Fab Frugal Friday: For Fabulously Frugal Gifts – CAN IT!

December 18, 2009 in Appetizers, Frugal Tips, Side Dishes

Thanks for sharing!

Normally, of course, canning season is the height of summer’s harvest, working to save as much of the season’s bounty as possible, but these recipes are absolutely perfect for the holiday season, especially if you’re looking to keep your gifts as economical as possible. Canning is a whole new adventure for me, so this was a great learning experience across the board.

I started with an apple chutney, a wonderful, tangy, sweet/savory combination that would be great with sharp cheeses, on any kind of flatbread, with chicken, or (so I’m told) with pork.

APPLE CHUTNEY

2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 pounds tart apples, peeled, cored, and diced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
12 large garlic cloves
1 2-ounce piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups currants
2 tablespoons mustard seeds

Bring vinegar and sugar to boil in heavy large saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Toss apples and lemon juice together in large bowl. Combine garlic, ginger, salt and red pepper in processor; blend until finely chopped. Add the apples and the garlic-ginger mixture to sugar/vinegar solution in saucepan. Stir in currants and mustard seeds. Simmer over low heat until apples are tender and chutney thickens, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, sterilize your mason jars in large pot of  boiling water, or a canner, if you’re lucky enough to have one, for 10 minutes. (This tutorial is really handy if you’re a newbie like me.) Keep the lids and bands in a separate pot of warm water. Once the time is up for the glass jars, turn off the burner but do keep the jars hot and ready to fill.

When chutney is ready, heat the pot of water back up to a boil as you fill the jars, leaving about 1/4 -1/2 inch of space at the top. Wipe off the rims and seal tightly with lid and ring. Process the jars (put them back in the boiling water, making sure they are submerged) for 10 minutes. When you remove them, allow to cool down slowly on a countertop.

Next, I moved on to two jellies. Because neither one relies on fresh fruit, as with the summer canning frenzies, these are wonderful for winter. The first is a delicate combination of lavender and chamomile, which would be lovely on biscuits or scones (used delicately), and the second is rosemary. I happen to love rosemary (and other herbs, like thyme) in sweet applications. So I personally like it just served on a cracker or cornbread, but it would rock if used in winter squash, on lamb (so I’m told), on polenta, in a grilled cheese sandwich, on roasted root vegetables, the possibilities are endless.

LAVENDER & CHAMOMILE TEA JELLY

1/4 cup dried lavender
2 chamomile tea bags
zest of 1 lemon
2 cups boiling water
4 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 drops purple food coloring
3 ounces liquid pectin

Follow instructions above for prepping jars. Pour boiling water over lavender and let steep for ten minutes. Add tea bags and lemon zest and steep for another ten minutes. Strain into a saucepan. Stir in sugar, lemon juice and food coloring. (If you don’t have purple, one drop red and one drop blue should do, but be very careful not to add too much! My own hand was a little heavy, as you can see above. ) Turn heat up to a full boil, stirring constantly for 10 minutes. Add pectin, return to boil again for one more minute, stirring stirring stirring. Turn off heat and skim the foam off the top. Pour into jars, leaving 1/2 inch at the top, wipe the rims, seal, and process for 10 minutes.

ROSEMARY JELLY

1 1/4 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
3 cups sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 ounces liquid pectin
2 drops green food coloring

Again, follow preceding instructions for jars. In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add rosemary, reduce heat, cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Strain, reserving liquid in Pyrex measuring cup. If liquid has reduced, add enough water to measure 1-1/4 cups again. Return liquid to pan, add sugar and vinegar. Bring to a full boil over high heat, stirring continuously. Add the pectin and bring back to a boil, stirring for 1 minute. Remove from heat, skin off foam and add food coloring. Pour hot mixture into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch of room at the top. Wipe the rims, seal tightly, and process for 10 minutes.

Last but so not least, another incredible offering from Noble Pig, adapted only slightly by me. Like the others, this is a nice treat for your friends (and hands-down the EASIEST thing ever to make), but I won’t tell anyone if you just end up keeping it for yourself. It is that good.

NOBLE PIG’S CHAI CONCENTRATE

3 14 ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger

Combine condensed milk and spices. Pour into small jars with lids (no need to process these, as they must be refrigerated) and package decoratively.  Attach a tag with directions to keep the mix refrigerated and how to use it: “Instructions: Brew a cup of strong black tea, then add two heaping teaspoons of concentrate or more to taste.  Stir well until concentrate has fully melted.  Or, pour over vanilla ice cream. Or, eat straight out of the jar by the spoonful.”

WHEW! I hope this helps some of you  out with some affordable and delicious offerings for your loved ones this season. One other related recipe I want to mention that didn’t go into this year’s lineup is the Balsamic Mustard from The Perfect Pantry. I made this 2 years ago and it’s  just terrific! Time constraint was the only factor omitting it from the running this time. Next year I’ve got to make it a priority again.

– posted by Anne

Thanks for sharing!