Strawberry Maple Butter

strawberry puree

For weeks now, I’ve been meaning to write up my recipe for the strawberry maple butter (hinted at here) I made recently (I liked it so much, I made it twice in rapid succession). And so, I finally sat down to do so tonight, only to realize that I didn’t take any pretty finished pictures of it.

However, instead of being defeated by my lack of artful images (I’ll add one tomorrow), I decided to dig in and write the post anyway, since strawberry season is starting to wane around these parts (and is already entirely over for some of you).

cooking strawberry butter

This one is much like the other fruit butters I’ve made in the past (and is nearly identical to the blueberry butter from four years ago). You start by pureeing enough fruit to fill your slow cooker up at least 3/4 of the way. For my four quart cooker, I found that four pounds of berries did the job nicely. Then, turn the cooker on low and let it run.

If you’re going to be in and out of your kitchen, you can leave the lid off and give it a good stir every half hour or so. The reason for the stir is that if you leave the lid off and don’t stir regularly, a skin forms on the surface of the butter that makes it impossible for the steam to escape.

If you’re not going to be around, set a chopstick across the rim of the slow cooker and then put the lid on. This allows the slow cooker to vent a little, but also ends up trapping just enough moisture to prevent the growth of the skin.

maple strawberry butter

I tend to let this butter cook anywhere from 16 to 24 hours. So much depends on the volume of fruit you start with, the amount of water it contains, and how much heat your slow cooker produces when set to low (I prefer older slow cookers for this task because they cook at lower temperatures). I have been known to cook my fruit butters overnight, but I don’t recommend doing that until you understand how your particular slow cooker works with butters.

So, once your strawberries have cooked down to a dense product that doesn’t have any visible liquid on the surface, it is done. I like to hit it with an immersion blender at the end of cooking, to ensure that it’s perfectly smooth.

Once you like the texture, you add maple syrup to taste. My batches each produced about three half pints, which I sweetened with 1/3 cup of maple syrup. I also included two tablespoons of lemon juice to help keep the color, brighten the flavor, and increase the acid load just a little (strawberries are typically quite high in acid, but maple syrup is low in acid, so a little extra lemon juice makes sure that all is well, safety-wise).

You can process this butter in half pint jars for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. It’s a good one. If you can still get beautiful strawberries, I highly recommend it!

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Today! Canning Clinic and Book Signing at Blooming Glen Farm

six cases of jars

I am trying something new today. I’m doing a drop-in canning clinic and book signing out at Blooming Glen Farm. I’ll be there from 1-8 pm (during their CSA pick-up window) to answer canning questions, offer recipe suggestions, and sell/sign cookbooks (I’ll have copies of both Preserving by the Pint and Food in Jars).

If you’re in the Bucks County area and have a window of free time today, please do stop by! The address is 98 Moyer Rd., Perkasie, PA 18944. See you there!

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Pacific Merchants 10L Pickle Crock + Giveaway

pickling crock square

I made my first batch of sauerkraut in the fall of 2008 (in fact, that single jar of kraut was the first thing I ever wrote about here on Food in Jars). Since then, I’ve done a goodly amount of fermentation, from kosher dill pickles to kombucha to kimchi.

In all the years that I’ve been letting various fruits and vegetables gently bubble away in my kitchen, my vessel of choice has been a wide mouth jar (either a quart or a half gallon, depending on the volume I’m making). And while these jars have served me admirably, there was part of me that always wanted to try out a dedicated pickling crock.

crock overhead

So, when a rep from Pacific Merchants got in touch and asked if I’d be interested in trying out their 10L fermentation crock, I said yes.

It is a lovely crock, with thick walls, stone weights, and a gutter that you fill with water for an airtight seal. This crock, along will all the other stoneware vessels that Pacific Merchants sells, was made in Boleslawiec, Poland.

pickling crock open

You can use crocks like this one for all manner of ferments and I’m planning to christen it with a batch of sauerkraut. I’d intended to start a batch in it before this post, but I head out of town next week for nearly three weeks on the road and Scott asked that I not make him responsible for a large-scale ferment. I thought it was a fair request and so will start a batch (with step-by-step pictures for you all) when I get back in July.

pickle weights

Now, for the giveaway. The nice folks at Pacific Merchants are offering one lucky Food in Jars winner a $100 gift card for their website. What’s more, they’re also offering a discount code for their website. It’s good now through June 16. Just type in “foodinjars15″ at check out for 15% off your order.

Here’s how to enter the giveaway:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your fermentation habits. Do you make your own lacto-fermented pickles? Do you have a jar of kimchi in the kitchen right now? Or is your only contact with a fermented vegetable is the tray of warm sauerkraut designed to top hot dogs at the ball park?
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm on Saturday, June 7, 2014. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, June 8, 2014
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Pacific Merchants sent me the 10L fermentation crock, along with a pair of 1L Kilner jars, for photography and review purposes. They are also providing the giveaway unit. They have not compensated me beyond that to write this post and all opinions remain my own. 

Tonight! Preserves Dinner at High Street

high street PbtP image

Just a reminder that the first preserves dinner at High Street is tonight! I just got the menu and it reads like a perfect celebration of spring. If you’re in the Philadelphia area, there are still a few seats left and I would love to see some Food in Jars readers there!

This special menu (which you can find below the jump) will be served tonight starting at 9 pm at High Street (308 Market Street). You can make a reservation by calling (215) 625-0988. 

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June Sponsors: Cuppow, MightyNest, Fillmore Container, Mrs. Wages, and Preserving Now!

A very nice @cuppow display in Northampton!

It is June! It’s time to start looking forward to local cherries and to say thanks to the companies that help make it possible for me to write blog posts, answer questions, try out new products, and generally invest the bulk of my waking hours to this site. Please shower them with your love (and your dollars)!

First up is perennial Food in Jars favorite, jar accessory maker Cuppow! They are the creator of the original mason jar travel mug topper and, more recently, of the BNTO, a cup that fits into a wide mouth mason jar and transforms it into a lunch box. Now that the days have gotten warmer, I drink a lot of iced coffee and find myself reaching for a wide mouth cuppow nearly every day so that I can drink from a pint and a half jar without worrying about spills.

New to the official sponsorship rolls this month is MightyNest. They sponsored last week’s amazing giveaway (which is still open for entries until tomorrow) are one of the best resources around for non-toxic, natural, and organic products for homes and families.

Next comes our friends at Fillmore Container. They sell all manner of canning jars and lids, as well as a handful of books and jar accessories. They’re a family-owned business based in Lancaster, PA and they happily work with home canners and commercial producers alike. Visit their blog for lots of good canning tricks and tips.

Mrs. Wages is also back for another month of canning goodness! I’ve written for them for the last three summers and this year, we’re teaming up for an official partnership. They make all sorts of pectins and canning mixes. Make sure to sign up for their newsletter for monthly installments of canning goodness.

Last, but certainly not least is Preserving Now! Operated by Lyn Deardorff, Preserving Now is both a website and school dedicated to helping people expand their canning and preserving skills. If you’re in the Atlanta area, make sure to check out her schedule of upcoming classes and events!

If you’d like to be a sponsor, there are lots of spots available, starting at just $75 a month.
Please visit my sponsorship page for more details!

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Sponsored Post – Jam & Marmalade: The Blue Chair Way

apricot jam

This post is the next installment in my sponsored content partnership with Craftsy. This time, I took Jam & Marmalade: The Blue Chair Way, taught by Rachel Saunders.

I first met Rachel Saunders in the fall of 2010. It was in San Francisco, at the first ever Good Food Awards judging. Rachel and I were assigned to the panel that was judging the sweet preserves. We spent a day sitting around a table with a handful of other jam obsessives, tasting jar after jar, and talking about our impressions.

jam berries

All the judges had a deep understanding of what separated a good preserve from a great one, but Rachel was one of the few who could explain what was happening technically or scientifically that led to either good or great (as well as truly mediocre).

I left that day impressed with her expertise and ordered a copy of her beautiful cookbook (then brand new) as soon as I got home. To this day, I turn to it when I’m hunting for jammy inspiration and fresh flavor combinations.

cranberry apple jam

Recently, I spent a few hours immersing myself in Rachel’s approach to preserving when I took her class on Craftsy. Called Jam & Marmalade: The Blue Chair Way, it is an exhaustive introduction to the art of preserving with just fruit and sugar.

After a brief introduction to Craftsy and Rachel, the true meat of the class begins with a primer on equipment. For seasoned canners, this section might feel a little unnecessary, but there were several good reminders in this lesson, including remembering to make sure that when you prep your fruit, you take care to find a clean cutting board that has not been used for garlic or onions.

blood orange marm cooking

One thing to know about Rachel’s approach to jam and marmalade making is that she is devoted to the French-style copper preserving pan. These very beautiful and highly conductive pans are a joy to cook in (I treated myself to one some years back) but are very expensive.

Rachel’s alternative suggestion of an 8 quart or larger Dutch oven is one to consider, as it is still a very good vessel for jam making and will have many more uses in a regular home kitchen.

Enter to Win Jams & Marmalades: The Blue Chair Way!

The next two lessons focus in on jam making. First is a quick, simple blackberry jam and the second is a strawberry jam in which the fruit is macerated in sugar and lemon juice for seven days before cooking.

honeyed tomato jam

Lessons five, six, and seven are all focused in on marmalade making. Rachel’s technique is meticulous and produces a very beautiful product.

Part of her secret is that in addition to prepping, simmering, and softening the fruit that will go into the marmalade, she also simmers a second potful of lemons in order to create a flavorful, pectin-rich liquid to add to the cooking fruit. This ensures that she has ample jelly in the finished marmalade and is a technique I plan on using during next winter’s citrus season.

2+ cups of tomato mango jam

The final lesson in the course is the one in which Rachel shares her technique for processing the jars. She uses an oven method as opposed to the boiling water bath. This is a somewhat controversial method in canning circles, because while it is not approved for home use by the USDA, it is one that is commonly used in commercial production.

My feeling is that as long as the preserve being bottled is one that is high in sugar, the risks are minimal.

empty jam pot

Despite the fact that I’ve been making jam for most of my life and have written two cookbooks on the topic, I still felt like I gained something of value from this course. It was useful to hear the ways in which Rachel explained certain principles of jam making (I appreciated seeing her explain her frozen spoon method of testing for set, as I’d never quite understood it before) and I am so impressed by her marmalade process.

strawberry fig jam

Whether you’re looking for a thorough introduction to home preserving, or you want to brush up your skills, I wholeheartedly recommend Rachel Saunders’ course.

Enter to Win Jams & Marmalades: The Blue Chair Way!

For more about this series of sponsored posts and my year-long partnership with Craftsy, please visit this post.

Official disclosure statement: This is sponsored post from Craftsy. I was compensated for this post. However, all opinions remain my own.

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