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Jam, Jam, and more Jam March 25, 2011

Filed under: fruit,jam — dulcisserenus @ 3:36 pm
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Jam is something I always have in my pantry.  It’s so very versatile.  I particularly love to use it to dress up cookies.  I’ve made jam before, but have never canned it, so this was a learning experience for me.  I spent tons of time searching the internet for the proper procedure and realized, after searching many sites, that it was really not that complicated.  You just have to make sure that everything is sterilized, place hot jam in hot jars, and be sure to boil them for the recommended amount of time.  You can make your own jams in any flavors you want, but I chose: Strawberry Balsamic, Lemon Curd, Mango Cinnamon, and Blueberry Lime.  Now, I know that Lemon Curd isn’t a jam, but I just love it so much that I had to make it.  I used Ina Garden’s recipe for the Lemon Curd and doubled the amounts.  This Set of Four Jams is up for bid on March 30th over at The Tomato Tart, so be sure to stop by and bid; there will be four sets available, so your chances of getting one will be pretty good.  Because they have been canned, they will last up to a year, but I expect they will be long gone before then.  Except for the Lemon Curd, they are egg and dairy free.

Here’s what you need:

6 cups fruit (fresh or frozen)

1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar depending on the sweetness of your fruit

4 Tbls cornstarch

2 Tbls spices or seasonings (cinnamon, lime zest and juice, or balsamic vinegar)

Here’s what you do:

First wash the jelly jars.  The websites recommended using a dishwasher to sterilize the jars and to keep them warm on the dry setting.  Next, prepare the lids by placing them in simmering water and fill your canning pot with enough water to cover your jars by 1 to 2 inches and bring it to a simmer, so it will be hot when you are ready to boil the jars.  Also prepare your canning equipment: a canning funnel, lid lifter, and jar lifter.  (I bought a kit)

Place the jam ingredients in a medium sauce pan.  Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until they begin to boil, about 12-14 minutes.  Boil the jam for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the jam is thick.

Once the jam is thickened, you need to blend it using an immersion blender (if using a regular blender, be careful because the jam is very hot) and return it to the stove to stay warm.

Time to fill your jars!  Remove hot jars from the dishwasher (I worked with two at a time) and place near stove.  Using canning funnel, fill jars with hot jam.  Be sure to leave head space at the top of the jars and make sure that there aren’t any air bubbles.  Using the lid lifter, retrieve lids from simmering water and place onto jars.  Seal with a metal ring.

Once you have enough jars to fill your canning pot, start placing the jars in the pot using the jar lifter.  Increase the stove to high heat to bring the water to a boil.  Once the water boils, cover and boil the jam jars for about 10 minutes.

Remove the boiled jam jars from the canning pot using jar lifter and place on wire rack to cool in a non-drafty place.  Leave jars to sit for 24 hours without tilting or moving them.

Any jars that do not seal properly need to be refrigerated and used first.  The sealed jars will last up to a year.


Bake Sale for Japan Contributions! March 23, 2011

I have finally decided what I will be contributing to the Online Bake Sale for Japan!  I thought I would give you a little sneak peak of my contributions with some info on each.  Recipes will follow shortly.  Be sure to check the site in the days leading up to the auction on the 30th to see all of the treats up for bid.

The first time I made this Whole Wheat Vegan Banana Bread I fell in love with it.  I now feel the need to make it about once a week.  Sometimes I even make two and store one in the freezer in case I’m having a banana bread emergency and just need to eat some…right now.  This bread is moist and slightly dense, as any good banana bread should be, and completely free of eggs and dairy.  (Two loaves available.)

If you love the crunch, crumble, and buttery goodness of shortbread cookies, but don’t eat dairy or eggs, these Vegan Shortbread Cookies are for you.  They get their buttery taste and flaky crumble from butter flavored vegetable shortening,  are completely egg and dairy free, and made with natural, raw sugar.  They’re especially good with a little jam on top!  You will receive 20 shortbreads in a decorative tin.

Jam is something I always have in my pantry.  It’s so very versatile.  I particularly love to use it to dress up cookies.  This Set of Four Jams would be a perfect addition to your pantry.  The flavors include: Strawberry Balsamic, Lemon Curd, Mango Cinnamon, and Blueberry Lime.  These jams have been canned and will last up to a year, but I expect they will be long gone before then.  Except for the Lemon Curd, they are egg and dairy free.  (Four sets available.)

Whenever an overwhelming urge to bake cookies starts to come over me, I make Blackberry Jam Thumbprints.  They are seriously delicious and everyone loves them.  They are soft, crumbly cookies with a sweet jam center.  The cookies are rolled in white sparkling sugar before baking to give them a little crunch.  These bite-sized cookies are so good I could easily eat a dozen in one sitting, so I am going to ship you three dozen in a decorative tin.

Homemade marshmallows are a necessity in life; they are just so much better than store-bought.  They’re soft and pillowy and just slightly chewy, plus they make the cutest S’mores!  Homemade S’mores are the most requested sweet from all of my friends.  I’ll be shipping a dozen of these in a decorative tin to ensure the marshmallows stay fresh.



Strawberry Balsamic Pie and a Pi Day Contest March 15, 2011

Pi, as we all know, is 3.14 and since yesterday was 3/14 that made it “Pi Day”.  I recently learned about the Serious Eats Pi Day Baking Contest and decided it was right up my alley.  After all, it’s just one more excuse to bake.  So, to celebrate Pi Day, I made this Strawberry Balsamic Pie and am entering it in the contest.  This is the first contest I have ever entered, and I am super excited about it!  Wouldn’t it be great if I won? (hint, hint)  You can vote for me starting March 20 (the day the contest closes for entries), if you would like to make my dreams come true…

This pie is amazing, by the way.  I love strawberries and balsamic vinegar; they are a perfect combination.  The balsamic gives the sweet, slightly tart strawberries a rounder flavor.  This pie filling also makes a great jam!

**Update: Unfortunately, I did not win any prizes in the Pi Day Contest, but I had tons of fun making this pie and it tasted so good that we devoured it in just two days.  Thanks to everyone for voting!**

Here’s what you need:

6 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced (2 cups reserved)

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 Tbls cornstarch

2 Tbls balsamic vinegar

roll-out pie crust, or homemade pie crust

Here’s what you do:

To make the filling, combine all of the ingredients (minus 2 cups reserved strawberries) in a large saucepan.  Cook over medium heat 12-14 minutes until it thickens and begins to boil, stirring occasionally.  Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Transfer mixture to a glass bowl and cool completely.  (At this point you could use an immersion blender to turn this into jam, if you didn’t want to make a pie.)  Stir in reserved strawberries.  This gives the pie better texture since the cooked strawberries get broken down by all that stirring.  Use all of your restraint at this point to not lick the spatula.  This filling is like molten lava and will seriously burn you!

Prepare pie plate by lining with one pie crust.  Fill crust with slightly cooled filling and bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.  If the edges of the crust start to get too dark, cover with aluminum foil or a pie shield.

To make the pi top, cut out pi symbols from the remaining pie dough using a template.  I found a pi symbol that I liked online, printed it out, traced it onto cardboard, and cut out the symbols using and exacto knife.  This was a bit time consuming, but totally worth it.  Line the pi symbols up on a baking sheet, sprinkle with sugar, and bake 400 degrees for 6 minutes.  Once cool enough to handle, arrange the pi symbols in a decorative pattern on top of the baked pie.  You could use this same method for any design that you would like.  (Think: leaves in the fall, flowers in spring, the possibilities are endless.)


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