My neighbour has a crab apple tree, and he told me I was welcome to pick apples if I wanted some. When it comes to crab apples, they are pretty much good for one thing – canning. Crab apples have excellent natural pectin, and set up to a gorgeous jelly! When I first made this recipe, I put it into pint jars, and ended up with only 3 jars. So I recommend to use the 4 oz jar, so that you can give more as gifts, or enjoy it in smaller batches. Or just to feel like you didn’t work your butt off for 3 jars. Homemade jelly makes a great gift, paired with a bottle of white wine and some nice crackers. It says “I love you enough to slave over a hot stove AND buy you wine.” This jelly isn’t fiery hot. If you want more spice, use hotter peppers (not more peppers, just the hotter variations). I used banana type peppers and ended up with a full flavoured, but very mild jelly. Colin said it was good, but he would have loved for me to use something hotter. Some varieties are jalapeño, serrano, or habanero if you are brave enough. I’m not. I am, admittedly, a total wuss about spicy food. This jelly is delicious with cream cheese on a cracker. I’m sure it is great on chicken, or other uses, but I will likely eat all of it on a Triscuit with cream cheese.
Crab Apple Pepper Jelly: This recipe makes 6 of the 4oz jar size (that’s the smallest one) 2 lbs crab apples 1 1/2 cups water Red wine vinegar, as required 3 3/4 cups granulated sugar 1 cup yellow or orange bell pepper 1/3 cup hot pepper (as desired for flavour and heat level)
Instructions: 1. In a Dutch oven, bring crab apples and water to a simmer. Make sure to remove stems. I also cut them in half to speed up the cooking time. 2. Cook until the crabapple are very soft. 3. Line a colander with cheesecloth (the more you fold over the cheesecloth, the clearer your jelly will be). Place colander above a bowl (preferably glass). 4. Pour the crabapple mixture into the colander and weigh down with a plate and heavy can on top. 5. Let stand until dripping stops. Discard the pulp. 6. Pour collected juice into a liquid measure. Add enough vinegar to make 3 cups. 7. Combine in a saucepan with sugar. 8. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. 9. Add peppers and boil for 8-10 minutes or until set. (How do I know if it is set? Insert link) 10. Stir for 7 minutes to avoid floating peppers. 11. Pour jelly into hot, sterilized 4oz canning jars. 12. Seal with 2 piece canning lids. Process in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes (adjust as required for elevation). 13. Let the processed jars sit for 24 hours undisturbed. Check for the seal to stay down when pressed prior to storing. Enjoy! This recipe is originally from food.com
I couldn’t wait for my oldest to start solids! I was sure it would mean longer stretches of sleep and who can argue with that right? My only concern was the amount of work that seemed ahead. I had friends who spent entire days, roasting, pureeing and freezing ice cube sized portions of baby food for their little ones, and honestly, it didn’t look like a lot of fun to me!
When my daughter was about 5 months old, I came across a pin on good ‘ol pinterest about “Baby Led Weaning”. Intrigued, I clicked on the pin and it linked me to the book: “Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods-and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater” by Gill Rapley. I pinned it onto my own board and a friend of mine commented that I should definitely look into it because she used baby-led weaning for all three of her kids and LOVED IT. I ended up e-mailing her, and asked her a few questions and when we were ready started using the method and LOVED it. I was so happy that I didn’t have to invest in a food processor, and those ice cube trays or those little glass food containers! It was also WAY less work .
I’m certainly no expert on the matter, but I do have a little bit of experience now that our second is ten months old and eating solids. So, how does it work? At about six months, most babies are developmentally capable of feeding themselves proper food, in other words – no more mushy peas! Hooray! You just hand them the same food that you’re eating in an appropriately sized piece and if they like it they eat it and if they don’t they won’t. (But they do…trust me). That’s all there is to it! No purees, no ice cube trays, no food processor, no food mill, no expensive organic baby rice, or weird fruit and vegetable combos in pre-packaged baby food jars! Just you, your baby and the food that you’ve prepared for the entire family! Because, let’s face it, the more time you spend preparing baby food, the less likely they are to eat it, right? As I mentioned before, I have friends who would spend days steaming, roasting and freezing food for their babies, only to have them refuse it *insert bitter tone.* The best part of Baby-led weaning is that there is no pressure on your little one to eat. There really is no opportunity for mealtimes to become a battleground, so issues such as food refusal and food phobias are much less likely. I think it’s because there is no such thing as baby or kid food anymore. Everyone eats the same thing, so you don’t have to worry about introducing “real food” when your child is 4 or whatever. This method respects babies’ decisions what to eat or what not to eat and when to stop eating, so there is no need for battles to ensue. I LOVE IT!
The question I get the most from parents who are interested in baby-led weaning is: “So, what do you feed your baby?“
To help you out, here is what we had to eat today at our house:
Toast, yogurt, granola, fruit
Fruit, crackers, cheese
Soup, quesadillas, cut up peppers and Cucumbers
Beef and vegetable stir fry, rice
For our baby, we just cut the food into smaller pieces and allow her to pick what and how much to eat. Remember, when babies first start to eat solids, they probably won’t eat too much (unless they’re like my girls who practically gave up nursing as soon as we starting giving them “the good stuff”). Your little one decides how much solids they can handle and then supplement the rest of their nutritional requirements with milk (breast or formula).
Here are a few tips to help you along:
1. Forget baby food. It was really hard for me to wrap my mind around this at first, but if you don’t want to, you don’t have to give your baby so called “baby food”. My oldest daughter’s first meal was chicken, potatoes and peas. She LOVED it. We just cut the chicken into finger-sized pieces and she ate it. (She didn’t have teeth until she was 10 months old and still managed to eat it just fine!) My second daughter’s first meal was spaghetti.
2. Expect a mess. Put a few pieces of food (not too much food) on your baby’s tray and let them go to town!
3. Relax. With our first daughter, I was really nervous about choking. Remember, gagging is ok. It is a safety response to prevent choking. Babies seem to have very sensitive gagging reflexes, and that‘s good!
4. You know your baby best! Remember that!!!
So, what do you think? Will you give it a try? I promise if you do, you’ll love it!!