Tag Archives: canning

October Can Jam ~ Festive Chile Pepper Cranberry Sauce

Summer is officially over.  Apples, pumpkins, squash and root vegetables have over taken the markets.  Leaves are steadily dropping from the trees, birds are heading south and there is a noticeable nip in the air.  Fall is here in full force.  So imagine my surprise when Kaela at local kitchen announced that this month’s featured ingredient would be chiles.

Don’t get me wrong, I love chiles but I was expecting something a little less summer-y.  The weather here has had me thinking of soups and oven-roasted meals for weeks and I’ve been thinking of Thanksgiving lately.  Thanksgiving means cranberry sauce.

Last year I jarred up some Michigan cranberries into delicious, high-fructose-corn-syrup-free sauce.  I made some with whole berries, and some smooth, jellied sauce that took on the shape of its jar so that the kids could have a cylinder of cranberry sauce just like they used to get from the grocery store. 

But, I need to can chiles!  Time to get creative.  How can I combine chiles and cranberries?

I haven’t found any Michigan cranberries yet, but I did have two bags of cranberries left in the freezer from last fall.  I dragged one out and turned it into this:

Festive Chile Pepper Cranberry Sauce

12 oz. frozen cranberries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 large, mild red chile, diced

Whole red chile

Seeded and ready to chop.

3 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3 cup pinot noir

From the folks at Blackstar

Its so delicious, I hated to pour it in my sauce but it was worth it.

In a non-reactive saucepan, combine water and sugar and bring to a boil. 
Add cranberries, diced peppers and lemon juice.Cranberries in boiling simple syrup
Return mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for five minutes.
Add wine and simmer five minutes more.
Pack hot jelly into hot jars leaving 1/2″ headspace; process in a boiling water bath for five minutes.

Chile Cranberry Sauce

One lonely jar.

This made enough to fill one 12 oz. jelly jar with enough leftover to sample.

Is it good on biscuits, too?

If a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down . . .

I’ll definitely be making this again because this jar is already accounted for.  The pepper flavor isn’t overwhelming but it has a kick.  This was good straight out of the pan but would be really great on roast chicken, pork or turkey.  I think it would also balance smoked poultry really nicely.

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September Can Jam~Spiced Peach Jam

I love peaches.  Mostly I love them fresh, but grocery store peaches in the winter shipped from who-knows-where are not tasty so I don’t buy them anymore.

I also love jam.  So, what could be better than peach jam?  Spiced Peach Jam.

I love this jam so much that I had to make another batch after I tried the first.   I buy my peaches at the Farmers’ Market.  I have a favorite booth for stonefruits and tomatoes.  They always have a peck of peach “seconds” for me.  I think I paid $3 for a half peck of soft peaches.  We always eat a few but I got most of them into the jam:

Spiced Peach Jam

  • 3 lbs peaches skinned and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 coins of candied ginger chopped into little bits (almost minced)
  • 2 tsp.  lemon juice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
Spiced Peach Jam

Yum!

Combine all in a large, non-reactive pan and simmer until set.  I always use the chilled plate method to test my set. 
Sterilize your jars by boiling in a hot water bath.
Ladle hot jam into hot, sterilized jars and process in boiling water bath for ten minutes.

The jam improves with time as the ginger diffuses into it.  I like it on PB&J sandwiches, but I love it in homemade yogurt!

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August Can Jam ~ Tomatoes Three Ways

Tomatoes.  There is something about a ripe tomato that simply screams, “Summer!”   Unfortunately, tomato season doesn’t last forever.  Unless, of course, you buy mealy, flavorless, South American tomatoes all winter but that is an entirely different post.  Today we’re talking about preserving the fresh, local bounty that is right outside our doors.  

I planted tomatoes this year, but my uncooperative plants have thus far yielded me only 4-5 tomatoes a day.  This is perfect to keep us in fresh tomatoes for lunch, dinner and small batches of salsa to snack on, but not enough for preserving.  Maybe I’ll have to try this method next year.  Enter, the Farmers’ Market.  Dylan and I walked down to the market this morning to pick up some tomatoes for The Jam.  Even though I knew I was going to buy large quantities of tomatoes, I still didn’t have the sense to bring the wagon with me.  I proceeded to buy a half bushel of tomatoes, a peck of apples, six ears of corn, two giant green peppers, five onions and . . . 

A cantaloupe. 

Fortunately I had Dylan to help me drag the stuff  back home.   We stopped for breaks many times. 

The tomatoes were the best score of my summer market season so far.  I paid $3 for a half bushel of tomatoes!!!  They were seconds, perfect for canning.  She made me promise to use them that day so that they wouldn’t spoil and many of them had blemishes, but none of them were bad and I can’t beat the savings; quarts of tomatoes were $4 or more. 

I promised I’d process the tomatoes today, so I did.  Here you go: 

Round 1: Salsa 

Homemade salsa

At a jar a week, I only need about 46 more.

  • 16 cups peeled tomatoes
  • 2 medium onions
  • 3 cups chopped bell pepper
  • hot peppers, minced; I used a blend. 
    Hot peppers

    These chilies made a VERY mild salsa.

    Several of my own Bolivian rainbow chilies and a couple of mystery peppers from the Farmers’ Market.  I seeded the mystery peppers, but left the seeds in the little peppers 

  • 7 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T. cumin
  • scant 1/4 C. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups lemon and/or lime juice

Prepare your jars and boiling water bath.
Chop the onions and bell peppers.  Squeeze most of the water and some of the seeds out of the tomatoes before chopping them.  I used a food processor to mince the garlic and peppers, but I chopped everything else by hand. 
Dump it all into a big pot and bring to a boil. 
Simmer until it reaches a consistency you like. 
Ladle salsa into hot, sterile jars; add lids and process thirty minutes. 

This recipe made ten pints plus a little bowl for us to eat right away. 

Round 2: Sauce 

Tomato-Basil Sauce

The sauce isn't really this yellow, it's actually a lovely orange.

  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3/4 C. carrot, chopped
  • 1 C. celery leaves and all, chopped
  • 1/4 C. parsley, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 C. chopped fresh basil*
  • 7 lbs. peeled tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 T. honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 T. lemon juice per pint

Prepare your jars and boiling water bath.
In a large pot, saute onion, carrot, celery and parsley in a little water.
Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
Increase heat to medium high; add garlic and saute for one minute.
Add tomatoes, honey and basil.  *The basil can be left out if you want a more neutral (read: not Italian) sauce.
Salt and pepper to taste.
If you are going to use this as a pasta sauce, it is fine in its chunky state, but I like to use mine for pasta AND pizza, so I puree mine for a smoother consistency.  If you have a stick blender, run it through the sauce to smooth it out.  If, like me, your stick blender is dead, dump the sauce in batches into your blender and puree until smooth.  Return the sauce to the pan and bring to a boil.
Ladle sauce and 2 tablespoons* lemon juice into hot, sterile pint jars; add lids and process thirty-five minutes. 

*If you use larger or smaller jars, adjust the amount of lemon juice you add to each jar; the acid is necessary for food safety during storage. 

This recipe made four pints. 

Round 3: Ketchup 

Or is it catsup?

One tiny jar.

Disclaimer:  I have never made ketchup before.  The other recipes are tried-and-true, but the ketchup is an experiment. 

Remember this book? 

Freezing and Canning Cookbook: Prized Recipes from the Farms of America

Cool, huh? Don't you just want to run out and make a gelatin mold?

It has several ketchup recipes in it, but we are canning tomatoes, so I modified the straight-up Tomato Ketchup recipe.  The most difficult thing was adjusting the seasonings; it’s hard to divide fractions of teaspoons.

  • 2 lbs. peeled tomatoes
  • 1/2 meduim onion, chopped
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 C.  vinegar
  • 5 cloves
  • 4 allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. celery seeds
  • 1/4 tsp, cracked cinnamon stick
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt

When the ingredient listing on the ketchup label says, "spices" this is what they mean.

Prepare your jars and boiling water bath.
Put vinegar and spices into a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and turn off heat.
Put tomatoes, onions and cayenne into saucepan. Use this to chop up the tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Dust off your food mill.  Run the tomato mixture through the food mill and return to the pot.  Add sugar and simmer until volume is reduced by half.  It takes about an hour and a half.
Strain vinegar to remove spices.  Add salt to vinegar and add to tomato mixture.  Boil, uncovered, until thick.  Again, the cooking takes a long time; about another hour but I didn’t boil it on high because I didn’t want to burn it.
Pour into hot jars and process 15 minutes. 

This made one, 8 oz. jar.  I haven’t tried it yet, but if it is good, I’ll make some more. 

Oh, and the chickens LOVE canning season.

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July Can Jam ~ Cucurbits (Old-Fashioned Dill Pickles)

Okay, so I had fairly grand plans for this month’s Jam.  I was going to experiment with zucchini.  Or make an exotic pickled cucumber.  But, time got away from me and lo and behold today is the deadline!!!  And, I don’t have time now; there will be time for zucchini and exotic pickles later.  For now, I stuck with an old standby.  I didn’t even have time to take pictures yet; but I will and will add them later.  See, I promised pictures so you shall have pictures!  However, with T-minus-one-and-a-half hours, I just need to get the post up before my deadline (and my bedtime) and not mess around with this antique desktop trying to get pictures uploaded.  (Yes, the laptop is still out of commission.)

Without further adieu:

Classic Dill Pickles

Dill Pickles

Kosher Dill Pickles
4 lbs. (4″) pickling cucumbers (from both my 9 Bean Rows CSA share and Olds Farm)
6 tbsp. pickling salt
3 c. distilled white vinegar (I always use 4 cups each of water and vinegar since the year I ran short on brine; plus three and three yields a really salty dill.)
3 c. water
fresh dill (from my herb butterfly garden)
21 peppercorns
14 garlic cloves from Olds Farm

  • Clean and sterilize jars and lids; add to water bath and bring to a boil. 
  • Wash cucumbers and cut to desired pickle shape; I did a variety of spears and slices.
  • Combine salt, vinegar and water; heat to boiling.
  • Pack cucumbers into clean, hot jars.  Add three peppercorns, two garlic cloves and a sprig of fresh dill to each jar.  (I need to remember to add way more dill next time.  I didn’t buy any when I was at the Farmers’ Market and had to make do with the dill that grew in my yard.) 
  • Fill packed jars with hot brine to within 1/2″ of jar top and seal.
  • Process in prepared boiling water bath for 1o minutes.  (The book says fifteen but it makes the pickles mushy; read the footnote.)*

This made 8 pints with enough brine leftover for me to make a jar of “refrigerator pickles” which I didn’t process.

You can add more seasoning to make a spicier dill, but if I spice them too much, my kids won’t eat them.  I’ll make another batch for myself later. 🙂

*This recipe is from “Freezing and Canning Cookbook: Prized Recipes from the Farms of America” by the food editors of Farm Journal (1964).  I got this book at an estate sale about 15 years ago.  While some safety guidelines have changed over the years, I use this book as a reference and source of inspiration for lots  of canning recipes; I love it.  When I get around to adding the pictures, I’ll add a photo of the book too.  I know.  Boring.  Traditional.  DELICIOUS!

Freezing and Canning Cookbook: Prized Recipes from the Farms of America

Cool, huh? Don't you just want to run out and make a gelatin mold?

Oh, and Tigress, thanks again for getting me back to my blog!

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June Can Jam~ Herbed Strawberry-Balsamic Jam

Thank you Tigress!  The Can Jam was just the kick-start I needed to get back to my blog.

The “Hiatus” as it will henceforth be called was an unplanned lull caused by a busy schedule coupled with a lack of motivation and the death of a computer.  I’ll be detailing the causes of the hiatus and all of the very exciting things that happened while I was away in the coming weeks.

However, back to The Jam.  Tigress has a deadline.  In order to be a part of The Jam, this post had to be up by Friday, so I had to get my berries selected and jammed with enough time to get my post done before then.  I am a horrible procrastinator and usually wait until the last minute but I have soccer tonight and a meeting all day tomorrow and Murphy and his stupid laws haven’t been very kind to me lately so I wanted to make sure I didn’t get eliminated by missing my deadline.

This month’s featured ingredient was berries.  Joel and Dana at Well Preserved announced it after the last Can Jam Roundup.  They have lots of helpful tips for berries and jam on their site and it is an excellent blog in general~ you should check it out.  No.  Really.  Go now.

8 qts of strawberries

The first of three lugs of berries from Urka.

Any kind of berry would do, but something local and in-season is preferred.  Lucky me, strawberries arrived early so I got to go out to Urka Farms and pick some last week and again yesterday.  I used the last of the berries I picked last week to concoct this delicious jam.  I love jam in general, but this stuff is soooo good.  I will definitely be making some more.

Herbed Strawberry-Balsamic Jam   Printable Version

Ingredients:

  • 1500 g strawberries
    (500 g of mine were whole; the other 1000g were sliced)
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
    (If you read my Rhubeena post, you’ll remember my rant about recipe quantities.  I’ve again included a photo to avoid confusion.  If you didn’t read the ‘beena post, what are you waiting for??)

    Freshly-picked rosemary

    Three sprigs of rosemary about three inches long.

     

  • 900 g. sugar
  • 9 T. Balsamic vinegar
  • coarsely cracked black pepper; about six turns from the mill or 1/2 tsp.

Process:

  1. Place 2-3 small plates in the freezer to chill.
  2. Add berries, sugar and rosemary to a large sauce pan.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil; boil 2 minutes stirring frequently.
  4. Remove mixture from heat and allow to steep from 2 to 24 hours.
    (Or as long as it takes you to pick 20 more pounds of strawberries.)
  5. After your berries have steeped, return the pot to the stove; add balsamic vinegar and cracked pepper and return to a boil.
  6. Prepare your jars and your boiling water bath.
  7. Allow the sauce to simmer at a medium-low heat until it thickens.
    Keep a close eye on the sauce during this process; the jellying point can be easily passed resulting in jam more like taffy than jam.  Test for jellying by spooning hot jam onto a chilled plate; jam is ready when you push it and it wrinkles.
  8. Skim foam from the jam’s surface and remove rosemary sprigs.
  9. Ladle jam into hot jars and add lids.
  10. Process the jars for ten minutes in a boiling water bath.
Strawberry Balsamic Jam

Rosemary Strawberry-Balsamic Jam

I’m trying to go the pectin-free route with my jams this year (although I might crack and make one batch of freezer jam because it is yummy) so this jam is a longer-cook variety.  The result is a really dark, rich jam.  The balsamic vinegar also adds a depth of color to the finished jam.  My photo doesn’t do it justice but the color is amazing.

The rosemary is very subtle but after my first taste-test I was worried that 6 turns of pepper was too much. I shouldn’t have worried; the finished product has just the right amount of spice and even the little people in my house with less-refined palates enjoy it.

Oh, I almost forgot.  I still have lots of strawberries to can so check back soon; I’m thinking a Strawbeena is in order.

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I’m Back! (And I Brought Drinks)

Wow.  When I started my “hiatus” I didn’t realize it would be this long, but as with life, one thing leads to another and before you know it nearly a month has flown by without any updates.  

On top of all the crazy business that is my life, my laptop decided last week would be the time to die.  I have a call in to technology to see if there is any hope for it, but for now it is out of commission.  So, I have been working on our antique (by technology standards) desktop.  It is slow, loses connection to the internet from time to time and is quite a bear to publish from, but it still works and will have to do until I figure out the laptop situation. 

With spring over and summer produce coming out to play, I have been doing a lot of canning lately.  Last month’s Can Jam was asparagus or rhubarb.  My official post was asparagus, but I was inspired to can up some rhubarb as well.  

Tigress canned up a delicious rhubarb cordial she dubbed “rhubeena“.  Several other participants made cordials with rhubarb as a base too.  So, I looked at all the variations on cordials like this one and this one.  And don’t forget about this one and especially this one.  I also looked at some of the jam pairings.  I haven’t made rhubarb jam before, but rhubarb lavender and rhubarb ginger both sounded delicious.  Armed with all that knowledge and a slew of recipes, I decided to make a batch of lavender rhubeena.  

Lavender Rhubeena

Rhubeena from the first batch~ mystery recipe.

Looking back and forth between all the recipes and the different processes each canner used I started jumbling it all up and didn’t take good notes, so I can’t tell you what I actually did to create my first ‘beena but I can tell you that it was delicious.  The lavender flavor was very subtle.  Dylan calls it rhub-ade and it is good with soda water but with the addition of vodka it is a delicious, refreshing summer cocktail. 

Inspired by my success the first time (and the ten pounds of rhubarb gifted to me by my friends,) I decided to give it another go.  Lavender was tasty so I decided to try that again but wanted to try something new.  I also wanted to make sure to take better notes so that I could share the results with you so here we go! 

Gifted to me by friends.

Even after using 17 cups of this I ended up with 3.5 pounds for the freezer to use later!

Rhubeena Two Ways 

Ingredients: 

  • 17 cups rhubarb
    (Slice stalks lengthwise then chop into 1/2″ pieces)

    Split the rhubarb

    Sliced in half lengthwise.

  

Cut up for 'beenas and the freezer.

And chopped into 1/2" chunks.

  • 1 quart water
  • 12 candied ginger medallions

    From the bulk section at Oryana

    Bulk candied ginger medallions from Oryana.

  • 1 small bundle of lavender blossoms
    Use a twist tie to hold them together

    Use this much. 🙂

    (I recently came across a blog post complaining about the ambiguity of recipe ingredients.  How much is a sprig?  How big is a “small bundle of lavender blossoms”?  I don’t know, but I can’t describe it any other way so for the  sake of clarity and accuracy, I have included a photo of my bundle so that you are not left feeling confused.  Oh, and I used a bread tie to bundle them.)

  • 4 1/2 cups sugar (may vary based on amount of juice in your rhubarb)

Process:  

  • Add rhubarb and water to a large stock pot; bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
  • Pour rhubarb pulp into a jelly bag (or an old cotton pillowcase) and drain overnight.

    Stewed Rhubarb

    If you would like to truly disgust your children, after you are done straining the rhubarb, warm it up, add a little sugar and eat the delicious stewed rhubarb.

  • In the morning, measure the strained juice; you will need three cups of sugar per quart of juice.  My rhubarb gave me six cups of juice so I needed 4 1/2 cups of sugar.

    Strained rhubarb juice

    This batch was a bit pinker than the last batch.

Now for the “Two Ways” part. 

  • In a small saucepan combine 2 cups of strained rhubarb juice, 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 1 small bundle of lavender blossoms. 
  • Bring juice, sugar and lavender to a boil; turn off stove and let steep 30 minutes.

Meanwhile 

  • In a medium-sized saucepan combine 4 cups of strained rhubarb juice, 3 cups of sugar and 12 candied ginger medallions. 
  • Bring juice, sugar and ginger to a boil; turn off stove and let steep 20 minutes.

While your ‘beenas are steeping, prepare your jars and start your water bath.  I like the tall 12 oz. jelly jars for my ‘beenas because I don’t have any of these fancy Weck juice jars but use whatever you prefer. 

When your bath is ready and your ‘beenas have steeped long enough, turn the heat back on and bring the cordial to a boil; adding cooled juice to hot jars will cause your jars to break and your cordial to leak into your water bath. 😦 

Again, Two Ways: 

Remove lavender bundle from the lavender cordial.  Some loose petals will remain in your cordial.  You may strain them out but I left them in mine.  Fill your hot jars with lavender cordial leaving 1/4″ head space. 

Place three ginger medallions in the bottom of each jar and fill your hot jars with ginger cordial leaving 1/4″ head space.  

Process your cordial in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. 

Lavender and Ginger Cordials

See the ginger medallions in the left jar?

I had about a cup of ginger-beena left over.  I could have processed it in a smaller jar, but I wanted to try it out so I put it in the fridge. 

We tried it the next day and YUM!  Ginger is my new favorite.  It tastes like the best ginger ale syrup ever!  Add about 2 ounces to a tall glass and fill with soda water.  This is also super delicious with a splash of vodka.  I think the flavor will intensify with age because I added the medallions to the jars.  I like my ginger ale with a bite, but you could strain the medallions out if you like a milder ginger ale.

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May Can Jam ~ Pickled Asparagus

I have to admit that until now I’ve never actually eaten a pickled asparagus spear.  I love pickled cauliflower, carrots and cucumbers.  Pickled onions are yummy and “dilly” beans are delicious.   Up ’til now, the occasion has just not presented itself. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love asparagus.  I was sure that I would love pickled asparagus.  I have looked at expensive little jars of pickled asparagus, but couldn’t bring myself to spend $6 for one little jar.  So, when the Can Jam ingredients were announced, I knew what I was going to do.  

I googled recipes; bought tall, 12 oz. jelly jars; picked up five pounds of asparagus from Olds’ Farm at the Farmers’ Market and created this: 

Tarragon Pickled Asparagus 

(Makes 7 – 12 oz. jelly jars.)

All cleaned up and no place to go.

Asparagus spears prepped for their big day.

  • Start with about 100 spears of asparagus trimmed to fit into tall jelly jars.  (I started with five pounds, but I only used the top four inches or so of each spear for my pickling and had enough spears left over to serve with dinner the next day.)

  

For the Brine: 

  • 4 T. sugar
  • 1 T. salt
  • 3 cups of vinegar
  • 3 cups water

To each jar add: 

aromatics

Seasonings to be added to each jar.

  • 5-6 peppercorns
  • 1 allspice
  • 30-40 brown mustard seeds
  • 3″ sprig fresh tarragon
  • 1 wild leek trimmed to fit

I did not blanch my asparagus first.  I found recipes that called for it and recipes that didn’t.  I contemplated it, but decided that asparagus turns brown enough when you cook it so it doesn’t need  a minute of cooking in addition to the ten minutes in the boiling water bath.  The only benefit I can see to blanching is that the spears are more pliable so that you could fit more spears into a jar. 

Here are the steps: 

  1. Place canning jars into canning pot, fill with water and set on stove to brings to a boil. 
  2. If you haven’t already, wash asparagus and trim to fit the height of your jars.  If you use the tougher bottom ends of the asparagus, you may need to peel them but the tender top bits shouldn’t need to be peeled.
  3. Combine vinegar, water, salt and sugar in a saucepan.  When the water bath comes to a boil, bring the brine to a boil.
  4. Remove jars from canner one at a time and start packing:
  5. Add peppercorns, allspice and mustard seeds to the bottom of the jar.  Fill the jar about halfway with spears (tips up), tuck a sprig of tarragon into the jar and finish packing.  Once the jar seems full, shove the leek between the spears bulb-end up.  This will help keep the spears from moving around.

    Asparagus ready to be brined.

    Jar packed and ready to be filled with brine.

  6. In the picture above you will notice some asparagus “bottoms” visible.  Some of my spears were long enough to use both the bottom and the top of the spear so I peeled the bottoms of the longer spears and added them to the jars.  Once the jar is full ladle hot brine into the jar leaving head space and seal the jar.
  7. Work quickly to pack the rest of your jars; by the time I finished packing the seventh jar, my first jars were already browning.  Once the jars are full, return them to the boiling water bath and process for ten minutes. 
  8. Pull the beautiful jars out and wait for that rewarding, “Pop!”
Finished Jars of Pickled Asparagus.

Pickled Asparagus Spears

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May Can Jam Preview

Spring has finally sprung!  Ok, so it’s less than forty degrees, the forecast for today was snow and we’re under a frost advisory.  But, the spring produce doesn’t seem to care.  Wild leeks and morels have been showing their faces for a while now and even strawberries have appeared recently although they were helped along by a greenhouse.  

Despite the miserable weather, the Sara Hardy outdoor farmers’ market opened for the season today.  My honey purveyor was there along with numerous farmers selling plant starts and potted plants, syrup, greens, baggies of morels, cheese rhubarb and the veggie I’ve been waiting for . . . Asparagus! 

I’ve been hoping the Can Jam Challenge would feature asparagus ever since I signed up for it.  I saw some lovely pickled asparagus spears at Oryana for a ridiculous price last winter and decided that I should try pickling my own.  Now, Sarah at Toronto Tasting Notes has come through for me!  Actually, she was kind enough to give me a choice: asparagus or rhubarb.  Both are delicious, and fortunately making their appearances now. 

I might still venture a rhubarb attempt, but look what I brought home today:

All cleaned up and no place to go.

Asparagus spears prepped for their big day.

Joanne Olds was shivering in the rain at the outdoor farmer’ market.  So, even though I was headed to the indoor market I bought my asparagus from her instead of her son, Josh.  I bought five pounds.  The photo shows the spears cleaned and trimmed.  You’ll have to check back in a couple of weeks to see what becomes of them.

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Lavender’s Blue . . . (April Can Jam)

When the Can Jam ingredient was unveiled here I was both excited (because I have lots of herbs growing) and anxious (because I had no idea what to do with all those herbs). 

Food for Thought, a local company specializing in organic and local foods sells a variety of jams infused with herbs or blended with wines.  I’m a huge fan of the strawberry basil.  However, I don’t have any basil growing and I finished off all the unsweetened frozen strawberries in the freezer.   I do have lots of lavender so I decided to attempt a version of blueberry lavender jam.  I was out of blueberries so I had to buy local organic berries from Oryana, but I still managed to make a local jam.

I searched the Internet and found various recipes for blueberry lavender jams, but none were exactly what I wanted.  Most required pectin.  Some called for grape or apple juice concentrate.  I opted to make a long-cook, pectin free blueberry jam and add lavender.

First, get a tea infuser and fill it with freshly-picked lavender.

Tea infuser filled with lavender

Convenient measuring cup

Screw the cap on the infuser and dangle it in the sauce pan.

ready to steep in blueberries

The tea infuser makes a lovely "sachet".

Add the berries.

3 1/2ish cups blueberries

Add the sugar.

Lots of sugar

3 1/2 cups of sugar

Add two tablespoons of lemon juice and simmer until bubbly.

Let the lavender steep in the jam for about two hours.

Bring the jam back to a boil.  Check frequently to see if the jellying point has been met.  Once the jam has set, ladle into hot jars and process in a hot water bath for ten minutes.

5 8 oz. jars

Look! I got more than three jars!!!

I haven’t done a side by side comparison with Food For Thought’s jam, but it sure was tasty on a slice of sourdough from Bay Bread!

Blueberry lavender jam on toast.

Yum.

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Spring Break-Ku

Twelve days off from work
What to do with all that time?
Cook? Clean? Can? Rest? Yes!

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