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Strawberry Freezer Jam

July 15, 2012

Delicious strawberry jam can be elusive.  The standard jam-making technique of cooking down fruit and sugar until the mixture achieves a jell generally does not work with strawberries.  All the fresh sweetness of the ripe fruit converts into an overly sweet darkened mash when cooked.  Not bad, but definitely not one of my family’s favorites.  Mixed with other fruits, it does not seem to be a problem.  The strawberries added to Three Berry Jam only add to the complex fruitiness of the mix.   Slow roasting the strawberries is another option, as I have done  in this Strawberry Rhubarb Jam.  To capture the simple delight of strawberries though, the trick is not to cook them at all.

Strawberry Freezer Jam is perhaps the simplest jam I have made.  Starting with fresh ripe strawberries in season, they are simply cut, mashed, and mixed with a simple syrup mixed with pectin.  That is it, no additional cooking.  As the pectin cools, it jells.  Now since this jam is not cooked, it is not safe for shelf storage.  It can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks and for a year in the freezer.  It is so quick and easy I literally made it while my kids ate their lunch one day.  Since there is no boiling jam it also does not heat up the house like other jam making might.  My daughter took over the job of filling the jars.  We capped them off, labeled them with the name of the jam and the date, and we were done.  What a perfect way to preserve the fresh taste of strawberries for the winter ahead.  It would also be a great jam recipe for someone who is new to jam making and does not want to deal with the sterilization and processing required to safely make other types of jams.

This post is linked with Grow It, Cook It, Can It’s Cook It 2012.  Check that site shortly for a roundup of great jam making posts.

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Last summer I was adamant that our house needed a pasta maker.   Scott and I made gnocchi years ago, but I had still never made rolled pasta.  For one reason (or many), I did not make the purchase: the pasta makers were more expensive than I imagined, our kitchen cabinets are full to the brim with an assortment of other cooking gear, it was sunny and I wanted to spend time swimming at the river with the kiddos instead of cooking.  Anyhow, thanks to Caroline at Grow it, Cook it, Can it for giving me the little push I needed to tackle the pasta project.  She is hosting Cook It! 2012, a month-by-month inspiration of sorts to tackle new challenges and try new techniques in the kitchen.  This month: fresh pasta.

Originally when I signed onto the challenge, I intended to buy a pasta roller, but again, not wanting to shell out the money and feeling a bit like sticking it to the man- “I don’t need your stinkin’ pasta roller to make fresh pasta at home” I rolled it by hand instead.  It was not easy.  The pasta dough comes together much like a pastry dough.  Beaten egg is poured into a seasoned flour, the trick is  to keep moisten the dough just enough to make it come together, but not so much that the dough is wet, which would make the pasta stick together.  After a knead and an hour or more to rest, my dryish dough was looking pretty good.  It had a mild sheen to it and though firm, gave gently as I firmly pushed it into disc.  My rebel spirit suffered as I rolled and rolled.  This was seriously hard work, I broke a sweat.  Perhaps a pasta roller does have a true purpose.  After rolling and flipping and rolling and flipping the dough, I reduced it to an 1/8 of an inch thickness and called it good.  Since the dough was still a little on the thick side, I opted to cut the pasta rather thin using a cutting board as a straight edge and a circular pizza cutter.

The recipe for Fresh Rosemary Linguine with Caramelized Onions, Walnuts, and Blue Cheese is adapted from The Greens Cookbook.  The caramelized onions are incredibly flavorful thanks to the addition of sage, rosemary, and bay.  I made a little extra and they tasted tremendous on an asparagus pizza.  The toasty walnuts add a nice crunchy texture and I love how the blue cheese partially melts lending a creamy funk to the whole dish.  Yum!  This dish is pretty rich tasting, so small servings were perfect with a crisp salad and crisp wine.  I will definitely be making more pasta in the coming months (hopefully with a pasta maker), but I am glad to know that it is possible to make a delicious dish without the purchase.  You could also make this easily with purchased pasta, but then you miss out on your kids saying, ” Mom, you MADE the pasta?!?!? YUM!”

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