Vegan Pumpkin Ginger Ice Cream

Posted: November 7th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Dairy-free, Dessert, Ice Cream, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Pumpkin Ginger Ice Cream (vegan!)

I think this ice cream speaks for itself. It’s vegan–made with coconut milk–and has chunks of candied ginger and ginger cookie dough. It’s ridiculously creamy, spicy, and delightful. I got the idea for the ginger cookie dough from my friend Josie, who, upon tasting this particular dough, declared that it would be fantastic in ice cream. She was absolutely correct.

Vegan Pumpkin Ginger Ice Cream

Adapted from Pumpkin Ice Cream, by Williams-Sonoma and Ginger Sparkle Cookies from Vegan With A Vengance.

Yield: About 1 quart.

INGREDIENTS

For the ice cream:
1 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 14 oz. can of full-fat coconut milk
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ tsp. salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
1 tablespoon bourbon (I like Maker’s Mark)
¼ cup chopped candied ginger

For the cookie dough:
½ cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
generous ½ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon soymilk
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS

For the ice cream:

  1. Whisk together all ice cream ingredients except bourbon and candied ginger. Cover and refrigerate as long as you can stand, up to 24 hours. The longer the better. Admittedly I was impatient and only let it cool for about a half hour. It was still good.
  2. This is a good time to make and roll the cookie dough (see below).
  3. Freeze the ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s directions. In the last five minutes of freezing, add the bourbon and candied ginger. When it’s done freezing, gently fold in the cookie dough balls. Transfer to a container and freeze in the freezer for another 12 hours. You can eat it now, but it will be really soft and much tastier after it’s hardened a bit.

For the cookie dough:

  1. Sift together flour, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the canola oil, molasses, soymilk, sugar, and vanilla.
  3. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients.
  4. Roll into small (dime-sized) balls of dough.

*Note: This cookie dough won’t bake into proper cookies because it doesn’t have any leaveners in it.

Variations:

If you prefer real dairy ice cream, just substitute 2 cups (1 pint) of heavy cream for the coconut milk. It will be divine, I promise.

If you accidentally picked up canned pumpkin pie mix instead of plain pumpkin, just reduce the sugar and spices a bit. Here’s what I did:

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
small pinch cloves
small pinch nutmeg
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Everything else remains the same.


Malaysian Chicken Curry… sorta.

Posted: November 7th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Curry, Dairy-free | Tags: , | No Comments »

Malaysian curry, sorta

Well, I’ve never actually had Malaysian curry before, so I have no idea how authentic it is — but this turned out pretty damn well. We had some frozen chicken breasts, coconut milk, potatoes, an onion, tomato paste, and a lot of spices. I knew I should be able to throw something tasty together. A quick search yielded this yummy-looking recipe, which I used to base this dinner on.

INGREDIENTS

3 large chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large clove garlic, smashed
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ lb. potatoes (I used 2 small purple ones and one medium red one), cut into uniform bite-sized pieces
3 oz. tomato paste (about ½ of one of those little cans)
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 ½ cups water or chicken stock
1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 ½ teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon cumin
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon sugar
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried cilantro (¼ cup fresh would be way better)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Chop up your potatoes, onions, and chicken.
  2. Mix all spices and sugar together in a small bowl. If you’re using fresh cilantro, leave it out till the end; otherwise, add it now.
  3. Whisk together the coconut milk, water or chicken broth, and tomato paste in a bowl.
  4. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and sautee until translucent.
  5. Add chicken and cook it a little, a minute or two.
  6. Add spices, liquids, and potatoes. Mix well.
  7. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender and chicken is cooked through. Taste and adjust spices as necessary. If you’re using fresh cilantro, add it just before serving.

Serve over brown rice. Yum yum!


Broiled Grapefruit

Posted: October 19th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Dairy-free, Dessert, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , | 7 Comments »

Hello friends! It’s been far too long since I posted. A lot has happened in the past few months. I went to Lark Camp, Burning Man, and the Florida Keys for Ed’s cousin Stephanie’s wedding. Oh and did I mention, I got engaged!! That’s right, my dearest Ed asked me to marry him the last night of Burning Man. :) Needless to say, it’s been a flurry of activity for a few months solid, leaving me with very little time or energy to cook, let alone write about cooking. But now that things have calmed down a bit, I can get my head straight and start getting back into my old routines.

Broiled Grapefruit

Tonight I was inspired by three delightful little grapefruits left at our house by the lovely Arlette. She had brought them to our engagement party to make some truly inspired Greyhounds, rimmed with homemade smoked salt. But I digress. Tonight there were no greyhounds– I’m sure mine would pale in comparison to Arlette’s anyway. Instead, I made a dessert that my parents have made for me for as long as I can remember: broiled grapefruit. It’s incredibly quick and easy to make. It doesn’t even really need a recipe.

First, turn your broiler on. Then cut your grapefruit in half horizontally and place it on a cookie sheet. Use a sharp knife to cut the edges of each triangle, which will make them easier to remove with a spoon later. Sprinkle with granulated sugar, followed with a bit of sherry. Place in broiler for about 8-9 minutes, until it starts slightly blackening on top (but don’t let it burn!). Take it out of the broiler, let it cool for a few minutes, and eat it with a spoon. Be sure to slurp up all the tasty juices from each grapefruit half! Getting messy is half the fun.

Broiled Grapefruit


Absinthe-Cardamom Cupcakes

Posted: July 20th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Cupcakes, Dairy-free, Dessert, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: | No Comments »

Absinthe-Cardamom Cupcake

Oh yes.

I have no special story for these ‘cakes, just a stroke of inspiration and a homey Sunday afternoon. I chose to make these vegan because Ed can’t do dairy and because I have a lot of vegan friends. And honestly? Vegan cupcakes are just as scrumptious as their animal-product counterparts. My cupcake bible is Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero. This recipe is based on the “Golden Vanilla Cupcakes” and the “Fluffy Buttercream Frosting” recipes in that book. The absinthe and cardamom are pretty subtle, but definitely there.

Absinthe-Cardamom Cupcakes

Adapted from “Golden Vanilla Cupcakes” and the “Fluffy Buttercream Frosting” in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

Yield: 12 cupcakes

INGREDIENTS

Cupcakes:
1/4 cup absinthe (I used Kubler)
3/4 cup soymilk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (heaping)
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (or more vanilla extract)

Frosting:
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated shortening (I like Spectrum)
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (I like Earth Balance)
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted if clumpy
3 tablespoons absinthe

DIRECTIONS

Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Whisk together soymilk, absinthe, and apple cider vinegar in a 2-cup measuring cup. Set aside to curdle.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom.
  4. To the soymilk mixture, add sugar, oil, vanilla, and almond extract. Mix thoroughly. I like to use a whisk for this job.
  5. Add wet mix to dry and stir until there are no more clumps.
  6. Line cupcake tray with cupcake liners. Fill each cup 2/3 full with batter. Bake 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  7. While they’re cooling, make the frosting!

Frosting:

  1. Beat all ingredients together till well incorporated and fluffy.
  2. When cupcakes are 100% cooled, frost them. Then devour.

Cherry Jam

Posted: July 19th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Dairy-free, Preserves, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: | 1 Comment »

Last month, my friend Kai and I went on an epic cherry-picking expedition. We found ourselves at the Seko Ranch in Brentwood, California, high atop ladders, filling 10-gallon buckets with plump maroon Bing cherries. I picked 18 lbs and Kai got 14. We had our work cut out for ourselves.

Cherries cherries cherries cherries cherries cherries

After countless hours of pitting–with some much-appreciated assistance from my boyfriend Ed–I was ready to make some jam. Once again, David Lebovitz saved the day with his No Recipe Cherry Jam Recipe. I’ve adapted it a bit to suit my needs. I reduced the sugar and am giving you exact measurements. It’s easier than measuring out how much hot pre-sugared jam you have! Because I reduced the sugar, this jam is a bit runnier, but it’s still quite tasty. I really like it on pancakes and ice cream. It’s almost like chunky syrup.

Cherry Jam

Adapted from David Lebovitz’s No Recipe Cherry Jam Recipe

Makes 8 half-pint jars.

INGREDIENTS

4 lbs cherries, pitted (weigh after pitting)
2 Meyer lemons – zest and juice only
4 cups sugar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Start your water bath canner boiling. Put in 10 jars and rings to sterilize. If you’ve never canned before, please refer to my canning tutorial.
  2. Pit your cherries. I love my Oxo cherry pitter. Be warned: cherry juice will go EVERYWHERE, and it stains. You will end up looking a little like this:

    Cherry nonsense

  3. Reserve a couple handfuls of whole cherries, and roughly chop the rest. Put them in a large, heavy pot with the zest and juice of 2 Meyer lemons.
  4. Cook for 20 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring often and scraping the bottom to prevent burning.
  5. Add sugar and boil for 10-20 minutes, skimming foam and stirring often.
  6. When bubbles die down and the jam starts to look gelled, go ahead and process it. (I had trouble getting it to gel, so I didn’t bother.) Ladle into hot sterilized jars, wipe rims, put lids and rings on, and boil in water bath canner for 15 minutes. Place hot, processed jars on cutting board or dish towel and allow to cool for 12 hours. If any of the lids don’t “pop” (indicating a proper seal), refrigerate and enjoy within two weeks.
  7. Note: David Lebovitz recommends adding a little kirsch (cherry liqueur) just before processing the jam. I think its a great idea, but I didn’t have any on hand so I haven’t tried it out.

Kathy’s Banana Bread, remixed

Posted: June 24th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Dairy-free, Dessert, Gluten Free, Quickbreads, Vegetarian | Tags: | 5 Comments »

Banana bread!

Last week, I baked some banana bread for my friend Cat over at Baking With Cinnamon, which is a great baking blog that you should check out. Cat has thyroid cancer and is in the midst of preparing for another round of radioactive iodine treatment. Having had thyroid cancer myself and going through the same process a couple of years back, I know just how rough it is to be on a low iodine diet — where you have to make basically everything from scratch — while simultaneously experiencing severe thyroid hormone withdrawal. So I baked her some delicious low iodine banana bread so she’d have something nice to munch on without having to make it herself. Because there’s no dairy or soy in this recipe, the only thing I had to do to make it low iodine was leave out the egg yolks and make sure to use kosher salt (not sea salt or iodized salt) — but of course, you don’t have to do this unless you’re on a low iodine diet too. For the record, I noticed the loaf was a bit flatter and denser without the egg yolks.

This recipe originally came from my old boss, Kathy, who would bring loaves of banana bread into the office on a regular basis — much to our delight and our expanding waistlines. I mixed things up a bit by adding the spices and using 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar instead of one full cup of white sugar.

Kathy’s Banana Bread, Remixed

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening (I like Spectrum, which is organic and made out of palm oil)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 ripened bananas – mashed
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ginger

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease and flour a loaf pan. For those not familiar with the technique, here’s how you do it. First, using a paper towel, rub a thin layer of oil — I use shortening — around the inside of the pan, completely coating it. Then add about a tablespoon or so of all purpose flour. Over the sink, shake it around so the flour coats the all surfaces: the bottom and all four sides, up to the top rim. Tap out any excess flour. You should now have a thin layer of grease and flour coating the inside of the pan. This will prevent sticking like nobody’s business.
  3. With a mixer, blend shortening and sugars till thoroughly combined.
  4. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Spices are to taste, so if you want to add more, have at it!
  5. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake at 350°F for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Make it gluten free!
To make this bread gluten free, substitute a flour blend of oat, millet, and sorghum (equal parts). Add 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum and 1 tablespoon (yes, tablespoon) baking powder. The flour mix is from Gluten Free Girl Every Day and the additional xanthan gum and baking powder is from the America’s Test Kitchen How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook.


Mom’s Apricot Jam

Posted: June 17th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Dairy-free, Preserves, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: | 3 Comments »

Remember my story about making apricot jam with my mom and grandma when I was a kid? Well guess what folks: it’s finally apricot season. Last weekend Kai and I made the trek out to Brentwood to pick some cherries (more on that later). While we were there, we decided to stop by Peter Wolfe Ranch, which was right down the road. We were delighted to discover that they had apricots. And not just any apricots: Royal Blenheims, the best of the best, the apricots of my childhood. Jane Wolfe, who was tending to the fruit stand, greeted us with a half an apricot apiece. It was delicious and perfect: sweet, tart, just the right amount of softness and no mealiness whatsoever. Kai and I, despite having just picked more cherries than we knew what to do with, knew we had to buy some apricots. After chatting with Jane for a while, we each walked away with a half a lug of apricots — about 12 pounds apiece. The real kicker was the price: only $1 a pound! Let’s hear it for buying local, in-season produce.

Just look at these gorgeous apricots

This is the recipe for apricot jam that my mom used when she used to make it. It involves boiling the jam with the apricot kernels. To get at the kernels, you have to break the pit open with a hammer. This was always my job as a child, much to my delight. (What child doesn’t enjoy smashing things with a hammer?) The kernels give the jam a slightly almond flavor, which I love. They also contain cyanide, so don’t eat too many of them. I recommend using whole kernels so you can easily fish them out before canning the jam. That said, I’ve been eating this jam my whole life and my mom eats the kernels raw and we’re both still alive and kicking. If you’re really concerned, just leave them out. It’ll still be good.

Mom’s Apricot Jam

Yield: 10 half-pint jars

INGREDIENTS

12 cups (about 6 lbs) apricots, halved and each half quartered. IMPORTANT: Use Royal Blenheim apricots ONLY — they’re the best!
3 cups sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
6 apricot kernels (use only whole kernels; discard any crushed kernels)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Start your water bath canner boiling and place 12 half-pint jars in it to be sterilized. (The extra two are in case you end up with more jam than expected.) See my canning tutorial for more information on water bath canning.
  2. Chop your fruit, reserving pits.
  3. Using a hammer, smash the pits to retrieve the kernels inside.

    Proto-jam

  4. Stir apricots, lemon juice, kernels, and sugar together in a large, heavy pot. The pot should be larger than the amount of fruit it can hold, otherwise it will boil over. The one I use is 8 quarts.
  5. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil, stirring regularly and skimming foam, for about 30 minutes until “jammy”. The jam should bubble up and eventually subside. Be sure to stir often, and scrape the bottom of the pot to avoid burning.
  6. Fish out kernels and discard. Make sure to get all six.
  7. Ladle jam into hot, sterilized half-pint jars. Wipe rims clean with a damp cloth. Put on lids and rims. Boil in water bath canner for 15 minutes. Transfer jars to a wooden cutting board (do not place jars directly on a cold surface). Lids should “pop” to indicate a proper seal. If a jar doesn’t pop (i.e. if you can depress the lid and it pops back up), refrigerate it and eat it within a few weeks.

Apricot Jam

Can you say YUM?


(The Famous) Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Posted: June 16th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Dairy-free, Preserves, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: | 5 Comments »

Of all the preserves I’ve made in the past year, this is one of the best. It’s just SO good, and everyone I give it to comes back to me with rave reviews. Now I’m going to share the secret with you.

Meyer Lemons

There it is. The secret is fresh, ripe Meyer lemons, straight from your friend’s backyard. My friend Matt is lucky enough to own a house in the East Bay that came equipped with two huge and highly productive Meyer lemon trees. And I’m lucky enough to know Matt. Every time I see him, he invites me to come over and harvest as many as I can carry. Who am I to argue with an offer like that? With the last haul I got from him, I made lemon bars, lemon-infused vodka, and, of course, lemon marmalade.

Finished meyer lemon marmalade

Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Adapted from this recipe on epicurious.com

Yield: about 6 jars

NOTE: You can use this recipe for other citruses, too! I’ve made tangerine jam, with much success.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 lbs Meyer lemons (about 6 lemons) – it’s important to use Meyers because they’re sweeter
4 cups water
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 box powdered pectin (1.75 oz) I like Sure-Jell

DIRECTIONS

  1. Halve each lemon crosswise, then quarter each half. Remove the seeds and pith from the center of each 1/8th:

    You don't want this white crap in the center...
    You don’t want this white stuff in the center — the pith…

    ...so cut it off! Get rid of seeds too.

  2. …so cut it out, and remove the seeds too while you’re at it.

  3. Thinly slice:

    How to cut your lemons

  4. Place lemon slices in a large, heavy, nonreactive pot and add 4 cups water. Let sit, covered, for 24 hours. (If you’re pressed for time, I’ve found that it’s generally okay to skip the long soak.)
  5. Remember how to process jam? Using that link as a guide, start the canning process. (That is, start the water boiling to sterilize your jars.)
  6. Bring lemon/water mix to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 45 minutes.
  7. Stir in sugar and boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally and skimming off any foam, for about 15 minutes.
  8. Add package of pectin and stir, constantly, for exactly 1 minute.
  9. Ladle jam into hot, sterilized 1/2 pint jars, filling to 1/4″ of rim. Wipe rims clean with a damp cloth. Put lids and rings on. Boil in water bath canner for 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a wooden cutting board or towel (i.e., NOT directly on the cold counter). Cool completely, approximately 12 hours. Each lid should “pop” to demonstrate its seal. If any of the jars don’t pop (i.e. if the lids can be depressed and pop back up), refrigerate and eat within a few weeks.

Quick & “Dirty” Rice

Posted: June 16th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Dairy-free | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

Let me preface this by saying: I am not from Louisiana. I have never even BEEN to Louisiana (though I’d like to go some day). The only time I’ve ever had dirty rice was at a crazy BBQ joint in Boston. I’d been briefly exposed to Cajun cooking several years ago when my friend Chrissy LeMaire over at RealCajunRecipes.com gave me tutorial when I was crashing at her house. From that, I knew that the foundation of many Cajun dishes is the indisputably delicious “Holy Trinity” of onions, bell peppers, and celery, sauteed slowly in some kind of fat. I saw that we had 2/3rds of the trinity, some some Aidells Cajun Style Andouille sausages, and rice, and was inspired to make us some dirty rice.

While RealCajunRecipes.com‘s Dirty Rice recipe looks amazing, it was a bit more involved than I was prepared for. Instead, I used this recipe at cdkitchen.com as a starting point. We lacked the bacon, pork, celery, green bell peppers, chicken livers, and chives. What we did have was a whole lot of bacon grease, the aforementioned Andouille sausages (surprisingly not very spicy), celery seed, and red and yellow peppers. I’m not the biggest fan of chicken liver anyway, so I wasn’t too broken up about missing that key piece of the puzzle. Following the recipe, my own taste buds, and my knowledge of cooking, I interpreted the recipe according to our available ingredients. The result? Delicious.

Quick & "Dirty" rice

Quick & “Dirty” Rice

Adapted from this recipe at cdkitchen.com

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon bacon grease
3 andouille sausages (I like Aidells), cut into coins and then in half again
1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 cup rice (we had a combination of basmati and jasmine on hand)
2 cups chicken stock (homemade, if possible)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prep your veggies and sausages. Mix all spices together in a small bowl.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat bacon grease. Cook sausage pieces until slightly browned. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan.
  3. Reduce heat to low. Add bell peppers, onion, and garlic and saute for 5 minutes. Add all spices and cook another 3 minutes, stirring. Stir in rice, cook another 5 minutes.
  4. Add chicken stock and sausages. Turn up heat and bring to a boil, then cover and turn heat down to simmer for 15-25 minutes, until rice is tender. (The original recipe said 10 minutes, but it took mine 25 minutes to get tender.)

Strawberry Jam

Posted: May 14th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Dairy-free, Preserves, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: | 7 Comments »

Strawberries!

One of my fondest cooking memories growing up was canning with my mom and Grandma Lucy. When I was a kid, every summer around Grandma’s and my birthday (July 4th and 11th respectively), Grandma would go to one of the local farms and pick up several flats of Blenheim apricots. Those are the best kind, you know, and they’re at their brief peak right around that time. Grandma would bring them over to my parents’ house and, along with my mom, we’d spend a very long, sticky day canning them and making them into jam. For the year after, we’d enjoy delicious home-canned apricots on our cottage cheese, and jam on our English muffins. Sadly, Grandma passed away when I was 12, and in her absence we didn’t really carry on with the tradition (when you’re a teenager, these things stop being cool, right?). After about a year, our canned apricot supply dwindled and then, alas, was finally gone. I haven’t tasted real apricot jam ever since.

Then last fall, I read an article in Bon Appétit about how to make jam and can it at home. It included a couple of delicious-looking recipes and, Christmas gifts in mind, I decided to re-kindle my relationship with home preserving. Ever since then, I’ve been a canning maniac. I’ve made drunken fig jam, caramel pear butter (both recipes from the Bon Appétit article), pluot jam, meyer lemon marmalade (the best!), meyer lemon jelly, tangerine marmalade, kiwi jam, and prickly pear jelly. I missed the berry season and most of the stone fruit season last year, so I’ve been waiting with bated breath ever since. I’ll finally have real apricot jam again! Not to mention cherry, ollalieberry, nectarine, etc. etc. etc…

Canning really puts you in tune with what’s in season when. You start watching out for what fruits are cheap, and when you see them for a dollar a pound you can’t help but snatch up a flat of them, take them home, and turn them into delectable, sticky goo! So when I saw that huge red, ripe strawberries had started showing up in the supermarket with an unexpectedly low price tag, I started buying them up and jamming away.

Last Friday, I invited my oldest friend Sasha over for the first round of strawberry jammin’. We’ve been cooking together since we were three years old! At first, we attempted to be creative and make a strawberry-lime marmalade. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out as well as we’d hoped. The limes were just too overwhelmingly bitter and their rinds became hard, chewy chunks that really didn’t work with the texture of the jam. I had some ideas for how to fix these problems, but the allure of straight-up strawberry jam was too strong. We abandoned the strawberry-lime recipe and made a batch of some damned amazing strawberry jam. Never had a strawberry jam like it in my whole life.

Since then, I’ve made it two more times, once with my friend Kai and once by myself, and each time I’ve perfected the recipe a little more. Now I’d like to share it with you. Don’t know how to can? That’s okay, I’ll run you through the process from start to finish. I even made a little video for you.

High Acid Water Bath Canning

NOTE: Do not use this canning technique for any low-acid foods (vegetables, meats, etc.). Only use it for high-acid foods such as fruit. Here is a good canning tutorial that goes more in depth about the process.

ANOTHER NOTE: Don’t eat any food that shows any sign of spoilage (if the lid is bulging, or if it spurts out when you open it, or if liquids are cloudy or frothy, or if food is slimy or moldy or smells bad). Don’t even taste it. Botulism is no fun at all.

These are the tools you’ll need:

Water bath canner with rack
Water bath canner with rack
This is basically a huge pot with a rack and a lid. You can pick them up for about $25 at most mom & pop hardware stores. I recommend Cole Hardware if you live in San Francisco. Canningpantry.com also has everything you could ever possibly want that has to do with home preserving.

Ladle, long-handled tongs, wide-mouth canning funnel, jar lifter
Ladle, tongs, funnel, jar lifter
You probably already have the ladle and tongs. The funnel and jar lifter are canning-specific and, again, you should be able to get them at the hardware store or canningpantry.com

Magnetic lid lifter
Magnetic lid lifter
You can fish your lids out of boiling water with tongs, but this simple device does a much better job. You can buy one cheap, but the ever-resourceful Kai assembled a free version with a magnet she found on a fridge tied to a piece of string. I made one for myself using fishing line and one of our absurdly strong rare earth magnets. Overkill? Probably. Whatever.

Half-pint canning jars, with lids and rings
Canning jars
A flat of these should run you about $10. Most supermarkets carry them but they like to charge you up to $15 a pop — don’t do it. Cole Hardware and Berkeley Bowl have them much cheaper, as does canningpantry.com.

A word of caution: Don’t use the lids for canning more than once. You can use them as regular lids, but don’t re-process them. The rubber seal breaks down and you could find yourself with un-sealed jars of botulism! Yay. In my kitchen, as a rule, once a lid has been processed, it goes in the garbage because I can’t be bothered to keep track of which are okay to use and which aren’t. You can re-use the jars and rings as many times as you like, though.

The canning process:

  1. First, you want to sterilize the jars. To do this, put your water bath canner on the stove and fill it with with hot water. Put the rack in place. Turn the heat on to high. Once the water is boiling (it will probably take quite a while), toss the rings in and use the jar lifter to place your clean jars on the rack, making sure the water level is above the top of all of the jars. The jars must boil for at least 10 minutes to be sterilized. Don’t put the lids in just yet.

    Boiling jars

  2. Make your jam per the recipe. When the jam is ready to be canned, use the jar lifter to grab the jars out of the canner and place them on a wooden cutting board or dishtowel. Be sure to not place them directly onto the cold countertop, as the difference in temperature will cause the glass to shatter. Using the magnetic lid lifter and/or tongs, pull the rings out and put them in a bowl (so they don’t fall all over the place). Try not to touch the jars or rings: a) they are very hot and b) you’ll contaminate them with your grimy meathooks.
  3. At this point, put the lids in the canner to be sterilized. You don’t want them in there for more than 5 minutes, lest the rubber seal get compromised.
  4. Using the funnel and ladle, spoon hot jam into sterile jars, being careful to not get jam on the rims of the jars. It’ll happen anyway, but the less it does, the easier your life will be. In each jar, leave 1/4″ to 1/2″ headspace at the top. That is, fill it to 1/4″ to 1/2″ under the top of the rim. If you end up having a jar that isn’t completely full, don’t bother processing it. Just put a lid on it, put it in the fridge, and eat it within 2 weeks. I’m sure you’ll manage.
  5. When you’re done transferring jam into jars, dampen a paper towel and clean any errant jam off the rims and threads of the jars. Jam on the rims will cause a bad seal, and a bad seal will cause botulism. Nobody wants botulism.
  6. Use your magnetic lid lifter and/or tongs to get the lids out of the boiling water and put them in the bowl with the rings. Be especially careful not to touch the undersides of the lids with your hands.
  7. Carefully place a lid on top of each jar, making sure that the seal lines up with the rim of the jar. Screw the rings on to hold them in place. The rings don’t have to be particularly tight– finger-tight is fine.
  8. Using the jar lifter, transfer jars back into the boiling water. You should see air bubbles escaping from each jar. Make sure the water covers every jar. Boil jars for 15 minutes. Remove and let them cool on the cutting board for 12 hours. Within the first few minutes you should hear the lids “popping” — that means you processed the jars correctly and they’re properly sealed. You can also check to make sure they’re sealed by pressing the top with your finger. If it doesn’t move, it’s sealed; if it clicks in, it’s not sealed and you should refrigerate the jam and eat it within 2 weeks. Properly sealed jars can be stored unrefrigerated in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

I made a video to walk you through the process of making this jam and canning it:

Making Strawberry Jam from Heather Lynch on Vimeo.

This is my first time making a cooking video, so let me know what you think! I had fun making it, though there are definitely some things I’d do differently next time.

OKAY! Now that you know what you’re in for, here’s how to make the jam itself:

Strawberry Jam

Adapted from this recipe on allrecipes.com

Makes approximately 8 half-pint jars of jam.

INGREDIENTS

4 lbs. strawberries, cored and sliced
4 cups sugar
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup water

DIRECTIONS

  1. Start heating the water in your water bath canner. Go ahead and put the jars and rings in now (but not the lids).
  2. Wash, core, and slice the strawberries. Squeeze lemon juice.

    Core the strawberries

    Sliced strawberries

    Lemon juice

  3. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, mix sliced strawberries with sugar, lemon juice, and water. Over medium heat, stir until sugar is dissolved.
  4. Place a plate in the freezer. Don’t ask questions, just do it.
  5. Turn heat up as high as it can go and bring mixture to a rapid boil, stirring often. Jam should continue bubbling even when you stir it — that’s how you know it’s boiling enough. Watch the video above to see how properly boiling jam looks. Keep an eye on it because when it first starts to boil, it’ll bubble up and threaten to overflow. You may need to temporarily turn down the heat to prevent this from happening.

    When it starts to boil
    Jam, almost overflowing.

  6. Stirring frequently and skimming off any foam that develops, boil for 20-30 minutes until the jam is thickened.

    Boiled down a bit
    Boiled down and thickened a bit.

    To test for doneness, pull that plate out of the freezer and drop a teaspoon of jam onto it. Return to it to the freezer for about 1 minute. After the minute is up, run your finger through the jam. If stays separate, it’s ready to go. You can also taste it at this point. I find that boiling it longer–30 minutes or so–gives the jam the best flavor because it caramelizes the sugars a bit. Just be careful not to boil it too long or it can burn.

  7. Can! Follow the procedure outlined above.

    More strawberry jam

Note: This recipe is a reduced-sugar version of one found on allrecipes.com. Most jam recipes call for an absurd amount of sugar. This one used a cup of sugar per half-pint jar! If you have a sweet tooth, though, feel free to use more sugar; just add it at the beginning. More sugar will also cause the jam to set better and be less runny. It still sets pretty well without it, though.


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