Tag Archive for canning

Jellies and Sauce

I had a very plesant surprise the other day: my apple jelly set up great! It was the first time I had ever tried making jelly and I’m proud of how it came out. It may be a little on the runnier side, but it’s jelly!

The apricot/apple jelly from the picture, my second batch, is another story. It didn’t even thicken into a syrup. After much angst and research, I went back to the store to pick up a second box of pectin to have a go at it. The plan was to rectify things by re-boiling the jelly, cooking it longer and testing it in a multitude of ways.

Initially I started with nine jars worth of syrup. After cooking it longer, I ended up with seven and a smidge. Things looked to be testing well; even the rest batch in the looked to be jelling up. I went ahead and processed the seven jars in the water bath.

I opened up the test jar this morning. Looks can most definitely be deceiving. While the apricot/apple acts like a jelly from the outside, its still a syrup on the spoon. Granted, it’s a super thick syrup, but it’s still a syrup.

The plus side? It tastes just like the duck sauce from the local American-Chinese restaurant we order take-out from. So, while we don’t have apricot/apple jelly, we do have seven jars of duck sauce.

The One Year Mark

Actually, I lie, it’s been over a year. It’s been about a year and a month. We closed on our house last year on June 13th. It’s amazing the things that change in over a year.


Not only have we added two more children to our mix (Belle, a border collie mix, and Jacks, a mini-rex), but we also said goodbye to our beloved Guepo (common goldfish of 9.5 inches). Thankfully, his sister, Kitana, is doing well.  Aside from the loss, the family as a whole has really bonded into one that I’ve always dreamed of. While some may not think of animals as kids or family, we do. This is our family, part of what makes us multifarious.

We also had a few visitors. One of which I really felt needed to be acknowledge because he’s just so cute! I give to you Steve the Snake:

He’s a cute little garter snake that accidentally got nicked on the head with the lawn mower. We brought him in and cleaned up the cut. We used the extra fish tank as a temp home for him for a few days to make sure he healed alright. I’m happy to say that we were able to let him go a couple days ago. Since the cut wasn’t very deep, and he got very lucky, he made a full recovery.


This past year has also brought us more of a want to be self-sufficient. We’re slowly working towards having an outdoor woodboiler. Right now we have our new-to-us, used-to-someone-else oil tank that needs to go into the basement this summer. The previous one is a bit old and is a little untrustworthy. The “new” one is only 150 gallons, which is just the right size as the most we ever have delievered is 125 at a time. Plus, this means that once we have the outdoor woodboiler there is no need to fret about having too much oil just sitting there.

This past winter we only used 600 gallons of heating oil, which compared to many is nothing at all. If I remember hearing right, I think the average amount of oil a single-family household consumes a winter is 800 gallons, which puts us roughly 200 less than that. But, that’s a national statistic. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Maine or New England average is much higher.


Last year we only had one small garden bed that contained some peas, beans, and tomatoes. This year, we increased by far! Total, we have:

  • 8 silver fir tomatoes
  • 5 sunrise cherry tomatoes
  • 6 buttercup squash plants
  • 6 pie pumpkin plants
  • 8 bell pepper plants
  • 12 sugar snap pea plants
  • 6 – 8 string bean plants
  • Lettuce
  • ~ 40 potato plants

I also went strawberry picking this past season. I currently have three cups frozen in the freezer that I hope to make strawberry-rhubarb jam with in the near future. I’m also planning on going blueberry picking.

As you can tell, part of being self-sufficient comes into learning new trades as well. For me, the big one this year will be canning. My mom was wonderful enough to bequeath to me the canning jars her and my grandmother used.

So far, I have 42 jars. Some may be used for making Yule gifts, I’m not sure yet. Mom says that she has even more jars somewhere! Here’s hoping that I can find enough things to fill them with!