Small Batch Strawberry Fig Jam

figs and strawberries

A couple weeks back, I went to a dinner hosted by California Figs. At the end of the dinner, when I was absolutely full to the bursting point, the nice folks who had organized the dinner handed me a little colander of fresh figs to take home. Though I couldn’t quite imagine ever eating again, I said yes to the figs and walked home with them perched carefully in my purse.

black figs

It was a busy weekend and so the figs languished in the fridge for two whole days. It wasn’t until Sunday night (the dinner had been on Thursday) that I was able to take stock and determine what was on the verge of going bad.

a scant quart of strawberries

There was a bundle of basil that became walnut pesto. A bundle of kale was chopped and toasted into chips. At last, I was down to figs and a scant quart of rapidly softening strawberries from our Saturday CSA pick-up.

chopped fruit

Though I’d never had strawberry fig jam, I was fairly certain it could be done (and a quick internet search showed that I was not nearly the first to combine these two). And so I chopped the fruit, weighed it and added half as much sugar. It all went into a jar and then into the fridge for an overnight rest.

cooking

Two days later, I circled back around to the jar. What I found was glorious. The strawberries and figs had mellowed and married. I scraped the contents of the jar into a skillet, added a little lemon juice and cooked it, stirring all the while, until I could draw a path through the jam with my spatula.

finished strawberry fig jam

I ended up with just enough to fill three half pint jars, which I processed in my 4th burner pot. I sent one jar to my dad for Father’s Day, gave another to a friend as a thank you and am saving the final jar for late fall, when both fresh strawberries and figs are just a memory.

a half pint of strawberry fig jam

A note: Do remember that figs are among that group of fruits that are a bit low on acid for safe boiling water bath preserving. Any time you work with them, it’s important to either combine them with higher acid fruits or to add some lemon juice in order to boost the acid levels. As you can see, I’ve done both here to ensure a perfectly safe product.

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Giveaway: Fisk & Fern Pickle Tea Towel

Fern & Fisk pickle towel

When I was a kid, one of my big life disappointments was that it was nearly impossible to get a keychain or pencil with my name on it without placing a special order (because when you’re six, nothing is more important than having something with your name on it).

When I hit my teens, suddenly my name went through a round of explosive popularity growth and I started seeing it everywhere. By then, I wasn’t nearly as excited about a miniature plastic license plate that said Marisa.

Fern & Fisk pickle towel

I went through something similar when I first started canning. Back in those early days, mason jars weren’t all the rage that they currently are and so there wasn’t much in the way of towels, prints, or tee-shirts featuring jams, pickles and other preserves.

Then suddenly, canning was hot and a world of kitchen linens, jar chandeliers, decorative mason mugs and jar-related art appeared out of the ether. I was delighted by it and am forever keeping my eyes open for particularly good representations of this canning art.

Fern & Fisk pickle towel

To my mind, the pickle tea towel from Fisk & Fern is most decidedly in the good canning art category. All of Fisk & Fern’s towels, cards, and aprons are designed, drawn, and handprinted by owner Laura Fisk in her Austin, Texas studio.

Thanks to Laura, I have three of these charming pickle towels to give away today to three lucky winners. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share a thought about the recent popularity of canning.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm on Friday, June 21, 2013. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday.
  3. Giveaway open to everyone.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.
Disclosure: Fern & Fisk provided me with four pickle tea towels. One for photography purposes and three to give away. No money changed hands and my opinions remain forever my own. 

Upcoming Classes: Brooklyn! Phoenixville! Portland!

class image revised

Canning season is here in full swing, which means now is the time to sharpen your canning skills with a class. Here’s where I’ll be over the course of the next six weeks.

  • June 18 – Strawberry Jam at The Brooklyn Kitchen in Brooklyn, New York. The class runs from 6:30 – 8:30 and features two ways to make strawberry jam. For this class, you can get 15% off the class price of $65 by using the code “JamTime” when you sign up. Sign up here!
  • June 19 -  Pickles Two Ways at Cooking Spotlight in Phoenixville, PA. The class is from 6:30 – 9 pm and costs $59. Registration page is here.
  • June 22 - A pickling class at Greensgrow. We’ll make quick pickled cucumbers, as well as a batch designed and processed for shelf stability. Class is from 12 – 2 pm and costs $35. Registration page is here.
  • June 24 - A stonefruit jam class featuring Pomona’s Pectin at the Plymouth Meeting Whole Foods Market. Class is from 6:30 – 8: 30 pm and costs $35. Click here to sign up!
  • July 6 – Apricot Jam at The Brooklyn Kitchen in Brooklyn, New York. The class runs from 2 – 4 pm and features two ways to make apricot jam. The class costs $65 and you can sign up here
  • July 11 - Make two kinds of jam (peach and blueberry) at Cooking Spotlight in Phoenixville, PA. This class is from 6:30 – 9 pm and  costs $59. Click here to sign up.
  • July 13 – Plum-Apricot Preserves! This class will focus on boiling water bath canning and combining different kinds of fruits for successful pectin-free jam making. This class is from 11 am – 1 pm at Indy Hall in Old City, Philadelphia. Leave a comment to sign up.
  • July 6 - Apricot Jam at The Brooklyn Kitchen in Brooklyn, New York. The class runs from 2 – 4 pm and features two ways to make apricot jam. The class costs $65 and you can sign up here.
  • July 20 – Intro to low sugar jam making and boiling water bath canning at Longview Farm Market in Collegeville, PA. The class runs from 11 am – 1 pm and costs $35 to attend. Click here to sign up.
  • July 23 – Low sugar plum preserves in PORTLAND, OREGON! Class runs from 7 – 9 pm and will be held at the Subud Center in NE Portland. Class costs $40. Click here to sign up!
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Links: Granola, Pantry Inventories, and Winners

hulling strawberries

This was the first weekend in the last month where I wasn’t traveling and didn’t have to attend a wedding. I taught a canning class on Saturday morning and then went cherry picking and picnicking with friends. Scott and I slept incredibly late on Sunday morning, ate a lazy homemade brunch and went to Costco. A good combination of productive and slothfulness, if you ask me. Now, to the links!

Here are a few things that I’ve written lately for other people.

boiled dinner

Hamilton Beach Stack & Snap Food Processor

food processor winners Last week was a very big week in Food in Jars giveaway land. Thanks to the incredible generosity of the folks at Hamilton Beach, I had eight of these Stack & Snap 10 Cup Food Processors to give away. Here are the winners!

Congratulations to everyone who won! I’ll be in touch shortly to get your contact information.

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Canning 101: Always Label Your Prepped Fruit

labeled container

When it comes to jam making, one of my favorite tricks is a maceration period. This is the step in which you clean and chop your fruit, mix it with sugar and pop it in the fridge until that moment (within 72 hours, ideally) when you have the time to cook it into jam. It breaks up the work and means that you can fit your preserving into your schedule instead of feeling at the mercy of the fruit.

One thing to know about macerating your fruit is that you don’t have to add the full amount of sugar the recipe calls for in order for it to work. This is particularly useful if you’ve funneled your fruit into a smallish container and only have room to add a cup or so of sugar.

There is just one problem here (at least if you’re me). You have to remember exactly how much sugar you included to the fruit so that when it comes time to cook, you know how much to add to round out the recipe. And here I say, make sure to label that sucker.

For years, I didn’t leave myself these little notes, always assuming that I’d remember how much sugar I added. Then I’d return to my macerating fruit and have to wonder, “did I add two cups of sugar? Or was it three?” A roll of duct tape and a Sharpie do the labeling job and make my life so much easier.

I know it sounds like a simplistic reminder, but it took me years to realize how useful these little notes can be.

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Grated Fennel Relish Recipe

fennel relish close-up

I am of the opinion that relish is one of the least-loved preserves on the condiment spectrum. I’m not exactly sure why this is the case, since it’s dead easy to make, uses up a ton of produce, and is a team player of an ingredient (with a jar of relish, you can make tartar sauce, salad dressing, or just a nice topping for grilled fish or chicken).

I’m afraid that I haven’t helped the cause of relish much over the years, as I’ve posted just one other recipe in all the years I’ve been writing this site. I think it’s high time to change all that.

two pounds of trimmed fennel

For this debut relish of the summer, I come bearing a recipe for fennel relish. Now, I realize that not everyone likes fennel (including my mother, who actively avoids anything in the fennel/anise/licorice family), but I’m a huge fan. I regularly slice it thinly and quickly pickle it and was ready to take the next step and preserve it for a longer length of time.

grated fennel

I used the Hamilton Beach Stack & Snap Food Processor for the prep on this relish and it made very quick work of the two pounds of fennel bulbs, as well as the two onions that needed to be broken down. You get about 8 cups of grated fennel from the two pounds, and happily, the bowl of this processor is big enough to handle it.

8 cups fennel

Once the fennel is grated and the onion is minced (just put it in the bowl with the chopping blade and pulse until it is in bits), you combine all the ingredients in a pot and cook until everything is heated through. There’s no worry about hitting set points (like with jam) or minimizing heat exposure to protect texture (like with pickles). It’s a ridiculously stress-free preserve to make.

finished fennel relish

This recipe made about four pints, which felt like a huge batch after all the tiny batch projects I’ve done lately. But it’s so tangy and perfectly fennel-y, that I’m looking forward to finding all sorts of new ways to use it (I really want to pair it with some grilled bluefish).

Do you have a favorite relish to make with summer produce?

Grated Fennel Relish Recipe

Yield: Makes 4 pints

Ingredients

  • 2 medium fennel bulbs (approximately 2 pounds)
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, roughly cracked
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley

Instructions

  1. Prepare a boiling water bath canner and 4 pint jars. Place lids in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.
  2. Shred the fennel in a food processor or on a box grater.
  3. Finely mince onion (a food processor is easiest, but you can also do it with a knife).
  4. Combine grated fennel, minced onion, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard seeds, salt, fennel seeds, red chili flakes, and black pepper in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  5. Cook the relish at a boil for 2 to 3 minutes, until the liquid has reduced some.
  6. Add lemon zest, juice, and parsley and stir to combine.
  7. Remove relish from the heat and funnel it into prepared jars, leaving approximately 1/4 inch headspace.
  8. Bubble jars well. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process jars in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
  9. When time is up, remove jars from canner and place them on a folded kitchen towel to cool.

Notes

Recipe adapted from the Fennel Relish recipe in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

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