Thursday, April 18, 2013

Violet Syrup

Canning season is open!!!  It is funny how by mid August I wish that canning season would be over.  I spend hours days weeks   ok more like months canning food.  It is well worth it though when we eat all of the wonderful things that I have put up all year long.  But it never fails by spring I am itching to start canning again.  It starts out slow in the spring with a few jams and jellies.  Then gets busier as the summer goes on. 

This spring we have been having a quite a few warm days again.  It is supposed to be cold again on Saturday (40's) so I wanted to get violets picked again before they were gone.  There are a ton of them this year.  I did not get any last year so I spent a couple of hours and picked 2 quart jars full of violet blossoms. You don't want them stem or leaves in these. 

To get the violet infusion or juice that you will use for most violet recipes cover the blossoms with boiling water.  I fill the jar until the blossoms are completely covered which is normally 1 inch from the top.  Let this steep until there is no color left in the violets.

Drain the violets into a jelly bag and let sit  until no more juice comes out.  To see instructions on how to do this look at my post on Violet Jelly

To make the syrup bring 6 cups of sugar, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 2 cups of water to a boil.  Boil until the syrup begins to thicken.  I made a double batch and boiled it for about 10 minutes. 

It won't seem real thick when hot.  I tested it by pouring a tiny bit on a plate.  It thickened up to a syrup consistency on the plate so I knew it was ready.  Now pour in your violet infusion.  You will need 2 cups of the violet juice.  I made a double batch so I had a quart of violet juice.  The juice is a dark purple.  The lemon juice in the syrup is what turns it to the pretty violet color.

Cook this for another 10 minutes.  Then pour into hot sterlized canning jars.  I decided to put them in pints. 

With the rest of the violet juice I made a batch of violet jelly.  I processed them along with the violet syrup.  Fill jars leaving a 1/4 inch head space.  Wipe rims and adjust lids.  Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.

I was able to get a double batch of the violet syrup and a single batch of jelly all in my canner!!  When done remove from canner and let sit on counter until cooled.  Check for seals and label and store.

Add this syrup to club soda or lemon-lime soda for a refreshing spring spritzer!! 


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Science Lessons

I love hands on science lessons.  And since I found out one of my boys is dyslexic and a complete hands on learner  I am really trying to incorporate more hands on learning.  While out on hikes and bike rides we are always on the lookout for interesting objects.  And since I have boys we have a collection of rocks, shells, feathers, and skulls or bone fragments.

Yesterday was a nice warm spring day so we went on a bike ride.  We found a new skull in the ditch so we picked it up and brought it back home.  I clean the skulls by putting them in a solution of bleach water.  This just helps clean out the dirt and bugs and kills the germs. 

Here is a collection of skulls that my kids have found so far.  They look up in books and identify the skulls after they have found them.  They try and guess what kind of animal it was first and then look them up. 

The first two from left to right are raccoon skulls.  The first one is a young raccoon.  The bones are still fusing together.  It has been chewed on quite a bit by chipmunks.  The second skull is a mature raccoon.  The bones have fused together and formed the ridge on top of the skull.  It is in really good condition.  The last one is one that we found yesterday.  It is a woodchuck.  It has not been chewed on but did not clean up real white.  I think it has been exposed to the elements for some time. 

Here is a good view of the top.

The best way to identify skulls is actually from the underside.  You can count the
teeth and see the tell tale markers better from this view.

Even when the teeth are missing you can see where the teeth were.  My son was excited that the woodchuck still had it's two front teeth.  And even though the color is not real white on it the skull is actually in real good condition with only a few of the smaller teeth missing.  This time of year we tend to find more skulls. Animals that died over the winter are left in the fields and trails and are normally cleaned off by now!! 

It just gives us an excuse to get out and exercise and combine some science lessons with it as well!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Home Made Fruit Roll Ups

Wow!! It has been a long time since I have been on here.  How life does get hectic and busy.  I spent the last 4 months getting my son tested and finally diagnosed with Dyslexia and a Language Disorder.  So I have been spending a lot of time catering to his needs in this new journey to help him through school and therapies to help him learn better.

I have been wanting to try and make fruit roll ups for a long time.  I have a dehydrator but it only came with one fruit leather tray.  I did not want to spend the time and only make one tray.  I saw about a year ago on someone's blog that they used parchment paper to line their trays with.  I tried it and it actually worked!!

I just used a spiced applesauce that I had made and canned last fall.  I have a lot of canned applesauce and my family is just not eating it up like usual.  So I used my fruit leather tray and lined my other three trays with parchment paper.  I opened up my jars of applesauce and spread it directly onto my trays.  Set my dehydrator to the fruit setting which is 135 degrees Fahrenheit and let it go over night.  By morning I had wonderful fruit leather.  It peeled right off the tray and parchment paper.

You want to peel it off while it is still warm and roll it up. It should be a little sticky but not wet.  I sliced each tray up into three pieces.  I had four trays so we got 12 fruit roll ups.  And to my delight I finally found a healthy snack that my picky eater will eat!!  I wrapped each one up individually in plastic wrap.