Saturday, July 11, 2009

Best ever Blueberry-honey Jam

I have been experimenting with no-pectin jam for years, but last year I really took the plunge and tried making a jam with no pectin and no processed sugar, using only honey as a sweetener.

It was a bit nerve-wracking waiting to see if it would set up, but when all was said and done the jam was the best I'd ever made. The complexity of the honey sweetness really adds a special flavor to a simple blueberry and elevates it to something really really good. I give out jars as housewarming gifts and such, and many many people tell me how good it is, which makes me want to make and give more. Anyway, here is the recipe.

Best ever Blueberry-Honey Jam
(makes about 8 cups of jam)

4 lbs. (roughly 11 cups) fresh blueberries (I think you could also use pretty much any other kind of berry for this recipe, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, etc but I have only tried blueberry)
2 1/2 cups honey (if you have a choice a lighter flavored honey like fireweed is better than a cloying clover honey, but if you don't have a choice any honey will do)
1 Tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1. Wash and pick through blueberries, taking out any that are rotten, moldy, or greenish and underripe. All of the berries should be firm and ripe. This is a very important step because one moldy berry can ruin a whole jar of jam.

2. Mix berries with honey, let sit 2 hours (I don't know why this step is there, I usually don't have the patience for this and just let it sit 30 minutes)

3. Put honey-berry mixture and lemon juice in pot. Boil on medium heat for 30 minutes, scraping sides of pot and stirring bottom as you go. The berries will burst and the jam will get thicker as you go. You can taste the mixture at this point, if you want sweeter jam just add more honey. Once the jam "sheets" of the back of a spoon (whatever that means) or seems to set up when you fling dots of it on a refrigerated plate, it is done.

4. While the jam is boiling, get a separate large pot of boiling water going on another burner and sterilize 8 cups worth of canning jars, lids, and rings by boiling them in the water for 10 minutes.

5. Ladle jam into sterilized jars, leaving at least 1/2 inch of space. Put the top and ring on the jars and close, tight but not too tight.

6. Place closed jars in pot of boiling water until covered and boil for 10 minutes. This is called a "hot water bath" and my mom swears by this step although my aunt says she never does it with her jam. I play it safe and do it because I give away this jam and I don't want to poison anyone.

7. When done, place on counter, each jar should ding, making an airtight seal. Place any jar that doesn't seal in the fridge and eat that jam right away. A sealed jar should be good for at least 1 year in your cupboard, up to several years.

8. Months or years down the road, if you take a formerly sealed jar of jam out of the cupboard and find it to have lost its seal (you can tell by pushing on the top if you hear that clicking sound it is not sealed) DO NOT EAT THIS JAM -- it could have botullism or mold or other bad things in there, just throw it away. Only eat sealed jam from the cupboard.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Carbo overload

I haven't been cooking much lately, and have relied on other people's food, mostly in-laws and restaurants, and I have found the food I have been eating extremely heavy on the carbs (and drinking beer doesn't help any, either):

A few meals I have eaten lately:

-- Indian rice with potato curry on top (a bit of mint in the curry): 90% starch
-- Burrito with rice and meat filling: 80% starch
-- Naan wrap with potato and meat filling: 80% starch

In my own cooking and preferred eating, I usually try to eat not more than 50% of any meal as carbs (usually measured very unscientifically by volume), this can be difficult with vegetarian cooking but I try to eat salads before a carb-heavy main dish and load dishes like mac and cheese with lots of vegetables, and eat fruit for dessert. I will have to double up on my veg routine when I get back to cooking in a few weeks.