Showing posts with label strawberry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label strawberry. Show all posts

Jam Sessions : Basics : Let's Make Some Jam!

27 June 2013

We've talked about the canning lingo and we've talked the tools that you need to get started, so let's make some jam and get to canning, shall we?  It seems pretty fitting to start with some good old fashioned strawberry jam!

There are few things to me that are more simplicity beautiful than homemade strawberry jam.  It's soft sweetness brings me back to beautiful childhood memories.  Once you make your own strawberry jam, you will never want to buy grocery store jam again.

This recipe is my tried and true secret strawberry jam recipe.  I've been perfecting this recipe for almost a decade & it even won me a red ribbon when I entered it in the Oregon State Fair a few years ago!  It's really a simple take on an old fashioned recipe with just a few dashes of updating.

There are two parts to this process - making the jam and then the canning process. Both parts are simple and just require a few basic steps.  The wonderful thing is that once you get that second part down, that is what you need to be able to make any kind of jam, jelly, relish, or pickle your heart desires.  This may seem like a lot, but don't be intimidated!

Makes about 7 half pint jars

1 box of low sugar pectin
5 cups of  chopped strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries
4 cups of granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (optional)
1 teaspoon salt (optional)

The key to making jam successfully & stress-free is preparation.  Once you get started, you need to work pretty quickly & the steps require a lot of attention, so getting prepared will help you tremendously.  The first preparation is your fruit.

Old fashioned strawberry jam!  A simple step by step guide.
Hull your berries and roughly chop.  Mush with a potato masher - just enough to break it all down, but still leaving some nice whole chunks of fruit in the mix.*  Measure it out and also measure your sugar and set aside.

Next, you want all of your supplies ready. You want everything you you need right at your fingertips before you start. Click here for the hardware guide to see what tools you need.

Heat your waterbath (aka large pot of water with your canning rack inside) over high heat, it will take a bit of time to get to full boil. As soon as it reaches a full boil, you want to put your empty jars in. They need to be in the hot waterbath for about 10 minutes or so to sterilize them. You will remove them as soon as it is time to can. You can also use your dishwasher if there's a sterilization and heat hold setting.

Mix 1/4 cup sugar with 1 box of pectin. Stir together with a fork.  I add the sugar to help keep the pectin from clumping.

Combine your berries, lemon juice, and pectin in a large pot. Add the balsamic & salt - these are both my secret ingredients to help round out the flavors just a bit and boost the natural strawberry flavor, but they aren't traditionally added, so feel free to skip them. Cook on high heat, stirring often.  Bring to a rolling boil. (this is rolling boil #1).

Once you have a nice boil, add all the sugar and stir well.  Keep on stirring.  This is the part where you do not want to take your eyes of your jam because it will be quick to burn.  Bring back to a rolling boil. (that is rolling boil #2).  Boil, stirring constantly, for one minute.

After one minute, your jam will start to thicken, but it will be a little hard to tell just what the final cool consistency will be since it is so hot.  At this point you want to test for gel to make sure it set to that perfect jammy texture.

Your jam will have a top layer that is foamy and lighter colored.  This is totally normal, just skim of this layer with a spoon and put it into tupperware.  The foam is delicious and perfectly safe to eat, it can just make your jam look a little unsightly and discolored if you leave it in, so skim and keep it in the fridge to enjoy first.

*I like to do this step the day before.  It is a big project to take on, so I think it is nice to have that taken care of in advance.  If you prepare the fruit in advance,  1/2 cup of sugar to the chopped berries & store in the fridge to allow it to macerate and really absorb some sugar and create lovely maceration.  It's not necessary, but it's a nice touch.

Congratulations!  You made jam!  You could stop here and just put your batch in the fridge and devour it within a few weeks, but what is the fun in that?  This is a canning lesson, so let's can it!

This is where the magic happens that lets your jam last in your cupboard for up to a whole year.  It's actually way easier than the jam part...just a few quick steps!  Once you have this basic canning process down, you can pretty much can anything!  The very same steps are used to can pickles, jelly, chutney, sauces, ect.  The difference will just come in the processing time, so be sure to just follow your recipe.

A simple step by step guide to home canning.

You already started sterilizing your jars while you were making jam, so they should be ready to pull from the water.  Do this right before you are ready to can because you want the jars to be nice and hot and freshly sterilized.

Once those jars are out, go ahead and ladle your hot jam into hot, sterilized jars.  You can use the jar funnel to make this easier and less messy.  Leave 1/4" headspace.

Wipe the top of the jars with a wet paper towel to remove any excess jam.  A messy top could make it difficult for the jars to seal.

Get your lids in a small pot of hot (not boiling) water for a few minutes.  This sterilizes your lids also helps to soften the rubber around the edges that will create the seal.  Pull the lids out of the boiling water using your magnetic lid lifter.  Place them on top of the jars.  Screw your bands around the top so that they are nice and tight (careful, the jars are hot, so an ovenmit or kitchen towel comes in handy to protect you hands).

Use your jar grabber to put your jars into the boiling waterbath.  Be sure they are covered with at least 2" of water.

Generally, you process jam for 5-15 minutes depending on your altitude.  If you at an altitude of lower than 1,000 feet above sea level - 5 minutes, 1,000-6,000 ft - 10 minutes, 6,000+ ft above sea level - 15 minutes.  The processing time is important because it is what creates the seal, but you don't want to over process because it will overcook the jam.  When in doubt, the extra five minutes won't hurt.

Remove your jars and let them sit on the counter at room temperature for at least 24 hours.  They will make some popping noises during this time, but that is ok!  The next day, check your jars for a seal.  If they are fully sealed, there will be no give to the jar lid.  If they did not seal, it will make a popping noise when you press down and you will feel the lid flex.  If this happens and they did not seal, that is ok too!  Just put that one in the fridge an eat it first.  It will stay in the fridge for about a month.

Once cooled, they are ready to store in your pantry for up to one year or to be given as lovely gifts!

Old fashioned strawberry jam!  A simple step by step guide.

See?  It's not so hard!  I hope you will give it a try in your own home and please don't hesitate to leave a comment and ask any questions you might have!  And don't forget, there is still a few more days to enter to win all the supplies you need to make jam at home!

Balsamic Grilled Strawberry Shortcake! (Sugar-Free & Gluten-Free)

10 June 2013

It seems quite a few people in my life are going through really big dietary restrictions.  Food is one of the ways that I express love, so I really like to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone and make food that makes other people happy.  This recipe is really a redesign for a classic favorite of mine that I absolutely love during grilling season.  All the tweeks were made for a specific diet in mind, so if you don't have the same needs, you can absolutely make changes to suit your likes!

This is a really lovely take on the classic strawberry shortcake.  The grilled berries just add an extra element of WOW and take the flavors up.  This recipe is gluten-free & sugar-fee and it could easily be made lactose-free with a whipped cream substitute.  There are a couple of parts to this recipe and each of them are a cinch to make!

Coconut Flour Biscuits
1/3 cup coconut flour
5 tablespoons butter or coconut oil, softened
4 eggs
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon shredded coconut (optional for texture)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine all ingredients using an electric mixer and blend until smooth.  Scoop about 8-10 small balls using your hands or an ice cream scoop.  Pat the top down with your hand to make about 1/2"-3/4" patties.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

Balsamic Grilled Strawberries
1 pint of strawberries, hulled
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar (I used basil balsamic from Blue Heron to add a bit more depth)
1/3 cup honey or agave (or sugar)
wooden skewers

Whisk the balsamic with the honey together and then pour over strawberries.  Cover and store in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.  Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes (to avoid having them catch on fire on your grill).  Put the whole marinated strawberries on your skewers - about 4-8 per skewered depending on the size of the berries.  Grill over high heat for about 10 minutes, turning halfway through.

Balsamic Grilled Strawberry Shortcake!  Gluten-free AND Sugar-free!

Once the strawberries are ready, assemble them on top of your biscuits   Top with fresh whipped cream or a non-dairy topping.  You could also just drizzle the whole thing with some extra honey or agave and skip the cream.

This recipe is easy to make and it's the perfect thing to enjoy strawberry season!

vegan strawberry cupcakes and strawberry buttercream frosting

23 April 2009

i really just wanted to go for the whole orange and pink work color scheme for the cupcakes i was making, so the logical choice to me for pink was strawberry since i have been dying to try my hand at strawberry buttercream. two of my coworkers are vegan. i am not a very good vegan baker, but i am working on it. it's important to me that if i am going to make something for work, hopefully it is something everyone will have the opportunity to enjoy. so, this is more adventures in vegan baking...


the first step before you do anything else is to cop up a pint of strawberries (about 8oz) and add about 3/4 cup of sugar to them. let them sit in the fridge mixed into the sugar for at least 20 minutes (overnight is good too) so then can absorb the sugars and make a strawberry simple syrup. then mash them by hand or throw them into a blender. you will then use this puree for both the cake and the frosting.

vegan strawberry cupcakes
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (don't worry about the smell, it bakes off)
1 cup of soymilk (flavored if you want...i used vanilla)
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup strawberry nectar
1/2 cup mashed strawberries

preheat the oven to 350ºF.
put the cider vinegar into a small bowl and add the soymilk. whisk well. the mixture will start to thicken up or curdle (i know that sounds weird and gross and i was nervous, but trust me, this will work!)
stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder & soda and salt.
mix the oil, strawberry nectar, and vanilla extract into the bowl containing the soymilk and vinegar and then slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and blend.
add strawberry puree and continue to blend.
scoop into cupcake wrappers. these will puff up a lot...more than most of the non-vegan cupcakes i make do. past vegan recipes i've made have ended up pretty flat, so as a caution i filled the wrappers almost to the top and got a really puffy dome depending on what you are going for about 3/4 full is great.
bake for 20 - 25 minutes until starting to brown.

vegan strawberry frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan butter - room temperature
6 oz softened vegan cream cheese
2-3 cups powdered sugar

bring cream cheese and butter to room temperature and beat together until creamy. add 1/2 cup strawberry puree.
add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until desired sweetness and texture.
you may want to add more puree to get a stronger flavor. i ended up using at least a cup i think, but it made for less firm frosting, so if you are concerned with having the frosting be able to be piped on, you may want to go easy on the puree. if you want to thin things out, just use some of the strawberry nectar. if you do not care to make this vegan, just use real butter and cream cheese...the effect is the same.

i was really happy with the results! i am not going to tell you that i think my vegan cupcakes are 100% as good as my cupcakes with egg and all the things i am used to using...there is definitely a different texture involved, but i think these were pretty darn good. i will absolutely make some version of the strawberry cupcake again in the next few months once it is officially strawberry season!
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