Pears, pears and kefir?

10/10/2008 at 11:01 am (uncategorized)

Yesterday, I peeled pears for two hours. Then, I cut and halved them with my melon baller, which by the way has lasted me a good many years (11-12 to be exact) but has finally broke on me. At least one side broke. Then, I made a sugar solution and boiled it and added the pears to it. The raw pears weighed in at 17 1/2 pounds to be exact. I read that 17 1/2 pounds of pears is enough for one canner load. (7 quarts) WRONG! Apparently, it makes a bit more than that. 13 quarts. I decided to pressure can the pears so that they would be nice and soft not hard like the previous batches in Missouri. When you go to open up a nice cold jar of pears from the fridge you expect them to be soft, don’t you?

As time consuming as it is to can pears, it’s so worth it when I stand back and see the jars I’ve canned. In fact, as soon as I see them gleaming back at me, I want to do it again and again and again. I haven’t gotten to the point yet where I’m sick of looking at pears. I suppose when I get to that point, I’ll stop. I usually can pears every other day and on the other days I can jams and jellies. Today I’m making a batch of jalapeno jelly (new recipe) and maybe some pear jelly. I made some jalapeno jam and pear jam the other day but want to try other recipes to see which one I like best. I even found a recipe the other day for strawberry jalapeno jam. Yum! I love to spread pepper jelly on cornbread and I’ve heard it’s equally as good spread on a cracker with cream cheese.

In fact, I was talking about that to a friend yesterday and she was getting me so hungry speaking of yogurt cheese. Its taste is similar to that of cream cheese, but healthier and easy to make. I plan to buy some plain yogurt from the co-op in the next few months and try my hand at making some yogurt cheese. Instructions for making yogurt cheese found here. Next I want to try making my own yogurt as well.

Speaking of dairy products, one of my friend’s son gave me a starter of kefir. To those who don’t know what kefir is I like to sum it up in two words-drinkable yogurt. That’s what it reminds me of, if you’ve ever had a yoplait yogurt drink.  Although the more I think about it, the more I realize kefir is different than yogurt in many ways.  This website does a good job at explaining the differences.  I had tried a kefir in the past from a packet starter but you have to keep buying the packets to keep it going. This is different. It is called a grain and looks like cauliflower or clumps of cottage cheese. It’s so easy to keep going. In a nutshell, you just put the grains in a jar fill with milk and let sit for about 12-24 hours depending on the strength you want it. The longer it sits the more tart and thick it gets. Then you strain it in a PLASTIC colander (not metal) and drink the stuff that drains out and put in a jar and start over by adding more milk and letting it sit. The first time I drained it in the colander it didn’t look like there would be anything to drain out, but I just let it sit awhile longer and gave it a tap or two and sure enough it did drain.

The first time I tried it I added some frozen strawberries to it and made a thick smoothie. I forgot that it is not sweet by nature and was surprised to take a bite of it. It was a transition to realize that not everything I eat has to be super sweet or sweet at all. It was weird to eat it only because it looked like strawberry ice cream without the sugar. Once I got over that, it was actually pretty good. The next time I used it, I took some evaporated cane juice and a little water, (I know, I like my sweets!) and stirred to dissolve it and then added three frozen strawberries for flavor and color to it and dumped it into my cup and mixed it all together. This consistency was more like a drinkable yogurt and was quickly devoured! It is delicious! It will keep going and growing as long as you give it milk. I can’t drink it up fast enough though, so I rinsed it with filtered water and sat it in a jar with some water last night to give me some time to drink up what I’ve already made. (I used the directions from Nourishing Traditions) <One of my favorite books!

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