Golden Vanilla-Pear Jam

Golden Vanilla-Pear Jam

I don’t easily get intimidated in the kitchen. A multi-layered cake made up of 4 different components? No problem. Roasting a turkey for the fist time, with 20-plus guests coming over? Bring it on. I love a challenge. But canning is something that I’ve pushed off trying for a long time, even though it was something that I was interested in. It just seemed like so much work. And then, of course, there was always the thought in the back of my head that I’m going to kill my family by serving them improperly canned food.

After reading several books about canning, I decided it was time for me to give it a try. And you know what? It really wasn’t that scary. I made this delicious vanilla-pear jam. So many jams are made with spring and summer produce, but this is a great was to use produce that’s in season during the colder months. You all know how much I adore vanilla, and this jam shows it off perfectly.

Golden Vanilla-Pear Jam

If you don’t want to can this (which I totally understand!), don’t let that keep you from making it! It’ll keep for about a month in the fridge. If you won’t use it that quickly, you can give some away or just make a half recipe. It’s wonderful on a sandwich with almond butter, and I also used about a jar of it in a batch of fruit bars (using THIS recipe).

Golden Vanilla-Pear Jam

Notes:

Make sure that the lids you use for canning are new—you can not reuse lids when canning!

The reason you remove the lids before storing is because in case the food wasn’t properly canned, and bacteria starts growing in it, the lid will pop off and you’ll know right away that you shouldn’t eat it. For that reason, it’s also best not to store jars in top of one another.

Golden Vanilla-Pear Jam

6 cups peeled, cored, and chopped pears

4 cups granulated sugar, divided

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise

1 (1.75-ounce) package powdered pectin

1. Place a rack (I used the basket from THIS set, but a rounds cake cooling rack also works well) on the bottom of a large pot. Add your (lidless) canning jars, fill the pot with enough water to cover the jars by an inch, and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes to sterilize, then remove from heat, drop in you jar lids, and cover the pot to keep everything nice and hot.

2. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot. combine 3 3/4 cups of the sugar, the lemon juice, and the vanilla beans. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Boil until the pears are very soft, about 12 to 15 minutes, mashing with a potato masher as the fruit softens.

3. Whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar with the pectin in a small bowl. Stir into the pear mixture, and let boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the vanilla bean pods, scrape out any remaining seeds into the jam, ans mix well.

4. Carefully remove the jars and lids from the hot water using canning tongs and a magnetic lid lifter, pouring the hot water from the jars back into the pot. Place onto a clean towel on your work surface.

5. Place the canning pot with the water over medium heat.

6. Dry the jars, and then immediately ladle the jam into the jars a wide-mouth funnel helps a lot!). Wipe the rims with a clean, damp cloth. Place a lid on a each jar, and add the rings to close. Close the jars with the tips off your fingers, so that they are tight enough, but not too tight to allow air to escape when you remove the jars from the canning pot.

7. When the water starts boiling, add the closed jars to the pot, adding more water if necessary to cover the jars by a few inches. Boil for 10 minutes.

8. Using canning tongs, remove the jars from the pot back to the dish towel to cool. As they cool, you’ll hear popping sounds as the jars seal. Once cooled, check the jars to make sure that they have sealed properly—the center of the lids should not pop back when you press on them. Remove the rings, and store in the pantry for up to a year. Once opened, refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Makes about 6 half-pint jars (I canned 4 of them, and put 2 in the fridge)

From Pure Vanilla, by Shauna Sever

Triple-Berry Curd

Triple-Berry CurdTriple-Berry CurdTriple-Berry Curd

I served this on top of slices of angel food cake, but this would also be wonderful with pound cake, as a filling for a layer cake, on toast, on ice cream, or with just a plain old spoon.

Triple-Berry Curd

1 2/3 cup mixed fresh or thawed frozen berries (a mixture of blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon lemon juice

4 large egg yolks

1. Combine the berries, sugar, butter, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 5 minutes. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth (or transfer to a blender or food processor, if you do not have an immersion blender). Place pan back over low heat for just a minute or two to heat it back up.

2. Lightly beat the egg yolks in a large bowl. Very slowly stream the hot berry mixture into the egg yolks, stirring constantly.

3. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and stir constantly over low heat for 2 minutes. Do not to allow the mixture to boil.

4. Transfer to a container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. It will thicken when cold.

Makes 2 cups

Strawberry-Vanilla Jam/Strawberry-Vanilla Jam Shortbread Bars

A Few weeks ago I had a huge container of strawberries that I needed to use up. Chaim suggested another batch of ice pops, but since I’m always looking to try new recipes I wanted to go with something else. I remembered seeing a recipe for Strawberry-Vanilla Jam on one of my favorite blogs, Love and Olive Oil. I decided that would be a perfect-I’d make a big batch of jam, and use it in a dessert for a party we had coming up.

I’d never had homemade jam before, and this was delicious! So much fresher tasting than store-bought! I wasn’t planning on canning any of it (I’ve never canned before and I’m a little nervous about trying it), so I needed to use it up fairly quickly. I used most of it in these shortbread bars, and ate the rest on bread. And, um, some by the spoonful. It was that good.

I went with shortbread bars, rather that some sort of crumble bars, since I love shortbread, and knew that the sweet, buttery cookie would combine wonderfully with the jam. And it did-these were a big hit!

Strawberry-Vanilla Jam

1 quart strawberries

2 cups granulated sugar, divided

2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste

Juice of one lemon

1. Wash, hull, and roughly chop the strawberries. Toss with 1 cup of the sugar and the vanilla bean paste in a large bowl. Cover and chill for at least 2 to 3 hours or up to 72 hours.

2. Pour the berries and all the liquid from the bowl into a large saucepan along with the remaining sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer until the jam reaches 220°F, stirring regularly. Add the lemon juice during the last 5 minutes of cooking. (You can test the gel of the jam by placing a spoonful on a chilled plate. Place in the freezer for 1 to 2 minutes, then check for doneness. If you want a firmer gel, cook for a few minutes longer.)

3. Transfer to jars, and keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.

Makes 3 half-pint jars

If you would like to can the jam, you can find the directions here

*Adapted from Love and Olive Oil

Strawberry-Vanilla Jam Shortbread Bars

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup almond flour or very finely ground almonds

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups Strawberr-Vanilla Jam

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray a 9×13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the butter and both sugars; beat until creamy. Add the vanilla and salt and beat until well combined. beat the almond flour and the all-purpose flour into the butter mixture on low speed, just until a smooth dough forms.

3. Divide the dough in half. Wrap one half in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Press the other half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan to form the bottom crust.

4. Bake the crust until it is just beginning to turn light brown around the edges, about 20 minutes. remove the pan from the oven. Place the jam into a bow and stir very well until it is nice and smooth (I left a few small chunks). Gently spread the jam over the partially baked crust. Crumble the refrigerated dough over the jam to form a topping.

5. Return the pan to the oven and continue baking until the topping is firm and crisp and golden in color, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let it cool completely 

Makes 15 large or 30 small bars

*Adapted from RecipeGirl