Saturday, August 12, 2017

Making Banana Jam, Dill Pickles And Fig Spread - Getting Off The Grid

August 12, 2017

Busy as a bee as they say, its August and that means to get in a hurry to get prepared for Winter. School already started back and the first crops have gone. Time to take a count of what you have already harvested and put up by home canning, drying or freezing and what you will need or want in January.


Each year it seems to be about the same month by month of what to put up and that is because that is that fruit or vegetables season, but one fruit we do not grow local is bananas but they are enjoyed here at this homestead and as always some get ripe faster than they are eaten so I looked up a few recipes to make a jam, a way to preserve and not waste the bananas. I did the test in my own kitchen and I have a nice flavored jam home canned, however I did alter the recipe because for one it was way to sweet, with bananas naturally sweet I had to reduce the amount of sugar.

Banana Jam - Makes 4 half pints

3 1/2 cups of mashed bananas

1 1/2 cups of Sugar

6 tablespoons of Lemon juice

1 cup water

A dash of Cloves - Nutmeg - Cinnamon.

In a large cooking pot combine water and sugar and boil for around 5 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. 

Reduce heat to medium low and cook till thick, 45 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning.

Spoon into prepared Jars and seal with new lids. 

Precess in a water bath for 5 minutes. 

Now you have this wonderful banana jam to enjoy.

Serving suggestion : Peanut butter and banana jam sandwich.

NOTE : This is not a pretty jam, but the taste makes up for the beauty. 

Dill Pickles

I usually always make a few jars to a case of dill pickled but I always bought the mix because mine always turned out way to sour for my taste but the mix is way to salty so I looked around, listened to a few shows on t.v. and I gave the old fashion down home recipe a chance. I cut back on the salt just a bit and I think this one will be used in the future, a plus is that you can grow everything it calls for.

Dill pickles - Makes 7 pints : How I make them

Cucumbers - One Medium per Jar - See " Note"

2 3/4 cups of Vinegar

3 cups Water

Whole Cloves of Garlic

Fresh Dill Weed

1/4 cup of Canning Salt

Peel and wash the garlic, slice each clove in half. Put 4 halves in each pint jar. 

Add 2 sprigs of dill weed to each jar.

Wash the cucumbers in cold water. Slice the cucumbers into spears. Fill each jar with the cucumbers tightly and just below the one inch head space ( the rim)

In a large cooking pot combine water, vinegar and canning salt and heat to a boil. 

Fill each jar to the one inch head space and apply a new lid.

Process for 7 minutes in a water bath.

Allow 2 weeks for the pickles to be ready to eat. 

NOTE : Sometimes I don`t measure out how many as some recipes ask because the cucumbers are not large or small, so this is what I do, I prepare my jars and slice or chop how I want the cucumber to be and place them in the jars, that way I do not cut up to many or not enough.. I did spears this time, To make spears cut  the ends off, cut in half, next cut the half in half and if its still to big cut that in half. 


Figs! Its time for figs and if you are lucky you will harvest more than the birds eat and the ants finish up. Last year I was given a whole crop of figs so I still had plenty of preserves, so I wondered what to do with this years figs, I dehydrated a couple screens and that became a pint bag,  I made some with light syrup and I made fig spread, like what is in the middle of the cookie fig newtons. I thought that would be an awesome treat around Christmastime. 

Fig Spread - Makes 2 half pints

2 quarts of fresh ripe Figs

1 cup of sugar

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup lemon juice

Chop figs into small pieces. 

In a large cooking pot combine figs and the water and bring to a hard boil, add sugar and lemon juice and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Stirring often so not to stick to the bottom and burn.

When the figs get thick and dark remove from heat and fill jars. Apply a new lid and process in a water bath for 5 minutes. 

NOTE : Figs are naturally sweet and they have a good amount of water naturally, so this will take some time to make, it will cook slow and on a low setting. I put it on the back eye of the stove and made dinner while it was condensing, once it gets super thick keep an eye on it so not to let it burn.

So that is what has been happening around the homestead. Putting what I grow into jars to enjoy for the cold months coming. And not letting a banana go bad and being wasteful. 

Have you home canned or froze any of this seasons fruits or vegetables? 

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry

Friday, August 4, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - The Homestead and Banana Jam

August 4, 2017

I have to say that I am not making much progress this year as far as getting what I want most, solar power. And, although I have looked up people about getting a well drilled I have no talked to anyone about price and a well would be welcome because this water is terrible at this place. With not knowing if I will stay here or go is another problem I am facing, I wont give up this house but I may downsize and use this place as a vacation house.


For now I will continue to work on the food stockpile, I am still maintaining the food for now and Winter stock plus beyond that. Sometimes I think about how much fruit, jams and jellies I am home canning, is to many? to much and I need to get back to vegetables only?  Then I remember the years that the fruit blooms got froze with a Springtime freak storm and we had no fruit or jams that year, and most everyone knows that the canned foods last for years so I continue making the jam, jelly and plain fruits since I am getting 90% of them free. 

The vegetable garden is sort of at a stand still except the cucumbers, I am beginning to get a basket full every other day. What okra plants I have left are making but I have to collect twice before I get two servings for a meal. I still get a few bell peppers. The new tomatoes are blooming as well as the new bell peppers. 

My fig bush, to me its a tree since I have to get on a ladder to get them, is doing great this year. I am canning figs about once a week. Plus Tony`s uncle gave us a basket full and told him to come get the rest if he wants them. This time I canned the last batch in light syrup  so that I can enjoy the figs because the preserves are just to sweet for me.

Click here for : How to make fig preserves 

I also put a couple racks of split figs into the dehydrator, this is the first time I have dried figs. After drying I got 1 pint of dried figs. I put them into a ziploc freezer bag and then into a quart mason jar for extra protection.

What about banana? Well.... when I mentioned watermelon jelly Tony asked " how about banana jelly I bet that would be good!" I never thought about using bananas so I looked it up and sure enough there was a recipe so I made a batch. However I did alter the recipe a little by cutting the amount of sugar and I must say the cloves are strong so next time I will cut back on those as well, its not pretty in the jar because its a grayish color but the taste is fantastic! Recipe for Banana jam coming soon!

Click here for Recipe :  Watermelon jelly  

As far as me getting the fields cleared I have not. I manage to keep the walking track me and the dogs use mowed and that is it. I do push mow the area around the house and my dogs area. Since both riding mowers quit and I began push mowing all of it again I nearly killed myself working 12 to 14 hours a day working, so I have up the fields when I had to chose. The past few weeks each time I go to buy a new riding mower either they do not have what I want or they try to push one on me I cannot afford, something always happens right there at the store and I end up not getting what I need.

Now that its a new month, usually our hottest of the year, we will see what mother nature has in store for us here in central Alabama, the way this year has been so far we may have an early Fall. 

What is happening at your homestead? 

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry