Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Freezer Jam and the Second Recipe

This was dinner last night:

More on that goodness later. First, let's talk about jam. Even though the thought of canning freaks me out a bit (botulism, anyone?) the thought of making my own freezer jam has always intrigued me. There's only one problem though - I don't eat jam. Or jelly or preserves or marmalade or anything in that family. for the most part, I just don't like cooked fruit very much. My husband has bought jams and jellies in the past, but the same thing happens with them as happens with the mustards he buys - he will use them once or twice, then I end up tossing them six months later when I'm cleaning out the fridge. It's kind of annoying and very wasteful.

But now... now I have a little person for whom I can make sandwiches! Aren't kids supposed to love that stuff? Berries have been so cheap at the grocery store too, that I couldn't resist picking up a few extra. So, that was today's project and something that I can call my new thing I tried this month - making jam!

First, you need some berries, about three cups. I was going to make blackberry jam, but I didn't have quite enough blackberries so I added in some strawberries. First I made sure to ask my husband if he'd eat that mixture though.

And some of this stuff.

You'll also need five freaking cups of sugar (suddenly not feeling so bad about the measly 3/4 cup I put in the sorbet), a cup of cold water and something in which to store your jam. I bought freezer jam containers at the grocery store. They should be washed and dried and ready to be filled before you start. Let's begin!

Start by dumping your berries into a large bowl. Add five cups of granulated sugar.

Halfway through adding the sugar, realize that you are a total dumbass and forgot to mash the berries.

Maybe that will just be me.

Quickly mash your berries and reason to yourself that the three cups of sugar that you added before you realized your mistake will probably help grind the berries down or something.

Then add the other two cups of sugar, bringing the grand total to five whopping cups of sugar in your bowl.

Now, I will admit that I was sorely tempted to just put three cups of sugar in this and call it a day. I bake a lot, and I go through a lot of sugar, and this giant amount totally had me freaked out anyway. Luckily, I decided to do some research (I big puffy red heart the internet!) and found out that you need to put all five cups in, because the pectin makes this a chemical reaction and you need all the parts. It won't jell properly if you don't use all the sugar. I read there is a special kind of pectin that you can buy that will allow you to use less sugar, but unfortunately, that's not what I had.

Also, it was mentioned that the sugar actually inhibits the growth of bacteria, and since you know about my OCD food fears as far as this kind of activity goes (botulism!!! ACK!) I decided that it was the lesser of two evils.

Let that mixture just sit there for about 20 minutes.

When your 20 minutes are almost up, take your pectin and mix it with one cup of cold water. If you are smarter than me, you will pour your water into your small saucepan before adding the pectin. Trust me.

Bring it to a boil, then boil it for one minute.

Pour the hot solution into the berry/sugar mixture and stir it vigorously for two minutes. After the time is up, go ahead and put the jam into your containers. I had enough to fill all five of the containers I bought, plus two of my Pampered Chef prep bowls.

These need to sit out for 24 hours. After that, put them in the freezer where they will keep for up to a year. Pull one at a time out to thaw, and use within three weeks.

I'm pretty sure this worked because I could already see it starting to jell as I was filling the last few containers. Hooray Jam!

In other cooking news, I tried the second recipe from Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution cookbook last night: Chicken Chow Mein, page 60.

This was another winner. It was not quite as good as the Chicken and Leek Stroganoff the night before, but very tasty in it's own right. I left out the water chestnuts (the texture of how they crunch makes me gag) and doubled the noodles. I also ended up picking out most of the cilantro garnish because it was waaaay overpowering to the dish. I like cilantro too, so that was surprising to me.

The best part was that I got to use my new wok for the first time! That's right, I went out and bought myself a new wok this weekend. Since it wasn't in the budget to get a really expensive one, but I didn't want to be cheap and go the Ikea route again (lesson learned), we hit Home Goods where I was able to find a nice, heavy cast iron one with a ceramic coating and heat resistant handle. It's very nice and was only $30. I also picked up a couple of awesome new Fat Daddio loaf pans since my ancient cheapies have seen better days and a set of mini alphabet cookie cutters. (I'm adding the links here, and holy heck did I get some good deals too!!!) I have grand plans of making crackers for the baby so I don't have to buy the grocery store ones with all the crap in them.

I know, I'm insane. But, I'm a stay at home mom with only one kid. What else am I going to do, clean???

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Blogger Kelly said...

YES it was the the lawnmower one, loved the peeps version!

6:42 PM  
Blogger Hooptee said...

That looks yummie! Both things actually. The amount of sugar in Jelly is shocking! Wonder what they use in the "sugar free stuff", I guess more preservatives huh?

1:48 PM  

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