My sister, Marcia (pronounced mar-cee-uh), came to visit me last week and brought her two children, Samantha and Jacob along. Samantha is 7 months younger than Paige so they get along great.. and fight like sisters. Jacob had a lot of fun playing with Perry, despite the age difference. Marcia's expecting baby #3 (another boy!) in March and she knew if she didn't come visit now, who knows when she'd get out this way.
Makes it hard. I wish I could live back in Washington state, especially when I hear about all of the fun get togethers they have, but I know I will enjoy living here in New York. It's always been a dream of mine to see The Big Apple (which we did venture into while she was here)!
Anyway... while she was in town, I didn't make a lot of new dishes. Marcia isn't much of an adventurous eater and her kids are the same so I had to stick with tried and true family stuff. You know what I'm talking about, right?
One thing I did make the morning they arrived was some strawberry jam. But not just any strawberry jam. Strawberry jam with orange and candied ginger. Yummy!
If you've never made jam on your own, it is SO EASY!!! What are you waiting for!?!?! (Yes.. this is me subtly coaxing you into making some.) All it takes is fruit, sugar, lemon juice, and pectin. Of course, I did add the orange and candied ginger but you don't have to go all crazy like me.
Since fresh strawberries this time of year are expensive, I bought a couple of these little babies. Frozen strawberries. It doesn't change the flavor or anything so don't worry if they're not fresh. These strawberries came sugared already. If the strawberries you buy aren't sweetened, add 3 cups sugar. (You really don't know how full of sugar jam is until you make it!)
Let them thaw completely before making the jam.
Dump the strawberries into a soup pot. You need one that's big because the fruit does boil up as it cooks.
I mashed up the strawberries a little bit. I hate when I get a big ol slimy piece of strawberry. If you don't want them mashed up, then skip this step.
Measure out 1 tsp or so of candied ginger. You can make your own if you can't find it in the grocery store. Just google "making candied ginger" and there are a few places that give step by step instructions. I took the easy way out and bought mine. You can find it in the spice aisle.
Add the ginger to the pot. Add a squirt of lemon juice too while you're at it. :)
Take one orange, and using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin off. This is an easy way of zesting.
Cut up the orange peel into very thin pieces. We don't want the orange flavor to be distorted at all so hold this off to the side until after we add the pectin. Once I sliced up the zest, I did squeeze in the juice of the orange into the pot though.
Put the pot on the stove and bring to a boil. The fruit will start foaming a lot on top. Take a large spoon or ladle and carefully skim the top to remove as much foam as possible.
Let this boil for about 2-3 minutes. Add the contents of the pectin packet. Stir and then bring to a boil again. Let boil one minute and remove from the heat.
My jam is going into the freezer so I'm using these rubbermaid containers. If you want to have this shelf safe, use clean jars with new lids. Fill the containers up but not to the top. Make sure you leave a little room at the top for a vacuum seal.
If you're using jars, as soon as you fill, wipe any jam that may have gotten on the lip. Place the lid and then tighten the ring on. Flip the jar upside down and leave it that way until the jam has cooled completely. Turn the jars over and press in the center. If it doesn't pop or move, your jar is perfectly sealed. If it *does* pop, you're going to have to keep it in the fridge or freezer. I don't think I've ever had any trouble with unsealed jars doing it this way.
That's all there is to it! Homemade jam is AWESOME and so much more delicious than the stuff you buy in the store (in my opinion). Inside the box of pectin you will find a sheet of directions. They have recipes for every kind of jam you can think of.
So again, if you've never made jam before, you'll see that it really isn't very intimidating and you don't need any special equipment except for a box or two of Ball jars and lids. No pressure cooker or anything! Good luck and I hope you let me know if you make some for yourself. Do me proud!