kitchen experiments

An Egg-cellent Adventure

Just get used to punny titles, folks. I sincerely cannot help myself.

It’s been awhile since I performed any true kitchen experiments, and it was starting to get a little sad around here. The part of my brain that thinks about food (most of it) craves excitement (don’t think for a second I didn’t want to say “egg-citement” just then) and adventure was crying out for the thrills and chills of an “I dunno what’s gonna happen here, but let’s do it anyway!” moment.

Enter, this little gem from Hard Corps Foodie. It’s instructions on how to salt cure an egg yolk. I’d never heard of such a thing, and then once I did, it seemed like they were showing up everywhere. They’re being grated over salads, and pasta dishes, and all sorts of things.

What are they? Well, it’s pretty much like it sounds. You basically bury egg yolks in a salt-sugar mix, let them hang out for a few days until the salt pulls out most of the moisture, then hang them to dry somewhere cool for another week. You can play around with the ratios, and even add other spices into the mix to further manipulate the flavor of the final product.

I was dying of curiosity, so I set out to cure my own egg yolks last Saturday. I’ve just started the “hanging” phase today, but I thought I’d show you what it looks like so far, and I’ll give you an update in a week or so when they’re ready to use, and then, you know, use them, because what’s the point, otherwise?

I actually used a mixture of about 30% sugar, 55% sea salt, and 15% hickory smoked sea salt.

I just cracked a couple of eggs, dumped the whites and gently plopped the yolks into the cure.

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Then I buried them as well as I could, put the lid on, and stuck the container in the back of my fridge and pretty much ignored them until this afternoon.

When I took them out of the cure and rinsed them with cold water, this is what they looked like.

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So, yanno… like dehydrated yellow things. Kinda shaped funny, but that’s probably because the burying process was a little tricker than I had anticipated. I wanted to make sure they were both closer to the center and not touching the sides of the container, and that took a little manipulating. I can’t imaging being a funny shape would impact the taste at all. It was a lot weirder to me that I could actually hold this crazy dehydrated egg yolk under cold running water without it just totally falling apart.

And now, as I mentioned, we’re just at the hanging up stage.

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I’ve read that you can cure yolks in pretty much anything salty… like miso and even soy sauce, so if these work out I will definitely become obsessed with doing this all the time, just to see what it tastes like.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m super impatient sometimes… I really hate waiting for the good part, so I’m trying to slow myself down during experiments like this and think of all of it as the good part, so I can really notice what’s happening along the way instead of just being so fixated on the final goal. That’s another thing my food obsessed brain needs– reminders that the process should get just as much attention as the end result.  It’s all about eggs-periences, right? (Sorry. I couldn’t resist!)

This is my jam!

Sorry. Bad pun.
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As you might have guessed, I’m making jam this week. I put my jam making skills up for auction for charity last October. The winning bidders received six months of Jordan’s Jam of the Month Club, which really didn’t even exist until I made it up for that auction. We’re in our third month, and it’s been a lot of fun finding new jams to share. 

This month’s jam is my little riff on blueberry jam. I added some bramble vinegar that I brought back from Scotland as well as ground tellicherry pepper. Just a couple of notes before I walk you through my recipe:

1. This was totally an experiment. I had an overall sense that it would taste good, but I was really making things up as I went along. 

2. I am not an expert jam maker. I read about generally how to make and can jam from the interwebs a couple of years ago, and then I just went for it. Every single time is a learning process, and I’m still not really very good at determining how much jam I’ll end up with. This recipe made 3 1/2 pints. If you went with half pint jars, this would yield 7 half pints.

If you are someone who makes jam at the expert level, you might feel like parts of my process don’t jive with how you do it. I’m ok with that, but if you have any tips to share on how I can make this less of a production, please feel free to email me at GonnaCookThat@gmail.com. I’m always open to learning how to do things better.

Ingredients:
4 pints fresh blueberries, washed and de-stemmed
3 T bramble vinegar (you could use any fruit based vinegar, or even a young balsamic)
1 C granulated sugar
2 T light agave nectar
3/4 tsp coarse ground tellicherry pepper
2 1/2 C water
3 T pectin
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Equipment:
1 large pot
Wooden spoon
Ladle
Colander (for rinsing/draining the blueberries)
Canning supplies, if you’re going to can your jam (I use a water bath method, but I don’t use a canning rack):
  * Jar lifter
  * Magnetic canning lid wand
  * Canning funnel
  * Sterilized canning jars and lids (you pick the size)
Measuring cups and spoons

1. Add the blueberries, sugar, agave, vinegar, and water to the pot. Bring to a boil. You’ll start to see foamy stuff start to rise to the top. Skim off as much as you can. I find it’s easier to do this while it’s boiling, but try to work quickly.

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2. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring often. 

3. After 20 minutes, the berries will have burst open and the liquid (now a purpley colour) will have started to reduce. Add the ground pepper, stir it in well, and let the jam simmer for another 15 minutes or so, or until the liquid has reduced by about 1/3.

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4. Mix in the vanilla. You won’t get a really prominent vanilla flavor. I just found it rounded out the taste of the final product.

5. Bring the jam back to a boil and stir in the pectin. Allow the jam to boil hard for about one minute. You should see the liquid start to thicken. Turn the heat off after one minute.

CAUTION: At this stage, hot jam is seriously like lava. It will spit at you, and it’s really effing hot. You’ll want to wear an apron or an old shirt you don’t care about, and be careful when you’re stirring because if you get a big blob of it on you it will probably cause a pretty nasty burn. 

If you want to check to make sure the jam is going to set up to the consistency you want, put a metal spoon into a glass of ice water for a few minutes. Scoop up about half a spoon’s worth of jam with the cold spoon and let it cool on the spoon to room temperature. If it’s thick enough for you, you can proceed with whatever storage method you’re going to use. If not, bring the jam back to a boil and add another tablespoon of pectin. For this jam, I kept the consistency a bit loose. This isn’t the kind of thing I’d use for a PB&J, but it’d be fabulous on waffles or pancakes, or even served with a roasted pork or some lamb chops.

Once the jam is ready, you can either put it all into a container in the fridge, or pour it into jars for canning. The Ball Canning site has some really great tips on how this process works and the basics of home canning. I keep it bookmarked and go back to it every time I can anything, just to make sure I’m doing it safely. 

Once you get the hang of the basic process, it’s actually pretty fun to experiment with different combinations of flavours. Each season will bring it’s own local crops of fruit to your area, and turning them into jam is a great way to capture all that fruit at its best so you can enjoy it all year long.