Palm Fruit Jelly, a Tropical Delight!

The other day while we were working out in the yard, I noticed these bright colored "fruits" hanging off of one of our palm trees.  I was intrigued, and started trying find out exactly what kind of tree it was and if these small and tropical smelling fruits were edible. 

I learned that they ARE in fact edible and people use them to make Palm Jelly! The fruits are everywhere this time of year and from what I understand, very under appreciated as well. A "Jelly Palm" is the old gulf coast name for what most would know as "Pindo Palms",  Butia capitata. 

So how do they taste? I would describe them as a cross between a peach-mango-apricot.  Because most trees put off slightly different tasting fruits, some may have a hint of banana or be tart like a lemon. When very ripe they are close to the taste of a persimmon. 

Below is the recipe I used for making my Palm Jelly, however I extracted the fruit using my steam juicer. 

fruit sepals that have been removed

fruit washed, sepals removed and ready to have juice extracted

Butia Palm Fruit Jelly

Preparation of Juice:
  • 3 quarts fully ripe fruit
  • 6 cups water
Sort fruit, wash and remove sepals if still attached. Barely cover with water (about 6 cups), bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. You can try to crush the fruit with a potato masher after it starts to cook; however, the seeds are so large that the masher only partially crushes.

Collect juice as it drains through a colander, then strain juice two or three times through several thicknesses of damp cheesecloth. Let sit in refrigerator overnight because it will still contain lots of solids. The next day, pour off juice, leaving residue in bottom of container, and strain juice again. The juice may never be perfectly clear. The natural color is yellowish amber. The jelly is much prettier if tinted with red food coloring.

Making the Jelly:
  • 5½ cups strained juice (see above)
  • 1 box powdered pectin
  • 7½ cups sugar
Yield: About 8 half-pint jars

Procedure: Wash and rinse half-pint canning jars; keep hot until ready to use. Prepare two-piece canning lids according to manufacturer's directions.

Measure palm fruit juice into a 6- or 8-quart saucepan. Stir pectin into juice until dissolved, add food coloring, and bring quickly to a hard boil, stirring occasionally. Add sugar all at once. Stir until sugar dissolves.

Bring to full rolling boil (a boil that cannot be stirred down); boil hard for 1 minute and 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; quickly skim off foam with metal spoon. Fill into clean, hot jars, leaving ¼-inch head-space. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; adjust two-piece metal canning lids. Process in a Boiling Water Canner.

Table 1. Recommended process time for Palm Fruit Jelly with Powdered Pectin in a boiling water canner.
Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of PackJar Size0 - 1,000 ft1,001 - 6,000 ftAbove 6,000 ft
HotHalf-pints10 min1520

*Adapted from: Dr. Ruth Patrick, Former Extension Specialist, LSU AgCenter (Extension Service), by National Center for Home Food Preservation, August 28, 2006.*

Our Lives Via Instagram (In Case Ya Missed It!)

Our lives via Instagram last week! 

September 21st- September 27th, 2015

Last week our cool crop vegetable seedlings had gotten large enough to transfer out into the hydroponic beds (which we finally got set up!)  

We found a great new local grow shop called, Coast Hydroponics in Pensacola. Loved it there and I'm sure we'll find ourselves spending quite a bit more time there.  Looking forward to investing in a few new systems.  Also purchased a new brand of nutrient for our hydroponic beds, so it will be interesting to see how we like it compared to the other nutrient we had been using in Washington.  We made the switch to using clay pellets as our grow medium and so far they are working well.  

Our Danny Roo, who was attacked by a dog a few weeks ago has made a full recovery! I've been throwing fruit like watermelon into the freezer and then tossing it to him to help keep him cool during the hot days. He seems to really be enjoying the treats. 

Spent a day at Pensacola Beach, eating seafood nachos and playing on the beach. 

Scored some magnolia tree seeds from a neighbor who had trimmed some of their trees.  Looking forward to starting some magnolia tree seeds! How exciting. 

We visited Fort Pickens off of Pensacola Beach and had a great time. We walked through many of the old bunkers and soaked up some history.  

The other day when I was starting more cool-season seeds, I decided to start 4 trays of sprouts/microgreens. They all have sprouted and it's just been a few days.  The photo you see above was taken less than 48 hours after I planted them. Crazy good seeds

There are Monday's & Then There are Monday' PARADISE.

I still gotta pinch myself most mornings when I wake up.  Sometimes it's strange realizing we're not in Seattle anymore and that we have literally picked up and dropped ourselves into a culture and life quite opposite of what was our normal in the pacific northwest. 

I found a new spot that I'm in love with. Excellent food, amazing's got everything I need including free wifi. How perfect is that? 

By the way, real quick... check out these seafood nachos! I swear they could feed a family of 4 easily.  Have I mentioned how cheap food is here too? Whew. It's about half of what we'd have paid for this up in Washington.

 The restaurants here all are "doing it right!" Most of the popular ones all have playgrounds set up right next to the tables, on the beach! Yes, you can dine and let the kids play just 10 feet away. Ah, a meal un-interrupted... every mother's dream.  The cool breeze coming off the water, Jimmy Buffett over the radio and amazing seafood also help to make this every parent's dream lunch spot. 

 Grouper melt anyone? 

 Yes, this is officially my new "OFFICE". 

 Not too shabby, eh?  I could defiantly get used to this kind of "work".

 Maybe a swim in the shallow emerald waters afterwards? I think so! 

 I am counting my blessings DAILY as I wake up in this beautiful place everyday.  Kicking myself for not moving here 5 years ago when we first vacationed here. Makes me wonder what on earth were we waiting for?! All that matters now is that we made the move, life is good, we're happy, healthy and looking forward to our loved ones and friends coming to visit us! 

Leveling the Yard For New Structures

In order for us to get our gardens going here at the new homestead, we had to level out some of the ground.  We needed a large flat area about 20x20 for two large canopies that would be shading the hydroponic beds and we also needed an area for the pool and chicken coop to be cleared and leveled flat. 

Thankfully when a neighbor heard that we needed this done, he drove over his dozer to do the job. This really saved Erick and I some major work. Normally we are used to doing this sort of thing by hand with shovels and rakes. 

What would have taken us all weekend, took our new neighbor and friend about 20 minutes.  Erick has wanted a "toy" like this ever since I met him and I just keep saying "what would we ever use it for?"...but now I know. We'd probably use it for more than I'd like to admit to at this point! 

 All cleared! ...and FLAT! Time to get busy and get these structures up.  

Our Lives Via Instagram (In Case Ya Missed It!)

Our lives via Instagram last week! 

September 14th- September 20th, 2015

Things are finally starting to come along at the new homestead! 

It was a short but sweet week on Instagram.  We were just in fact SO BUSY that I forgot to get my phone out to document a lot of what we had going on.  I did manage to capture a few of my favorite moments from the week.  

Lots and lots of time was spent at the beach last week.  I found myself taking "days off" to just go to the waters edge and relax.  Isn't it gorgeous here? Seriously, I still feel like we're in a dream most days. 

Remember the juice from the palm fruit I extracted last week with my steam juicer?  I was able to finish the jelly and get it waterbathed for long term storage. It is delicious! I'll be making more next time the palm trees on the property set fruit. 

We went to Lulu Lulu's on the beach (that's Jimmy Buffett's sister if you were wondering)! 
Great food, really fun atmosphere. We watched the boats go up and down the canal and ate fried okra, crab meat sandwich melts, and shrimp salad wraps. So good. 

We're just about ready to transplant some of our seedlings to the hydroponic beds. Should be ready this weekend! Stay tuned. 

We got the pool filled up. (Noahh's pretty excited about that!) 

I made some really amazing salads for supper throughout the week. After working outside in the heat everyday the last thing we wanted was to cook inside and get the kitchen hot. A cool, crisp salad hit the spot most nights.  

Sunday we spent the day fishing and burying farm baby Noahh in the white sandy beaches. 

See you next week! 

Our Lives Via Instagram (In Case Ya Missed It!)

Our lives via Instagram last week! 

September 9th- September 13th, 2015

Last week we had a ball, and kept ourselves VERY busy.

Play Hard, Work Hard...Right?

We got our "seed starting station" set up and installed.

We planted our FALL, cool-weather crops.

We ate at Waffle House, and then went fishing at Navarre's Fishing Pier. It was stunning. 

We FINALLY began assembling our bed. FYI-It's STILL not finished, a week later. SOON HOPEFULLY. My back is killing me and we're both ready to have a real bed again.  We did purchase a NEW MATTRESS however. Whoo hoo! 

Farm Baby and I went to Souvenir City & Alabama's Gulf Coast Zoo

We ate snowballs. Plenty of them. 

We began clearing the property for a few projects like the hydroponic floating row beds, our swimming pool, and the chicken coop! Thanks to a new neighbor and friend, we had access to a bobcat that made the job go quick and easy. 

We thinned our seedlings (micro-greens) and also found a new treat hiding in our palm trees! Jelly time! 

Bought a deep fryer so we could get down and dirty with some real southern cooking. 

Alabama's Gulf Coast Zoo {The Little Zoo that Could!}

We visited the Gulf Coast Zoo in Alabama yesterday and had a wonderful day.  This zoo was the perfect destination for a low-key, easy going afternoon.  It's small, quaint, and the zoo-keepers genuinely care about your experience while you're there.

 It'd like to paint you a picture of our trip to this fun spot.  Lush vegetation, ponds full of bright green waters, and animals packed into every corner you could imagine. Noahh was able to clearly view all of the animals at her height which made it an easy and enjoyable stroll through the zoo.
 This zoo is basically an exotic farm.  Noahh was very familiar with the goats, and chickens...but they also had more exotic animals like tigers and monkeys.  

 We paid $2.00 at the entrance for a souvenir cup filled with "treats" for all of the animals. Noahh loved feeding all of the critters and we both enjoyed how "hands" on all of the exhibits were. 

 It only took us about an hour to walk through the entire zoo, but we easily could have spent a few hours if I had just let her wander and wander. After all, who could get sick of loving on all of the fun animals they had.  We cooled off with some ice cream towards the end of our stay while we watched the kangaroos and then called it a day. Good thing we wore our stop...the beach!

How to Plant a Vegetable Garden in Zone 9a -- Florida

 It's the first of September, which means it is a wonderful time to start a vegetable garden if you live in Florida.  The temperature here now,  can mimic the seasons of Spring or Summer in other parts of the country and if you live in Southern Florida, it is very possible to grow just about anything year-round. How cool is that?

We've been in our new home, here in Northern Florida for just over a week now.  We are getting ready to re-assemble our hydroponic grow beds, which means we need veggies to put into them!  It's the beginning of September as we mentioned, which means it's time to start our "Fall season veggies".  These are also known as your "cool weather crops". 

Start planning your DREAM garden by following these easy steps! 
1) Start by finding out what zone you live in HERE.
2) Choose your crops HERE.
3) Draw out your garden design plans HERE.

All you need to start your seeds indoors is some seed starting soil pods or cell trays with organic soil.   At this point, gather up your non-gmo, pure heirloom, raw & un-treated seeds...some plant markers, a pen and a big ol' glass of sweet tea!  Want TIPS on starting your SEEDS in TRAYS

Want to see which seeds THRIVE in cooler temps? Look here.

Here is a list of crops and their specific planting dates and information that might be helpful if you live in Northern Florida, Zone 9a, like we do now.

Planting Guide for Florida, Zone 9a
{& other parts of Florida as well}

Planting Dates in Florida (outdoors)
Plant Family

Days to
Beans, bushMar-Apr Aug-SepFeb-Apr SepSep-AprFabaceae50-60
Beans, poleMar-Apr Aug-SepFeb-Apr Aug-SepAug-AprFabaceae55-70
Beans, limaMar-AugFeb-Apr Sept.Aug-AprFabaceae65-75
CabbageSep-FebSep-JanSep-JanBrassicaceae90-110 (70-90)
CantaloupesMar-AprFeb-AprAug-Sep Feb-MarCucurbitaccae75-90 (65-75)
CauliflowerJan-Feb Aug-OctOct-JanOct-JanBrassicaceae75-90 (55-70)
CeleryJan-MarAug-FebOct-JanApiaceae115-125 (80-105)
Chinese cabbageOct-FebOct-JanNov-JanBrassicaceae70-90 (60-70)
CollardsFeb-Apr Aug-NovAug-MarAug-FebBrassicaceae70-80
Corn, sweetMar-Apr AugFeb-Mar Aug-SepAug-MarPoaceae60-95
CucumbersFeb-Apr Aug-SepFeb-Mar SepSep-MarCucurbitaceae50-65 (40-50)
EggplantFeb-JulyJan-Mar Aug-SepDec-Feb Aug-OctSolanaceae90-110 (75-90)
Endive/EscaroleFeb-Mar SepJan-Feb SepSep-JanAsteraceae80-95
KaleSep-FebSep-JanSep-JanBrassicaceae70-80 (55)
KohlrabiSep-MarOct-MarOct-FebBrassicaceae70-80 (50-55)
Lettuce: Crisp, Butter-head, Leaf & RomaineFeb-Mar Sep-OctSep-MarSep-JanAsteraceae50-90
Onions, BulbingSep-DecSep-DecSep-NovLiliaceae120-160 (110-120)
Onions, Bunching (Green onions)Aug-MarAug-MarSep-MarLiliaceae50-75 (30-40)
Peas, EnglishJan-MarSep-MarSep-FebFabaceae50-70
Peas, southernMar-AugMar-SepAug-AprFabaceae60-90
PeppersFeb-Apr July-AugJan-Mar Aug-SepAug-MarSolanaceae80-100 (60-80)
Potatoes, sweetMar-JunFeb-JunFeb-JunConvolvulaceae(120-140)
PumpkinMar-Apr AugFeb-Mar AugJan-Feb Aug-SepCucurbitaceae90-120 (80-110)
Squash, SummerMar-Apr Aug-SepFeb-Mar Aug-SepJan-Mar Sep-OctCucurbitaceae40-55 (35-40)
Squash, WinterMar AugFeb-Mar AugJan-Feb SepCucurbitaceae80-110 (70-90)
Tomatoes, StakeFeb-Apr AugJan-Mar SepAug-MarSolanaceae90-110 (75-90)
TurnipsJan-Apr Aug-OctJan-Mar Sep-NovOct-FebBrassicaceae40-60
Watermelon, LargeMar-Apr July-AugJan-Mar AugJan-Mar Aug-SepCucurbitaceae85-95 (80-90)

Labor Day at Navarre Beach Fishing Pier

 Well we survived our first long holiday weekend here in paradise. Lots of tourists came in for the beautiful beaches, great food and southern hospitality. Not nearly as many tourists as I had expected, which was surprisingly nice.

We woke up early, got a few things done around the house and then got packed up and headed back to Navarre Beach to do a little fishing off the pier.  This is the longest pier I believe on the Gulf! 

Noahh even got herself a brand new fishing pole, which she was beyond excited about!

 This gal of ours wasted no time getting her line in the water.

...and she even helped Papa get his line out too.

Needlesstosay this was the ONLY fish we caught all day. The bites just weren't out there for us but we sure had a great time.  The weather was gorgeous and Noahh was a happy girl.

She just loved seeing the fishes that everyone on the pier were bringing up. We watched dolphins and sea turtles swim in the crystal clear water beneath us too which was very cool. 

 This is when Noahh and the fish we caught had a VERY interesting and lengthy conversation.  It was hysterical.  Oh sweet Noahh. Her love for animals and wildlife go much further than chickens and goats that's for sure! If it has a heartbeat, it is her best friend! 

 We sure are enjoying seeing these two together.  If one thing's for sure, it is that our two daughters have many wonderful sets of grandparent's who love them to the moon and back.

 ...and that's a wrap! We loaded the fishing cart up, and Noahh hitched a ride back to the car. 

As we were leaving... look what came upon us! It's like the oceans way of waving "goodbye" and saying "come play again". Gorgeous!

Florida Welcomes Us with a Shrimp & Mullet Fish Fry

 So apparently we became part of this Perdido Key, "Galvez Community" just at the right time.  We were invited by our neighbors and new friends to be a part of their "Shrimp and Mullet Fish Fry" and boy were we excited.

Noahh enjoyed the afternoon in her swimwear, toting around with Grandpa and gibbering with her new neighbors.

This guy was the fisherman, and he brought in lbs. and lbs. of fresh mullet and shrimp he had just caught in the gulf. He was kind enough to bring his "outdoor kitchen" ensemble to fry up the local catch for all of us neighbors. 

The kids played and played in the water and had just a ball.

 Can't forget to take Dora to the beach!

 So this is our life now.  Southern hospitality and slow livin'.  What a great neighborhood we are a part of! Everyone, from all walks of life, come together to eat good food.  One guy backed up his older model BMW convertable, slapped up an electric keyboard to the trunk and played all throughout the evening.  Neighbors drove down in their golf carts, we gathered around the food and just had a great evening.  We sure are feeling blessed to be surrounded by these kind individuals.

 Everyone brought a little something to share that would compliment the fresh mullet and shrimp.  We had jalapeno hush-puppies, slaw, bean and corn salad... it was quite the feast. 


 We stayed until it got dark that night.  You get the best sunset pictures, right here in our own front-yard!

 We went home with full bellies and happy hearts.  Life here in Perdido Key sure hasn't let us down so far! Looking forward to the next shrimp and mullet fish fry with our new neighbors and friends.

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