Ground Cherry Jam

Ground Cherries

This is the recipe I referenced when I shared the recipe for  Ground Cherry Salsa … AKA Cape Gooseberry Salsa … AKA Husk Cherry Salsa … AKA Peruvian Cherry Salsa … AKA Salsa di Alkekengi … AKA Those-Little-Orange-Thingies-in-the-Paper-Lanterns Salsa. Whatever you call them, the fruit have a unique blend of pineapple and tomato flavors and makes a tasty jam that couldn’t be easier to prepare.

The cherries are husked, rinsed, and placed in a pot with sugar, along with whatever pectin you prefer. I added a little lemon and rosemary just to see how it would taste. In the end, 3 quarts of ground cherries produced 6 small jelly jars (3 half-pints). At $5.00 a quart, this isn’t the cheapest jam to make. Remember, too, that husked ground cherries are considerably less in volume than those still wearing husks. I wish these were the only problems.

I chose to use pectin because it yields more jam than if I relied on the fruit’s natural gelling properties. It can also be made in 1 day whereas jamming without pectin is a 2 day affair. Using pectin, however, resulted in a jam that was a bit too thick for my tastes. This is why I hate discovering a new item at the end of our growing season. I’ll have to wait until next year before I can make more of this jam. Whether I use pectin, I’ll use at least 4 quarts of ground cherries. Either way, I’ll have a tasty jam that’s hopefully easier to spread. While I’m at it, I’d also like to bake a pie with this fruit. (Thanks, Gretchen. Do take a few minutes to check out her fantastic blog, where every recipe is critiqued by 3 very discerning foodies.)

Hmm … Maybe I can get some sort of discount if I buy ground cherries by the crate.

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Ground Cherry Jam 3

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Ground Cherry Jam Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups ground cherries, husked & rinsed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 box pectin
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 3 cups sugar
  • pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Place the ground cherries, lemon juice, water, pectin, and rosemary into a heavy bottomed pot over med-high heat. (See Notes)
  2. After they’ve softened a bit, use a potato masher or wooden spoon to mash the cherries to the consistency you prefer.
  3. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil (see Notes).  Add salt and sugar. Stir well.
  4. When the jam returns to a rolling boil, continue heating for 1 minute and then take off the heat. Remove the rosemary sprigs.
  5. Place hot jam immediately into clean, sterile jars, cap, and place in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from bath, set on a clean kitchen towel away from drafts, and do not disturb for 24 hours to allow the tops to properly seal.
  7. Once sealed, store in a cool, dark place. (See Notes)

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Ground Cherry Jam 2

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Notes

Directions may vary slightly depending upon the pectin being used. Be sure to follow the directions on your pectin’s packaging,

A rolling boil is one which continues even while the pot’s contents are stirred.

In the event that a jar does not seal properly, the jam is still good but must be refrigerated and used within a couple of weeks, You can also place the jar in the freezer. I’ve enjoyed jam that has been frozen for several months.

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A scheduling change

It’s no secret that we’re coming to the end of the Bartolini recipe file. I do have a few more recipes, along with a few from Dad’s family, to share but certainly not enough to continue publishing a weekly recipe. So, although I’ll continue to post on Wednesdays, it just won’t be every Wednesday.

Did you hear that? It was a sigh of relief from Zia who just now learned that, after 5 years, I won’t be asking if she has another recipe for me or if she remembers the time when …

(Psst. I’ll still post, just not as often.)

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

Figs 1

Since today’s post featured a rather unusual jam, I thought we’d continue down that road and take you back to my Fig Jam with Balsamic and Black Pepper recipe. This is a delicious jam and it pairs very well with pork roasts.  You can read all about it HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Grilled clams 2

Grilled Clams

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Crostata

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.” (Shakespeare, “Romeo and Juliet”)

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About 3 years ago, I shared a recipe for the Apple Thingamajig, the name resulting from the inability of Zia and myself to remember the dessert’s correct name. In the Comments, some suggested calling it a “galette”, still others called it a “crostata.”, and I’ve even heard it called an “open-faced” or “rustic” pie. We would never have called it a crostata, however, for reasons I had intended to reveal shortly thereafter. You see, I had planned to share today’s recipe that Christmas (2011). Having missed that opportunity, crostata was to be featured the following December (2012), and, having failed that, last December (2013) would most certainly see a crostata recipe published.  And, so, here it is 2014 and the crostata recipe is finally making it to the big time. Even so, and to get back to my original point, say “crostata” to my family and we think of a jam-covered tart very much like the ones pictured throughout today’s post.

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Mom's Crostata 1

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So why share the recipe now? Well, recently a good friend of the Bartolini Kitchens, Stefan of Stefan’s Gourmet Blog, shared his crostata recipe. (If you’ve not visited Stefan’s site, this is your chance. His is a fantastic blog filled with many wonderful recipes and you’ll find his Italian dishes as well-researched as they are delicious.) Seeing his crostata recipe lit a fire under me and I decided this would be the year to finally share the recipe for the benefit of the rest of the Clan. This time, though, I’d publish it ASAP, so, that there would be little chance of it being forgotten again in the rush towards Christmas.

We could always count on Mom preparing several treats for the Christmas holiday. Though she started making chocolate candies in her retirement, she always made sure that there were plenty of biscotti and a crostata for Christmas Day. For me, it wouldn’t have been Christmas without either being present, no matter what else she had prepared — the platter of ravioli notwithstanding.

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Crostata 1

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Not having any tart pans, Mom prepared her crostata on a small baking sheet. (In professional kitchens, it would be called a “quarter baking sheet”.) She would use 2 types of jam, with half of her crostata being coated with either strawberry or, very rarely, cherry, and, the other half peach. Mom didn’t start making jam and preserves until her retirement, so, she used store-bought jams for her crostata. She served it in little pieces, like those I’ve shown, presumably because the last thing we kids needed was more sugar on Christmas Day. Using a three-tiered serving dish, she was able to control how much we kids ate. When it was empty, there’d be no re-filling it for hours. Of course, when company was expected, the contents of that serving dish were strictly off-limits. Don’t worry. We still had our fill — just not from that tray.

With regards to this post, I didn’t feel right calling it “Mom’s Crostata”, for it really isn’t. Mom didn’t leave us a true cookbook. Yes, she gave us kids our own cookbooks but none were a complete listing of all of her recipes. I do have a couple of her notebooks but the recipes listed are in varying stages of completion. Some are fully written, while others are nothing more than a few notes. Today’s recipe falls into the latter category, though I remember watching her spread the jam over the pastry crust, my mouth-watering the entire time. The only real question that remained was what recipe to use for the shortbread crust — and Mom’s notes did specify a “shortbread crust”. The answer came from a surprising source.

Good Cooking CookbookDuring my last visit with Zia, she mentioned that she possessed a “Five Roses Flour” cookbook from 1938 that once belonged to her Mother-in-Law — the woman I’ve referred to as “Nonna” in earlier posts. While paging through it, I came across a shortbread recipe. Now, this is no ordinary shortbread. The recipe’s name is listed as “Prize Shortbread” and it’s noted that the recipe “has won many prizes at Fall Fairs and Exhibitions.” There was certainly no need to look any further for a shortbread recipe. Here, I’ve shared the recipe as it was originally written, although when I prepared the shortbread, I used my food processor and the resulting crust was quite good. (See below for a possible use for extra shortbread dough.)

Unlike Mom, I used my own jams for today’s crostate. In the first photo, strawberry jam with balsamic and black pepper, and, peach jam with white balsamic were used. The addition of balsamic vinegar is why both jams appear unusually dark in the photos. The 2nd crostata was made with tart cherry jam, to which a little bit of almond extract was added. Feel free to use whatever jam(s) you prefer.

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Crostata Recipe

Ingredients

for the pastry

  • 2 cups all-purpose (AP) flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • an egg yolk and water wash

for the filling

  • jam/preserves, amount depending upon the crostata’s size and whether 2 flavors are to be used.

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350˚ F (175˚ C).
  2. In a mixing bowl, use a spoon to mix the sugar, butter, salt, and egg yolk. Slowly add the flour and continue to mix until the spoon can no longer be used.
  3. Turn on to a lightly floured board and begin kneading, adding more flour until the dough begins to crack.
  4. Reserve a small portion of dough to be used for the lattice.
  5. Roll the dough between 2 sheets of wax paper until about 1/8 inch thick and slightly larger than the tart pan or baking sheet.
  6. Carefully remove one sheet of wax paper and place the dough on to the tart pan, dough-side down. Remove the remaining sheet of wax paper. Gently press the dough to fit the contours of the pan. Trim the excess dough and add to the reserve.
  7. Use an offset spatula to spread the jam, evenly covering the pastry dough.
  8. Roll out the reserved pastry dough as you did for the crust. Cut the dough into strips.
  9. Starting at one end, diagonally place the strips across the tart. Once completed, work from the other side placing strips diagonally in the opposite direction, creating a lattice in the process.
  10. Use the egg wash to lightly coat the lattice and any of the exposed crust.
  11. Bake in the lower third of a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes or until crust and lattice are lightly browned.
  12. Allow to cool before cutting. Serve at room temperature.

Shortbread pastry dough recipe found in “A Guide to Good Cooking” by the Five Rose Flour Co. (1938)

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Cherry Crostata 5

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Notes

The first time I prepared this crostata, I “blind baked” the tart shell for 8 minutes before filling it. This was a mistake, as you can see when looking at the first photo. The lattice is considerably lighter in color than the crust. After that attempt, I’ve no longer blind baked the crust and the finished tart’s shortbread appears more evenly baked.

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So, you’ve made a crostata and still have a little extra dough to burn …

I just couldn’t bring myself to discard the excess shortbread dough, nor was there enough to make another crostata. I was going to make a few shortbread cookies, a personal Shortbread Sandwichesfavorite, when I had an epiphany. Using a very small ice cream scoop, make equally sized balls of dough, placing them on a small baking sheet. Once the sheet was covered with evenly spaced dough balls, use the bottom of a glass to press each ball into a flat cookie. Bake in a pre-heated 350˚ F (175˚ C) oven until the edges just start to turn brown, about 15 minutes. Once cooled, use 2 cookies with a bit of Nutella in-between to make a single sandwich cookie. (You could just as easily use jam for the filling.) Like the crostate, these cookies were well-received by the taste testers that live above me. So well-received, in fact, that now I’m considering making a Nutella crostata.

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

lumache-con-farfalle-1

This past Saturday is known as All Soul’s Day and in Marche, the Bartolini ancestral home, snails, lumache, are traditionally served.  I won’t say much more, for fear of stealing the post’s thunder, other than to mention that you can learn all about preparing this delicacy by clicking HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Osso Buco Preview

Osso Buco

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This Pork Tenderloin is Plum Tasty

Pork Tenderloin - Plums  5Long-time subscribers to this blog know that I didn’t exactly jump at the chance to start canning. The word “reluctant” comes to mind, though “stubborn” might be more appropriate. Well, in August, 2011, I did start preserving foods, with most of my attention focused upon jams and jellies. It wasn’t long before I was awash in jams and jellies of every kind, as were many of my tasters, located both near and far alike.

At the time, I didn’t realize that there’s much more to jelly besides toast or peanut butter. The day I used fig preserves to stuff a pork loin changed the way I viewed my jams. So, when I made Damson plum jam last year, I was already thinking of pork roasts. I knew I was on the right track when my friend, Betsy, author of the wonderful Bits and Breadcrumbs blog, mentioned the very same thing in that post’s comments. Betsy, it took me a while to get here but I finally made it!

There is nothing complicated about this recipe. I’d guess that the toughest part of it will be finding plum jam, depending upon where you live. You could aways make some yourself but, if you live in the Chicago area, you’re likely to have a harder time finding Damson plums this Summer. You see, I plan on buying as many as I can find, all the while dreaming of future pork roasts. Speaking of which, there’s a pork roast with cherries in the works, as well.

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Some have noticed and mentioned that I’ve not been around the blogosphere as much as I once was. The fact is that I now have over 1100 followers, far more than I ever dreamt possible, yet I’ve continued to administer the blog as I did when you numbered only 100. As you can well imagine, this cannot continue and I’m imposing a limit on the amount of time I commit to blogging every day. I certainly hope that no one takes offense if I miss a post or fail to reply to a comment, for that’s the very last thing intended. I simply need to devote time to other matters. Thank you for your understanding. I’m very grateful for your ongoing support and encouragement.

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Pork Tenderloin - Plums 2

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Pork Tenderloin with Plum Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb. (680 g) pork tenderloin
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 oz (120 ml) white wine — I used a Riesling
  • 1 tsp grated ginger — a little less than 1/2 inch piece
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 oz (115 g) plum jam  — Damson plum jam recipe
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper, to taste

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Pork Tenderloin - Plums 4*     *     *

Directions

  1. Heat butter and olive oil in a large frying pan, with cover, over med-high heat.
  2. Season pork tenderloin with salt and pepper before browning it on all sides in the pan — about 8 minutes. Remove the tenderloin from the pan.
  3. Use the white wine to deglaze the pan.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium before adding the ginger, balsamic vinegar, and plum jam, stirring until the jam melts and all are well-combined.
  5. Add the rosemary and return the tenderloin to the pan. Use a spoon to coat the pork with the plum sauce. Cover the pan.
  6. Continue to cook the pork, periodically basting it with the sauce, until it reaches your preferred temperature. Remove from pan and tent with foil while it rests for at least 10 minutes. (I removed mine from the heat when it reached 150˚ F (65˚ C).)
  7. Remove the rosemary sprigs and reserve the sauce. (See Notes.)
  8. Slice the roast and serve with the reserved plum sauce.

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Pork Tenderloin - Plums X*     *     *

Sides

This tenderloin is really so quick and easy to prepare that I didn’t want to spend time with complicated side dishes.

Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta:Shredded Brussels Sprouts

  • This inspired recipe combines shredded Brussels sprouts, pancetta, garlic, stock, and white balsamic to create a truly special dish. To see the full recipe, be sure to check out my friend Eva’s sumptuous blog, Kitchen Inspirations.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Rosemary and Pecorino Romano Cheese:

  • Roasted FingerlingsPre-heat oven and baking sheet to 425˚ F (220˚ C). Wash then cut fingerling potatoes to equal size. Season with crushed dried rosemary, salt, pepper, and coat with olive oil. Carefully oil baking sheet, add potatoes in a single layer, and roast until potatoes can be pierced easily, 20 to 30 minutes depending on size and quantity. Remove to serving platter, garnish with grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and serve immediately.

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Leftovers?

Pork and Plum Sammich

No problem

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Notes

I used plum jam, not jelly. As a result, the sauce may not be as smooth as some may prefer. If that’s you, while the tenderloin rests, I would suggest deglazing the pan with a bit of stock, wine, or water before straining the sauce through a fine mesh sieve. Once strained, place the sauce in a small pan and reduce it over med-high heat until it reaches the desired thickness. Taste for seasoning before serving.

Not all fingerling potatoes are created equal and they’re likely to require varying times to roast. Cut the potatoes into even-sized pieces and all should cook evenly without any problems.

If plums are in season, you could add a few plum halves to the pan and sauté them for as long, or short, as you like. Serve them alongside the roast.

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

Pappardelle 5Hard to believe that it was two years ago when I was in the middle of my series on making cheese at home. When I demonstrated how easy it was to make mascarpone, I promised that I’d publish some recipes that would use your freshly made cheese. Today’s blast from the past is one of those recipes, combining pappardelle, spinach, Pecorino Romano, and, of course, mascarpone. It’s a delicious recipe and one you won’t want to miss. You can learn all about it by clicking HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Sicilian Strata 3A Sicilian Strata

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See Quince? Make Jam First Then Jelly

OK. I’ll admit it. I didn’t know a thing about quince. I certainly didn’t hear about them while growing up, let alone see any of them. When I finally did see one, not all that long ago, I thought it to be a very odd-looking apple — and expensive, at that.

Things began to change, however, once I started blogging. Every Fall, quince jelly recipes began to circulate. Then, last August, my friend Celia posted her recipe for making quince jelly on her wonderful blog Fig Jam And Lime Cordial. (If you’re not familiar with her posts, this is your chance. Celia’s blog is one that has a little something for everyone and all of it good.) At the time, I told her that I wanted to make some and would let her know when I did. So, “Hey, Celia! I made quince jam & jelly!”

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Quince 1

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Once I purchased the quince, I searched for a recipe. Since quince has a high level of pectin within it, I decided to go without adding any more. This, unfortunately, ruled out Celia’s recipe. (Sorry, Celia.) I soon learned that the web is full of quince recipes, all pretty much the same. Quince, sugar, lemon juice, and water combine to eventually produce jelly. Well, I like jelly but I prefer jam. Looking a little further, I came upon a recipe that suited my needs. I settled on a Greek recipe for quince jam called Marmalatha Kythoni. Unlike all others, this one had 2 things going for it.

In the first place, the recipe gave a ratio of quince to sugar (2:1). This is so much more convenient than stating that 1 quart of quince is required. Just how many quince does it take to make a quart? With this ratio, you just buy the quince, peel, core, chop, and then weigh them. Whatever the weight, you’ll need half that amount in sugar. (You’ll note that in the recipe, I stated the quince amount in ounces (grams) to make the math easier.)

Secondly, water used to boil the quince in this recipe may be used to make quince jelly. Granted, you won’t be making a lot but you will get a little over a cup for your efforts. The same ratio (2:1) applies when making jelly, too. The difference being in this case, you use measures and not weight. So, I had 4 cups of quince liquid and used 2 cups of sugar to make a pint of jelly. It could not be easier.

The amount of lemon juice to be used is up to you. I like things a little tart, so, I added both lemon juice and zest when making the jam. For the jelly, I used lemon juice only. It’s my “control” and I’ll taste the jelly to determine whether I overdid the lemon when making the jam.

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Quince Jam 3

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Quince Jam Recipe

Ingredients

  • 52 oz (1474 g) quince, peeled, cored, and chopped (see Notes)
  • 26 oz (737 g) sugar
  • 1.25 cups (300 ml) water, divided
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

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Quince Jam 2

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Directions

  1. Place chopped quince in a large pot with a lid and add enough water to cover (see Notes). Place the lid on the pot and bring to a hard boil over high heat. Reduce to medium heat and continue to simmer for 30 minutes. Keep covered, shut off the heat, and let sit for another 30 minutes.
  2. Strain, reserving the liquid for the Quince Jelly Recipe, and place the chunks in a food processor, along with 1/4 cup (60 ml) of water.  Process until the quince is the consistency you prefer.
  3. Place the now-processed quince in a thick bottomed sauce pan along with the sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Bring to a boil over med-high heat before reducing to medium and simmer, stirring almost constantly to prevent scorching.
  4. Continue to simmer and stir until the jam is the consistency you prefer, from 30 to 60 minutes, maybe longer.
  5. Place jam in still hot, sterilized jars, place lids and seal — though not quite as tight as you can.
  6. Place jars on a rack in a boiling water bath deep enough so that there’s at least 1 inch of water over the top of the tallest jar. When the boil returns, process for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove jars from the pot and place on a baking sheet or counter, out of drafts. Be sure to cover the surface with a cloth to prevent the hot jars from shattering when they touch a cold surface. Do not move for at least 12 hours, though 24 is best, to give the jars a chance to seal and the jam to fully set.
  8. Preserved quince jam will keep for one year, though some degradation of taste and color may begin to occur after 6 months.  Best to enjoy your jam before that. (Source: Pick Your Own)

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Quince Jelly 3

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Quince Jelly Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (1000 ml) quince water reserved when making quince jam, recipe above.
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

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Quince Jelly 1

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Directions

  1. Place the reserved liquid, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over high heat.
  2. Stir constantly until the liquid reduces by about 2/3, developing a syrupy consistency. (it took mine about 40 minutes.)
  3. Use a large spoon to quickly remove any foam before filling the still-hot, sterile jars to 1/4 inch from the top. Follow canning instructions listed in the Quince Jam Recipe above, processing this jelly for 5 minutes in the hot water bath.
  4. Store jelly on a cool, dark shelf.

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Quince & Queso Manchego

Crostini with Quince Jam & Queso Manchego

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Notes

It took 8 quince that, after peeling, coring, and chopping, rendered the 26 oz used in the Jam recipe.

It is best to use ripe quince for this recipe. To check for ripeness, sniff either end of the fruit. Ripe quince will have a floral scent.

When cut, quince will brown. To prevent this, place the pieces in a large bowl of water. When ready to start cooking the quince, I used this water to cover the pieces in the pot, as indicated in step 1 of the Jam recipe.

If you plan to make jelly using the cooking liquid, you will need to strain it through a few layers of cheesecloth or, if none is available, muslin or coffee filters will work, too.

As you can see in the pictures, my jam is lighter than most. Granted, it darkened a bit as it cooked but never reached the deep color that I associate with quince jam. I was a bit concerned until I compared mine to the photos accompanying the original recipe. In that light, mine is quite similar to the original. Whew! My guess is that this jam recipe doesn’t cook the quince as long as the others, and that deep pink color needs a long cooking time to develop. As it was, my jam was thick enough that I had no choice but to pull it off the heat.

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

Baccalà

With Christmas approaching fast, for the next few weeks I’ll devote this section to some of our favorite holiday recipes. To kick things off, I thought we’d take a look back to our traditional Christmas Eve dish, Baccalà alla Marchigianna. In this preparation baccalà, once rinsed and rehydrated, is cooked in a tomato sauce with potatoes. Serve it with a chunk of bread and you’ll forget all about Santa’s coming in a few hours — well, at least until you’ve cleaned your plate. You can learn how to make this flavorful dish just by clicking  HERE

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Uova da Raviolo - Preview

Uova da Raviolo

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Today’s Jam is a Real Plum, Damson Plum with Cardamom

My poor Damson plums. Way back in September, I bought 2 overflowing quarts of the diminutive beauties, planning to make and freeze cobblers. Yum, right? Well, this was the Saturday before I was to leave for Michigan and, as luck would have it, there was no time for making cobbler before I left. No problem. I’d bring them to Michigan with me and make cobblers for Zia. The night before I was to leave, I placed the bag of plums on my dining table, along with some of the parts to my ice cream machine. A few hours later, I finished loading the car and left for Michigan. Once there, I realized I had left everything on the table. Poor Zia. She got neither cobbler nor ice cream during my last visit.

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Damson Plum Jam 2

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Upon my return home, as I unpacked the car I passed by that bag of plums a few times. I really wasn’t in any hurry to look inside, figuring it would be an unsightly mess, at best. So, once everything was unpacked, and with my laundry going, I decided to brave the bag and have a peek. Unbelievably, they were pretty much as I had left them. I dumped them into a colander and, though a few were smashed, none were spoilt. I discarded those that were smashed and rinsed the rest. Now, what to do with them?

Sadly, the cobbler idea had lost its appeal. Having brought home plenty of apples, there were pies and apple cake (recipe forthcoming) in my future and I just wasn’t interested in making cobbler anymore. (A decision I’m sure to regret this Winter.) That meant my long-neglected plums would be used to make jam.

Damson plums are smaller than others and their peel ranges from dark blue to black, some with a hint of deep purple. (Sorry, I forgot to photograph them fresh. See? Neglected.) The flesh is greenish-yellow and the pits adhere to that flesh, something you’ll need to consider when using them in a recipe. When it comes to taste, the flesh is somewhat sweet while the skin is a bit tart. For me, this makes Damson plums perfect for jam. Use a little sugar for a tart jam, more for a sweeter taste.

Today’s recipe is a basic jam and no pectin is required. The only questionable part is the addition of the cardamom pods. If you want, you can just toss them into the pot and fish them out of the plums when you remove the pits. Personally, I don’t like that method. It’s far too likely for one to slip past me and, guaranteed, it will be in a jar that I give to a friend or family member. I much prefer to tie the pods in cheesecloth before placing them in the pot. Depending upon how much cardamom flavor you like, the pod package can be put back into the pot after the plum pits have been removed, an option not available if your use the pods alone. Other than the use of the cardamom pods, you’ll find the recipe to be straight-forward.

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Damson Plum Jam - 1

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Damson Plum with Cardamom Jam Recipe

Ingredients

  • 36 oz. (1 kg) damson plums
  • 3 c sugar
  • 1 c water
  • 5 cardamom pods (refer to above commentary and Notes)
  • pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Rinse the plums, removing any stems in the process.
  2. Place the plums, cardamom pods, and water in a thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour. Remove from heat and allow to cool to touch.
  3. Using your hands, squeeze each plum to remove the pit. Discard the pits as well as all the cardamom pods. Reserve everything else.
    1. Alternately, a food mill may be used to remove the pits and pods.
  4. Place the broken down plums back into the thick-bottomed pot. Add sugar, salt, and cook over medium to med-high heat until a temperature of 320˚ F (160˚ C) is reached.
  5. Test to see if jam is ready (See Notes).
  6. If your plums are jamming, place in sterile jars and seal.
    1. They may be refrigerated and will keep for about a month.
    2. They may be frozen and will keep up to a year. Once thawed, use within 3 weeks.
    3. If preserved/canned (see Notes), jam will keep up to a year if stored in a cool, dark place. Once opened, use within a month.
    4. Source: Home Center For Home Food Preservation
  7. Serve as you would your favorite jam and may be used to flavor roasts, particularly pork.

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Damson Plum Jam 4

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Notes

According to a number of sites, 5 cardamom pods would equal about 3/4 tsp of ground cardamom. I have not prepared this jam using ground cardamom, so, I’ve no idea whether it will have a stronger taste.

Though there are a few methods of testing to see if your fruit is jammin’, I prefer to use the plate test. While the fruit/berries are boiling on the stove top, place a dish in your freezer. When you think the jam is ready, take about a half-teaspoon of jam and place it on the now chilled plate. Allow the jam to rest a few minutes before using another spoon or your fingertip to see if the jam has set or is still too runny. If the latter, continue to simmer the jam while returning the plate to the freezer to await the next test.

Canning this jam is simple and not unlike other jams & jellies. Once the jam is ready, fill the sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Place lids on top of each jar, tightening until not quite as tight as possible. (I tighten mine fully and then unscrew the lid slightly.) Place each jar on a rack in a large pot of boiling water. Jars must not sit directly on the kettle bottom. Once the pot returns to the boil, begin timing. This jam will need to be processed (boiled) for 10 minutes, if using half-pint or smaller jars (235 ml or smaller). After 10 minutes, remove jars to a cloth-covered counter or baking sheet, away from any drafts. Do not move for at least 12 hours — 24 hours is best — so that the jars fully seal and the jam sets.

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

Roast Loin of Pork

Roast Loin of Pork

When our temperatures start to drop, I begin to think of preparing roasts for dinner. The oven brings welcome warmth to the kitchen and my house soon fills with the heavenly aroma of a roast in that oven. About a year ago, I posted a recipe for roast loin of pork that was butterflied, slathered with fig preserves and wrapped in pancetta before roasting. The result was a dinner fit for a holiday. You can see the recipe, along with step-by-step instructions, by clicking HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Roasted Arctic Char 3

 Roasted Arctic Char

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The Kitchens have a Peach of a Jam

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Peaches in this area are just passing their peak season and the farmers markets are filled with them. Over the next few weeks, peaches will disappear and the pears and apples will supplant them. For now, though, they seem to be calling to me, just as the tart cherries, blueberries, and strawberries did before them. So, I’ve answered their call and bought some each time I’ve gone to the market. Admittedly, the first purchases were eaten as-is. How could I not?  After that, I made ice cream and posted a recipe in honor of Mom’s birthday last week. Having made a few quarts of peach ice cream, it was time to move on.

Several weeks ago, when strawberries were at their peak for this area, I posted a strawberry jam recipe made with Balsamic vinegar and black pepper. In the Comments section of that post, Betsy, of Bits and Bread Crumbs, and Elaine, of Le Petit Potager, discussed making peach jam.  Betsy wondered about using balsamic and black pepper. Hmm …

After my last trip to the farmers market, I had what I thought was enough peaches to make a small-ish batch of peach jam — with a little balsamic vinegar. The recipe enclosed within the pectin packaging called for 4 cups of cleaned fruit. Incredibly, I somehow ended up with 7½ cups. I decided to use 6 cups here and to save the rest for a custard-based ice cream. (Recipe to come.) This recipe is very similar to the one used to make the strawberry jam, except I used white balsamic so that the peaches wouldn’t discolor; I used both lemon juice and zest; and, I didn’t add any pepper — maybe next time. Because I used so many more peaches than I had intended, I followed a tip from the Pick Your Own website. The author always adds an additional 20% of pectin than what the recipe calls for, just to ensure a good set. So, rather than add 49 g (1 envelope) I added 60 g to the peach mixture. My jam set perfectly although, next time, if I use 6 cups of peaches, I’ll increase the amount of white balsamic by another tablespoonful or two.

What if you’re not a balsamic lover? What if you just want to make some really good peach jam? Well, then, waste no time and click this link to go to Barb’s Just a Smidgen blog, where you’ll be treated to a fantastic recipe for making peach jam, not to mention a thorough, step by step, description of the canning process.

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Peach with Balsamic Vinegar Jam Recipe 

yield: 7 – 8 cups

Ingredients

  • 6 cups fresh peaches, cleaned, peeled, sliced or chopped
  • 4 cups sugar – separated
  • 1 envelope + 20% more low-sugar pectin (60 g  total pectin)
  • 1 tsp butter (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  • juice & zest of one medium-sized lemon
  • ½ cup white balsamic vinegar

Directions

To Prepare

  1. Sterilize the jars and wash the jar lids and bands in hot, soapy water. Place lids and bands in a deep bowl and pour near-boiling water over them.
  2. Start bringing to boil a large, deep canning kettle of water to be used for the canning process and a second, smaller pot of water to be used to replenish water that may boil away during the canning process.
  3. Mix the pectin with ¼ cup of the sugar. Set aside.
  4. Working in batches, add sliced/chopped peaches into a large bowl and use a potato masher to smash them as much as you like. I skipped this step; my slices were thin and needed no further handling.

To Make the Jam

  1. Place the peaches and the pectin-sugar mixture into a heavy-bottomed pot over a med-high heat. A Dutch oven works nicely. Add butter, if desired, to limit foam.
  2. Stirring frequently, you are heating the peaches until a rolling boil is achieved at about 220˚F. A rolling boil is one that will not dissipate when the pot’s contents are stirred.
  3. Add the remaining sugar and stir well. Stir frequently while you wait for the pot to return to a rolling boil.
  4. Once a rolling boil has returned, keep stirring for exactly one minute before removing the pot from the heat.
  5. With a large spoon, carefully skim the surface to remove any foam.
  6. Add balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and zest. Stir well to thoroughly combine.

To Preserve

  1. Using a funnel and large ladle, fill each jar to ¼ inch from the rim. Wipe the rim to make sure no jam has spilt, place a lid on each jar, and then the band, tightening until “finger tight” but not as tight as you can make it. Act quickly, filling and capping all the jars.
  2. Jars placed directly on the kettle’s bottom might burst, so, a rack of some sort must be put into the canning kettle to cover the bottom. Many large pots have one, as do many pressure cookers. (I use a rack from an old pot that has long since been discarded.)
  3. Keep each jar level as you place them, one by one, into the canning kettle filled with now boiling water. The jars should not touch each other, nor should they be allowed to tip over. Depending upon the size of the kettle and number of jars, you may need to work in batches.
  4. Once the jars are in the kettle, make sure that there is at least one inch of water over the top of the tallest jar(s). If not, add boiling water from the smaller pot mentioned in Step 2 of  To Prepare.
  5. Cover the pot and begin timing when the water returns to the boil. The jars must be boiled, “processed”, for 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, place a baking sheet on a level surface and line it with a clean kitchen towel.
  7. Once 10 minutes have passed, carefully remove each jar and place it on to the towel-lined baking sheet. Leave about an inch separating the jars.
  8. Once all the jars have been processed and placed on the baking sheet, remove the baking sheet & jars to a place that is draft-free and where they will remain undisturbed for 24 hours.
  9. After 24 hours have passed, check each jar to insure it’s sealed and then store on a shelf in a cool, dark place, where it will stay fresh for months.

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

This time of year, our farmers markets are filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, and with Labor Day barbecues quickly approaching, there’s no better time to make a batch of Chicago-style giardiniera. This colorful condiment is a great way to add some crunch, and a little heat, to your burgers, dogs, wurst, and sandwiches. The recipe was shared last August and you can find it by clicking  HERE.

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By any other name …

“Sunset Celebration”

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A Blogger’s Relaxing Day Leads To A Jam-Filled One For Me

You may recall, two weeks ago my mascarpone post contained three recipes, one of which paired strawberries with balsamic vinegar. What some of you may not know is that the day before, my blogging buddy, Sarah, whose blog Sarah’s Place, is one worth checking out, had a “relaxing” day that included starting and making a great deal of progress on a knitting project; preparing strawberry balsamic and black pepper jam from a recipe that she found on another worthwhile blog, Sydney’s Kitchen; and baking a rosemary-herbed focaccia studded with cherries. Did you notice the part about the jam? It sure did catch my eye, particularly arriving when it did, just before my own post featuring those same flavors. Suddenly, I was thinking about making jam.

Well, coincidentally, that Friday, a 2nd blogging friend, Michael, whose blog Oishi is another that I enjoy, posted a salad recipe featuring — you guessed it — strawberries with balsamic … and this time bleu cheese, too. It was then that I decided to make jam and, as I wrote to Michael, I would buy enough berries to make his salad, too. The very next morning at the Evanston farmers market, once Max had his much-anticipated rendezvous with Debra, the crossing guard, I found myself standing before 3 long tables covered with quarts of Michigan strawberries, over which hung a giant sign, “Last Chance.” Whatever doubts I may have had were quickly vanquished. I bought 3 quarts and moved on to the Egg Ladies’ stall.

Once home, I began to have second thoughts. No, not about making the jam; that and the salad were “done deals.” It was the timing. The forecast was for another day with a high well into the 90’s, hardly jam-making weather. So, remembering a link I found on Pinterest, I soaked my berries in a 10% vinegar solution for 10 minutes, to prevent mold, and refrigerated the red beauties. One would think that this would be where this tale ends. Yes, one would think …

Crostini of Goat Cheese with Strawberry Balsamic & Black Pepper Jam

You see, the original recipe would make only 1 jar of jam and it wasn’t processed, meaning it had to be refrigerated and used within 3 to 4 weeks. Well, I need to make enough jam to give jars to an entire team of tasters, as well as my Zia, and this recipe just wouldn’t do. So, I went looking for a canning recipe that remained true to the original, while making enough for each of my devoted tasters. Luckily, I found two. The first recipe, from Canadian Living Magazine, gave me canning instructions but the amount of balsamic required was quite a bit less than the amount used in the original. Not being an experienced canner, I didn’t know whether increasing the amount of balsamic would ruin the “set” of my jam. I had no choice, therefore, but to look for another recipe — and I and found one on Epicurious.com. With a balsamic amount proportional to that used in the original, a couple of commenters stated that they canned it without any problem. Eureka! Now armed with this new-found knowledge, I braved the heat and set pots of water to boil, as I cleaned and hulled my strawberries. So, to be fair, I’ll credit Sarah’s Place, Sydney’s Kitchen, Epicurious.com, and Canada for the inspiration for today’s recipe.

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Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar and Black Pepper Jam Recipe 

yield: approx 8 cups

Ingredients

  • 6 cups fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled, quartered (approx. 2 quarts, whole)
  • 4½ cups sugar – separated
  • 1 envelope (49 g) low-sugar pectin
  • 1 tsp butter (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup + 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp cracked black pepper

Directions

To Prepare

  1. Sterilize the jars and wash the jar lids and rings in hot, soapy water. Place lids and rings in a deep bowl and pour near-boiling water over them.
  2. Start bringing to boil a large, deep canning kettle of water to be used for the canning process and a second, smaller pot of water to be used to replenish water that may boil away during the canning process.
  3. Mix the pectin with ¼ cup of the sugar. Set aside.
  4. Working in batches, add sliced berries into a large bowl and use a potato masher to smash them. Continue until all are equally smooshed.

To Make the Jam

Thanks, Sarah!

  1. Place the strawberries and the pectin-sugar mixture into a heavy-bottomed pot over a med-high heat. A Dutch oven works nicely. Add butter, if desired, to limit foam.
  2. Stirring frequently, you are heating the berries until a rolling boil is achieved at about 220˚F. A rolling boil is one that will not dissipate when the pot’s contents are stirred.
  3. Add the remaining sugar and stir well. Stir frequently while you wait for the pot to return to a roiling boil.
  4. Once a rolling boil has returned, keep stirring for exactly one minute before removing the pot from the heat.
  5. With a large spoon, carefully skim the surface to remove any foam.
  6. Add balsamic vinegar and pepper. Stir well to thoroughly combine.

To Can

  1. Using a funnel and large ladle, fill each jar to ¼ inch from the rim. Wipe the rim to make sure no jam has spilt, place a lid on each jar, and then the ring, tightening until “finger tight” but not as tight as you can make it. Act quickly, filling and capping all the jars.
  2. Jars placed directly on the kettle’s bottom might burst, so, a rack of some sort must be put into the canning kettle to cover the bottom. Many large pots have one, as do many pressure cookers. (I use a rack from an old pot that has long since been discarded.)
  3. Keep each jar level as you place them, one by one, into the canning kettle filled with now boiling water. The jars should not touch each other, nor should they be allowed to tip over. Depending upon the size of the kettle and number of jars, you may need to work in batches.
  4. Once the jars are in the kettle, make sure that there is at least one inch of water over the top of the tallest jar(s). If not, add boiling water from the smaller pot mentioned in Step 2 of  To Prepare.
  5. Cover the pot and begin timing when the water returns to the boil. The jars must be boiled, “processed”, for 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, place a baking sheet on a level surface and line it with a clean kitchen towel.
  7. Once 10 minutes have passed, carefully remove each jar and place it on to the towel-lined baking sheet. Leave about an inch separating the jars.
  8. Once all the jars have been processed and placed on the baking sheet, remove the baking sheet & jars to a place that is draft-free and where they will remain undisturbed for 24 hours.
  9. After 24 hours have passed, check each jar to insure it’s sealed and then store on a shelf in a cool, dark place, where it will stay fresh for months.

Notes

According to several commenters on the Epicurious website, once canned, it is best to let the jam sit for a week before sampling it. The flavors blend and the pepper becomes more pronounced.

Once opened, the jam should be refrigerated and fully used within a month.

One last thing

I did make Michael’s salad and it was every bit as good as I had hoped.

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By any other name … 

“Elizabeth Taylor”

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Grape? Nuts!

I know, I know. I know what I said but what was I supposed to do? There they were, sitting incognito among the berries, containers of blue Concord grapes. How could I pass them by? It’s been a year, after all, since I saw some in a “high-end” grocery and first wondered about making jelly. Then, I saw their price. I could have bought a decent bottle of wine and a few jars of Smuckers for the cost of a few pounds of the blue beauties. Alas, I never saw them elsewhere and, when I returned the following week, even that store’s supply was gone. I resolved then and there to do better in 2011.

Before even one grape had been picked in 2011, the cherries came. Beautiful, red, tart cherries. Michigan’s sour rubies. Unable to resist, I bought some and made muffins. I soon bought more and made more muffins. I then bought even more and made even more muffins. My freezer now stuffed with muffins, I bought more and baked a pie. Then I bought more and froze them. And still the pushers vendors at the farmers’ markets had more for me to buy. Little did I know that the path to canning is laden with tart cherries.

At first, it wasn’t really canning. There was no hot water bath. You have to have a hot water bath for canning. Everyone knows that. This was just filling jars with cooked cherries; a means of occupying that dead space in the back of the fridge. Then came the Michigan strawberries. Smaller than the Gulliver-sized berries found at most groceries, these little babies are a third the size and three times as sweet. I just had to buy some, especially after I found Mom’s recipe for making strawberry jam. Mom was telling me to make jam. And so I did. Mom said to use a hot water bath. And so I did. This, as I told a few of you, still wasn’t canning. I was merely dabbling. Yes, that’s right. Dabbling. Well, the fruit of my dabbles hadn’t even set yet when I saw them, the Concords, at less than half the price of last year’s sighting. I ask you, how could I pass them by? Don’t even bother answering that question.  I bought ’em.

On the way home from the fruit marked, I stopped by a grocery and bought Certo brand’s low-sugar pectin. Next stop was a hardware store, the only place I know that carries little jars and lids. When I got home, I searched the recipe book Mom had given me but, unfortunately, there was no recipe for grape jelly. Turning to the internet, I found the Pick Your Own website and it has all the information one might need to can preserve just about anything. Now, armed with the pectin’s package instructions and the ever-so-helpful guidelines at Pick Your Own, I set out to make grape jelly. Lo and behold! About 2 hours and 1 ruined t-shirt later, I was the proud owner of 7 cups of Concord grape jelly. Moments before beginning this entry, I checked and all had set properly, their lids fully sealed. There remains but 1 thing to do.

Hello. My name is ChgoJohn and I’m a canner.

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Concord Grape Jelly Recipe        

Ingredients

  • 4 – 5 pounds fresh Concord grapes, washed & sorted with stems removed
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 box Certo low-sugar pectin
  • water

Directions

  1. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the grapes and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over med-high heat, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. If you own a food mill or Roma strainer:
    1. Run the semi-cooked grapes and liquid through the food mill or food strainer, extracting as much juice as possible.
    2. Pass the liquid through a jelly bag or a sieve lined with 3 layers of cheese cloth. Gently squeeze the bag or cheese cloth to fully extract more juice. If you squeeze too hard, you may force some solids through the cloth. Proceed to step 4.
  3. If you do not own a food mill or Roma strainer:
    1. Pour the semi-cooked grapes and liquid through a jelly bag or sieve lined with 3 layers of cheese cloth. This will take some time as the grape seeds and skins will clog the cloth’s “pores.”
    2. When able, gather the corners of the cheese cloth or the top of the jelly bag, secure them, and hang over a pot in the fridge or a cool place overnight.
    3. Next morning, gently squeeze the bag/cheese cloth to extract more juice. If you squeeze too hard, you may force some solids through the cloth.
    4. Pour the grape juice though a sieve that has been lined with 2 layers of cheese cloth. Gently squeeze the cloth to fully extract the juice.
  4. Precisely measure the grape juice. You will need 5 1/2 cups of juice for this recipe and you may add up to 1/2 cup of water to reach that amount.
  5. In a large bowl or container, measure exactly 3 1/4 cups of sugar.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the pectin and precisely 1/4 cup of sugar.
  7. In a large saucepan, over med-high heat, add the grape juice and the sugar-pectin mixture. Bring to a rolling boil. It should take about 10 minutes.
  8. At this point, your jars, lids, and bands should be fully cleaned and sanitized. The jars should still be hot.
  9. Add the 3 1/4 cups of sugar, mix well, and bring back to a rolling boil, stirring frequently.
  10. Once a rolling boil has been achieved, continue cooking for exactly 1 minute. Remove from heat and begin filling the jars. Once filled, wipe clean the mouth of each jar, seal with a lid & band, and place in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes — or as indicated for your elevation.
  11. Remove from the hot water bath and place on a towel-lined baking sheet. Do not disturb for 12 – 24 hours to insure a proper seal has been achieved.
  12. Store in cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
  13. If the jam is going to be eaten right away, don’t bother with processing and just refrigerate.

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Notes

There you have it. I’ve admitted crossing over the Great Divide and into the Realm of Canning. I guess I should be at least a little upset over this turn of events but, frankly, how can I be upset when I’ve got a year’s worth of jams and jelly at my disposal? This canning thing ain’t so bad after all.

For everyone’s convenience, please form the “I told you so!” queue to your left.

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The Kitchens’ Strawberries be Jammin!

I know, I know. I do not can. The threat of giving my friends & loved ones the gift of botulism has pretty much kept me away from this age-old method of food preservation. Not only that, I’ve no room for the canning gear nor for the canned goods.  So, why then am I suddenly canning?

To begin with, last week’s canning experiment with cherry jam went very well. It jelled properly and the jars all sealed without using a water bath. Those who have tasted it liked it, and, most importantly, survived. Family, friends, and a few fellow bloggers were all quite positive, some even encouraging me to continue canning. One friend was particularly enthusiastic, although methinks the promise of freshly made grape jelly may have been the cause. You see, I had confided to him that I wanted to make grape jelly but that Concord grapes weren’t easy to come by. This isn’t exactly Napa Valley. I told him I would be going to the farmers’ market this morning to find grapes and, if all else failed, I might try canning some Michigan strawberries, if they were still available. What he didn’t know was that I had found Mom’s strawberry jam recipe in the recipe book she had given me years ago. All thus time I had ignored it because, as we all know, I do not can. Well, with no grapes to be found anywhere at the market, I bought 3 containers (pints?) of strawberries. I followed Mom’s recipe, with 1 exception. Remembering David Lebovitz’s recommendation of using lemon rind as well as lemon juice, I added the zest of 1 lemon to the fruit and sugar. Beyond that and as Mom had suggested, I used a potato masher to crush the hulled berries, which yielded a little more than 4 cups of smashed fruit. The fact that there was no need for store-bought pectin was a big plus; I didn’t have any. From there, the rest of the recipe is easy enough that I had no problems following it. An experienced canner and jammer should be able to do this in her/his sleep.

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*     *     *

Mom’s Strawberry Jam Recipe        

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled (4 cups smashed)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon

Directions

  1. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the strawberries, sugar, lemon and lemon juice & zest. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil.
  2. Boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F (105 degrees C).
  3. Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch head space, and seal.
  4. Process in a water bath, allow to sit in boiling water for 10 minutes.
  5. After 10 minutes, carefully remove jars from boiling water and place on rack covered with a towel to prevent jars from shattering due to quick temperature change.
  6. Leave, untouched, for 12 to 24 hours to insure proper sealing.
  7. Store in cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
  8. If the jam is going to be eaten right away, don’t bother with processing and just refrigerate.

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*     *     *

Notes

If unsure whether the jam will jell properly, you can test it. Just before you start preparing the strawberries, place a plate in your freezer. After your jam has reached 220*, take about 1/4 tsp of the hot jam, place it on the chilled dish, and return both to the freezer. After a couple of minutes, use your finger to “push” through the jam on the plate. If the jam wrinkles before your finger and does not flow to refill the path your finger took, the jam is ready to be placed in jars.

Oh! All evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, I do not can.

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My Cherry Amour, The Return (This time it’s personal)

OK! I admit it. I have a problem. At first it was interesting, even quaint. Then it became mildly neurotic, with close friends beginning to question my actions. Now, I’m afraid, it’s a full-blown obsession and I’ve been urged to seek help — until the concerned individual learns that s/he will be receiving the fruits of my addiction. How quickly concern becomes encouragement. Enablers all! To think, I was happily satisfied with my frozen stash of muffins and cherries. Thrilled that my cherry pie had been well-received and was good to the very last bite. All in all, there was certainly no need for me to seek out more cherries — until I noticed a “Jam” category at Tanya’s wonderful ChicaAndaluza blog.  Lo and behold! Just a few short weeks ago, she made cherry jam. My heart raced as I read her post. Ah! She canned her jam and I don’t can. (I suffer from botulismaphobia.) My heart beat returned to normal — but wait. She canned them without a water bath. How could this be? I used her post’s comment section to ask if it were possible to can something without a hot water bath, knowing full-well that it would be days before her answer was received, long after yesterday morning’s trip to the farmers’ market and, presumably, after this season’s tart cherries were gone. I was in the clear and the few remaining tart cherries within the tri-state area breathed a sigh of relief. And then the unthinkable happened. Tanya answered my question within 2 hours. TWO  HOURS!! I knew instantly that I was doomed.

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*     *     *

Yesterday morning, Saturday, in the middle of a driving rain storm, Max & I headed to the farmers’ market. I promised myself that we would turn around and come home if the rain didn’t let up. In fact, it got worse as we drove north toward Evanston. Confidently, I drove onward. And then, about 1/2 mile from the market, it was as if Moses himself had waved his staff. The clouds parted and the rain stopped completely. Again, my heart began to race. Upon parking the car, I went immediately to both fruit stands that had, unwittingly, fed my addiction in prior weeks. There were no sour cherries to be found at either location. Relieved, I went about buying an assortment of vegetables — I’ve giardiniera to make. Within minutes, my shopping bags were full and I was headed back to the car, where Max and the traffic coördinator had been keeping company. That’s when I saw them. 8 quarts of tart cherries where, just minutes before, there had been none. The young woman apologized. Something about the rain. Arriving late. Being short-handed. I don’t really remember what else, if anything, was said; my head was reeling. I pointed to 2 quarts, paid her in silence, walked backed to my car, and drove home, managing to avoid looking Max in the eye the entire trip. Forget about whatever had been planned, the day had become cherry jam day.

*     *     *

*     *     *

Never having canned anything before, I referenced 3 sources. Tanya’s Summer Cherry Jam recipe, of course; David Lebovitz’s No-Recipe Cherry Jam; and the pectin envelope’s instructions. I pitted the 2 quarts of cherries and they yielded 3 lbs of cherries and juice. I reserved 8 oz, put the remaining portion into a food processor, and pulsed until the cherries were coarsely chopped. I then returned the whole cherries to the mix, per Lebovitz’s suggestion to keep a few cherries unchopped. The jars, all new, were washed in my dish washer, using the “sanitize” cycle. The lids were washed in warm soapy water, rinsed, and then placed in a deep bowl. While the cherries were being cooked, boiling water was poured over the lids and they remained in the water until needed. With everything now prepared, I followed Tanya’s recipe and made just about 7 cups of cherry jam. Thanks to Tanya, my first foray into canning wasn’t nearly as painful as I had feared. Even so, I think I’ll limit my future canning exploits to the making of jam. No need to press my luck.

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Notes

We will NOT be going to the Skokie Farmers’ Market today — I think.

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