I did not knit AT ALL yesterday, despite my KAL deadline. Boh is displeased.
Also, I may have developed a repetitive strawberry hulling injury.
I blame the strawberries.
I picked 7 more quarts early yesterday morning, plus a big blue colander full. I mean, I couldn’t help it. I brought the colander along just in case, and I just had to fill it. We had a lot of rain on Friday, which meant that the berries grew even more rotund and juicy. Saturday morning was cool, humid and overcast, and I had the patch to myself. If I didn’t pick a few more, those strawberries were going to overripen on the vine, and we can’t have that. No, we cannot.
Thus, my adventures in water-bath canning began. I didn’t necessarily intend to make jam from the start; I simply got home with all of my berries, looked at my overflowing freezer and the abundance crowding my countertops and realized that jam might be the way to process some of this deliciousness. I ventured out again, intending to try to scavenge a canning stock pot and rack from a thrift store, when I discovered a special on a 21 quart canning pot with its own rack at the grocery store for 24 bucks. Throw in a 12 dollar “welcome to canning” set complete with tongs, jar lifter, funnel, seal checker, and some other thing I can’t remember, a few boxes of lids and some more half-pint jars, and I was ready to go.
Adventures in water-bath canning, take 1: strawberry-balsamic jam.
I used Eugenia Bone’s Well Preserved (which I heard about over here) as my guide, and found the instructions to be clear and logical. The book is organized by “master recipes” that require some kind of preservation technique, and then Bone provides a handful of recipes that utilize the preserved food in question. I like the layout and the emphasis on using your preserves, but I may supplement with a massive canning/pickling book to be able to look through a range of options for one particular fruit or veggie.
I am so excited about this. In fact, as soon as all the jars were in the water bath, I mixed up a batch of no-knead bread (in its second rise right now) to properly enjoy my jam. The tough part about canning is that you have to wait another 6-8 hours for the jars to cool and the seal to set. This morning, as per Eugenia’s instructions, I tested all my seals by unscrewing the tops and picking up the jars by their lids: success! Those seals are tiiight, baby.
So, back to the tough part about jam: no instant gratification. Hence strawberry recipe #2: strawberry-rhubarb compote with mint.
Simple, aromatic recipe. I’m planning to enjoy this over yogurt in a few minutes. Plus, it used up another pint of strawberries.
Had enough? No? Good, because I did not stop there. (Boh begged me to pick up the socks, but I ignored him.)
No recipe here — I just melted some chocolate chips, added some butter until it was runny enough for dipping, and twirled the biggest, prettiest berries in my colander in the chocolate. I laid them out on wax paper and slid the tray into the fridge to chill.
I just couldn’t help it.