Blackberry Jamtini from Growing a Greener World

Jamtini7_Final

As you all well know, nothing delights me more than discovering a new way to put my jams into action. I use them to sweeten smoothies, pour the runnier batches over yogurt, make vinaigrettes with them, and use the to glaze roast meat. So, when Theresa Loe, master food preserver and Co-Executive Producer of the gardening show Growing A Greener World, emailed to ask if I wanted to participate in a virtual cocktail party in which every drink would include some jam, of course I said yes.

GGW_Jamtini_BlackberryClose

She looked through my archives, picked out my blackberry jam and invented a custom cocktail featuring that particular preserve. It includes fresh blackberries, raspberry lemonade, simple syrup, vodka, sparkling water, and a goodly dollop of blackberry jam (sounds pretty darn good right about now). Here’s what Theresa said about the recipe:

This recipe would work with any of your blackberry jams. I bet the apricot-blackberry would be divine! I prefer seedless jams because the seeds tend to clog up the shaker strainer. But if you have seeds in the jam, it still works. It just takes a little jiggling to get all the liquid through the strainer and into the glass. For a non-alcoholic version, simply skip the vodka and add an extra shot or two of lemonade. Easy-peasy!

 Visit the Growing a Greener World site for more Jamtini recipes and links to the other party participants. For a quick demonstration of the art of the jamtini, make sure to watch the video embedded below. To check in on all the jam cocktail action on Twitter, follow @GGWTV and the hashtag #Garden2Jar


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Giveaway: Mrs. Wages Tomato Mix Basket

Mrs. Wages mixes

Last Thursday, I went to the farmers market to pick up my second half bushel of apricots for the season. While there, I entered an altered state of preserving confidence and ended up also buying a flat of grape and cherry tomatoes. In my defense, they were just $15, which is an unheard of bargain for 12 pints of tiny tomatoes.

I tell you this story simply to illustrate the fact that tomato season is upon us. And what better way to get ready for tomato season than with a Mrs. Wages Tomato Mix giveaway!

Mrs. Wages basket

You combine your fresh tomatoes with these mixes (they all have instructions on the back of the packet) and suddenly you’re a salsa, pasta sauce, and bloody mary star. I’ve used several of these mixes in the past to great success. They’re particularly helpful in that moment when you’re overwhelmed by tomatoes and need to do something that doesn’t require a great deal of thought.

Here’s what the basket contains:

3 – small packages of pizza sauce mix
2 – mix and serve Classic Salsa packets
2 – small chili seasoning packets
1 – Spiced Carrot Juice mix packet
1 – Bloody Mary mix packet
1 – mix and serve Chipotle and Garlic Salsa packet
1 – mix and serve Guacamole packet
1 – mix and serve Pepper Jack Queso packet
2 – Large Pasta Sauce Packages
2 – Large Ketchup Packages
1 – Chili Base Package
1 – Large Pizza Sauce Package

If you’re interested in a chance to win this giant package of tomato canning goodness, here’s what you do.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share your favorite way tomato memory! (Note: I had a copy and paste failure last night, and so for the first 12 hours this post was live, it asked for a berry memory. Oops! Those entries are still valid, but let’s switch to focusing on tomatoes.)
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Saturday, August 17, 2013. Winners will be chosen at random (using random.org) and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, August 18, 2013.
  3. Giveaway is open to US residents.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.
Disclosure: I am a paid contributor to the monthly Mrs. Wages newsletter. However, this is not a paid giveaway and my opinions remain my own. 

Upcoming Classes and Events: Roxborough! Perkasie! Wyebrook Farm!

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There’s a whole heck of a lot happening on the class and event front this week! Check the list and mark your calendars!

  • August 14 – Plum jam making workshop hosted by Henry Got Crops at the Weaver’s Way Farm off Henry Avenue in the Roxborough neighborhood of Philly. This is a pay-what-you-wish class, with all donations going to benefit the CSA program. The class starts at 6 pm and all levels of canning experience are welcome.
  • August 17 – My annual tomato canning workshop at Blooming Glen Farm in Perkasie, PA (cost is $75 per person). We start canning at 10 am and don’t stop until we’ve worked our way through 100 pounds of tomatoes (typically we’re done no later than 1:30 or 2 pm). All participants go home with 2-4 quarts of tomatoes (it depends on how many we managed to make) and the skills necessary to do it at home. Currently, registration is low for this class and it is in danger of being canceled. If you are interested, please sign up today!
  • August 18 – A free canning demo and book signing at Wyebrook Farm, with a few tastes of preserves from my pantry. I’ll make a batch of spiced plum jam and will have books to sign. The event starts at 2 pm. Click here to sign up.
  • August 20 – Spicy Tomato Chutney class at the Plymouth Meeting Whole Foods Market. Class is from 6:30 – 8:30 pm and costs $35. Sign up here.

I also have just three classes left in the preserving series I’ve been teaching this summer at The Brooklyn Kitchen in Brooklyn, New York. These classes are two-hour, hands on sessions. You’ll go home with a juicy packet of canning info and a jar or two of preserves. Prices vary depending on the topic.

August 24, 2 – 4 pm (tomatoes)
August 25, 2 – 4 pm (jam)
August 26, 6:30 – 8:30 pm (tomatoes)

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Links: Plum Preserves, Tomatoes, and Winners

no-cook tomato sauce

Well kids, it was another whirlwind week (I’m beginning to think that they are the only kind I have anymore). I taught, I spoke, I schlepped jars to and fro (it was book photo shoot week!), and I did my best to write things both here and elsewhere. We are rounding the corner into the final push of summer and though I look forward to this time of year like no other, I will be grateful for the slower, cooler days of fall.

Driscoll's Blackberries

driscolls coupon winners Last week’s giveaway was five sets of berry coupons with a value of $15 from Driscoll’s Berries. I had written a guest post for their blog and shared my recipe for Blackberry Sage Jam. As happens with all good things, that giveaway has come to and end and it’s now time to announce the winners! They are…

Thanks to all who entered! I’ll be in touch soon!

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The 10 Pound Cherry Challenge

two pounds of cherries

Earlier in the summer, I canned my way through two flats of rain-split sweet cherries from Beechwood Orchards. I made butter, chutney, this batch of sweet and sour cherry jam, rosemary pickled cherries, and cherry lime preserves (hmm, doesn’t look like I’ve posted that recipe anywhere). When all that was done, I took a deep breath and figured I was done with cherries for the season.

OXO cherry pitter

Then, along came a chance to participate in the 10 Pound Cherry Challenge that OXO was hosting in conjunction with the Northwest Cherry Growers. And despite a little schedule insanity, I just couldn’t say no.

cherries in an OXO bowl

And so, mere moments before I was leaving for my trip to Boston last week, I took delivery of ten pounds of sweet, lovely cherries and a box of OXO goodies, including their 11 pound scale, a set of their nesting bowls and colanders, and two cherry pitters.

cherry clafoutis

I took a few of the cherries with me as a road trip snack, and stashed the rest in the fridge. While I was away (the trip was all of 2 1/2 days, so the cherries held just fine), I started imagining all the ways I could use and preserve them. I got home late on Saturday night, but was up early Sunday morning to pit the first pound for a quick clafoutis.

rum and sweet cherries

If you’ve not had one before, this traditionally French dessert resembles a Dutch baby or a firmly set custard. If you’re hewing closely to the way it’s done in France, you do not pit cherries before using them in this dessert. I prefer serving a version that uses pitted cherries, because it doesn’t endanger the dental work of your guests and just makes for a more pleasant eating experience.

pouring rum

However, once the clafoutis was done, I ran out of steam. You see, we did the photo shoot for my next cookbook last Monday through Thursday and I had four nights of teaching and speaking last week as well. By the time Friday came along, I was entirely spent, my apartment was wrecked, and I had a to-do list a mile long. So I did three things.

I shared two pounds of cherries (and one of the OXO pitters) with my friend and cookbook editor Kristen (she just happens to be an avid preserver and lives just a couple miles from me). I funneled four pounds into a roomy slow cooker and started another batch of sweet cherry butter (a little more never hurts). And I took a cue from Maggie Battista of Eat Boutique fame (who put me up while I was in Boston) and started a batch of cherry-infused rum.

last drops of rum

Maggie had several jars of fruit-infused spirits sitting prettily in her kitchen while I was there and I couldn’t help but realize that it had been awhile since I’d combined fruit and booze to good effect. And so, I rummaged through our liquor cabinet until I came up with a bottle of light rum that I thought would benefit from a little fresh cherry flavor. I stemmed the remaining cherries, tumbled them into a pretty jar and covered them with rum. Not the most inventive thing ever, but it sure will make for a tasty tipple when the days get chilly.

If you’re interested in seeing what some of the other 10 Pound Cherry Challenge participants did with their cherries, here’s who else was playing along:

For more on the challenge, make sure to check out OXO (Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram) and the Northwest Cherry Growers (Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram). And, for even more cherry goodness, there’s also a project-specific Pinterest board.

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Spicy Peach and Yellow Tomato Jam

yellow tomatoes and peaches

I made this jam back before my trip to Portland and have been meaning to share it ever since. It came to be thanks to an impulse purchase at Reading Terminal Market, just days before I was set to fly. Many of the produce stands there bag up their rapidly ripening produce and sell them for a buck a bag.

When you buy one of the discounted sacks, you know what you’re getting. It’s soft, sweet, and needs to be used within a day. I did not need another canning project in that moment, but I could not resist the deal of getting more than five pounds of jammable produce for $4.

filling hex jars

This is a honey sweetened jam that gets a set boost from Pomona’s Pectin. I’m finding myself moving more and more towards honey, maple sugar, and fruit juice concentrates for sweetening. I feel better when I use less refined sweeteners for my everyday preserves and am starting to save the sugar sweetened ones for special occasions. Such is the evolution of life and tastebuds, I guess.

six hex jars filled with peach and tomato jam

I think of this as a fairly spicy jam, because I added two tablespoons of freshly grated ginger and 1 teaspoon of red chili flakes. However, I realize that for those of you who like something with a more powerful kick, this is going to taste fairly bland. Feel free to adjust the red chili flake upwards a bit or add a generous dash of cayenne. I don’t want anyone disappointed by my wimpy spice tolerance.

a tiny hex jar of jam

Finally, you might notice that this product is preserved in the six-sided jam jars that close with lug lids. If you’re curious about them, make sure to read the piece I wrote about how to use them a few weeks back.

And just one more thing! The idea to combine tomatoes and peaches in a jam was originally planted in my mind by a recipe in Breakfast for Dinner. Though I didn’t follow their recipe at all, this is the second time I’ve made something really good that was inspired by that book.

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