March 2017: #fijchallenge Jelly and SHRUBS!!

Jelly and Shrubs for March.... 

I normally don't use a lot of jelly, or in general in prefer jam to jelly. I like all the bits of fruit and textures that I can find in jams.  Jelly, not so much.  There is the lack of texture and the jiggle. Jiggles belong in jello, not normal things to eat on toast.  Don't know much what to do with a jelly.  

I pondered for days, checked out half the library, or so it felt, and still was clueless.  

Then I noticed that Marissa added "Shrubs".... What's a shrub.  According to the webpage for the challenge 

"Shrubs are a combination of fruit, sugar and vinegar. Left to sit for a few days (or even longer), they develop a deep, sweet-tart flavor that is a wonderful addition to a glass of sparkling water, a batch of salad dressing, a fancy homemade cocktail, a marinade for meat or vegetables, or to a pan sauce."

I thought I would at lest try to make one.  I happen to have some blood oranges in my larder and I still had plenty of lemons. I went for it.  What I discovered was that these are fairly easy to make, extremely flexible in ingredients AND are delicious.  Mind you I only have done the cold process shrubs, but next year... just you wait! 

One thing to know about me is that I have small space and choose to use it for my cookware and supplies, not machines, so everything is hand cut, hand juiced, hand blended, etc. I went big since I was already home and made 4 shrubs in one day. Crazy, right?!?

The first shrub I made was a Blood Orange Shrub from Marissa's recipe. I juiced the oranges by hand and practiced good chemistry with the ingredients.  Then I waited. Once the day it was ready I bravely poured a few tablespoons into a glass and topped the glass with club soda.  I breathed in the aroma, sweet but definitely a vinegar smell to it as well. I listened to the effervescence of the soda water. Took a deep breath, released the breath and slowly tasted this new drink.  

Ahhhh.... worth the wait.  It was delicious!!

The next recipe I tried was a variance on the Blueberry Ginger recipe. I used frozen mixed berries (don't judge me) that I had made when I realized I compulsively purchased too many berries for me, myself and I to eat.  The berries had been in the freezer a bit, mocking me, to use them.  I opted for the shrubs instead of the smoothie method of consuming good, organic, fresh to my freezer berries.  Measure, mixed, muddled, mixed, and mulled..... then a taste of healthy goodness.  

I also made a second variation to the Blueberry Ginger recipe, same mocking berries, but left out the ginger (just to spite those berries). After all was processed and done it ended up that I prefered it without the ginger.  Good to know.  

The last shrub I produced that day was a Lemon Honey Ginger.  No real recipe, but doing a variation of the Blood Orange Shrub. It's pretty, it's lemon, it's yellow, and somethings are meant to be drunk with alcohol.  I believe this is true with this shrub.  

Now that I have had a taste for shrubs I went further and found some information from Old Farmer's Almanac on Switchel, Haymakers' Punch and Shrubs.  It's and interesting article and I found a recipe I am threatening to make this summer.  Goodness knows I have the lemon juice, frozen into neat little pre-measured packages. 

Once I realized I was almost out of shrub I panicked.  What to do?  I realized I am hooked on something healthy!  (shhhh don't tell anyone unless they are following this blog.) So I did some more research and found, rather by accident, a recipe for a Strawberry and White Balsamic shrub.  YUMMY! Check out the Outlander Kitchen Cookbook.  This book is now on my wish list of cookbooks to buy.  

After I made my shrubs I was still contemplating the jelly delima.  I had recently inherited a collection of stainless steel cookware and really wanted to make a jelly.  The only jelly that seemed to work with my schedule (2 jobs and a life) is something a wee bit more simple than most of the recipes I was reading.  I came across, 2 or 3 times, a recipe for wine jelly. . I read up on some tips, went shopping, and buckled down.  I picked a Chianti that ended up with a delicious jelly that I like and have used.  Rather surprised myself if I must say so. 

All in all a great month in the challenge.  I am learning so much, getting a chance to take chances and change some things for me by expanding my horizons in ways in unexpected. 

Thanks Marissa!