Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Put It In A Jar

Pickles
At the beginning of last week I had made my first ever 2 jars of refrigerator pickles.  I really didn't know how I was going to be patient enough to let them cure for 72 hours before ripping into them.  Just so you know, I have quite the infinite love of pickles.  To the point where I will plow through a 2L jar of Vlasics in a few days and am totally surprised that they didn't last longer.  So while perusing this awesome-sauce of a blog, I stumbled upon a post for a simple recipe for pickles that require very minimal work and ingredients that I pretty much had in my cupboards already.  I've never canned before and so this recipe was perfect in getting my toes wet in trying my hand at some pseudo "canning".

I think the jars I used were much larger than what the recipe called for, and so I ended up having to double the brine amounts.  I had to sit on my hands for those excruciating 72 hours and cracked it open the second I could.  I have to admit, my first impression was "meh".  They were nice, but not completely amazing like I thought they would be.  But then a few days later I ate one again.  Um...this time it was totally different.  The pickles were amazing!!! I guess all it needed was a little more time to cure.  I almost polished off the jar in one sitting!  I'll definitely be making these again!  I think next time though, I will be adding dill fronds and possibly more garlic.  


Jam

Over the weekend I took a wee little break from knitting (mainly because it was hot and in the house it was a bit muggy...all of which meant sweaty hands...yuck!).  Even though it was hot, I decided one morning to just give it a go and try making my own strawberry jam.  This experience was a little bit of a roller coaster ride.  Especially in comparison to the pickle experience.  Not only was my timing off in having my canner ready before the jam was ready, but none of the thermometers that I own worked!  Whilst in search of a working thermometer I managed to burn the jam.  Note to self: make sure thermometers work beforehand, or just don't use a recipe that requires one!  

I was totally bummed.  And a bit mad that I had wasted 2 quarts of strawberries.  But then my friend Marmen came to my rescue and told me to skim the top and let the jam cool.  She reassured me that once frozen the burnt taste will dissipate and that I will be able to use the strawberries for tarts or something.  I couldn't skim the top because I managed to somewhat caramelize the sugar, but once the jam cooled down I gave it a little taste.  Despite burning the sugar and the bottom of the pot, and not adding the lemon juice or zest, the jam didn't taste burnt and was actually pretty good!  I quickly made some toast and spread some of the jam on, and guess what?  It was really tasty!  The jam was a little thick in the spreading department but overall it was great!  Just wish I could say the same for my Le Creuset pot...

I managed to get 2 little half pint jars of jam (the recipe was for 3 jars) and couldn't be any more excited about them.  So much so that on Sunday I stocked up on blueberries, cherries, and limes in hopes of making some blueberry-cherry jam as well as a few jars of blueberry lime jam from this amazeballs blog (I've been reading this blog for quite some time now and got to unexpectedly meet Amy on Saturday at a knitting group that I got invited to, she's so lovely!  As well as the other knitters I met!).  I really can't wait!  Blueberry jam is my most favourite of jams.  If this works out, look out Victoria!  I'll be on a mission to get my hands on every single blueberry in the city!!

I would also love to learn how to can peaches and make my own salsa, but I think I better get jam making under my belt first!  Anyone else out there can and preserve?  Anyone have recipes to share?  I'm all ears and ready to learn!

4 comments:

  1. Yay! I'm so proud of you! Look at that!

    I have not canned peaches yet (I plan to in a few years after Jon and I get a peach tree in our yard), but I do peach jam in a slow cook method.

    Basically cut up your peaches in small bits (leave the skins on, they're tasty and who needs to do extra work!) and throw in about 1/2 that amount in sugar. So let's say you have 2 lbs of peaches, then throw in 1 lbs of sugar (that's about 2 cups). Let this sit (macerate) at least overnight in a covered bowl or the pot you are going to jam in or even a couple of mason jars! You can do this step up to a week in advance, so you don't feel like you're jamming ALL DAY.

    When you are ready to jam, get your canner ready (or not and just throw the finished jam in the freezer) and take your peach mixture out of the fridge. If it's already in the pot, turn on the heat and add the juice of one lemon (or juice of 1/2 lemon per 1 lb of peaches). Bring to a bubble (not a boil) and bring the heat down to low and keep stirring here and there, in between rows of knitting. As long as the heat is low, you won't worry about burning. Also, the larger bottom the pot, the quicker cooking time. I made this once in a medium'ish large pot and it cook for 2 hours and the last time I made it, it was in a large heavy bottom skillet that cooked for just under an hour.

    This process creates more of a fruit butter than a jam. I find that jams are meant to be more liquidy, spreadable, while a butter is more gelled and thicker.

    Anyway, to test the doneness, you can either try the freezer plate method or if it sticks to the back of your wooden spoon method. I usually go the lazy way and use the wooden spoon method since it's already my stirring stick (or spatula).

    Then throw them in your jars and process as you like.

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    1. Ooohhh....thanks so much for the recipe Mary!! I can't wait to try it out!! :)

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  2. I'm dying to know if you made any blueberry jam yet! Let me know how it goes. It was so great to meet you last Saturday! :)

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    1. I finally made some blueberry jam!! :D I didn't get the chance to make the blueberry-lime jam because my son wanted to eat some of the blueberries, and who am I to deny any chance my son has in eating fresh fruit?? I'm not brave enough to try to half the recipe or anything like that, in case it messes with the pectin. So to make up for the lack of blueberries I made blueberry-cherry jam! But I'll admit that I'm really nervous that it won't set...I totally forgot about my plates in the freezer and to use them! :/ Oh well, if it sets then yay! If not, I remember you mentioning about using jam in plain yogurt. I'm SO going to do that! :)

      Hope to see you again soon! ♥

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