Strawberry Lavender Caramel + Giveaway

driscolls strawberries

Spring has been slow to come this year and so the local produce has only just begun to trickle into the markets around Philadelphia. Happily, a much-welcome dose of spring arrived on my doorstep a couple weeks back, in the form of a large box of Driscoll’s strawberries.

the incredible hull

Months ago, Driscoll’s and OXO hatched a plan to gather up a gaggle of food bloggers, send them an assortment of tools and berries, and see what they created. For me, it couldn’t have come at a better time, as I was positively itching to get my hands on some fresh ingredients.

berry top

One of the tools that came in the box was OXO’s new berry huller and I am not exaggerating when I say that it’s a strawberry game changer. I’ve used their previous huller and while it was a good tool, I always defaulted to a paring knife.

berries in blender

But, now having tried this new huller, it is my go-to strawberry prep tool. It is incredibly easy to use, cleanly removes the hard white center, and makes it possible to whip through four or five pounds of berries in no time at all.

berry puree

I made three different preserves with the berries Driscoll’s sent and I’ll be sharing those recipes over the course of this week. The first one is a variation on the strawberry caramel recipe that I wrote for Simple Bites a couple weeks ago. The second is a maple sweetened strawberry butter. And the final batch was honey sweetened strawberry vanilla jam.

dried lavender

I love the basic version of the basic strawberry caramel, but I’ve long thought that it would be delicious to infuse with lavender for a more complex flavor. And since I spotted OXO’s twisting tea ball, I had a feeling it would be the perfect infusion tool (short answer: it was!).

lavender in tea ball

You start with one pound of strawberries, hull them, and puree them (just pop them raw into a blender or food processor) until smooth.

cooking sugar

Then, combine 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar with 3/4 cup of water in a small saucepan. Measure 2 teaspoons of dried lavender buds (culinary grade) into your tea ball and add it to the pot. Place it over high heat and bring to a boil.

250 degrees F

Cook the syrup until it reaches 250°F/121°C. Remove the pot from the heat and pour in prepared strawberry puree (you should have about 2 cups) and the juice of 1 lemon. Return the pot to the heat and cook until the temperature reaches 218°F/103°C.

finished caramel sauce

Funnel the sauce into two prepared half pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

This sauce is amazing drizzled over ice cream, angel food cake, or a piece of crunchy, buttered toast (it is entirely decadent but ridiculously good).

finished strawberry caramel

Now for the fun part. OXO and Driscoll’s are giving away a pretty terrific prize pack. The lucky winner will get one of those fabulous strawberry hullers, a three-piece OXO berry bowl and colander set, a $70 gift card to OXO.com, and a year’s supply of Driscoll’s berries. You enter via the widget below (not by leaving a comment on this post). The giveaway will close at 5 pm eastern time on Friday, May 30, so make sure to get your entry in!

To see what the rest of the participating bloggers made, make sure to click over to their sites!

a farmgirl’s dabbles
Confessions of a Bright-Eyed Baker
Crepes of Wrath
Crunchy Creamy Sweet
Cupcakes & Kale Chips
Diethood
Eat Your Heart Out
Eats Well With Others
Food n’ Focus
Hoosier Homemade
Never Enough Thyme
Rachel Cooks
Sweet Remedy
Very Culinary

Disclosure: Driscoll’s and OXO provided the berries and tools I used and featured in this post and are also providing the prize pack. They did not compensate me for my participation and my opinions are entirely my own.

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Upcoming Events: Philly! Brooklyn! Manhattan!

Did I mention that the Food in Jars stickers are in? They are free with every book purchase!

The last couple weeks have been the calm before the storm. If you thought my Southern book tour was a major endeavor, just wait until you see what I’ve got up my sleeve for June and July. Actually, you don’t have to wait at all. The entire summer schedule can be found on my Classes and Events page, if you want to take a gander and plug a date into your calendar.

For those of you in the Philadelphia or New York areas, my next three events are just for you. There are still lots of seats available in both those classes, so grab yours now!

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Links: Pickles, Rhubarb, and Winners

Iced tea in a jar! Oh Western Mass, I think I love you.

It was another busy week around these parts. I did a bunch of work, had my 35th birthday, got the stomach flu, and drove to Western Massachusetts to spend the weekend with friends. I would have liked to have skipped the stomach flu portion of the itinerary, but those sorts of things are typically out of our control. Happily, it was a blessedly short lived bug and I’m back to normal. Now, links!

My book got a bit of internet love this week. Here’s who mentioned it.

JOY app

The weekly giveaway returned last Tuesday with the Joy of Cooking app! Here are the lucky winners (I’ll be in touch shortly!).

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Sponsored Post: KitchenAid Classic 4.5 Quart Stand Mixer Giveaway from Craftsy

KitchenAid Mixer 640

When I turned 27, my friends got together and bought me a KitchenAid Stand Mixer. As birthday gifts go, it was one of the better ones of my life because it showed me just how well I was known and appreciated by the people in my life.

I’ve worked that mixer hard over the eight years that it has been in my kitchen and truly, it looks as good as the day it arrived on my doorstep. It is a tank of a machine and I am so glad to have it.

When the folks at Craftsy asked if I’d been interested in helping them spread the word about their KitchenAid Classic 4.5 Quart Stand Mixer giveaway, I jumped at the chance to share it with you guys. After all, I shouldn’t be the only one who knows the joy of getting a fabulous mixer as a gift!

This giveaway is a little different from the ones I typically offer here, in that you need to go over to the Craftsy site to enter your name (comments left on this post won’t get you entry this time). If you don’t have one, you will need to create an account on Craftsy in order to enter, but it shouldn’t take long and they are good citizens when it comes to user information.

The giveaway is open until May 23 and residents of the United States and Canada are both eligible to enter. The winner will be chosen at random and contacted by Craftsy.

Click here to enter to win a KitchenAid Classic 4.5 Quart Stand Mixer!

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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Practical Preserving: Strawberry Applesauce

strawberries and apples

When I first started canning, each project was its own nice, neat, contained experience. I would shop for produce, make a recipe, process it in appropriate jars, photograph it, and share it here. However, over the course of the last five years, my approach has shifted a little bit.

While I do still occasionally pick out a recipe, buy the ingredients, and work my way through the steps, the bulk of my putting up these days is more utilitarian. I spend a lot of time looking at the contents of my refrigerator or fruit bowl and wondering, “What’s starting to decline*? Is there something I can breathe additional life into by applying heat, sugar, or vinegar?”

strawberry applesauce in jar

This strawberry applesauce is the result of one of those calculations. My friends at Beechwood Orchards** recently gave me bunch of apples that they’d had in storage since last fall and there were about three pounds worth in the crate that had no more than 48 hours of life left in their current state. I also had a pound of strawberries leftover from another project (more about that next week) that had been in the fridge for ages and needed to be used.

Though apples and strawberries rarely get paired together (I imagine mostly because they rarely share a season), my thought process went something like this. Apples and rhubarb have similar flavor profiles. Strawberries go beautifully with rhubarb. There’s really no reason why they shouldn’t also go well with apples.

taste of strawberry apple sauce

So I went with it. I peeled, cored, and chopped the apples. I hulled the berries and cut away any truly bad spots. And then I threw them in a pot with about 1/2 cup of water and let them cook down over very low heat for nearly two hours (mostly because I forgot about them). When I finally remembered to check the pot, the fruit had softened and all it took was a little work with a potato masher to turn it into a chunky puree.

The resulting sauce is pleasingly pink, plenty sweet without so much as a hint of sugar or honey, and just a bit tart. I’ve been eating it with a scoop of plain yogurt and some toasted walnuts for breakfast. I didn’t can it, but both apples and strawberries are high enough in acid to make them safe for canning, so one could.

How are you saving your produce from the compost pile these days?

*You will often hear that you should only use perfect produce that is in its prime for canning and preserving, but sometimes, the techniques of jamming, saucing, roasting, or pickling can also take aging produce and give it a new lease on life. That said, do steer clear of anything that is has started to turn or is truly rotten.

**The plan was that I’d make the rosemary apple jam from the new book to sample at the Headhouse Square Farmers Market a couple weeks back, but I didn’t manage to do it. Once again, my intentions were grander than my capacity to execute.

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Giveaway: New Joy of Cooking iPad App

Joy of Cooking shelf

When it comes to large, all-in-one cookbooks, I will forever be a Joy of Cooking loyalist. It was the book from which I learned the very basics of cooking and is where I turn when I want to make banana bread or crepes, or to determine how long to roast a turkey.

JOY app

I’ve long had six editions of JOY on my shelves and late last week, I excitedly added another version to my collection. Happily, this edition doesn’t take up a lick of space and I can take it anywhere I want. It’s the brand new Joy of Cooking app!

JOY keeping and storing

The new app includes thousands of recipes and all are contained in the app (that means that you don’t need to be connected to the internet in order to access the content). You can mark recipes as favorites so that you can return to different dishes easily. You can set the app so that it prevents your device from going to sleep while you’re cooking. And it’s programmed to include substitutions, so that you can easily swap ingredients with what you currently have in your kitchen.

JOY canning etc

One of the things I love about this app is that it helps bring recipes to my attention that I’ve passed over in the print versions. Every edition of JOY has contained a preserving section, but it wasn’t until exploring the app that I started getting excited about some of the jams and pickles it contains (tart corn relish! curried apricot chutney! golden cherry tomato and ginger jam!).

JOY rhubarb juice

I’ve marked this rhubarb juice recipe to make at some point this season. I love the thought of having a few jars of pink possibility.

This week, I have five downloads from the nice folks at JOY to give away to some lucky Food in Jars readers. Though, if you can’t wait, the Joy of Cooking app is available on the Apple App Store at the discounted price of $5.99 right now (the regular price will be $9.99). It’s great deal and a fabulous resource to carry around with you.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your cookbook habits. Do you use an iPad or other tablet in the kitchen, do you drag a laptop in with you, or are you a cookbook devotee? Or is there some other method that you favor?
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm on Saturday, May 17, 2014. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, May 18, 2014
  3. Giveaway open to all.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: The people behind the Joy of Cooking app gave me a free download so that I could explore the app and write about it. They are also providing the downloads for the winners. That said, I was mere moments away from buying a copy when I got the email offering me free review access. It is a great product and I’m thrilled that it’s in the world.