Friday, June 1, 2012

Preserving the Harvest: Cajeta (caramel sauce)

When I think about preserving my harvest, one thing I often overlook is dairy. Our herd of meat and dairy goats are in production and milking is in full swing. The fridge is filling up putting the need for preserving heavy on our mind. For the next couple of days, we would like to share some of our methods and recipes for preserving our dairy harvest, starting with the sweetest and dreamiest ....

Jen and I found a tasty recipe last summer while gazing through our cheese making; a recipe for Cajeta- or Mexican caramelized sauce. Needing to use a few quarts of milk up, we opted to give this a try. Our entire family absolutely fell in love with this delicious treat using it to dip apples in, drizzle on ice cream and even in coffee. My husband licks it straight off the spoon- it is fabulous. Now..don't you want the recipe?

Cajeta (Mexican caramel sauce)

       yields approximately 3 pints

2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp baking soda
3 quarts whole goat's milk
3 cups sugar (I used white, but I think brown would have been bolder)

Dissolve the cornstarch and baking soda in 1 cup of the milk and stir to dissolve any lumps. Pour this into a large (mine is a stock pot) heavy bottom sauce pan. Pour in the remaining milk and the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Yes, I mean constantly- milk scorches in nothing flat and is a mess to clean up if it foams over. We took turns stirring it nonstop. Cook until it is the consistency of Carmel sauce. Now, bear in mind, this takes about two hours of continual stirring. After about one hour the mixture takes on the appearance of evaporated milk and is slightly thicker. After one hour and fifteen minutes (give or take) the mixture looks like condensed milk..slightly darker and thicker. Around the two hour mark, the mixture is a syrup consistency, tan to light brown, and tastes like caramel. When tested - drizzling some on a cool plate- it gelled well and tasted amazing!
We then poured it through a fine strainer into clean jars, let it cool a bit, and enjoyed it.
As said earlier, it was a great dip for fruit and a tasty topping for ice cream...I'm sure we will find even more uses for this tasty treat- my oldest farm girl says it makes a great caramel mocha frappe..gotta love her.

Since the testing of this recipe last summer, we have researched and tested the use of a crock pot instead of the stove top- I'll do anything not to be tied to the stove- and with my teens starting to spend more time away from the nest, taking turns just isn't happening. 
Let me say- love the crock version. Same ingredients only you put it in a crock on high heat and leave it 10 hours. I stir it occasionally (but that's because I need to be needed by things), but no where does anyone say you have to. Same great taste and results. 
Another great test run we did was flavor add-ins: we tried vanilla, and a batch with cinnamon- both were even tastier:) For vanilla, add 1 vanilla bean, whole, at the start of the recipe- or 2 teaspoons vanilla after letting the sauce cool a bit. For cinnamon, add 2 whole sticks at the beginning of the cooking time or 2 teaspoons of powdered at the beginning.

   With summer already here, and plenty of teen/college students hanging out around the homestead, ice cream is in the freezer...movies are in the cabinet..and Cajeta is in the jar...ready for an afternoon or late night treat!


Julie @ Becoming Lydia said...

Thanks for sharing this uniquely tasty recipe with us at The Becoming Kitchen Link-up!

Anonymous said...

I don't use corn starch in mine. I use a modified version of Rick Bayless' recipe. It contains:
2 quarts of goat milk
2 cups of sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
he uses a 2 inch piece of cinnamon stick. I use a small piece of orange zest instead.
Bring it to a boil, add the baking soda, and then cook, cook, cook. Stir it a lot at the end. He won Top Chef Masters, so he knows what he is doing.

5N Family said...

I plan to give this a try asap. Have you tried canning this so it can be kept on the shelf until ready to use?? Please see my profile and email me if possible. Thank you.

Simply Scaife Family said...

Yes. I can it in a pressure canner at 10 lbs pressure for 10 minutes. is so yummy!

5N Family said...

Great! I'm fixing to give it a shot now. Thanks and blessings to you and yours from ours!

5N Family said...

I'm trying the crock pot method. It's been going since 11ish and it still isn't getting thick. What could I be doing wrong?? Should it be covered or open?? By the way...I was looking at your profile and saw that you are in Southeast Texas. How crazy is are we! What area of Southeast Texas are you??

Simply Scaife Family said...

Set the lid askew ..I put a wooden spoon under it so steam can escape. This should thicken it. I am in the Conroe/Cut and Shoot area. Where are you?