Thursday, September 29, 2011

Beeswax Salve

A while back I posted on what a salve was.  Look at components of a salve .  I finally ran out of my basic beeswax salve that I use for my son's eczema.  So today I made a new batch and I decided to show everyone how easy it is to make a salve.  Like my former post says, I consider a salve something that is just has an oil base that is mixed with a wax.  Here is how I make mine.

First I gather my ingredients.  I use 3 different types of carrier oils, all natural beeswax, essential oils, and vitamin E oil.  I melt the wax in a double boiler so I don't destroy all the wonderful properties that the beeswax has. You can use any type of wax but I prefer to use the pure beeswax.

The recipe I use for my beeswax salve I got many years ago from someone.  I use the same base recipe I just changed the types of base oils and essential oils.  First you measure out your carrier oils and put into your double boiler.  I use 1/3 cup of apricot kernel oil, 1/3 cup grape seed oil, and 1/3 cup of sesame oil.  If I am out of one I will substitute for another oil.  The original recipe used almond oil in place of the grape seed oil.  My son is allergic to almonds so I don't use that.  You can substitute any oil for the base oils.  You can even use all of 1 kind if you choose.  You just need 1 cup of oil.  I try using oils that are very nourishing for the skin since I use it for my son's eczema.

Next you need to grate your beeswax.  I find it easier to just make small slivers off my block with a knife.  I have a designated knife just for shaving off my beeswax.  It is not easy to get the beeswax off the knife.  Measure out 1/3 cup of beeswax.  I make sure the 1/3 cup measuring cup is packed nice and full. 

Once you put the beeswax in put your double boiler on medium low heat and heat until the wax melts.  Beeswax has a very high melting point.  This will take a while, but if you grate it or shave the wax it will melt a lot faster. 

When the wax is melted pull of the heat and add your essential oils.  I use 8 different essential oils.  I use 10 drops of each oil. I also add vitamin E oil at this time.  It helps the skin plus it helps keep the oils fresh.  You can use any combination of essential oils you want.  I looked up and studied all the different oils that would help and treat eczema.  That is how I came up with the combination I use. 

After you finish putting in your essential oils give it a quick stir and then pour it into a container.  I use empty containers from other lotions and things.  I like to recycle and not throw things out that I could use for salves or lotions.

Let your salve completely cool and then put on your lid and store in until ready to use. 

I use my salve for anything I would use triple antibiotic ointment for.  Because I have essential oils that in it that have antibiotic properties.  I also use it for basically any skin problems, rashes, dry skin, sunburn, basically anything on the skin you can think of.

Just remember when making a salve, adapt it to your needs.  As long as you don't change the quantities of the ingredients you will be fine.  Substitute out any oil for oil and essential oils for essential oils.  Enjoy and have fun trying out salve recipes. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pumpkin Seed Brittle

Are you or someone you know allergic to peanuts?  This recipe takes the traditional peanut brittle and replaces the peanuts with pumpkin seeds.  My kids are allergic to peanuts.  So when it comes to some of my favorite treats to make I have to get creative and make them safe for my kids to eat.  I normally make this for Christmas but our county fair is next week and I wanted to have some snacks to munch on.  I refuse to pay top dollar for snacks at the fair.  Especially when I can make the same thing and it tastes so much better. 

In order to make pumpkin seed brittle I altered my favorite peanut brittle recipe.  I guess you can call it altering.  The only thing that is different is I use raw pumpkin seeds instead of the raw peanuts.  You can use any seed or nut in this recipe.  My son is also allergic to tree nuts so I use seeds in recipes.  Normally I use pumpkin or sunflower seeds.  Here are the steps to make your brittle.

First in a heavy saucepan combine your sugar, Karo, and water.  Use a candy thermometer and cook to the soft ball stage of 236 degrees Fahrenheit. 

While the sugar is cooking I get my pumpkin seeds and salt ready.

Once the sugar reaches the soft ball stage you add your pumpkin seeds and salt.

Continue to cook stirring constantly until the mixture reaches the hard crack stage at 295 degrees Fahrenheit. You can see in the photo below that the seeds are being cooked and many of them are starting to turn brown.

Remove the pan from the heat when it reaches the hard crack stage.  Now add you butter and baking soda. 

Pour the Pumpkin Seed Brittle onto greased cookie sheets.  Normally two will be plenty depending on the size of your cookie sheets.  You can fit it all onto one if you have a larger cookie sheet.  I just spray them with vegetable cooking spray.   Using your spoon spread the mixture out.  Not too thin. 

Now let it completely cool.  Once it is cooled you can pick the entire sheet up.  My kids think this is really neat!!! 

Now break your brittle into bite size pieces and store in an airtight container!! 

Pumpkin Seed Brittle
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of Karo
1/2 cup water
1 8oz package of green pumpkin seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon butter
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Combine sugar, Karo, and water.  Cook slowly until sugar dissolves.  Cook to soft ball stage 236 degrees Fahrenheit.  Add pumpkin seeds and salt.  Cook to hard crack stage 295 degrees Fahrenheit stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Add butter and baking soda.  Stir and pour evenly onto a well greased cookie sheet.  Spread out with a spoon, not too thin.  When cold break into pieces.  Store in an airtight container.

I am linking to Farmgirl Friday at Deborah Jean's Dandelion House

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Canning Potatoes

Potatoes are easy to can but a little time consuming.  First you need to wash the dirt off your potatoes.  Then peel and cube them into 1/2 inch to 1 inch pieces.  If you want whole potatoes you need to have them 1 to 2 inches in diameter. I peel and cube them up and put them into cold water into my stock pot.  Once I have all my potatoes done up or my stock pot is full I then prepare to can them.  Cover your potatoes in hot water and bring to a boil.  Boil for 2 minutes. If you are canning whole potatoes boil for 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and using a slotted spoon fill your clean sterilized jars with your potatoes.  Fill leaving 1 inch head space.  You can add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart jar or 1/2 teaspoon of salt per pint jar if desired.  Salt is only for flavoring and does not help the preserving process.  I don't add salt to my vegetables.  I prefer to season them after I open them up depending on what I will be using them for.  Then fill your jars with boiling water leaving 1 inch head space.

Wipe the jar rims clean and then adjust lids.  Process in a pressure canner at 11 lbs pressure for a dial gauge and 10 lbs pressure for a weighted gauge.  Process quarts for 40 minutes and pints for 35 minutes. Let cool on a towel on your counter and wait to hear them seal.  Once jars have completely cooled check to make sure all your jars have sealed.  If any haven't sealed put them in the refrigerator and use within a week.  I got 14 quarts of potatoes.  Once the jars have completely cooled the liquid will turn a little white.  That is normal.  It is the starch from the potatoes. 

I use my canned potatoes for soups, stews, mashed potatoes, pierogis, fried up with butter, potato salad, and anything else I need potatoes for!!  It is so convenient to have potatoes already pealed and ready to go!! 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Grape Jelly

A friend of mine recently bought a property that had a nice row of grape vines.  Unfortunately the vines have been let go.  They did not buy it in time to prune and get the vines back to shape this year but they did produce some grapes.  She said I could go pick them.  The grapes must have ripened a week earlier than some other grapes in our area.  When I went and picked most of the grapes had already dried up.  I did get enough though to make a pie or jelly.  I decided to make some jelly since I used our grapes for pie and juice.  My family prefers jam over jelly but one jelly that they do like is grape jelly. It  is very easy to make. 

You start out the same way as you do for juice. Wash and destem your grapes.  Cover in water and cook until tender.  Then pour grapes through a jelly bag and let sit until all the juice has come through.

Measure out 5 cups of juice.  Add to this one package of powdered pectin and bring to a boil stirring constantly.  Then add 7 cups of sugar.  Return to a boil and boil for 1 minute.  Skim off the foam.  This jelly made a lot of foam.  So I had a lot to skim off.  Then ladle jelly into clean sterilized jars.  Fill leaving 1/4 inch head space.  Wipe rims with a clean wash cloth.  Adjust lids and process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.  This yields about 8  8oz jars of jelly.  I ran out of jelly jars so I used two pint jars.  This jelly will taste great on toast and home made rolls.  No PB&J's at our house.  My kids are allergic to peanuts!!  But they do eat butter and jelly sandwiches!!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Concord Grape Pie

Concord Grape Pie probably has to be one of my favorite pies.  I just love the taste, the color, and the smell.  It is best with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  It is tedious work to make a concord grape pie but well worth it.  You can only get it during grape season.  It just does not taste the same if you use frozen grapes.  First you need to measure out 6 cups of grapes.

The next step is to slip the skins off the grapes.  You simply squeeze each grape and put the pulp in a pan.  Set the skins aside.

Bring the pulp to a full rolling boil.  Then remove from the heat and put through a sieve to remove the seeds. 

Put the pulp in a bowl and add 1 1/4 cup sugar, 4 tablespoons of flour, a dash of salt, and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.  Add the skins and stir together.  Pour into a pie crust.  I used a 10 inch pie pan.  Dot the top with butter or margarine. Top with another crust making sure you put a slit in it to vent. 

Seal the edges with your desired finish.  I flute my edges.

Whenever I bake a pie that takes longer than 30 minutes I put either a pie shield on or use foil around the edges.  This helps keep the edge crust from burning.  Bake the pie at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.  Then turn down the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for another 50 minutes.  The pie should be nice and bubbly.  Let cool and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Canning Grape Juice

I love concord grapes.  Just the smell of them brings me back to my childhood at our county fair.  I love eating a bunch of concord grapes right off the vine.  Nothing says fall is here more than the concord grapes ripening up.  My mom picked all she wanted off the vines at the farm so I went out and picked.  I decided to can grape juice.  Grape juice is very easy to can.  I love how my entire house smells of grapes.  
First you need to de-stem your grapes and wash them.  Put your grapes in a stock pot or kettle and cover the grapes with water.   

Bring  to a boil and cook until the grapes are tender and the skins are falling off. 

Now you strain the grapes through a jelly bag.  I put my colander over my stock pot.  Then I scoop a little at a time into the colander until all the juice has gone through.  Let sit until all  the juice has come through the bag.  Here is my last little bit draining through the bag. 

Return all the juice to a stock pot and add sugar to taste.  Bring back to boil and fill your clean sterilized jars with the juice leaving 1/4 inch head space.  Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.  I got 9 gorgeous jars of dark purple juice to put in my pantry.