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Posted by on Sep 3, 2013 | 2 comments

Canning 101: Fig Jam

Canning 101: Fig Jam

I am happy to report, my first attempt at canning in over 12 years was a success. After about 2 hours of work (which included a whole lot of down time), I ended last Sunday afternoon reveling at the water bath canned jars of fig jam resting on my kitchen table. The jam was so easy to make, I’m definitely planning to make more, fig supply permitting. Here’s how it went down. First I started with a quart-sized container of figs. I purchased them on Friday and they tasted blah, but by Sunday they were soft and flavorful. This may seem obvious, but my first bit of advice for anyone making jam or other canned foods is to make sure you have all the ingredients before you begin. I am an idiot for not doing this. The recipe I was planning to use called for liquid pectin, unfortunately the store only had powered pectin. I didn’t feel confident substituting (not sure you can even do that) so I had...

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Posted by on Aug 23, 2013 | 0 comments

Water Bath Canning Made Easy

Water Bath Canning Made Easy

The first time I tried canning was about 12 years ago. I made several jars of blueberry jam, but I had zero confidence in what I was doing. Yes, the lids sealed and all seemed fine, but I was consumed with self-doubt and too scared to actually eat the jam (except the one jar I opened and kept in the fridge). I did not have all the proper canning tools and there were no DIY blogs to my knowledge to virtually cheer me on. I ended my canning career before it began and instead, I used the large pot for a relatively more successful and longer lasting stint at candle making. I still have a few relics from those early days of DIY! But recently, two things have renewed my interest in trying canning again. For one. so many people bring canned items to our Del Ray Food Swaps — if they can do it, so can I! And second, I attended a canning demo at Del Ray Variety...

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Posted by on Aug 13, 2013 | 1 comment

Sweet and Savory Peaches

Sweet and Savory Peaches

Peach season is here and gone before you know it. To savor this quintessential summer fruit, I made some freezer jam this past week. And when the peppers made their appearance in the G.W. Community Garden, my husband made a piquant peach salsa. Homemade Peach Jam I sliced 6 big peaches, skins and all, to make about 3 1/2 cups of diced fruit. I like chunky jam, but you can peel the peaches if that’s your preference. In a bowl, I mixed together the peaches with 1 1/3 cup of sugar and the juice of one lemon. After letting the mixture sit for about 10 minutes, I slowly stirred in 4 tablespoons of pectin. I stirred the mixture for about 3 minutes  to let the pectin gel evenly throughout the mixture, and then poured the jam into sterilized jars. (To make yourself, you can follow the recipe on the packet of pectin.) I’m trying hard to forget about the jars in our freezer so we can experience a whiff...

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Posted by on Jul 24, 2013 | 1 comment

Summer Is…

Summer Is…

Summer is having friends over for a casual dinner. A trio of spreads for bruschetta — red pepper and feta, garden grown pesto and hummus. Drinking wine and listening to old records… Grilled corn and cheeseburgers with refreshing bean and mango salad. And homemade vanilla ice cream and chocolate chip cookies on the deck. How are you enjoying the fresh tastes of...

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Posted by on Jul 16, 2013 | 0 comments

Strawberry Shrub Bourbon Cocktail

Strawberry Shrub Bourbon Cocktail

My friend Catherine recently introduced me to the strawberry shrub, a cocktail base made from strawberries, sugar and, shockingly, vinegar! What? Vinegar in a cocktail? Wait until you try it. When I looked online for a recipe, I found variations that called for equal parts berries, sugar and vinegar. But after trying them, the ratio seemed off to me — way too vinegary. So after a few trials I’ve come up with my own ratio that seems to work well. First you start with two cups of sliced berries. Then you mix in one cup of white sugar, making sure the sugar is evenly distributed. Let it sit in the fridge for at least 12 hours until you have a bright red syrup and the sugar has dissolved. The longer it sits in the fridge, the more liquid (and the more drink mix) you will get. You can even let it sit overnight or for a few days. When you’re ready to make a drink, strain the berries and...

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