The summer putting up season has begun!
I found some lovely young rhubarb at Yakima Farmer’s Market and bought a bagfull. It sat around in my fridge for a few days while I collected my canning mojo (which always seems to run off just before the start of the season) and got going Monday afternoon.
I started by cleaning and cutting up the rhubarb, which took a while. When I was finished, I had 12 cups of pieces. I decided to make some jam but to use most of the rhubarb for sauce.
The sauce recipe was from Putting Food By. It seemed super easy: for every quart of rhubarb, add 1/2c sugar. Let sit for several hours, bring to a boil over low heat, then process.
The jam recipe was from Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving. It uses equal parts rhubarb and strawberries, and about 1.5:1 sugar to fruit.
Easy-peasy, right? WRONG.
I got going on the sauce prep, no problem, but as I was measuring out the sugar, I realized I had only a few cups and not nearly enough to even fake it on the jam. So, since I needed to go to the store for sugar, I decided to get my strawberries out of the freezer so they could thaw. I realized I had only a few cups and
not nearly enough to even fake it on the jam said screw it, I’m makin’ jam with what I’ve got! I found a pint of raspberries in the fridge, most of which were still good, and figured that would have to be enough.
I bundled Benny and myself into the truck and ran to PCC to get several pounds of their unbleached cane sugar, my favorite sugar for jam-making.
When we returned, the sauce prep looked good. A bit of juice was starting to pool.
For the jam, I measured out 8 cups of the unbleached cane and 3/4cup of white sugar I that was left over from the sauce. That was all I used, though the recipe called for 11 cups. I find that the Ball recipes are far too sweet for my taste, and lose all the fruit flavor in the process. I also doubled the amount of lemon juice, both because we like sweet-tart things around here and because I wanted a good amount of acid in the jam since I wasn’t using all the sugar called for. Don’t know if that’s correct logic for preserves, but that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.
The jam turned out PERFECTLY, with incredible rhubarb flavor. I love it.
Today was the next batch of summer yummy: a preserve that looked to pretty to not try: Blueberries and Bay from the River Cottage Preserves (1) Book by Pam “The Jam” Corbin. It’s the cover photo, and I’ve been itching to make it since I first saw a picture of this wonderful book.
The recipe includes a few fresh bay leaves in each jar. I don’t have those so I used 2T Drambuie in the syrup instead. Oh, the sacrifices we have to make….
Pam is, shall we say, WAY less concerned about getting sued by people and getting shut down by the USDA than the “Putting Food By” ladies. She far more fun to read and follow as she advocates uses any old jar laying around, has a relaxed approach to sterilization, and generally doesn’t get in a twist about most things. For example, this particular recipe uses ‘the oven method’, where you sterilize the jars, cold pack the blueberries, pour over boiling syrup, and then put in the oven at 300º for 30 mins to kill the nasties. I think this worked great for the soft fruit of blueberries – they stayed whole and lovely:
However, it was generally a lot of screwing around, and I think I like water bath processing more overall.
All and Sundry:
The dehydrator has been working nights, with a batch of scallions and a batch of mixed nectarine and apricot slices. The scallions turned out perfectly, crisp and colorful.
The fruit dried well, but I think I just don’t like fully dehydrated fruit very much. But the apricot tastes lovely, and I’m thinking about making some apricot fruit leather soon.