New Adventures with Mason Jars
As I’ve mentioned before, my friend Amrita has a really cool food blog. A few months ago, she posted a chocolate chip cookie recipe that I’ve been meaning to try since then, and on Thursday night I finally did! They weren’t done until close to midnight, which made for a wonderful bedtime snack of warm, chewy cookie with a tall glass of vanilla soy milk.
My roommate has been gone since very early Friday morning, and I decided to take advantage of her absence by completely taking over the kitchen (and giving the apartment some much needed cleaning). While I try to leave the kitchen at least as clean as it was before I was using it, if not cleaner, I’m actually a really messy cook during the process and I was going to need a lot of space to spread out.
I love giving homemade food items as gifts, and I’ve been wanting to try canning for a while, because then I could safely make gifts months in advance and avoid my last minute scrambling.
So I bought some cute, squat mason jars, but before I made my jam, I wanted to bake in them first. A long time ago, I saw a blog post about making single serving pies made in mason jars and being a big fan of small cute versions of things, I thought it was a great idea. Instead of pies, I decided to make quiche, since they freeze really well cooked.
So late Friday night, I made 18 small quiches. 9 for me, 9 for my roommate. I ran out of crust (apparently 4 jars = 1 pie crust, but I think I could have used less crust in each jar if I wasn’t really tired and in a hurry to just be done), so 6 of them are crustless. 6 roma tomatoes, several slices of bacon, 9oz of spinach, 16 eggs (+2 in the crust), and many other random ingredients later, I had Garlic Spinach, Tomato Basil and Tomato Bacon quiches ready to be baked!
Don’t they look delicious? Unfortunately, the crusts actually weren’t cooked all the way through in this picture, so Saturday morning they went back into the oven (it was past 2am when I realized this and they’d already cooled down).
And so they were baked again, and are now in the freezer (this is a picture of the already frozen quiche inside the ziploc bag). I used a butter knife to loosen the crusts from the sides of the jars, and they popped out very easily. They were a bit fragile, so I froze them on a tray before putting them inside the bag. You should be able to use any crust and any quiche filling you want. My advice is to make sure to pour the filling below the crust, and in general, don’t overfill, because they will bubble over. And have an old toothbrush handle to clean the outside threading in case any filling gets baked into them. I spent a lot of time Saturday soaking the jars and trying to scrub inbetween the threading with a sponge before realizing a toothbrush would make this a lot easier.
While all that was going on, this was in the fridge, marinating overnight. 2 32oz bags of frozen strawberries, 2 cups of sugar, and 1 vanilla bean. Fresh strawberries would have been better, but when I decide I want to try something new, I don’t have too long before I become bored with the idea. Strawberries weren’t on sale at the moment, and I couldn’t make it down to the farmer’s market, so frozen strawberries had to do. I will definitely make this again with fresh berries.
When I first looked into canning, I kept seeing these $60 or $80 sets, which after all the money I’ve already put into home brewing equipment, felt like a lot for yet another hobby. But you don’t need to buy an expensive set! So I bought this $12 set from Amazon because we didn’t even have tongs yet, and I needed something to lift the boiling hot jars and lids out of the water.
Gratuitous extra shot of the berries. I couldn’t pick a favorite picture.
Some zesting, a lot of boiling and stirring and cleaning up spills and splatters later, I have 13 8oz jars of jam that seem to have sealed well, so they should be good to eat for about a year! I used a recipe for Strawberry Jam with Vanilla (and lemon!). Next time I make it, I think I might only use the zest of one lemon, and I would up the vanilla content to 2 vanilla beans (I love vanilla; as is, I added a teaspoon of extract to supplement the flavor) and, of course, I’ll use fresh berries. I might also let it marinate longer. The recipe author marinated hers for 48 hours, while mine was more like 24 hours, and I think that might be why I didn’t have as much vanilla flavor from just the bean. I just looked through the comments on the post and apparently her mother had the same problem and also added a teaspoon of Vanilla Extract.
I had forgotten to buy the lemons when I went grocery shopping so I had to stop at a somewhat pricy store on my way home from work Friday. I could buy expensive single lemons, or a more reasonably priced bag of 8. I bought the bag, and with the leftover lemons, I’m making a small amount of vanilla limoncello, which I’ve been wanting to try for a while anyway (my last limoncello attempt did not go well and I had to move before I had time to salvage it). It looks so pretty! And hopefully it will taste great. It’s the zest of 6 lemons, 300ml of 80 proof vodka, and 1 vanilla bean.
Vanilla beans are apparently cheap on ebay (100 for $20 instead of 2 for $3) so I might be stocking up sometime in the near-ish future. =)
Obviously, I’ve had a busy weekend, but it’s been wonderful. I got a lot of chores done and I made some good foods. Very domestic, but domesticity is fun in occasional doses. =)