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  • FoodSaver V3240 Vertical Vacuum Sealer, White
    FoodSaver V3240 Vertical Vacuum Sealer, White
    I just started using a FoodSaver vacuum sealer to seal foods and I can't believe I waited so long to get one. (Check out my first project: Sweet & Sour Green Bean Freezer Pickles!)
    For example: In the past I would take the time to pick beautiful berries, then would bring them home and stick them in a zippered baggie in the freezer. My berries would have ice crystals and taste freezer burnt after just a few short months. 
    Then I had a light-bulb moment: "Air is the enemy" of freshness. 
    When vacuum-sealed my berries last 3 to 4 times longer! I have similar results with other fruits, veggies and even meats & cheeses.
    The FoodSaver has been a fantastic discovery. ~ Brook
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    • Mehu-Liisa 10 Liter Stainless Steel Steam Juicer - Made in Finland
      Mehu-Liisa 10 Liter Stainless Steel Steam Juicer - Made in Finland
      Mehu-Liisa Products

      Some day I will replace my ancient graniteware Steam Juice Extractor with this gorgeous Mehu-Liisa brand Steam Juicer. My old Steam Juicer leaks steam, meaning I have to refill the water often, and it doesn't have anywhere close to the capacity of this one from Mehu-Liisa.
      If you want to experience the magic of a Steam Juicer, check out this 10 quart Mehu-Liisa. It will last you a lifetime and save you countless hours in the kitchen, whether your juicing fruit for  Plum Jelly or Apricot Nectar, not to mention it minimizes the mess of juicing large amounts of veggies!  ~ Brook

    • Ball Quilted Jelly Canning Jar 4 Oz (Pack of 12)
      Ball Quilted Jelly Canning Jar 4 Oz (Pack of 12)
      What's the one jar size I always keep a couple extra cases of? 
      The Ball 4 ounce jar.
      It's basically 1/2 cup, and just the right size for gift-giving and for experimenting with small batches. Perfect for things like my famous Pear Honey.
      People can't help but say "That is so darn cute!" when they seem them. 
      ~ Brook

    • Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
      Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
      Looking for an affordable, easy-to-use pressure canner, backed up by great customer service? Look no further than the Presto 23 quart Pressure Canner/Cooker. It's the one I recommend to all my students. ~ Brook


    Dilly Pickled Onion Slices on Punk Domestics

    • Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen (Orange) Instant Read Thermometer, Perfect for Barbecue, Home and Professional Cooking
      Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen (Orange) Instant Read Thermometer, Perfect for Barbecue, Home and Professional Cooking
      Do you have a great instant-read thermometer, or are you still buying the 20 dollar ones that only last a year or two? This was one of my best kitchen purchases.
      Can't imagine cooking jam (or meat or candy) without it! 
      Take your jams to 220º and you'll have a perfect gel set every time. Also available in other colors, but why wouldn't you want orange? It's only the BEST COLOR EVER. ~ Brook


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    • The Home Preserving Bible (Living Free Guides)
      The Home Preserving Bible (Living Free Guides)
      by Carole Cancler
      If you're looking for a book that covers every preserving topic imaginable, this is the book for you. It doesn't have a flashy cover or glossy pictures, but it's full of great info. One of my very favorite resources. ~ Brook

    • OXO Good Grips Corn Stripper
      OXO Good Grips Corn Stripper

      Last August my friend Kelli asked me if I wanted some fresh corn from her grandpa's garden. I said "Sure....I'd love to make a few jars of Sweet Corn Relish!"
      She showed up 6 hours later with 158 ears. Wasn't sure if I loved her or hated her for it.
      After a long hot day spent cutting kernels off all those cobs with a small paring knife, I decided I'd never be without a Corn Stripper again. ~ Brook


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    I have attempted to share safe preserving methods however you alone are responsible for your health & safety in your own kitchen or location. Be aware of current safety recommendations. Please see "Full Disclaimer" page for suggested preserving resources.

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    International Food Blogger Conference 2011 NOLA

    Fruit Butter.

    I just like the way it sounds.

    The word butter is kinda' fun to say, and paired with fruit, well, you can't go wrong.

    Peach Butter

        Fruit butter can be made a few different ways, and in my experience, they are all delicious. Some are thicker than others. Some have spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom. Good old-fashioned white sugar is the standard sweetener, but you might use brown sugar, honey, or even something like Splenda.

        You can choose to cook it longer in some cases, to achieve that deep brown caramelized flavor, like the Apple Butter* grandma used to make.

        And to make it even more interesting, or maybe confusing for some, it can either be cooked on the stove top, or in the oven at a low temperature, say 300 degrees, for approximately 5 hours.

    Stove top method:

    • CON: Requires more attention because it is cooking at a higher surface temp.
    • CON: Needs to be stirred more often.
    • CON: Can sometimes splatter the surrounding area, including the person doing the stirring.
    • PRO: Spices and seasonings can be added more easily.
    • PRO: Fruit butter can be removed from the heat or simply turned off, at the perfect moment of doneness, which is usually 1-2 hours.

     Oven method:

    • PRO: Lower cooking temp means you don't have to watch it as closely.
    • CON: More difficult to stir.
    • PRO: Less mess is made if it's cooked in the oven. No (or very little) splattering.
    • CON: Not as easy to taste and/or add spices and seasonings.
    • CON: Might be a hassle to remove a possibly heavy container of hot sticky liquid from the oven.

    Even though most recipes call for cooking your fruit butter in a pan on the stove the method I hear most people use lately is a crock pot and it's a wonderful option! The crock pot, with it's easy accessibility for stirring plus it's slow-cooking capabilities, combines the best of both worlds of the other two methods outlined here.  

        I should mention there are a couple of other things to consider: There are 2 different ways to achieve the characteristic smoothness of fruit butters.

    1.) A food mill might be used. It removes skins and seeds while pureeing the cooked fruit.   





    2.) Or you might peel, pit & pare the fruit first, and then use a hand-held immersion blender...


  the final stages of cooking.


    *Many older recipes for Apple Butter call for adding 2 cups of apple cider AND 2 cups of apple cider vinegar for every 8 pounds of apples. This gives the Apple Butter a certain tangy taste. So if you're looking to duplicate the Apple Butter you grew up with; the one made by your grandmothers and great-grandmothers, apple cider vinegar might be the secret ingredient you haven't been seeing in the more modern Apple Butter recipes.