Archive | August, 2011

Yellow Tomato and Basil Jam

yellow tomato basil jam

Last summer, Scott and I spent a weekend in New York. While wandering the Union Square Greenmarket, I picked up a half pint jar of yellow tomato jam. Soon after we got home, I cracked it open and proceeded to make quick work of it. It was good with cheese and even better as a glaze for roasted chicken thighs.

Since then, I’ve been pondering yellow tomato jam. I really wanted to make it from Sungold tomatoes since they are so sweet, but they can be prohibitively expensive if you haven’t grown your own and you’re buying them in the city (I’ve seen them for as much as $5 a pint at farmers’ markets).

Then, when at Root’s Market in Lancaster County last Tuesday, I hit the jackpot. Rows of of glowing, Amish-grown Sungolds for $1 a piece. I bought six.

Cut in half, combined with sugar and lemon juice, and cooked until thick and sticky, this jam is gorgeously vivid in both looks and taste. To make things slightly more interesting, I stirred in a quarter cup of chopped basil at the very end of cooking. Tomatoes and basil do make such good partners.

If you can’t get Sungolds, you could swap in a different tomato. But I do think they give it a depth of sweetness and flavor that is pretty fabulous.

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Classie Parker, New York City’s Canning Queen

The Canning Queen of the Desert from Etsy on Vimeo.

The first time I watched this video, I wanted to leap through my computer screen and give Classie Parker a giant hug. She’s a New Yorker who is teaching people to can and she does it with joy, humor and enthusiasm. What’s more, she’s been doing it since before it was cool and I hazard a guess that she’ll keep on doing it well after the current canning trend passes. She is someone I most definitely want to meet someday.

Big thanks to Etsy for producing this video and for to Jeremiah for bringing it to my attention!

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Urban Preserving: Honey-Sweetened Skillet Stonefruit Jam

finished skillet jam

When we were in Lancaster for vacation, I bought too much fruit. Every time we stopped by a roadside farmstand, I’d enter a fugue state in which I’d forget how much food we already had at our cabin and would buy more (it was all so cheap! and gorgeous! and fresh!).

2 1/2 cups chopped fruit

By the time we headed home last Sunday, I had a gallon-size ziptop bag full of peaches and plums that were rapidly ripening. The bumps they received in transit didn’t help preserve their quality and by the time they were back in the kitchen, they were in dire shape. At one point, my husband suggested just throwing them away.

1/2 cup honey

Not wanting to waste the fruit that I’d spent my vacation cooing over, I decided to make a quick batch of skillet jam. Simmered in a large, stainless pan, this jam cooks up in less than ten minutes, making it the perfect way to preserve overripe fruit quickly and without a ton of fuss. Because I never know when to quit, I always do these things in the moments before bedtime. A fresh jar of jam come morning is never a bad thing.

lemon verbena

After cutting away the bruises and moldy spots from my peaches and plums, I had 2 1/2 cups of chopped fruit. Combined with 1/2 cup honey and six lemon verbena leaves, I cooked it all together over high heat, stirring regularly until the juices thickened. The lemon verbena leaves added a nice citrus-y flavor. They don’t do anything to increase the amount of acid in the jam though, so if the jam is struggling to set up, squeeze half a lemon’s worth of juice into the pan as well.

checking doneness

You know a skillet jam is done when you can pull the spatula through it and jam doesn’t immediately rush in to fill the empty space. Another way to tell the cooking is finished is that it develops and holds those tiny little bubbles around the edges in the photo below. When you stir it, the jam should burble and simmer feverishly. Jam always tells you when it’s done if you look and listen closely.

tell-tale bubbles

Because it only uses honey as a sweetener, this jam tastes more of fruit than sugar which is a good thing in my book. The only downside of jamming with honey is that it doesn’t have the same preservative powers as sugar, so it won’t last for eons in the fridge. It could be safely canned for longer storage, but just I did it, it’s got about two weeks before it will start to develop mold. However, at the rate I’m eating it, spoilage won’t be an issue.

Making a skillet jam like this isn’t just limited to peaches and plums. You can do this same sort of technique with berries, pears, nectarines, apricots and more. One could also portion this jam out into two containers and pop half in the freezer, should you be the type who struggles to finish a jar.

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Foods in Jars on Flickr: Pickles, Peppers, Tomatos and More

Every Sunday evening, I take a break from showing off my preserves and give the rest of you a chance to shine by featuring a few photos from the Food in Jars Flickr group. Here are a few pretties from the last week or two. If you’d like to see your photo featured here, please head over to Flickr, join the group and add your images.

Woodwife peppers, batch #2.

Pickled peppers from Rebecca at Cakewalk. See the recipe and story behind these peppers here.

Canned Crushed Tomatoes, Part II

Twenty-five quarts of crushed tomatoes (there should be a similar spread of tomatoes in my very near future) from Ma Vie En Food.

pickle jones hit me

Washed okra, ready for pickling from Bridgman Pottery. I do love pickled okra (so much so that I made four pints of it during last night’s hurricane. Someone on Twitter coined the practice of putting up during the storm Hurricanning).

Apt. #2

From the description of the photos, from left to right these jars contain, “Sweet Apple Cider Pickled Beets, Dill Pickles, Marinated Red Peppers & Bread n’ Butter Zucchini Coins.” They are the hard work of Jess at Preserving Beauty.

Rose petal jellies

Glowing rose petal jelly made by Aimee. The recipe can be found here.

Raspberry and Razzleberry Jam

Raspberry and Razzleberry jam by Mama Urchin. See the story of how she came to possess just so many raspberries here.


An impressively stocked wall of preserves, all made by Jessica. Descriptions of much of what you see there can be found here.

homemade cola syrup

Homemade cola syrup! Perfect for the soda lover who wants a slightly more virtuous approach to their daily tipple. By Krista, who blogged all about it here.

zucchini relish

Finally, some really tasty-looking zucchini relish from Flickr user crysluvsjimmy_2much.

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Nine Jams For Jennie

nine jams

Like so many others, when I heard that Jennie Perillo’s husband had died suddenly, my heart ached for her and her girls. I made peanut butter pie in solidarity and when Bloggers Without Borders started up their fundraising campaign, I knew I wanted to participate in some way.

In light of my recent layoff, money is tighter for me than it used to be. But happily, I am not without resources. I am rich when it comes to jam.

nine jams

I have pulled nine half pints of jam off my shelves to create a collection to auction. If you can’t read the lids, here’s what’s included:

  • Apricot-Red Chili (a spicy variation on the Apricot-Rosemary)
  • Tomato Jam (yes, THAT tomato jam)
  • Blueberry Maple (my take on this recipe)
  • Strawberry Lemon (a variation on this recipe)
  • Fig Jam (last year’s version of this jam)
  • Shiro Plum with Ginger (haven’t managed to post this one anywhere yet)
  • Sweet Cherry Jam (from the cookbook!)
  • Sour Cherry Jam (my most precious preserve)
  • Cara Cara Orange-Ginger Marmalade (another one from the cookbook)

Instead of taking ever-increasing bids on this item, here’s how I want to do this. If you’re interested in this assortment of homemade jam, between now and 11:59 p.m. (that’s eastern time) on Monday, August 29, you are going to click on the badge below and donate at least $25 (though I strongly encourage you to give as generously as you are able). That’s an incredible bargain for all that jam.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll scroll down and fill out the form below so that I can easily track all the donations and get in contact with the winner once selected. On Tuesday, August 30, I’ll use to select an auction winner. I will carefully wrap each jar and ship them to said winner at my own expense.

Donate to Bloggers Without Borders

All donations go to Blogggers Without Borders, a non-profit that is managing the fund for Jennie.

Don’t forget to check out some of the other amazing items that are currently up for auction, including an assortment of wine from Sean Timberlake, an incredible assortment of preserves from Kate at Snowflake Kitchen and so much more.

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Pickled Baby Pattypan Squash

pickled pattypans

You might recognize this picture. I included it in my vacation post on Monday. Several people wrote in, hoping that I might post the recipe. I’m happy to do so, though I must confess that it’s barely a recipe at all.

I have a basic formula I follow for quick, refrigerator-type pickles like this. It’s one cup vinegar (any 5% acidity vinegar will do), one cup water and one tablespoon pickling salt (sea salt is also fine). This is typically enough for a quart of pickles, which a little bit leftover. It can be expanded or contracted as needed.

fresh baby pattypans

Spices can be anything you like. For this particular batch of pickles, I used a generous tablespoon of pickling spice. Depending on what you’re pickling, you can add garlic, peppercorns, red chili flakes, dill seed, mustard seed, etc.

After you pour the brine over the veg, place a lid on the jar and let is sit on the counter until it’s cool. Once it’s returned to room temperature, pop the jar into the fridge and let it sit for at least 48 hours before proceeding to munch.

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