Monthly Archives: July 2012

Random jam

I didn’t plan on sharing this one. Sorry about not taking any process photos. But the end result was tasty, so here it is.

Basically, if you know the ratios you like of fruit to sugar, you can substitute fruits and get creative. I had about 6 apples, a pear, 8 small plums and some thyme from the garden. I chopped up a lemon into half slices and added 4 cups of sugar.

I added some flower pepper(from trader joes) and a dash of sea salt at the end of the cooking process. Jam from whatever I had on hand. It tastes a little spicy, sweet and a little herbal. Yum.

Recipe:

3 pounds apples
1 pear
1/2 pound plums
4 cups sugar
2 Small springs of thyme
10-12 grinds of flower pepper
Pinch sea salt

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Strawberry jam

Strawberry jam screams summer for me. It’s the first taste we have here in southern California. Good strawberries roll in at the beginning of June and are just finishing up by the end of July. Short, but sweet.

Since strawberries are so fleeting, and the jam seems to be an all around favorite, I try and make a big batch every year. This batch made 6 jars. Not enough for me, but at least enough to share a few. I’ll keep enough for yogurt for myself and Luke to eat straight from the jar, though.

Recipe:

3 1/2 pounds strawberries, trimmed and halved. (Final weight, after trimming.)
4 cups sugar
Juice of one lemon

Simple! Follow the regular canning directions and cook it up.

Here’s a link in case you need help.http://www.freshpreserving.com/getting-started.aspx/

It should take about 30 minutes to cook. Start at a medium-high heat and boil till the foam subsides. After about 30 minutes, it should start to darken, thicken and reduce.

I usually wait till all the strawberries are soft and turn a bit dark, and give them a good mashing with the potato masher. It should look like thus when it is almost finished:

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Can it up and save some summer for later in the year. It will make your kitchen smell so good. So worth it.

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Teeny, tiny pickles.

I am growing some awesome tiny cucumbers right now. They look like grape sized watermelons. They are technically called Mexican sour gherkins. I ordered the seeds online. Yay! Check them out:

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Adorable, no? And so neat for pickles. I made a simple fridge pickle for the first small crop. Here’s the recipe.

1 small jar full of Mexican sour gherkins
1 cup or so of white vinegar
1/2 cup or so of water
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 dill seed head from your garden, or 1/2 tsp of dill seeds
A pinch of whole black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

Put the cucumbers and the dill in the jar. I collect used jars, and this can be any kind because we are refrigerating these. Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes or so. Pour hot liquid over the cucumbers and stuff. Put the lid on the jar and leave it on the counter to cool a bit. Then, place in the fridge for a week or so before you munch them. Yum!

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Local plum jam.

My Dad and aunt Suzi have two amazing plum trees out in Trabuco Canyon. I was gifted about 6 pounds of them, and of course I made jam.

Recipe:
4 pounds very ripe plums, pitted and halved
4 cups sugar
Juice of one lemon
1 package or 3 tablespoons low sugar pectin.

I usually mascerate the jam the night before (or two). Basically, this makes the work easier in the long run. The fruit gets chopped and mixed with the sugar and lemon and popped in the fridge. Then, the next day the jam gets cooked down and canned.

Get your jars and pots ready to go before you start. This recipe ended up making 13 1/2 pint jars. Jars should be cleaned before use with soap and water. Warm the jars in the boiling water before use.

You will need a canning pot that is large enough to fit your jars with 2-3 inches of water covering the top of the jars during the boil, and a rack at the bottom. A smaller pot is also needed to warm the lids.

Lastly, put 3 or 4 small plates in the freezer. These will be to check the set of the jam.

Feel free to halve or quarter this recipe for smaller batches.

The next day, add the jam to your jam pot, or any large pot. It will need to have plenty of room to bubble up, so go big. Also, at this point, start your canning pot boiling.

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The jam will start to foam up and cook down. This will probably take 20-30 minutes. When the foam has subsided, get ready to add the pectin. The finished jam will look more like this:

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Then, add the pectin and follow the directions on the box. I used the Ball low sugar bulk pectin. The jam comes to a rolling boil and boils for one minute. Then the heat is turned off. Add your empty jars to the canning pot to warm, and turn on your lid pan to warm as well.

At this point a plate test can be done to make sure the jam has set correctly. With pectin, it most likely will, but you want to make sure to get a good texture. Put a dab of hot jam on one of the frozen plates and put back in the freezer for one minute. Then, run your finger over the top of the jam. If the jam wrinkles to the touch, it is set.

Hopefully, your water has boiled by now. Remove the jars and using a jar filler, ladel the hot jam into the jars.

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Leave 1/2 inch headspace at the top of the jar, and wipe the top edge with a clean cloth. This allows the jam to expand and the vacuum to be created. Pull the lids out on at a time and place on Screw on the rings, finger tight. Not too hard so the air can escape. Place the jars with a jar lifter into the boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes. Remove without tipping and place on a towel to cool for 24 hours. Label and check the seal the next day. The lid should have popped and
should appear concave. Pressing on the top should not make any noise.

You made jam! I’m so proud of you.

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Welcome!

Hello everyone! I’m starting this blog mostly to share recipes with family and friends. I’m always busy with a food project, and this way I can document my adventures. I’ll try my best to show everyone that preserving food is easier and more fun than you think it is. I love to have home canned goodies for personal use and for gifts.

I often get gifted with fruits and veggies, so preserving makes sense. Making something delicious out of what would normally go to waste is wonderful.

I’ll occasionally share tips for saving money and shopping for food and meals in addition to preserving. It’s all part of the urban homestead. I’m all for eating healthy food that is actually made at home. It’s cheaper, and its delicious. I also make an effort to make things at home that would
not be found in stores. It really is amazing what a little chutney will do to a meal.

I hope to see you again soon!

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