Posts Tagged ‘Cooking with Honey’

It’s been too long since we’ve posted a new recipe for the Garden to Kitchen page. Oh we talk about it from time to time and vow to be more diligent, but… you know, stuff happens and suddenly it’s been months. We’re not promising an end to this procrastination, but here’s at least one more addition to the files.

This Spelt Honey Bread is really delicious and it’s great for those of you who might not be able to tolerate wheat in your diet. Spelt is an ancient grain that still contains gluten, so it’s not for anyone with strong wheat allergies. But if you’re on the less reactive side like I am, this bread might be friendlier to your digestion.

For a long time I thought I might never be able to eat yeast-raised bread again, but I’ve been eating this bread for a couple of months now. Being able to once again have warm bread fresh out of the oven and slathered in butter is heaven for me.

Click here for the recipe.


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Barbara: Apologies for this VERY late post. I meant to do it right after I raked the leaves and mowed the lawn Tuesday morning, but I was an idiot. The weather has been beastly in Southern California for the last few days. On Monday it was 107 and yesterday it was 93. It seemed cooler Tuesday morning and, besides, I had work to do and I wasn’t going to let a little heat and humidity stop me. And even though I felt kind of awful, I kept telling myself to buck up and push through. So I ended up with heat exhaustion and I couldn’t focus on anything for the rest of the day. Stupid, really stupid!

Now that I can comprehend what’s in front of my eyes again, Mary Beth and I want to share two more plum canning recipes. The first one is a deliciously old-fashioned plum conserve — an old family recipe handed down from our other grandmother. The second is a recipe for plum jam Mary Beth made that didn’t thicken properly. All was not lost though. As you will see, even your “mistakes” can be used in creative ways that will make you look like a star.

There’s one very important caveat with all this experimenting. You should know, and we mean really know, canning basics. There are things you can do that will make canning recipes your own special version and there are things that you can do that might make you, or anyone eating your preserves, sick. You need to know the difference. Go to the National Center for Food Preservation for extensive information on canning safety, recipes, etc. There are many good canning books, but the first one on your list should be the Ball Complete Guide to Home Preserving.

Grandmother Hobe’s Plum Conserve

  • 11 cups (5 lbs) Italian prune plums
  • 2 oranges, halved or quartered and sliced thin (depending on how big you want the rind slices to be in finished conserve, quartered seems best)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • Juice of 1 lemon

  1. Wash, pit and quarter plums (or cut smaller depending on size of fruit). Place in large pan with sugar and raisins.
  2. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Do not add any water, the juices will release as the fruit heats up.
  3. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, stirring frequently to prevent seizing. Be careful, the thicker the conserve gets, the more the danger of seizing.
  4. When it begins to thicken up, test with “quick cool test” for the right consistency. Put a couple of small saucers in the freezer. When the mixture seems thickened remove pan from heat, take a little of the liquid and put it on one of the cold saucers. Put this in the freezer for about 3 minutes. Take it out and pull your finger through the liquid. The sides of the divided puddle should move very slowly back towards each other. This test gives you a pretty good idea of how the final product will be. You may have to put the pan back on to boil and repeat this a couple of times to get to the right consistency.
  5. When properly thickened stir in lemon juice and walnuts.
  6. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars and process 10 minutes adding 2 minutes for every 1,000 feet above sea level.

Makes approx. 9 – 10 half pints.

Mary Beth: I made plum jam that didn’t thicken properly, but it was still delicious and I’ve been looking for ways to use it when I’m baking. A couple of days ago I made a peach crisp and I threw in a jar of this jam. The crisp recipe called for sugar to be added to the peaches, but because the jam was so sweet, I decided to leave out that sugar (I still used sugar in the crisp topping). It was really yummy. I plan to use my soupy jam in fruit bars and any other bake good that calls for a fruit filling.

Autumn Fruit Jam

(from Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving)

  • 5 plums, sliced
  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped.
  • 2 medium pears, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp each: ground cinnamon and ginger
  1. Combine fruit, water, lemon rind and lemon juice in a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes or until fruit is softened.
  2. Add sugar to fruit and return to a boil, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Boil rapidly, uncovered, until mixture jells, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in cinnamon and ginger.
  3. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars and process 10 minutes adding 2 minutes for every 1,000 feet above sea level.

Makes 4 cups


  • Replace cinnamon and ginger with 1 tbsp vanilla extract added to cooked jam just before bottling.
  • For Nectarine Plum Apple Jam use 4 nectarines, peeled and chopped, instead of pears.
  • I also had good results with this recipe using 7 plums and 3 medium apples.

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When we were children, we would go to Connecticut to visit my mother’s parents. Granddaddy Foster was a farmer in his bones and his retirement years were spent perfecting the most beautiful little farm in Ridgefield. On his acre or so of land he grew tons of vegetables and flowers. My very favorite area was a little mini orchard full of fruit trees — mostly apple as I recall.

My grandparents were great “putter-uppers.” They canned all manner of fruits and vegetables, most notably Bread and Butter Pickles and Pink Applesauce. Eating that applesauce was one of the highlights of my visits with them. The pink color came from cooking the apples with the skin on, which is actually the best way to get all of the nutrients from the fruit.

I’m sharing my grandmother’s delicious recipe. It really isn’t all that different from other applesauce recipes that I’ve seen, but to me it’s special because of the memories it brings back.

The only thing I’ve changed is substituting honey for sugar. If your apples are really sweet, you might not even need the honey. I prefer to use organic Macintosh apples, but they are really hard to find and a bit pricey, so I’ve been substituting Fujis which are really good too. You can use any naturally sweet apple. Try combining different types of apples to create your own special mix.

Another tip is to remember that the apples don’t have to be perfect. You can often get a good deal on a bulk buy of less-than-perfect apples at the farmers market if you ask (nicely, of course).

Grandmother Foster’s Pink Applesauce

  • 16 cups of apples, cored and cut into wedges, peels on
  • 1 cup of water (start out with this, you can add more towards the end if necessary)
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons honey, or to taste

Sterilize your jars, bring your canning pot to a boil and put your lids in a small pot to simmer. Place the apples, lemon juice and water in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat until the apples are soft.

When apple are nearly done, add the spices and the honey. Cook for a few minutes more.  If you want smooth applesauce and are using a food mill the skins will be left behind in the mill. For immersion blenders or if you want a chunky applesauce, remove the skins while the apples are cooking. Blend for a smooth sauce, or smash the cooked apples with a wooden spoon or potato masher for a chunkier sauce.

After putting the apples through the mill or blending, return the applesauce to a boil and ladle into your prepared jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims completely clean and put on the lids.

Put jars into the hot water bath and process for 15 or 20 minutes — start timing when the water returns to a boil. If you’re at an altitude higher than 1,000 feet above sea level, process 2 extra minutes for each 1,000 feet of altitude.

Remove from hot water bath and listen for the lovely “ping” of the lids as the jars cool and seal themselves.

Leave the jars to cool for 24 hours. Wipe them to remove any sticky traces, remove the rings, and check the seal. Then label the jars and store them in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

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Authors’ note: We’ve really neglected our Honey in the Kitchen section, but we’re about to remedy that by posting our favorite recipes for canning and preserving some of this season’s bounty. We’ll post them in Tuesday’s Tips from time to time and then archive the recipes in Honey in the Kitchen along with tips for canning and preserving.

Mary Beth: My plum tree is overloaded with fruit and some branches look like they’re ready to snap. Every day I’ve been picking almost-ripe plums to prevent them from ripening on the tree in hopes of keeping the bears away.  So far we haven’t had the pleasure (?!) of their company.

My kitchen counters are filled with beautiful plums and I can’t let all this goodness go to waste, so I’m canning plums this week. Today I packed whole fruit in boiling honey water. It’s something I never tried before, but my interest was piqued when my sister sent me a link to the wonderful Food in Jars blog a few weeks ago. There I found a great recipe for whole plums preserved in honey syrup. I put out a Tweet asking for plum recipes last week and I got a response from Hello_Kitty suggesting the recipe from the same blog.

It turned out to be very easy and it’s good way to get my ever-growing pile of plums a reasonable size, although I’ve been doing a pretty good job myself by eating at least 30 plums a day! These little jewels are perfect size to pop in your mouth — so sweet and delicious.

I wish I could tell you what kind of plums they are, but the tree was here when we moved in so I’m not sure — maybe Italian Plums?  Can anyone identify the variety from my picture? Whatever they are they make a delicious treat.

Whole Plums Preserved in Honey Syrup (Recipe from Food in Jars)

1 1/2 cups of honey
4 cups of water, enough plums to fill four quart jars (I used three of my four quarts)
4 cinnamon sticks, a vanilla bean sliced into four pieces or four star anise bits*

In a medium saucepan, combine the honey and water and bring to a boil.

Bring a canning pot or large stock pot to a boil. Put your lids into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Clean canning jars and pack the plums in as tightly as you can. Insert your cinnamon stick, vanilla bean or star anise. Fill jars with honey syrup, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.

Wipe rims to remove all traces of any spilled honey syrup, apply lids and tightened rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 25 minutes (start timing when the pot returns to a boil after the jars have been placed inside).**

When processing time is up, remove the jars to a cutting board or towel-lined countertop (as they cool and seal, they might spit out a bit of sticky syrup, so don’t let them cool on any surface that can’t handle that). Let the jars cool undisturbed for 24 hours.

When jars are completely cool, remove the rings, check the seals and wipe the jars down to remove any sticky residue. Label and store in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

*I tweaked the recipe by adding crystallized ginger to a few jar. I added cardamom to another jar. You can probably think of other good flavorings to try.

**I had insomnia the other night and I was reading one of my canning books — Preserving Summer’s Bounty. Good thing or I would have missed an important step for canning in high altitudes!  You must increase the processing time by two minutes for each 1,000 feet above sea level. So if you live 3,000 feet above sea level, process six minutes longer than the recommended time. If you’re at 4,000, then process for eight minutes, etc…

I’m still looking for plum preserve recipes if anybody has a good one. I’ve got lots of plums, so I would like to try a few. If you’d like to share, just add your recipe to the comments.

This week Durango is celebrating Eat Local Week and I’m planning on celebrating by looking for some  fruit and vegetables for canning at the Farmers Market this Saturday. I want to capture a bit of summer in a jar to savor during the coming winters months…burrrr!

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