Gratifying Grapes and Favorable Flavoring Jelly

For those who have been following along, today’s blog focuses on the last “sweet treats” class we taught at Cornell Cooperative Extension as part of the food preservation series that ended earlier this month.

20 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT GRAPES 

1. Grapes appear in many colors: white, red, black, blue, green, purple and golden.

2. There are over 8,000 grape varieties worldwide.

3. The grape appears in the top ten of the world’s favorite fruits, along with tomatoes, mangoes and bananas.

4. The USA imports 25% of their grapes from Chile.

5. Grapes are botanically classed as berries.

6. The average person eats almost 8 pounds of grapes a year.

7. The oldest grapevine in America is a 400 year old Scuppernong vine in North Carolina.

8. Dried grapes (raisins) contain only 15% water.

9. The production of wine from grapes started as early as 5000 BC.

10. Grapes help minimize the risk of heart attacks because they increase the levels of nitric acid in the blood which prevents blood clots.

11. Grapes are used to help cure asthma indigestion, migraine, kidney disease and fatigue.

12. Grapes contain low levels of chоlеstеrоl, sodium and fat and are rich in vitamins K and C

13. Grapes are a laxative if you eat too many.

14. Grapes are 80% water so make a good snack, low in calories.

15. On average one acre of grapes can produce around 15,000 glasses of wine.

16. The grape industry worldwide produces over 72 million tons a year.

17. The grape growing industry is the largest food based industry in the world.

18. Australia produces 1.4 billion liters of wine per year.

19. The area which has the highest concentration of wineries in the world is The Napa Valley in California, with over 200.

20. In the 1800’s many vines in Europe were destroyed by an insect which came from America.

Interesting, huh?  I promise you if you make the recipe below, including the grape juice from scratch, you will NEVER go back to commercial grape jelly.  Till next time…..enjoy the family.     Stefanie

 

Concord Grape Jelly from Scratch 

5 cups prepared juice (buy about 3-1/2 lb. fully ripe Concord or other loose-skinned grapes)

1-1/2 cups water

1 box SURE-JELL Fruit Pectin

½ tsp. butter or margarine

7 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl 

BRING boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

STEM and crush grapes thoroughly, 1 layer at a time. Place in large saucepan; add water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 min., stirring occasionally. Place 3 layers of damp cheesecloth or jelly bag in large bowl. Pour prepared fruit into cheesecloth. Tie cheesecloth closed; hang and let drip into bowl until dripping stops. Press gently. Measure exactly 1-1/4 qt. (5 cups) prepared juice into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot.

STIR pectin into juice in saucepot. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

LADLE immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with 2-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 5 min. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. (If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

 

Recipe courtesy of KraftRecipes.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Pleasant Peach Facts and Freezer Jam

Ah, the peach — a classic sign of summer, a staple in warm-weather recipes for desserts and salads, an anticipated addition to farmers’ markets and stands across the country from  June through August. You may love this sweet, juicy fruit, but how much do you know much about its history or nutritional value — or even about cooking with it? Read on to learn 10 healthy facts about peaches — and then try our Peach Freezer Jam below.

 

 

1.       Peach origins: The fuzzy peach is actually a member of the rose family and originated in China.

2.       Peaches on the Silk Road: The peach’s scientific name, Prunus persica, is a direct reference to the fruit’s travels to Persia along the Silk Road.

3.       Peach varieties: You can buy two main varieties of peaches: clingstone (the flesh sticks to the stone) and freestone (the stone is easily separated from the flesh).

4.       Peach colors: The peach can have yellow or white flesh, which is sweeter and less acidic than its more traditional golden counterpart.

5.       Top peach growers: China is the largest producer of peaches, followed by Italy.

6.       Peach nutrition: A large peach has fewer than 70 calories and contains 3 grams of fiber. It’s also a good source of vitamins A and C.

7.       Biggest peach cobbler: “The world’s largest peach cobbler” is made every year in Georgia, which is known as the Peach State. That cobbler measures 11 feet by 5 feet.

8.       “The Peach State”: That would be the nickname for Georgia.

9.       Peach season: Peaches are best from June to the end of August.

10.   Peach ripeness: The flesh of a peach should have a slight give, but use your whole hand vs. fingertips to check since the fruit bruises so easily. Also, check for an even coloring of golden or creamy yellow.

So from one Georgia Peach (yep, born in Brunswick, Georgia) to another…Till next time, enjoy the family!     Stefanie

 

Peach Freezer Jam  (Makes 6 half pint jars)

Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs. peaches to make 5 cups crushed fruit
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 tbsp. freezer jam pectin (in the plastic container,  Ball brand)
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice

Directions:

  1. STIR sugar and instant pectin in a bowl into well blended.
  2. ADD peaches and lemon juice. Stir 3 minutes.
  3. LADLE jam into clean jars to fill line. Apply lids. Let stand until thickened, about 30 minutes. Label.
  4. REFRIGERATE up to 3 weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Healthy Facts and Yummy Snacks…The Strawberry

Happy Monday and thanks for checking back.  As promised, you will find a most delicious strawberry jam recipe, at the end of my blog, but first, a few healthy and fascinating facts on our friend the strawberry.

 

 

 

 

Health benefits of strawberries

  • Strawberry is low in calories (32 cal/100 g) and fats but rich source of health promoting phyto-nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that are essential for optimum health.
  • Strawberries have significantly high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phyto-chemicals called anthocyanins and ellagic acid. Scientific studies show that consumption of these berries may have potential health benefits against cancer, aging, inflammation and neurological diseases.
  • Strawberry has an ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity, a measure of anti-oxidant strength) of about 3577µmol TE per 100 grams.
  • Fresh berries are an excellent source of vitamin-C (100 g provide 58.8 mg or about 98% of RDI), which is also a powerful natural antioxidant. Consumption of fruits rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents, counter inflammation and scavenge harmful free radicals.
  • The fruit is rich in B-complex group of vitamins. It contains very good amounts of vitamin B-6, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and folic acid. These vitamins are acting as co-factors help the body metabolize carbohydrate, proteins and fats.
  • Strawberries contain vitamin A, vitamin E and health promoting flavonoid poly phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zea-xanthin, and beta-carotene in small amounts. These compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.
  • Furthermore, they contain good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, fluorine, copper, iron and iodine. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is required for red blood cell formation. Fluoride is a component of bones and teeth and is important for prevention of dental caries.

I can hear it now, yeah yeah, thanks for the info Stefanie, but we want strawberry jam.  Well, consider it done.  Below please find a tested and recommended recipe from the Ball Blue Book.  Be sure to bookmark this page so you have a quick reference when that most delicious time of the year rolls around.  Till then…..enjoy the family.  Stefanie Quick Strawberry Jam                                                   

  • 2 quarts strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 1 package powdered pectin
  • 7 cups sugar

Crush the berries, one layer at a time.  Measure 4 1/2 cups berries and grated orange peel into a large sauce pot.  Add pectin and place over high heat.  Stir until mixture comes to a rolling boil.  Add the sugar; return to a rolling boil.  Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Pour hot into hot jars, leaving ¼ head space.  Adjust caps.  Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Yield: about 8 half pints.

Recipe courtesy of Ball Blue Book:  The Guide to Home Canning and Freezing

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Farm Fresh and Delicious Sweet Treats

I can’t believe my eyes.  Fall is official upon us; however the thermometer clearly states 81 degrees.  That temperature feels more like summer than fall.  Could it be that beautiful time everyone refers  to as Indian summer? Regardless of what season it is, many people are still working diligently at “preserving the bounty,” and clearly the cool spell that we felt a month or so ago has moved most of us in the direction of cooler harvested produce.  Today more than ever, consumers are demanding close-to-home freshness in everything they buy.  And very few places even come close to Orange County and New York State for the variety and quality of its farm-fresh produce.

You may or may not know that Cornell offers a variety of food and nutrition classes, with topics ranging from eating healthy on a budget to food preservation.  What better way to  capture the delicious flavor of local farm-fresh produce than by preserving it and “putting it up” for use at a later time.  This past year I have had the pleasure of working with two brand new Master Food Preservers.  Mary Strong and Carol Carella, who also happen to  be Master Gardeners, have assisted me with a series of three delightful jams and jellies classes.  Each class was strategically planned to utilize fresh, local produce at the height of their flavors.  In June, workshop participants learned how to make traditional cooked strawberry jam.  August brought bushels of soft, sweet and shirt drenching peaches.  In addition to salivating, the class produced the most delectable peach freezer jam.  One of the best things about making freezer jam in August is that you don’t have to turn the stove on.  Our last food preservation workshop focused on the art of making traditional grape jelly, including producing the indigo colored juice from scratch.

If you’d like to experience any of these classes or are interested in all that Cornell Cooperative Extension has to offer, give us a call at 845-344-1234.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog…I hear there may be some recipes involved.

Till next time…enjoy the family.  Stefanie

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

September and Kinship Goes Together!

September and Kinship Goes Together!

For the first time ever, September has been designated as Kinship Care Month in New York State. This is a VERY exciting happening for me, because Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orange County operates one of the largest kinship care programs in New York.  I bet all of you know of someone who is raising a child who is not their own. This may be:

A grandparent

An aunt or uncle

A cousin

An older sibling

A friend

A neighbor

A foster family

Kinship care has many benefits for children and adults alike. It can help to:

Keep families together

Maintain family history

Keep children connected with other relatives

Keep children closer to their own neighborhoods and schools

Help parents maintain safe connections with children, even when they are not able to provide daily care for them.

Help children feel love and wanted

Help relatives and other caregivers feel like they have a purpose in life

Kinship also helps save state and county resources and money – big time!

To learn more about our kinship program, for you or anyone you know who is raising a related child, and/or to receive a copy of the State proclamation, please call us at 845-344-1234 or visit our web-site at www.cce.cornell.edu/orange and ask about our Relatives as Parents Program (RAPP). Programs are for both adults and children, and are all free and confidential.

So this September, celebrate both traditional and non-traditional parents – those that are sharing the titles of grandma and mom, or daddy and pop-pop.

Until next time, enjoy ALL of your family, whatever the shape and size may be! Denyse 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Surprising Facts About Grandparents!

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Grandparent’s Day, which is a national observance to recognize the importance and worth of grandparents. I was surprised by some of the information I read about their role in today’s families, and thought you might be too!

Fact: Grandparents lead 37% of all households in the US (meaning, they have primary fiscal responsibility for making the household run).

Fact: Grandparents love being grandparents (63% said they can do a better job caring for grandchildren than they did with their own).

Fact: Grandparents are younger than ever before (The average age of grandparents in the US is 48; by 2015, nearly 60% of grandparents will be “Baby Boomers”)

Fact: Grandparents are active (43% exercise or play sports; 28% volunteer regularly; 18% dance)

Fact: Grandparents are wired (75% are online; 45% belong to social networks)

Fact: Grandparents are in the workforce (60% still have a full or part time job)

Fact: Grandparents are becoming more modern (33% have been married more than once; 38% have sex twice a week; 10% have a tattoo; and 17% have attended a political rally)

Fact: Grandparents have money (They control 75% of the wealth in this country and make 45% of the contributions to nonprofit organizations)

Fact: Grandparents support their adult children financially (62% have provided support to their children and grandchildren in the past year)

Fact: Grandparents like to spend time with their grandchildren (66% travel together; 81% have them for all or part of summer vacation: 55% play video games with their grandchildren)

Fact: Grandparents just want to have fun! (With or without their children and grandchildren, grandparents spend 100 billion dollars a year on entertainment and 77 billion dollars on travel)

Fact: 66% of Grandparents have never celebrated Grandparents day! Whether or not you believe this to be just a ”Hallmark” holiday, you can see how grandparents are truly the backbone of US families – and are surely special people to CELEBRATE all year round!!!

Until next time, enjoy the “extended” family, Denyse

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Teens and School Continued…

Hi again.  So, in a bit more depth, here is what the research has to say to help both you and your teen enjoy and do well in school.

Know their teachers – 10th grader, Jay S. says : My parents have no clue what school is like for me. I bet they couldn’t even tell you who my teachers are.”  Just knowing names and subject areas of each teacher is a good first step. Having your child share expectations for each class, including ideas about homework, tests and classroom participation is a great way to hear your child’s feelings about each of their classes and also helps you to understand their own interests and learning styles.

Communicate with the school -  Start by taking advantage of open houses and parent teacher conferences. Your being there lets the teacher and child know you are a partner in their education. Make the connection early in the school year, and before any problems arise. Let the school or teacher know if anything major happens in the family or child’s life, as challenging home events will also impact their school life.

Support your teen – In adolescence, youth explore the world and discover new interests and talents. They are also so incredibly unsure of themselves that most need encouragement to take the next step and join a club, run for student gov’t., or try out for the school play or orchestra. You can be that cheerleader! If your teen is already involved, show support by going to the games or performance, and volunteering to help in simple ways.

Expect Success – 8th grader Eileen G. shares: My parents don’t ask about school or care how I do, just as long as I go. So what’s the point in trying? Ouch! In reality, children who believe that their parents expect success actually do more good things! Like, remember their assignments, and do their homework and be a part of a team and take responsibility for completing work on time. Research also suggests that when teens work toward their personal best (instead of working to compete with others) they are less likely to get depressed or involved in harmful violent, sexual or drug related behaviors. Remember though, personal best does not mean perfect! 

Until next time, enjoy the family! D

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Number 42

Wow. This is the 42nd blog that I’ve written. I love the number 42 – according to Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy , 42 is a magical number, and then, of course, there’s Jackie Robinson!

I also get to talk about one of my favorite subjects – living with teens! As school is upon us, here are two simple tips that may help both you and your teen manage the school year responsibly, successfully, and enjoyably.

  • Be connected: One of the best indicators of teens school performance is how connected they feel with their school. Parents and caregivers can help children connect by encouraging them to engage in a wide range school activities and create relationships with their teachers. Did you know that contentedness not only predicts greater school success, but is also linked to lower rates of sexual activity, suicide, violent behavior, and reduced alcohol, cigarette and drug use? Nice.
  • Stay connected: Many parents become less involved with school as the days of “classroom parent” end and kids get embarrassed, when with their friends, by that parting kiss or hug. But, the research is pretty clear that children do better in school and have more positive attitudes about it in their teen years when parents stay connected with the school. No, your teens won’t want you to go on the next field trip with them, but there are still lots of ways to show them you are interested in their world (after all, they spend an avg. of 7 hours a day there!) Here’s the short list, my next blog will explore them even more. 
  • Know their teachers
  • Communicate with the school 
  • Support your teen
  • Expect Success 

 

Until next time, enjoy the homework and the family! D 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Living With Your Teen: Enjoying and Surviving the Challenge!

Okay, okay… enough with stress, and burnout and personal rants, and on to another favorite topic – living with teenagers! No, I am serious – I think parenting teens is  an amazing art that can bring both teens and their parents rewards and great fulfillment. For parents, it is a test of sorts of how we did with our toddlers, as the teen years can be thought of as the “second toddlerhood”. Once again youth are focused on themselves, and look at the world as if they are the center of the universe. The teen years are a departure from the developing maturity of the school age years, where children gradually learn how to see the world from a less ego centered place, understand that others in their families and lives have needs, ideas and opinions that may be different but are still valid, and progressively learn to do more for themselves and feel more accomplished.  Then the tweens and teens hit, and, at least for a period of time, the maturity of the earlier stage seems to fade, or perhaps just alternate, with the “toddler-like” focus of : “me, my, I do it!”

During the teen years the brain changes rapidly, with increasing development of the centers that help with emotional regulation and “executive functioning” for sound decision making. In fact, adolescence is considered the second greatest period of brain development. All this is occurring while youth are viewing the world from a more independent position, including freedoms to choose their friends, clubs, hobbies, etc. How they love to compare themselves and their families to others and self- righteously insist: “But everyone else can!”  and “How come we are the only  family who doesn’t…” (Hint- this is a ploy, don’t fall for it!) They have likely mastered their communication skills and clearly have more energy and stamina than adults when trying to get their point across or their desires met.  This is why thoughtful parenting of teens is so very important, as well as so very challenging. Still, it is an opportunity for amazing growth for both the teen as well as the whole family. And, you really have no choice but to go along for the ride!

Since being a student is the major work of teens, next time I’ll share a few simple tips on how to help teens take responsibility for their school and study habits… Then, on to more challenging topics about teens and decision making, risk taking, social networking and yes, even sex, drugs and rock and roll.  How fun!

 

Until then, enjoy the family! Denyse

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What Kind of an Investment is Unboxing?

According to the most recent data from the United States Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), the current cost for new parents raising a child to age 18 is $304,480. OMG. This is per child!  Well, I guess they can share that play gym and maybe even the set of blocks. But really, that’s a lot of resources into a single investment…

Of course, I can’t personally think of a better investment than building healthy children. And when I think of investing in children, I think of lots more than just dollars and cents. I think a lot about actual common sense – the way adults encourage and allow children to invest their time. And that is just one reason why I am so perplexed by the new phenomena of “unboxing”, which I guess according to the article I just read in the New York Times magazine section dated August 17, 2014, is not really so new after all!

My children are grown now, and although they too are consumers, we seemed to have escaped this “unboxing” craze. Unboxing is a practice where a faceless person, most often a set of well manicured hands, opens a purchased item while others watch the wrappers come off on-line. Here’s some more information for those of you who have been in the dark like me… “Unboxing is not so much a craze anymore as a genre – a manifestation of a new world of consumer expression.”  The author, Mireille Silcoff, goes on to explain that while Disney Collector is one of the largest players in “unboxing”, ranking between $2 and $13 million a year in advertising, one can find unboxings of almost anything on YouTube today. In fact, there are whole channels devoted to this, including haul videos devoted to watching teenage girls “squealing with delight as they unpack shopping sprees from vast shopping emporiums.”

Now, thinking of all we are spending to raise and help grow healthy children (304,480 per child!), the same children who will ultimately be the ones to make critical decisions for the world of the future, I can’t help but wonder what we are investing in when I read these lines from a conversation between parent and child about the You Tube video titled: Play Doh Chef Cookie Monster Letter Lunch Learn the ABC Alphabet With Cookie Monster Play Dough, which has logged some 40 million hits. Here goes: 

Parent: Wouldn’t you rather watch a real Cookie Monster video?

Child: No, no Mommy. I like the toy. I like the hands on the toy.

Parent: Why?

Child: Because I like it. A lot.

Okay – I guess I am on a rant. And maybe I am just old fashioned. But it makes one wonder about our current investments, doesn’t it?

 

Until next time, enjoy the family! Denyse

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment
  • Blog Authors

    Denyse Altman Variano

    Denyse has had the pleasure of working with children and families since the birth of her first child. Currently responsible for the Family and Consumer Sciences program area at Cornell ... Read Full

    Stefanie Hubert

    Stefanie manages all nutrition programming at Cornell Cooperative Extension Orange County. An avid cook and advocate for health and wellness at all levels, Stefanie enjoys ... Read Full
  • Categories

  • Archives