Sunday, August 17, 2008

A success and a failure

I guess I'm not cut out for making yogurt. Seriously, it's not supposed to be so difficult, is it? I screwed up another batch today. Actually, I screwed it up yesterday, but had to throw it out today.

I made this batch using fresh goats milk, a purchased culture from Dairy Connection, and powdered milk (for thickness). I followed a recipe, to the T...and yet, it was gross. I used the Yogourmet, so I'm pretty sure it wasn't a temperature issue. I used a thermometer to make sure I was hitting all the right temps in preparation, too. Because goat's milk doesn't produce a firm yogurt, often either powdered milk or gelatin is added. I opted for the powdered milk recipe, and it didn't turn out good. When it was done, there were large masses of solid - probably from the powdered milk. I threw a mini-hissy fit when I discovered how gross it was. H teased me for a bit, but then told me to keep trying. He encouraged me saying that eventually, I'd get it right. I'm not so sure, but I'm not giving up yet. I'll try again tomorrow. I figured out how to move a multi-hundred pound lean-to with a piece of pipe...I should be able to figure out how to make yogurt from goats milk, right?

For the success...I made blackberry jam! Not only did I make blackberry jam, but I also successfully canned it using the 'water bath' method. It went very well. I made the jam using more than 2 quarts of blackberries, sugar and pectin. I followed the directions from the pectin (which were very similiar to a recipe I'd found online). First I boiled the sugar and the berries until I got a full boil that could not be stirred down.

Berries and sugar, on the way to a full boil...

Then the pectin was mixed in and the mixture was boiled for one full minute. Then I removed the mixture from the heat and skimmed off the foam. Then I laddled it into the hot prepared jars, added a lid and set the jars in the make-shift water bath canner I put together.

My water-bath canner creation - it's a big pot with a silicone pot holder on the bottom to keep the jars from clanking into each other and off the direct heat of the bottom of the pot.

With the jars in it, the pot holder remained in place and did it's job.

The recipe made 4 pints plus one half pint of jam. I then boiled the jars for 10 minutes and then set them on a towel to cool.

The finished jam!

While I was cleaning up, I heard all 5 jars 'ping' as they sealed. I still haven't checked the seal as the recipe says to let it sit for 24 hours. I'll check the seals and try the jam tomorow, but I have high hopes. The jam left in the pan was already setting up, and I did lick the spoon to make sure it would be tasty. All in all, a success!

Now I need to get a larger pan so that I can boil the quart jars for canning pears & apples this fall. We are headed towards a bumper crop! I would LOVE to get my hands on a nice cider press, but the good ones are crazy expensive. I think we'll start saving our pennies and hope to have one purchased before next years' harvest.

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