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Homeschooling Happens In Many Ways

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by , 09-21-2012 at 06:44 AM (9877 Views)
I was thinking the other day about all the different ways that learning happens. Some people think you can only learn from books and lectures and lots of written assignments. Others think that learning with a computer is the best way to go. I prefer hands on learning.
We take monthly classes at a local historical site. All of the classes focus on life in the 1800's. This week the class was about harvesting the gardens that they planted a few months ago. Then they moved on to preserving those crops for storage for the winter. The first thing they did was make plum preserves. They talked about the difference between preserves, jam, and jelly. Do you know which is which? Jelly is made from the juice of the fruit. Jam is made from the juice and the fruit. Preserves is made from the juice, the fruit, and the skin of the fruit. First they cut the fruit. Ms. Maressa taught them how to hold the fruit in a rainbow bridge with the knife under the bridge.
It was a great safe way for them to cut up the fruit. Then they carefully measured the other ingredients into the pot. One of Ms. Maressa's helpers watched the pot on the stove while the class moved on to refrigerator pickles.

To make the pickles, the first thing the kids did was to cut the end off of the cucumbers. After you cut the end off you rub the end around the cut end of the cucumber. This is supposed to take away the bitterness. Then the cut the cucumber in half and finally sliced it. They again used the rainbow bridge technique. They stuffed their cucumber into a pint canning jar.
Ms. Maressa smashed the garlic pieces using the flat side of the knife against the back of a stainless steel measuring cup. She said that if you touch stainless steel after you cut garlic it takes the smell off your hands. By smashing it this way, the papery outside came off easily and they could just throw the garlic pieces into the jar.
They added peppercorns and a vinegar/water solution. Then they sealed the jars and shook (hum, I know that is not the way to spell that but spell checker says it's okay.)
They had to put the pickles in the refrigerator when they got home. She also told them to shake the jars three or four times a day for two days.

This was such a great way to learn about preserving the food that these kids planted just a few months ago.

Just in case you're interested, here are the recipes:

Gingered Plum Preserves
6 cups finely chopped unpeeled plums (about 2 pounds)
3 cups sugar
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
Dash of ground allspice

Place all the ingredients in heavy large pot; stir to combine. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain an even boil. Boil 12 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently, or until slightly thickened and set.
Pour hot jam into 4 sterilized 8 oz. jars. Carefully wipe rims; cover. Jam can be refrigerated for up to one month or frozen for up to 6 months. To store at room temperature, immediately process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.

Refrigerator Pickle Recipe
Cucumber: One large English or 2-3 smaller pickling cucumbers
2 cups cold water
1/3 cup white wine vinegar (any variety of vinegar will do except balsamic)
1 Tablespoon sea salt
5 whole peppercorns
Ground pepper
1-2 cloves garlic
One container: Either a pickling jar or a Ziplock freezer bag.

You can also add any other flavoring you would like, such as onions, peppers, or dill.

We used regular cucumbers. First, cut off the ends. These are typically bitter. You might want to slice off a bit of the end you plan to use and taste it to make sure you've completely removed all the bitterness. They need to be sliced into quarters lengthwise
Next, cut the cucumber into thirds. Then cut each third into 8 spears. This can be done by halving the round, then having that, then halving once again.
Take the garlic heads and remove two cloves. Remove the outer skin and crush with the back of a spoon, In a bowl, combine water, salt, vinegar, ground pepper, and whole peppercorns. The water should be cold, but you want to try to dissolve as much of the salt as you can.
Put the cucumbers in the bag or jar and pour in the liquid. Next add the garlic. you can also add any additional ingredients to the pickles at this time.
Leave in fridge for two days and you've got pickles.