Monday, August 24, 2009

Jelly Time and French Bread Too

The onion harvest braided on twine
Dutch oven for Susan's No-Knead French Bread
Rose Water Apple Jelly
Nylon drip bag
Cheesecloth drip bag
The finished jelly... and now for some fresh baked bread...

I had some technical difficulties that delayed posting so let's try again...

This was not a real busy week in the garden but more so in the kitchen. The meals this week all had cucumbers and tomatoes as a key part, even breakfast Sunday had tomatoes with the scrambled eggs. Big plates of sliced tomatoes with basil are the best of summer at any meal. As the days begin to get shorter, it's time to plant for fall. This week I seeded kale, napa cabbage, and of course more lettuce. The dill harvest continues as the volunteer plants seed continues to dry. All the garlic is dug and the last batch is drying in the garden shed along with the onions. I braided some of the onions. I use a loop of twine as the base for the onion braid and then weave the stems into the twisted twine. Much more sturdy than just the onion stems and I have something to tie with when they are good and dry and hung in the basement. I have not done the garlic that way. I just cut the stems when they are dry and put the garlic in a mesh bag to hang in the basement. So with dill, garlic, and onions the winter stores begin.

The crab apple trees are loaded with big ripe apples so I made two batches of apple jelly from them. They are a nice red color so the juice makes a great looking jelly as the pictures attest. I made Rose Water Apply Jelly for Susan, and I also experimented with some Ginger Apple Jelly. Here is a quick run through of the process.

I cleaned, stemmed, and cut the ends off the crab apples. I microwaved the fruit in batches and then ran them through a Folley Mill. The pictures show the pulp in both cheesecloth or a new knee high nylon stocking to drip the juice. I decided to use pectin to make sure of a good jelly set. For the Rose Water jelly I followed the pectin package directions for plain apple jelly but added 5 oz. of Rose Water to my sugar. I also put a couple of drops of Rose Water in each jar before filling them with the hot jelly. The jelly has a very nice set, great color, and a hint of roses both to the nose and palate.

For the Apple Ginger jelly I chopped a large piece of raw ginger root and bagged it in cheesecloth. As I cooked my pectin and juice and then sugar I left the ginger in the cooking syrup. The jelly has a pleasant hint of ginger, not hot at all, and great color too. As a bonus I have nice candied ginger root from the cooking process. In a few jars I also placed some chopped candied ginger but not in too many jars because I was not sure of what would be the end result. About half have candied ginger and half do not - time will tell which is the best.

This week would be a good time to include our favorite bread recipe to go with this great jelly. Susan makes a wonderful no knead French bread. We seldom buy bread anymore as this is just so good and easy to make. A Dutch oven that we bought years ago for camping is best for this recipe. Because this is a no knead bread most of the work is done by the yeast and not you.

BASIC NO-KNEAD FRENCH BREAD - Original recipe published NY Times, modified by Susan

3 cups bread flour
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt or sea salt
1 1/2 cups water

In a large ceramic bowl mix the above ingredients until combined.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then cover bowl with large towel or large folded tablecloth. Let rise where there is no draft for 12-18 hours. Any longer and the bread does not have as good a second rise.
After the first rise, use only enough flour to shape the dough into a round, and place it in a lightly oiled ceramic bowl. Cover and let rise for an hour.
At the end of the hour long rise, put a Dutch oven in a cold oven. We use a cast iron Dutch oven; a friend of ours uses an ovenproof ceramic Dutch oven. I put the lid on the top rack and the Dutch oven base on the lower rack. Adjust lower rack so there will be enough room to eventually put the lid on the Dutch oven base, in the hot oven. Turn oven to 450 degrees F. to heat the pan. When the oven is at 450, leaving the pan and lid in oven, remove dough from bowl and place in pan. Immediately set lid on pan, and bake at 450 for 27 minutes. Then uncover the pan (I put the lid bock on the top rack) and bake another 15-20 minutes. Remove bread from pan and cool on a rack. I never take the Dutch oven base out of our lower wall oven. I use a wide wooden spatula to get the bread out and onto the cooling rack. This bread freezes well and can be reheated at 325 degrees for about ten minutes, to make the crust crunchy again.
I add more flour or liquid as needed in mixing the dough. Experiment. I sometimes use a combination of all purpose or bread flour with spelt, whole wheat, or whatever looks interesting. We do like just a plain all purpose flour loaf, but I will often add some black or white sesame seeds, golden flax, sunflower, or millet seed. It varies. Once you start to make this bread, the possibilities are endless.

Friday we had a visit from Kendra Mienert, gardener and reporter, for the Green Bay Press Gazette. With her photographer, Marc Larson, they produced a very nice piece on our vegetable garden and what we are growing and doing this summer. Marc's pictures are really nice, especially one he took of a developing apple in a "footie"; and Kendra's article was complementary and well written. The article appeared in the "TIME OUT" section Saturday, August 22, 2009. Take a look at the Green Bay Press Gazette website and search the subject - BACKYARD BOUNTY.

Happy Gardening


  1. I found a question from someone about potato fruits. Back on the July 26th post they were the plant question of the week. Here is some information from a web site. You can read more by Google "Potato Fruits"

    by Richard Jauron, Department of Horticulture

    Occasionally gardeners are surprised to find small, round, green, tomato-like fruit on their potato plants. These fruit are not the result of cross-pollination with tomatoes. They are the true fruit of the potato plant. The edible tubers are actually enlarged, underground stems. Normally, most potato flowers dry up and fall off the plants without setting fruit. A few flowers do produce fruit. The variety 'Yukon Gold' produces fruit more heavily than most varieties.

    The potato fruit are of no value to the gardener. Potato fruit, as well as the plant itself, contain relatively large amounts of solanine. Solanine is a poisonous alkaloid. The small fruit should not be eaten. Since potatoes don't come true from seed, no effort should be made to save the seed."

    Hope this helps
    Happy Gardening

  2. Hey, thanks so much for the ginger tip. That's awesome.

    I also had some rose water I'd been wanting to use, but hadn't found a recipe for yet. Guess I should just go for it, huh?