Strawberry Rhubarb Jam + Giveaway

strawberries

It’s common knowledge that strawberries and rhubarb go well together. Just about everyone I know has a fond memory of a pie or cobbler made with a smattering of sugar and those two ingredients. It should come as no surprise to you that these natural partners make an exceptionally good jam. Truly, it’s exceptional in it’s tart, freshness.

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I’ve made this recipe a couple of times recently, though as I looked for photos to use in this post, I realized that I didn’t manage to capture the process. This happens sometimes. When I’m awash in fruit and canning more for myself than for the blog (I know it might shock you, but this does happen), I will head into the kitchen and let myself slip into the meditation that cooking something familiar can offer. The camera doesn’t get much play when that happens.

my copper preserving pan

Outside of the stack of sealed jars now cooling their heels in my coat closet, the only evidence that I even made this jam is the corner of that yellow bowl off on the right edge of this picture. It’s full of macerated berries and chopped rhubarb. The new copper preserving pan I got obviously stole the show that day. (I’ve made a few batches in the copper pan so far and I’m really enjoying it. I plan on writing up my thoughts in a more organized fashion sometime soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that.)

hello matching cutco knives

Before we get to the recipe, there’s just one more order of business to take care of. That’s right, it’s giveaway time! This week, I have a gorgeous pair of Santoku knives from Cutco to offer up to one lucky winner. This is the second year I’ve had the opportunity to work with Cutco and I’m delighted to do it. I like their knives because they are sharp (and stay sharp), have heft without being too heavy and are fairly indestructible.

I don’t adore the look of the handle (though it’s far more appealing in the pearl finish), but it’s shockingly comfortable in the hand and doesn’t mind spending a couple of hours soaking in the sink (not so for my wooden handled knives. And yes, I know that that’s not how you’re supposed to treat knives, but life doesn’t always allow me to wash dishes immediately after they’re made).

If you’re interested in a chance to win this pair of knives, leave a comment here tell me about your favorite kitchen knife (my parents still prefer the ancient L. L. Bean fileting knife that my dad inherited from his father in 1971 above all others). One entry per person, please. Winner will be chosen at random. Comments will close on Sunday, June 19, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. and I will post the winner promptly the next day.

Disclosure: Cutco gave me a pair of these knives for free and is offering the set for giveaway at no cost to me. Happily, my opinions are still all my own (I’m not nearly that cheap).

Now, on to that recipe!

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Cooking With Mavea: Pickled Carrot and Daikon

Cooking with MAVEA: Pickled Carrots & Daikon with Food in Jars from MAVEA Inspired Water on Vimeo.

While I work on meeting a couple of freelance deadlines, I though I’d post another one of the videos I made with Mavea back in February. In this video we made the pickled carrots and daikons that I initially posted about during the Tigress Can Jam back in 2010. They are really tasty eating!

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Urban Preserving: Refrigerator Dill Pickles

1 1/2 pounds of kirby cucumbers in a quart basket

I firmly believe in the power of pickles. A few slices of pickled beets can elevate a basic salad into something worthy of the word dinner. Lay a couple of dilly beans alongside your hot dog and and suddenly it could pass for something far more gourmet. Couple cheddar with some pickled garlic scapes (chutney is also good here) and your party guests will praise your cheeseboard abilities to the heavens.

small batch prep

Here in the US, pickles are inextricably linked to cucumbers and so that’s where I’m starting. However, there’s no rule that cucumbers are the only thing that can be pickled. This basic technique can be applied to green beans, okra, asparagus*, cauliflower, carrot*s and all manner of summer squash. Make a promise to yourself that you’ll expand your pickle horizons this summer. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

onions, garlic and dill in jar

Many of my local farmers sell their kirby cucumbers by volume and so a single quart was my starting point for this recipe (I did weight them and had almost exactly 1 1/2 pounds of perfect, pickling cukes). I started by washing the cucumbers well, cutting off both ends (the blossom end has an enzyme that can contribute to limp pickles) and slicing them into wedges.

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Once my cucumbers were sliced, I combined 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar with 3/4 filtered water and a two teaspoons sea salt. While that came to a boil, I prepped two clean pint jars. Each jar received one teaspoon dill seed, two peeled garlic cloves and one tablespoon chopped spring onion. Finally, I packed the cucumber spears into the jars. The quart of cucumbers fit perfectly into the two jars (makes sense since two pint jars equals a quart).

packed jars

When the brine reached a boil, I slowly poured it into the jars, leaving a 1/4 inch headspace. Because these are refrigerator pickles (this means that they aren’t shelf stable and must be kept in the fridge) this is the point where the work is done. Once the brine is in the jars, you pop the lids on and tuck them into the fridge. Give them at least a day or two to cure and then nosh away.

finished pickles

*These vegetables need a quick bath in some boiling water before they’re able to be pickled. Spend the time and dirty the pot in order to blanch them for 30-60 seconds. The extra step will pay off in flavor.

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Finished Chive Blossom Vinegar + Bon Ami Winner

finished chive blossom vinegar

It had been my intention to get this post up last night, but instead, I spent a good four hours straight tethered to my stove making a batch of Strawberry Lemon Jam (same essential formula as this jam, only skip the vanilla bean and use the zest and juice of four lemons) and retesting several cookbook recipes (Grape Jelly, Gingery Pickled Beets and a revised version of these Sweet and Sour Pickled Red Onions).

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Now, I want you to think back several weeks. Do you remember this post, in which I urged you to stuff a bunch of chive blossoms into a large jar and cover them with some form of light vinegar? I hope you did it, because I have a strong hunch that I’m going to spend the next year praising this simple infusion.

After three weeks sitting on my counter top, I decided that last night was the time to strain and decant the vinegar. I did an initial strain with a regular sieve to remove the blossoms and then did a finer strain, pouring the vinegar through some cheesecloth in order to remove the flowers’ tiny seeds. The vividly colored jar you see above is the result. Happily, it doesn’t just look good. It has wholeheartedly adopted the essence of the blossoms. I can’t wait to make some quick pickles with it and whisk it into a lemony vinaigrette.

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Also, thanks to all of you who replied that you were interested in the bulk produce buying group from Monday’s post. I will be in touch over the weekend with more information, so stay tuned.

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We got winners! Random.org pulled up numbers 46 and 162, which correspond to the comments left by Danielle and Cathy. Congratulations ladies, I’ll be in touch shortly to get your information.

 

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CSA Love + Spring Onion Greens Kimchi

spring onions

I am a big believer in the concept of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. If you’re new to the idea, the gist is that you support a local farmer by giving them a lump sum of cash to help them through the lean months. That investment bears fruit during the growing season in the form of weekly or bi-weekly boxes of produce for you to take home and enjoy.

I’ve been a member of several different CSAs over the years and sadly, they always left me feeling like something was missing. Ideally, a CSA should be more than just an opportunity to streamline your grocery shopping, it should give you a sense of connection and appreciation for where your food is coming from. And it’s a bonus if they happen to know your name.

Happily, I can report that I am beyond delighted by my CSA this year. The farm is Down to Earth Harvest and it’s located in Kennett Square (one of my very favorite Philadelphia-region towns). The pick-up site is my local Saturday farmers’ market at Rittenhouse Square and the farm crew is totally friendly (hi Robert, Phil and Shanna!).

spring onion greens kimchi

A few weeks back, before the official start of the CSA season, I made my way to their table at the market and introduced myself. We got to talking and Robert asked me what I suggested they do with the glut of spring onions that were soon to be ready for picking. I offered a few ideas and they filled my arms with onions so that I could do a bit of testing. I tried pickling the white stems whole, but then turned bitter and woody (I now think they’d be better suited to a sliced pickle – live and learn).

My preserving mojo wasn’t entirely off though. I used this ramp greens kimchi recipe and turned the spring onion greens into some of the best, most flavorful, most interesting kimchi I’ve ever eaten. I took a jar over to the Down to Earth crew this last Saturday to try and once I assured them that they weren’t going to be painfully spicy, they were taken aback by how tasty those onion greens gotten (and here they’d been sending them into the compost bin).

I’m not going to re-write the recipe here, because other than switch one green for another, I really didn’t do anything different from what the Tigress did. I highly recommend this treatment if you’ve got a bunch of onion greens to use. I’ve started planning meals around this kimchi and I’m hoping to make another batch before the season is over.

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Press Trips, Classes and Bulk Produce Buying in Philadelphia

back-up strawberries

Last weekend, my day job life collided with my freelance food writing life. Philly Homegrown, the program I spend three days a week working and writing for brought a collection of food bloggers and journalists from around the country to Philly to show them the many virtues of our local food system. I tagged along on the trip, half writer looking for story inspiration and half program representative who just wanted to ensure that the visiting writers were having a good time. The pictures I took along our travels can be found here. The ones taken inside the Kennett Square mushroom houses are particularly cool (if I do say so myself).

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After taking the month of May off from teaching classes, starting this weekend I am firmly back on the teaching wagon. This Saturday from 11 am to 12: 30 pm, I’m leading a class that will revolve around a batch of Strawberry Rhubarb Jam (I am a trial batch this weekend and it nearly knocked my socks off with its goodness). There are still five open spots in that class, please leave a comment or shoot me an email should you want to sign up (cost is $45). There are also still available spots in the rest of my scheduled classes for this summer (these classes are all held in at Indy Hall in Old City, Philadelphia).

In other class news, on Saturday, July 16, I’ll be in the Boston area to teach class at Create a Cook. We’ll be making Spiced Plum Jam and Dilly Beans and all students will take jars of both home with them. This class is limited to 10 students, so if you’re in the Boston area, sign up now!

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Many, many months ago, a woman named Kate approached me about the idea of putting together a group of canning-minded folks in the Philadelphia area so that we could band together and buy produce in larger quantities for preserving. We’ve decided to take a shot at it and are putting together an email list to better communicate these opportunities. If this is something you might be interested in, please leave a comment or email me.

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Thanks for sitting through that newsy update. I’ll return to our regularly scheduled canning posts tomorrow.

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