The verdict: delicious!

Mmm… Jelly Donut…

What do you do when it’s 10pm during Vegan MoFo and you don’t have any food prepared to blog about the next day? You bake cupcakes, of course!

Jelly donut cupcakes from Veganomicon

12 Cupcakes Ready to Bake

12 Cupcakes Ready to Bake

The jelly was supposed to sink into the middle while the cupcakes baked. The cookbook assured me this would happen. I had my doubts.

Homemade Raspberry Jam on Top

Homemade Raspberry Jam on Top

Except mine turned out like jelly-topped cupcakes. Totally ruined the surprise jelly inside. Bummer.

Hmm... the jam didn't sink in like it was supposed to.

Hmm... the jam didn't sink in like it was supposed to.

Not to worry. Surprise or not, they sure looked tasty.

Still looks tasty!

Still looks tasty!

And in case you were worried, my friends – they were delicious!

The verdict: delicious!

The verdict: delicious!

Raspberry Freezer Jam

First Shot at Freezer Jam

Freezer jam, baby!

I’d never heard of freezer jam before Lifehacker mentioned it last week, but now that I’ve been enlightened, I can’t believe I’ve spent my life in the dark! Here’s the article linked from Lifehacker on How to Make No-Cook Freezer Jam.

Since I started the whole organic/whole-foods thing last year, I’ve tried a lot of new things in the kitchen (like, turning on the oven). I’ve always loved the idea of making cute little jars of stuff to give as gifts – jams, nut butters, etc. I’ve had grand intentions to try making some of these things.

This afternoon, when I realized the farmer’s market would be open for a mere 30 minutes more, I jumped in the Jeep and flew over there hoping to restock my fruit supplies. I made it – and one of my favorite dear farmers had some terribly beat up raspberries. “They were just picked this morning, but they didn’t survive the ride up here very well.” (He comes up from central Illinois). No worries, sir! I’ll take some of those raspberries off your hands.

What’s the time….? It’s jam time!

So what the heck is freezer jam? It’s an easy-to-make, no-cook jam that can be stored in the fridge for 2-4 weeks, or in the freezer up to a year. It’s not shelf-stable, so it has to be kept frozen for long-term storage, but hey. That’s no problem! Just don’t ever leave freezer jam out at room temperature. It will spoil.

The basic instructions: get yourself some Ball canning jars (I went with the small 8 oz. ones). The ones with straight sides are least likely to crack in the freezer, though they do make (ugly) plastic freezer-safe ones. I’ll take my chances! Grab a box of instant pectin (Ball also makes this – and I was able to buy both at Walmart). There are several varieties of pectin, but some require cooking/boiling. The instant kind doesn’t require cooking. Get yourself some fruit and your sweetener of choice, and have at it!

There’s an awesome recipe calculator (they call it a “pectin calculator”) on the web site listed on the Ball package – FreshPreserving.com. For most cases, it goes something like this:

  • 1 2/3 cups crushed fruit
  • 2 Tbsp instant pectin
  • 2/3 cup sugar (or equivalent other sweetener by sweetness, not by volume)

Now, I had a heck of a hard time figuring out how much un-crushed fruit equaled 1 2/3 cups crushed fruit. Plus, I was pureeing my fruit, so I’m sure the 1 2/3 recommendation was too much for pureed fruit. I went with 2 cups un-crushed fruit. Some tips I found: A quart of strawberries makes approximately 1 1/2 to 2 cups of crushed strawberries. 1 pound of fruit without pits equals 2 cups crushed fruit, or 1 1/2 pounds of fruit with pits equals 2 cups crushed fruit.

Here’s the recipe I used:

  • 2 cups un-crushed fruit
  • 2 Tbsp instant pectin
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar

It made two 8-oz jars per recipe. (So, I ended up with 2 jars of raspberry jam and 2 jars of strawberry jam).

Ball Instant Pectin & Agave Nectar

Ball Instant Pectin & Agave Nectar

Mix the agave and pectin in a bowl and stir well. Be sure to dissolve any clumps.

Pectin and agave nectar

Pectin and agave nectar

For round 1, I used raspberries.

Raspberries in the food processor

Raspberries in the food processor

For round 2, I used strawberries.

Strawberries in the food processor

Strawberries in the food processor

Pour 2 cups of fruit into the food processor and process until smooth.

Pureed Raspberries

Pureed Raspberries

Add the pectin/agave mixture to the food processor and whir for 30 seconds or so until everything is well combined.

Pour the mixture into Ball jars. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes to firm up.

Raspberry Freezer Jam

Raspberry Freezer Jam

Store in the fridge for 2-4 weeks if you’ll be enjoying your jam immediately, or in the freezer for storage up to a year.

Jar of freezer jam

Jar of freezer jam

I sampled a spoonful of each and I gotta say – it was mighty tasty! Kind of like eating a spoonful of fresh fruit!

Now, I don’t like chunky jams, so that’s why I went the food processor route. You could just as easily crush the fruit with a potato masher and have a more chunky jam. Whatever blows your hair back. I also don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so I cut back the sweetener a little bit. Feel free to use more, to taste. I will report back on how well my fruit and sweetener ratios held up when I eat more of this.

This was so easy and fun to make that I feel like I’ll never go through another long, cold winter without the taste of peak-season ripe fruit! So exciting!

4 corners oatmeal

Four Corners Oatmeal

How do you jazz up a gloomy, blustery day – one that comes on the tail of the first 70 degree day of the year?

With a fantastic bowl of oatmeal!

4 corners oatmeal

4 corners oatmeal

Four corners oatmeal, even!

Kiwi, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries, topped with Justin’s maple almond butter on a bed of whipped banana oatmeal. (I make my oatmeal based on Kath’s oatmeal). I swear there’s actually some oatmeal under there!

It’s supposed to warm back up into the 50’s tomorrow here in Chicago. What’s your go-to breakfast on a cold, blustery day?

Have a great one, everybody!