Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Low Sugar Strawberry Freezer Jam

I think I finally have a Strawberry Jam recipe I really like! AND, it is a freezer jam that is LOW in sugar. BONUS! In general, I prefer freezer jams because they retain the fabulous fresh flavor (say that 5 times fast) of just picked fruit. However, there are not many recipes out there for freezer jams using the low/no sugar pectin. Last year I made a variety of jam recipes ranging in sugar amounts. I found the full sugar recipes taste more like sugar than fruit. AND, since I am dealing with too much sugar in our diets, I really wanted to use a low or no sugar recipe.

The Ball pectin is what was available to me here, so that is what I am using. I started with the recipe for no sugar jam on their label - as is. I suspect if you have really sweet berries, this would work well. I ended up using 1TBPS of sugar in this first round. I added it while in the cooking stage. I tasted as I went and found it needed sugar to balance out the tartness. I probably could have added more sugar. The jam is fine and we will finish eating it, but since this is a cooked recipe, I wanted to keep experimenting.

Last year I tried this recipe. Mine did not set - but then none of mine set last year, so likely it was user error. So this year, I came up with a solution that is somewhere in between the cooked version from Ball and the recipe I tried last year. The result is a big success! At least it is to me. :)

One tip I learned - work with small batches. Yes, that is written on the label of the pectin, but I missed that previously. Ooops. Probably why things failed last year.

I have found, I like using my food processor to 'mash' the strawberries. I know, I know - most other recipes will tell you absolutely do NOT use a food processor. Well, I like the texture. Small to medium bits of strawberries without the stringiness I get when I hand mash. I like to use the pulse function to get the right texture. Do Not puree the strawberries, we are making jam, not baby food. :) Also, don't do all the berries at once. I do 3-4 rounds to get the 2 cups.

What you need:

  • 2 cups processed strawberries
  • 1.5 TBSP low sugar pectin
  • 1/3 cup 100% apple juice concentrate
  • 2 TBSP sugar (This is flexible and can be omitted entirely if your strawberries are nice and sweet, or you can add more if you have really tart strawberries.)
  • 3 - 8oz Jars - prepped as per jar instructions (either boil for 10 mins to sterilize or run through the dishwasher)
  • sauce pan
  • metal strainer
  • spatula

Pour the strawberries into a metal mesh strainer. Catch the juice - I like to use the sauce pan I will be cooking the juices in (let's not dirty more dishes than necessary). Use the spatula to mush things around a bit to get as much of the juice into the sauce pan as necessary.

  1. Combine the strawberry juice, pectin, and juice concentrate in the sauce pan. 
  2. Bring to a rapid boil. Hard boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  3. Add strawberries and sugar to taste.  Stir all together.
  4. Pour into jars. Clean the rims, put lids on, finger tighten. Let cool. Put in freezer.

Yes, it is a bit more work than other recipes, but combines the best of both worlds. And look at that mess!!! Luckily, it cleans up fast. 

Are you ready to make jam?! I hope to use this base recipe for other fruits this year too. I will let you know how it goes. 

Until next time...


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cake Pops and Chocolate

Yes, I have posted before about the cake pops I have made here. Everyone seems to enjoy them. After the last party, I had a ton of left over cake. I did NOT want to be eating cake forever, so I made cake balls. This time I stepped it up a notch and dipped in chocolate. This could be a good Mother's Day dessert!

A chocolatier I am NOT. But, these were SOOO good. I just used chocolate melts, half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate. Melt in the microwave (50%power) and then dip chilled cake balls. I placed them into mini cup cake liners to help limit the mess. I think it makes the presentation nice too - not that anyone around here cares about presentation! I had to freeze them so I didn't eat them all super fast. These were an even bigger hit that the plain cake balls.

What is your favorite way to deal with left over cake? I probably should just throw it out, but I have yet to be able to bring myself to do that.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Glasses of Water

Just a little health tip to share today. This one stems from a good friend of mine at Sparkles of Light.

WATER lots of Water

We all know we are suppose to drink plenty of water. However, one thing that I have been trying - CHUG - really CHUG -  a 12 oz glass of water before you eat ANYTHING! Yes, this is a lot of water - well if you eat a lot it is. :)

The benefit over the past not quite 2 weeks - I have lost 1.5 pounds! My skin also thanks me - especially the bags under my eye. The bags are now equivalent  to a small purse instead of a jumbo travel bag. ;)

Now, if you are dehydrated, you will likely see the scale go up a couple of pounds first. Don't panic, this is just water weight - that you probably need. Keep going and likely you will start to lose fat. :)

The one side effect I am not keen on - I spend more time in the bathroom these days. I do feel better though, and less tired.

Give it a try. See if you FEEL a difference.

Later Gator.