the art of preserves
Lavender is of course the go to plant for skin care and aromatherapy, but it can hold its own with the rest of the mints and spices in the kitchen cupboard.
I discovered Herbes de Provence a while back, a spice mix that contains a good quantity of lavender, and it keeps finding its way on every roast and in every stew ever since. Read more…
Every year the generous tomato plants bless us with an overabundance of fruit that doesn’t have the chance to ripen before the first frost. Tomatoes take their sweet time to figure out how to bear more and more fruit and their best and most abundant yield goes so far into the fall they don’t have time to finish it. Read more…
I don’t know how many people grew up with fruit compote as a staple of their diet. My grandparents made it throughout the summer to preserve fruit for the winter months. My grandmother’s apricot compote was so good I still dream about it on occasion. Read more…
INGREDIENTS: (1) bowl of black raspberries, (2) pounds of sugar, (3) cups of water, juice from one lemon.
Wash the raspberries, drain them well and dry them on a paper towel until all remaining water is completely absorbed.
Boil the water and sugar together in a nonstick pot on low heat until the sugar dissolves completely. Turn the heat up and let it boil quickly until it turns to syrup. To check for the right consistency, spill a droplet of syrup on a cold plate. It should look like a little bead and keep its shape. Don’t let the syrup boil for too long, though. When it cools down it will turn too tough to use. Skim the surface foam as it appears until the surface is clean.
When the syrup reached the desired consistency, drop the raspberries in it. Do not stir with a spoon; just shake the pot gently to move the fruit around without crushing it.
Bring the mixture to a boil and set it aside for 15 minutes, so that the raspberries can release their juice. Skim any additional foam off the surface. Add the liquid from one lemon and stir very gently. Boil the preserves again and try the consistency with the method above until droplets keep their shape.
Allow the jam to cool down. Cover the pot with a damp cheese cloth and let the preserves rest till the next day.
Fill glass jars to the brim, seal them with parchment paper and/or lids and boil the jars in at least 2 inches of water for 15 minutes. This process will sterilize the contents and seal the jars. Pull the jars out and let them cool down slowly. Enjoy.
This recipe is for the real hard core foodies out there; it is an old fashioned fruit preserve that successfully graced my grandparents’ pantry year after year when I was a child. It calls for black raspberries, but it will work with any kind of raspberries or blackberries, or even wild mountain strawberries if you have them.
If you never made fruit preserves before, the heavenly fragrance that envelops your home while the fruit and sugar meld their flavors alone is worth the effort. So, put away the fragrant candles and start the pot boiling. You will have a wonderful aroma in your home, a great sweet treat to enjoy, brag about and offer as a gift, and have the satisfaction of creating a product from your garden produce, if you are one of the lucky few whose garden is producing more berries than you can eat.
Local craft stores have an infinite supply of raffia, bows, colorful printed wax paper, old fashioned little jars and labels, so you can package this little product beautifully to decorate the open shelves of your kitchen or offer as a gift. If you want to go old school, don’t put lids on the jars: cut a little cardboard circle to fit the top of the jar perfectly and cover with wax paper or colorful plastic wrapping; tie with raffia or brown string. Make sure to tie it very tightly around the jar neck. If any air gets in after the jars are sterilized, the preserves might get moldy.
INGREDIENTS: (1) bowl of strawberries, (2) pounds of sugar, (3) cups of water, juice from one lemon.
Soak the strawberries in ice water for an hour. Change the water a couple of times so that it stays ice cold. Strain them and drain them on a towel. After they are dry, place them in a heavy non-stick pan in alternating layers with sugar and end with a thick layer of sugar on top. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon on top. Cover the pan with a cheese cloth and let stand over night in a cool place for 10 to 12 hours.
Place the pan on low heat till all the sugar dissolves, mixing very gently as to not crush the fruit, and then turn up the heat and let it come to a boil. Skim the foam as it appears. Add the juice from the other half lemon and let it boil until a bead of syrup will keep its shape when dropped on a cold plate. Do not over boil, it burns and turns very tough quickly.
Pour the preserves in a clean dry pan and cover it with a damp cheese cloth. When the mixture has cooled down, pour it in mason jars and follow the sealing and pasteurizing instructions written in the black raspberry jam recipes.