Tag Archives: jam

Adventures in jamming: fruit, pectin, music

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My friends gave me these beautiful yellow plums on Sunday, and I’ve been jamming up a storm. Both of these are ginger plum jam, with some chopped crystallized ginger added to the plummy goodness.

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The one on the right is my usual Sure-Jell pectin version. It requires an exact amount of sugar to set. It’s very sweet. The one on the left is my first experiment with Pomona’s pectin, which doesn’t require sugar to gel. The pectin is activated by calcium (included in the packet). I used less than half as much sugar in this second jam. It’s much more tart, and the plum and ginger flavors shine through. But why do these two look so different? I made the second jam with turbinado sugar, so it’s darker, and I don’t love how it looks. I went back to the drawing board (and picked more plums), and came up with this winner.

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Sunshine in a jar

It’s not as crystal clear/jewel-like as the Sure-Jell jam, but it has much less sugar, 4 1/2 cups of sugar for 8 cups of prepared fruit, instead of 8 cups of sugar for 6 cups of fruit. This is a little sweeter than the last version, per my family’s request. I like that I could add sugar until it tasted right. Pretty color. Delicious flavor. Nice texture. And I’ve run out of jars, so I’m done jamming for the season. Whew!

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Third time’s a charm

For reference for next year:

Ginger Plum Jam

8 cups prepared plums (pitted, not peeled, pulsed a bit in food processor)
4 1/2 C sugar
1/2 C lemon juice
1/4 C chopped crystallized ginger
8 tsp calcium water (from pectin package)
6 tsp Pomona’s pectin

Prepare and process per directions in pectin package.

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More jam? A couple weeks ago, we picked raspberries and made jam with this recipe I found last year. No added pectin, and an exquisite color and set.

Now I have a LOT of jam. I found this recipe for making jam ice cream a while ago. I haven’t tried it yet; I need to get out of the kitchen! But this may come in handy later.

I just picked the very last of my blueberry crop for this year. (Ring added for size reference. The bowl is only about 4 inches, and the berries are not so big in real life.)

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I don’t love blueberry jam, so I have gallons of berries stored in the freezer for (my signature) cobblers, pancakes, muffins, and compotes all year long. Eating them fresh off the blueberry bush is my favorite way to enjoy them. I’m going to savor these last few.

In a different kind of jamming, the Pie Birds (my friends Claudia and Becky and I) sang in church on Sunday. This is our version of the Wailin’ Jennys’ Bird Song. I’m the low harmony, and play one of the guitars. It is an absolute joy to sing with friends!

Snowy Woods Cowl

I’m madly knitting away, and about halfway done with two projects that are publishing soon. One is the re-worked Snowy Woods Cowl. Lorajean over at Knitted Wit is doing this custom color in her Aran weight yarn for me. Isn’t it gorgeous? And soft and bouncy to knit with, too. We’re planning a pattern launch sale and a KAL. Stay tuned!

How was your week?

Sweet summer jam

Knit nite was fun! It was a time for this loosely knit (hah!) group to reconnect (two people didn’t even bring knitting) and celebrate summer. Cathy is participating in the Garland KAL; her color is KnittedWit’s Madge, which is a glorious shade of raspberry. We were both using our Bead Aids and mine had a little adventure under the deck. It was found; the deck is pretty high which means you can get under it. I wish I had taken a picture of Cathy’s Garland; it’s gorgeous. Hooray for non-traditional leaf colors!

Lorajean brought me a big bowl of plums.

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I used all the yellow and yellow/blush plums to make 10 jars of ginger plum jam. It looks like sunshine in a jar.

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It’s setting up nicely. I tasted it and the ginger/plum ratio is
perfect. I used 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger, 6 cups of cooked plums, 8 cups of sugar, and a pack of sure-jell. I bypassesd my traditional water bath canner, which is really too big for my electric burner, and tried something new. My 8 quart stockpot and this:

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Which is actually this:

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A silicone trivet that sits in the bottom of the pot to cushion the jars. I read about it here. I can only process 5 or 6 jars at a time, and I miss my jar rack/lifter, but the pot doesn’t wobble and the cooktop doesn’t get heat stained from the larger pot’s overhang. I do wish the pot were just a little deeper; it was pretty full in order to have an inch of water above the jars. But the resulting jam turned out fine.

I brought a blueberry pie to knit nite, but wanted to leave something home for DH and CollegeKiddo for dinner, so I made a caprese canellini pasta salad. This time I reduced the pasta to 8 ounces to have a more goodies to pasta ratio, and used the interesting tomato medley you see here.

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I love pasta salads in the summer. A little pasta, a lot of my favorite goodies, some balsamic or lemon dressing, and there’s dinner.

What are some of your favorite summer recipes?

Jamming in the kitchen

It’s high strawberry season here, and the local strawberries are gorgeous.

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These are Hoods. They are smaller, softer, and sweeter than your grocery store variety of strawberry. They wouldn’t travel well, which is why we just have to enjoy them locally. I bought a half flat of berries to make strawberry jam.
Et voila! I used the reduced sugar version of MCP pectin, which set up nicely.

jam float

If you look at the two jars, you can see that the fruit is floating in the jar on the right, but the fruit in the jar on the left is evenly distributed. I didn’t water process the jar on the left because I was going to use it this week. Hmmmm. Why does the fruit float in my jam? I went on an internet hunt for some answers, and I found these: There was air in the fruit because I chopped it instead of crushing it (no, I only crushed it), or I didn’t cook it long enough for it to be thick enough to keep the fruit from separating (but this would only apply to the long cooking used for jams without added pectin, which mine was not).

I guess I don’t really care WHY the fruit floats; I just want it not to float. It tastes great, but I want it to look pretty as a gift. I don’t want to tell the recipient to stir it to distribute the fruit after opening it. I also want the jam to not have the bubbles from the foam. Here are my options for prettier jam:

1) Add a bit of butter to the jam while cooking, to reduce foaming.

2) Stir and skim for 5 minutes to allow the jam to gel a bit more before before putting it in the jars. The skimming would eliminate some of the foam, which tastes fine but isn’t pretty. I don’t think this stir and skim will keep the fruit from floating, though; the high temperature of the water bath processing keeps the jam more liquid than the non processed jam, and the fruit will still be able to float through the jam until it is cool.

3) Invert the jars a few times as they cool, to move the fruit around as the jam thickens. I think this is going to be the solution to the fruit float. I just have to make jam before midnight so I don’t have to babysit it all night long to do the inversions! Next time I’ll add some balsamic vinegar to make it strawberry balsamic jam. It seems to be the hot new flavor combo around here; I just saw strawberry/honey/balsamic/black pepper ice cream at Salt and Straw.

Just like sweaters; sometimes you have to do things twice to get exactly what you want!

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(please excuse the lazy picture; it’s raining out and gloomy inside!)

I just separated the sleeves from the body on my Raspberry Vodka Lemonade, and tried it on. I’m going to go back and add 4 more rows (2 more YO rows) to make the armscye a tad deeper, and the body just a little bigger. I’m between sizes, and chose to knit the smaller size, but an extra 2 sts on the fronts and 4 sts on the back should give me the fit I want. This pattern is a very fun knit so far, simple enough to multi-task, but enough going on that it’s not boring. That makes it a perfect knit for me.

What’s your perfect knit? Mindless? Follow a chart every moment? Somewhere in between?

Plum Crazy

September means plums, or more precisely, Italian prunes. I love them fresh…

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and I also love them as jam.

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This year I thought I’d try something different. I added a cup of chopped, crystallized ginger to the jam when it hit the full rolling boil, and finished boiling it for the prescribed minute. It’s delicious! But here’s the conundrum. I followed the usual Sure-Jell instructions, and the partial jar of leftover jam that I put in the fridge set up beautifully. The jam in the jars that I processed in the water bath canner for 10 minutes are all a little soft. Why are they different? I followed the recipe and instructions, and didn’t over-process the jam. But there’s something about processing it this time that made the set go soft. I’m guessing it has to do with the ginger cooking longer in the jam due to the processing, but I don’t know why. It’s still delicious, though, and not so runny that I would take it all out and re-process it with more pectin. And it’s a little thicker this week than it was when it first came out. Hoping that continues…

ruffle tank

And did you notice it’s the same color as my new ruffle tank? Just sayin’!

It’s all about purple…

Remember how summer was all about blue for me? Blueberries, blue February Lady sweater, blue hydrangeas? And a little pink: Josephine, and the pink February Baby sweater.

New season, new color. Now it’s all about purple. Makes sense; blue + pink = purple!

Here’s what I’ve been working on: purple plums. Or technically, Italian prunes. I picked these at Vickie’s house when I was at her block party on Saturday. Kind of blue purple, but purple nonetheless.

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I made them into two batches of jam. It’s funny how it’s red purple after processing, especially since the flesh of the fruit is yellow and the skin is blue! I used MCP pectin, which comes with a simpler recipe than the Sure-Jell variety. (No pre-cooking the plum mixture.) I know you can make jam without purchased pectin, but that would take a lot longer, and I’ve been using this process for years. Now I have 20 jars of plum jam, a taste of summer all winter long. And it’s great for gifts, too.

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I rode my bike over to Twisted this afternoon to buy this yarn. It’s Louet Riverstone worsted; the color is eggplant. It’s a red purple, although I tend to think of eggplant as blue purple, like the plums in the first picture.

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The yarn is for the Central Park Hoodie, which is the next knitalong at Twisted. It was my favorite out of the items up for vote, so how could I not make it? I voted for it! I admit that I may have been swayed by TurtleGirl’s CPH.

I’ll be swatching tonight at Knit Nite.

And since there’s just a bit of summer left, I’m using the leftovers from the blue February Lady sweater, and playing with the idea of a gull wing lace fingerless mitt. Besides, purple has blue in it, right? I’m transitioning!