Simple and Quick Cranberry Sauce

cranberry sauce 1On this very snowy Thanksgiving day my dish to pass is cranberry sauce, which I love to make.  So simple, yet in my humble opinion (and my sisters too) you cannot have a Thanksgiving meal without it.  Plus I like to make it because I like to sample warm sauce, it is delicious.  Again, so simple to make yet I am always shocked when I see people grabbing the canned processed stuff at the grocery store.  (Yuck).  Also check out the bottom of the post for a quick photo update on our “canning kitchen” it finally has walls!  OK let’s get to this simple and quick cranberry sauce…

Ingredients:

  • 1 12 oz bag or 3 cups of Fresh Cranberries (pictured above)
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Sugar

Directions: (**Note: for this post I made a quadruple batch so 4 12OZ bags of cranberries, 4 cups of water, 4 cups sugar)

Dump the cranberries into a colander, pick out any bad ones you see, rise and dump into proper sized pot.  Then add your sugar and water, see this step below.

cranberry sauce 2

Stir to incorporate ingredients and turn on your stove to a medium/medium high heat.  While stirring occasionally you will notice as the mixture heats up the cranberries will start to burst, pop, and split.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling set timer for 5 minutes, **DO NOT** boil for longer than 5 minutes or the cranberry sauce once cool will set up firm and no longer be a sauce.  See picture below of initial boil stage. Isn’t that color gorgeous?

cranberry sauce 3

Once the 5 minute boil ends transfer your pot to a cold water bath to help cool the cranberries.  This slows the cooking process and prevents any further cooking.

cranberry sauce 4

Stir occasionally to help cool quicker.  Once cool, transfer to your Tupperware or bowl of choice and refrigerate.  Keeps up to a week in the fridge.  YUM, all set for the perfect Thanksgiving feast!

cranberry sauce 5 cranberry sauce 6

If I was Martha Stewart the above pictures would be staged and color coordinated, but I am not that good.  The bowl with spoon was my sample, had to make sure they were good!  Please let me know if you have any questions!  Enjoy ~ Megan

***Canning Kitchen Update – We have walls and a ceiling! (Whoot whoot)  Next is trim, and then urethane to seal, then a custom-built cabinet to hold our 8 burner stove!  Don’t mind the ladder, Huz just finished the last piece today and I was rather trigger happy!  ENJOY

canning kitchen 1

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How to Freeze Apple Pie Filling

How to Freeze Apple Pie Filling

Freezer Pie 1Last post on apples in honor of all those apple growers “on the Ridge” here in West Michigan.  After last years devastating fruit crop loss this year was a blessing.  We will be freezing filling for a 9 inch pie.  Huz loves pie, so this is a nice way to make an apple pie in February if we are feeling fallish!  At the bottom of the post check out the honeybee update and the treat Huz made for his “girls” (he is always up to somethings with this all his lady friends).  Lastly, at the moment this blog post is giving me an excuse not to pick at wallpaper.  I made the fatal mistake the other day of picking at it while on the phone, and now I just want it gone.  The last room upstairs in our old farm house with wallpaper!  OK, OK, no more wallpaper venting back to the apples, let’s get to it!

Ingredients:

  • 5 good cups of Apples (about 5-7 apples) – Which ever variety you prefer for pies, I used Spies, but Jonagolds, or Cortlands or McIntosh are also nice.  Also you can mix apples for different flavors.
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 3/4 Cup White Sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Nutmeg
  • 1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • Freezer bags

Directions:

Rinse, peal, core, and slice the apples until you have a good 5 cups, I call it a heaping 5.

freezer pie 2

Then measure out your flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix with the apples.  Note: it takes a bit of mixing to get all the ingredients coated over the apples.

freezer pie 3

Once mixed well, fill a gallon ziplock bag with the apples. Then label and date the bag to ensure proper yearly rotation.

freezer pie 4

All set to place in freezer, then when you are having a craving for apple pie, just defrost, dump into a pie shell (will have to blog about how to make a homemade pastry shell) then top with crust or crumb.  When I use this freezer filling I will try to remember to blog about it to “continue” the story.  Also you can use this as a filling for apple crisp it will fit into an 8x8x2 pan.

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions!  Enjoy ~ Megan

PS:  Quick update on the honeybees.  We inspected them a bit this past Sunday before the nasty weather hit since it was pretty warm, here is the result:

  • We put insulated tops on the hives to keep them warmer during the winter
  • We noticed the hives seemed a bit light on their honey stores for the winter so we made sugar bricks over the past few days which we will be placing on their hives today (11.20).  The bricks will act as an emergency food incase the bees run out of honey.  The sugar bricks are made by mixing 5 pounds of sugar, with 1 1/4 cup of water a 1-2 Tablespoons of corn syrup.  Cook on a medium/high heat and mix constantly to ensure NO burning or caramelizing (I guess that can give the bees dysentery).   Then using a candy thermometer get the temperature up to Soft ball and dump into those disposable foil containers.  That’s it…  When cool remove.  Below is a picture of the finished product and when Huz gets home from school we will be getting these on the hives.

sugar brick

How to Dehydrate Apples

Sorry for the couple month post delay but working crazy hours at a local fall apple orchard (www.schwalliers.com) kept me on my toes… now it is time for some apple posts.  Fall – the time of year for apples in Michigan, yum!  For this post we are going to be dehydrating apples, the one key tool you need is a dehydrator.  You can use your oven, which I have never done, here is a link for that method.  Dehydrated apples are great for snacks, are awesome in trail mix, or even mega-bars!  They are so versatile, and well worth the time (as all good food is)!  Lets get to it…

Ingredients:

  • A dehydrator – we have a Vegikiln.  We love it, we picked this out not too long after we were married and it has been well used.  We picked this model  because it had a nice temperature range.  The range allowed us to dehydrate from 95 degrees – 155 degrees, allowing us to dehydrate fruits, herbs, veggies, meats, etc.
  • Apples – washed
  • Lemon Juice – the from concentrate stuff you can get in large containers at the store
  • Scrap bucket

Directions:

I set up the scrap bucket, washed apples, lemon juice, and dehydrator in kind of an assembly line fashion to be as efficient as possible, see the set up below.

Dehydrate apples 1

Next I half a bunch of apples, core them, cut out bad spots, and slice them.  You can do one apple a time but I think to chunk out each stage makes it go a bit quicker.  Note when you slice the apples you want them about 1/8 inch think, not super thin or thick.   – See below.

Dehydrate apples 2

Once you have a bunch sliced into the lemon juice they go for a quick dip, this helps to prevent browning while drying.  Then lay them out on your dehydrator rack in a single layer.

Dehydrate apples 3

Repeat this process until the dehydrator is full or you run out of apples.

Dehydrate apples 4

Turn on your dehydrator.  The temperature range for fruit on ours is 135-145.  At this range, the apples take about 14-20 hours to dry depending the thickness cut, usually after about half a day I check them and try one to see if it is done.  When done to my liking I turn off the dehydrator and let them cool for a while then bag and store in an air tight container.  They will keep for a 3-6 months this way.  Again this is a great healthy snack and so versatile to use.  See finished product below!

Dehydrate apples 5

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions!  Enjoy ~ Megan