Monday, November 17, 2014

Blackberry-Vanilla-Black Pepper Jam

And, the last of the blackberry jams. Hope you enjoy!

2 pounds blackberries
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

Place peppercorns in a tea strainer or similar. Combine all ingredients in a large pot and macerate 1-2 hours. Bring to a boil and let boil for 5 minutes before removing peppercorns and vanilla pod (save the pod, rinsing it well, to toss in a jug of bourbon or to put in sugar for vanilla sugar). Finish boiling until it reaches the gel-point, then water bath process for 15 minutes. Makes 4 half-pints.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Blackberry-Bergamot Jam

Here's the blackberry-bergamot. If you don't have access to bergamot, feel free to use a regular sour orange. It will change the flavor but will still be tasty. Hope you enjoy!

2 pounds blackberries
2 cups bergamot sugar
pinch salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons bergamot juice

Combine and macerate 1-2 hours. Boil to the gel-point and water bath process 15 minutes. Makes 4 half-pints.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Blackberry-Lemon Jam

Blackberries are deeply, deeply on sale right now, which is my cue to get ready for a lot of canning even if it's a food I'm not harvesting myself. I've purchased quite a lot of them and am doing three styles of jams: blackberry-lemon (today's post), blackberry-bergamot (tomorrow's post), and blackberry-vanilla-black pepper (Monday's post). Each one uses the same basic methodology I use for all jams, so those of you who've read other preserve posts will be familiar with this method. These are lovely as gifts, and also for eating oneself on toast, in cookies or tarts, as a pie base, or over ice cream after heated to thin. Hope you enjoy!

2 pounds blackberries
2 cups sugar
juice and zest of one lemon
pinch salt

Put all ingredients together in a large pot and let macerate for 1-2 hours on the counter, or overnight in the fridge (covered). Bring to a boil, stirring, and remove from heat once it hits the gel-point. Water bath process 15 minutes. Makes 4 half-pints.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Sauteed Mushrooms

There are a million ways to make these, and I pretty much think they're all good. But I like this way for days when you're having sausage and kraut. Hope you enjoy!

8 ounces sliced button mushrooms
3-ish tablespoons finely diced red onion
1 large or two small cloves minced garlic
2-ish tablespoons white wine (I *think* this was a pinot but I froze it ages ago so can't remember for sure)
1-ish tablespoon lemon juice
pinch each: salt, lemon peel, dried thyme
1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a small pan over medium to medium-high heat, then add the mushrooms, onions and spices. When they're about 3/4 of way done, add the remaining ingredients. When the liquid is gone they're done. Serves 2 if you feel like sharing.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Spiced Figs in Syrup

The fig trees have been ripe a couple of weeks now and I've been busy preserving, preserving, preserving. There's a tree on the property of the condos we live in and there's also one at Ross' Nana's house. This has put me in good supply of figs, though I'm not convinced one can ever truly have enough of these little gems of yum. Ross' family prefers a Southern fig preserve with strawberry Jell-O, so I made around 3 cases total for him and them (last year I didn't make enough for him at half a case and it was gone in a month or two so I promised not to make this mistake again). I've also made some jars of the regular fig preserve I like (figs, sugar and lemon juice only). But in the middle of all that we started what I refer to as "monsoon season" in Houston, which is NOT good for figs. I ran over to the on property tree and saw that what I thought would happen did happen. Figs were overripening faster than I could get them, even with the Piggy and I taking daily hauls, and the figs that weren't did have some rain splitting. Birds and butterflies are really happy and having a good time but I was sad. I got the last of what was usable off the tree (though there are still many unripe figs left - I will never understand how I and wildlife are the only ones using this tree for food) and it only amounted to about four cups. I've been wanting to make some whole preserved figs so this seemed like a good time to do it since I knew I was only going to get around 3-4 half-pints of whatever I made and I prefer to do a small test batch of things I've never done before to avoid the possibility of having a lot of waste if we don't like them. Kumquats have been showing up in the markets as well, so although it's more traditional to do this with lemon I thought I'd try it with kumquats instead. Hope you enjoy!

4 cups whole figs, stems removed
1 cup kumquats, whole
3 slices crystallized ginger
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Put all ingredients in a large saucepan and stick in the fridge until the next day. Bring to a strong simmer, reduce the heat and let simmer until the figs and kumquats are starting to be transparent. The syrup should be slightly thickened. Drain and reserve the syrup. Fill jars (should be around 4 half-pint jars) and then add syrup to jars. Can in a waterbath for 10 minutes at sea level.

Note: you could add, while simmering, a vanilla bean, a clove, a stick of cinnamon, and/or a few allspice berries as well if you like. Just make sure to remove them before canning since these spices will overpower the figs otherwise.