Saturday, March 9, 2013

How Does Your Jelly Roll?

If you thought this was about that lovely swiss sponge cake rolled and filled with jelly you may want to stop reading. This is about my first attempt at making strawberry jelly, alone. A few years ago my Aunt Theresa (TR) came over with a crate of apricots and walked me through the jelly making process. I actually think what we made that day and what I attempted to make today is considered jam, but then I wouldn't have a clever title for my post now would I? The process that TR showed me seemed easy enough, what I took away from it, the most important part of jelly/jam making, is to have all you ingredients and equipment gathered and ready before you start.
I didn't write anything down that day, figuring there would be enough information on the interenet if I got in a jam (hee hee.) Fast forward a couple of years, no gifted jellies from TR or my cousin Casey left in my larder, I decided to make my own!
My first recipe search yielded a recipe for Easy Strawberry Jam by Ina Garten. Do you know her? The Barefoot Contessa, I have a secret crush on her, I want to fly to the Hamptons and sneak into her barn so I can peek in her windows and watch her cook. :)Her recipe seemed easy enough, but was one that you served right away, or kept refridgerated and used in a few weeks. It also used an apple to create pectin that is necessary for the jelly to set up. I liked this because I had been doing research on how to make pectin - but I'll save that for another post. I figured with this recipe and my previous experience with TR I would be able to create a few jars to restock my pantry.
You can search "Ina Garten Easy Strawberry Jam" for the recipe, or you can follow my adjusted one. Adapting recipes to what I have is always necessary to me. Some of the ingredients I don't have and will not go buy for just one recipe. For instance, I will never follow a recipe using self-rising flour. Why? I always have all purpose flour on hand, with the addition of baking powder or soda you can avoid buying this extra ingredient. Be flexible, but in baking as in jelly making, you do have to be exact.  My adaptation of Ina's recipe omitted the orange flavored liquor, and the blueberries because I don't keep orange flavored liquor, and blueberries aren't in season. I replaced the liquor with the juice and zest of a half of a lemon. I did this for a flavor element, not for the acidity that is necessary in canning. I also used regular sugar, not superfine, and did not run it throught the food processor. I also made it using less strawberries, so here is the modified ingredient list:
2 pints strawberries, washed, hulled and cut into chunks
2 cups sugar
Juice and zest of 1/2 of a lemon
1/4 of a Granny Smith Apple, peeled and cut into chunks
Washing and hulling the strawberries is task I enjoy. I employ a tomato corer and it makes the job quite pleasant.
perfectly cored
 tomato corer and beloved paring knife
For the most expeditious process I set up the colander with the washed strawberries next to my compost bowl (GOT TO HAVE ONE) next to the pot that the jam will cook in. Leaves and core in the compost bowl, strawberries in the pot. Once they are all hulled then I went back and cut them all.
Toss the strawberries with the sugar and lemon zest and juice.

Start cooking! Once it came to a boil I added the apple and kept in a a low boil. When I could see the fruit breaking own, I went in and used a potato masher to make it a smoother consistency. The mixture cooked for about 35 minutes, and I stirred it every 2-3 minutes.
Meanwhile, I had a large pot of water boiling, ready to sterilize my jars, lids and rings. I remembered that the lids need to stay in simmering water until you are ready to put them on the jars. So here comes the hiccup, Ina's recipe reads " at room temperature, then store covered in the refridgerator." So I let the mixture cool - NOOOOO! As I ladled the room temperature jelly into my sterilized jars I remembered, when TR and I did this it was hot! I went ahead and filled the jar with the delicious room temperature jelly, wiped the edge of the jar clean, gently placed the hot lid on the jar, secured the ring and turned them upside down on my towel. Now, if I had been making 10-12 jars of jelly like TR and did with the apricots that day this would be tragic. But this recipe only yielded 2 1/2 jars.
Even though lid doesn't pop when pressed I will keep them in the fridge. They will be consumed quickly in this house. I think I'm going to gift the "baby" jar to my friend Amy who is expecting, with specific instructions to keep refrigerated!

1 comment:

  1. And what about a jar for FAVORITE Tia? Or at least invite me over for toast.