September 21, 2012 § 1 Comment
Squash – oops, that was a watermelon!
Just a quick recipe-less post because you can find this recipe all over the web and the Ball books and I made no changes. But it turns out five habanero peppers is exactly the right amount for Habanero Gold pepper jelly!
July 24, 2012 § 2 Comments
I just planted my rhubarb this year (in the strawberry patch I planted last year after my landlords let me tear out a patch of grass – thanks landlords!), and you apparently aren’t supposed to pick it the first year to let it get established. But for some reason mine’s leaves are all floppy – maybe because it’s planted on a hill? any rhubarb experts out there want to weigh in? – and one of the stalks basically broke off by itself. I wasn’t about to waste it, but it seemed silly to go to the store for more when I have so much goodness from my own garden and the CSA. So, what to do with exactly one rhubarb stalk? Let it make friends with the four almost-overripe plums on the counter, and make the teeniest batch of…
Makes three 4oz jars
- 1 oz rhubarb*, cut in 1/2 inch slices
- 7.5 oz plums, not peeled, cut in 1/2 to 1 inch pieces
- 8 oz sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract
- candy thermometer and/or small plate stuck in the freezer
Mix the plums, rhubarb, and sugar and let it plump for a while on the counter or overnight in the refrigerator. If you don’t have time to do this I am pretty sure the world will not end. We’re working with what we’ve got here, and that includes time.
Bring the fruit and jam mixture to a boil in a fairly wide based pot or even a skillet, adding the vanilla towards the end of cooking. Bring it to 220 degrees Fahrenheit on the thermometer, and/or test for jelling by dropping a little onto the chilled plate and letting it cool then dragging a finger through it. It is done when the edges don’t run back together, or when it runs off your stirring spoon in a sheet rather than individual drops. I admit to not being super precise about this part but I am pretty accepting when it comes to jam consistencies. Pour into sterilized jars with 1/2 inch headspace and process for 10 minutes.
I am kind of obsessed with these little 4oz jelly jars, because you can make such small batches and you can water bath them in pretty much any pot (for me the pot height is the limiting factor when I don’t want to pull out my giant canner, since the bottom of the pressure cooker will just barely fit half-pints without boiling over…too much). I really liked the deep plummy and vanilla notes, and I love how vanilla bean paste (I get mine at W&S) gives you the speckles as well as the flavor. The brighter rhubarb flavor wasn’t super apparent. *Maybe I’ll “accidentally” break off one more stalk next time. Still, a fun little (really little) project and pretty tasty. Experimental jam-making does not have to be a big commitment so throw stuff together and see what happens!
What is your teeniest canning project?
June 18, 2012 § 16 Comments
I love watermelon. I could eat a lot in one sitting. Like, a lot. But I had an entire large watermelon that I got for another project (stay tuned) and Lester and I had enough to eat plenty, make a giant watermelon-feta-arugula salad for a party, and still have a ton left.
Therefore, watermelon jam. Who knew? I got the idea from Food in Jars but this recipe is adapted from the Heirloom Watermelon Jelly from Put ‘Em Up. I picked this recipe because it had the least sugar of any I found, and I like watermelons but not watermelon Jolly Ranchers…and I am now officially in love with Pomona’s Universal Pectin. First off, it has an awesomely old-timey name. More importantly, it lets you use smaller amounts of sugar than for other jams and jellies, and you don’t cook the jam for very long at all, so I think in this recipe it lets the freshness of the watermelon really shine through. I don’t own Put ‘Em Up (yet!) but fortunately Google Books has this recipe as part of the free excerpt, so head on over there and check it out. I made a few adaptations, below.
flesh of less than half of a 12-15″ spherical watermelon = 4 cups puree*
1/2 cup bottled lime juice (the original used lemon, but for bottled the acidity is interchangeable)
1 cup sugar
2 T Pomona pectin
2 T calcium water from the Pomona box
a little butter to prevent foaming
*I pureed the watermelon in my Ninja blender (love that thing) then ran it through my food mill – thanks Mom! – to remove the seeds and get a smoother puree. I did not strain it further, and I like the opacity and texture of the end result. Make popsicles with any leftover watermelon puree, except the amount you drink with a little vodka and grapefruit seltzer while doing the following:
1. Mix the pectin and sugar well in a separate bowl.
2. Bring puree to a boil in a large pan.
3. Add lime juice, calcium water, and butter.
4. Add the pectin-sugar mix in a slow stream to the boiling puree, stirring constantly. I had a fair amount of pectin clumps (didn’t follow my own step 1) but I was able to break up most of them with the back of the mixing spoon.
5. Bring back to a boil, then turn off the heat and let it sit for five minutes, skimming the foam occasionally.
6. Fill prepared jars with 1/4 inch headspace and process for 10 minutes.
The original says it makes about 4 cups. Mine filled 5 half-pints (5 cups) plus enough for my toast the next morning.
The result? Unexpectedly amazing. It was light, sweet-tart, and the perfect soft spreadable texture. I might even put in more lime next time, but it’s pretty perfect as is.
Serving suggestion: for breakfast on the back porch listening to the birds and getting a little bit of sun so that even if you have to go in to work on a weekend, it is still a good day.
June 16, 2012 § 18 Comments
My sage blossomed! Such a gorgeous color, and such a nice addition to the green-on-green of the spring edible garden (before the explosion of red that will surely come when my tomato plants become overburdened with incredible quantities of tomatoes for once this time, right?). But being me, I couldn’t just admire them. I had to eat them. Or more accurately: put them up, then eat them. I ate a few right off the plant, and was surprised by their sweetness, with a subtle sagey undertone. So… sage blossom jelly.
I was inspired by this post about sage blossom syrup and she was inspired by this peony(!) jelly. Otherwise I used the mint jelly recipe off the Certo liquid pectin package except for adding the lemon juice before steeping.
2 cups sage blossoms
2 1/4 cups water
2 T lemon juice
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 pouch Certo liquid pectin
1/2 tsp butter
1. Clean blossoms. Bring water to boil and pour over the blossoms in a heat-safe bowl.
2. Cry a little when the beautiful purple blossoms turn brown.
3. Add the lemon juice now. Rejoice when the blossom-water turns pink! (This is why you add it now – it doesn’t work later, as I found out the hard way in another batch.)
4. Steep overnight.
5. Strain through a jelly bag if you have it, or in my case a tea filter bag. You should have about two cups of liquid.
6. Continue with the Certo cooked jam and jelly instructions: bring the liquid, sugar, and butter to a full rolling boil. Stir in the pectin, boil one minute, remove from heat, and skim. Ladle into jars with 1/8 inch headspace and process for 5 minutes.
I got two half-pints and four of my new cute little four-ounce jars out of this batch.
Suggested uses: on croissants because I’m fancy, as major-bonus-points gifts to friends who are also fancy, paired with a mild cheese like a goat cheese or brie, on a spoon for dessert… what would you do with it?