Not long thereafter she texted “OMG these things are awesome.” I asked her to take a picture, and classy it up a bit so I could post it here. Ladies and gentlemen, my wife’s classy picture of her cocktail:

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Cranberry Pickled Apple Slices
It was at this point that I thought I was done. But I noticed that I had this gorgeous red tinted, cranberry scented brine left in the pot. I couldn’t bring myself to toss it out. I decided to be adventurous. I took two Fuji apples a d two Granny Smith apples and cored and sliced them. I returned the spice bundle to the brine and added the apple slices. My intent was just to cook them to the point of being soft. However at this very moment my three-year-old walked into the kitchen and told me that he had broken some glass. When I went to investigate I found that he had made his way into my canning pantry and was playing “how high can I build a tower of jelly jars.” Turns out the answer is seven. The tower had fallen and a jar if Strawberry Citrus Jam met its demise. In the time it took me to deal with and clean that, my apple over cooked. But, oh well, not the end of the world.

The apples were added to jars and covered with brine. Then processed for 10 minutes. I’ll probably warm them and use them to top vanilla ice cream. Or serve them as a side to pork chops.

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So there’s 4 things you can do with cranberries and apples. I’m definitely considering those pickled cranberries as Christmas gift idea #2. Show up to a holiday party with a couple jars of those bad boys, some vodka, gin, and mixers? You’ll be the hot of the party.

As I said earlier, I’m on a huge pickling kick right now. If you have a great recipe, or know of a must have pickling book, please share.

Happy canning.



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