Well, it's finally starting to feel like summer. I can't step outside without feeling gross, the AC in my office isn't working properly (as usual), and I've removed the down comforter off of my bed. I'm not packing the comforter away, however, because I know that as soon as I do that, it's going to get cold. I'm feeling like it's too hot to cook anything, so nothing fun is going to happen in the kitchen this week. The plan is to grill, grill, grill, and eat whatever we can COLD. Of course, this was decided after we spent this past Sunday making jam and pickles. For 6 hours straight. No joke. In hindsight, it was a dumb idea, but after David came home with a 20lb box of cucumbers from Pepin Farm and I had the brilliant idea to go raspberry picking at Nourse Farms, we had no choice but to forge ahead and get it done.
The lesson I learned from our canning marathon is this:
Freeze what you can now. Can when you can (yes, that was on purpose) later, when it's not 80degrees and humid outside. Because when you've got a pot full of boiling water on the stove for 6 hours, it's going to be 90degrees and humid inside. And jam from frozen fruit is just as tasty as jam from fresh fruit.
Ok, enough complaining. Let me walk you through what the CSA-fairy brought me this week, because I'm just too excited to keep it a secret:
Eggplant!!!! I have some major eggplant plans, specifically an eggplant dish that one of my sisters made for me upon her return from studying abroad in Italy. It's simple and delicious, which are two important factors when choosing a recipe, and I'll share it as soon as it cools down enough to cook inside.
In the meantime, here's my raspberry jam recipe. I took the Old-Fashioned Raspberry Jam recipe from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving, but I removed the raspberry seeds and jazzed it up with some lime zest. The lime cuts down on the sweetness, keeps the slight tartness that raspberries have when eaten fresh, and provides a little interest to the jam.
Feel free to save this one until the temperature cools down a bit. If you have fresh raspberries and want to freeze them, wash them, lay them out on a cookie sheet in a single layer, let dry for a bit, and then stick the sheet in the freezer for 24 hours. Then remove the raspberries and place them in a plastic freezer bag. Freezing them first will prevent the berries from clumping together, which is great if you decide to pull a few out and toss them in with a salad or something. They will last in the freezer for a year.
(I also want to say that you shouldn't be afraid or intimidated by preserving food. Just make sure you read up on the subject and have everything you need before starting. Preserved jams and other foods make spectacular gifts. Just take a deep breath and jump right in. It's worth it!)
Recipe: Raspberry-Lime Jam
adapted from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving, by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard
- a large sauce pancanning supplies
- 6 pint canning jars and lids, sterilized
- a food mill with the finest sieve for mashing the raspberries and removing the seeds
- a shallow-rimmed cookie sheet
- approx. 6 cups of raspberries, washed
- 4 cups sugar
- zest of one lime, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 250degrees.
Run berries through food mill, removing as many seeds as possible. Don't forget to scrape the underside of the mill to get all the juice and pulp. Measure 4 cups of mashed berries, and pour into large saucepan.
Place sugar on shallow rimmed cookie sheet and heat in oven for 15 minutes to warm.*
Heat berries in saucepan on med-high heat and bring to a rapid boil. Boil for one minute. Add sugar, stir to dissolve and heat to boiling. Let boil approximately 5 minutes, or until mixture forms a gel**
Ladle into clean, sterlized jars and process for 5 minutes. Remove from hot water and let sit, undisturbed, until jars are completely cool.
Note: You may be tsk-tsking my recipe right now because you've noticed that there's no pectin in the recipe. I've made this recipe more than once, with always fabulous results. If you feel more comfortable adding pectin, knock yourself out.
*Warm sugar melts easier when added into the boiling berries.
**If you are unfamiliar with making jam, there is an easy way to tell if the jam is ready to be moved from the saucepan to the jar. Prior to making jam, place a small dish in the freezer. Once you've cooked the berries and sugars down, and it begins to thicken, take the dish out of the freezer and place a small amount of the mixture on the dish. Immediately return the dish to the freezer AND REMOVE YOUR SAUCEPAN FROM THE HEAT. Wait 2 minutes, remove dish from freezer and tilt. If the mixture runs, return the jam to the heat and boil another 2 minutes. Re-test until the cooled jam moves slowly on the plate. This may take some practice, but I guarantee, it's worth a try!