A food scientist, no less!
While it's true that I've been properly educated in the fields of both chemistry and food science, it's also true that I haven't really called upon that knowledge very often over the past six years, except for what's typical in any frequently used home kitchen environment. So much of what I learned has either a)evaporated into thin air, or b)disappeared into the deepest recesses of my brain, probably never to be heard from again.
I say all this because I need to feel better about the blunders I make from time to time. My most recent "Doh!" moment came while making my first batch of jam this year. I had a hard time finding pectin in the grocery store (no one seems to know what it is!), and what I finally found didn't turn out to be what I had in mind. I began making the following recipe and when it came time to mix the pectin in the water, it didn't look quite right. It was then that I realized I had purchased instant pectin rather than classic. Fortunately, I had time to correct myself and everything turned out okay.
The jam I made had the perfect consistency for spreading onto bread without ripping it to pieces (a pet peeve of mine!) and a balanced sweetness that tasted wonderful with the bite from the balsamic vinegar. For the longest time, I couldn't understand why people liked strawberries and balsamic vinegar together, but I'm happy to report that my taste buds have awakened and I finally get it.
The next time you have a snafu in the kitchen, keep in mind that it happens to everyone, even those who have a couple of degrees related to such things.
Strawberry Balsamic Freezer Jam
Makes 5 half-pints
- 2 cups crushed strawberries (about 2 1-pound containers)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 6 tablespoons Ball® RealFruit™ Classic Pectin
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Combine crushed berries with lemon juice in a large bowl. Add sugar, mixing thoroughly. Let stand 10 minutes.
In a small saucepan, combine the water and pectin; bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute, continuing to stir.
Add cooked pectin mixture to fruit mixture and stir for 3 minutes, then stir in the balsamic vinegar until well blended.
Ladle or pour jam into sterilized freezer jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Apply clean,dry lids and let jam stand in refrigerator until set, about 24 hours. You can refrigerate this jam for 3 weeks or so or freeze up to 1 year.