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  • FoodSaver V3240 Vertical Vacuum Sealer, White
    FoodSaver V3240 Vertical Vacuum Sealer, White
    I just started using a FoodSaver vacuum sealer to seal foods and I can't believe I waited so long to get one. (Check out my first project: Sweet & Sour Green Bean Freezer Pickles!)
    For example: In the past I would take the time to pick beautiful berries, then would bring them home and stick them in a zippered baggie in the freezer. My berries would have ice crystals and taste freezer burnt after just a few short months. 
    Then I had a light-bulb moment: "Air is the enemy" of freshness. 
    When vacuum-sealed my berries last 3 to 4 times longer! I have similar results with other fruits, veggies and even meats & cheeses.
    The FoodSaver has been a fantastic discovery. ~ Brook
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    • Mehu-Liisa 10 Liter Stainless Steel Steam Juicer - Made in Finland
      Mehu-Liisa 10 Liter Stainless Steel Steam Juicer - Made in Finland
      Mehu-Liisa Products

      Some day I will replace my ancient graniteware Steam Juice Extractor with this gorgeous Mehu-Liisa brand Steam Juicer. My old Steam Juicer leaks steam, meaning I have to refill the water often, and it doesn't have anywhere close to the capacity of this one from Mehu-Liisa.
      If you want to experience the magic of a Steam Juicer, check out this 10 quart Mehu-Liisa. It will last you a lifetime and save you countless hours in the kitchen, whether your juicing fruit for  Plum Jelly or Apricot Nectar, not to mention it minimizes the mess of juicing large amounts of veggies!  ~ Brook

    • Ball Quilted Jelly Canning Jar 4 Oz (Pack of 12)
      Ball Quilted Jelly Canning Jar 4 Oz (Pack of 12)
      What's the one jar size I always keep a couple extra cases of? 
      The Ball 4 ounce jar.
      It's basically 1/2 cup, and just the right size for gift-giving and for experimenting with small batches. Perfect for things like my famous Pear Honey.
      People can't help but say "That is so darn cute!" when they seem them. 
      ~ Brook

    • Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
      Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
      Looking for an affordable, easy-to-use pressure canner, backed up by great customer service? Look no further than the Presto 23 quart Pressure Canner/Cooker. It's the one I recommend to all my students. ~ Brook


    Dilly Pickled Onion Slices on Punk Domestics

    • Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen (Orange) Instant Read Thermometer, Perfect for Barbecue, Home and Professional Cooking
      Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen (Orange) Instant Read Thermometer, Perfect for Barbecue, Home and Professional Cooking
      Do you have a great instant-read thermometer, or are you still buying the 20 dollar ones that only last a year or two? This was one of my best kitchen purchases.
      Can't imagine cooking jam (or meat or candy) without it! 
      Take your jams to 220º and you'll have a perfect gel set every time. Also available in other colors, but why wouldn't you want orange? It's only the BEST COLOR EVER. ~ Brook


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    • The Home Preserving Bible (Living Free Guides)
      The Home Preserving Bible (Living Free Guides)
      by Carole Cancler
      If you're looking for a book that covers every preserving topic imaginable, this is the book for you. It doesn't have a flashy cover or glossy pictures, but it's full of great info. One of my very favorite resources. ~ Brook

    • OXO Good Grips Corn Stripper
      OXO Good Grips Corn Stripper

      Last August my friend Kelli asked me if I wanted some fresh corn from her grandpa's garden. I said "Sure....I'd love to make a few jars of Sweet Corn Relish!"
      She showed up 6 hours later with 158 ears. Wasn't sure if I loved her or hated her for it.
      After a long hot day spent cutting kernels off all those cobs with a small paring knife, I decided I'd never be without a Corn Stripper again. ~ Brook


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    Caramel Apple Syrup

     This sauce tastes just like a Caramel Apple, but better.

    I think you're going to like this recipe.

    It has ONE ingredient.

    One very autumn-like, very local, very easy-to-find ingredient.


    I started this recipe with one half gallon of organic Gala apple cider.

    I am always inspired by the abundance of fresh-pressed cider this time of year. In fact, besides making Caramel Apple Syrup yesterday, I made something else with apple cider too, but it had more than one ingredient, and one of them was Everclear. That's a whole 'nother story.


    To make the Caramel Apple Syrup, I started by simmering an ample quantity of apple cider for a couple hours.

    Then, when it had reduced to about one-fourth (yes, one fourth!) of its original volume, I poured it from a large pot into a sauce pan and cranked it up to a rapid boil. That's when the caramelizing kicked in.

    The second phase: I boiled the cider in a sauce pan for approx 10 min.

    I'm talking a rapid more simmering!

    It reduced by about half, from 16 ounces to ~8 ounces.

     I decided to strain the few tiny flecks out of it...


    The process of reducing a half gallon of apple cider, to about one cup of syrup is sort of like magic. You use heat & evaporation to reduce the liquid, plus more heat to caramelize the naturally occurring sugars in the cider. A winning combination of flavors are your reward for a couple hours of easy, mostly back burner-type cooking.

    The Caramel Apple Syrup is gorgeous...thick and glossy, with a rich brown sugar-like sweetness that only comes from cooking over high heat. The intense fresh-apple flavors have a subtle yet tart kick, which I think is necessary to keep the syrup from being too cloyingly sweet


    It was incredibly delicious on the Pear Tart I made tonight, but it really deserves to be center stage. Tomorrow night? Vanilla ice cream!


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    Reader Comments (6)

    Can you can this syrup? What an awesome idea for Christmas gifts!

    September 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMardi M

    Hi Mardi ~ I wouldn't can this recipe, because I don't think it has enough acid in it. I didn't check it with a pH test, because I knew I was just going to be eating it right away.

    'Tis the season when apples are their best, and I'll be working with them a lot in the near future. I think I will come up with an apple syrup that can be preserved -- thanks for the great idea. It would make a wonderful Christmas gift and if you had a good source for orchard-fresh apples, it could be a budget-friendly gift too.

    Sorry I couldn't be more helpful. I'll work on a new recipe soon.

    September 28, 2011 | Registered CommenterBrook Hurst Stephens

    I'm thinking the same thing Mardi M's thinking, so any progress on that front? We have apple trees and usually cold press about 100 gallons of cider every year, so I'm always trying to figure out new ways to use it. Thanks for sharing this one -- my husband LOVES it.

    October 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmilie

    Mardi and Emilie --

    I just found a recipe for Cider Syrup in a fantastic book called "The Joy of Jams, Jellies and other Sweet Preserves" by Linda Ziedrich. Her recipe is basically the same thing as mine: Apple cider boiled down until it is 1/8ths of its original volume -- she says "makes about 1/2 cup syrup for each quart cider".

    This is actually a very old-fashioned way to make a delicious syrup that surprisingly few people know about!

    Linda Ziedrich recommends that you "Pour the syrup into sterilized bottles and cap or cork them. If the syrup is sufficiently thick, you can store it in the cupboard rather than the refrigerator. It should keep for at least 6 months."

    I hope this helps!

    October 14, 2011 | Registered CommenterBrook Hurst Stephens

    This sounds so delicious, I will have to try it since we have a abundance of apples. Our grocery store has ciders made from local growers I CAN get a gallon and try. I love carmel and you know it would be awesome drizzled over a crispy apple or hot turnover. lol

    October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKim Phillips

    Yes...get a gallon and try it. It's so easy but sooooo good.
    And thanks for suggesting the hot apple turnover Kim. Now I'll be thinking about it ALL DAY :D

    October 17, 2011 | Registered CommenterBrook Hurst Stephens
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