Tag Archive | Fruit

Brown Sugar Peach Pie Filling

This last weekend I was lucky enough to find some beautiful peaches at one of the local farms up here. I bought a half bushel (abt 22 pounds) and brought it home to a happy household. Naturally we had to do some taste testing so several of the peaches were immediately devoured, they were scrumptious, then I got down to some serious canning.

My first goal was some peach jam as I was all out from last year, but I wanted something a little different. So I made my jam with Jam in a Jiffy, but I added 2 tsp vanilla and 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice to each 2 pound batch. OH MY GOODNESS, so much yum! It’s a perfect fall flavor and delicious on toast, or waffles, or french toast, or crepes, or cake or on a spoon. So if you like peach, make sure you pick up a bag or three of Jam in a Jiffy and get your peaches jammed! (This is a particularly good way to save your fruit if you have peaches that have a little bruising or are a little old.)

Now, the rest of the box I turned into bottled Peach Pie Filling, but again I wanted something a little…richer, because really how can pie filling ever be too much? Don’t answer that question please. But I used our Thick Gel thickened Peach Pie Filling, which is approved for canning, and swapped out part of the regular sugar for brown sugar. Oh my holy pie! This stuff is gonna make me very very popular come Thanksgiving! For one bottle I was a little short on fruit, so I added some thawed blueberries and adjusted my thickness a little. So I’m thinking a peach blueberry tart is on the schedule too.

I use Thick Gel in my pie fillings, even though both Thick Gel and Ultra Gel WILL work. Thick Gel has a little bit smoother final set, which I prefer for pies and by the pound it’s a little cheaper. Since my pie filling is done in large batches and must be cooked anyway this means it’s a little more economical to use Thick Gel as well. Just remember that the two are not always interchangeable. Thick Gel MUST be cooked and Ultra Gel CAN be cooked, but will also thicken cold liquids.

So what’s your peachy delight?

Brown Sugar Peach Pie Filling

For seven quarts:

6 qts. (24-26 cups) peeled sliced fresh peaches/apricots or nectarines

1 c. lemon juice (Do not use fresh lemons. Bottled lemon juice has a consistent pH which is what we are looking for here)

water as needed

3 cups brown sugar

3 cups white sugar

1 1/2 c. Thick Gel (2-2 1/2 c Ultra Gel)

2 t. nutmeg (opt)

Combine peaches and lemon juice in large bowl. Sprinkle 3 cups sugar over peaches and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain accumulated juice, reserving peaches, and add water to equal 5 cups. Combine remaining sugar with Thick Gel. Add to juice and stir well. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Stir in nutmeg and gelatin. Fold in reserved peach slices and continue to cook until thick and bubbly. Immediately fill jars with mixture, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Adjust lids and process immediately in water bath canner for 35 minutes (sea level).


Canning with Ultra Gel and Thick Gel

I love this time of year when so many fruits and vegetables are ready for harvest! My kitchen is quickly filling up with things that need processing: tomatoes, squash, peaches, beans, apples. It just keeps coming! Not that I’m complaining, mind you. 🙂

So one of the big questions we get this time of year is how Ultra Gel and Thick Gel can be used in canning, and, even more specifically how they compare to products such as Clear Jel.

Clear Jel, like Ultra Gel and Thick Gel is a modified food starch. It has been on the market for many years and is often available through online resources and at Amish stores. However, many people find Clear Jel difficult to locate and hard to use, as well there is concerns about whether or not Clear Jel contains GMO products.

Now, backing up a bit, the first question when it comes to any of these products is: Why do I need to use modified food starch anyway? Can’t I use flour or cornstarch?

The problem you get with some traditional thickeners and methods is that they do not thicken canned goods evenly or consistently. Relying on only natural pectin, for example, means a different result with each batch of fruit, so you often end up cooking a canned product for a lot longer than you really want to, ending up with mushy fruit and loss of flavor and health benefits, in order to get your product to set. As well, pectin breaks down over time and products begin to weep and break apart so you’ll have some sections which are very juicy and some that are over thick.

When dealing with flour and cornstarch they do not thicken evenly, so the processing heat does not move through the bottle evenly and may or may not be able to kill all bacteria, yeasts and molds. As well you can see the same weeping and spotty thickness problems that you see with pectin.

Thick Gel and Ultra Gel are unique in the canning world because of how evenly they thicken products and because if their very high stability under acidic conditions, high heat, and their freeze/thaw stability. This allows for safe canning of items such as soups, sauce, pie fillings, jams and just about anything else which traditionally calls for Clear Jel, flour or cornstarch. These starches have been tested in commercial laboratories and are canning approved by the Utah State Extension service.

Thick Gel and Ultra Gel can be purchased through the Cornaby’s Website, or through Amazon. Locally they can be found at your local Associated Food Stores, Bosch Kitchen Centers and Harmons Food Stores.

Recipe Conversions: If recipes are given by weight instead of volume use the same weight of Thick Gel or Ultra Gel to Clear Jel.

1 Tablespoon Clear Jel=3/4 Tablespoon Thick Gel=2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

1 Tablespoon Thick Gel=2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

Thick Gel apple pie filling

Canned Apple Pie Filling

Yield: 8 servings per quart

For one quart or one pie:

3 ½ cup blanched peeled and cored cooking apples sliced ¼” thick

¾ cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (opt.)

½ cup cold water

¾ cup apple juice

2 Tablespoon bottled lemon juice

1 drop yellow food coloring (opt.)

3 Tablespoons Thick Gel OR 6 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

For seven quarts:

6 qts. blanched peeled and cored cooking apples sliced ¼” thick

5 ½ cup sugar

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg (opt.)

2 ½ cups cold water

5 cups apple juice

¾ cup bottled lemon juice

7 drops yellow food coloring (opt.)

1 cup Thick Gel OR 2 ½ cup Ultra Gel


Peel, core and slice apples; place in water containing ascorbic acid. Blanch no more than 2 quarts at a time for 1 minute in boiling water and keep warm.

Combine sugar, spices, water, apple juice, lemon juice and coloring in heavy 10-12 quart pan. Bring to a boil and gradually stir in Ultra Gel with a wire whisk – If using Thick Gel, combine listed Thick Gel with enough additional apple juice to form a thin slurry and whisk into boiling liquid. Cook until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Fold in drained apple slices. Fill jars, leaving ½” headspace. Adjust lids and process immediately in water bath canner for 35 minutes (sea level). Add five minutes processing time for elevations of 1,000 to 3,000 feet and ten minutes for elevations from 3,000 to 5,000 feet.

Nutrition info/serving: 128 calories, 0 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat 33 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 30 g sugar, 0 g protein, 2 mg sodium

Quick Berry Compote

Earlier this week we decided to have Amazing French Toast for dinner. This means making french toast with Texas Toast slices, or a nice chewy french bread, and serving it with cool toppings like nutella and real maple syrup.

One of our favorite topping is a simple berry compote from fresh berries. It’s easy to make this in about 5-7 minutes on your stove top, or you could even do it in the microwave. The compote can be served warm or cold on french toast, ice cream, cake, cheesecake, yogurt, or anywhere else you’d like a burst of fruit and sauce.A little bit of whipping cream on top wouldn’t go badly either, but I like to keep it simple for breakfast.

I use sugar in the recipe but the sugar is to taste and can be swapped out with sugar substitutes such as honey, maple syrup, agave, Truvia, Splenda, etc.

What would you spread it on?


blueberry compote

Fresh Berry Compote

8 ounces fresh berries (blueberries pictured)

1/4 cup lemonade or fruit juice

1/4-1/2 cup sugar (to taste)

1/4 tsp kosher salt

Combine ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil, turn down to low and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add 1-3 Tablespoons of Ultra Gel to reach desired thickness. It works best to add the Ultra Gel one Tablespoon at a time and allow the mixture to achieve full thickness before adding additional Ultra Gel. If you over thicken, no fear, just add a little more juice to bring the mixture back to the desired thickness. This can be frozen for upto 6 months or kept in the fridge for 3-4 weeks.


Jam in a Jiffy – Raspberry Mango!

You can tell it’s spring when markets start featuring berries in their produce departments.  I can’t resist indulging in some of these early berries, though in another month when the Farmer’s Markets open I love it even more! Naturally one of my favorites is raspberries, which I can happily eat whole, put into baked goods, pies, salads, or make jam with. However, one of the concerns folks have with raspberries, is that sometimes the price per pound is such that it seems like a lot of work for not very much product. This is another situation where Jam in a Jiffy rides to the rescue!

Because Jam in a Jiffy has a combination of pectin and starch thickeners there is a lot of flexibility with being able to mix fruits and still get a wonderful product. In my case I had about a pound of raspberries and about the same amount of beautiful ripe mangoes. So I diced up and chopped my mangoes, added the berries and my Jam in a Jiffy for a bright sweet raspberry mango jam! Now if you don’t care for mangoes, you can go with strawberries, peaches, other berries and even applesauce…the combinations are limitless. Any two pounds (about 4 cups) of mashed soft fruit and one package of Jam in a Jiffy and you have freezer jam.

Now…what if, like me, you taste your jam and it’s a little too tart, or sweet, or potent for spreading on jam? Never fear! Jam in a Jiffy jam makes a great base for smoothies with the fruit and sugar already mixed in. I just freeze up my mix in ice cube trays until it’s solid. Then I move the chunks into freezer bags and freeze it that way. A couple of chunks with a little yogurt and a splash of orange juice makes for a bright citrus smoothie, and it even holds up well to being tossed into a green smoothie for even more nutritional punch. So when it comes to your freezer jam, think outside of the bread loaf! You’ll be surprised what you can do!

Jam in a Jiffy Raspberry Mango Freezer Jam

2 cup pureed ripe mango

2 cups mashed raspberries

1 pouch Jam in a Jiffy

1 tsp vanilla (opt)

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Let sit for upto five minutes to obtain maximum thickness. Divide and freeze or serve immediately!

This makes a medium set jam. If you want a thinner topping add upto 1/2 cups fruit juice. If you want a thicker jam omit 1/2 cup of the mango.



Dutch Babies!

The term Dutch Babies may bring to mind cute little cherubs with tiny wooden shoes, but when you’re talking Dutch Babies around here we are referring to an eggy delicious oven baked breakfast which is partway between a pancake and a crepe, and completely delicious.

Dutch Babies are one of my children’s favorite meals and are quick to make with a lot of variety when it comes to topping and devouring.

There are, however, a few tricks we’ve learned:

1 – If you’ve got it use a shallow cast iron pan for your cooking pan. It heats so evenly that you get a better crust to the cake and a more even rise.

2 – When it says butter, use BUTTER, not margarine or other oils. I suspect coconut oil might work, but I’ve not experimented with it. Margarine is a complete flop both in flavor and lubricating the whole thing.

3 – Use Ultra Gel in the batter for a very tender end product which can be frozen or refrigerated if it’s not all devoured.

4 – Get creative with toppings! Maple syrup, fresh jam (we used the strawberry blackberry jam that I made a couple weeks ago), fruit and whipping cream, chocolate syrup…the sky really is the limit.

Dutch Baby

Homemade Dutch Babies

4 large eggs

1 cup milk

1 cup flour

2 Tbl Ultra Gel

1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp lemon extract

1/2 tsp salt

3 Tbl butter

powdered sugar (confectioners) for dusting

Heat oven to 475 degrees and place a 12 inch shallow cast iron pan (or glass dripper pan) inside for 8-10 minutes. In a medium bowl beat together eggs, milk and Ultra Gel until smooth. Gradually whisk in flour, nutmeg, extract and salt, if you have a few lumps you’re okay, do not over beat. Remove pan from oven and add butter, tilting until well coated and butter is completely melted.  Pour batter all at once into the pan. Lower oven temperature to 425 degrees and return pan to oven baking until puffed and golden brown. Remove and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.


Frozen Peach Brains

Somedays I just amuse myself, it’s true.

Lately there’s been a lot of produce flowing through my kitchen between Bountiful Baskets and farmer’s markets and I’ve been doing my best to freeze, can and otherwise preserve the bounty.  The other thing going on is that I have a 7 month old who looves to eat solid foods and I’m trying to provide some healthy options for her.  These two things collided in the creation of peach brains, fun food for any of my kids.

Peach brains started with ripe peaches which I skinned, cooked briefly and mashed.  Then I added just a little bit of Ultra Gel, about a Tablespoon per four cups of puree.  From there I poured the puree into a silicone mold for tiny little brains and put the whole thing in my deep freeze overnight.  The next day out pops 12 beautiful brains.  🙂  Now this could be done with any silicone mold for various shapes.  I don’t add any sugar so I can thaw my brains and feed them to my daughter, or they’re lots of fun to float in soda or use in fruit salads to add both flavor and help to keep things cold.

The Ultra Gel in this use helps the puree to freeze without a lot of ice chunks so it stays smooth and helps the thaw to be gradual and consistent.

I’ve done this with both peaches and pears with beautiful results.  I’m pondering what to brainify next!

peach brains




Fresh Peach Raspberry Jam

Today’s fresh jam flavor is peach raspberry jam, though we’ll talk a little about plain peach too.

This one is one of my kids’ favorite flavors and it’s the perfect time of year to start stocking up as fresh peaches have started appearing in local farmers’ markets.  Even if the fruit on my poor tree is a long way from ripe.   I like a half and half mix, so 2 cups crushed peaches + 2 cups crushed raspberries and the jam in a jiffy mix.  My kids are also very fond of doing a mix that is half strawberries and half peaches, but since I can get raspberries from the family farm we put up more of that than the strawberry.

Now, a word on fresh peach.  Some people love the flavor of fresh peach jam, and in that case 4 cups of crushed fruit + one pack of jam in a jiffy and you’re in business.  For other folks the peach is a little too mild raw and they prefer the slightly caramel flavor of a cooked peach.  You can still get this with jam in a jiffy.  Just crush your peaches and pop the bowl in the microwave (yes, this requires a microwave safe bowl) for about five minutes.  Give the whole thing a stir and taste.  One you get the flavor you want, then add the jam in a jiffy mix and get to business.

Fresh peach jam, fresh raspberry peach jam, fresh peach strawberry jam…  You just have to love peach season!  These jams are great on toast, or to fill your favorite thumb print cookie or add to a smoothie for a pop of omething special.

How do you Jam in a Jiffy?


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