Friday, January 20, 2012

Berry Good

The blackberries I picked up at the grocery store this week were pretty well picked over by last night and I knew one more night out would leave them looking a little rough, so jam it all!  I measured them out and threw sugar over them in 3:2 ratio of berries to sugar.  That is a mathematical PITA when you have just over 2 cups of berries, so I in reality, eyeballed it and put them in the refrigerator overnight to deal with today.

yes, that looks like a lot of sugar, but the berries are winning, honest!
Fast jamming of small batches seems to work quite nicely in my skillets and this being an especially small batch, I took a chance on the 10" skillet having enough room without boil over.  I did some fast stirring but lucked out and it did not foam over.  What an amazing mess on a glass top stove that would have been had I been wrong!  I smushed about 2/3 of the berries with a potato masher to give some body to the jam while still leaving a few whole berries as a nice surprise here and there.

I had 3 sadly whizzled up Meyer lemons in the refrigerator so I juiced those for a little acid insurance (and a zippy taste to my jam).  Once it started to look "jammy" - and really, you will know - I pulled it off the stove to a hot pad and filled my sterilized jars.  To can, they spend 10 minutes in the water bath canner, plus 15 for my special high-altitude location.  I am now wise to the idea of removing the canner from the heat and let it sit, lid off, for 5 minutes before removing my jars to cool unmolested on the counter. 

That's it.  As easy as that and I saved fruit from a white fuzzy death or consumption by the dog, who loves berries and aren't I excited about that for the someday in my future when I get berry bushes. 

Blackberry jam

Sunday, January 15, 2012

not your momma's lemonade

My squeals of joy made the produce guy at King Soopers laugh when I found Meyer lemons were back in the bins, neatly hidden by bags of just-not-the-same Eurekas and Lisbons.  I snagged 4 bags and made tracks for home to mix up some limoncello!

Peel 5 lemons, carefully avoiding the pith, which is bitter
Peel an orange as well and add all pith-less peelings to a half-gallon sized mason jar. Yes, such an animal can be found, typically in Ace Hardware or some other place where you are not anticipating mason jars.  Any giant Costco-sized pickle or olive jar from that binge you'd rather not talk about will do, so long as it is well-scrubbed.  Add 3/4 cup of simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar, heated on the stove until dissolved) or more to your sweetness preference.  Juice all of your citrus and add that to the jar.  Top it with 3 cups of 80 proof vodka and give it a gentle shake.
I went with a micro-distillery vodka that is *gasp* gluten-free but you can really use inexpensive vodkas.  The lemon will shine through regardless

Stow your mason jar of fancy moonshine in a cool, dark place.  Swirl it every few days and taste it once a week until it tastes good to you, strain and hide it from your friends!  Once they taste it, everyone will want some!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I've been making things!

My mind has just stubbornly refused to let me commit them to blog!  So...before Christmas, I stumbled across some Meyer lemons for sale at our local King Soopers.  I'd heard so much about them in my canning cookbook perusal - they are the end all and be all of lemons - so into the cart they went.  I pulled out 2 jars, sterilized the bejeebers out of them as this was a "sit on the shelf in a cool, dark place" project, and set to work with gloves on to protect my Colorado-dry winter cuticles from the salt.

oh so pretty!

My recipes, I looked over several, directed me to slice off the ends, quarter the lemons (but not all the way through), pack salt (kosher or sea) in between the wedges and stuff in the jars.  I also added bay leaves - I really need to hit Savory Spice soon and pick up some fresher bay leaves - black pepper corns, and cinnamon sticks.  Cover with more lemon juice and off to the shelf it went!

After several weeks on the "cool, dark shelf" of my basement pantry
Two nights ago, I made dinner with my preserved lemons!  Chicken, Artichoke Heart and Preserved Lemons with Rice.  It was delicious although in the future, I have a better idea of how much preserved lemon to use.  I pulled a quarter out using a clean fork and butter knife (to separate it from the rest of the lemon) and diced it very fine before adding it to the mixture in the pan.  The lemon rind was softened and the whole jar had a clean, salty-sweet smell.  Risotto may well be up next, but I am certainly on the hunt for new recipes involving preserved lemons.

the lemon peel had softened and the overall smell was divine