Monday, June 25, 2007

Canning California: Apricot, Plum and Strawberry Jam

As thrilled as I am about my pending move to New York, I'm already anticipating produce withdrawal--what will I do without Harry's Berries Gaviotas and Seascapes, or Weiser's potatos, or Finley's summer squash?

One way to ease the transition is to take a bit of California with me, and this weekend I enlisted my friends Jill and Emily in a jam-making extravaganza. (I will miss these ladies even more than the produce.) We started at the Pasadena Farmers' Market for supplies, deciding on apricots and strawberries to supplement the plums Emily'd brought from her home courtyard. Jill was kind enough to let us take over her kitchen for the day, and after the market we got to work with chopping, sterilizing jars, and sugar-measuring.

Jar sterilizing is probably easier with a rack for jars, but we found that a big pot of boiling water, tongs, and excellent hand-eye coordination does the job just fine. Most books recommend boiling the jars and lids for at least 10 minutes, and leaving them in the boiling water until you're ready to fill them.

We made apricot preserves, plum preserves, Gaviota strawberry jam and Seascape strawberry jam with lemon verbena. Emily's posted the apricot and plum recipes here; as for the strawberry, the Gaviota couldn't have been easier: 5 cups chopped strawberries, 7! cups sugar, 1 package of powdered pectin, and 1/2 tsp. butter. Mix it all over medium heat, bring to a boil and cook for exactly one minute, stirring all the time. Then can.

As for the Seascape, I made 1 cup of simple syrup infused with lemon verbena and also let a few sprigs steep in the jam as it cooked. The result was a very mild, herby flavor, just enough different from the Gaviota to make it worthwhile.

Other than the Gaviota, we didn't use added pectin and all of ours seemed to jell fairly well. I'd recommend experimenting and exploring different recipes, with a focus on flavor--if you end up with something more like syrup or compote than jam, so what? It will still remind you of summer in California, even if you move away.


Sean said...

So you finally broke down and did it again? This time, I'll send you your Olympic medal. ;-)

I've been on a big canning kick myself -- bing cherry jam, strawberry preserves, apricot preserves and am about to start with some pickling. Hooray for summer!

annie said...

Oh man! Weiser's potatos are the bestest! Maybe we can ship ou some :)

Christina said...

I've been jam canning as well lately, and just picked up a couple books on pickling, so I can explore that soon.

Yes, you have to take the farmers' market with you, wherever you go.

Fer said...

How fun! What a great idea before you go!

Erin S. said...

Sean--yeah, having some partners made all the difference--much more fun with three of us (and some afternoon gin and tonics)

Annie--They are, aren't they? You barely need butter.

Christina--pickling's next on my list, though I worry I won't use pickles as much as I'll use the jam--I'll have to see whatcha do with them

Fer--It was fun, though I think we were all pretty beat by the end of the day.

Jill S., Tampa said...

I would very much appreicate your recipe for the strawberry lemon verbena jam. I have lots of verbena growing and Florida strawberries are just coming in. How did you substitute the simple syrup for sugar? 1:1?

katty said...

This blog is wonderful and interesting, i really enjoyed reading!!! i must to say the apricot is delicious and contain many vitamin. That is why i prefer to eat it frequently. Actually when i bought my house through
costa rica homes for sale i didn´t see an apricot tree. Now i am really happy.

Johnathan said...

It cannot have effect in actual fact, that is what I think.

Jonas said...

Gosh, there's a lot of helpful material above!
free games

Sophie said...

This won't really have success, I feel like this.

Jasmine said...

Thanks so much for the post, pretty helpful information.