CSA Cooking: Strawberry Chutney

strawberry chutney total yield

Last week, I mentioned that I’d combined the quart of strawberries from my latest Philly Foodworks with two additional quarts to make a batch of strawberry chutney. This chutney is much like the sweet cherry version I wrote about last summer and it’s a good one to eat with cheese or in grain bowls.

four pounds strawberries

It starts with about four pounds berries. Once chopped, that adds up to about 12 cups, if you prefer volume measurements to weight (though really, a kitchen scale is one of the most useful tools there is).

strawberry chutney ingredients

The strawberries are combined with chopped red onion, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, golden raisins (though you could use dark ones if that’s what you have), mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and a couple star anise blossoms.

cooked strawberry chutney

Once all the ingredients are in the pot, you bring it up to a boil and then cook it until the fruit softens and the liquid thickens. I like to start on high and then reduce the heat as the chutney cooks down. You know it’s getting close when you get that tell-tale sizzle as you stir.

strawberry chutney close jars

Once the chutney is finished cooking, fish out those star anise pieces (they add good flavor in small measure, but if you leave them in the jars, they will overwhelm all the other ingredients). Once in the jars, the chutney has a lovely, dusky color.

Oh, and remember. If the flavor of vinegar overwhelms your chutney eating experience, open the jar and let it breathe a little before serving. Half an hour or so should be enough to help the most intense fumes dissipate.

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Canning 101: How to Prevent Jam Separation

fruit float image

This time of year, lots of people are making and canning strawberry jam. Though it’s a universally loved preserve, I find it to be one of the trickier jams to get right, particularly for beginning jam makers. One of the reasons that people struggle with strawberries is that the finished jam has the tendency to separate into two layers* once it has cooled in the jars.

If you are one of the ones who have struggled with this two layer jam, worry not. It’s not a sign of danger or even that you did something wrong. It’s simply a sign that there is still some air trapped in the strawberries. They are lighter than the syrup and so rise to the tops of the jars.

I find that this jam separation happens primary in recipes that call for relatively short cooking times or very large pieces of fruit that have not been given a long maceration period.

You can work to prevent this two layer effect by chopping the fruit into smaller pieces, macerating it with the sugar overnight, mashing it with a potato masher during cooking (this action is best if you’re noticing big hunks of fruit bobbing around towards the end of cooking), and even extending the cooking period a bit.

If you’ve taken these actions and you’re still noticing that your jam is separating during the cooling stage, you can gently shake the cooling jars to reintegrate the fruit and the syrup.

My preferred method of dealing with this separation is simply to tell people that I meant it to be that way and that if you want a more integrated preserve, that they should stir the fruit into the now-set jelly when they open the jars.

*This can also happen with other varieties of fruit as well, but is simply most common with strawberries.

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Giveaway: Fillmore Container $50 Gift Codes

Just some of the fun gear at the @fillmorejars booth at the PA Farm Show!

This week’s giveaway is sponsored by Fillmore Container. They are a jar distributor based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and they sell a whole world of jars, accessories, lids, cookbooks, and other great gear.

straight sided jars

Two lucky winners will each get a $50 gift code with which they can order anything they want from the wide array of gear that Fillmore sells. While the choices are entirely up to the winners, I thought it might be fun to suggest a few of my favorite things from their online store.

First up are the jars. They carry the entire line of Ball/Kerr jars and have often been my source for my beloved wide mouth half pint jars. However, because they also sell to commercial canners, you can also get fun, unbranded, smooth-sided jars. I particularly like the squat regular mouth half pints and the super smooth quarter pint jars you see pictured above. If you want jars that will take a label nicely, these are your best bet.

four sizes of hex jars

For even more exotic jar options, there are always the hex jars. These close with lug lids and give your home canning a professional look. For instructions on how to work with these jars, make sure to read this post. Another fun jar in their stock is the French Square Bottle. I love these for stashing batches of homemade iced tea.

jar cherry pitter

If you’re all set on the jar front, there’s still fun stuff to be had at Fillmore. I am a huge fan of this old-style cherry pitter that screws on to a regular mouth mason jar. It makes quick work of pitting cherries and catches all the pits right in the jar. For those of you just starting out with this whole food preservation thing, the six piece canning set should be the first thing in your shopping cart.

stars on paper straws

If you have a 4th of July party on the calendar next month, think how fun and festive it would be to have a jar of these red and blue paper straws out to go with your drinks. If you’re sipping out of jars, pair them with these one piece lids with drink holes to prevent spills.

4th burner pot

Last, but not certainly least is the 4th burner pot. Fillmore Container just recently added this sturdy little pot to their inventory and I couldn’t be more pleased. I use this pot as a small batch canner, for heating pickling brine, and as a blanching pot for little batches of beans and asparagus. When not canning, it gets pressed into service to heat stock for risotto, to bring water to a boil for iced tea, and to hard boil eggs. It’s one of the hardest working pieces of cookware in my kitchen.

This week, Fillmore is giving away one of these handy pots, so make sure to head over to their blog to enter.

Here’s how to enter the giveaway for one of $50 gift certificates!

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me how you’d spend $50 on the Fillmore Container website.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, June 20, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, June 21, 2015.
  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: Fillmore Container is providing the gift codes for this giveaway. They sent me the some of the jars and gear pictured above. They are also a Food in Jars sponsor and so do help contribute to the running of this site. 

Upcoming Live Online Classes

class image revised

I taught my first live online class last month and learned a lot from the experience about what I can accomplish in an hour and what seems to be useful to those of you who tuned in. I’ve scheduled three more sessions for the coming months and hope that some of you will join me.

Instead of charging a flat fee for the class, I’ve changed to a pay what you wish format. My hope is that by opening up the classes, more of you will participate and the session will become increasingly useful as a result. I’ve also moved the start time back to 8 pm eastern time so that it’s more convenient for the west coast folks.

  • Tuesday, June 23 – This is a basics of boiling water bath canning class. I’ll show you my various canning set-ups, talk you through filling jars, processing, troubleshooting, and tips for storage. Sign up here.
  • Monday, July 13 – This is a live can-a-long class. I’ll publish the small batch peach jam recipe ahead of time and tell you what you should have prepped, so that you can cook and can with me if you want. Sign up here.
  • Tuesday, August 4 – This session is dedicated to pickling. I’ll talk about quick, preserved, and fermented pickles and offer tips on storage, safety, and improvisation. Sign up here.

All these classes are being offered on Concert Window. Unfortunately, they don’t offer the ability to capture the full class for future viewing, so these are once and done experiences.

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Links: Cherries, Pickles, and a Winner

oatmeal with roasted rhubarb

No matter what the calendar says, summer has arrived (at least in Philadelphia). Cherries are here and I spotted the very first apricots at the farmers market on Saturday. I bought my first watermelon on Thursday and I’ve been scooping up garlic scapes everywhere I see them. This time of year makes me so darn happy. Now, links!

Perfect Pickle Sampler 640

It was so fun to hear about all your favorite pickles this week! The winner of the Mrs. Wages Perfect Pickle Sampler is #222/Peggy P. Hope you have fun with all those pickle spices and mixes, Peggy!

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Other People’s Preserves: Spicy Carrot Jam from Spruce Hill Preserves

Spruce Hill Preserves

Other People’s Preserve is my opportunity to shine a spotlight on some of the very delicious jams, pickles, and condiments being made by dedicated professionals. If you see one of these products out in the wild, consider picking up a jar, tub, or bottle!

I met Molly Haendler, chief jam maker and recipe inventor at Spruce Hill Preserves, last winter as a holiday craft show. We chatted as I tasted my way through her entire product line, swooning over her wacky but wonderful flavor combinations all the while. I quickly followed her on Instagram and have been wanting to feature one of her creative preserves here in this space ever since.

top of spicy carrot jam

Happily, today is that day. About a week ago, I got my hands on a jar of her Spicy Carrot with Orange and Cardamom Jam. At first glance, you might think that this vividly orange spread shouldn’t work, with all it’s got going on. And yet, with each bite, you find that you want another. It’s punchy, sweet, slightly vegetal, and works magic on a roasted chicken or a grilled cheese.

If you’re in Philly, you may well spot Spruce Hill Preserves at one of the many farmers markets that dot the city. For those of you further away, know that Molly ships her preserves all over.

Disclosure: Spruce Hill Preserves gave me the jar of Spicy Carrot Jam that you see pictured here. No additional funds have changed hands and all opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. 

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