Summer Foraging Recipe: Elderberry-Blueberry Jam with Chia Seeds

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In the woodland valleys of Central California, Elderflower trees have been in bloom all spring with their prolific, lacy white blossoms.  I've enjoyed making Elderflower syrup, candied elderflowers and sweet Elderflower Tempura.  A few days ago, I noticed that some of the trees are starting to bear fruit -- diminutive, tart little berries, deep purplish-blue growing in heavy clusters.  

Inspired by a love of biscuits and jam, foraging, and adapted from a recipe from Simply Beyond Herbs, I whipped up a simple and delicious jam made from the foraged Elderberries, fresh blueberries and using chia seeds for a perfect jammy consistency.

Enjoy and Happy Foraging!
PrintWith ImageWithout Image Elderberry-Blueberry Chia JamYield: One half-pint jarAuthor: Jenn Erickson Prep time: 10 MCook time: 10 MTotal time: 20 M An easy and delicious sweet-tart jam to make from foraged Elderberries. Ingredients:1 1/2 cups elderberries, rinsedPinch of salt1 cup blueberries, rinsed2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds1/2 Tabl…

Exquisite & Easy Gourmet Salted Caramel (in your microwave!)

 

Real, homemade, buttery melt-in-your-mouth caramel is the stuff of my dreams.
A gourmet salted caramel is pure bliss in a single bite. 

I've been making caramels for years, but because of my impatient nature, I've always relished the product but loathed the process -- hovering over a bubbling pot of molten sugar, eyes glued to the candy thermometer. Here's a little poem I penned about the process. 

Making Caramel
bubble, bubble, bubble
Knock at the door.
Hello friend.
Come right in.
I'll be right back.
Caramel's on the stove.
270 degrees -- Soft Crack!
(but I was only gone 1 minute)
Back to the drawing board.
Oh Sugar!

So, when I read about a new way to make caramel in the microwave, I had to give it a go.  First batch was sensational --  Deep, rich caramel flavor, silky and smooth.  The fool-proof foundation enabled me to start experimenting with time and flavor to come up with the caramel of my dreams.  That's what I love so much about this recipe -- once you establish your base recipe (since every microwave is different), you can tweak the time to make the caramels just the way you like.


In my microwave, 15 minutes yields pure perfection.  Start with this formula, then adjust to your liking.

Microwave Method
Gourmet Salted Caramel
(adapted from food.com)

Cooking Time:  15 Minutes
Yield:  Approx. 100 caramels

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), plus 3 TB for buttering the pan)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract 
  • Fine flake sea salt (my absolute favorite is Murray River Salt from Australia)
  • Wax paper, cut into 4" x 3" pieces

Prepare your pan by buttering the bottom and sides.  I use a 12x12 pan because it gives me the perfect height for the caramel (about 1/2").  Cut two pieces of parchment paper.  Line pan with the first piece.  Butter the parchment, then lay the second piece down in the opposite direction.  You'll want to cut the parchment long enough to overhang the sides of the pan.  This will make it easy to lift out later.  Butter bottom and sides of the parchment.


Step 1:  Place butter in a 2-3 quart bowl.  Microwave until just melted.  Add sugars, corn syrup and condensed milk.  Stir with a silicone spatula to combine.


Step 2:  Microwave for 3 minutes. 

 

Step 3:  Stir , then microwave for 3 minutes more.


Step 4:  Stir , then microwave for 3 minutes more.

 

Step 5:  Stir , then microwave for 3 minutes more.


Step 6:  Stir , then microwave for a final 3 minutes. (In my microwave, the caramel reaches 234 degrees F at the 15 minute mark).  Whisk in vanilla extract. 


Step 7:  Immediately pour the hot candy into the prepared pan.  Gently tap the pan on a flat surface to tap out any air bubbles.  Set aside in a cool place, elevated on a wire rack, to cool (approx. 3-4 hours depending on the temperature of the room).

 
Step 8:  When candy has cooled completely, lift out of the pan by the parchment.  Use a sharp buttered knife (I run my knife lengthwise through a stick of butter) to cut the caramel into 1" strips.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Then, chop into 1/2" pieces.   


Step 9:  Wrap caramels by placing a caramel on a piece of wax paper (I use the regular stuff from the grocery store and cut it with my paper cutter to get perfect 4" x 3" pieces).  Place the caramel with the long side horizontal on the wax paper with the 4" side horizontal as well.  Roll, then twist the ends.  


This was my first batch.
This recipe is easy and marvelous, but bear in mind that your first batch will be experimental because every microwave is different.  You may need to add more time, or you may need less.  My first batch was softer than I would have liked, but still garnered oohs and ahhs from everyone who tasted it.  


Have fun and enjoy!

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This post has been linked-up with
Sugar & Slice Sunday


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