Sunday, July 22, 2012

Canning Amish Hot Pepper Mustard

Amish Hot Pepper Mustard

Hot but Sweet!!! Our good garden friend Anna Gayle shared this recipe that had been given to her by her Amish friend. The best recipes are always the ones that are passed down!

I had never thought about canning mustard before until I read the recipe. I knew right away it was going to be one of those things well worth putting up. What a wonderful way to use those really hot peppers too! 

For mine, I used some Jalapenos, Serrano's and some heirloom Italians called Friariello Di Napoli. The Italians are a sweet pepper, but I was a little nervous about getting it so hot I wouldn't be able to eat it. Especially since the Serrano's had already turned red and are dangerously hot. 

After the final taste test, I saw that I had made a wise decision by adding the Italians.It turned out so delicious! You could probably accomplish the same thing by substituting a sweet bell pepper or sweet banana peppers. Keep in mind that I didn't remove any of the seeds from the hot peppers and if you had a mind to do that it would turn the heat down a bit. 

Anny Gayle warned me to try and reduce the flour from the original recipe because she thought it made it to thick. Great advice and well taken by me. Her recipe also calls for using a 32 oz. jar of mustard for the base, but I could only find it in a 28 oz. jar at my market, I scaled the recipe to fit the 28 oz. jar size as well as lowering the flour content. 

Jalapenos, Serrano's and Heirloom Italians

The recipe yielded me 4 pint jars to put in the pantry and enough extra to fill the original mustard jar about 3 quarters of the way full to stick up in the fridge for immediate use. That really turned out perfect, because I don't think between Mr. Garden and myself we would eat more than that in a years time. But, I do want to make more while the peppers are coming on and can into half pint jars for gifts this Christmas.

This is really the perfect mustard to serve with a snack tray of hard salami and cheese with crackers. It also comes well recommended with meats like ham and pork. I think it will be great used to baste a fish on the grill too.  I can't wait to try some in a pasta salad dish or even adding a pinch to my deviled eggs. 

Since I had scaled the recipe down for using a 28 oz. jar of mustard, I put what I used in RED for you. I also made a special note under the directions for those of you that might want to use a food processor.


3 Dozen Pepper for 32 oz. jar mustard (30 Hot and 6 Very Hot) (26 peppers for 28 oz.)
Leave seeds in very Hot Peppers (I left all the seeds in)
32oz. Vinegar (I used 28 oz.)
32oz. Mustard (I used 28 oz.)
5 Cups Sugar ( I used 3 3/4 cup)
1 T. Salt (just a pinch less)
2 Cups Tap Water (I used 1 1/2 cups)
1 Cup Flour (I used 1 cup and it made it too thick so next time I am using less flour)
(I used 1/2 cup flour) 


Chop Peppers finely. Add Vinegar, Salt, Mustard, Sugar. Stir well~! Bring to a boil for about 5 minutes. Mix water and flour in a bowl or measuring cup. Turn off heat~! Add flour mixture. Put into jars. Process for 20 minutes

I used my food processor to prepare the peppers.

 I first poured out the mustard into the pot I would be cooking in. 

I then filled the mustard jar with my vinegar, placed the lid on it and shook it up to capture all the mustard left in the jar. 

I then cut the stems from the peppers and quickly cut them into chunks. I placed all the chunks into the food processor and added the vinegar from the mustard jar a little at a time until it was all well blended. It left the peppers in very tiny pieces, almost as specs which is what I was looking for. 

Next I poured it all in the pot with the mustard, sugar and salt and began bringing it to a boil as recommended. 

While the mustard was cooking, I mixed my water and flour together to have it ready.

A special Thanks to a wonderful garden friend Anna Gayle!

Happy Gardening and Happy Canning!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Putting Up The Sweets Canning Watermelon Jam

Watermelon Jam

My goodness this is so Good!! I'd been searching for ways to save and preserve for quite awhile as I've watched our watermelon patch go crazy this year. Watermelons are everywhere out there and my mind was racing with thoughts of making this a valuable food source during those winter months

Of course many of you have already heard about my Popsicle craze. Let me tell you Granddaughter absolutely loves them! I got even more creative and blended dewberries in them that I had put up in the freezer from some earlier spring pickings. Then I blended some Plain Whole Greek God Yogurt in them with a little squirt of Agave Nectar. 

Now I need to buy more molds! I know I could make my own, but the Grands love the sippy straws and frankly so do I because of the melt drips. What a easy fun way to preserve summers delights. 

Sweet Jubilee 

So I decided to go a step further with canning up the watermelon jam. I found a whole bunch of recipes for making it several places, but the most trustworthy one I found at Food In Jars. After reading how they made it and all of the comments that fans had posted I felt sure I could do this.

I did not find the need to alter it in anyway what so ever. Although I kind of chuckled when I read comments from people who wasn't looking for the Watermelon Jolly Rancher Candy flavor. All I could think was if I could actually achieve that candy flavor in a jar my family would be extremely happy. Who doesn't love Watermelon Jolly Rancher Candy in the South? 

I'm going to go ahead and give you the run down on the basic recipe, but I did do a couple of things to try to guarantee a decent good set for this jam. 

First, make sure you have a candy thermometer or even a meat thermometer will work as long as the temperature goes up to 220 degrees. That is the peek of perfection for the jam.

I still put two saucers in the freezer. The reason for this is to test the jam before you remove it from the heat. 

Once the jam reaches the 220 degree mark, grab a saucer out of the freezer and put a spoonful in the middle of the dish. Watch what it does, if it is really runny let the jam boil a little longer. Then test it again with your second saucer. If it begins to jell up it is done.

 This was also my opportunity to taste it while I stuck my finger in it on the saucer. YUM!!

Have some fun with varieties of heirloom colored flesh too!

The Basic Recipe
Makes 5 to 6 Half pint jars

6 cups pureed watermelon (remove any seeds prior to pureeing)
5 cups white sugar
6 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
1 packet powdered pectin

Be sure to use the powdered pectin. After all the research I did, I had seen many caners having problems trying to use liquid pectin.

You really don't want to cut back on the sugar here. That is what helps it thicken and preserve it. I made mine in 1/2 pint jars because this jam is going to be considered a treat for special occasions. I can see it making an awesome dipping sauce combined with some other ingredients to use for dipping homemade egg rolls. 


Prepare your canning jars and lids. Canning jars should be boiled and bands and lids in hot water, just to before it reaches boil.

Crack open that watermelon and start in the middle section where there are less seeds. Cut out chunks and put them in a large bowl to get ready to blend it up in either a food processor or blender. 

Make sure you take out all of the seeds as you get nearer the rind where they are usually plentiful. After it is all blended measure out the 6 cups needed into your non reactive pot.

Note: Do not double this recipe and actually the wider your stainless steel pot is the better it will cook. 

In a large bowl whisk together the sugar and the pectin. Add this to your pot along with the lemon juice. 

Bring to a good rolling boil. It took mine almost 30 minutes to reach 220 degrees. It seemed as though it wanted to stay at around 117 degrees for quite awhile, but you can see the difference in the reaction of the boil when it reached the mark.Next time I probably won't need to use the thermometer after seeing what it does.

Do your frozen saucer test before you remove it from the heat. Do two saucer tests if need be. Once it has jelled on the saucer it is done. Fill your jars. Make sure you wipe the rims clean with a paper towel and then put on the lids and screw bands. 

Place the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Give this a chance to fully set. Sometimes it can take up to one or two weeks before it is fully set. So patients are needed while waiting.

Happy Gardening and Happy Preserving!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Texas Walermelon Season With Homemade Popsicles

Fresh Juiced Watermelon Popsicles

We are very fortunate to live in a historical part of the country well know for the Best Watermelons grown in Texas. In1858 the Houston and Texas Central Railway was extended to Hempstead in Waller County, causing the community to become a distribution center between the Gulf Coast and the interior of Texas  Hempstead is famous for its watermelon crop, and until the 1940s the town was the top shipper of watermelons in the United States

Thyme Square Gardens "Crimson Sweet"

Coming up soon!  23rd Annual Watermelon Festival
on Saturday, July 21, 2012!
 There will be a full day of family fun for the whole family starting with a parade at 9 a.m. followed by a Queens Cornation, BBQ Cook-Off, Vendors, Great Food, Games, Watermelon Auction, Quilt show, Car & Tractor Show and Carnival. We will end the evening with a street dance at 8:30 p.m. with National Guard Member and Country Music Star Darby Ledbetter with opening performance with the Josh Ward Band. Be sure to check out the rules for the Homegrown Watermelon Contest! There is even a prize for the Youngest Melon Grower! This is a great way to help support our local community and have a family day of fun and entertainment.

 Watermelon Popsicles Ready for the Freezer

There are a Jillion ways to make Watermelon Popsicles! Anything from easy smeezy to fancy smansy are possible. Of course it all starts with a fresh, crispy, ripe and sweet organic goodness like the ones we've been blessed with straight from our garden. And nothing really tastes more refreshing on a Hot Texas July Day than icy cold Watermelon!

Processing the Watermelon can be achieved in a couple different ways. I simply ran watermelon chunks right through the juicer, seeds and all. The juicer spits the seeds on in with any little bit of pulp. If you don't have a juicer, don't worry! You just need to take the seeds out or grow a seedless watermelon. Then all that needs done is to whip it up in your food processor or blender. An electric mixer could even do a great job and if all else fails, grab your potato masher! Its as simple as that! 

If you don't have popsicle molds they can be made in paper cups or snow cone cups with a stick placed in them. My Grandchildren love the molds with the sippy straws so they can catch any melted juice.

One of the healthiest and simplest is just straight up frozen juice. I like adding a tad of lemon lime soda and a spoon of organic coconut palm sugar just to spice it up a bit. For a creamier popsicle just blend in some plain whole Greek yogurt! 

Make a whole bunch!! Put them up in your freezer and enjoy Watermelon all year!

Happy Gardening!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hugelkultur With A Willow Tree

Fallen Dead Willow Tree and Stump

What is Hugelkulfur you might ask? I'm not sure if I'm even pronouncing it correctly! But it turns out this is another really cool method of natural gardening using a form of permaculture. The word itself is actually German for "mound Culture." Let me explain further.

Here we were with a fallen dead Willow Tree, pretty much right at our back door, stump and all. It is also right smack dab in the lawn part of the yard. This might sound crazy to some, but I really hate the lawn and we've been working towards killing it as fast as nature will allow. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to do just that.

I started out by taking pictures of the mess, looking for some inspiration. I decided to post one of the photos on our Thyme Square Gardens FB page and see what kind of inspiration some of our fans might find with this Willow Tree. Everyone that posted had the same suggestion. Hugelkultur!! HA!! This is why we love all of our readers!! We just want to thank you for all of your support!!

My Mr. Garden and his artistic vision seen the curve of the tree as the perfect spot for nestling the stock tank. We use our stock tank as a swimming hole for the grand kids as well as a rain water collector. 

We decided to create another natural habitat area by simply planting up around most of the trunk with Canna Lilies that will help improve the soil, a nice Castor bean tree that will make shade and will yield us more organic matter and a bunch of 4 O'clock plants for a slash of color. 

We left the one end open where the kids are using it as a place to sit with their towels to dry off. By adding a couple of flat rocks in front it makes it easier for them to climb up into the tank.

So this isn't exactly burying the tree trunk in compost and soil. But then, we are not exactly the digging kind of folks. Especially in our hard clay soil. It will gradually decompose, but we can have fun with it while nature does its thing. The whole concept of permaculture is to work with nature instead of against it, right?

As for the tree stump, it is now a rock garden filled with moss rose. 

I have to admit it is really becoming quite a jungle out here!! But think about all that organic matter we will have to put back into the earth! We are transforming our land that was once a piney wood forest, stripped of all its trees by ranchers and farmers years ago, back into the oasis it once was. 

It takes nature time to heal, but by working with it instead of against it we can win in the end.

Happy Gardening!