Tag Archives: fruit

Blackberry Sweet Tea

I might have a slight obsession with sweet tea. It started when I went to Alabama, because here in California, it’s just not a thing. When one has “sweet tea” here, it is just a glass of ice tea with a packet of sugar added to it. Disappointing and grainy. When I had it in Alabama (or anywhere in the South) it was an ice-cold glass of delicious nectar. Every time I get to go to the South or have a layover at the Atlanta airport,  I’ll bring airport sweat tea back in my Swell bottle. I ration it for a few days and think Southern thoughts.

If you can find Milo’s tea in your area, get that. That is my baseline to judge all other sweet tea. If you can’t find it, you are going to have to make it. But it’s ok, I’m here to help! For me, the secret to a good sweet tea is the simple syrup. You must make a syrup or you don’t get the same mouth feel. The syrup makes the tea just a whisper thicker, and if you get the good ice (you know, like the kind from Sonic’s), you end up with a kinda tea slushy which is heavenly, IMHO.

Sweet nectar of the god's.

Sweet nectar of the god’s.

A basic simple syrup recipe is equal parts water and sugar, heated until dissolved. You add that syrup to your ice tea and you’ve got a pretty good start of a decent sweet tea. However, if you wanna church it up a whisper, add some fruit to your syrup. Since its summer here in beautiful Northern California, we have all the fruits right now (literally and figuratively), pretty much all of my sweet tea is a fruit sweet tea. This week I’ve done peach, blackberry and nectarines. We have wild blackberries growing here right now, so that is why I am doing blackberry for this blog.

Blackberry (0r Fruit) Sweet Tea

Fruit Simple Syrup

  • 4 cups fruit
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar

Tea

  • 8-10 cups of water
  • tea bags  (I prefer cold brew bags)

In a saucepan, add fruit, water and sugar. Bring to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 15 times. Mash up for fruit with a potato masher and simmer for 10 more minutes. Let cool. Run this mixture through a mesh strainer. Discard the solids.

From berry to sauce in just a few short hours.

From berry to sauce in just a few short hours.

Since I don’t have air-conditioning in my house, and I think sun tea is a bad idea, I use cold brew tea bags. I think it tastes the same, especially if you are adding fruit syrup to the mix. It makes making tea easy. I simply add my water to my container, add my tea bags, and stick it in the refrigerator until cool. Then I add my fruit syrup, mix well, and serve over ice.

My favorite tea receptacle.

My favorite tea receptacle.

If I close my eyes and turn my smoker on when I drink this, it almost feels like I am in the South! Mess around with this recipe – some people (who aren’t used to sweet tea), find this too sweet, some people (who are used to it), find it not sweet enough. You’ll find your happy place pretty easily. Add some mint or fruit when you serve it, to up the ‘wow’ factor. Enjoy!

Taaa daaaa! Easy fruit sweet tea!

Taaa daaaa! Easy fruit sweet tea!

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Fun Ag Facts IX

fun ag fact of the day: Carrot production in the U.S. is highly mechanized and centralized. Only two Californian companies account for the majority of production in the U.S. In addition to California, Washington and Colorado are also important production areas.

fun ag fact of the day: California is the fourth-largest wine producer in the world, after France, Italy, and Spain.

fun ag fact of the day: Red wines are red because fermentation extracts color from the grape skins. White wines are not fermented with the skins present.

fun ag fact of the day: Approximately 208 million avocados will be consumed on Super Bowl Sunday!

fun ag fact of the day: The corncob (ear) is actually part of the corn plant’s flower.

fun fact of the day: Bananas float in water, as do apples and watermelons.

fun ag fact of the day: In the USA, a person consumes about twenty pounds of rice a year, with about four pounds attributed to the use of rice is for brewing American beers.

fun ag fact of the day: There are more than 40,000 varieties of rice that grow on every continent except on Antarctica.

fun ag fact of the day: Barley is highest in fiber of all the whole grains, with common varieties clocking in at about 17% fiber, and some, such as the variety called Prowashonupana barley, having up to 30% fiber!

fun ag fact of the day: Christopher Columbus brought the first orange seeds and seedlings to the New World on his second voyage in 1493.

fun ag fact of the day: The Meyer lemon, actually a cross between a lemon and possibly an orange or a mandarin, was named for Frank N. Meyer who first discovered it in 1908.

fun ag fact of the day: Buddha’s Hand citron contains no pulp or juice, so it’s used for it’s fragrant zest only.

fun ag fact of the day: It won its name after becoming popular in the Belgian capital in the 16th Century, but the Brussels sprout is ­originally thought to have come from Iran and Afghanistan.

fun ag fact of the day: Washington ranks first in the nation in production of processing carrots and fourth in the nation in production of fresh carrots.

fun ag fact of the day: The Hubbard squash probably originated in South America and first arrived in Marblehead, MA in the 1700’s aboard sailing ships from the West Indies.

fun ag fact of the day: The U.S. is the world’s largest producer of blueberries, harvesting a total of 564.4 million pounds of cultivated and wild blueberries in 2012.

fun ag fact of the day: the skin of winter squash is inedible.

fun ag fact of the day:  Pumpkins are orange because they contain massive amounts of lutein, alpha- and beta-carotene. These nutrients turn to vitamin A in the body.

fun ag fact of the day: A barrel of cranberries weighs 100 pounds. Give or take a few, there are about 450 cranberries in a pound and 4,400 cranberries in one gallon of juice.

fun ag fact of the day: There are enough peanuts in one acre to make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches.

fun ag fact of the day: Canned mandarin segments are peeled to remove the white pith prior to canning; otherwise, they turn bitter. Segments are peeled using a chemical process. First, the segments are scalded in hot water to loosen the skin; then they are bathed in a lye solution, which digests the albedo and membranes. Finally, the segments undergo several rinses in plain water.

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Tomato Basil Jam

My little garden is kicking some serious garden butt. Now that the deer leave it alone, my green thumb finally has a chance to be green, and it feels good man. Even though I cannot stand fresh tomatoes (go here to read why), I still feel a sense of duty to plant them. I mean, come on, what kind of summer garden doesn’t have a couple tomato plants? Plus they remind me of my Papa.

Anyway, I have so many tomatoes I had to find something to do with them other than make salsa and feed them to Silly pig. Since I am in the middle of my canning obsession, it’s only natural I canned them. I found a recipe that I would actually eat – and out to the garden I went (I love having a garden)!

Fresh tomatoes and basil.  The smell of summer.

Fresh tomatoes and basil. The smell of summer.

Tomato-Basil Jam

from Better Homes and Gardens

2 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled  (I didn’t peel mine because, well, why? I wanted the texture.)

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 cups sugar

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 package powdered fruit pectin or 6 tablespoons powdered fruit pectin

Seed, core and finely chop the tomatoes. They should equal 3 1/2 cups. Place in heavy bottomed pot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Measure 3 1/3 cups tomatoes, return to the pot. Stir in lemon juice and basil.

My seeded, chopped, tomatoes, with the skins on, oops.

My seeded, chopped, tomatoes, with the skins on. And chop your tomatoes a whisper finer than this.

In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup of the sugar and the pectin; stir into the tomato mixture. Bring to a full roiling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the remaining 2 3/4 cups sugar. Return to a full boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim any foam off.

I wish we could share smell via the Internets, because this smelled like a big cup of summer, yum.

I wish we could share smell via the Internets, because this smelled like a big cup of summer, yum.

Ladle hot jam into hot sterilized half-pint canning jars. Leave 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust lids.

Process jars in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes.

I was trying to think ahead with this recipe. I was thinking about the winter, and the rain and how yummy this jam would be on grilled cheese with some soup. It was pretty yummy on regular toast too.

I was trying to think ahead with this recipe. I was thinking about the winter, and the rain and how yummy this jam would be on grilled cheese with some soup. It was pretty yummy on regular toast too.

A few more resources for you:

Tomato Jam (it has apple!) – http://userealbutter.com/2012/09/09/jennies-tomato-jam-recipe/

More information about breeding tomatoes – http://monsantoblog.com/2012/08/10/an-afternoon-with-meg-doug-the-tomato-dude/

An old family recipe – http://www.gratefulprayerthankfulheart.com/2013/04/grandmom-gaskills-tomato-jam.html

More about Monsanto – http://www.lenejohansen.com/?p=863

Food in Jars! – http://foodinjars.com/2010/09/tomato-jam/

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Fun Ag Facts XI

So for some reason my blog says I didn’t post this. I’m trying again.

fun ag fact of the day: Peanut butter is a staple in over 90% of American households and the average person consumes more than six pounds of peanut products each year.

Fun ag fact of the day: China is the largest producer of sheep milk in the world followed by Turkey and Greece.

fun ag fact of the day: Turkey is the largest producer in the world of apricots, cherries, figs, wheat germ, hazelnuts, skim sheep milk, poppy seed, raisins & sour cherries.

fun ag fact of the day: India has the largest cattle inventory in the world followed by Brazil and China.

fun fact of the day: Japan is the largest producer in the world of tomato juice, husked/milled rice, pigskins, fermented rice beverages & soya paste.

fun ag fact of the day: Grapefruits come in many colors. They can be yellow, pink, white or ruby in color. All varieties have a tangy-sweet flavor and are very juicy.

fun ag fact of the day: Canada is the largest supplier of maple syrup, they produce over 5 million gallons of it each year!

fun ag fact of the day: the United States is the largest importer of beer in the world.

fun ag fact of the day: In 2009, U.S. cheese availability (a proxy for consumption) stood at 32.8 pounds per person. Mozzarella edged out cheddar as America’s favorite cheese, with the two cheeses together accounting for 63 percent of cheese availability in 2009. Per capita cheese availability has almost tripled since 1970, when it was 11.4 pounds per person.

Fun ag fact of the day: have you heard of “Cowboy coffee”, it was said they made their coffee by putting ground coffee into a clean sock and immerse it in cold water and heated over campfire.

fun ag fact of the day: Massachusetts is the second largest producer of cranberries in the United States only behind Wisconsin. Cranberry is one of the state colors and cranberry juice is the state juice drink. It is also home to Ocean Spray.

fun ag fact of the day: The traditional recipe for eggnog is milk,
cream, sugar, beaten eggs, spices, and sometimes alcohol. The type of alcohol depends on the country where it is made. In Europe, eggnog is traditionally made with white wine. Americans drink it with bourbon or rum while Peruvians use pomace brandy and Germans use beer.

Fun ag fact of the day: India has the largest cattle inventory in the world followed by Brazil, China & the United States.

fun ag fact of the day: China is the largest producer of spinach in the world with nearly 86% of the world’s total.

fun ag fact of the day: Pennsylvania is the largest producer of mushrooms in the United States with more than 62% of the total.

fun ag fact of the day: The United States is the largest producer in the world of corn, soybeans, beef, chicken, turkey, almonds, strawberries, cranberries & blueberries.

fun ag fact of the day: Sugar cane is the most produced food in the world. There is more sugar cane produced than corn and rice COMBINED!

fun ag fact of the day: Egypt is the second largest producer in the world of mango juice, buffalo butter, geese meat, figs, camel meat, bird meat and artichokes.

Fun ag fact of the day: bananas and beer are the top two food imports in the United States. The United States imports more beer than wheat and more bananas than sugar and oats combined.

Fun ag fact of the day: A celebrate the season, a few turkey-related factors: 1) The United States produces 50% of the global turkey production. 2) Turkeys are indigenous to North America. Fossils have proven that wild turkeys have been part of North America for more than 10 million years. 3) Hormones and steroids are not used in turkey production. In fact, hormones and steriods are federally banned for use in all poultry. Better feed, water and living environment is what help the turkey safely grow.

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