Category Archives: Canning

Blue Ribbon Fig and Thyme Jam

ribbonOn Friday, the first one of the new school year, I found myself feeling a little run down. I ate lunch and checked the updates on my phone only to find the most exciting message, “Your fig and thyme jam took first place! Woohoo!!!” I bounded into the other room to share the news with my colleagues. It was just the kind of news I needed to boost my spirits and get me to the end of the day.

fig_jamAfter winning my blue ribbon last year, I didn’t know what to expect. I was open to the possibility that it might not happen again and at the same time hopeful that I would end up with another blue ribbon under my belt. I am beyond thrilled that I did. I am beaming as I write this.

Since I can’t let y’all taste the winning jam, I wanted to at least share the recipe. It was a winner even before it won a ribbon.

Fig and Thyme Jam

Adapted from So Easy To Preserve
(a highly recommended preservation cookbook of safe and tested recipes)

Makes about 5 pints

About 5 pounds fresh figs (~ 2 qts. chopped)
3/4 cup water
6 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Prepare the Figs:

Rinse the figs and place in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over the figs and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain, stem and chop the figs.

Make the Jam:

In a large dutch oven or saucepan, add the figs, sugar, thyme and water. Slowly bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Cook rapidly until thick, stirring frequently to prevent it from sticking. Check to see that the jam has reached the jelling point. (Click here for three ways to test if your jam is done.) Once it has reached that point, add the lemon juice and cook for a minute longer. Pour hot jam into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. *Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.

* Follow these instructions for safe water bath canning.

Enjoy!

Click here for adorable label ideas!

Crafty Canning Labels for a Blue Ribbon

fig_jamI wasn’t planning on entering the fair this year, but I made a game time decision and entered on what happened to be the last day to register. I figured it was meant to be. Last year, I entered the fruit butter competition. This year, it’s jam.

label_itAs I learned last year from my blue ribbon “report card,” presentation is a huge part of the points you need for a ribbon. Coincidentally, that’s one of my favorite parts, so I made sure my jar was looking as stellar as possible. Here’s how I made my blue ribbon (fingers crossed!) labels.

sticker_paper1. Buy a pack of do-it-yourself sticker paper. Seriously, this stuff is fun no matter what kind of labels or stickers you’re making.

labels2. Hop on over to this awesome free site, The Jam Labelizer, and add the information you want to include on your custom label. Normally, I wouldn’t put the processing time or the fact that it was “water bath canned” on my labels, but for the fair, that’s required information.

For standard-size lids (the small ones, not the wide-mouth lids), you’ll want to adjust the labels to print 12 to a page. That will give you the perfect size circle to work with.

label_tools3. Gather your tools. For this project, you will need a paper punch that is 2 inches in diameter. I used the X-large ‘Scalloped Circle’ punch by Fiskars. (For the record, I am not sponsored by Fiskars. I just happen to love this crafty tool!) You will also need a basic pair of scissors.

After you print your labels, cut out a circle, leaving a bit of a white border around the edge.

flip_it4. Position the label inside the punch and look through the back of the tool to check your alignment. I try to make sure I have equal amounts of white bits on all the edges, though it doesn’t have to be an exact science. Punch.

Remove the paper back and beautify your jar with your personalized label. With these colorful, scalloped labels, I think that presentation score is in the bag! Here’s hoping!

The Giving Chair

Artichoke seedling on the giving chair.

Artichoke seedling on the giving chair.

On my little porch, there is a little chair. When it was black, it wasn’t much to look at. Now it’s a cheerful shade of yellow.

Succulent babies on the giving chair.

Succulent babies on the giving chair.

At first, it was just a chair, but soon it became a place to exchange gifts with friends and neighbors. The more I share my skills and passion for homegrown food with the community, the more they give back to me. I often come home to find happy little surprises waiting on the chair and I am ever grateful.

Egg cartons on the giving chair.

Egg cartons on the giving chair.

During an egg exchange, when I left eggs for her and she left empty cartons and other goodies for me, my neighbor called it the giving chair. The name stuck and it continues to give.

Figs on the giving chair.

Figs on the giving chair.

Yesterday, a friend dropped off some fresh figs she picked. She left them for me on the giving chair. After a long day of prepping and planning for the first week of school, I put my hair up, got out the water bath canner and got to work making some fig jam. It turned out so good, I decided to enter it into the Puyallup fair this morning. The giving chair might have just given me another blue ribbon! Fingers crossed!

Heads up!

My last canning class of the season, the only one that is not yet sold out, will be this Sunday, August 25th! Have you been wanting to can, but just aren’t sure how? Take this class and I’ll show you how! Click here for more information!

Cardamom-spiced Pickled Rhubarb: Spice Up Your Salads

Ask me what I’ve been eating for lunch (and dinner) for the past month and you’ll get this response: Salad. And the day before? Salad. How about the day before that? Salad.

When you grow this:carpet_of_lettuce

You get this:salad_lunch

It’s all salad, all the time. And I’m not complaining. I’ve been looking forward to this time all year. But as to be expected when you’re eating basically the same thing everyday, it can get a little old. I’ve been super creative, mixing up different vinaigrettes and tossing in all kinds of different legumes, nuts and seeds for protein. But nothing made me smile like the first bite of salad I ate with pickled rhubarb sprinkled in. I ’bout lost my mind.

I’m not exaggerating when I say I found myself accidentally tuning out the conversation around me for a few moments when I started eating yesterday’s rhubarb-spiked salad at work. I almost lifted my eyes from my big bowl of greens and swooned, “this pickled rhubarb is so good. It’s just so, so good!” I thought better of it and kept the rhubarb raving to myself…until now.

040912-201101-finished-rhubarb-pickles-610-1I pretty much followed Marisa McClellan’s recipe, but swapped out the star anise for one cardamom pod (one pod per jar). If you don’t like cardamom, don’t add it to the jar. The cardamom ends up being the dominant flavor here, which is fine by me. Also, the final stalks end up a little on the soft side, but with a pair of kitchen shears, it cuts up just fine.

Marisa also mentions saving the pickling liquid to use as a drinking vinegar. Uh, seriously? Shrub and rhubarb vinaigrette, here I come! As if I needed another reason to love this canning project. Seriously, dust off your water bath canner and put up some rhubarb! It’ll have you looking forward to your salads again.

Check out my post, 20 Salad Suggestions, for more salad inspiration!

Image of the jar of pickled rhubarb stalks from Serious Eats