February in Oregon. I want berries. I want fresh local fruit. But it is still ‘citrus in the stores’ season. I wanted a project that would be flavorful, comforting, sweet and tart, localish and uniqueish. I am pretty happy with my creation.
Jammy Rye Muffins
5 oz. all purpose flour
4 oz. fine rye flour (or whole wheat or buckwheat or oat flour you name it)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup honey
zest of an orange or similar citrus (optional)
1/2 cup jam
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a 12 cup muffin tin with pan spray or liners.
Combine flour through salt in a large mixing bowl. Combine egg through honey in a small bowl and whisk until combined thouroughly and honey is dissolved. I had a blood orange laying on my counter that I didnt need the outside of so I zested it into my wet ingredients as well. Pour liquid into dry mix and stir using a rubber spatula until it is almost combined – leave a little flour unmixed. This helps insure you are not over mixing your batter. Add in 1/2 cup of jam to muffin mix and give it 2-3 more turns. I have a fabulous little “ice cream” scoop that is perfect for dishing muffin batter into a pan.
Let bake for 20-25 minutes. The jam will be sticky. My experience with using rye flours and such is that they need to bake a few minutes more. The flour is already darker than white flour so you cannot just look at the color to detect doness. I usually try to press on a part of the muffin top to see how it reacts to the pressure. If it is firm and does not break or cave in under my finger I will generally pull them. Let cool – Even though they are done baking they will still need to sit to “set”.
I bought a lot of strawberries this summer. I took advantage of my local farmers markets. I bought berries everyday chance that I could. I fell in love with strawberries all over again. A lot of the time they didn’t make it an hour after purchase because I was eating them still warm from the sun out of their tiffany blue cardboard berry box. In the rare occasion some berries lasted through the night or next day I would chop off the green part and add them to a collection of berries I was keeping in the freezer.
Recently I was chatting with an old friend who was telling me about having a kumquat tree in her yard thus needing to make kumquat jam. I was instantly intrigued. Kumquats might not be a household citrus in the Pacific Northwest but I knew I had seen them at my local market. The next time I was in the store I bought a pound thinking I would decided what to do with them later.
Why not combine my locally harvested strawberries with this unique-ish little citrus?
Prepping the kumquats took a bit of time but it was fun and very much worth it. I had just had my knives sharpened so holding such a little round fruit was a little daunting while slicing thinly. I removed the butt of the kumquat that was attached to the tree and discarded it. I then used a chopstick to stab into the “meat” of the kumquat to retrieve the seeds (KEEP THESE). One the seeds were harvested I kept slicing through my kumquats into very thin rings. Lets get going on the jam now:
Strawberry Kumquat Jam
5 cups chopped strawberries
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced kumquat rings
1 lemon, juiced, seeds reserved
3 cups sugar
Combine strawberries, kumquats, and juice of 1 lemon with sugar in a large pot. In a small square of cheesecloth combine lemon seeds with kumquat seeds and tie with kitchen twine. Toss into pot. Bring to a boil for 5-8 minutes, reduce heat to low and cook for 35-45 minutes. Remove cheesecloth of seeds and discard. Use a potato masher to crush up any chunks of strawberry. At this point I do a little freezer test to see if my jam is done – dropping a teaspoon of jam onto a plate that has been in the freezer at the beginning of your prep. If the jam is done cooking it will form a little skin on top of the dollop and not run down the plate when turned. If it is still runny – cook it for another 5 minutes. Jar up the jam (makes 2 pints) or can the jam for long time storage. Enjoy!
I really enjoyed this jam because the strawberries are sweet and the kumquats are tart, the strawberries dissolve nicely and the kumquat rings add a little candied texture.
*When using frozen berries, mix the frozen berries with the sugar in a large bowl in the fridge to thaw over night. When making the jam add the thawed berries and sugar to the pot and then the kumquats and lemon juice.