Life on the X-Bar Ranch...

I am an ordinary woman, with an amazing family, serving an awesome God.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Choke Cherry Jelly

I enjoy canning. It is a lot of work, especially for some things, but I enjoy it anyways. Looking at those rows of jars...hearing the 'pop!', it makes me happy. And it is beautiful. Always make beautiful things. Life is too short to live ugly.

I moved to a ranch house along the creek bottoms about two years ago, and this place is loaded with choke cherries. They grow in my yard and along the bridge over the creek. I had never tasted or used them before we moved here, but I quickly decided that I will not let any free food go unused...least of all fruit! So. I perused Pinterest, recipe books and Google for a chokecherry jelly recipe. And I found some. Problem was, they all are different, and some don't work right. Finally I found two and kinda combined them to come up with my own that is pretty much perfect. At least in my opinion. :)

The method is pretty easy, actually. At least the way I do it.

First, have your kids pick the cherries. :)

 Some are redder and some are blacker. I don't know why.
 Then you wash them. I stir them around so the leaves and junk can come to the top. Then I scoop the trash out with my spoon.
Drain. You will notice there are some green berries in my bowl, and the tiny stems are all still on. Its OK. They really don't matter. The pioneers used a certain portion of green berries in their jam instead of pectin. I don't recommend that route. I tried it and was sadly disappointed.
Put in a large kettle and fill with water till the cherries are just covered.

 Simmer about 30-45 minutes, or until the juice is dark red. I confess I have never timed this. I'm bad about cooking by feel...

Drain the juice in a large bowl,

 Wow! The kids an I picked about 4 gallons, and got a gallon of juice! I see lots of jelly in my future... If you don't have time to make it into jelly right now - you can store the juice in the fridge a few days.
You should have your jars and lids ready before you start the jelly process...
 Then you pour 3 1/2 cups juice into a large kettle. It will boil up considerably, so make sure the kettle is big enough. Add the lemon juice and pectin. Stir. Bring to a boil.

 When the juice is boiling, add the sugar. Bring to a rolling boil (boiling so hard you can't stir it down) and continue to stir as it boils for 2 minutes. (This is where it will boil up and up and up. I boiled over two kettles of jelly on my stove. Please don't be that stupid. Burnt on jelly is HARD to clean off. )
When the 2 minutes are up, you can skim the foam off if you like. It doesn't have to be skimmed off, but looks prettier/clearer if you do.
 Then you ladle it into jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space.
 when the jars are full, wipe the rims with a clean cloth. (They might not seal if they have jelly splatters.)
 Place a lid on each one...
 ...and a ring. Tighten to fingertip tightness. In other words, just tighten them with your fingertips, don't use all the force in your being! :)
 Place them in a hot water bath. The boiling water should be about an inch over the jars.
 Bring the water in the canner to a boil and let it boil for 5 minutes. If you live above 3,000 ft seal level, you need to check your county extension to see what the recommended processing time is for your area. I live at 6,000 ft, and I need to process them for 10 minutes. Then you remove the jars to cool. If the jelly isn't set, I recommend not disturbing the jars for at least 24 hours. The pectin takes time to work.
 Last but not least, stand back and admire your hard work!
 And go make some room on your shelves for some yummy jelly!
Note:: This picture is of a double recipe. One recipe yields about 5 pints.
Chokecherry Jelly
3.5 cups chokecherry juice
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 pkg dry pectin (1.75 oz)
4 1/2 cups of sugar
Pour juices in kettle.
Add pectin, stir.
Bring to a boil, add sugar.
Boil and stir for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat, skim.
Ladle into jars.
Process in hot water bath for 5 minutes.
Cool undisturbed for 24 hours.
Here's the pectin I use: 

Pin It

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Allergies... An Update

Update: After 2 weeks of the oils, I was so excited! I wanted everyone to try them for everything!!!
But. But...
She was starting to be more and more wheezy during the day. I thought we'd just give it more time to get in her system.

Then one night Jenni came to me at midnight with a horrid asthma attack. I sleepily told her to go rub some oil on. She replied that she already had. I crawled out of bed, opened the bottle and put some in her hands and had her 'suck' it into her lungs. (breathe it in through the mouth, like an inhaler)
I rubbed more oil on her. I waited. Repeated the procedure. Several times.
Nope. Wasn't working. I told her to get her inhaler. She informed me it was empty.
Empty?!? What?? She hasn't had to use her rescue inhaler for 6 months! How did it get empty??
After some more conversation, I discovered that she had been using it everyday in her bedroom.

So basically, stopping her regular regimen of drugs just made her asthma flare up big time, and she was keeping it quiet with her rescue inhaler. It's called a 'rescue inhaler' for a reason. Not meant to be used every day. So yeah.

The oils work awesome for hay fever/allergy symptoms, such as runny nose, sneezing, itching. But they don't work for asthma, at least for my daughter. The Breathe Blend was what I was using for her asthma, and even though she rubbed it on her skin every night (often more) it did very little for her asthma that I could tell. I immediately had her start her drugs again. Except the benadryl. She can use which ever she wants for that. Some days she uses oils, some days (esp if we'll be gone all day) she opts for a Zyrtec. I am sad. I wanted these oils to work. I really, really did.
I am convinced they work for some things for some people. But just like ALL natural remedies, they only work for some things. NOT everything. Not for everyone, anyways.
So there you go.
Fighting hay fever? Try them! I know if I start sneezing/runny nose, I reach for them first. I love them. But obviously I can't guarantee that they will work for you.

By the way - I have had some success with them for other things.
Headaches: I get terrible headaches, and dabbing peppermint on my temples and behind my ears does seem to work pretty good for those. One time it worked completely, the next time after 2-3 applications, the pain was only gone by 50% so i did take some Ibuprofen.

Sore throat: I started with a terrible sore throat one day, and after 18 hours of it just getting worse, I thought "why not?" and rubbed some peppermint on my neck. In a couple hours there was no more soreness.

Will I continue to use the oils?
Yes. I will continue to use them and try new ones as I can afford them, cause I just like them. And they have worked for some things.