Crab Apple Jam

Crab apples are just so darn cute aren’t they? So red. So tiny. So crabby. All bunched up on the tree together like a group of girls headed to the restroom. You know its true. 


We have a number of crab apple trees around our apartment complex and my husband has been saying for weeks now, “we should do something with those crab apples.” I liked the idea. I really did. But to be honest I was thinking, “Ok. If you want to stand out in the hot sun while wrangling 2 kids, pick a bushel of teeny tiny tart apples, peel and core them, and then make something edible out of them – be my guest. I have other things to do.”
That’s where my mother in law comes in. She is visiting from Australia and, let me tell you, this lady knows how to ‘git ‘er done’! She takes ideas and makes them reality. Well, Mark knows this and he must have mentioned his crab apple idea to her as soon as her plane landed because guess what we were doing the day after she arrived? Yep, picking tart and tiny apples out in the hot sun while wrangling 2 young children. Operation crab apple jam was underway.  It turned out to be a lot of fun actually and the girls had a blast.
The truth is that it wasnt that hard! In fact, it was so easy I might just do it again!! Tomorrow even!

So, here is where I explain the process to you and you have the option whether to go out and do it yourself, or just enjoy the story. Pictures make it even better!

  • We picked the reddest, ripest apples we could find and put them into bags
  • We brought our loot inside and threw the load of tiny apples in the sink to rinse them
  • We cut out all the bad spots and the stems, and sliced them in half.  (No peeling needed! Yay!)
  • We threw them all into a big pot and set it to boil for a few hours. Maybe 3?
  • Once the apples were soft and mushy, we strained out the juice and set it aside.
  • Then we pushed all the pulp through a colander so we could get some of the apple goodness without any seeds or skin. You dont have to do this part, but I like some fiber in my jam.
  • We then added 1 cup of sugar for every cup of juice/pulp. Our first batch ended up being about 11 cups of each. Oh and I added about a tablespoon of cinnamon too, because, apple cinnamon jam? I mean, hello!
  • We then boiled the apple/sugar mixture on the stove (stirring until the sugar melted and every 30 minutes to make sure it wasnt burning etc) until “setting point”. This is when you drop a spoon of the apple mixture into an ice cold glass of water and it instantly becomes a gel.
  • Once it was at setting point we poured it into our prepped jars. Basically we cleaned jars with boiling water and then poured the jam into them. Really tough stuff, huh?
  • Then we left it to set.

A couple hours later I pulled out a loaf of fresh bread and we slathered that goodness on top.

It is amazing. We have about 10 jars of jam and the only expense was the sweat from our brows and the sugar we used. It is chock full of vitamin C, tastes amazing, and its great for gifts too. That is, if I want to part with any of it.

So, take it from me. Its worth the effort and is actually a lot of fun. Maybe you wont need your mother in law to get your rear in gear- thats what this post is for.

 

 

Garlic as a Natural Antibiotic: A Germ’s Worst Nightmare.

What do Italian food, crunchy mamas, and natural antibiotics have in common?

*hint* take a peek up at the title up there.

I’ll even give you a picture. Yes. It’s garlic.

At least you cant get bad breath from just looking at it, right?

 

In all its potent glory.

I could list all the benefits of garlic right now, but let’s just suffice to say – its basically a miracle herb. You should definitely use garlic as a natural antibiotic. I’m talking the 007 of herbal remedies here folks. No, its not ideal for a make-out session, but if you can get past the…um…vibrant fragrance its great for almost everything else.

About 3 months ago I was bathing my youngest daughter when I noticed some peeling and cracking on her big toe. I figured it was from being dry. Living in a desert can do that to ya. But it gradually got worse, to the point that her foot was actually peeling, cracked, and bleeding. Since I didnt want to take an unnecessary trip to the doctor, I decided to do some research and figure out how to treat it on my own. You will find that this is a common theme in the Sharman household.
After a lot of researching, googling images, and comparing notes I figured out what it was. Athlete’s foot! I know, right? Seriously? I didnt think babies could get that stuff.

Regardless, I figured that since athletes foot is a fungal issue, it was time to pull out the big guns.
Here is what I did to help, and ultimately cure, Norah of her foot fungus.
Every morning and evening I slathered on a layer of GOOT. What is goot? Goot is a homemade mixture of coconut oil, garlic, olive oil, and essential oil. Its goot stuff!

I cant remember where I first saw the idea for this smelly yet amazing salve, but as soon as I read the ingredients I was sold. I’ll post the recipe for you below.

  • 1/3 C Unrefined Coconut Oil (I like the organic extra virgin stuff)
  • 2 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 8 Cloves of Garlic
  • A couple drops of essential oil like lavender

Throw it all in a food processor or a blender…just something to make it nice and smooth. Then slather it on. You can heat and strain it to make sure there are no garlicky lumps, but I didnt. I also used this salve on the bottom of the girls feet at night when they were fighting a flu/cold too and on their neck and chest for a respiratory issue as well. It helped a lot.

I’m telling you- this stuff will evict any germs who have tried to make their home in you or your little ones. Its easy to make and a little bit goes a long way. Garlic helps treat bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. It is chock full of antioxidants and boosts the immune system. It also tastes good on fresh bread.

Foraging for Herbs in the City

We took our girls on a walk tonight. They have both been feeling poorly so I figured that spending some time in the wooded area near our apartment complex would be a nice way to get some fresh air, enjoy the outdoors, and teach them about foraging for herbs and edible plants.

My favorite part about taking walks now, is that both my girls have begun to inspect the plants that we pass as we walk along the pathway, and often ask “what is this, mom?” or “can we eat this one?”. Eva does it with genuine curiosity and a growing understanding of the herbin world, and Norah just copies her sissy :)

We each had a girl on our shoulders as we walked down the steeper part of the path. It felt like a real adventure. I grabbed a cattail for each of the girls to hold and we were talking about what cattails were for, how they grew, and how soft they were. We harvested some Amaranth for later use and I was looking for other edibles when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something familier. Here, take a look. Do you know what it is??

I’m not sure if it was from my days of gallavanting through the wilderness as a child, or maybe I read about it in one of my many “edible plants” books, but this plant rang a bell.  I stooped down to rub the leaves together and immediately the strong minty aroma wafted up towards me. Oh, so minty fresh.

Mentha Arvensis, is commonly known as wild mint or field mint is hard to miss. Not only does it have lovely purple flowers, but even from a few feet away, the minty smell draws your attention. One of the most popular uses for mint is to make a nice soothing tea. Which is what I plan do with with my findings. Iced or hot, its a healthy refreshing beverage.

Wild mint is also valued for its antiseptic qualities and for helping to relieve digestion issues. Here is a list of some of its other uses:

  • Holds anaesthetic, antispasmodic properties and has agents that counteract inflammation. 
  • Promotes or assists the flow of menstrual fluid
  • Promotes secretion of milk (thats for you breastfeeding mamas!)
  • Helps relieve fever and thirst
  • Can relieve pain from toothaches or arthritis
  • Dried leaves can be eaten for chest pains and heart ailments
  • Its a natural insect and rodent repellent. 
We were out in the “garden” for maybe 40 minutes. It wasnt long.  In those 40 minutes we found at least 4 edible plants, saw 3 bees, listened to numerous crickets, and watched 2 birds chasing each other through the air. And we spent time as a family, enjoying creation!
Foraging can happen in the middle of the urban sprawl, and its fun! Give it a go, why don’t ya?