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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Jamming on a Sunday

Once I came home from the two garden exchanges I always have new inspiration to get some new recipes in jars.  I had the opportunity to finally get working on the Cherry recipe I have been posting and Strawberries I picked up from the farmers market.

I did three small batches, no more than 3 half pints of any of the recipes, and worked on the remake of the Strawberry Balsamic using my new bottle of Balsamic from Il Fustino. I was fortunate to pick up from the garden exchange some Rhubarb and made my first Strawberry-Rhubarb jam. It was super easy and the smooth texture is so good that my son is actually asking for it. The only thing is I didn't tell him there was Rhubarb in it otherwise he would not have eaten it. Actually he probably wouldn't have tasted it. Shhhh don't tell! Here is the recipe:

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
3 cups dice rhubarb

1 1/2 cup chopped strawberries
1 cup water
1 cup cane or regular sugar
2 T. lemon juice
1 pack pectin


Combine in dutch oven the rhubarb, strawberries, and water. Cook until the mixture is boiling and the rhubarb begins to breakdown and gets a smooth texture. Add the sugar and lemon juice and return recipe to a boil. Once you get to a boil add the pectin and again bring the recipe back to a boil. The consistency will be getting thick and you will see a foam on the top. Skim foam with a spoon and prepare 3 half pint jars, lids, and rings.


Ladle the recipe into the jars leaving 1/2" headspace. Process in water bath at a full boil for 10 minutes. Yields 3 half pints.


My second recipe I had been waiting to do for about a week. I got sick and had to put it on the back burner but wanted to try this flavor combination for fun. Cherries are not my favor fruit but wanted to have a jam in my recipe book. I needed to up the level of taste and consulted with my hubby and came up with Brandy! Here is the result of a coordinated effort:


Cherry "under the influence" Jam
4 cups frozen black cherries
1/2 cup brandy
1 1/2 cup of sugar
zest from one lemon
2 T. lemon juice
2 t. brandy
1 1/2 T. Ball Flex batch pectin (1 pack powdered low sugar/no sugar pectin)

Combine in dutch oven the frozen cherries and brandy. Cook until the cherries are softened, for about 25 minutes and the mixture is beginning to boil. Add the sugar, zest, and lemon juice and return recipe to a boil.


Now there are two ways to finish this jam. First you can take an emersion blender and breakdown many of the cherries so that you have a smoother jam or using a potato masher you can leave some of the cherries whole. I chose the latter. Once at a boil add pectin and continue at a boil for one minute.  Take the recipe off the heat and add the additional brandy, stir in and ladle into your prepared 2 half pint jars, lids, and rings. Ladle the recipe into the jars leaving 1/4" headspace. Process in water bath at a full boil for 10 minutes. Yields 2 half pints.   

My last recipe was a "redo" from a few weeks ago when we did a Strawberry Balsamic Jam at our monthly meeting that didn't have the "Balsamic" flavor at all after 6 Tablespoons in the recipe. For this recipe as I said previously I used the California Balsamic I purchased at Il Fustino which is an olive oil and vinegar retail tasting store. The flavor is bolder than the other balsamic I have so I thought I would see if the quality would make a difference. Here is the recipe I used this go round. Note: Also you can add 1 1/2 T. of Ball Flex batch low sugar no sugar pectin if you don't want to cook it to 220 to get to the gel stage.  Once you have added the balsamic vinegar bring to a boil and add the pectin. Boil hard for one minute then ladle into jars.


Strawberry Balsamic Jam

2 1/2 cup strawberries 
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 T. Balsamic vinegar

Prep strawberries by topping them then chopping. First combine strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a bowl and let them macerate for about one hour.


After an hour, in a dutch oven combine the strawberries and then add the balsamic vinegar and cook till the recipe gets to 220 degrees or to the gel point consistency you want. For this recipe I cooked it for about thirty minutes, stirring fairly consistently, to get to the gel point using the plate in the freezer trick. (for more info check out the "gel point" label)

Prepare two half pint jars, lid, and ring and ladle your recipe into the jars leaving 1/2" headspace. Clean rims, add lids and rings, and process in boiling waterbath for 10 minutes.


The flavor of balsamic in the pot was still very mild, but when I tasted the difference between the two strawberry jams that I made, the strawberry flavor was much more enhanced with the addition of the balsamic.

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