Cinnamon and Cardamom Bread

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This stuff is amazing!  Love!

We just returned from a family vacation to New Orleans.  The land of great food, really wonderful music everywhere, and a plentitude of adult beverages.  And people watching.  We enjoyed poboys, gumbo, oysters, shrimp, catfish and, of course, beignets.  As good as our food was, whenever I get home from a vacation I actually kind of enjoy eating my own cooking again.  Funny how that works.

I had some organic milk in the refrigerator that was going to go south in just a day or so and I wanted to put it to good use.  I decided to make us some bread with my remaining milk and came across this recipe that I had clipped from a Saveur magazine early last year but had not tried.  Until today.  The recipe says the bread is Swedish.  But since I’m Finnish, today it is Finnish Cinnamon Cardamom Bread.  Whatever your ethnicity I think you will enjoy!  The kitchen smelled wonderful while this was baking.

Ingredients for the Dough:

7 T unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups whole milk heated to 115

2 tsp active dry yeast

4 1/2 cups AP flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds, lightly crushed

1/4 tsp kosher salt

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Ingredients for Filling:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

7 T unsalted butter softened

1 T ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds, finely crushed

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To make the dough heat the milk to 115 degrees.  Use a thermometer unless you’re a lot better than I am at estimating temperatures and you don’t want to kill your yeast.  Melt the butter and add the butter and yeast to the warm milk.  Stir and let it sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.

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In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, cardamom and salt.  Stir in the yeast mixture until dough forms.

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Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes.  Or knead in your stand mixer.  Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean dish towel, and let sit in a warm place until the dough doubles in size.  About an hour.

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Prepare the filling stirring together the softened butter, sugar, cinnamon and cardamom seeds.

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On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into approximately a 11×17 rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick.

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Spread the filling over the dough.

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Working from one of the long sides, roll dough into a tight cylinder and transfer the dough to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Cover with a dish towel and allow it to sit in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.  About 45-60 minutes.

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Heat the oven to 375.  Using kitchen shears and starting 1 inch from the ends of the dough, make crosswise cuts spaced 1 inch apart, three quarters of the way through the dough.  Now this is where it got tricky for me and my bread looks a little crude.  The recipe says to fan dough slices away from the center, alternating left to right.  Huh?  The center?  Maybe I was supposed to make this into a circle?  I don’t know for sure because I didn’t have a picture.  But it doesn’t really matter. The fanning does not affect the taste at all.

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Whisk an egg and brush the dough with the egg wash.

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Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Allow the bread to cool before serving.

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I made up a little icing with powdered sugar, heavy cream and lemon zest.  Because we like icing.

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Cut yourself a slice and enjoy.  Great with a hot cup of coffee or tea.

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NOTE:  The recipe suggests that you use the egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar before baking.  Since I was going to ice the bread I did not you the pearl sugar but you may prefer that.  If any of you bake a more attractive loaf please comment with a picture.

Raspberry Pie and Pumpkin Pie

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Every Thanksgiving I make a raspberry pie because it is both my Dad and my daughter’s favorite.  And I make a pumpkin pie because I happen to like pumpkin pie and because I just think pumpkin pie is mandatory at Thanksgiving.  The pie on the left was amazing!  The pie on the right.  Well that’s another story.  But I need to backtrack a bit to the crust.  A good crust is the secret to a good pie.  The crust recipe I have is from a dear family friend, Peg Johnson.  She graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Home Economics.  She has passed away but she lives on in the margins of my Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book.  Penned on page 230, at the top of the Pastry section, is her recipe for Never Fail Pie Crust.

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Remember this book?  I see it in antique stores all the time.  I got mine as a gift in 1971.  It has a burn mark on the back cover and some of the pages stick totgether but I still use it.

Never Fail Pie Crust

3 cups AP flour

1 1/4 cups shortening

1 tsp salt

1 egg well beaten

5 T cold water

1 T white vinegar

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Cut the shortening into the flour.  Peg used a pastry cutter.  I use my food processor.

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Combine the beaten egg, water and vinegar.  Pour liquid into flour mixture all at once.  Blend with a spoon until flour is well moistened.

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Divide the dough into 3 equal discs.  The dough can be rolled out immediately or can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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You might be able to get four crusts from this recipe but I give myself a little wiggle room for bad edges or other rolling difficulties.  Roll the crust out on a lightly floured surface and line the bottom of the pie pan with the crust.

Preheat the oven to 350.

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Raspberry Filling:

6 cups raspberries

1 1/2 cups white sugar

2 T cornstarch

2 T tapioca

2 T butter

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Combine the raspberries, sugar, cornstarch and tapioca in a large bowl and gently stir.  Allow them to sit for 10 minutes or so.  Pour the berries into the prepared pie crust.  Cut butter into small pats and put on top of the raspberry filling.

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Roll out the top crust, cut slits with a paring knife,  and crimp the edges.  Sprinkle with a little white sugar.  Bake for 50-55 minutes until the fruit is bubbly and the crust is golden brown.  To avoid drips in your oven put the pie on a cookie sheet lined with foil.

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Mmmmmmm.  This pie was great!  Served with a little whipping cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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Now let’s talk about that pumpkin pie.  I had purchased a couple of little sugar pumpkins that I used for fall table decorations and decided to make them into my traditional pumpkin pie.  Waste not, want not.

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As I was seeding these little babies and getting them ready to roast to fork tender goodness in the oven my dad said, can’t you buy pumpkin in a can?  I said, of course I can but this will be homemade.  From scratch.  It will be better than pumpkin in a can!  I should have listened to my dad and retrieved a can of pumpkin from my pantry.  Mistake number one.

Preheat oven to 400.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

2 cups pumpkin

12 oz can evaporated milk

2 beaten eggs

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp ginger

1 1/2 tsp nutmeg or mace

1 tsp cloves

1 T flour

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Quarter the pumpkins, scrape the seeds and arrange on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment.  Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until fork tender.  Once the pumpkin is done scrape the meat into a bowl and discard the skins.

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Purée the pumpkin in a food processor.

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Doesn’t this look beautiful!??  Mistake number two.  I should have tasted the pumpkin at this point.  But I did not.

Combine the pumpkin with the egg, evaporated milk, brown sugar, flour and spices and whisk together until well combined.  Pour into the prepared crust.

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I had scraps of crust left over so I copied a friend’s idea and cut little leaves out with a cookie cutter and lined the edge.  I actually had to add the fancy crust pieces part way through the baking process because the filling is too runny initially.  Bake for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted 1 inch from the crust comes out clean.

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There is no picture of this pie on a plate with whipping cream.  I ate a small slice and proclaimed it too awful for human consumption.  However, this is a good recipe for pumpkin pie provided that you use 2 cups of canned pumpkin.  Next year I’ll listen to my Dad.

NOTE:  In the future I will use my little sugar pie pumpkins for table decorations only and I will use Libby’s pumpkin for my pie.

 

 

Sugar and Cinnamon Glazed Nuts

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My friend Georgia and I have gotten together in December for a baking marathon for over 30 years.  We have several cookies and candies that are staples each year.  Friends and family  have their favorites and we try to keep everyone happy.  But we also like to change things up a little.  Try something new.  This year we decided to omit one of our standard cookies (thumb prints) and make these candied nuts.  We are both very glad that we did!  They are easy to make and the house smells amazing while they’re in the oven.

Ingredients:

2 pounds of nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews)

2/3 cups of melted butter

2 cups sugar

3 T cinnamon

2 tsp salt

4 egg whites

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 250.  Beat the egg whites with the salt until they are frothy.  Gradually add in the vanilla and sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold in the nuts and the cinnamon.  You can use a wooden spoon or your hands making sure that the nuts are all coated.  Add the melted butter and stir to coat.  It will look like a mess.  And you’ll wonder if I omitted an essential ingredient or a step in the process.  Have faith.

Pour the nuts out onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.  I used a large jelly roll pan with sides. Place in the oven and bake for one hour stirring every 15 minutes.  This is when the kitchen starts to smell really amazing.

Pour the nuts out onto parchment paper or foil to cool.  Store in zip lock bags or sealed containers.  Enjoy!

We used almonds and walnuts because that is what we had but I think pecans and cashews would also be excellent.

NOTE:  Recipes for most all of our standard cookies are on my blog under Christmas Cookies.

Pumpkin Cake

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Halloween costume parties at our house are a tradition that we all enjoy.  The past few years my friend Jane and I have baked and decorated a centerpiece cake.  And we have such a good time doing it.  This year we used a recipe for a Pumpkin/Carrot/Spice cake from Women’s Day to make our pumpkin.  This pumpkin required two bundt cakes.  And a LOT of cream cheese icing…1 cup of butter and 4 8-oz packages of cream cheese.  Each of us used the recipe and baked a cake the day before we put them together.

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First step after baking is to cut each of the cakes in half horizontally.  And start stacking and icing.

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We used some long toothpicks to secure the layers.

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The top is on and you’re thinking it looks nothing at all like a pumpkin!  We put the cake in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so to help set the icing up.  With the pedestal plate and 2 bundt cakes stacked it required a bit of refrigerator rearranging but I think the chilling helped.  We covered it with a light base coat and, once again, returned it to the refrigerator for another 30 minutes.

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A second coat of icing and it’s starting to look like a pumpkin.  We used the stem from a real pumpkin supported by a couple of small dixie cups stacked in the center and held in place by icing.

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And there you have it.  Ta Da!!  A perfect pumpkin.  Two years ago we did a caramel apple.

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Last year we made a brain.   That was great fun to do as well!

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But I think this year our guests will find the pumpkin much more appetizing.  Happy Halloween.

Chocolate and Salted Caramel Pudding Shots

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A few weeks ago we went to our favorite music festival and I made pudding shots.  I made three different pudding shots – a caramel apple with Apple Pucker and Butter Shots, a coconut cream with Malibu Coconut Rum, and a chocolate and salted caramel with Baileys.  The chocolate was the most popular and I just made another batch for a friend.

Ingredients:

1  4 oz. box instant chocolate pudding

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup strong coffee

3/4 cup Baileys Irish Cream

1/2 cup caramel topping

8 oz cool whip

salt flakes

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In a medium size bowl whisk together the pudding, milk, coffee, and Baileys.  Whisk in the caramel topping.

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Fold in the cool whip.

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Spoon into little cups with lids, garnish with salt flakes and enjoy.

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Store the pudding shots in the refrigerator.

 

 

Fruit Tarts aka Individual Fruit Pizzas

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I have made “fruit pizza” for  desserts for years.  It gives one the illusion or delusion of a “healthy” dessert, it looks pretty, and it’s easy to make.   And, for me, it brings back fond memories of a dear friend who made this dessert for us with white peaches and blueberries.  I decided this time around to make individual tarts rather than making the dessert in a pizza or jelly roll pan.  The dessert has a sugar cookie base.  You can make your own sugar cookie dough and cut out shapes or you can buy already prepared Pillsbury sugar cookie dough which is what I did.  I baked the cookies the night before and baked them a little longer than recommended to help crisp them up so they wouldn’t get soggy.  If you’re using a pizza or jelly roll pan, pat the dough (an 18 oz tube of sugar cookie dough) evenly into an ungreased pan and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.  Allow it to cool completely before moving on to the next step.

You can use whatever fruits you choose.  I would recommend using fresh rather than previously frozen fruit.  I used blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, and mandarine oranges.  Or you can use white peaches and blueberries like my friend did.  I liked the combination to be colorful.

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Once the base has been baked and cooled prepare the next layer.

Ingredients:

8 oz package of cream cheese at room temperature

8 oz container of mascarpone cheese at room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

8 oz container of coolwhip

1 tsp vanilla extract

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Combine all of the ingredients, cream together, and spread a generous spoonful on each cookie or distribute over the cookie base.

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Next wash and pat your fruit dry.  My blackberries and grapes were rather large so I cut those in half.   Place the fruit on the cream filling.

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Lastly I add a fruit juice glaze.

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

3 T cornstarch

1 cup orange juice (I used orange mango)

1/4 cup pineapple juice

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Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together in a small sauce pan.  Add the juices and cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil and begins to thicken.  Remove the glaze from the heat and allow it to cool completely before brushing it on the fruit.  I use a little pastry brush.  There you have it.  A beautiful little sweet treat that you’d be proud to serve your guests.

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The individual fruit tarts were a first for me but I think I will continue to make them this way in the future.  While it’s a little fussier and more time consuming I think the presentation is best!

NOTE:  If you are starting with 24 cookies half the cream filling and glaze are sufficient.  You might just want to cut both recipes in half.

 

Edible Acorns

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This is the Fall of acorns.  It’s almost dangerous walking outdoors!  The squirrels and chipmunks and deer are enjoying the bounty. There are a few real acorns in this picture but mostly they are edible chocolate and nutter butter treats.  A little something that is easy and adorable to put out for guests this Fall.  All you need is a bag of Hersey Kisses (pick your favorite flavor), a bag of Nutter Butters, chocolate chips and a few extra chips to melt for “glue.”

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Dab a little melted chocolate onto one side of the nutter butter and glue on a kiss.

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I set them on a wax paper lined tray (actually a pizza pan) and let the chocolate set. Once the chocolate has hardened, using more chocolate glue, attach a chocolate chip to the other side.  Voila!  Edible acorns.

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Enjoy!

NOTE:  Depending on how many acorns you want to make you may need two bags of nutter butters for one bag of kisses.  If you’re a perfectionist you’ll find Nutter Butter needs a little more quality control.  Lots of lopsided or upside-down cookies.

Chocolate Brownies

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Almost everyone loves brownies. We attended a 4th of July party yesterday and almost every year I’m asked to bring chocolate chip cookies and brownies.

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This brownie recipe is very rich and fudgy.  If you usually make brownies from a mix this recipe will hopefully change your mind. I’ve been making these brownies for years and they are always a hit.

Ingredients:

1 cup butter

4 oz bar of semi-sweet chocolate (I use Ghirardelli)

2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

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Preheat your oven to 350.

In a heavy saucepan over low heat melt the butter and chocolate. Watch carefully to ensure that you do not to over heat the chocolate.

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As soon as the butter and chocolate are melted remove from the heat. In the same pan stir in all of sugar.

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Add the eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition.

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Stir in the flour and add the vanilla.

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Pour the batter into a greased 9×13 pan. Or one lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes.

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Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares. To make this batch of brownies even more chocolatey I sprinkled them with 1 cup of milk chocolate chips once they were baked and returned the pan to the oven for a couple more minutes. Once the chips were melted I used a knife to spread them out and put a half pecan on top to dress them up. They are also good with seedless raspberry jam spread over the top while they are still warm and then drizzled with melted white chocolate.  Whatever you do to the brownies they are great served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with hot fudge sauce. Cube them up, freeze them and use them in your chocolate fondue or with a chocolate fountain.

Enjoy!

Rhubarb, Strawberry, Apple Crisp

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After making three batches of strawberry jam I had strawberries left and I decided to make a crisp with berries, rhubarb and apples. One of my dad’s and my daughter’s favorite pies is strawberry rhubarb so I know they have both loved this dessert.  Easy to make and great served warm with some ice cream or fresh whipping cream.

Ingredients:

3 cups diced rhubarb

2 cups strawberries hulled and halved

1 cup peeled and diced apple

1 cup granulated sugar

3 T flour

zest of one lemon

1 tsp cinnamon

fresh grated nutmeg

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup brown sugar packed

1 cup old fashioned oats

1 cup melted butter

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Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl combine fruit, granulated sugar, lemon zest and 3 T flour. Toss to combine and pour into an 8×10 baking dish.

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In the same bowl you tossed the fruit around in add the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, and butter for the crisp and mix to combine.

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Using your hands crumble the crisp ingredients over the fruit.

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Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes. The fruit should be bubbling and the crisp should be a golden brown.

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No pictures of us enjoying this dessert. Shortly after it came out of the oven I covered it with foil, wrapped it in a bath towel and took it to a friend’s house for dessert. It was amazing if I do say so myself. My Dad and daughter would have been in dessert heaven. I whipped up some fresh cream and brought it along to top the crisp.

NOTE:  I learned a simple and time saving tip for whipping cream from one of my many food magazines.   If you have an immersion blender put the heavy cream and a little granulated sugar into a quart jar and after a few spins of the immersion blender you have perfect whipped cream. No cream splatter on the counter and easy to store in the fridge or transport to serve with dessert.

 

Strawberry Jam with Balsamic

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One of the best things about this time of year is all the fresh local produce. And it just happens to be strawberry season in Michigan.  Last year I made strawberry freezer jam. This year I decided to do cooked jam. I did my first batch with lemon juice and lemon zest and two batches with balsamic vinegar.  With all the sugar the balsamic vinegar gives the jam just a little kick.  The Ball canning recipe says, “balsamic vinegar accents the strawberry flavor and gives the jam a robust taste.”  They are right. It’s a perfect addition.

Ingredients:

5 cups “smashed” strawberries

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice + zest of one lemon

OR

1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice and 3 T balsamic vinegar

1 pkg fruit pectin

7 cups granulated sugar

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I used the old fashioned water bath. The first thing you need to do is put your clean canning jars into the water bath along with the lids and rings, crank up the heat and sterilize everything. I leave them in the water bath while I’m cooking the jam. Check your jars carefully before putting then in for any cracks or little chips on the lips of the jars which will prevent a proper seal.

Wash, hull and halve the berries. I use my potato masher to smash them up some.

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Once you have 5 cups of smashed berries add the lemon juice and lemon zest OR the lemon juice and balsamic. Stir to combine and put in a heavy kettle.  Gradually stir in the pectin.

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Cook over high heat stirring constantly until you can no longer stir away the boil.

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Add all 7 cups of sugar at once stirring to dissolve.

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Return the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for one minute stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. If necessary skim off any foam. Ladle hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.

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I use a canning funnel so I make less of a ladling mess.   I still make a mess. But the funnel helps. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean damp cloth, center the lid on the jar and tighten the band. Repeat until all of the jam is jarred. If, at the end of ladling you don’t have a full jar, put the last of the jam in a container and refrigerate once it cools. Process the jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  The water should be about an inch above the tops of the jars.  After 10 minutes remove jars and cool. Now you can enjoy your homemade strawberry jam all through the year.

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We had some this morning on a slice of awesome Old Country Rye that we bought from the Trenary Bakery in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A good strong cup of coffee and toast with strawberry jam…a perfect breakfast.

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NOTE:  One of the things I learned while making three batches of this jam is that a ten pound bag of sugar is almost exactly 21 cups.  And 7 quarts of strawberries equals about 15 cups of smashed berries.