Sunday, July 12, 2009

My new venture

Wow! Time flies! I got so busy with all the end of the school year stuff, my cousin's wedding and the travel that went with it, a surgery for me, and keeping the kids busy this summer, I just haven't had time to blog. I am quite embarrassed when I look at the date of my last post. I will get better, I will get better, I will.....

So, I am thinking of starting my own catering business. I love love love cooking and they always say you should do what you love. I will start slow, providing meals a couple of days a week that people can pick up and take home and eat. I will also do party and event catering as my schedule permits. My hope is that I can start slow, see how it goes, and if people enjoy what I make, maybe expand into a full time business within a couple of years. What do you think? I would love to hear feedback! Getting a business started takes some work logistically and I want to make sure people are really interested in picking up ready made meals that they are not cooking!

On Thursday night I made my own freezer strawberry preserves. They are low sugar, and by first taste, quite yummy. I am excited!

I have been asked for the recipe I used, so here it is. Keep in mind, this is a recipe for freezer preserves, so you have to freeze it first to get it to congeal correctly. I am going to do raspberry and blueberry next. This winter, I am going to figure out a way to do cranberry. I can think of nothing better than cranberry preserves with scones and clotted cream and hot tea on a winter morning. When I get the recipe worked for that, I will post it.

Low-Sugar Strawberry Freezer Preserves
makes 6 to 8 half-pints of preserves

4 cups of prepared fruit (I started with roughly 8 cups of sliced fruit and smashed it down with a potato masher until I got it to the consistency I wanted- which about reduces by half.)
1-3/4 cup of 100% juice (I used apple but any variety that works for you should work.)
3/4 cup honey
1 package of "No Sugar Needed" Fruit Pectin

There are several ways to store your preserves. The stores sell plastic containers you can freeze, but with all the BPA stuff out there (a chemical that has shown to cause cancer and is present in most plastics and is activated upon heating or freezing) I choose to go with glass jars. MAke sure you sanitize them first and them make sure your hands and work area is clean. (The package will tell you how to sanitize their product, but I just threw my jars and lids in the dishwasher.)

In a large saucepan, combine juice and pectin until thoroughly combined. Heat to a boil, stirring frequently. Once at a boil, boil for one minute-2 minutes, stirring constantly with a wire whisk.

Remove from heat and add fruit, stirring constantly for one minute, before adding honey. Stir to combine.

Ladle into prepared jars. Place lid on immediately and press around the edge with your fingers. Place ring on and tighten until fingertip tight (it's on securely, but not tightened REALLY tight). Make sure that you use freezer-safe glass jars and leave 1/2-inch headspace on the top to allow for expansion.
In researching this next step, I saw 2 different directions. One was to place the jars in the fridge for 24 hours and then move to the freezer. The other, and the one I foloowed, was to store on the counter for 24 hours and then place in the freezer. It seems that keeping them at room temperature will help it congeal better and also prevent condensation that will later turn into freezer burn.
*Store in the freezer for up to eighteen months. Once defrosted and opened, use within three weeks. Keep refrigerated.

I hope you like it! If you try it, let me know what you think. It was really easy, I did it at night after the kdis were in bed. We've already tried it and the kids loved it! Brannon, my fruit lover, said it was like crushed strawberries on toast!