Monday, August 6, 2012

Goat's Milk, Flathead Cherries, Bartering, and Canning

Annie's Progress

First, some good news on Annie the Goat.  Saturday she let me milk her until I got a quart of milk from her.  This is huge, considering that she used to not let me milk her at all, and sometimes all I'd get is about a cup of milk before she threw a hissy fit.  She's getting more comfortable with me touching her udders and petting her in general. Most of the time now she gives about a pint of milk a day.

I don't know exactly how much human contact she had in her other home, but she is getting better with me.

Eggs for Cherries

One of the farmers who grows cherries had put up a post on Craigslist asking to trade cherries for something else of value, including eggs.  Well, considering my chickens are laying like crazy, I took them up on the offer.  They gave me over 20 lbs of cherries for 8 dozen chicken eggs and 1 dozen quail eggs.  They saw my eggs and started pouring part of another lug into my cooler.  I guess having really unique chicken eggs (blue, green, chocolate, terracotta, pink, olive, and brown) wows people.  So this left me with the conundrum of what to do with that many cherries.

The obvious answer is to can them and make jam from them.  But that required me to get a water canner and learning how to can.

An Idiot Learns to Can

Back when I was growing up, my mom used paraffin to make jams.  According to the USDA or FDA, this is risky, but I've eaten jams from hundreds of jars and never got sick.  My mom never canned with the seals because she thought it was too difficult or complex.  But that's the way the government says you should can, so I took the step to can the fruit.

The first thing I did was can cherries.  This is remarkably easy with a water canner, but tedious as I wanted my cherries pitted.  I guess you can put them in jars with the pits, but if you're going to eat or cook with them later, what's the point?

The plus to water canning is that it's pretty easy to tell if the canning makes a seal.  The canning process makes a vacuum and pushes the lid down.  You unscrew the rings that attach the lid and try to remove the lid without using force to break the seal.  If the lid comes off easily the canning process didn't work for that one.  So far, I haven't had any real problems with them.

Canning cherries was simple.  Add a light sugar syrup and pack clean raw cherries in.  Can in a waterbath for 35 minutes (I needed to add 10 minutes for altitude).

In a Jam

Yesterday, I tried making cherry jam.   Tried is an operative word.  I think it's runny because I didn't account for high altitude in cooking the jam.  But the jam can take up to two weeks to take a set, so I'm going to wait before recooking the recipe.  (The good news is that you can get a "do over" with jam if it doesn't set.

Today, if I have enough canning supplies, I'm going to try making spiced cherry jam.  Sounds good, doesn't it?

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