Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March Preserving.. Jellies and Shrubs... and...

This month's challenge is new to me....  well, last month's was too and I learned a lot!  I think I am going to refer to this challenge as a COURSE.  I feel more like I am learning than challenging!

I have never heard of a SHRUB before - so there is the first challenge.  What actually is it?  A syrup.  In a nutshell, It is a simple mildly acidic syrup to add to soda water or tea or a cocktail.  It is supposed to have a long refrigerator life - about 6 months.  And there are ways to prepare it for actual canning.  But I think I want to see if I like it first!  It sounds to me like a Kombucha relative.... I like store-bought Kombucha but have only been marginally successfully with brewing it myself.  Anyway - I am gathering recipes!

And jelly.  I've ignored jelly in my canning adventures for two reasons.  A) I LIKE chunks in my jam... and b) straining the fruit is another step of work PLUS the additional decisions of what to do with the pulp.  [my same juicing vs smoothie dilemma]

Plus, it is MARCH.... so I challenged ME.... what can I make jelly out of that is fresh and seasonally available?

   I found a recipe for WINE jelly :-)  that sort of fits the bill.  And I found a bottle at our little country store left from Christmas that is both local and likely NOT to be drunk before I get to jelly-making!

   I asked for ideas... and got CORNCOB jelly (? - not seasonal but an idea for using a waste product this summer just in case I am not inundated :-) ) and DANDELION jelly.  Now THAT is intriguing since the little yellow blossoms are just now beginning to pop up in my lovely untreated lawn.  So.. foraging AND jelly .... more new things!  I popped one afternoon last week and clipped some blossoms to store in the freezer.  I got 2.5 cups.... but pulled my back out the next day and haven't been back.

Anyway - the jelly is made a tea made from the blossoms.. so that is on the list too.  And in the back of my mind, I am watching and waiting for some pretty leaves to come up with them to dry for tea....

AND herb jellies is another possibility if more herbs pop up this month... though I will def use them when they do come!  The mint is not up yet - the rosemary needs new growth to pick.... I will watch.

The AND in my title comes from 2 batches of marmalade I processed this weekend - I thought I was through and then there was this sale on blood oranges.....  and I had limes in the fridge to use up... I added Blood Orange and Coconut Lime Marmalades to my repertoire!

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