We were thrilled to hear from Tigress that June was our pick for the Tigress Can Jam. More than 100 bloggers started the 12-month challenge in January who are also joined by many non-bloggers and many more since. It`s been an exciting week with a lot of options discussed with Dana, myself and our lovely Hostess.
We’re lucky to choose and announce the ingredient below – and are hoping to sweeten the pot with 3 extra incentives this month (more on those further down). Ler’s get to the ingredient first!
One of the most fascinating things about the recent 6-8 weeks in the canjam is the speed and diversity that each of us has encountered different ingredients. It seemed like everyone had onions in January (the wonders of cellars) but I saw asparagus in New York 5 weeks before it opened in Ontario and reading about the bounty in Southern US farmers markets has me drooling. Many of Toronto`s dozens of summer farmer`s markets opened last weekend (or this one coming) and some farmer`s are there to greet old customers and friends with nothing from the field..yet… And that`s no mentioning the UK and other places in the Can Jam.
The timing of our local seasons is actually becoming more diverse as the sun shifts her focus North.
We considered a few options and tried to avoid the über obvious while still being practical to provide some options that people could experiment with and have fun with. We considered cabbage, mushrooms and even thought about bending the rules a little).
Shaeffer (our pup) even suggested that we preserve tennis balls for June. He lost (but we`ll make sure he`s looked after).
It is with humble excitement we are pleased to announce that the ingredient for June is (or is it ARE) __________berries. That could be a straw, a goose, a blue or even a cherry (we decided it was a berry). Basically, it is all things that end in ERRIES (just not scaRRIES).
ED. To clarify, any type of berry will do (even if it does not end in ____erry). Sorry for any confusion.
There are so many options this month – both for your main flavor and the rest of the jar (your flavor saver, so to speak). Pickled, drunk, infused, jammed, preserved whole; as long as it`s in a water bath.
All of the bloggers in our cosy (but not so little) posse have to post their articles between Sunday June, 20th to Friday June 25th with Friday at midnight being the deadline.
We`re going to sweeten the deal….
Deal Sweetener Number 1
We are honoured that so many are effectively letting us choose an ingredient this month that we are going to pick our favourite recipe. If there’s a tie, which is more than likely, we will have a draw of the finalists.
We will donate $50 in honour of our winner to a KIVA.org food business of their choice (if they can’t choose, we’ll pick one). KIVA is a micro-financing charity which helps connect entrepreneurs in developing areas find financing with others who can afford to help them start their small businesses through small loans.
This will likely be announced after the roundup Tigress does so that we’ll have a chance to see all the contendah’s!
We are not trying to turn this in to a competition – we all win with jars on our shelves. We just thought it was an excuse to give back and was really a way to represent all can jammers and say thanks.
Deal sweetener Number 2
To get you started, we`re launching 7 DAYS OF BERRIES. We blog daily here and will update the site for the next 7 days (it`s generally around 7AM, a bit later on weekends) with ideas and tricks for berries. We`ll also be sharing some non-can jam berry ideas (such as dehydrating) and welcome any questions (though many in the can jam could teach us tonnes).
Deal sweetener Number 3
A quick guide to some of last years berry faves:
What have I got against pectin?
I used to use a lot of pectin in our jam. I now avoid it when possible; sometimes I even make jam that’s so runny I have to eat it over the sink. If you’re on autopilot with pectin, consider flying solo (taste pectin by itself to find out why – the article explains more). Besides, it’s fun to eat over the sink.
Angel on one shoulder, devil on t’other
We canned about 700 jars last year and made more than 50 different types of waterbath preserves. A trick to extending your efforts is to alter a few ingredients and turn a single batch into different things at the same time. We did two different types of cherries last year (one in simple syrup and another in alcohol) and eat them separate or mix them together for a third different taste. Mixing and matching is a lot of fun when you work with fruit.
“Berried” Alive – in Strawberry Jam and preserves and rhubarb and…
Jam isn’t the only option. We love having whole strawberries (and other fruit) in simple syrup. Awesomest on ice cream, cocktails or mash it to your own spreadable mess on toast. We also do separate rhubarb so we can make our own mix and match flavor combos later (and each person can alter how sweet or how tart they want it by making thier own custom jam on their toast).
Leftover strawberry syrup innovation
Oh. My. Good. This was the best idea with something I may have foolishly thrown away previously. If you are preserving fruit, in simple syrup (sugar-water) you simply must consider this.
What to do with all that jam…host a tasting party!
I love pairings. Almost all of your berry dishes will work for breakfast. I don’t eat a lot of breakfast and I make a lot of jam.
What cheese would be best with your confection? Our raspberry-jalapeno jam is breathtaking with brie and our wild blueberry and maple syrup preserve is all about goat cheese (you’ll have to visit that link to find out what matches up with our blowtorch).
Now it’s time to cross our fingers and wait for the sun to heat the fields even more!
A giant thanks to Tigress for the privledge of choosing this month – hope everyone’s excited!