Tag Archives: canning

Sweet + Savory Fig Jam

People often ask me what it was like to grow up in Hawaii.

Grilled Cheese with Fig Jam

What can I say? Warm beaches, tropical fruit stands, and frolicking in the sun. Everyday.

Fig Jam

But I missed out on things, too. Like, shopping for winter coats. Taking family road trips to the Grand Canyon. Learning to ski on snow days.

And… canning.

Fig Jam

Now that I live in warm-beach-less-tropical-fruit-less-generally-sun-less Oregon, I’m making up for lost time.I still haven’t gone on a road trip or learned to ski, but I’ve learned to can, gosh darn it.

I like knowing what’s in my food, and I also enjoy the satisfaction of doing something that gives you payback all year long. Perhaps it’s a control thing. Aaanyway, I make a variety of different jams, butters and pickles over the course of the year.

Sam can make fun of me, but the only complaint I’ve ever heard from him is that I didn’t make enough pickles. 

Fig Jam

In years past, I didn’t have real canning equipment. So I’d have to freeze or refrigerate the jams. However, my in-laws gave me a gift certificate to Sur La Table for my birthday this year, and I practically sprinted to the store to buy a canning set.

Fig Jam

Halleluiah for in-laws! Yup, I said it.

Fig Jam

My first attempt at “real” canning [via the boiling water method] was the Fig Jam recipe that I’ve been eyeing for months in a beautiful canning book called Put em Up. I was pretty impressed with the results. We’ve used the fig jam on just about anything you can imagine  But my favorite combo? Grilled cheese with turkey and fig jam. 

Fig Jam

Has anyone else used a recipe from Put em Up? I’d love to know how it turned out. I’m ready for my next canning extravaganza.

Sweet + Savory Fig Jam

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2 pounds figs, stemmed and quartered
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup bottled lemon juice

Bring the figs and water to a boil in a large nonreactive pot. Reduce the heat and summer for 5 minutes to soften the fruit. Crush using a potato masher.
Add the sugar, vinegar, lemon juice and return to a boil. Reduce the heat and summer, stirring frequently, until thick and jammy, about 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and set aside for 5 minutes, stirring to release air bubbles.
Refrigeration method: Ladle into jars. Cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
Canning method: Ladle into jars, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Release trapped air by stirring mixture with a plastic knife. Center lids on the jars and screw on jar bands. Process for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, remove canner lid, and let jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Remove jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check seals, then store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

Margaritas in the Rain http://margaritasintherain.com/


Refrigerator Pickles

Guess what? I have some exciting news. 
A few weeks back, I was offered a job as Social Marketing Manager at a local startup here in Portland. It’s an opportunity I just couldn’t pass down. I accepted the position and gave two week’s notice at the agency I’d been working at for the past few years. Check out my send-off…. clearly my colleagues know me well. 
I’m taking a few days off before starting the new job so I can tackle my To Do list. From cleaning the house to writing blog posts, I’m really looking forward to checking some items off the list (literally. I love checkboxes.) before starting this new and super exciting chapter in my life. 
Today was my first day off. Despite all the chores and errands spelled out on my To Do list, I decided to make pickles and play with babies. 
No, really. 
I spent the day canning pickles (using this recipe) with a good girlfriend and her adorable 5-month old. And what fun we had. 
I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings. 

Apple Butter 101: How to make it + how to eat it.

I’m a sucker for seasonal recipes. In the spring I get my grill on. In the summer I make jams and pies. And during the fall, I’m all about apples.

{The supplies}

This year, while Sam was away at his bachelor party,  I tackled apple butter for the very first time with the help of some festive Christmas music and one of my besties, Katie.

Katie’s dad is actually a farmer on the Oregon Coast, and we were lucky enough to get about 6 pounds of organic apples from his orchard for our science experiment.

{The prep work is easy – no need to core or peel apples.}
{Just wash and chop.}

After washing and quartering the apples (skin and core left on!), we threw them into saucepans to cook down, with a splash of apple cider vinegar and water.

{Simmering apples}
{First look at mushy apples!}

Once the apples were cooked down, we fed the mushy mixture through my brand new food mill (best bridal shower gift ever).

{Getting ready to use the food mill}
{The food mill in action}

It’s a bit of a labor-intensive process to strain so much apple mush (and yes, apple mush is definitely the only way I could think to describe it), but we powered through it. And boy was it worth it.

{Post food mill action}
Next, we put the now seedless-and-skinless mixture back into the saucepans on low, along with sugar (about a cup per 3 pounds), cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to taste. And then we stirred until our arms ached, for about an hour and a half.

During this time, we chilled a small plate in the freezer. To confirm that the apple butter is thick enough, the trick is to drop a spoonful of the hot concoction onto the chilled plate. Ours stayed in place and didn’t run. Thanks to this plate test (and several taste tests), we knew our apple butter was official.

Now it’s confession time. We were very excited to make apple butter. However, neither Katie nor I had ever actually had apple butter So once the cooking was complete, we had a little testing extravaganza to capture the full apple butter experience.

1.  The Comfort Food: apple butter and fresh biscuit

{The best pre-packaged biscuits. Ever.}
{I can’t convey in writing how delicious these smell}
2.    The Gourmet: bri, turkey and apple butter panini
{Spreading warm apple butter on our panini}
{Warm, gooey panini. Bam!}

3.   The Classic: peanut butter and apple butter sandwich
[Oops, no picture to share here. I believe we ate the sandwich before we could take a picture.]

We were too busy licking our plates to declare a winner, but I can tell you that all three combinations were pretty awesome.

Finally, we packaged the apple butter up in jars. Since neither of us has canning equipment, we couldn’t actually seal the jars, so the apple butter has to be refrigerated. Regardless, we were preeeetty pleased with the results.

{Happy Holidays!}

Blackberry season: Freezer Jam + Pie

I’m going to start this post by showing you two pictures related to my jam extravaganza. The first picture is of pre-jam production:

Blackberry Jam

And here is the second picture, taken once I had finished:

Blackberry Jam

Before we talk about what happened, let me start at the beginning. Last summer I spent a full morning handpicking organic strawberries from a U-pick farm on Sauvie Island, just outside of Portland. I brought the berries home and made fresh strawberry jam. It honestly tasted like bottled summer.

I’d like to think I’m the next Martha Stewart, but it’s pretty standard in Portland to make homemade jam during berry season. Despite it being the norm, it’s still new and exciting for me; I grew up on Costco-sized jars of Smucker’s. But after last year’s scrumptious batch, I knew I’d never go back – PB&Js have never been so tasty (especially if you’re using Dave’s Killer Bread – OMG I’m such an addict!). But as amazing as last year’s strawberry jam was, Sam and I were both ready to spice up our lunchtime regime after eating it for a full year.

Fresh Oregon Blackberries

This summer, I decided to tackle blackberries. The decision was based in large part because Oregon’s incredibly rainy June wiped out almost all other berry crops. I figured if the blackberries could survive El Nino, they could certainly survive being butchered in my kitchen.

Anyway, Sam was at work when I decided to jump into it. I proudly took over the whole kitchen counter in preparation. I gathered my cooking gadgets, premeasured ingredients, sanitized the canning jars and washed the berries.

Oregon Blackberry

Now let’s take a step back. Remember back in elementary school, when your teachers reiterate how important it is to read directions?

Fast-forward to Sunday night. I didn’t read the directions on the pectin (canning preservative) label; a sign that I should continue focusing my blog on eating out rather than staying in.

Without thinking much about it, I opened the box of 100% all natural pectin and began the recipe included in the box. I mushed the berries and strained the blackberry seeds. I added the pectin, sugar and corn syrup. I stirred. I splashed blackberry juice everywhere. I waited. I stirred again. And then about 45 minutes into the process, I realized that I was reading the wrong recipe; I meant to make the “real stuff” as I had done in the past. Instead, was following the directions for “Easy Freezer Jam.” It was all making sense (I was wondering why I hadn’t turned on the stove yet) although definitely too late to change. So, I went with it, slightly flustered at this point, and finished the recipe. I managed to get the mixture into my adorable Kerr jars – although it got all over the counter and floors, too.


The jam making process is slightly suspenseful because you can’t taste the finished product right away. You have to wait 24 long hours for the jam to settle and form before you dig in and make sure it tastes, well, like jam. Which is perfect, because that’s how long it will take you to clean the purple die out of your kitchen tiles and grout. But let me tell you something: homemade jam (even Easy Freezer Jam) is really good. And besides enjoying it yourselves, the little jars make great gifts if you need a quick hostess gift or thank you present.

Waiting 24 hours for my mixture to magically become real jam!

I should add that I ended up with four cups of blackberries left over after the jam process. Most fruit pies require four cups of fruit, which I thought was definitely a sign. Although I’d never made a blackberry pie before, I had a Pillsbury roll out pie crust in my freezer (I always have one handy. Who actually makes pie crusts?) that I defrosted while I searched for a recipe online. I finally found this recipe for Blackberry Pie and whipped it together in no time!

Blackberry Pie

This was another long night for Sam at work, and he came home long after I went to bed. As usual, I woke up first the next morning – and couldn’t help but notice an extra piece of the pie was missing. Nothing better than a homemade midnight snack…