Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Pickled Strawberry Preserves - think goat cheese, venison...

Many of my preserving favourites have evolved from sweet jams to savoury "ish" fruit preserves best used with meat, cheeses and crackers or as bastes.

David Lebowitz's recipe intrigued me.  Think ripe strawberries, beautifully spiced and infused with vinegar.  Beautiful and perfect for the cheese and/or meat board.

This recipes makes five 250ml jars.

1           lemon, preferably organic or unsprayed
1 tsp     black peppercorns, plus additional for finishing the preserves
14        allspice berries
2          bay leaves
2 lbs    strawberries, rinsed and hulled
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar (or consider champagne vinegar)
A few drops balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon butter, salted or unsalted


Juice the lemon and pour the juice into a small nonreactive bowl. (Save the lemon halves.) Put the seeds in a piece of cheesecloth along with the peppercorns, allspice berries, and bay leaves, and give it a few whacks with a hammer or rolling pin. Add the bag to the lemon juice.

Cut the strawberries into quarters, or if they are small, you can cut them in half. If you have a mix, cut them all so they are approximately the same size. You just don’t want them too small.

Toss the strawberries in a separate bowl with the sugar, vinegar, and salt. Cover and let sit at room temperature for a few hours (2-3), or overnight in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally.

Set a colander or large strainer over a wide, nonreactive cooking pot. Scrape the berries and their juices into the colander or strainer so the juices go into the cooking pot. Remove the colander with the macerated berries in it and set it aside.

Add the lemon juice, the spice bag, the reserved lemon halves, and the butter to the strawberry juices in the pot and cook over medium-high heat until the juices begin to thicken, about 6 or 7 minutes. Add the strawberries and continue to cook, stirring gently every so often, until the berries are plump and softened, but not bursting apart. It will take about 8 to 10 minutes. You want the berries to remain in fairly distinct pieces.

Remove from heat, then discard the spice bag as well as the lemon rinds. Grind a bit more black pepper into the strawberries and ladle them into jars and cover.

Storage: The pickled strawberries can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. If you wish to can them, check the guidelines and directions at the USDA website.

Finally- a Jam Using Red Currants, AND Raspberries!

I've been admiring those ruby red currants every summer at the Farmers' Market.  Finally, I have made a jam with them!  This recipe is rooted in Poland and chock full of winter busting vitamins.  I began my currant journey with a recipe from the "Joys of Jewish Preserving" by Emily Paster, adapted to make it mine.

The recipe makes four 250ml jars.


250 gr        red currants, de-stemmed
1/2 cup      water
750 gr        raspberries
1/2 cup      unsweetened grape juice (preferably white)
3 cups        sugar


Combine the currants and the water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Lower the heat and simmer until the currants burst, about five minutes, then mash them.

Strain the currants through a fine mesh sieve, into a bowl. Press to extract as much juice and pulp as possible.  Measure the pulp- you should have about one cup of solids.

Return the pulp to the saucepan and add the raspberries.  Crush the berries with a potato masher.  Add the sugar and the juice and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.  Turn the heat down to medium-high.  Boil the jam, stirring constantly for about 10-12 minutes.

Remove from heat when the thermometer reaches 220 degrees.  Skim off any foam.  Ladle the jam into the jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.  Wipe the rims with a damp cloth.  Place the lids on the jars and screw on the rings.  Process the jars in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.  Allow to cool in the water for five minutes before removing.  Store for up to one year.

WANNA PLAY?  You could change the proportion of red currant to raspberries to 50/50.  That would be 1 lb of each of the fruit.

Purple Plum Jam with Grand Marnier

The 2018 preserving season has finally begun!  A little late, it's August :-)  First out of the gate (really the kitchen) is a delicious purple plum jam with Grand Marnier.

The recipe originates in the most inconspicuous little cookbook titled The Good Stuff Cookbook by Helen Witty.  It offers probably the best collection of recipes for the pantry.  This is one book I have owned, consulted, cooked from over the past twenty years.

This rich, flavourful jam is enhanced by a "tease" of orange liqueur.

To make seven 250ml jars.

4 lbs        blue (or black, or Italian or prune) plums
2 cups      water
1/4 cup    lemon juice
4 cups      sugar
1/2 cup    Grand Marnier


Rinse, drain and pit the plums.  Put them in a large saucepan with the water, bring to a boil and simmer gently until they are very soft and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 30 minutes.

At this point, you can use a potato masher to break down the plums (still leave pieces) or press the plums and their liquid through a food mill.  Combine the pulp, lemon juice, and sugar in a preserving pan and stir the mixture over medium-high heat until the sugar has dissolved.  Cook the jam at a brisk boil, stirring often until it passes the jelly test (or reaches 220 on the thermometer), about 10 minutes. Add the Grand Marnier and cook the jam another minute or two.

Ladle the hot jam into hot, clean 250ml jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.  Seal the jars with canning lids and process 15 minutes in a boiling-water bath.  Cool, label and store the jars.  The jam will keep for at least one year in a cool cupboard.