Project Pantry: Homemade Strawberry Jam

Project Pantry is something I’ve been thinking about for quite some time. If I could ever stick to a New Year’s resolution, this one would be at the top of the list. The idea is that I stop buying things like pickles, jam, bread, condiments, etc. and make them all myself. Unfortunately, I don’t have as much time as I’d like to work toward that goal.

With the Independence Day holiday, I found a little time to experiment with the large amount of fresh strawberries, perfectly in season for the summer. I thought about plenty of strawberry recipes – strawberry shortcakes, muffins, pie, maybe even a galette. While purusing the recipes, I noticed that several recommended strawberry jam as an ingredient. Why not make jam to use in another recipe later on? Don’t worry you’ll see the strawberry streusel coffee cake I made with them jam too.

It is important with canning and preserving to avoid contamination with bacteria. This is why you should avoid canned foods that have expanded. Botulinum toxin causes botulism poisoning when ingested- potentially very serious. Use glass jars with no chips or cracks and tight-fitting lids. Please take the time to sterilize your materials. I’ve changed the order of the instructions to prioritize this.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups hulled and quartered strawberries*
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cold, unsalted butter

*This is about 2 containers of strawberries.

Instructions:

1) Put a small plate in the freezer.

2) To sterilize, wash both the jars and lids thoroughly with hot, soapy water. Arrange the jars (lids open sides up), without touching, on a baking sheet and put them in a 175° F oven for 30 minutes.

3) Put metal lids, rubber seals, and additional equipment in a bowl, pour boiling water over them to cover and let them soak for a few minutes.

4) Combine the strawberries, sugar, salt and lemon juice in a medium, heavy saucepan. Set the pan over low heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture starts to bubble.

5) Cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, until a bit of the jam sets on the plate you’ve been keeping in the freezer (when you tip the plate, the jam should run only very slowly).

6) Turn off the heat and stir the butter into the jam.

7) Spoon the hot jam carefully into hot sterilized jars and either process the jars or seal and keep refrigerated. If refrigerating, use the jam within a week or two.

Final Thoughts: Mostly I was worried about poisoning myself. Still, I found myself immensely satisfied enjoying toast made with my very own jam. It has a very natural sweetness, unlike store-bought jams with artificial sweeteners and flavoring. If you’re up for the challenge, all it takes is strawberries and time.

5 Ingredient Strawberry Breakfast Pastries

When I first started cooking I began listening to the advice of the pro chefs. There’s a general disdain for products like pie crusts or processed cheese. I made my own pastry crusts, my own chicken broth, and tried to make everything from scratch. Naturally this led to several #foodiefails .

One day while watching Jacques Pepin’s cooking show on TV, I saw that he was using Sara Lee pound cake from the freezer section. He was cooking with his granddaughter. They made a lovely fruit compote from scratch to go with it. Since then I’ve questioned my prejudice toward more convenient options, especially when you’re just getting started in your cooking journey.

I will never shut up about how amazing recipes with less than 10 ingredients are for beginners. There’s less prep, fewer preps, and lower cost. Everything about these recipes is easier, and often you don’t sacrifice flavor. Puff pastry is available in the frozen food aisle. It is incredibly difficult and time consuming to make from scratch.  On a particularly productive Sunday morning, I bought some pre-prepared puff pastry for these strawberry breakfast pastries. It’s almost like making homemade toaster strudels.

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp strawberry jam
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 large egg
  • powdered sugar (optional)

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silipat (re-usable silicon baking covers for pans).

2. Cut the puff pastry into 6 rectangles by following the folds in the dough. First, cut the sheet into 3 long rectangles, then cut each rectangle in half.

3. Transfer the pastries to the baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.

4. Lightly score a 1/2 inch border around the edge of the dough. Prick the center of the pastry with a fork.

Scoring means lightly marking the dough with a knife.
5. In a small bowl, stir together the cream cheese and strawberry jam. Place a dollop of the cream cheese mixture in the centers of the pastry and spread it. Top with slices of strawberry.

 

Make sure your cream cheese is close to room temperature or else the cream cheese and jam will not mix easily and consistently.

6. Whisk together the egg with 1 Tbsp of water. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg wash. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until golden and puffed.

 

I think it might be easier to put on the egg wash before the cream cheese. Also, I didn’t use all of the egg wash.

7. Remove the pastries from the oven. Dust with powdered sugar over the pastries if desired.

 

The best way to deal with powdered sugar is to use a sieve. Pour it in, then lightly tap the sieve over the pastry. It spreads a light layer with less mess.

 

Final Thoughts: These were a lovely sweet treat that I would consider serving for brunch or breakfast with friends or family. The best part is they look so fancy! They may not taste like the most incredible pastry in the world, but I was still impressed with the results. I would recommend these be eaten within a few hours of being baked.