Thursday, July 7, 2011

strawberry preserves with cayenne and cardamom

here we are in high summer and gardens all around this northern hemisphere are blooming and fruiting and producing yummy goods.  and when there is a flourish, there is a need for putting up that which you wish to save for enjoyment later on.  and many of us do - we prep and preserve and can and pressure cook and ferment the bounty.

i put up a few pints of strawberry jam and homemade spicy sweet catsup just yesterday.  i started a jar of preserved lemons and limes today and i've got the makings for more jams and preserves in line up.

as many of you know, i rarely follow a recipe by rote but rather i riff.  here is the fine strawberry preserve  recipe i riffed from.  it is from local kitchen - a blog i enjoy peeking in on every now and again. 

it looks amazing and the 3 day process gives great results i am sure but i was looking to preserve my berries in a single day.  so i made a few adjustments in order to do so. 

it is important to note that my first go at this produced a jam that did not jam.  i tried to gage the gel stage by eye rather than my usual frozen plate method (see below) and harvested too soon so i un-jarred the  goods and gave the goods a second simmering bubble until the jam proved truly jammy.

the moral of this story - the 3 day process allows natural pectin to build which assists the process.  the 1 day process does not so if you choose to pursue the 1 day process, you'll need to use pectin gel and give the berries a bit more boiling down time to achieve a proper jam.  

hippychick's strawberry cayenne cardamom jam
  • 5 lbs strawberries rinsed, hulled and cut in half or quarters
  • 4 cups sugar
  • zest & juice of 6 lemons
    • do not omit the lemon juice as the acids are necessary for safe preservation
    • you may add more for your taste - do not add less
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
    • less if you prefer a lighter bite
  • 2 teaspoons ground or freshly crushed cardamom
    • i prefer freshly crushed from seed pods
  • 2 pouches of ball liquid fruit pectin
  • 1 tablespoon butter
    • this will help keep the foaming to a minimum as strawberries tend to foam a lot
    • you may omit the butter if you wish
  • combine strawberries, sugar, lemon zest & juice spices and salt. mix well to coat all berries in sugar and spice mix. transfer goods to a wide-bottomed preserving pan.
    • a heavy bottomed pan helps to keep preserves from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • slowly bring the simmer up to a slow rolling boil.  be sure to stir frequently.
    • note - you'll not want to leave the pan on it's own at this stage as it may be prone to boil over in a very short - hey i was away only for a moment - moment
    • ahem, take it from one who knows - the cleaning up is dangerously hot and very very sticky
  • note the depth of your preserves once you reach the boiling state.
  • reduce the heat to a steady simmer and reduce jam mixings by one third - you're still stirring!
    • no not every second but frequently
  • once your preserves are reduced by one third
  • some folks skim off the foam, i do not.
    • skimming gives you a clearer jam
    • not skimming might cause your jam to appear more cloudy
    • there is no taste difference and i find that the small bit of butter helps to solve the foaming issue to my preferred happiness.
  •  add the liquid pectin and stir in well
    • note you'll not want to add the pectin until you are sure you are near the gelling state (see below)
    • once you add the pectin - you want only to boil the jam for 1 or 2 more minutes before removing the pot from the heat. 
    • if you boil longer you may break the pectin and may be forced to start over again
    • so about the gelling state - read on
  • continue the steady simmer until you reach a gelling state
    • there are several ways to detect the gelling state here's my method
    • jam generally gels after you pass the foaming phase - you will observe the berries really cooking down and the mix will begin to feel thicker.  you can see this by simply lifting your spoon out of the preserves and observing the drip.
      •  a very thin smooth stream - not ready
      • a more intermittent drip feeling a bit thick - might be ready
      • you reach a temperature of 220˚f - should be ready after 5 minutes of additional boiling.
    • in order to tell for sure try the following odly timey trick 
      • freeze a small plate.  place a wee dab of jam on the frozen plate. if it looks like it's jamming you're good.  if not keep heating and stirring. try try again.
  • Prepare canner, jars and lids
    • great information here from the local kitchen blog - i could not say it better myself
    • read up for safety
  • Ladle into hot, sterilized jars to 1/4-inch head space. Wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
    • great information here from the local kitchen blog - i could not say it better myself
    • read up for safety
  • my yield for this batch - 9 pints 

Now for the 3 day process from The Local Kitchen - it looks amazing!
Strawberry: Whole Berry Preserves
  • 2 and 1/2 lbs tiny strawberries, rinsed & hulled
  • 1 lb (2 cups) sugar (organic evaporated cane juice)
  • zest & juice of 2 small lemons
  • pinch sea salt
  1. Day 1. Combine strawberries, sugar, lemon zest & juice and salt. Mix well to coat all berries in sugar. Allow to macerate for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature, or bring to a simmer in a wide-bottomed preserving pan (to dissolve sugar), then refrigerate overnight.
  2. Day 2. Tip berries and juice into a preserving pan or wide-bottomed skillet. Scrape any undissolved sugar into the pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; stir, then remove from heat. Return to a heat-safe bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Day 3. Repeat Day 2: Bring berries to a simmer, return to bowl, refrigerate overnight.
  4. Day 4. Prepare canner, jars and lids. Strain berries through a sieve, catching the juice in a wide-bottomed preserving pan; reserve berries (over a bowl, as they will continue to drip). Bring juice to a boil over high heat; continue to boil until juice is syrupy, bubbling thickly and foam begins to subside, or reaches 220 degrees F (about 20 minutes in my wide, 6 and 3/4 quart Le Creuset): boil at 220 degrees F for one minute.
  5. Skim foam carefully (it’s much harder to skim once you add the berries). Add berries, and any additional juice. Return to a boil and continue to cook until the mixture returns to 220 degrees F (is bubbling thickly and spits when you scrape a spoon across the bottom of the pan), about another 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Skim any remaining foam.
  6. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars to 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.
Yields about 4 cups.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

in.gredients the nation's first zero-waste, package-free grocery store!

Our Story

We're Brothers Lane - i.e. Christian, Joseph, and Patrick Lane, three brothers who have a knack for innovation + business sense and a passion for promoting sustainable living - plus Chris and Brian, who don’t have Lane blood but share the same passions.

For years we've been finding ways to live more sustainably. After realizing that waste is actually just a human invention, we’ve each started home gardens; we compost, recycle, and more importantly re-use as much as possible, weeding out unnecessary waste. We’ve been able to reduce over half the waste our households generate, with only one major hurdle: groceries.

While we reuse food containers / packaging all the time, we still have to buy more food packaging at the store because it’s unavoidable. While we can use reusable bags for produce and carrying things, we can’t (legally or in a way that’s socially acceptable) get cereal out of cereal boxes or household cleaners out of bottles to take home. Because of this, a majority of the waste and recycling streaming through our homes is unnecessary, since we could have brought our own containers to the store to fill them. Of the 1.4 billion pounds of waste landfilled per day in the US, 560 million pounds is packaging - most of which is used just once, before another package is bought.

These alarming statistics upset us enough to set out to change things ourselves. Our project revolutionizes grocery shopping as we know it. Our goal is to reduce waste by ditching packaging altogether - creating the nation’s first zero-waste, package-free grocery store! The community-oriented store (named “in.gredients”) will (a) sell local, organic groceries, (b) host community events like cooking lessons, concerts, and garden days, (c) feature local artwork, and (d) promote sustainability. Most importantly, we’ll allow customers to fill reusable containers (even ones brought from home!) with their groceries, making waste reduction easy, fun, and convenient! Think of it as Groceries 2.0.

The Impact

in.gredients will be a collaborative effort between business, community, and consumers with the goal of eliminating food-related waste while supporting local businesses and farmers (after all, they usually keep just 15% of their food’s grocery store revenue). We hope the concept promotes opportunities for folks to learn the benefits of eating well, ways to reduce waste at home, and how easy it can be to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.

We'll host:
Community garden nights
Cooking classes by local chefs
Gardening classes by local farmers
Homebrewing classes by local brewers
Classes on waste reduction in the home
Classes on rainwater collection / wastewater capturing

And offer package-free groceries like:
Baking supplies
Household cleaners

We hope to open in.gredients later this year if we gain enough support. The industry needs the fundamental shift we’ll demonstrate with our business model, so we can’t wait any longer! If we don't raise enough, we'll continue buying packaged goods from the supermarket while we return to the drawing board - so please, help us out!

What We Need & What You Get

We need $15,000 to get in.gredients up and running by the fall. That number covers some what-we-need-to-start-up costs:

1. Rainwater collectors
2. Wastewater capturing devices
3. Materials to build our community garden
4. Our signs
5. Construction, turning our building into a store
6. Paint for artists to make things pretty
7. Bins for our local groceries

All other funding for this project is coming from our pockets and contributions from friends and family.

We want to make donating fun for everyone - so we've come up with some fun perks our supporters. Check 'em out!

Other Ways You Can Help

If you like what you're hearing, share us with your friends! Our big-picture-goal is telling the industry "this is groceries done right." While in.gredients will teach us many things, we hope it also serves as a learning model for the supermarket industry - letting folks know there IS another way to do things.

Also Find This Campaign On
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Monday, July 4, 2011

food independence round the hippychick universe

sweet harvests
thanks to the squirrels and the birdie birds for saving us a wee few!

mini peaches - super-d-lovely eggs - figgy figs

they may not be huge in size but they are from our very own efforts and the grace of nature


and now for a slight interruption 
to our irregularly scheduled blogcast 
a blast from the past 
that is still oh so relevant today