Monday, July 26, 2010
We made JAM!!!!!
Ok, so there are some things that I will readily try in the kitchen -- basically anything vegetarian, anything soup/stew-like and most baked things. There are certain things that I almost always stay away from: complicated, multi-step, multi-layered desserts (although for a special loved one's birthday cake, I'd go all the way!), puffed pastry and canning/preserving. I thought by starting this blog, I would get motivated to conquer some of my kitchen fears. And I have! I've made rolled-out cookies which I'd never attempted before out of pure laziness, pizza dough involving yeast, which frightens me to bits (post coming soon!) and most recently ... JAM!! Yup, we made JAM!
When blueberry season came about and my loving partner shared fond memories of his grandmother making fruit preserves, I just had to give it a try. So, I sucked up my fears and we went shopping. 2 pints of blueberries and 4 cute little mason jars later and I was in front of the computer looking up recipes. And boy are there a lot! I wasn't so concerned about the ingredients; I was more worried about the method. All that talk of sterilizing the jars and different methods to make that little suction button on the lid pop so you'd know it was properly preserved, almost made me change my mind. But, I pressed onward! After a few searches, I came up with a recipe and method that I felt comfortable with.
The first thing we did: reduce the sugar. Geez! In one recipe, it called for 2 cups of sugar for 1.5 pints of berries. Ok, ok. Jam is supposed to be sweet, but this would be jam OUR way: fruity, lemony and just sweet enough to take away the puckering reflex. Yum! Next, we kind of combined the freezer method with the normal preserving method due to the fact that I am soooo paro of getting botched. We sterilized by putting the jars and lids in the oven on low heat, but when it came to activating the vacuum seal, I cringed at the thought of immersing them in boiling water .. BUT! I discovered this crazy-wonderful blog "My Sister's Kitchen," where they made pectin-free jam, AND they sealed the jars using a simple method: they turned the jars upside-down, let them sit, turned them right-side up again and left them alone. Fifteen minutes later and poof! Sealed. Did it work? Like a charm! Am I still paro! Yup! So I stuck our preserves in the freezer. Oh well. Maybe when we return from our week in Moncton (!!!) we'll make peach preserves, or sour cherry preserves and I'll have the guts to leave them unfrozen.
So ... if you were EVER scared of making preserves, don't fret! Just do it! It's easy! See you next Wednesday!
Tart Blueberry Preserves - makes 4 little jars
with help from Ina Garten and My Sister's Kitchen
2 pints of blueberries
zest and juice of one lemon
1/3 cup of sugar
4 x 125ml mason jars
** This makes a very lemony, tart preserve. Add sugar to your liking. Also, it doesn't set up like a jam or jelly, but it definitely thickens well and is totally spreadable
1. Wash and pick through your blueberries carefully. Put them in a large pot with the lemon juice, zest and sugar.
2. Simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently until the berries breakdown and the liquids have thicken to coat the back of a spoon.
3. While your berries are simmering, prepare your jars. Place the jars and lids (seal side up) on a sheet pan, making sure they don't touch each other, and place in a 175 degree oven for about 20 minutes.
4. When the berries are done, spoon them into the hot jars, making sure that you don't fill the jars all the way up (especially if you're putting them in the freezer .. fill them about 2/3 of the way). Using tongs, carefully place the lids over the jars and twist on the outer part of the cap. Immediately turn them upside down and let them sit for about 10 minutes. Turn them back over and let them sit for an additional 5 minutes, or until all the vacuum seals have activated (the top of the lids are all popped down).
5. YAY!! You just made JAM!! Woo hoo!!