22 September 2012

Food In Jars


Over at Lucindaville we posted photos of the new Canning Jar Closet and what better accompaniment to those photos than to feature one of new favorite canning cookbooks.  Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan grew out of her wildly popular blog, Food in Jars.  I just love to click onto Food in Jars, especially on those days that are not going so well.  A brief click on oozing jams, bright jellies, and comfy conserves and I am a happy camper.

So one can just imagine how ecstatic I was to find that Marisa was doing her very own Food in Jars cookbook.  I waited and waited and it finally arrived.  What can I say, some girls love jewelry, I love shiny jewels suspended in canning jars.  The book did not disappoint.  There is very practical information for those of you who have never canned before.  She debunks the myth that canning requires specialized equipment (or a canning jar closet for that matter!) as well as my favorite myth, that canning must be done in industrial sized batches.  Long ago, before there was a Trader Joe, one did need to provide for the family for those long winter months while the garden was under snow.  And there were times when women canned gigantic quarts of tomatoes and beans, but those days are waning.   Today we just want lovely little jars of our own jam.  And while one does not need specialized canning equipment, it was Marisa who caused me to buy one of my favorite specialised canning tools the Kuhn 4th Burner Pot which can be used for various other things besides canning three small jars of jam, but I digress...

Another of my favorite cooking techniques that Marisa employs is the slow cooker.  I do love my slow cooker for apple butter and Maris shown a light on the multiple other butters one could make.  This a favorite.

Slow Cooker Blueberry Butter

8 cups of pureed blueberries
2 cups/ 400 g granulated sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Put the pureed blueberries in a 4-quart capacity slow cooker. Cover and turn it to low. After it has cooked for 1 hour, remove the lid and stir. From this point forward, you will want to keep the lid slightly  cracked.  Propping it open with  a wooden spoon or chopstick allows for the evaporating steam to escape.

This butter needs between 4 to 8 hours total in the slow cooker.  The time varies depending on how hot you slow cooker cooks.  Check the butter at least once and hour to check the progress.
In the final hour add the sugar, lemon zest and juice, and spices.  If you want to speed the evaporation, remove the lid and turn the cooker up to high.  If you do this, make sure you check the butter every 10 minutes to prevent scorching.

(When the butter is nearing completion,prepare a boiling water bath and 4 regular-mouth 1-pint/500 ml jars  and lids according to processing. )

Once it is thick as ketchup and spreadable, determine whether you like chunky or smooth butter. Puree the butter for a smooth texture; for slight chunkiness, leave it as is.
 (Ladle into jars and process for 10 minutes.)


The great thing about this book is the range.   From beginner to advance jam maker, there is something to get you into the kitchen. For those days you can't get into the kitchen, check out the blog!  Either way you will find yourself very happy.

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