Make Your Own: Taco Seasoning

Make Your Own: Taco Seasoning

Making your own spice mixes like this not only saves you a trip to the store, but it’s also a lot cheaper than buying them ready made and tastes better too. Plus you control what you put in the mix, and if you’re like me and prefer organic things, you know what you’re making is also healthier than what you find at the store. It’s a win win situation all around!

Now, let’s get to shaking! 😉

What You’ll Need:
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of black pepper (Note: More if you like pepper, less if you don’t.)
2 tablespoons of chili powder
2 tablespoons of paprika (Note: I used plain this time, but you can used the smoked variety if you prefer. I’ve done that before and it gives you a bit more depth in the taste.)
1 teaspoon of cumin
2 teaspoons of onion powder
1 teaspoon of garlic powder

Make Your Own: Taco Seasoning

Place in ingredients in a bowl and thoroughly mix together all of the ingredients. Once mixed put in an airtight container and store in your pantry or cupboard until ready to use. Or if you’d like you can just mix it all in a small jar and shake, then cover for storage and skip having to clean to bowl.

To use to make tacos, add two heaping tablespoons of the mixture to 1 pound of cooked ground meat (beef, chicken, etc.) along with 2 cups of water and cook until the water evaporates.

Now you’re ready to make tacos, or go crazy and make burritos or nachos, or well, you get the picture. ;o)

IMG_231Make Your Own: Taco Seasoning0

Notes: You can also add in 1/2 to a 1/2 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper if you want to spice things up a bit or 1 teaspoon of ground chipolte powder for an added little kick.

Poor Man’s Microwave Popcorn

Poor Man's Microwave Popcorn

Microwave popcorn is convenient, but commercial varieties have a bunch of crap in them that can cause cancer. Imagine something processed being bad for you? What are the odds?

Anyway…

Of course you can air pop corn, or do the “old fashioned” stove top method, to which I’m partial, but you can also make your own microwave popcorn when you’re short on time. You might think this would be difficult, but it takes about 5 minutes and that includes popping. Not bad for a fast, healthy snack. You control what goes in to the bag, so there’s no gross chemicals or anything.

Not only is this a neat snack, it also is a cheap snack! You can’t go wrong with that! Once you try it you’ll do it over and over again. It’s that easy and that good!

What You’ll Need:
Plain brown paper bag
Popcorn
Sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil

Take a paper bag and place a thin layer of popcorn on the bottom of the bag:

Poor Man's Microwave Popcorn

Yes it’s not the best picture, but it gives you an idea of how much popcorn you need.

Add in some sea salt. You can add anywhere from 1/2 a teaspoon to 1 teaspoon depending on your tastes. Plus you can always add salt after it’s popped too, but if you pop it with the salt it gives it an overall better flavor.

Put a drizzle of olive oil in the bag, one teaspoon tops.

Fold the top of the bag over a couple of times and lay the bag on its side in the microwave. Pop for anywhere from 2-5 minutes depend on your microwave. It takes about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes in mine. When the pops start to slow down you know it’s time to stop.

Carefully remove from the microwave. It’s hot and the oil spreads in the bag. Carefully open the bag, just as you would a commerical bag, and don’t let the steam burn you.

Place in a bowl and eat!

Note this makes about 2-3 cups of popcorn. If you’re serving more than one you’ll want to make multiple bags.

Poor Man's Microwave Popcorn

Notes: You can make variations of this. To make kettle corn follow the instructions above, but also add a tablespoon of sugar when you add the salt. You could also add in a tablespoon or two of Parmesan during the salt step if you wanted a cheesy snack.

Make Your Own: Ginger Ale

Make Your Own Ginger Ale: Ginger Ale

I’m not a big fan of soda as a general rule, but I do like a good root beer or ginger ale! My beef with most commercial varieties of these drinks? You’ve got it…high fructose corn syrup! There are some lovely artisan sodas out there, and I usually have some of those on hand, but occasionally I like to make my own ginger ale

Ginger ale obviously starts with ginger, in this case several pounds of it. This is a very easy thing to make, and you can’t really go wrong. If your syrup ends up a little less gingery, use more of it when you make your final drink. If it has a stronger ginger flavor, use less. Not sugary enough for you? Add more sugar. Too sugary? Add less sugar, or add a bit more sparkling water when you’re ready to drink your ginger ale. This is a very no-fail sort of thing. There are no wrong answers! And you know how I love that sort of thing.

So what’s next? I’ll make my own root beer, but that as they say, is a story for another day!

Let’s talk some homemade ginger ale!

What You’ll Need:
2-3 pounds of ginger, mostly peeled
6 quarts of water
4 cups of organic cane sugar
Sparkling water
Ice (optional)

Make Your Own Ginger Ale: Ginger

First you want to scrub your ginger. Usually ginger is presented to you in the store pretty clean, but you still want to scrub. Since ginger is a knobbly beasty of a plant you’d be amazed where dirt can hide in its little nooks and crannies! Look at those monsters in the picture above! Plus who knows who touched it at the store, or in the process of transporting it there, before you and what might have been lurking on their hands.

Next you’re going to need a large stockpot. One that can handle at least 8 quarts of liquid, so you have a little room.

Peel your ginger. This doesn’t have to be perfect. If you leave a little ginger skin here or there, no biggie! Did I mention how many nooks and crannies ginger has? Just get most of the skin.

Make Your Own Ginger Ale: Peeled Ginger

Once the ginger is peeled, chop it into rounds or chunks. Again nothing has to be perfect here. Just make sure you’ve got a sharp knife and chop/slice to your hearts content!

Make Your Own Ginger Ale: Chopped Ginger

Place chopped/sliced ginger into your big stockpot.

Make Your Own Ginger Ale: Chopped Ginger Ready For Water

Add six quarts of water and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook covered for 1 hour.

Strain liquid through a sieve into a large bowl. Wipe or rinse out your stockpot to remove any debris and then return syrup to the pot and stir in sugar. Place back on your stove top and stir until sugar is melted. Given this has been cooking for an hour, the sugar melts almost instantaneously.

Make Your Own Ginger Ale: Ginger Syrup Ready For Jars

Once sugar is melted, pour ginger sugar syrup into glass canning jars. I like to use the ones with wide mouths, because if you leave an inch of space at the top you can freeze the syrup for use later.

Keep in mind that your liquid is hot, so either heat your jars a bit in a 200 F oven for about 10 minutes and then handle with mitts, or let the syrup cool down first or the jars might crack. Let the syrup cool completely if you chose the heated jar route, if not you’re already cooled and ready to go.

Make Your Own Ginger Ale: Ginger Syrup

No matter which way you chose to handle your syrup above, now you’ve got your ginger syrup and you can make ginger ale!

Make Your Own Ginger Ale: Let's Make That Drink!

Now you get to decide whether you want to use ice or not. I like to do this over ice, but if your syrup and/or sparkling water have been stored in the fridge you can skip the ice if you want.

Place a little of your ginger syrup in the bottom of a glass.

Make Your Own Ginger Ale: Ready for Sparkling Water

Cover with sparkling water and stir.

Make Your Own Ginger Ale: Ginger Ale

The amount of syrup versus sparkling water depends on your own personal tastes. Play around with it until you get it where you like it!

What you end up with is a really fabulous, sweet, yet spicy, ginger ale that you can mix up whenever you like.

How fabulous is that?

Makes about 5 quarts.

To store you can place in a cool dark place, in the fridge or even freeze your syrup until ready to use. You could put one jar in the fridge and the rest in the freezer and then use it as you need it. The syrup lasts for weeks in the fridge or a cool dark place, and up to a year in your freezer

If you do decide to freeze your syrup be sure that you’ve left at least an inch of head space at the top of the jar and that your jars are completely cooled before you put them in your freezer. This prevents the glass from cracking as the liquid freezes and expands/cools.

Notes: Keep in mind that ginger has a little zing to it. Some people might not care for this version of ginger ale because it does have a bit of “heat” to it, for lack of a better word. Most of the people I’ve given this to, who were fans of ginger ale to begin with, loved the finished product!

Make Your Own: Honey Butter

Make You Own Honey Butter

I was talking about making honey butter with some friends a while back and I was surprised to find out that they thought this was an epic culinary undertaking. They were shocked when I told them just how easy it was to make!

I’m a big fan of honey butter, or well honey itself for that matter. My father has his own bees so I’ve always got a ready supply of honey in the cabinet. Honey butter is perfect on warm biscuits, yeast rolls, or even simple toast. Making your own is also a lot cheaper and has less unneeded additives than what you might find in your store.

2012 will bring more of these “Make Your Own” segments, which in reality are what I like to call “semi-recipes”. Everything from herbed oils, to seasonings, to other food items, along with a few household cleaning and beauty items as well. In 2011 I started making my own laundry detergent and cleaning spray. Not only is it cheaper, it’s healthier too. After all isn’t that how most of use want to start out the New Year?

Happy New Year! Here’s to hoping 2012 is a healthier, better year for us all!

Make You Own Honey Butter

What You’ll Need:
1/2 pound of butter, softened (Note: I like to use Kerrygold Irish Butter.)
1/4 to 1/3 cup of honey

In a mixing bowl beat butter until light and fluffy. On low speed slowly add honey and mix until incorporated. Turn to high and beat for one minute.

Remove butter from mixing bowl and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Plus it’s ready to use immediately.

How easy is that?

Make You Own Honey Butter

Notes: If you like your honey butter a little less sweet go with 1/4 a cup of honey. It you like it a bit more sweet then go with 1/3 a cup of honey instead. Honey butter not your thing? Add a couple of tablespoons of cinnamon sugar instead to make another great “fancy” butter to enjoy.

Make You Own: Ketchup

Make Your Own Ketchup

Sherri at the Adventures of Kitchen Girl was talking about making ketchup and this intrigued me. I have wanted to try to do this for several years, but just never got around to actually making some. She shared a link from The New York Times which she adapted and I decided to give it a try!

Yesterday Alexis and I ran some errands and stopped by the orchard. They had exactly one box of “second” tomatoes left and I snatched it up! I ended up adapting the recipe even further and actually doubling it for the most part and I really loved the result!

What’s not to like about your own homemade condiments that you know exactly what goes in to them? I’ll definitely be making this again. It’s easy, just some chopping and stirring here and there, and you end up with a really fabulous end product. That is always a good thing.

What You’ll Need:
3 1/2 pounds of tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 apples peeled and chopped (Note: I used the Gala variety.)
2 cups of yellow onion, chopped
2 1/2 cups of organic cane sugar
1 1/2 cups of apple cider vinegar
4 teaspoons of sea salt
8-10 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon of peppercorns (Note: Next time I think I’ll just use ground pepper.)
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves

First you want to peel and chop your tomatoes. The easiest way to peel a tomato is to drop it in to boiling water for about 30 seconds and then remove it to a cold water bath. Once it’s been in the cool water for 30 seconds or so the skins will peel right off! Place chopped tomatoes in a large stock pot and set aside.

Next you want to peel and chop your apple as well as chop your onion and garlic and add it to the tomatoes. Add the remaining ingredients to your pot and you’ll end up with something a little like this:

Make Your Own Ketchup: Read to Cook

The great thing about recipes like this is that you have a little wiggle room in terms of ingredients. It doesn’t have to be perfect!

Bring the mixture to a quick boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the mixture has thickened slightly. Process mixture until smooth in a blender or food processor and then return to your pot:

Make Your Own Ketchup: Simmering

Cook for another 30 minutes or until the ketchup thickens. It will also thicken as it cools as well.

Store in the fridge in an airtight container (I like canning jars) for up to 3 months.

Make Your Own Ketchup

Notes: Next time I’m going to cook the ketchup just a bit longer so it will be a little thicker. It didn’t thicken up as much as I would have liked when it cooled. I put two pint jars in the fridge, one for me and one for my sister and I froze the rest of the mixture.

Make Your Own: Vanilla Extract

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

Did you know you can make your own vanilla extract? Not only is it ridiculously simple, it’s also some of the best vanilla you’ll ever taste at a fraction of the cost of what you pay for a bottle of vanilla at your local grocery store. A couple of years ago I made vanilla extract to give as Christmas presents and I haven’t bought vanilla extract since!

Have you made your own? No? Curious how it works? Let’s get started!

What You’ll Need:
Vodka
Vanilla beans, cut in half
A canning jar with a lid

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract: Ready to Go

First off you’ll need to decide what size jar you want to use. When I’m making it for myself (or close friends/family) I go with the quart sized jar. For gifts the pint sized jar works too. Rule of thumb, a liter of vodka will pretty much fill a quart sized jar.

Next you want some vodka. I like to use Irish vodka?

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract: Irish Vodka

Why? Well I have this fascination with all things Irish, but you can use whatever kind of vodka you like.

Next let’s talk vanilla beans!

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract: Vanilla Beans

You’re going to need 6-8 vanilla beans. First off do NOT go to the store and buy those stupid vanilla beans that are one in the jar for like $10 or something, because then you’re going to have one pricey bottle of vanilla extract! That defeats the purpose of making your own and saving yourself some money.

You want to get online either on EBay or Amazon.com and do a search for vanilla beans. I like to buy the organic version, but you’ve heard my ideas on organic before. You can get a large number of vanilla beans for next to nothing! I bought some a couple of years ago and paid like $14 for 100! I still have them in my pantry and they are just as good as they were the day I bought them.

Trust me, go forth and search. I’ll wait….

Did you search? See I told you! Now order yourself some vanilla beans already! ;oP

Now where were we?

Cut each vanilla bean in half:

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract: Vanilla Beans Cut In Half

Place the split beans in a jar and cover with vodka:

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract: Ready to "Steep"

Be sure and put the lid on tight.

Now comes the waiting part. This process does take a few weeks, about 6 to be exact, until it’s ready to use. All you need to do is sit it in your pantry, or on your counter out of direct sun light, and give the jar a little shake now and then. It will start to turn a beautiful brown color and you’ll know it’s ready to go. Once it’s done you use it just like you use the vanilla extract you buy at the store.

Below is a picture of the extract at various stages:

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract: Ready to "Steep, Ready to Use and Almost Used Up!

The clear jar is the one I just put together. The jar in the middle is one I put together in December of 2009 and the jar that is almost empty is the one I’ve been using since December of 2007. Neat hunh?

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract: My Two Year Old Jar Almost Empty

Not only is this sinfully easy, it’s also quick! The entire process of getting it in to the jar takes less than 5 minutes. A little forethought is needed so that you have it ready to go when you need it since it needs to “steep” for 6 weeks or so, but shaking it here and there is neither difficult nor time consuming. When you’re done you’ve got a fabulous vanilla extract that just can’t be beat!

Notes: I did a little experiment when I made my first batch and used several different types of alcohol as an experiment. For the record bourbon and rum work OK too, though vodka is my favorite medium. The tequila? Well that one didn’t turn out too great. You can’t win them all! ;oP

Whole Grain Bread

Whole Grain Bread

I love to make bread and for a while now I’ve been thinking about coming up with a bread recipe for Alexis and I so that I could stop buying bread at the store and dealing with all those plastic bags and things that bread is inevitably packed in. I already make Jamison’s gluten free bread each week, so why not make one Lex and I can enjoy too?

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions. I don’t see the point. They are easily made and easily broken, but I see nothing wrong with making a few goals. Goals are much easier to focus on and aren’t as daunting to me. So last week I set out with the goal to come up with a really good whole grain bread that both Alexis and I could enjoy and this is what resulted. It took two tries, but on the second it really came together!

So goodbye store bought bread! This version is delicious and easy. You can’t get better than that!

What You’ll Need:
1 cup of warm water
1 tablespoon of yeast
1 cup of oats, processed until smooth
1/3 cup of flax seed meal
1/3 cup of vital wheat gluten (Note: You really need to add wheat gluten if you’re making a whole grain bread. It really makes a BIG difference!)
1 2/3 cups of white whole wheat flour
1 2/3 cups of whole wheat flour
2/3 cup of corn flour (Note: Corn flour is NOT corn starch.)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/3 cup of olive oil
1/3 cup of honey
1 cup of orange juice (Note: You can use freshly squeezed or out of the carton.)

Mix yeast and water together and let sit for 5 minutes or so or until foamy:

Whole Grain Bread: Yeast

While yeast is proofing place oats in a food processor and process until relatively flour like in consistency:

Whole Grain Bread: Oats

Next mix processed oats, flax seed meal, gluten, flours and sea salt in a large glass bowl until completely incorporated. Add water/yeast, olive oil, honey and orange juice and stir until dough forms.

Now here’s where I do things a little differently…You ready?

Instead of putting the dough on a floured surface and kneading, I just sprinkle the dough with white whole wheat flour and knead it right in the bowl! Works perfectly and saves you the steps of having to clean the counter after you’re finished.

Knead for 1-2 minutes until dough is elastic. (Note: That means when you poke it it bounces back.) Place dough in a bread pan that has been brushed with olive oil or sprayed with non-stick spray:

Whole Grain Bread: Ready to Rise

Place in a warm place (I like to put it in the oven with the light on) and let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until you can see a noticeable rise:

Whole Grain Bread: Risen

Remember that with whole grain breads the rise is very subtle. It’s not going to double in size or anything of that nature while in the rising period, but you will be able to see a slight enlargement.

Once the dough is risen turn oven on to 400 F with the loaf in the oven. Close the door and when the oven is preheated THEN start counting time. (In other words you’re going to preheat your oven WITH the loaf inside. The loaf will continue to rise a bit more as the oven preheats.)

When the oven is preheated you will bake from 35-45 minutes until loaf sounds hollow and is browned all over:

Whole Grain Bread

You might have to cover the loaf with foil in the last 10 minutes or so if it gets really brown. Let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting. Store in an airtight container once completely cooled.

Notes: No notes on this one.

Easy Sour Dough Bread

Easy Sour Dough Bread: The Inside

Making your own bread is really easy, not to mention a lot of fun! Sour dough is sometimes conceived as difficult, but it really isn’t. You make a “starter” and let it do it’s thing. The longer you let it sit the more “sour” it becomes. You can even make a loaf the day you begin the “starter” as I did with this loaf. Or you can store it in the fridge for a couple of weeks at a time. As long as you feed it (i.e. add flour from time to time) it can go on indefinitely in the fridge.

This version is a quick start. You whip up the “starter” in the morning and by the afternoon you’re making dough. Or if you don’t want to make it that day you can as I mentioned above store it in the fridge in a glass jar and feed it right before making the bread. The directions below are for making the day the “starter” begins, but trust me it’s a good loaf of bread either way!

Easy Sour Dough Bread: "Starter"

What You’ll Need for the “Starter”:
1 cup of warm water
1 tablespoon of organic cane sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast
1/2 cup of unbleached all purpose flour

In a large glass jar mix together water, sugar, yeast and flour and stir to mix. (Note: Use wooden utensils and avoid letting metal or plastic touch the “starter”) Let sit for at least 1 hour to overnight to proof.

As you can see above my “starter” got a little happy and crawled right out of the jar. That doesn’t usually happen, but sometimes yeast just has a mind of its own.

What You’ll Need to Make the Bread:
1 “starter”, proofed
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 cup of warm water
2-3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour

In a large bowl add starter, salt and water. Stir to mix. Slowly add flour until dough ball forms. (Note: You made need some, all or possibly even just a bit more flour. It all depends on humidity and such. You want dough you can handle without sticking to your hands.)

Once dough is formed turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes until dough is elastic. Shape into a ball, place on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper and score the top of the loaf:

Easy Sour Dough Bread: Ready to Rise

Let rise for 30 minutes to an hour or until the loaf has risen:

Easy Sour Dough Bread: Risen

Set oven to 400 F.

Add risen dough to the oven as it preheats instead of waiting for the oven to preheat. Bake for 30 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped and is golden brown.

Easy Sour Dough Bread: Baked

Notes: I haven’t tried this yet with whole grain flours, but I plan to do that the next time around.

No Cook Blueberry Jam

No Cook Blueberry Jam

As I mentioned yesterday Alexis and I went to the orchard after our trip to the library to pick up some blueberries (and of course peas for Miss G)! I just love blueberry season! Blueberries are my favorite fruit, followed closely by watermelon and fresh pineapple. In fact if you do a search on Dianne’s Dishes for blueberries you’ll find Blueberry Muffins to Blueberry Ice Cream to Blueberry Cheesecake and everything in between!

I’m a big fan of blueberry jam. In fact I normally get mine from a local company called McCutcheons. I love their jams/jellies/preserves! And as an added bonus they have no high fructose corn syrup in them and use real sugar. That’s always a plus in my book. But I’ve been wanting to try to make some on my own for a while now.

This jam turned out just perfect! The lemon and blueberry go so well together, and it was just the right amount of sweet! It also goes together in no time and you don’t have to fuss with canning or anything either since it’s a fridge or freezer jam. In less than an hour you’ve got yourself some fabulous homemade jam!

No Cook Blueberry Jam: Blueberries

What You’ll Need:
4 pints of blueberries
2/3 cup of organic cane sugar
The zest of one lemon
The juice of one lemon
1 package of Ball Freezer Jam Fruit Pectin

Rinse berries and pick over them to ensure there are no stems. Mash berries well:

No Cook Blueberry Jam: Mashed Blueberries

If there are a few blueberries that don’t get mashed that’s ok.

Add the zest and juice of one lemon:

No Cook Blueberry Jam: Lemon Zest

Also add the organic cane sugar:

No Cook Blueberry Jam: Organic Cane Sugar

Stir to mix well:

No Cook Blueberry Jam: Mixed and Ready for Pectin

Add pectin 1 tablespoon at a time:

No Cook Blueberry Jam: Pectin

And then stir until mixed in. Repeat this process until the pectin is completely gone and well mixed in to the blueberry mixture:

No Cook Blueberry Jam: Ready for Jars

Stir for 3-4 minutes and then you’re ready to store. I like to use canning jars. Using a funnel ladle the mixture into the jar:

No Cook Blueberry Jam

Be sure not to fill the jars quite full, especially if you’re going to store this in the freezer:

No Cook Blueberry Jam

This will give you about 3 1/2 pints:

No Cook Blueberry Jam

The one that was going in the fridge I filled a little more full than those going into the freezer.

Let sit for 30 minutes and voila…Jam!

Store in the fridge for 4-6 weeks or the freezer for 10-12 months.

No Cook Blueberry Jam

Notes: This method should work with other types of fruits and berries too. Next up I want to try peaches!

Strawberry and Rhubarb Jam

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

This past weekend I was restless. With Alexis not being able to be around people the last few weeks due to her illness and their concerns that she might pick up something else on top of what she already had, I was more than tired of being in our house, looking at the same walls. While I’m a homebody of the biggest sort for the most part, if I HAVE to stay somewhere without the choice to go out, then I get a bit stir crazy!

On Saturday I decided to get out and run some errands. Jamison was at home, so I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to keep my very social, very friendly, “I love people!” child from interacting with folks who might be carrying this germ or that that her system might not be able to handle yet, and left her at home with “Dad” as she calls him, while I went and got a few things done.

When I finished doing what I needed to do, I didn’t feel like rushing straight home. Jamison was watching Miss G so I decided to take another route home. I would say more scenic, but this whole area is scenic, so it was beautiful either way. It’s spring, the trees are either sprouting or entirely green and the whole world is just stunning! Other than spring allergies that come from these pollinating beings, this is why I love spring!

I was driving along, and yes singing my songs, when I remembered that it was now May and that meant the orchard was open! I decided to pop over and see if they had any peas yet, because ours are still growing and not producing yet, and Alexis loves her some peas! She’s always liked them, so I thought I’d drop by to see if they had any. They didn’t, but I was pleasantly surprised to find some strawberries!

I’ll confess no matter what time of year, you’ll usually find strawberries in the fridge as they are another of Miss G’s favorite things. But there is just something about a plant ripened, local strawberry that makes spring so fun! The taste of fresh, ripe strawberries just can’t be beat! I picked up a container, along with some spinach and spring onions and headed home. The strawberries were so good I just had to run over and get some more on Tuesday and this time when I went they had rhubarb too!

Rhubarb is one of those things you either like or you don’t. I hear people talking about it each spring, and I’ll admit I’ve had rhubarb all of once, when I experimented with it a couple of years ago, but I just couldn’t pass up those beautiful stalks when I saw them on Tuesday, so I picked up a couple of bunches along with the strawberries and headed home. But what was I going to do with them?

I decided that it would be fun to try and make a strawberry rhubarb jam and I was very pleased with the results. (I also made a strawberry rhubarb cobbler…You’ll most likely see that one next week!) The jam ended up being tart, but with just the right hint of sweetness. I’m not a fan of overly sugary jams, and if you’ve ever looked at jam recipes most of them call for inordinate amounts of sugar! 1 cup of fruit to 1 cup of sugar in a lot of cases and let me just say that is more than sugar overkill! Fresh, ripe fruit doesn’t need a lot of sugar, it just needs a bit to compliment the flavor and that’s what I’ve done here.

So if you like strawberries, rhubarb and a little tang, this is the jam for you!

Note: You can can this, or store it in the fridge. I’m not going to give you canning instructions because although I do can from time to time I’m not an expert. You can get more information from the National Canning Center. They have a great page set up to tell you exactly what to do!

This was also the first time I used pectin. I’ve used gelatin in the past, but wanted to try something different. I thought for a while it was going to be more like Strawberry Rhubarb Syrup, but overnight it firmed right up! I was very pleased.

What You’ll Need:
6 cups of strawberries, chopped (Note: I like to have big chunks of fruit, but you can chop the fruit and fine or as coarse as you like.)
4 cups of rhubarb, chopped
1 cup of sugar
The zest of one lemon
The juice of one lemon
4 teaspoons of pectin
4 teaspoons of calcium water

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam: Strawberries and Rhubarb

Chop fruit and pour into a large stock pot, stir to mix. Add sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice and stir to coat. Let sit for an hour or until juice forms.

Once liquid has formed bring mixture to a quick boil. Reduce heat and cook for 10-20 minutes or until the fruit starts breaking down. You want a soupy mixture, with tender fruit.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam: Ready to Seal

Once mixture is soupy and tender remove from heat. Remove 2 cups of the mixture and place in a glass bowl. Whisk in pectin and calcium water (Note: I’ve never used pectin before. I used Pomona’s Pectin and I don’t know if pectin usually uses calcium water or if that is just a Pomona thing.) into the removed strawberry/rhubarb mixture until relatively smooth and then dump this back into the pot and stir until mixed.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam: Setting

At this point you can either can the mixture or you can store it in the fridge. I canned it and ended up with two quart jars. I would have preferred smaller jars, but I didn’t have the lids.

And there you have jam!

Notes: As I mentioned in the intro I wasn’t sure if this was going to set up. I made this around three yesterday and there was a warning on the box that pectin continues hardening until the mixture is completely cool. When I came upstairs last night at 8 the jars were still warm and the mixture was not set. When I went down to the kitchen this morning it had set nicely! Also if you wanted to add more sugar you could, but I liked the slightly sweet, slightly tart results.