Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Christmas 2016: Canned Goods
First, is the gift I made above and ended up dragging my canner out to can. It is a gift for my father-in-law.
See, my father-in-law drives pretty much everyone crazy, so I normally don't do much in the way of thinking of something to get the man (he really does work at making the holidays miserable most years, which doesn't help this apathy). This fall, however, I ended up at his office and we ended up talking about rhubarb. How we got onto that topic of conversation, I'm honestly not sure, but I do remember him getting all kinds of excited, almost like a little kid, as he remembered the rhubarb syrup his aunt would make him every year during rhubarb season. He even dragged me around the yard trying to find allusive rhubarb plants he swore that they had planted somewhere (turns out talking to my mother-in-law a bit later that the rhubarb had gotten dug over when they were putting in something and had been dead for years) as he was that excited about the prospect of rhubarb syrup. I don't know why, but the memory kept resurfacing and bugging me a bit as he looked so disappointed when he found out that he didn't have any rhubarb to make into syrup. So, when I was digging around in the freezer and found what I had left of my rhubarb from when I harvested what was left at the end of the season, I knew what I was going to do with it.
The 4 cups of rhubarb, once made into juice and with some unsweetened apple juice to pad out the juice a bit, made one pint of rhubarb syrup. Well, I should call it thickened juice, really. See my father-in-law is diabetic so I ended up using Splenda instead of sugar in the recipe and I found that Splenda doesn't seem to cook down and thicken the way sugar does (good to know for future reference I guess). I ended up letting the mixture cool, adding a tablespoon of pectin into it (whisk and whisk some more) and then heating it up to boiling until I HOPED it would thicken up to a nice syrup consistency. It still ended up being a bit thin in the end (probably should have added a few teaspoons of lemon juice to aid the gel), but my mother-in-law can always add some corn starch or something to the mix when she goes to serve it to make it thicker. I tried anyway *laugh*. It does, at least, taste like rhubarb (in a big, tart way).
I gave a few jars of preserves to my son's aides at school and voila! Canned goods given as gifts out of the way!
Total Time to Make Gifts: Well, the preserves was done during the regular canning for the year, the syrup took about two hours, including heating up the canner (with a lot of breaks to take care of my son), and the rhubarb pie filling was done during canning season too. So, overall I'll give it 2 hours and 10 minutes, if you include making gift bags :).
Total Cost To Make Gifts: Well, the rhubarb was growing in my yard, the Splenda I had (I buy one big bag about every four years because I kind of like it in iced tea sometimes)...I'll go with about 1.50 per gift once you include supplies and the jar (since they go for .50 at the used store).