It’s odd how procrastination works…I love my blog, but I’m finding that I update it most frequently when I should have less time available for fun things (aka I’m studying for exams…). So here I am, over a month into summer and I have only done 4 posts! In all honesty, I simply can’t get myself to sit in front of my computer for more than a few minutes. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous and it isn’t conducive to staring at laptop screens. That doesn’t mean that I have dropped my wooden spoons and ditched the kitchen all together though! I’ve actually done the opposite. I mentioned previously that I planted a vegetable garden, and yesterday we had our first taste of our crop! Our beautiful gem lettuces are reaching their prime one by one, and they are oh so tasty! I can’t wait until our beets are ready to uproot :).
Rather than work in our home kitchen, I was able to work, for the first time, in a commercial kitchen! Through my course at the Food Craft Institute, each of us received 4 hours to work at La Cocina – a non profit CK in SF -. Since we’re jammers, everyone lugged in huge crates of fruit and sugar to cook down. I decided on making something simple to jar up and take home. Balsamic Strawberries. The final product isn’t as savory as its name might imply, but the vinegar does cut through the 5 cups of sugar in the recipe. I overcooked mine a bit, so I ended up with more of a syrup than a jam (but I envisioned this served on ice cream anyways…). Also, this jam is a bit different from ordinary strawberry jam because you have a syrup and whole strawberries, which is more similar to a marmalade. Marmalades are not defined by their flavors, but by the two distinct physical states: a water part and a fruit part. The whole strawberries really take the cake on this “jam” and I can’t wait to add these to a recipe…
Balsamic Strawberries – makes 5-6 half pint jars
1 1/2 pounds hulled strawberries; 1 teaspoon butter; 5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar; 5 cups raw sugar
Halve larger strawberries. Toss hulled strawberries into a large jam pan (don’t use aluminum!). Turn heat on medium high until strawberries begin to “boil”.
Add sugar and stir continuously so that it doesn’t burn. Once strawberries begin to foam, add butter. Bring to steady boil and cook for 40 minutes. **I cooked mine for 60 and had a candy like product**. Once complete, skim off foam and stir in balsamic vinegar.
Pour strawberries into sterilized jars and top with syrup, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Top with lids and screw on tops just enough so that it is tight. Do NOT over tighten lids! Sterilize in boiling water bath for 10 minutes, and leave in for an extra 5. At La Cocina we used an industrial steamer, VERY cool and easy way to sterilize jars. Let rest for 6-24 hours and then pop one open! Be sure that the jars have sealed properly. If some of them haven’t, store them in the fridge.
**While jamming is a fairly safe canning method, always follow safe jamming procedures.