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Editor: Erin Kuhns
Fresh and local berries (not those that have traveled hundreds of miles to get to the table ) are coming now that Spring is here and Summer is fast approaching.
My trips to the mountains of Abruzzo to pick fresh blackberries are just as fresh a memory. August is the time that wild fresh blackberries can be found abundantly throughout, but a special place I found, hidden in the mountains, always produced enough berries to make 5 jars of preserves. I always thought of this spot as my own special garden. It seemed as though they were waiting there for me to come to get them.
Last year, armed with enough bags to transport oodles of blackberries, to my dismay, when I arrived, half were gone, someone had found my garden.. and well only enough for 2 jars of preserves were found. Those preserves,which were polished off quicker than the time it took to make them are only a sweet memory..my hopes are high for this year.
Few pleasures compare to sinking your teeth into a slice of fresh, succulent fruit. Whether you are one of the many berry lovers who inundate strawberry fields in the spring or you delight in crowding your kitchen with baskets of raspberries, peaches and blueberries from the farmer’s market, you know that aside from gobbling down these sweet treats, preserving them quickly becomes a priority.
Historically, jams and jellies have become an ideal way to stretch out the fruit season into the rest of the year. The process is a rather large undertaking: boiling jars, cooking the fruit, adding the pectin—and sugar; lots and lots of sugar. But traditional jam-making is not the only option anymore.
Freezers now add another possibility for fruit preservation. Freezer jam, for example, is becoming increasingly popular. Like traditional jam, it can be prepared using berries, apples, oranges, pears, peaches, and an unlimited combination of tasty treats. But best of all, freezer jam benefits our health, the environment and our taste buds.
One way in which freezer jam is unique is that the fruit is not cooked. The fruit retains its bright color, its many nutrients and, most importantly, its fresh flavor. The ratio of fruit to sugar in traditional jam is often 1:1. When making freezer jam, only about a third of the sugar is necessary.
Unlike jars used for traditional preserves, freezer jam can be stored in clean plastic containers or jars of any kind. They don’t even need to be boiled first, cutting out one time-consuming step right there. And if you have kids that need to be put to work, don’t forget that jam-making can be a family affair. Most freezer jam recipes call for finely chopping or crushing the fruit. Who loves squishing slimy peeled peaches or juicy berries more than kids? (Supervision of pre-squishing-hand-washing is highly recommended.)
Making freezer jam isn’t quite as much fuss as you might think. From fruit preparation to the freezer, it can take less than an hour. However, if you are plunging into jam-making mode, one key piece of advice: be sure to have some fresh bread or a luscious croissant close by, for once the jars are filled, your melt-in-your-mouth creation is ready to savor!
May 2nd- The Basic Art of Italian Cooking book signing and wine sampling with Sonia Rykiel Fashion Show at Raya Coiffeur & Boutique in Haverford,Pa. 8 PM. More info : firstname.lastname@example.org
*May 6th-Wine Pairing & Dinner at Country Creek Wineryin Telford, Pa. I will be preparing an authentic 4 course Italian dinner and pairing it with 4 of their wines. Places are limited, reservations are required, $39,95 includes 4 course sampler dinner ,cooking demo, 4 samplers of wine, wine pairing.
*Join me in Italy at The Basic Art of Italian Cooking School
*Have a blog or website? Be part of my virtual book tour
*Get your copy of the best selling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at http://www.marialiberati.com
*More recipes & articles
Mangia Bene, Vivi Bene,