Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Jammin in August

It would be hard for me to choose, but stone fruits are always at the top of my favorites list. So of course this time of year is the best for making jam! I love both peach and nectarine jams and this summer the quality has been stellar. These techniques work for most stone fruits including peaches, apricots, nectarines and plums. It’s always better to work in small batches to ensure a good texture. I don’t work so much with recipes as I do w/ ratios. The general ratio for most of my jams is twice as much fruit to sugar. This is a lot lower in sugar than most standard jam recipes. That still adds enough sweetness but doesn’t cover the inherent flavor of the fruit, Your peach jam will actually taste like peaches instead of just sweet! Just add a little lemon juice and salt and you are good to go. Most home cooks shouldn’t cook more than 2 or 3 pounds of fruit at a time. Slice nectarines and toss w/ sugar and lemon juice. I’ve been using nectarines lately because I’m lazy. If you decide to use peaches you’ll need to peel them. Plums and apricots don’t require peeling either. The peels add nice color and a little extra texture to the jam! So pretty! Let them marinate at room temperature for a couple of hours- this will insure the sugars gets fully dissolved. Then refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, strain the slices away from their juice. You can do this by putting them in a colander set over a large bowl. Make sure they are drained very well. You should have a nice syrupy pool.
Find the largest/ widest pan you have. The whole idea is to get the syrup to cook as quickly as possible with maximum evaporation. This will help to keep the color and flavor as fresh as possible. Cook on very high heat until the syrup starts to form big, thick bubbles on top. Your going to reduce it by not quite half. Don’t let it get away from you- it will darken pretty quickly if your not paying attention. Remember- Safety First! It’s very hot, so don’t burn yourself.
When the syrup is nice and thick, add the nectarines and a generous pinch of salt. Stir everything together and bring back to a boil. Your going to cook long enough till the fruit starts to break down some. The jam will also start to thicken up and darken a little. Make sure to stir frequently- it likes to stick to the bottom of the pan.
When you feel its thick enough take it immediately off the heat. Let cool and refrigerate. If you know how to preserve in a jar- go ahead while its still hot. If not these jams lasts quite a while in the fridge. Cheers!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Avanti HOT Chili Garden Report Mid July 2012

The Avanti garden chili plants are gearing up for the HOT sunny days to come. So far the plants are small and compact. But the bird dung chili is the most prolific, covered in both small lumpy round green fruits and many flowers. The purina chili is ripening just two larger fruits & the cobra is tall yet somewhat bare.
The Chinese chili is ripening several very small fruits and working on some more buds and flowers. Very small plant w/ tiny leaves and flowers
Characteristically golden in color this aji chili has great form, and lots of flavor behind a medium heat. A second fruit is ripening.
With the ornamental ginger dominating the background, the chili patch prepares to explode into the HEAT of summertime growth.