30-Minute Jam Session

This jam session has NO music instrumentals involved – it was dedicated to the delicious summer fruits: strawberries and raspberries. Did you know that you can make homemade jam in 30-minutes or less? Neither did I; until the first time I tried. My grandmother, who is now in heaven, would make the most amazing, freezer strawberry jam. After she passed away, I started this tradition with my husband every summer in memory of her. Her angel always joins me in the kitchen watching over me.

My beloved Grandma holding my father around my age or younger.

My beloved Grandma holding my father around my age or younger.

In past years, we had only made strawberry jam, but this year we decided to make both strawberry and raspberry. I had all intensions of picking strawberries this year, but with the crazy heat (at least for the Pacific NW) we were having; it was a bit out of the question. Then one day, my husband and I came upon a market stand that we had never visited before and the fruit there was so luscious that we couldn’t let it be passed up.

Strawberries and raspberries from a local farm stand.

Strawberries and raspberries from a local farm stand.

After less than 2 hours and my husband’s help, we had made 3 bunches of jam resulting in 17 jars of freezer jam, which I know will make us very happy in the winter months to taste a bit of summer goodness.

The first step in this process is to get an apron on!

Wear an apron! Red fruits can stain most anything.

Wear an apron! Red fruits can stain most anything.

Jam making can be a bit messy and working with red fruit can stain your clothes, hands, towels, countertops, etc. When cutting strawberries, I always do so on a dark, plastic cutting board and using dark or red towels is a great idea as well.

There are only three ingredients that you need when making jam – fruit, sugar and pectin.

Three ingredients that is all that is needed!

Three ingredients that is all that is needed!

That is all it takes! If you would prefer to make sugar-free jam, there is specific pectin that you would need to buy. This recipe below is full sugar and soooo very good!

For all jam, it is very important to measure out all ingredients exactly or the jam may not set properly. I am going to show you the steps for creating raspberry jam – the method is the same for all fruit, but the quantities of fruit and sugar vary. Make sure to refer to this pdf from Sure Jell (click on regular Sure Jell pdf at top of page) for multiple types of fruits.

Raspberry Jam

Delicious, red raspberries

Delicious, red raspberries

Measure out 3 cups of crushed raspberries. Make sure to sort through the berries removing any spoiled ones. Wash and place into large mixing bowl.

Love this image and how the water was splashing out of the berries.

Love this image and how the water was splashing out of the berries.

Crush berries using a potato masher.

Use a potato masher for this process.

Use a potato masher for this process.

If you would prefer to remove the seeds, the liquid could be run through a sieve, but we found the process to be a bit tedious, so we let it be. With your liquid add 5 1/4 cups of sugar and stir until incorporated.

Stir in sugar to start the maceration process.

Stir in sugar to start the maceration process.

Let this mixture sit for 10 minutes causing the berries and sugar to macerate. While this is occurring, boil 3/4 cup of water in a small saucepan over high heat so that it comes to a boil quickly. Add your box of pectin to the boiling water, it will boil up a bit. Stir until it looks clear and remove from heat.

The water and pectin may boil up a bit.

The water and pectin may boil up a bit.

Let cool slightly before adding to your fruit mixture. Slowly pour your pectin into your fruit mixture making sure to stir continually whiling doing this. Continue to stir the mixture for roughly 6 to 8 minutes. A good way to know that the pectin has dissolved the sugar is to take a spoon and take a bite of the mixture.

Tasting the mixture is a great way to see the sugar has dissolved.

Tasting the mixture is a great way to see the sugar has dissolved.

If it still tastes gritty with sugar then continue to stir until the taste of sugar is completely gone. Next step will be to fill up your jars, open all your jars so that they can be filled in an assembly line fashion. 8-ounce jars work wonderfully and make for a great hostess gift when going to summertime parties.

Filling the jars.

Filling the jars.

If any of the lids do not have a secure fit when removing them, it would be best to get replacement lids. However, I have been using the same jars for nearly 7 years and they are still good. Fill each clean jar until it is full; leaving a 1/2-inch gap at the top for expansion. This was about 3 ladles for me. Place all the lids on your jars and leave on the counter for 24 hours to set.

Raspberry jam will now set for 24 hours.

Raspberry jam will now set for 24 hours.

After 24 hours have passed, place in the freezer and pull out as needed. Defrosting in the refrigerator or countertop.  Jam doesn’t just have to be used on toast or PB&J’s – it can be used to top ice cream, angel food cake, reduce to sweeten sauces and much more.

Jam makes a great topping for vanilla ice cream.

Jam makes a great topping for vanilla ice cream.

We repeated the same process above to make strawberry jam, but used 2 cups of strawberries and 4 cups of sugar.

The most beautiful, red local strawberries we have seen this season.

The most beautiful, red local strawberries we have seen this season.

Again there are many different jams to pick from, we have decided to make a new variety along with strawberry every year. I think for the summer of 2014, I may have to try peach or blueberry.

I hope these instructions will help you to explore the world of making jam. You’ll be very happy, you did, in the winter time when you think fresh fruit is sooo very far away.

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Garlic Scapes: What are they and how do you use them?

These are garlic scapes.

These are garlic scapes.

My husband and I love to go to the farmer’s market on the weekend. We often look for ingredients we haven’t seen before so that we can experiment with something new. Last year around this time, we found a farmer who was selling something really weird and interesting. After talking with the farmer and learning more about the product, we found out later they were garlic scapes. This year, we decided to grow hardneck garlic in our vegetable garden and I was able to harvest the scapes last week. After visiting the farmer’s market this weekend, we were able to find some items to pair with our scapes and have an absolutely fabulous recipe to share with you.

First, lets answer the question of what are garlic scapes. They are the flowers of a hardneck garlic, however, the flowers never actually appear. The scapes are harvested to promote more energy into bulb production instead of flowering. As you can see in the picture below, the scape is the curled stem emerging between the leaves. It is edible and has a mild garlic flavor. A garlic flavor that complements risotto just perfectly.

Scapes before they are harvested from the garlic plant.

Scapes before they are harvested from the garlic plant.

Let’s get to cooking! We are making Wild Mushroom & Garlic Scape Creamy Risotto.

Great as a small appetizer or full dinner for guests and family.

Great as a small appetizer or full dinner for guests and family.

Here are the ingredients that you need for this recipe:

– 1 Walla Walla onion, finely diced

– 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, finely diced

– 4 Tablespoons olive oil

– Salt and Pepper

– 6 cups chicken stock

– 2 cups arborio rice

– 1 cup dry white wine, Chateau Ste. Michele Dry Riesling worked nicely

– 5 ounces crimini mushrooms

– 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms

– 4 ounces oyster mushrooms

– 5 to 6 garlic scapes, removing top 2 inches of flower which can be woody

– 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

– 1/2 cup heavy cream

– 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, plus some for topping

Directions:

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring your chicken stock to a boil. Once boiling keep the temperature maintained so that it will remain hot. While your stock is coming to a boil, prepare your mushrooms. You will want to clean them gently with a wet paper towel and do not submerge them in water. Keep the stems and set them aside. Once the mushrooms are cleaned, slice so they are about 1/4″ thick.

Clean mushrooms with a wet paper towel.

Clean mushrooms with a wet paper towel.

With the stems that you set aside, rinse them with a strainer. Making sure to remove all the dirt and then add them to your stock. The stems will steep in the stock and give it a mushroom flavor.

Using mushroom stems in stock can add another flavor dimension.

Using mushroom stems in stock can add another flavor dimension.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, slowly cook your finely diced onion in olive oil until they are translucent and tender. Add your garlic until it is fragrant and cook for roughly 1 minute. Season your onions and garlic with salt and pepper. Next you will add your Arborio rice and toast it for about 1 to 2 minutes.

The start to an absolutely fabulous meal!

Now deglaze your sauté pan with dry white wine. Make sure it is one that you love to drink because the favor will become concentrated in the recipe. Plus it makes a great complement to serve the risotto with white wine. Let the wine reduce to about half.

Pick a wine that you like to drink as it will concentrate in the risotto.

Pick a wine that you like to drink as it will concentrate in the risotto.

After the wine has reduced, ladle in chicken stock – only one ladle at a time. Continue stirring until the stock has evaporated and repeat this process. Stirring as much as possible.

Put in one ladle of chicken stock at a time and let it reduce.

Put in one ladle of chicken stock at a time and let it reduce.

Now we are going to cook our mushrooms. In a separate sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat.

Do not salt or stir mushrooms as they cook.

Do not salt or stir mushrooms as they cook.

Add your sliced mushrooms to the pan and cook until golden brown. It is best to not stir them very frequently and do not add salt until after they are cooked all the way. Once your mushrooms are golden brown, season with salt and add your garlic scapes.

Add chopped garlic scapes to mushrooms.

Add chopped garlic scapes to mushrooms.

Let the mushrooms and scapes marry in flavor for about 3 minutes. Add butter and let melt over medium heat. Taste the mushroom mixture and season with salt and pepper to your preferred taste.

Season each mixture while cooking.

Season each mixture while cooking.

Back to our Arborio rice, you will know when the rice is cooked because it will release its starches and start to look creamy. It is important to taste all the components of the dish. Once the rice is al dente, go ahead and remove from heat. With your mushroom mixture, add cream and stir to incorporate. Now add your mushroom mixture to your Arborio rice. Next add your parmesan cheese. Taste to see that the seasonings are too your liking and if not add more salt and pepper.

Great as a small appetizer or full dinner for guests and family.

Great as a small appetizer or full dinner for guests and family.

Serve as a small appetizer for dinner parties or a large weekend meal. Top your plated risotto with a bit more parmesan cheese, pour a glass of that dry white wine and enjoy!

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