Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Spring is Back!

    Winter passed and I survived it! The weather was not that bad in the Northeast, relatively mild when I think back to the big snowstorms of 2010-2011.  But this Winter has been trying for me with family emergencies and pest issues at home. I've decided that canning jars are beautiful storage vessels that save food from pests as well as spoilage, while serving as inspiration for cooking. Those jars are now once again being used for preserving.  It's been awhile since my last preserving "frenzy."  Now that Spring is here and wonderful fruit is coming into season, it's hard to keep me from preserving. 

     Every month, my friend Hima at All Four Burners hosts the Can It Up challenge. It's fun! Please join if you enjoy preserving.  Part of the fun of preserving is the sharing. It's also fun reading what other canners/preservers are preserving and seeing their beautiful photographs of their delicious products. April's Can It Up theme was rhubarb.  Although I made a rhubarb chutney, the NJ/NY farm markets did not have rhubarbs yet.  In fact, I couldn't find rhubarb in the supermarkets until the last week of April.  So when May came along, I was still excited about rhubarb. I finally found fresh local rhubarb at the farmer's market in the second week of May. So when May's Can It Up theme turned out to be Strawberries, I had to combine strawberries with my rhubarb. To find out more about May's theme, come Here. The tartness of rhubarb combines so well with the sweet strawberries.  But really, even if my strawberries were not as sweet as I prefer, I still like the strawberry-rhubarb combination. It just smells and tastes fresh, like Spring.

     I don't have much shelf space, and I love trying different recipes, so I love Marisa McClellan's Small Batch ideas. I followed her proportions for Small Batch Strawberry Rhubarb Jam and made two batches. Her idea for cooking using a large skillet is perfect for small batch preserves. I found using a wide skillet definitely sped up the stovetop process versus my standard pot. I think I may use my big braiser for a bigger batch next time. Thanks, Marisa, for such a useful idea.  

     I made a batch of Strawberry Rhubarb jam with cardamon and another of Strawberry Rhubarb jam with rose water. Both smell like a fresh flower, not over that overwhelming floral scent, but that smell of a fresh Spring morning.  Plus both are delicious! My Mom isn't too crazy about jam because she doesn't eat much sweets. But Mom really liked my jam.  She especially like the one with the rose water. The taste of rose is light, nothing like that old perfume.  For full instructions, click on the link above.  For the cardamon one, I added a teaspoon or so of ground cardamon at the end of the cooking process.  I gave it one quick boil and stir, then turned off the heat and ladle the jam into the jars.  For the rose water one, I used a little over two tablespoons rosewater at the end of cooking and 1 1/4 cup sugar. Again, thanks to Marisa for the proportions.  I am looking forward to making more. I am thinking of sharing with friends from my professional women group that I started a few months ago.  And gifts for other friends, and a jar for myself ... Clearly, Mom wasn't the only one interested in the jam but pup didn't get any. 

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