Summer is in full swing which means we have oodles of delicious summer fruit to gobble up! Get out your pails and get picking! Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk! Strawberry season is just about wrapped up, and blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and peaches are just around the corner. One of the best ways to keep delicious Maine fruits in your kitchen all year long is to cook and store them as a jelly, jam, or preserve. But what is the difference? Let’s find out!
Jelly, jam, and preserves are all made from cooking fruit mixed with sugar and sometimes pectin. Pectin is naturally found in fruit and is what makes jams and jellies firm up. You can add powdered pectin to get a firmer texture.
Jelly is clear and firm and made from the juice of fruit. Once the fruit is cooked it is strained so that only the juice ends up in the jelly. Many people prefer jelly since it doesn’t have any seeds in it. Typically pectin is added to a jelly to give it that nice bouncy firmness. Jelly doesn’t always have to be sweet…here is one of our favorite recipes for a savory Pepper Jelly:
6 Large Peppers, the color of your choice
6 Cups Sugar
1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 1/2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Packages of Pectin
1. Blend half of the peppers and half of the vinegar.
2. Combine the pepper/vinegar mixture with the sugar, salt, and pepper in a saucepan.
3. Bring to a boil.
4. Add Pectin.
5. Continue to boil until thickened, stirring all the while.
6. Pour into warm, clean jars.
Jam is essentially a chunkier version of jelly. It is made from the entire fruit, which has been crushed and cooked into a pulp. Pieces of fruit end up in the spread and it’s not a uniform consistency like jelly. Think about a nice strawberry jam on your morning toast!
Preserves are similar to jam but contain more fruit—often whole pieces. They do not have the firmness of a jelly. How about some tasty Peach Preserves with a scoop of vanilla ice cream…YUM! My recipe:
7 Large Peaches
5 Cups Sugar
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1/2 Teaspoon Almond Extract
1. Peel and cut the peaches in to chunks.
2. Add the chunks, lemon juice, and sugar to a saucepan.
3. Bring to boil until the sugar is dissolved, stirring all the time.
4. Reduce heat to a slow boil. Fruit will become clear and thick after about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Remove any foam that develops (the liquid will be clear).
5. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract.
6. Pour into warm, clean jars.
Whichever option you prefer, having some yummy Maine fruit to spread on your morning toast all year long is a real treat! If you are new to canning or preserving, here is a great visual guide to get you started!
*Images courtesy of:
When I think of grilling, I can’t help but think of the flavor of smoking. In the past, smoking meats was a way of preserving. Now, it is more about taste and texture. Brisket is a prime example of this; it needs extra love and care…long and low. Smoking adds tons of flavor and actually tenderizes this meat in the process. Our smoked beef brisket is the main item requested at all of our BBQs and has been really popular for weddings. Throw in BBQ chicken, hearty baked beans, potato salad, Coleslaw, corn muffins and strawberry shortcake and you are good to go! YUMMMMMM
While preparing dinner on Sunday for Father’s Day I decided to have Smoked Deviled Eggs as an appetizer. I mean, really, what screams BBQ better than deviled eggs?! OMG, how good were they! Chuck and I have a small smoker in our backyard next to our grill, and we at CVC Catering Group have a large one that can handle 75 to 100 pounds of brisket! The good news is you do not need a special smoker or a smoke gun (though these are fun tools) to smoke your food. You can use your own charcoal grill! So, why don’t you get into the swing and prepare these eggs and Chuck’s Smoked Brisket along with your BBQ favorites…you will be in BBQ heaven!
Nancy’s Smoked Deviled Eggs
Chuck’s Smoked Brisket
Prepare the meat as follows:
In April, we were lucky enough to help Mercy Hospital honor their nurses with a special event at Cellardoor Winery. We put together a big spread of some of our favorite dishes. Here are two that were the most popular…perfect for any springtime event!
Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart
Banana Curry Sauce
“My experience cooking began at a very young age and continues to this day. As a traveler, I have been blessed with cooking lessons from natives in Portugal, Iceland, Morocco, Canada, and, most recently, Cuba. I began my culinary career training with a well-known Portland chef. As Head Chef and Manager, I developed skills in both the front and back of house. I loved the pace and energy that it required. Eventually, I opened a small café with an emphasis on upscale Mediterranean cuisine. I was beginning to experience success when a curveball was thrown my way. Unwilling to risk everything I had worked for, I decided to close the café. After a few weeks of soul-searching, I was hired at Preble Street as an ‘as-needed employee,’ and was quickly promoted to Food Programs Assistant, then to Kitchen Operations Manager. I ran the Preble Street Soup Kitchen for almost 8 years. After years of working in local restaurants, it was quite a switch to run the largest soup kitchen in the state of Maine, yielding over one thousand hot meals per day. My work at Preble Street was meaningful and important and helped me gain confidence and skills that stretch well beyond the kitchen. When I decided that I needed to make a change, I took some time to really weigh what I wanted to do for my next chapter and I was immediately drawn to finer cooking. I then transitioned to Cellardoor Winery, where I have worked for the past two years. There, I had the pleasure of hosting Food and Wine Pairings, cooking for private parties, serving as a Wine Educator, and developing my skills in the fine art of connecting gourmet food to wine.
Personally, I am the proud mother of an organic farmer. At home, farm-to-table dinners, local produce, house-smoked meats, and gorgeous food presentation is very much a part of our lives.
I stumbled upon the job of Executive Chef at CVC Catering at the perfect time and I feel happy to be a part of such a well-established team. Already, I am treated like family and am excited for my future with CVC Catering. I cannot wait to add my talent and creativity to such an esteemed company to make your event a dream come true.”
Ughhh, as I write this we are snowing, sleeting, and icing. It is mid-April…where is spring?!
My twin sister lives in Appleton, Wisconsin and she had 20+ inches of snow in the last week. To keep our sanity, Chuck and I have decided that we are going to ignore the landscape out there and prepare for spring nonetheless!
To put us in a spring-y mood, we decided to make garlicky dill pickles, BBQ sauce, and a twist on baked beans. Winter is over in our minds… so bring on spring and summer! Even Cappuccino tried to help!
These pickles are great on sandwiches or for snacking or frying. YUMMMM.
Chuck’s Dilly Garlic Pickles
1 whole cucumber
½ cup white vinegar
1 cup water
6 cloves of garlic
½ tbs. black peppercorns
4 tbs. dill
¼ cup salt
2 tsp. crushed red pepper
This is my twist on our family’s baked bean recipe. My favorite addition is sautéed bratwurst, although I have used ground beef. Add a side of vinegary cole slaw to make a hearty meal!
Nancy’s Baked Beans
½ cup BBQ sauce
½ cup chili sauce
½ cup water
3 tbs. dry mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. Liquid Smoke
2 tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 ¼ lb bratwurst, casings removed
2 onions, chopped
2 (28oz) cans baked beans
2 (15oz) cans pinto beans, drained
2 (15oz) cans cannellini beans, drained
¼ cup molasses
6 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 1in. pieces
My family has been making our own BBQ sauce for generations. It is really easy to make and much better than any bottled sauce I have found. I have made changes over the years and this is my latest version. Try it on all types of meat!
Nancy’s BBQ Sauce
4 slices bacon
½ cup onion, grated
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup chili sauce
2 tbs. hot sauce
½ to 1 tsp. of Liquid Smoke
Need to feel like spring has sprung?! Test these out at home and let us know how they turn out!