0621 Strawberry Jam, Two Ways

We’re not big jam eaters.  There, I said it.  We both enjoy a good jam, but we’re much more likely to dip our toast in a runny egg yolk than to top it with a sweet spread.  We’re still working through the strawberry-rhubarb jam that I made last year.  BUT when you suddenly find yourself in possession of twenty pounds of strawberries, there’s not much to be done except get your jam on.

In one sweaty afternoon, I made two batches of jam: Strawberry Balsamic and Strawberry Vanilla.  I have the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, which I can’t recommend highly enough to newbie canners, and both of the batches are riffs on their basic, oh so basic, strawberry jam recipe.  I’m giving full quantities for the original recipe here, which the cookbook claims should yield 8 pints, but I halved the recipe, resulting in about 5 pints of jam.  I then made the half recipe a second time, so I suppose it would be more accurate to say that I split the recipe?  Except that I made two totally separate batches.  Whatever.  The full recipe, as I prepared it, is as follows.  And it should give you 8-10 pints.  If you make the whole thing.

Strawberry Jam
Adapted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

7 cups granulated sugar
8 cups whole strawberries
4 tbsp lemon juice
1 1.75 oz package regular powdered fruit pectin

Clean and sterilize your canning jars, lids, and rings, and have your open water bath standing by.

Measure sugar into a bowl and set aside.  Wash, hull, and slice strawberries.  Add strawberries and lemon juice to a sauce pan.  Whisk in pectin until dissolved, then bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring frequently.  Add sugar all at once and return to a full rolling boil.  Boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat and skim off foam.

Ladle into jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  If you don’t have enough jam to fill the final jar up to the top, don’t process it – set the jar aside for immediate enjoyment.  Place jars in open water bath and bring to a boil.  Process for 10 minutes, then turn the heat off and leave jars in for another 5 minutes before removing.  Let jars cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours.  You should hear the tell-tale plink of lids sealing – if any lids have not sealed, reprocess those jars or stick ’em in the fridge for prompt eating.

Strawberry Balsamic Jam Strawberry Vanilla Jam
Strawberry-Balsamic Jam

Reduce lemon juice to 1 tbsp and add 3 tbsp good-quality balsamic vinegar.

Strawberry-Vanilla Jam

Add half a vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, to the strawberries.  Cook as directed, removing the bean before transferring jam to jars.

0613 Strawberry Invasion

Strawberry's Eye View

I went berry-picking this morning.

Berries Everywhere!

And I may have been overly enthusiastic.

Two Perfect Berries

Because now we have twenty pounds of strawberries, approximately 1/3 of which are pictured below.

Tray 1/2

What the hell am I going to do with twenty pounds of strawberries? Answer: jam. And a lot of it. Also gelato. Also a lot of berry-eating out of hand, as these berries are as sweet as candy.

I would tell you about the gelato, but I don’t want to make you jealous.  You should probably just make some yourself, though I’d recommend reducing the quantities by a third or you’ll run the risk of overflowing your food processor and/or your ice cream maker.  Don’t have either of those?  This recipe uses them, but doesn’t require them, so now you have no excuse.  NO EXCUSE, hear me?

Recipe:
Strawberry Gelato from Italy Travel Guide

Eating and growing locally: week 10

I kind of can’t believe it’s been 10 weeks since I got really pissed off at the state of our food industry and told SB that I wanted to make an effort to eat more locally.  I feel like I talk about this stuff all the time, and I apologize if you’re sick of hearing about it, but the last 10 weeks have really changed the way that we think about food and the way that we eat.  It’s kind of fantastic.

Eating:
Local meal #6

Tiny pork burgers with ground pork from Cibola Farms, herbs and greens from our garden, slices of onion, tomato, and aged cheddar from the market, and rosemary Italian rolls from Atwater’s.  Please ignore the ketchup and the totally unnecessary mayo.  These were sooooo flavorful that we didn’t need other condiments at all.  Maybe some homemade pickles that, as of yet, exist only in my head.

Sweet potato fries

Along with the burgers, we had sweet potato fries, using up the last of the sweet potatoes that had started to sprout while we were at Bonnaroo.  I tossed the potatoes with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, cinnamon, and cumin, then baked them long enough that they were soft, but not long enough to get crispy.  Better luck next time.

All local breakfast!

Shane made a really fantastic all-local breakfast – farmers market eggs scrambled with zucchini, onion, and garlic (also from the market), a fruit salad of peaches and the last of the strawberries, and toasted rosemary Italian rolls from Atwater’s.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Did I say we ate the last of the strawberries for breakfast?  I lied.  The last of the strawberries actually went into a strawberry rhubarb crumble (recipe from Smitten Kitchen), which we ate with ice cream throughout the week.

On Friday, we ate the last of our store-bought chicken, so this week we’ll be making our first foray into entirely local meat.  We also bought (omg) crabs (!!!!) at the market this morning.  Stay tuned for much excitement and exclamation points about that.  It’s also worth noting that I made an incredible cole slaw that we’re hoping to repeat this week.

Growing:

  • The chilis still are not red.  C’mon, chilis!  You can do it!
  • Everything else continues at the previously documented rates of growth.  I’m not sure if the worm poop is helping or not – or if we’ve just hit that hot part of the summer where some things are going to grow, and others are going to die.

Eating and growing locally: week four

Week 4: growing

  • I harvested and froze the cilantro – if it doesn’t grow back, we’ll dig it up and put something else in its spot.
  • The lettuce is nearing the point of microgreens, so we plan to thin it this weekend.
  • Three budding strawberries!
  • The onions are sending up shoots of green – I planted them on a whim without being responsible and starting them indoors 60 days ahead of time.  I figure if by the end of the summer we have onions, awesome.  If not, I’m out about $1 in seeds.

Week 4: eating

  • Scrambled eggs with chard for breakfast – Mina liked the chard!
  • A couple of delicious but non-local meals complemented by asparagus (grilled, alongside grilled chicken and halloumi, and blanched, alongside chicken poached in vodka tomato sauce with penne)
  • Farmers’ market strawberries used in homemade ice cream – our first batch with the new Cuisinart was amazing.

I’m taking two summer classes, so from now until the end of June our culinary experiments will be primarily in Shane’s hands.  I told Shane last night that all this reading about local food (Plenty, Food Politics, The Farm to Table Cookbook) has me really excited about the change of seasons, the wonderful diversity of food options that will be available in a few weeks, and reaping the benefits of this diversity and surplus to provide for meals many months in the future via canning, freezing, making jam, etc.  I’m especially excited and hopeful that there will be more aha! moments with food, where we both will discover that things we thought we didn’t like we didn’t like just because we’d only known the pale supermarket version.

And with that, off to the market!

Eating and growing locally: week three

Week 3: growing

  • Cilantro is bolting – we need to decide whether we’re going to harvest the cilantro, or let it go to coriander. Maybe some of both.
  • Tomatoes totally beat up by 40-50mph winds and driving rain. I think the chopstick split plus a timely move inside may have been enough to save them.
  • One more strawberry that unfortunately rotted on the vine – we were hoping it’d get bigger. *sigh* Two more in the works!

Week 3: eating

  • omg amazing brunch of farm-fresh eggs, asparagus, and pork sausage (CH market), strawberries (DR) and mint from our garden, incredibly moist muffins made with FB market apples
  • Spring Farmers’ Market Soup
  • more eggs + sausage in breakfast burritos

I missed the market this week because I was in Chicago Wednesday-Sunday – Shane picked up more eggs (oh so worth the extra money), more asparagus, more strawberries, etc. On my flight to Chicago, I read Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally which, while annoyingly upbeat at times, was overall a good, easy to read account of eating based on the seasons and the region. By the end of the year, the authors said that their enjoyment of food had increased while their cravings (in general) decreased – they were satisfied with less because it was simply better.

Eating and growing locally: week two

Week 2: growing

  • tiny sprouts in our lettuce bin!
  • pepper transplant from Seed Savers arrived – need to get that in a bigger pot.
  • lots of rain the last couple of days has made the tomatoes grow tall

Week 2: eating

  • salad of roasted potatoes and spring onions from the DR market with non-local eggs and bacon (note: buy eggs next weekend), grilled awesome brats from DR butcher (local?), salad greens from FB market
  • rainbow chard (DR) frittata with non-local eggs (recipe from On Rue Tatin)
  • parboiled asparagus (DR) with herbs from our garden and some grated cheese
  • grilled chicken and spring onions (DR) with fresh pasta from Cheesetique
  • fantastic salad and strawberries from the FB market

This week I made an effort to do as much of our shopping as I could using mass transit.  Non-local indulgences included a pizza Tuesday night after a long and frustrating day, and stocking up on our favorite breakfast cereal when it was hella on sale ($1.88 for Basic 4!).  We picked up some fantastic stuff from the Courthouse market today, though, so I’m excited for our mostly-local brunch tomorrow, and good eats this week before I fly to Chicago for a meeting.

    Eating and growing locally: week one

    We signed up for Farm to Philly‘s One Local Summer challenge, which begins June 1.  The challenge is to “make one meal each week using locally grown ingredients”, which we think is eminently doable.  We also planted our balcony garden last weekend, giving us the promise of fresh herbs all summer long, as well as a couple of kinds of small tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, and maybe some lettuce as well.  I’m delighted to have the resources and opportunity to shop at the farmers’ market(s) and grow (some of) our own food – it’s bizarre to me given our long agrarian history that these things are now privileges rather than the status quo.
    Week 1: growing

    • chives in Sunday’s scrambled eggs 
    • transplanted flat leaf parsley from the FB market
    • 2 beautiful strawberries! 

    Week 1:  eating

    • turnips from the DR market, parboiled then sauteed in a vinegar-wine-butter reduction, for dinner on Friday
    • salad greens from the FB market for dinner on Friday, with more leftover
    • strawberries from the FB market for breakfast on Saturday
    • quiche from the FB market for lunch on Thursday