Category Archives: jam

Jade Jam

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Hi all.  This week’s Bygone Basics’ blog is very special.  Jade has taken what she learned here in our kitchen to her home kitchen and gone crazy making jam.  She then “infected” her Mother-in-Law, Debbie, with her jam-making and now they do it together.  Next in her sticky wake she wrote notes and took photos.  Be still my heart.  I LOVE to hear of stories like this.  Here is Jammin’ Jade’s story as she sent it to me. (there may have been some notes added by the editor in the interest of fun…darned editor) 😉  Jade’s words are in green (of course).

The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday – but never jam today.  -Lewis Carroll 

Today, Debbie  and I made Caramel Apple Jam. If it weren’t for you, Valerie Hanson, this never would have been able to happen. I took the liberty of sending pictures that I have taken and hope that my notes come across. It was a lovely bonding experience for us and I’d like to take this opportunity to say thanks to you. So, thank you.

You could thank me with a little jar of that jam. CARAMEL APPLE, nice. But seriously….You are most welcome….THANK YOU!

First we peeled, cored and sliced the apples.

We made sure to have washed and sterilized jars on hand.

We pre-measured (yay) the sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice and butter (to stop the foaming). This is of course so that we had exactly what we needed the instant we needed it.

Someone was paying attention!! I bet they were exact measurements too, so the jam “sets” like it should….

Then Debbie diced the apples into small pieces. Then put the apples, lemon juice, apple juice and butter into a pot to boil.

Mother-in-Law was made to do the tedious job of processing the apples? tsk tsk.. 😉  Guessing that Jade is doing this while her little girl is napping (taking note of the monitor).

After it came to a boil, we turned the apples down to a simmer for 5 minutes while covered. Then we added the brown sugar and sugar very carefully and a bit at a time. Making sure to stir until it was all blended.

After it had came to a rolling boil we added the liquid pectin. Having already prepped the package for use. lol

Standing it in a glass is handy.  It IS very disappointing to reach for the envelope of pectin at the proper time only to discover that it has slid down from where it was leaning and the pectin escaped all over the counter.  Don’t ask me how I know this….

Then after it started boiling we waited one minute before removing it from the stove.

Then Debbie put the jam into the jars while I checked the amounts. Then they were wiped on the tops (where the rubber meets the road…hahahah) and sealed with the lids and rings. We both turned them just to make sure there was no leaking problems.

I hate it when my problems leak…

Here is what it looks like pre-lids.

Then the sealed jars were put into a water bath for 10 minutes.

Then the jars were removed and put onto a wire rack to cool until tomorrow. Then we will wash the jars, label and store. This was extremely simple to do. As for the blue duck, it isn’t required. My daughter Beth kept handing it to me. Presumably it is for good luck. I can only say that when I sampled the jam it was really good. 🙂

We all should have a blue good luck canning duck.  (must be Beth got up from nap-time mid-jamming)

Here is Jade at Bygone Basics….

Schedule your jam session at Bygone Basics.  What better time than food, friends, fun?

What treat this has been. Thank you Jade and Debbie

….and blue good luck canning duck.

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A Sprung Spring

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See the plant nursery in the window? Pretty nice “digs” for them, if you’ll pardon the pun.

We try to use as much space as possible for planting. Even vertical shelving and mismatched planters. Soon the pots and shelves will be screened by moon flower and morning glory vines.

Rhubarb!! A seriously under-used food plant.

One of the lucky pepper plants that survived the greenhouse demolition. We don’t really know which of 4 varieties if may be!

Finally!  I got to plant my garden.  It has been a crazy spring.  80 degree March and 30 degree April.  Wind heavy storms.  I happily started seeds in the parlor windows in mid February so my little pretties would be ready to transfer out to the big outdoors greenhouse by mid to late March.  The weather was so nice in March, I was pleased to re-pot the now leggy tomatoes, ground cherries, and peppers, etc. and haul them all out to the sunny warm shelter of the outdoor greenhouse.

That’s when it started.

The Crazy Spring.  It was like Spring sprung a spring and went bouncing off its track.  The weather didn’t just turn cold, it turned frozen with night temperatures plummeting to 23 degrees and daytime ones nudging 40 and 45.  Certainly not growing weather.  I took to hauling the many flats of plants back into the house at night and then, out to the greenhouse by day.

Eh…it’s Michigan.

That’s what I told myself.  You do what you have to, to garden in Michigan springs.

Then, it warmed up a smidge and I let the plants have a sleep-over in the outside greenhouse.  That’s when disaster struck!  Fantastical high winds.  They arrived as if on a freight train and demolished my greenhouse and spilled my lovelies all over.   Broken stems and dashed harvest.  I did my best to find and re-plant what I could and hauled them back into the parlor to stay.  Then, fortunately, I had more seeds, I started new plants.

Here is a young row of strawberries interplanted with asparagus. In normal years, the asparagus would be much shorter! Plus, it has been left to grow healthy roots instead of stalks this first year.

That is one of the great things about starting a garden with seeds instead of nursery plants.  Extra seeds.

Well.  I finally got my gardens planted.  The recovered older plants are in the ground with smaller ones.  Rows of seeds are now sprouting into red trails of beet leaves and fine tendrils of newly emerging green onions.

There’s cabbage, broccoli, rutabaga, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, horseradish, sweet corn, peas, beets, ground cherry, squashes, beans, pickles, lots of herbs, nasturtiums, sunflowers, morning glories, marigold….and lions and tigers and…

Beets make a pretty row of red and green. My how the chickens love the little ones I pull out to thin the row.

Already in the ground were the perennial plants.  Strawberries, Asparagus, Rhubarb, Onion, Garlic, Blueberries, Raspberries, Currants, Apples, and Pears.  I’m loving my rhubarb harvest right now.  Couldn’t pick the asparagus as it was planted only last spring and it is best to give it a year or so without harvest to let the plant focus energies on the root growth.  The first crop of strawberries froze off but there’s more on the way.  We surely lost the pears and apples to the Crazy Spring.  I’m also getting lots of spring perennial herbs and the onions that make our food practically dance with flavor.

I can’t wait to start canning season.

I’ve been teaching a lot of canning lately and it is certainly the season

Herbs! Oregano and tarragon in front. Planted area for basil and cilantro next. Then, fennel, lavender, lemon balm, pineapple sage, dill, chives…

for canning pickled asparagus.  Bygone Basics guests enjoy taking their green jars of treasure home.  Now it is my turn.  This weekend…I’m canning as much as possible of this neat treat…for ourselves and our guests.

After that…Jam!…of the strawberry rhubarb varieties…and then…summer produce will be in full swing and all harvest will break loose.

What is your favorite food to grow?

What do you look forward to “put by?”

We grow things in the ground and in pots and buckets….here is some basil that will flourish in vertical space.

A newly “grounded” plant. It had just been rained on so it looks a tad bedraggled.

The manners of violets….

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A loaf of Bread, a jug of wine, and thou. Try our Artisan breads....no guarantees on a perfect date, but it sure helps!

I saw a quote the other day that really gave me a moment of deep thought. “When the time is ripe for certain things, these things appear in different places in the manner of violets coming to light in the early spring. –Farkas Bolyai”

Initially, I dismissed it as a ‘pretty’ thought but then remembered how ill mannered and unpredictable spring violets are.

It is as if Mother Earth gave these pretty little heathens a free will that dominates all others.

Once planted, they proceed to grow in other places and fill other’s spaces if the conditions are unpredictably (to us) right to them . They are determined to outlive all attempts to corral (yes, even kill) them. That seems to be how Bygone Basics is growing. It seems to have found spaces and places that I didn’t see coming when I dreamed this big dream of starting this business.

We have now enhanced the Bygone Basics Experience to include the opportunity for people to enjoy our hand dipped taper candles and wonderful artisan soaps. Just this week we added a line of farmers breads (both loaf varieties and stone baked), delectible scones, and old-fashioned cookies. Soon, jams and jellies will be added to the line of products.

You can order using our online system using PayPal or just call or email with what you would like and I’ll send an invoice. I have more items available that what I’ve had time to put on the website. I ship in well packaged boxes to prevent breakage. Of course, you can pick up your order too, by preset appointment.  I need to make sure my guests who are enjoying a Bygone Experience are not interrupted.

I love it. It is a lot of variety and is so energizing! People have all along asked me if I sell the things I make, but I always said no. The time was ripe. Now I do.

Speaking of violets…I’m getting laying hens!  The time is ripe.  🙂  (sense a theme yet?)  I have always talked about getting hens agian.  When a girl, it was my job to collect the eggs on our family farm.  I practically live on eggs and bake with them too.  I happened across someone who was practically giving away a system that contains them, while allowing them to be free range grazers and in the same week, found someone else who had a few chicks to part with.  Normally, one must buy large orders of 15 or 25 of each type of chicken.  With all the space Amanda has here for us (Remember we named the place “Amanda’s Bequest”) it just worked out.

We will also be at the Montague Farmers market with our food goods.   AND at the new Artisan Marketplace in Montague with our artisan candles and soaps.  WOW.  A lot going on this year.  My husband tells me I might want to control those violets, lest they consume me.  He is right.  I’ll have to hire help this year.  Our daughters are growing into adults with jobs and homes further away. (very sad about that)

I just posted the latest issue (April/May 2011) of the I CAN at Bygone Basics Newsletter.

In it is an article about what to do in April and May.  I’ve been busily planning a large garden.  After container gardening the last couple of years in our previous location in suburbia, I am really looking forward it.  We dug up the front lawn and put manure on it, then tilled it in.  Hey…in my defense it was the best sunlight area.  Now…if only it would WARM UP and act like spring!!

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush. –– Doug Larson