Surely I can, I think I can, or… at least I want to believe I can.I can hardly stand the idea of throwing in the dish towel, and so I keep on keeping on … I think I can, I think I can, I think I can … do it all , and do it … perfectly.
Here is an example of how far behind I really am. This post is inspired by an incredible product that I first got a hold of in January at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco – Talbott Tea, some Ojai Pixie Tangerines I was gifted at a tour of Melissa’s Produce last month , and then lastly this recipe and post was birthed from a weekend class on baking and canning I taught at the Orange County Youth Expo with my friend Chef Debbi over three weeks ago. In between all of that I have been busy at work planning and organizing the culinary program for the 2011 Orange County Fair, cooking privately for my clients, and let’s not forget my ever demanding job as the nanny, housekeeper, chauffeur, and cook to my family of 6 – deep breath …
Did I mention I thought it was a great idea to get a puppy?
My 50 pound puppy, Flapjack, is shoving his wet squeaky chew toy onto my monitor right now as I write. His favorite pass time is getting into trouble.
A few weeks ago all the madness came to a screeching halt when my website went down – lost, hacked, vanished into thin air. Completely overwhelmed with the thought, I stepped away from the monitor, climbed down off the ledge, and like any other neurotic cook – I ignored the problem and decided to make jam.
This couldn’t be just a regular old strawberry jam, it had to be redemption jam. Jam that would validate my very existence as a cook and make me feel like it was all worth it. Seriously, there was a lot riding on the outcome of this jam – it was gonna make me or break me. I started with a flat of ruby red, dark, and sweet Manassero Farms strawberries, Melissa’s Ojai Pixie Tangerines, vanilla bean, and the star ingredient, my precious Talbott Tea.
Talbott Teas are delicious extensions of my work in the spa & salon industry, where colors have the power to transform, and relaxation is considered an art form. ~ Shane Talbott
First let me tell you – I am carried away with this tea, it is my prized possession, so much so that I don’t even want to drink it because… then it will be all gone and I will miss just smelling it. The Green Tea Indulgenceis a blend of Japanese Sencha, strawberry, raspberries, and rhubarb – the smell alone is intoxicating and takes me away to a happy place. The aroma becomes like the warm sun on your face in the Springtime as you walk through a fruit tree orchard in full bloom or even better, just close your eyes as the smell sweeps you away to a luxury spa where all your troubles disappear. There are actually real dehydrated berries in the loose tea, it’s even beautiful to look at. The flavor balance in the Green Tea Heaven is so harmoniously divine, that I just knew it would be a fruity fragrant companion to the strawberries and tangerines. The soft perfume of the vanilla bean lingers on your tongue and transforms a simple English muffin into dessert. The strawberry jam didn’t fix my website, drive my kids to the high school, or train Flapjack, but it definitely made me feel like I can live to cook another day…
1 vanilla bean sliced in half, scraped, and cut into 4 pieces
4 tangerines – zested and juiced
Fill the canning pot with water and bring to a boil- then turn off the heat.
Place strawberries in an extra large heavy bottomed pot and sprinkle with pectin – stir to coat.
Place sugar in a food processor with half or all of the loose tea. ( I pulse half of the tea and leave the other half whole. If you don’t want to see the tea in your jam then pulse the whole 2 Tablespoons into your sugar.)
Pulse the sugar until the tea is finely ground into the sugar.
Add the sugar to the strawberries with the salt, vanilla bean, zest, and juice. Stir the strawberries until well combined.
Place the pot onto the stove over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes until the sugar begins to melt and the jam is beginning to simmer – small bubbles.
Turn up the heat and stir occasionally until the jam begins to boil. Once the jam is at a rolling boil ( there are intense bubbles coming up on the surface) – set your timer for 5 minutes.
During the 5 minutes the jam will double in size and begin to foam over the surface. You can remove and discard the foam with a spoon.
While the jam is boiling place your clean jars and top and ring (lids) into the hot water for approximately 3 minutes. Never boil your jars, just heat them to sanitize and to bring the glass up to temperature. If you don’t heat the jars, the hot jam may crack the glass.
Remove your jars and lids from the hot water making sure to empty out all the water and place them onto a cookie sheet lined with a clean dish towel.
Turn the heat back up and allow the water to come back to a full boil.
Place a canning funnel over the top of each jar and using a ladle, fill them with the jam up to the first line from the bottom of your jar.
Carefully place each flat top onto the jar and wipe the jar with a clean dish towel.
Screw the ring part of your lid on finger tight. Too tight might cause cracking during the boiling process.
Place filled jars back into the canning water standing up and allow to come to a full boil. Make sure to have at least two inches of water over the tops of the jars. Once the water is boiling, set your timer for 15 minutes.
Carefully remove the jars from the water and set back onto the clean dish towel.
Each jar will begin to seal itself from the heat and you will hear a small popping sound. You can check the seal by pressing each jar in the middle of the lid, there should be no up and down movement.