Archive for the ‘Jams and Preserves’ Category

A couple of weeks ago I went to my friends land south of town. He is developing a very beautiful orchard, King Edward’s. This spring he planted about 50 fruit trees! Lucky for us, he already has a giant pear tree that is loaded with fruit.

I like to let my pears ripen off the tree quite a bit, so they get really sweet and juicy. The other day my friend and I canned  some pearsauce and lemon-ginger pears. The pears were so sweet that we didn’t have to add any sugar to the pearsauce and cut the sugar in half from what I used last year for the lemon-ginger pears. We also dehydrated a few to make pear chips.

Still having tons of pears left, I decided to make a couple of pies. I made the crust last night so I would have plenty of time to chill, resulting in a flakier crust. I also added a little bit of lemon zest in with the flour, butter, and water for the crust, I think this will be especially nice with the pears. This morning, I peeled and sliced a whole bunch of pears, tossed them with some sugar, flour and a touch of freshly grated ginger. I filled the bottom shells with the pears and dotted it with butter. A while ago, a friend made a pear galette with chocolate, this inspired me to shave on a little chocolate before I put on the top and sealed it up.

The pies are now cooling and I am having a hard time not slicing into the pies while it is still hot because they smell so good!

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The other day I went over to my friend Monica’s house, we put up all kinds of fruit. Peaches, cherries, greengage plums, and apricots!

About a week earlier, Monica had a preserving party. She canned peaches as well as making a variety of jams.

I had never preserved whole fruits so when Monica and I got together to make preserves we decided to can our fruit whole. We started by preparing the fruits. We blanched the peaches and apricots to remove their skins.

The plums and cherries have skins that are tender enough so we left them on. Meanwhile, we made a light sugar syrup and brought it up to the softball stage (238*F.) When the syrup was hot enough, we poured it over the prepared fruit, covered it, and let it sit.

After about 20-30 minutes, we drained the fruit, packed it into jars, and brought the syrup back to a boil.

Next, we poured the hot syrup into the jars and processed them for about 25 minutes. We both now have a healthy stash of canned fruit for the winter months.

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For the frosting, we made an Italian meringue. We had thought about making an Italian buttercream but, after a practice run, decided we liked the frosting better before we added the butter. An Italian meringue is really simple to make, though, on such a large-scale and with a hand mixer, it did take a while. I started by making a simple syrup that we heated until the soft ball stage. While the syrup was heating, I separated and beat the egg whites. When the whites were nice and frothy, I added some cream of tartar (to help stabilize the eggs.)

I continued beating the egg whites until they were pillowy.

At this point, I slowly added the hot simple syrup to the fluffy whites and continued beating them until they had cooled completely and they were nice and glossy.

Time to assemble the layers!

We placed the bottom half of the layers on their boards with bits of paper lining the edges for easy clean-up. We started with a layer of raspberry jam and a sprinkling of cocoa nibs (we didn’t put any nibs on the vanilla layer.)

Then a layer of the sour cream pastry cream…

Each layer was topped with rows of fresh raspberries.

The layers were then covered with their respective tops…

…and frosted with the chilled meringue.

After frosting all three layers, we measured dowels and placed several of them in the bottom and middle layers for support. Then we carefully stacked the cakes onto their posts and measured and sharpened one final dowel to act as the support for all three layers.

We put the cake in the fridge and made a little bit of colored frosting for decoration. There was a small gap between the layers so we hid it with meringue and raspberries. (We would have put the meringue and raspberries on for decoration anyways.)

We topped it off with a couple of daylilies.

Birds eye…

Rebekah and David, cutting the cake…

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Last September, Sarah and I picked a lot of red raspberries and made them into jam.

We saved a couple of jars to use for the wedding cake.

We made a simple vanilla pastry cream..

..the we lightened with some sour cream.

And since it was the beginning of raspberry season, we couldn’t leave out fresh raspberries.

With all of the fillings ready, we were ready for the frosting and the assembly.

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Strawberry Jam

About a week ago, I finally went out and picked some strawberries at a u-pick farm. (When I say some, I mean 16.3 lbs!)

I had a few jam projects on my agenda. The first was a classic strawberry jam; 3.5 lbs of berries, 4.5 c of sugar, 6 Tbsp lemon juice, and the seeds and membrane of 2 lemons. I have never really liked jam that is made with pectin so I was excited about this recipe. Instead of adding pectin ( in packet form) you add the seeds and membranes of a couple of lemons which have just enough pectin.

I washed and quartered all of the strawberries, put them in a pot with the lemon juice and a sachet of lemon seeds and membranes.

I let this simmer until the strawberries were nice and soft. (This didn’t take too long because the strawberries were so ripe!) I removed it from the heat and  stirred in the sugar.

I put it back on the heat and cooked it, watching carefully so the sugar didn’t burn, until it jelled up a bit on a chilled spoon. This is a step in jam making that I don’t have a lot of patience for, I also don’t mind if it is runny, so I usually figure the jam is done when I can’t wait any longer.

I ladled the hot jam into hot, sterile jars and then processed them in a water bath. I love hearing the pop of the lids sealing while they are cooling on the counter!

The second project was  inspired by a recipe that I found on food52, it is a strawberry chili jam. I followed the same recipe as I did for the classic strawberry with one adjustment. While the strawberries and lemon bits were simmering,

I through in 3 dried New Mexico red chilis and 1/3 of a dried chipotle pepper ( which was very smokey).

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It’s canning season again! The other day I sat down with a notebook and started to plan out all of the things I want to make this season, the first being orange-rhubarb jam. I love, love, love rhubarb! This was the first time I have made rhubarb jam so I decided to follow a recipe, exactly.

I started by chopping rhubarb into 1/2 inch pieces and letting them simmer with a touch of water. While they were simmering I zested and juiced an orange.

I added the orange to the rhubarb and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes, until it was tender.

I then mixed in sugar and boiled it “until it mounded on a chilled dish,” or at least that’s what I would have done if I had a chilled dish and didn’t have to run off to work. I settled for boiling as long as I could, which I think was about 15-20 minutes. I like runny jam so I wasn’t worried about it not setting.

I quickly poured the hot jam into sanitized jelly jars that were warm in the oven. I always seem to under-estimate the amount of time it takes to can, but I had just enough time to process the jam in a hot water bath before leaving for work.

The jam was pretty thin, as I expected, and pretty sweet, also expected. Next batch, I plan to cut back on the sugar. The next morning, I went over to a friends for a pancake breakfast and brought a jar. The orange and rhubarb jam goes really well with Blueberry Buttermilk pancakes!

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Yesterday was my friend Katie‘s birthday (lucky for me, she lives in the same town) so I made her a cake. While I was visiting my family in Iowa, I picked up a jar of “Coco Passion Jam”. This jam is somewhere between a butter and a curd. I thought it would be perfect for a cake topping and then I remembered that my sister had made a cake using it, a few months ago.

I started out by making a coconut cake with Haitian vanilla and coconut milk…

I hadn’t followed the recipe before so I was a little worried when it was time to fold in the egg whites and the batter was really heavy and slippery from the coconut milk. It was too late so I folded them in and hoped for the best…

A couple of friends came over to partake in the assembly. I don’t have a cake plate so I cut a large circle out of an old cereal box and covered it with tin foil. We sliced each cake in half so we had a total of four layers. We whipped together some Greek style yogurt and a little bit of the coconut passion fruit jam to spread between the layers.

We then frosted it with a, not too sweet, cream cheese frosting and dusted the sides with shredded coconut.

I finished it with a little chain of beaded frosting and a jam glaze.

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Erika taught Heli and I how to make crostata in Italy. She showed us how to make it in pretty much the same way her mother (and probably grandmother, etc, etc.) made it. Erika made one exception, she melted the butter. Somehow she was able to pull it off, but when I have tried to repeat this feat, I have ended up with a very very hard tart…

So Heli and I cut in the butter. And then add an egg, and a little milk, and let the dough chill. If you have an extra jar of jam, this is the perfect desert. Sweet, but not too sweet, and fresh with the zest of a lemon in the crust.

We made ours with Heli’s apricot jam. With the left over dough we made a mini crostata with pear butter.

We latticed the tops, and drove the tarts into town to bake at the store (again..).

We had a little tart for my mom’s birthday, and snacked here and there for the rest of the afternoon…

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