Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Apricot Riesling Jam

I am so in like with small batch preserving! I am also making new memories of canning and jamming. In previous years when I was a SAHM, I canned about everything we ate. Jams, fruit, tomatoes, pickles, relish and even a canned grape drink from the concord grapes in the back yard. I told the kids it was "koolaid".

After I went to work full time, I wanted to return to canning and jamming, but honestly working 6 days a week, this was not a reality. I missed the homemade treats and to a lesser degree I missed making them. Granted I did not want to return to canning at the level I did and work a full time job, but still I missed part of those days.

Fast forward 20 years (Eeee gads!) and I am back to it. I found this recipe and knew I wanted to make it.

Apricot Riesling Jam

adapted from Simply Recipes

Find 2 1/2 pounds of ripe apricots. If they are not ripe enough, let them sit a few days to mellow and make your jam then.

Clean cut in half, remove the pit and chop up. I usually dice my fruit, about the size of dinner peas. You should have 5 cups (or so, you know a 1/2 cup either way will not matter)

I had read on another blog that if you combine your fruit and the sugar and let it sit overnight with the pits, you will not need to add pectin. This recipe did not call for pectin, but I thought - why not. Apricot jam has a reputation of not "setting" up.

With a tight schedule, this 2 step process is great, I was able to accomplish what I would usually save for the weekend. Before you begin cooking you will need to do the following:

Wash and sterilize 4-6 jars, I loved this tip. Wash and dry your jars. Place them in a pan upright and sterilize by keeping them in a 200 degree oven while you cook the jam.

Prepare the lids and rings, place lids into rings, place in a pan and cover with water. Bring to just below boiling and then turn off heat. The lids are ready when you are.

Place 2 small plates in the freezer. Now to make the jam............

In this pan and boiling like mad:

5 c chopped apricots
2 3/4 c sugar
juice of 1 large lemon
1/2 c Riesling

Bring mixture to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Let boil 5 minutes stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium and let gently boil for about 20 minutes. You will notice the mixture thickening and will need to be there and stir frequently the first 10 minutes, constantly the last 10 minutes.

When the cooking time is up, your jam should look like this. Take one plate from the freezer and add a small teaspoon of jam to it. The jam will cool quickly. Is the jam thick enough for your preference, if so you are done cooking. If not cook another 5 minutes and test again.

Fill your jars to within 1/4 inch. I always prepare extra jars - just in case. Take a wet cloth and wipe the top of the jar, this will ensure a good seal.

Give your jars a 10 minute boiling water bath. I did not have a rack that would fit in the bottom of this pan, so I put a cloth dishtowel between the jars and the bottom of the pan. Worked like a charm.

Use a jar lifter to remove from water, the lids will begin pinging when they are removed from the water, that is the sound of success.

Store in a cool dry area, should keep 1 year. However this is delicious, it won't last a year.


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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Chocolate Chip Applesauce Cake

OK really this is as easy as a box mix, only better. Better because you did it, your way. On your time schedule, for your needs and when you want. See it is all about you!

One of the desserts that we had for Sunday Cafe was the delicious Chocolate chip applesauce cake. I will be honest it is a devil to get out of the pan, but so worth it. I think it is because the chocolate chips settle during the initial baking time. My guess is that, as the batter warms, it also thins. The chips being a bit heavier tend to sink. But never mind all that....this cake is the ideal recipe to use as a base recipe.

I know the traditional "snack cake" is an 8 inch square pan.

Hey wait a minute, that was a marketing ploy. You know the "you don't even need to dirty a bowl, mix it right in the pan". Stuff of dreams and advertising salesmen. It could be cut into 9 just right sized pieces of cake, feed your family a dessert and have leftovers too. But don't you think that the Bundt pan is a better cake shape? Nice easy slices, simple to pack in a lunch box, etc etc. And clearly a Bundt pan makes more than 9 servings/pieces. So it really is a win win set of circumstances.

Yesterday I played around with that cake recipe, and without changing much at all you could have a few different cakes. I made a zucchini chocolate chip cake. I have not cut it yet, but it looks good and smells good. Commercial canned applesauce has a lot of moisture. When you substitute another like type ingredient, the moisture might not be as much, so it may be necessary to add a couple of tablespoons of milk to keep the "batter" consistency. Which is what I had to do for the zucchini cake. Since this cake is not dependent upon a long beating time like many scratch cakes, it truly is open to experimentation. And adding a bit of milk at the end will not cause a negative outcome.

You could change out the applesauce for, finely grated zucchini, mashed bananas, pumpkin or even cooked sweet potatoes. Especially for the last two ingredients, I would think some additional moisture would be necessary. Also depending upon the choose item you would or would not want chocolate chips. However nuts or raisins would be great. Or even granola clusters.

I kept notes about how I put this new version together, and after I have a slice tonight (or sooner, I am getting hungry!) and I think it is good enough, I will come back and post the recipe. But I do think a new category had been established, I think everyone needs a few good,

"one bowl cake recipes".

Have a wonderful fourth of July, and as always, thanks for taking the time to stop by.