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Strawberry Plum Jam

Strawberry Plum Jam

Strawberry Plum Jam

Strawberries! The berry that signifies the beginning of Summer. Here is a strawberry and plum jam which I made over the weekend. It is sweet and delicious but I couldn’t really appreciate the plum flavor. The strawberries turned out to be the star of this jam and I don’t mind that at all. This is Spring in a jar, which will carry me well into Fall.

How to peel a plum: cut and X, pour boiling water over and let sit 30-40 seconds, drop plums into icewater, lift peel off from the corner of the X

How to peel a plum: cut and X, pour boiling water over and let sit 30-40 seconds, drop plums into ice water, lift peel off from the corner of the X

Strawberry Plum Jam makes 6, 8 oz jars or 1/2 pint jars

Ingredients: 

650 grams fresh strawberries, cut into large dice (23 oz or 4 cups diced)

400 grams fresh red plums, large dice (6 plums)

59 milliliter fresh lemon juice (2 fl oz or 1/4 cup, approx. 1 large juicy lemon)

1000 grams sugar (35 oz)

15 grams fruit pectin (2 tablespoons)

Directions:

Prepare strawberries but removing to leafy top and cut into a large dice. Peel skin off plums by first cutting an X in the top of each plum, then pour boiling water over plums, let sit for 40 seconds. Place plums into ice water, let sit for another 30 seconds or so, then using a small knife, simply pull peel off starting at the X. Cut plum meat away from the pit and cut into large dice. Set fruit aside.

Wash mason jars and lids in hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly.

To sterilize jars you can use a canning pot which comes with a wire rack, or if you don’t have a canning pot, you can use a large stock pot and place a trivet or a folded up clean towel in the bottom of the pot. Fill the pot with hot water and place clean jars upright into the water making sure they are covered by 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water. Bring water to a rolling boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes, then turn off heat and let jars sit in the hot water until ready to use. Note: jars must be hot when the hot jam is filled into them. Place lids and rings into a heatproof dish making sure to spread them out so they don’t clump together. Fill dish with hot water and let the lids sit in water until ready to use.

In a large cooking pot, combine strawberries, plums, lemon juice and fruit pectin. Bring fruit to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Add sugar, return to a boil and continue cooking, while stirring constantly, for another 10 minutes. Remove fruit from heat and skim off the foam thoroughly (it makes for a pretty, clear jam). Ladle hot jam into sterilized hot jars, leaving no more that 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rims clean with a moist paper towel and put on lids.

Place jars back into the hot water, which was used to sterilize jars. Bring water back up to a boil and process filled jars for another 10 minutes. Transfer them to a clean towel-lined surface where they can sit undisturbed 12 to 24 hours. Lids may make a popping sound as the jars cool, this is a sign of an airtight seal. Test the seals 24 hours after heat processing by pressing down on the center of each lid with your finger. If the lid does not move or pop, the jar is sealed. Label and store in a cool, dark place and refrigerate after opening.

Source: My Danish Kitchen

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Strawberry Rhubarb Champagne Jam

Strawberry Rhubarb Champagne Jam

Let me tell you about this perfectly delicious Strawberry Rhubarb Champagne Jam. This jam has a really intense flavor, a fabulous bright red color and a slightly loose set (which I like). It reminds me of a perfectly clear and sunny September afternoon with no humidity, simply perfect! My husband, who never really cared for jam before, is going crazy over this jam and it has now become his favorite special treat.

Strawberry Rhubarb Champagne Jam

Strawberry Rhubarb Champagne Jam

I have been interested in making my own jam for a long time but it always seemed really complicated. There is a lot to learn about canning, enough to write a book, which is not my intention in this post. So I am going to recommend that you invest in one or two books to help you understand the entire process and to be able to obtain a product that is safe to eat and has a long shelf life.

Making Jam

Making Jam

I don’t have all the equipment that is suggested but after having made this jam a couple of times, I now know what equipment is essential to make the process easier for myself. Ideally you want a canning pot which comes with a rack that holds the jars, however, a large stock pot can do the same job but it must be large enough to cover jars with 1 inch of water and to prevent the jars from cracking you can place a small folded clean dish towel or a stainless steel trivet at the bottom of the pan. You also need a wooden spoon, a small stainless steel ladle, stainless steel tongs to lift hot jars in and out of the boiling water, rubber coated jar lifter to transfer filled jars upright back into boiling water and finally glass Mason jars, screw-top rings and lids. You can reuse Mason jars and screw-top rings but the lids must always be new to ensure a proper seal.

Jam Test

Jam Test

There are numerous rules when you are canning and many of these rules should not be altered. To prepare myself for this adventure I went out and purchased a couple of books to learn from. The first one is Southern Living Little Jars, Big Flavors and what I love about this book is the very clear layout of the entire canning process. It explains why all of these steps are so important to follow and it points out which ingredients and methods should not be changed. Of course the book also has a lot of small-batch recipes with gorgeous pictures to get you inspired.

The second book I purchased is called Get Started Preserving. This book does a great job explaining how the natural pectin and acid content in fruit help achieve a jelly or “set”. It has some great charts which show pectin and acid content of key fruit, vegetables and fruit freezing times and a chart which shows water bath heat processing times for key fruits. The book also has an easy to read section on how foods spoil and the science of preserving. The book is loaded with photographs and it covers a wide variety of preserving from simply freezing fruit and vegetables, to bottled fruit in alcohol, salt preserves, pickling, fruit cheese, jams and jelly, fruit curd, cured fish and cured meats. The downside to this book is that the entire canning process is not as clearly laid out, when compared to the first book I mentioned.

Now that I have managed to completely turn you off to preserving your fruit, let me say this. Yes, there are a lot of rules to follow in order to keep you and your family safe when eating your wonderful canned goods. But if you set out to learn about the process (which is what I recommend) before attempting the process, and you know the steps involved, it is really a fun afternoon activity and the result is so much better than the store-bought jams. Now go do some canning and try not to kill anyone in the process, just kidding.  🙂

Strawberry Rhubarb Champagne Jam (makes approx 3 small 8 oz jars, depending on how much tasting you do along the way)

Ingredients:

460 gram strawberries (16.2 oz or about 3 cups), washed, hulled and quartered

140 gram rhubarb (4.9 oz or about 1 cup), washed and sliced

390 gram sugar (13.8 oz or 2 cups)

1 1/4 cup champagne (or sparkling wine)

4 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon pectin

Directions:

Wash mason jars and lids in hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly.

Place a couple of small saucers in the freezer to do the jam test on later.

To sterilize jars you can use a canning pot which comes with a wire rack, or if you don’t have a canning pot, you can use a large stock pot and place a trivet or a folded up clean towel in the bottom of the pot. Fill the pot with hot water and place clean jars upright into the water making sure they are covered by 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water. Bring water to a rolling boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes, then reduce heat and continue to simmer until you are ready to fill jars. Note: jars must be hot when the hot jam is filled into them. Place lids and rings into a heatproof dish making sure to spread them out so they don’t clump together. Fill dish with hot water and let the lids sit in water until ready to use.

Combine strawberries, rhubarbs, lemon juice and champagne in a heavy-bottomed pan. Stir over low heat and let fruit simmer for 5 minutes. Mash fruit with a potato masher if desired. Stir pectin into sugar and add to the fruit all at one time. Stir until sugar has dissolved and simmer for another 15 minutes. Then bring the jam up to a rapid, rolling boil for 5 minutes. Start testing for set when the bubbles become larger and start to “plop”.

Take the pan off the heat while you test for set. To test for set, remove one of the saucers from the freezer and pour a tablespoon of jam onto the cold plate. Let it cool for a minute then run a finger through the jam. If the jam wrinkles and your finger leaves a trail, the jam is set. If jam is still runny, continue to boil and test again.

Once your jam is set, remove from heat and skim off any foam that settles on the surface. Remove hot sterilized jars from simmering water, one at the time, and fill with hot jam leaving 1/4 inch (6 mm) head room between jam surface and lid. Wipe the rims clean of any spilled jam using a paper towel dipped in hot water. Quickly place a lid, rubber side down on top of each jar. Place a ring onto each jar and screw on until just fingertip tight, do not over-tighten. Then heat process the jam by placing the sealed jars upright back into the simmering water and heat proof for another 10 minutes. Make sure jars stand upright the whole time and the lids are covered with 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water. Use tongs to remove processed jars, making sure to continue keeping them upright. Transfer them to a clean towel-lined surface where they can sit undisturbed 12 to 24 hours. Lids may make a popping sound as the jars cool, this is a sign of an airtight seal. Test the seals 24 hours after heat processing by pressing down on the center of each lid with your finger. If the lid does not move or pop, the jar is sealed. Label and store in a cool, dark place and refrigerate after opening.

Note: if you end up having some left-over jam, ladle it into a jar, place in refrigerator and use within a few days.

Source: adapted from Downton Abbey Cooks

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Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Meringue Buttercream

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Meringue Buttercream

I have been soaking up the last little bit of spring here in Virginia Beach before the summer heat hits us. I went to the local Farmers Market to get fresh fruit and I came home with a couple of trays of the most amazingly fragrant and sweet Pungo strawberries. Some of the strawberries went into the freezer and a lot of them went into these beautiful cupcakes. Although this recipe for the Strawberry Meringue Buttercream is a little challenging, let me assure you that it is well worth the effort. The buttercream is silky smooth and sweet and the cupcakes are soft and fluffy. This recipe is a keeper. Enjoy!

Making strawberry cupcakes

Making strawberry cupcakes

It is important to pay attention to the details in these two recipes. When measuring out the strawberries for the cupcakes they should be finely chopped, however, when measuring out the strawberries for the buttercream they are coarsely chopped, it makes a difference in the finished weight of strawberries you’ll end up with. I would have measured the strawberries for you but my scale finally gave out on me. When making this frosting make sure you are accurate, not generous, with the amount of strawberries you end up using for the buttercream.

Coarsely chopped strawberries. Strawberry puree and other ingredients. Starting to beat egg whites and sugar over waterbath. Finished beating, making sure they are completely smooth between your fingers. Beating meringue to a stiff, shiny peak. Finished buttercream.

Coarsely chopped strawberries. Strawberry puree and other ingredients. Starting to beat egg whites and sugar over waterbath. Finished beating, making sure the egg whites feel completely smooth between your fingers. Beating meringue to a stiff, shiny peak. Finished buttercream.

Strawberry Cupcakes (makes 34)

Ingredients:

2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cake flour (not self-rising)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 large whole eggs plus 1 egg white, at room temperature

1 cup milk

2 cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and finely chopped, plus 10 more for garnish if desired

Strawberry Meringue Buttercream Frosting (makes 5 cups)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries (8 ounces), rinsed, hulled and coarsely chopped

4 large egg whites, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), cut into tablespoons, room temperature

Directions for Strawberry Cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.

Sift together both flours, baking powder and salt. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, sugar and vanilla extract until  thick and smooth. Add whole eggs and the egg white one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the milk, beating until well combined. Add chopped strawberries to the batter and fold them in by hand.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating tins half-way through, until golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of cupcake come out clean. Place tins on a cooling rack and allow to cool for 15 minutes, then turn cupcakes onto rack and allow to cool completely.

Directions for Strawberry Meringue Buttercream:

Puree strawberries in a blender and set aside. In the bowl of your stand-mixer, combine egg whites and sugar. Place bowl over a cooking pot with a small amount of simmering water. Whisk egg whites and sugar constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between two fingers).

Attach the bowl to stand-mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing speed to medium-high mix until stiff and shiny (not dry) peaks form, 10 to 15 minutes. Mixture should now have cooled down (test by touching bottom of bowl). With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter have been added, scrape down sides of bowl and switch to the paddle attachment. Continue to beat on low speed for 2 minutes to eliminated air bubbles. Add strawberry puree and beat until combined.

Cupcake assembly:

Load buttercream into a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip. Pipe the buttercream onto each cupcake. Store cupcakes in an airtight container in refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving. Enjoy!

Buttercream storage:

Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

Source: Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

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