Top 5 Uses for Dr. Bronner's Soap

Top 5 Uses for Dr. Bronner's Soap

Hey friends! I hope each of you are doing well and having a great week. Have you ever heard of  Dr. Bronner's Castile Soaps before?

If you shop at Trader Joe's, Target, Whole Foods or an organic grocery store, I'm sure that you have seen these 18-in-1 Pure Castile Soaps.  

I was first introduced to Dr. Bronner's Castile Soaps when I was in college. I remember having a couple of friends who swore by this organic hemp soap and over the years I have come to realize why.

 I LOVE this stuff!

Life Lessons: How to Make Blueberry Jam

Life Lessons: How to make Blueberry Jam via @hazelhaven

When life gives you blueberries, make blueberry jam.

The blueberry bushes at my grandparents' house are over thirty years old and produce so many berries. When my grandmother told me that they had about three gallons of leftover berries I was amazed. Her blueberry jam has always been a favorite of mine and I was thrilled when she agreed to teach me how to make it. As I mentioned in this post, there are a lot of good reasons on why to preserve food out of your garden or from a local farmers market

Jams and jellies are a good place to start for beginners in canning. They don't have to go into a pressure cooker/canner and are done in a water bath

We picked a huge bowl of blueberries, checked them for spots, removed the stems and washed them.

We used Sure-Jell fruit pectin because that's what she had always used. We then followed the Sure-Jell directions for cooked blueberry jam.

I measured out how many blueberries we needed using the Ball jam jars as measuring cups. I then pulsed the blueberries in a food processor while my grandmother prepared all of the sanitized Ball jars, lids, and rings in hot water. As well as preparing the water bath in the canner. 

She kept reminding me to always remember hot, hot, and hot! All of the jars are in boiling hot water, the lids are in the hot water and the canner is hot. Be sure to not burn yourself. 

Into a big pot went the chopped blueberries, a 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of butter to reduce the amount of foaming, and the packet of Sure-Jell. Then we brought it to a full rolling boil, (one that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred). 

Life Lessons: How to Make Blueberry Jam | hazelhaven.com @hazelhaven

Added the sugar and then let it return to a full rolling boil. Stirred for one minute and try to keep the foam down. This minute seems to last forever

Warning: You will get an arm workout while stirring the jam and with everything being hot, hot and hot you will get sweaty. I mean, you will glisten. 

After stirring vigorously and keeping the foam down, we removed from heat and went in this order for filling the jars:

  • Use tongs to grab a jar out of the hot water, empty water and place upright on a towel. 
  • Place funnel in the jar. 
  • Use the teacup to scoop out enough jam and leave enough headspace. 
  • Remove funnel and place in teacup.
  • Wipe jar rims and threads with wet towel.
  • Use tongs to grab a lid and ring and hand tighten. 
  • Use jar lifter to place into the water bath. 
  • Repeat until filling up the canner. 

This process goes by very quickly and none of it was physically hard to do. 

When it was my turn to do a batch I was halfway through and picked up a jar with my grandmother's jar lifter that I don't even think that they make anymore. I lost grip and dropped the full jar into the pot of jam. The hot jam went everywhere; but we quickly saved it, wiped it off and placed it into the water bath. Thankfully nothing broke. I have to admit that I was a little frazzled but then my grandmother told me about her trials and errors, reminded me that it was okay and that I was doing a good job. I took a deep breath, went in for another jar and repeated until finishing my batch. 

Blueberry Jam Aftermath. Not pictured: Jam on backsplash, jam on clothing, and jam on flooring. : Life Lessons: How to Make Blueberry Jam | hazelhaven.com @hazelhaven

Blueberry Jam Aftermath. Not pictured: Jam on backsplash, jam on clothing, and jam on flooring. : Life Lessons: How to Make Blueberry Jam | hazelhaven.com @hazelhaven

Follow the directions for how long to cook the jam in a water bath, it was 10 minutes for the cooked blueberry jam. 

After cooking, use jar lifter and a towel under the jar to stable yourself and place on a toweled surface to cool. 

Patiently wait for the lids to pop for sealing. Each time a jar would pop my grandmother would say out loud, "oooh thank you! Thank you!"

Place the leftover jam into a jar and use immediately. We tasted some on a slice of freshly made bread. Mmmmm so good. 

We canned two batches which came out to be 13 of the 1/2-pint jam jars. 

Life Lessons: How to Make Blueberry Jam | hazelhaven.com @hazelhaven

We also did a batch of blackberry jelly which was essentially the same process except with blackberry juice and no seeds. I personally prefer the jam to the jelly. Which do you prefer?

Have you ever made blueberry jam before? What do you like to can? 

Life Lessons: Learning How to Can

Life Lessons: Learning How to Can via @hazelhaven

I use Ball mason jars for a variety of things; beauty productsstoring spicesstoring pesto and more. It was about time that I learned how to use these ball jars for their main purpose and do some canning. 

If I didn't have my garden I probably would not have thought twice about learning how to can. 

Sure, I could have used YouTube or read about how to can. You can learn anything from fixing a toilet to a car engine on YouTube; but to learn from a grandparent, a parent or a willing teacher who has done it before makes for a better learning experience and a lifelong memory. 

I was thankful that I was able to spend some time with my grandparents and see what they could teach me. My grandparents have had a garden and have canned their food as long as I can remember as did their parents and the ones before them.  

If you don't have a living parent or grandparent in your life, it is very likely that you do have someone in your life that has a skill that you would like to learn. All you have to do is ask if they will teach you.  

Life Lessons: Learning How to Can | hazelhaven.com @hazelhaven

I learned how to can purple hull peas, blackberry jelly and blueberry jam. I watched my grandmother the first few times and then did my own batch. I'll post in upcoming posts how we canned those foods using both a pressure canner and water baths. 

I always thought that canning was old-fashioned or too hard to learn. As I started to do the canning process, though, I started to understand the value in canning.   

You know where your food is coming from and what's in it. When we picked blueberries for the jam, I knew exactly where those berries came from. When I was shelling purple hull peas, I knew what part of the garden those were located in and that the plants were grown from seed. 

Life Lessons: Learning How to Can | hazelhaven.com @hazelhaven

With our lives as hectic as they are now, canning saves time in food preparation for putting a meal together. A jar of this added to a little bit of that can instantly be a meal. And hey, it saves money too!

If you're in the south and you get news that there's going to be the possibility of 1/16 inch of snow; you don't have to rush to the store to buy the ingredients for milk sandwiches. 

Canning is also a way to have a homemade gift on hand. 

Now that I have canned, I have a better appreciation for canning and truly understand what goes into it. 

Canning is not hard, it's just time-consuming. Tweet that!

Watching and learning how to can next to my grandmother and then being able to do it myself created a little bit of canning confidence. I am now excited to do some canning on my own. 

Have you ever canned anything before? Do you use your ball mason jars for things other than canning food?