Ivan’s Easy Mango Jam

mango jamIvan, a Crowded Earth Kitchen apprentice, is excited to share this recipe with you today. His low-sugar mango jam recipe is simple to prepare and so delicious you’ll wonder why you haven’t been making mango jam for years. Let’s get started!

Ingredients (Makes about 2 cups of jam) Continue reading

Simple Strawberry Jam

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Enjoying first strawberries of summer almost makes the long winter worthwhile. Almost. The thing about strawberries is, they’re delicious for about one day after they are picked. If you have a large quantity of strawberries to preserve, you need to work fast! This Simple Strawberry Jam recipe is super fast! Ready… Set… GO!

Ingredients (Makes 4  cups)

5 cups of strawberries, washed and cut in half (green hulls removed)

5 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 pouch (3 ounces) liquid pectin

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest -OR- seeds scraped from the inside of 1/2 of a vanilla bean pod (optional but delicious!)

Directions

Step 1) Place halved strawberries in a large pot. Mash the strawberries a few times with a potato masher. Add sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and lemon juice.

Step 2) Bring strawberry mixture to a full, vigorous boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. You want this mixture to really boil… it should boil enough that bubbles continue to cover the surface of the mixture even when you are stirring!

Step 3) When your strawberry mixture has reached a FULL boil (this will take at least ten minutes, maybe longer), stir in the pouch of pectin. Allow the mixture to return to a FULL boil, and boil with stirring for two minutes.

Step 4) Remove the pot from the heat. Add grated lemon zest or vanilla seeds. Stir gently. Allow jam to cool before ladling into storage containers. This jam will keep nicely in the refrigerator for two weeks, or can be frozen for up to six months.

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Yummy Strawberry Freezer Jam

strawberry jamIt’s that time of year again, friends – Wahoo! Strawberry season! To be fair, strawberry season is still a few weeks away in my Northern climate. However, my sister is visiting from Arkansas, and brought several boxes of fresh picked berries with her (isn’t she awesome?).

The thing about strawberries is, they’re delicious for about one day after they are picked. If you have a large quantity of strawberries to preserve, you need to work fast! Yummy Strawberry Freezer Jam is super fast! Ready… Set… GO!

Ingredients (Makes 4  cups)

5 cups of strawberries, washed and cut in half (green hulls removed)

5 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 pouch (3 ounces) liquid pectin

Directions

Step 1) Place halved strawberries in a large pot. Mash the strawberries a few times with a potato masher. Add sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice.

Step 2) Bring strawberry mixture to a full, vigorous boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. You want this mixture to really boil… it should boil enough that bubbles continue to cover the surface of the mixture even when you are stirring!

Step 3) When your strawberry mixture has reached a FULL boil (this will take at least ten minutes, maybe longer), stir in the pouch of pectin. Allow the mixture to return to a FULL boil, and boil with stirring for two minutes.

Step 4) Remove the pot from the heat and add grated lemon zest. Stir gently. Allow your Yummy Strawberry Freezer Jam to cool before ladling into storage containers. This jam will keep nicely in the refrigerator for two weeks, or can be frozen for up to six months. [As if strawberry jam would be neglected for six months – ha!]

 

Caramel Apple Jelly

caramel apple jellyInstead of spending the holiday weekend shopping, why not spend an afternoon making pretty jars of delicious Caramel Apple Jelly for the loved ones on your gift list? Caramel Apple Jelly takes a bit of time to prepare, but the steps are easy to follow and your kitchen will smell wonderful. As an added bonus, Caramel Apple Jelly is a very economical recipe! Pick up a few bags of apples to make applesauce or a festive German dinner, and save the cores for this recipe. You can always cut the recipe in half, to make 4 jars instead of 8.

Ingredients (makes 8 half-pints)

30 apple cores

3 cups sugar

3 cups brown sugar

6 tablespoons powdered pectin

2 tablespoons loose caramel-flavored tea

picture011Directions

Step 1) Place apple cores and tea in a stockpot and just barely cover with water.

Step 2) Bring stockpot to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

picture014Step 3) Place a strainer in a slightly smaller bowl and line with a tightly woven, clean towel (or several layers of cheesecloth) as shown.  It is important that there is room in the lower bowl, below the bottom of the strainer, for juice to collect!

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picture031Step 4) Carefully transfer the apple cores and juice into the towel-lined strainer.  Be careful to avoid overflow… you may need to ladle a few cups of juice out of the lower bowl and into a second bowl (for temporary storage) right away.  Be patient, and allow an hour or so for all of the apple juice to collect in the bottom bowl.

Step 5) Combine sugars and pectin.  Set aside.

Step 6) Measure 5 cups of apple juice, and bring to a rolling boil in your stockpot.

Step 7) Add sugar mixture to stockpot and, with constant stirring, return to a rolling boil.  This may take a few minutes.  After a rolling boil has been maintained for one, solid minute, remove caramel apple jelly from heat.

picture042 (2)Step 8) Ladle caramel apple jelly into sterilized, half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Wipe jar rims clean, and top with lids and bands.  Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Enjoy!

Jars of homemade caramel apple jelly make wonderful gifts.  Remember, making jelly is a fun and economical way to make use of fruit cores!

Audrey’s Cherry Preserves

Audrey's Cherry Preserves

Audrey, one of the three fabulous fictional ladies featured in Carly Ellen Kramer’s novel How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé, was delighted to participate in a character interview with N.M. Sotzek at On Writing.  Laugh along as Audrey dishes on her girlfriends and discusses her famous cherry preserves here.  The recipe itself is simple… here we go!

Audrey’s Cherry Preserves
2 pounds dark, sweet pitted cherries (fresh or frozen)
1 heaping tablespoon lemon marmalade (or juice and zest from 1/2 lemon)
4 ounces liquid pectin
3 cups sugar

Add half of the pitted cherries to a large pot. Coarsely chop the other half of the cherries in a blender or food processor, and add to the pot with the whole cherries.

Simmer over low heat with stirring until cherries are soft and release a lot of liquid. Bring to a boil, stirring so that the cherries on the bottom of the pot don’t burn!  Add marmalade, pectin, and sugar. Stirring constantly, return mixture to a hard boil.

Boil for five minutes.  Remove from heat, and allow to cool slightly before transferring to glass jars.  If you are canning Audrey’s Cherry Preserves as gifts, process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Makes approximately 6 half-pint jars.

Carrot Cake Jam

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Among friends and family, this is my most requested jam.  I keep cheerful little half-pint jars of Carrot Cake Jam on hand at all times, because it makes such a perfect hostess gift, teacher gift, get well soon offering, thank you acknowledgment… you get the idea.  I’m telling you, this jam tastes exactly like carrot cake, without all of the fat (and accompanying calories).  Mix a few tablespoons into a cup of low fat yogurt for a quick fruit dip, or spread it on toasted slices of Easter Bread.  You’re going to love this!

A note about color:  I add brown sugar to Carrot Cake Jam because I like the warm depth of flavor that brown sugar imparts.  I don’t mind the resulting, darker jam color.  If you’d prefer a bright orange Carrot Cake Jam, along with a lighter flavor, simply substitute the 2 cups of brown sugar for an additional 2 cups of white sugar.

picture565Ingredients (makes 9 half-pint jars)

3 cups finely shredded carrots (about 4 large carrots)

1 1/2 cups finely chopped, peeled pear (1 large or 2 small pears)

1 15 ounce can crushed pineapple in natural pineapple juice (do not drain)

picture5662 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

7 tablespoons powdered pectin

picture5672 cups dark brown sugar

4 cups white sugar

1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

Directions

Step 1) Combine finely shredded carrots, finely chopped pear, undrained pineapple, picture569lemon juice, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg in a large pot.  Bring to a boil while stirring frequently.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

Step 2) Remove from heat.  Mix pectin into 1 cup of white sugar, and add to pot.  Stir until pectin and sugar dissolve.

Step 3) Bring pot to a boil, stirring constantly.  Add remaining 3 cups of white sugar and 2 cups of brown sugar.  Stir over medium-high heat until the pot comes to a full boil that cannot be stirred down.  Boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat.

Step 4) Ladle jam into sterilized canning jars.  Wipe rims and cover with lids and bands.  Process jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Let sit on protected countertop for 24 hours before giving as gifts (or eating with a spoon, right out of the jar!).

 

 

Grapefruit Pomegranate Sunrise Jam

picture561Grapefruit are in season, and I was so happy to see them priced low at the market that I got a little carried away.  Granted, a single grapefruit offers more than a full day’s worth of Vitamin C and 4 grams of fiber – all for around 100 calories – but still.  When I lined up all of my cheerful yellow-skinned grapefruit on the counter, I wondered what the heck I was going to do with them all.

Have no fear!  Grapefruit makes amazing jam – amazing! – and you’ve probably never even tried it, right?  Today’s your day!  All you need to create a few jars of sunrise colored, sweet-tart jam are four ingredients and a little bit of time.  This jam is unique, pretty, and very affordable… excellent qualities for thoughtful gift giving!  Have fun!

picture553 Ingredients (makes 8 half-pint jars)

6 grapefruit

1/2 cup pomegranate juice (fresh squeezed or bottled POM)

6 cups sugar

6 tablespoons (1 box) pectin

picture556Directions

Step 1) First, we need to section the grapefruit so that we can use the pulp and juice, but not the membranes (in other words, all of the pink, none of the white).  This isn’t difficult, but it will take a few minutes.  Start by cutting the top and bottom half inch off, straight across.  You should see pink.  Then, use a paring knife to slice down the sides, removing the peel and all of the white, as shown.

Step 2) Hold the grapefruit over a large cooking pot, so that you can capture all of the juice.  Use a paring knife to carefully cut “V” shaped wedges inside of each picture558membrane, removing all of the pulp.  Repeat for all 6 grapefruit.  This took me about 20 minutes.  Be patient.  This is the most time consuming step, I promise!

Step 3) Add 1/2 cup pomegranate juice to the pot with the grapefruit pulp and grapefruit juice.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

Step 4) Sprinkle pectin over boiling fruit and stir in.  Bring the pot back to a steady boil, stirring constantly.  Pectin will burn if you don’t stir the pot.

Step 5) When the pot is boiling again, add the sugar all at once.  Stir.  Continue picture559stirring over medium-high heat until pot comes to a full, rolling boil.  Boil for one minute (stir!), then remove from heat.

Step 6) Ladle jam into sterilized canning jars, cover with lids and bands, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Enjoy your little jars of sunshine!