Musings about Food & the Politics of Food.

TartQueen's Kitchen



Pickled Okra 0

Posted on June 19, 2017 by Sahar

 

Pickled Okra. Big and little.

Here in Central Texas, okra season is in full swing. Because the growing season here is so long, okra is essentially available from June through roughly October or until the first frost.

Pickled okra is a great Texas, and throughout the southern US, food tradition.  Every southern grandma seems to have a recipe.

People either love or hate okra. The main complaint about okra is the “slime” factor.  The slime is called “mucilage” (sounds gross, I know).  It is the result of protein and carbohydrates in the okra pods and leaves.  If you’ve ever had a thick gumbo, thank the mucilage.  When the pods are cut and cooked with liquid, the okra tends to become slimy.  The way to avoid this is to cook the okra whole; the best way to do this is over direct heat and pan roast (this is delicious, by the way).

There is a subtle yet distinct difference between pickling and fermentation.  Pickling is the process of preserving food in a highly acidic medium (usually vinegar).  Fermentation generally starts with salt as a starter and allows what is being fermented to create its own acidic liquid (lactic acid).  Fermentation is generally considered the healthier of the two processes because the lactic acid helps with the digestive process.

In short, pickling is controlled preservation while fermentation is controlled rot (but in a good way).

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A few notes on the recipe:

  1.  The type of okra I use in the recipe is called Emerald King.  It is more tender and less stringy than other types of okra.  While you can use any type of okra you prefer or have access to, I’ve used this because it’s what Carol Ann grows at Boggy Creek Farm.
  2. The reason pickling salt is used is to help draw moisture from the item being pickled.  It is a very fine grain pure salt that contains no iodine or anti-caking additives.  If needed, you can use kosher salt (but be sure it is pure). Because table salt contains additives, you shouldn’t use it in pickling or fermenting.
  3. Another way to help keep your pickles from becoming mushy over time (and they will as the initial heating as well as the acidic environment chemically cooking your pickles), you can use either fig or grape leaves.  These leaves contain natural alum that help to draw moisture from the pickles. You can also use up to 1/4 teaspoon of alum per quart of liquid if fresh leaves are not available.
  4. You can also use half & half white/apple cider vinegar or all white vinegar if you prefer.  Just be sure you use 5% acidity vinegar.  There is 9% white vinegar available (mainly in Texas and parts of the South), but it is used mainly for cleaning, not food.  Be sure to look at the label carefully.
  5. While I have included a pickling spice recipe, you can adjust this one to your taste or use whatever pickling spice blend you prefer.

 

The Ingredients

 

6 1-pint regular-mouth jars with lids and rims, washed

Pickling Spice:

1 tbsp. Red Pepper Flakes

1 tbsp. Mustard Seed

1 tbsp. Coriander Seed

1 tbsp. Black Peppercorns

2 tsp. Allspice

1 tsp. Fennel Seed

Clockwise from top left: red pepper flakes, lemon slices, black pepper corns, coriander seed, fennel seed, bay leaves, whole allspice, brown mustard seeds, garlic cloves

 

3 lbs. Okra, washed and caps trimmed

Emerald King Okra with tops trimmed

3 c. Apple Cider Vinegar

3 c. Water

3 tbsp. Pickling Salt

8-12 peeled whole garlic cloves, optional

Lemon Slices, optional

Fresh Grape or Fig Leaves

Fresh grape leaves

 

In a small bowl, mix the pickling spices together.  Set aside.

Place a jar rack inside a large canning pot and fill it with water.  Set the jars in the rack and make sure the water is at least 1″ above the tops of the jars. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil.  Turn down the heat to medium-low and let the water continue to simmer. Place the lids in a small saucepan of simmering water and let sit. (Don’t bring the water with the lids to a boil; it will melt the seal.)

Meanwhile, make the brine.  Combine the vinegar, water, and pickling salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to low and allow the brine to stay hot while you fill the jars.

Carefully remove the jars from the canning pot, making sure to drain all the water out of them. (I like to put the jars on a baking sheet lined with a towel for easier transport across the kitchen.)

In a bottom of each jar, place 1-2 grape or fig leaves (depending on size), a lemon slice (if using), and 1 tablespoon of the pickling spice. Carefully pack the okra in the jars, alternating tips up or down so that the okra interlocks and you’re able to pack as much in as possible. If you’re using garlic cloves, be sure to pack those in as you can in amongst the okra.

Leaves, spice blend, and lemon in the jar.

A few top down.

A few top up. You want to get as many in the jar as you can. It will save on brine and help limit air bubbles.  Air, in this case, is the enemy. Plus, more goodness in the jar. I swear there are garlic cloves in there somewhere.

Slowly and carefully pour in the hot brine in each jar, leaving 1/2-inch head space.  Use a wooden or plastic chopstick or the end of your headspace tool to remove any air bubbles.  Once you have done that, measure the headspace again and add more brine if necessary.

Wipe the rims of the jars, place the lids on top, and screw on the rings so they’re hand-tight.  Carefully place the jars back into the canning pot, making sure the water is at least 1″ above the tops of the jars, cover the pot, and bring the water to a boil.  Process the jars for 10 minutes starting when the water comes to a boil.

After you have processed the jars, carefully remove them from the water and place on racks to cool.  If the jars seal (you will hear a “pop” as the lids seal), tighten the rings.  If the jar doesn’t seal, you can simply put the jar in the fridge and eat it within 2-3 weeks.

Either way, let the pickles sit for at least a week before eating.

Classic Southern Delicacy.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blueberry-Honey Jam 2

Posted on August 08, 2013 by Sahar

As we are now officially in the dog days of summer, it’s a good time to stay inside and bottle up some of the more pleasant summer memories of summer by making some more jam.

And there are few better memories than (seasonal) blueberries.  While, admittedly, they are not my favorite berry eaten out-of-hand, once blueberries have been cooked, they are a lovely thing.

Wild blueberries are grown as far as ideal conditions will let them; even as far north as human habitation (think northern Canada). Botanists and culinary historians believe that the indigenous peoples of America used wild blueberries for a number of foodstuffs: eating out of hand; drying them in the sun for preservation and use in pemmican (a form of dried meat), cakes, and puddings.  The dried berries were also ground for use in soups.

The blueberry that most of us know today were first commercially cultivated in the early 20th century.  They’re a variety called “highbush”, meaning that they are grown on bushes and small trees as opposed to in boggy soil of the lowbush blueberries.  Highbush berries are also larger than the lowbush varieties. Most  commercial cultivation of highbush blueberries comes from  British Columbia, Maryland, Western Oregon, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Washington.  Lowbush blueberries are a native fruit crop to Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Maine.

Blueberries are in the same genus as cranberries.  The Genus Vaccinium.  Blueberries are also related to lingonberries and huckleberries.  All of these fruits are grown in acidic soil and can have a wide variation in acidity both in pH and in taste.  One thing they all have in common is they are all very high in natural pectin.

(Some information from wikipedia.org and The Oxford Companion to Food, Davidson, 1999).

As I stated above, the indigenous peoples of America have used blueberries for millennia before settlers were introduced to them.  Now, thanks to importation and cultivation, blueberries are grown and eaten all over the world.  They are especially prized in France for use in pastries.

And, of course, for jam.  Yummy, yummy jam.

Now, on to the recipe.

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A few notes:

1.  You can use frozen blueberries in a pinch for this recipe.  I like to use blueberries in season – which, in Texas, would mean May – September – but, I have used frozen in the past and they work fine.

2.  Always buy extra blueberries.  This will make up for any that are bad, not ripe, or what you eat.

3.  If you would like to make this a totally sugar-free recipe, sugar-free honey is available at some grocery and health-food stores.  You can also use maple syrup if you’d rather go that route.  I don’t use artificial sweeteners, Stevia, or Splenda in my jams, so don’t ask about substitutions. Or, you could just omit the sweet component altogether. However, this will affect the set-up of the finished jam.

4.  Don’t forget the lemon juice.  It adds the acidity needed to activate the pectin in the blueberries.

5.  Don’t use too dark a honey (i.e. cotton or buckwheat).  The flavor will overpower the blueberries.  You want them to compliment, not compete.

6.  The set of this jam will also depend on how long you cook it.  The longer you cook, the more solid the set.  However, it won’t set up as stiffly as a jam made with commercial pectin.

7.  For the complete hows and whys of canning, please see my post from August 10, 2012, “Classic Strawberry Jam” (http://www.tartqueenskitchen.com/?p=756).

 

The Ingredients.

The Ingredients.

Beautiful blueberries.

Beautiful blueberries.

 

6 pt. blueberries (12 c./approx. 4 1/2 – 5 lbs)

-or-

8 ea. 10-oz bags frozen blueberries, thawed, juices saved (5 lbs.)

1 c. honey (I like to use wildflower or clover honey)

2 tbsp. lemon juice

 

1.  Wash and pick through the blueberries.  Discard or compost any that are spoiled or underripe.  If you are using frozen berries, place them into a large colander set over a large bowl and allow to thaw.  Be sure to save any juices that accumulate in the bowl.

I ate these.

I ate these.

2.  Combine the berries, honey, and lemon juice in a 4-quart saucepan. (If using frozen thawed berries, add the juice as well.) Stir to combine.  If you want to crush the berries with a potato masher to release some of the juices from the berries, go ahead.  It’s not necessary, however.  The berries will break down as they cook.

Blueberries, honey, and lemon juice in the pot and ready to go.

Blueberries, honey, and lemon juice in the pot and ready to go.

3.  Cover the saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil.  Stir frequently.

4.  Once the mixture has come to a boil, uncover the saucepan, reduce the heat to medium-low and boil the mixture for about 1 hour or until the jam looks thick and glossy.  Again, stir frequently.

The berries beginning to cook and break down.

The berries beginning to cook and break down.

Boiling the berries.  If you like, you can put a thermometer in the jam.  220F is the temperature where jelling happens. However, be patient. This takes time.

Boiling the berries. If you like, you can put a thermometer in the jam. 220F is the temperature where jelling happens. However, be patient. This takes time.

Another way to test the thickness of the jam.  Place a small bit of the jam on a frozen plate (or, in my case, an ice mug), run your finger through it, and see if it runs. Once it gets to the thickness you like, it's done.

Another way to test the thickness of the jam. Place a small bit of the jam on a frozen plate (or, in my case, an ice mug), run your finger through it, and see if it runs. Once it gets to the thickness you like, it’s done.

The jam ready to be jarred.

The jam ready to be jarred.

5.  Once the jam is ready, ladle it into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Be sure to wipe off the rim of the jar, otherwise the jars may not seal properly. Place the lids on top and finger-tighten the rims. Process the jars for 10 minutes in boiling water. (Begin timing after the water comes to a boil.)

6. Take the jars out of the water and set them on racks to cool.  Once the jars have sealed (you’ll hear a “ping” noise, the lid will be concave, and, if you pick up the jar by its lid, it won’t come off), tighten the rims.  Let the jars sit until they are cool.

Nice.

Beautiful, delicious, blue-purple  blueberry jam.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Spiced Peach Butter 0

Posted on July 03, 2013 by Sahar

Another post in my informal series on bottling Summer, I’ve moved on to peaches.

There are few fruits that say “Summer is here!” more than peaches.  Their smell, fuzzy skin, and their taste are some of the things that make summer in Texas almost bearable.

Peaches originated in China where they were cultivated since the early days of Chinese culture where they were considered a favorite fruit of the emperors. They were mentioned in Chinese literature as early as 2000 BCE.  Peaches likely reached the Middle East, then the Mediterranean, by way of the Silk Road, a 2,500-mile trade route that stretched from East Asia to ancient Persia (present-day Iran). Peaches were introduced to Europe by Alexander the Great (an example of a rare good thing coming from conquest). Later, the Romans called peaches “Persian apples” (Prunus persica).

Some historians believe peaches came to North America in 1562 with French explorers who established settlements in the area of present-day Mobile, Ala. However, it’s certain peaches also arrived in 1565 with the Spanish colonists who settled in St. Augustine, Fla. These ancient peach cultivars, described as hardier and more productive than today’s peaches, quickly naturalized into groves so widespread that later colonists believed the peach was a native American fruit.

Spanish explorers are credited with bringing the peach to South America and then eventually to England and France where it became quite a popular, but rare, treat. During Queen Victoria’s reign, it is written that no meal was complete without a fresh peach presented in a fancy cotton napkin.

Finally in the early 17th century George Minifie, a horticulturist from England, brought the first peaches to the New World colonies, planting them at his estate in Virginia. It was the early Native American tribes who actually spread the peach tree across the country, taking seeds with them and planting them as they traveled.

But it wasn’t until the 19th century that commercial peach production began in Maryland, Delaware, Georgia and Virginia. Today, peaches are grown commercially in California, Washington state, South Carolina, Georgia, Colorado, Texas, and Missouri. As well as numerous backyards all over the country.

(information from homecooking.about.com and baderpeaches.com)

 

Now, on to the recipe.

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A few notes:

1.  You can use fresh or frozen peaches in this recipe.  I will admit I used frozen for this post.  Because of weather conditions not only here in central Texas, but through most peach-growing regions, fresh peaches haven’t been as good as they could be.  Also, with a smaller supply, they’ve become rather expensive.  Frozen peaches do well in a pinch and are easier on the wallet.

However, if you can and want to use fresh peaches, do so.

2. You can use either clingstone or freestone peaches.  Clingstone peaches tend to be juicier and sweeter while freestones are less juicy.  (There are many online resources to find out which peach varieties are which.)

3.  As for the spices, use as many or as few as you prefer.  Or none.

4.  This is a soft-set butter. Meaning, that it hasn’t set up as solidly (for lack of a better word) as jelly or jam.

5.  For a complete hows and whys of making sweet preserves, please see my August 10, 2012 post, Classic Strawberry Jam (http://tinyurl.com/l67ymj4).

 

The Ingredients

The Ingredients

5-1/2 lbs. fresh peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into wedges

-or-

5 lbs. frozen peaches, thawed, juices saved

1-1/2 c. peach nectar

3-1/2 c. sugar

Up to 4 tsp. sweet spices (cinnamon, ground or grated nutmeg, ground ginger, ground cloves, ground allspice)

 

Peaches. Lovely peaches.

Peaches. Lovely peaches.

Spices I used (clockwise from top): ground ginger, ground allspice, ground cinnamon, fresh grated nutmeg, ground cloves)

Spices I used (clockwise from top): ground ginger, ground allspice, ground cinnamon, fresh grated nutmeg, ground cloves)

 

1.  In a large saucepan, mix all the ingredients together.

The ingredients in the pot.

The ingredients in the pot.

Begin cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves.

Sugar dissolved and we're ready to go.

Sugar dissolved and we’re ready to go.

2.  Cover the saucepan and bring the peach mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.  Uncover and boil for 30 minutes.

Beginning to boil the peaches.

Beginning to boil the peaches.

The peaches after boiling for 30 minutes. The darker color is due to the spices.

The peaches after boiling for 30 minutes. The darker color is due to the spices.

3.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and let cool for about 10 – 20 minutes.

4.  Depending on how smooth you want the butter, you can either use a potato masher or a stick blender to crush or puree the peaches.

Pureeing the peaches with a stick blender.  Unlike my apple butter, I like a smooth peach butter.

Pureeing the peaches with a stick blender. Unlike my apple butter, I like a smooth peach butter.

The pureed peaches. Lovely amber color.

The pureed peaches. Lovely amber color.

5.  Place the saucepan back over medium heat, cover, and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Uncover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 1 hour or until the mixture is thick.  Again, stir frequently.

Boiling the peach butter. At 15 minutes.

Just starting to boil the peach butter.

After boiling for 30 minutes. The butter begins to thicken, becomes shinier and darker.

After boiling for 30 minutes. The butter begins to thicken.

The butter after 1 hour of cooking. It should be thick and shiny.

The butter after 1 hour of cooking. It should be thick, shiny, and a beautiful amber color.

One way to check for proper thickness is to run a spatula through the butter, lift the spatula up and watch how the butter flows off of it.  If it comes down in sheets, the butter is thickening properly.

One way to check for proper thickness is to run a spatula through the butter, lift the spatula up and watch how the butter flows off of it. If it comes down in sheets, the butter is thickening properly.

6.  Pour the butter into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Clean the jar rims, seal, and process for 5 minutes. (Begin timing after the water comes back to a boil.)

The finished peach butter. Yummy.

The finished peach butter. Yummy.

Makes 6 – 7 half-pint jars.

 

Enjoy!

 

Classic Raspberry Jam 0

Posted on June 25, 2013 by Sahar

Of course, with summer here, I’m in high jam-making mode.  There are few better ways to keep summer produce all year.

This time, it’s raspberry’s turn.

A few tips:

1.  Always pick ripe raspberries. They should be plump and deeply colored.  Any white spots indicate they were picked too soon.

2.  Inspect the packages.  They should be free of moisture, mold, and any stains. (Any of these will indicate spoilage.)

3.  Carefully pick through them and discard any that appear to have mold.

4.  Pick raspberries that are actually in season.  In Texas, the season is from peak season is June – September.  Buying raspberries off-season grown in South America doesn’t count.

5.  I like to keep the seeds in the jam.  It adds character. However, if you’d like to take the seeds out, press the raspberries through a strainer before adding to the saucepan.

For the complete hows & whys of canning, please read my blog post from August 10, 2012, Classic Strawberry Jam.

Now, to the recipe.

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The ingredients

The ingredients

Beautiful raspberries

Beautiful raspberries

9 c. raspberries (approximately 8 dry pints [6-oz packages])

6 tbsp. powdered pectin

2 tbsp. lemon juice

6 c. sugar

 

1.  Carefully clean and pick through the raspberries.

I ate these.

I ate these.

2.  In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the raspberries, pectin, and lemon juice.

Raspberries, pectin, and lemon juice in the saucepan.

Raspberries, pectin, and lemon juice in the saucepan.

Stir until the pectin is dissolved.

All mixed together. Some recipes will tell you to crush the raspberries. It's a completely unnecessary step.

All mixed together. Some recipes will tell you to crush the raspberries. It’s a completely unnecessary step.

3.  Heat the berry mixture over medium heat. The berries will break down as they cook.

Cooking down the berries.

Cooking down the berries.

While stirring frequently, bring the mixture to a rolling boil that can’t be stirred down.

4.  Add the sugar and stir until it’s dissolved.

Adding the sugar.

Adding the sugar.

Again, while stirring frequently, bring the jam to a rolling boil that can’t be stirred down.  Boil for one minute.

For a little additional insurance, the optimal gelling temperature for jam is 220F.

For a little additional insurance, the optimal gelling temperature for jam is 220F.

The rolling boil.

The rolling boil.

5.  Remove the saucepan from the heat.  With a spoon, carefully skim the foam from the top of the jam.

Skimming off the foam. Be careful not to get any of the hot jam on your hands.

Skimming off the foam. Be careful not to get any of the hot jam on your hands.

6.  Carefully ladle the jam into 4-oz or half-pint jars, leaving 1/4″ head space.

The ever-messy canning process.

The ever-messy canning process.

Cleaning the jar rims. Don't forget to do this. Otherwise, the lids may not seal.

Cleaning the jar rims. Don’t forget to do this. Otherwise, the lids may not seal.

Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes.

Delicious.

Delicious.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Four Berries Jam 0

Posted on June 06, 2013 by Sahar

Summer is my favorite time of the year for fruit.  Plums, peaches, cherries, nectarines, and, my favorite, berries.  All of them.

Berries are one fruit that are now available all year ’round.  However, I tend to eat them only seasonally.  The fruit sold in the winter not only has little taste but is generally shipped from South America; a very heavy carbon footprint.

Of course, one age-old way to hold on to that summer flavor is to make preserves.  So, that’s what I did.

 

Now, on to the recipe

*******

A couple of notes:

1.  You can use any combination of berries you like in this recipe.  Just make sure you have 9 cups total.  I used the four most commonly seen in the grocery, but if you find/have gooseberries, boysenberries, etc., you can use those as well.

2.  Always buy extra.  This is to take into account bad berries, trimming, and any that you eat along the way.

3.  Check the date on the pectin.  You want to be sure it’s good.  If it’s out of date, buy new.

4.  To get a full explanation of the hows and whys of canning, please read my post from August 10, 2012, “Classic Strawberry Jam”.

The ingredients

The ingredients

Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries.

Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries.

 

9 cups total fresh berries, trimmed, picked through, and washed  (For this recipe I used 3 c. strawberries, 2 c. blackberries, 2 c. blueberries, 2 c. raspberries)

6 tbsp. powdered pectin

1/4 c. lemon juice

6 c. sugar

 

1.  Wash the jars, lids, and rims in hot soapy water.  Place the jars in a large stockpot of boiling water to sterilize them.  Leave them in the boiling water, topping it off as needed (you need at least 1″ water above the tops of the jars).  Place the lids into a small saucepan.  Bring the water just to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and let the water simmer.  The rims don’t need to be sterilized.

2.  In a large saucepan, take the berries, 1/4 at a time and crush them with a potato masher.  It’s OK if there are some large pieces.  You don’t need to mash the berries smooth.

Crushing the berries.

Crushing the berries.

3.  Add the lemon juice and the pectin.  Stir until the pectin has dissolved.

Adding the pactin and lemon.

Adding the pectin and lemon.

 

The crshed berries, pectin, and lemon mixed together.  And, we're ready to go.

The crushed berries, pectin, and lemon mixed together. And, we’re ready to go.

4.  Place the saucepan over medium heat and, stirring frequently, bring the mixture to a rolling boil.  (You want it to come back to a boil immediately after stirring.)

A rolling boil.

A rolling boil.

5.  Add the sugar and stir until it’s dissolved.

Adding the sugar.

Adding the sugar.

The sugar dissolved and the jam beginning to take shape.

The sugar dissolved and the jam beginning to take shape.

Continue stirring frequently until the mixture again comes to a rolling boil.  Boil for 1 minute.

Another rolling boil.

Another rolling boil.

6.  Remove the saucepan from the heat. Carefully skim the foam from the top of the jam.

Skimming the foam from the jam.

Skimming the foam from the jam.

7.  Take the jars from the boiling water and drain.  Carefully ladle the jam into the jars, leaving 1/4″ of head space in the jar (use a jar gauge to make sure you’re at the right level).

Ladleing the jam into the jars. Use a wide-mouth funnel.

Ladling the jam into the jars. Use a wide-mouth funnel. It certainly reduces mess.

Measuring the headspace in the jar.

Measuring the head space in the jar.

Clean the jar rims with a damp towel.

Cleaning the jar rims. If the rims have any food on them, the jars won't seal properly.

Cleaning the jar rims. If the rims have any food on them, the jars won’t seal properly.

8.  Place the lids and rims (tighten them only finger tight) on the jars and place them back into the hot water.  Bring the water up to the boil and process the jars for 10 minutes.

9.  The jars can take up to 24 hours to seal.  However, it usually doesn’t take that long.  You’ll know the jars are sealed when the lid becomes concave.  You’ll also hear something like a “ping” when the jar begins to seal.  Once the jar is sealed, you can tighten the rim.

Ideally, let the jars sit for about 24 hours before moving them.  But, as long as you let them sit until they are cool, you should be fine.

If the jar doesn’t seal, put it in the fridge and eat the jam within 2 – 3 weeks.  You can also remove the contents from the jar, wash it and the rim, discard the lid, re-sterilize everything, fill the jar again and process.  It’s up to you.

Be sure to label and date the jars.

The finished jam in sealed jars.

The finished jam in sealed jars.

 

Enjoy!

 

Sweet Cherry Jam (with frozen cherries) 3

Posted on December 17, 2012 by Sahar

Yes. Yes. I know. It’s past cherry season.

By the way, in case you didn’t know when peak season is, it’s summer.

However, if I don’t have any cherry jam left from the summer, or, in this case, I wanted to send some to a few select people for the holidays, I will use frozen cherries. Because, well, they’re available. And, why not?

There are certain frozen fruits that will work just as well as fresh when making jams, preserves, and butters.  Peaches, mangos, cherries, and raspberries are a few that spring to mind.

Of course, fresh, ripe, in-season fruits are always best.

But, I wanted to show in this recipe that frozen fruit is an excellent substitute and you can make wonderful jam any time of year.

******************

Now, to the recipe.

Note:  If you need a full tutorial on the how’s and why’s of making sweet preserves (jam, jelly, etc.), please read my August 10, 2012, post “Classic Strawberry Jam”.

The ingredients

Clockwise from top: Pectin, Lemon Juice, Lemon Zest.

 

 

3 lbs. ripe sweet dark cherries, pitted

-or-

3 lbs. frozen sweet dark cherries, thawed, juices reserved

1 ea. 1.75 oz. package “classic” powdered pectin (6 tbsp.) – do not use gel pectin

1 tsp. lemon zest

1/4 c. lemon juice

5 c. sugar

 

1.  If you’re using fresh cherries, stem, pit and, if you like, roughly chop them.  If you’re using frozen cherries, pour them into a large colander and set it in a large bowl.  Allow the cherries to thaw and let the juices drip into the bowl.  Reserve the juices.

2.  In a large saucepan, combine the cherries, the reserved juice (if any), pectin, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

Cherries, cherry juice, lemon juice, lemon zest, and pectin ready to be mixed and cooked.

Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.

Cooking the cherries. The mixture will begin to thicken as it heats up.

3.  Add the sugar, stirring constantly until it’s dissolved.

Mixing in the sugar.

4.  Turn the heat down to medium low and bring the mixture to a rolling boil.  Again, be sure to stir frequently.

Cooking the jam after the sugar is dissolved.

Once it’s come to a rolling boil, boil the jam for 1 minute.

Boiling cherry jam.

5.  Remove the saucepan from the heat.  If there is any foam on top, take a spoon and skim off as much as possible. (Be careful. The jam is very hot at this point.)

The finished jam.

6.  Pour the jam into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.

Ladling the jam into the jars.

Measuring the headspace in the jar.

Clean the jar rims, seal, and process for 5 minutes. (Begin timing after the water has come back to a boil.)

Cleaning the jar rims with a damp towel. If you don’t do this, the jars won’t seal properly.

7.  Once the jars have processed for 5 minutes, turn off the heat under the canner (or very large stockpot), carefully take the jars out of the boiling water, and place them on racks to cool.  The jars will seal as they cool. (You’ll hear a “ping” or a “pop” noise as the jars begin to seal. This could take up to 24 hours.)

If the jars seal, the jam will keep approximately one year (recommended).  If not, refrigerate the jars and eat the jam within 2 – 3 weeks.

Yummy, yummy cherry jam.

 

Makes approximately 8 half-pints/16 4-oz jars

 



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