Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Save the Flavor of Summer in a Jar--Figgy Berry Jam

I learned another new technique at work recently.


I've never seen people preserve fruits before. My mom used to kimchi at home. We would get a large shallow pot, fill it up with chile flake, white cabbage, and a lot a lot of salt. The best part is dancing on the cabbages with our bare foot. I think my feet were clean...the purpose of that was to break the surface of the cabbage so it can absorb as much flavor as possible during the preserving process. We would make kimchi early in the fall and have several vases of kimchi throughout the winter. Right before spring arrives, overly ripened kimchi were used up in stews and stir-fried dishes. My favorite is kimchi fried rice with bacon. Thinking about the sour, spicy, and fatty fried rice make my mouth watery...yummmmm

To my preserved foods are salty. I didn't know sugar is another preserving agent. Jams--if sterilized and stored correctly--have a very long shelf life too.

Jam was never part of my breakfast growing up. In fact, cereal and milk were barely present too. My mom always make large breakfasts for my brother and I. We have pasta, double layered burgers, fried rice, dumplings...anything my mom thinks will fatten us up. Raising chubby kids was a sign of accomplishment for her. It shows that she took care of us.

We weren't fat and lumpy. No, we weren't built on junk foods. Foods like cereal and Pop-Tart had no space in our pantry. My brother and I loved sleeping over at friends' so we could satisfy our cravings for Oreos, popcorn, soda, and even something as simple as a bowl of Lucky Charm and milk! To this day I still feed myself big breakfast, and I don't categorize food into breakfast, lunch or dinner. If I want some lasagna for breakfast, let the parmesan, heavy cream, lasagne, tomato sauce and minced meat be my fatty friend in the morning. I am also content with a bowl of fruits, granola and greek yogurt.

When Elizabeth suggest that we make black figgy jam the other day, I paused...and thought you can make jam at home? I would never have guessed how many bloggers have shared their canning tips and advices. I was a newbie to the world of preserving. If you've never made jam before, it is a hot and messy job. You will certainly end up with more than one jar of jam (with most recipes) so be prepared to make a lot of cakes and muffins to use them up or start thinking of a list of friends to bribe!

Before you go to the nearest farmers market or the grocery store for fruits, gather the following tools. They're essential for canning.

Canning utensil set from Ball
Jars & lids

None reactive pot (like copper or cast iron)

Now that you've got your gadget ready, go off and buy:
1 lb black figs
6 oz rasperries
6 oz blackberries
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup pomegranate juice
1/4 cup lemon juice

A day ahead, trim the stems off the figs and cut them in quarters. Toss the fig pieces with the berries and sugar in a bowl. Add pomegranate and lemon juice. Cover with plastic and wrap and let macerate overnight in the refrigerator. Put 5 jars and lids in the dish washer to sterilize.

Next day, cook the fruits and juices in a nonreactive pot on high heat. Stir frequently to dissolve sugar and to prevent burning. When the pot comes to a boil, skim off the scum with a spoon or a sieve. Continue stirring and cooking until the juice fall in a double drip* from the tip of the spoon, about 35-54 minutes.

While the fruits are cooking, prepare a pot of boiling water. When fruits are done, ladle into jars, close the lid, wipe the glass, and place jars in boiling water for 12 minutes. Take jars out and store in a cool place.

*A double drip happens when the second drip joins the first drip before the first drip has the chance to fall off.

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