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Low Sugar Blackberry Rhubarb Jam

three jars of low sugar blackberry rhubarb jam on a bench

Lately, Trader Joe’s had been selling 12 ounce containers of blackberries for right around $3.50. For those of you who live in the Pacific Northwest, it might seem crazy to pay for good money for blackberries since come August, they’re going to be everywhere. But for those of us who live in less blackberry-rich environs, this is a very good price.

blackberries, rhubarb, and sugar in a pot before being cooked into jam

As a result, I’ve been making lots of preserves with blackberries. I did a batch scented with lavender, and another batch with cinnamon and nutmeg, like my mom always makes. I also did this low sugar blackberry rhubarb jam, encouraged by an email from a reader who asked if I’d ever done such a combination).

I really love how it turned out. Tangy from the rhubarb, rich from the berries, and just sweet enough with a relatively small amount of sugar. If you wanted to make this jam with honey rather than with sugar, reduce the amount to 1 cup and save 1/3 a cup to add at the end with the pectin.

a close up of two jars of low sugar blackberry rhubarb jam

Oh, and if you don’t want to spring for blackberries now, but can get them at a better price later in the season, you can still make this jam. Just chop up a pound of rhubarb now, put it in a ziptop bag, and tuck it into the freezer until August. Frozen rhubarb behaves beautifully in jams.

Finally, if this jam doesn’t float your boat, I’ve got a couple other blackberry recipes in the archives. Perhaps my classic Blackberry Jam or this Blackberry Apricot Jam will float your boat!

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Upcoming Events: Easton, Hanover Township, Franklin Township, & Chicago!

homemade salad

My month of sticking close to home is half over! I have three more local events on the calendar for May, and then in June, I’m off to Chicago for a week of library events and classes!

Thursday, May 19 (Easton, PA)
I’ll be at the brand new Easton Public Market, teaching a hands on canning and preserving class. We’ll make a batch of Strawberry Cocoa Jam from start to finish and all participants will go home with a small jar of jam. 7-9 pm. $45. Register here.

Saturday, May 21 (Hanover Township, PA) You’ll find me at Dundee Gardens, offering a demo-style canning class. I’ll show you how to make a batch of Strawberry Cocoa Jam, and will get you ready to go home and make a batch yourself! 11 am. More info and registration.

Tuesday, May 24 (Franklin Township, NJ)
Find me at Franklin Township Library at 6:30 pm, for a canning demonstration and book signing.

 

Events in the Chicago Area

Sunday, June 5
Chicago Botanic Garden! Canning demo and book signing in the Garden Kitchen Amphitheater. 10:30 a.m. Admission is free but seating is limited.

Monday, June 6
Mundelein, IL! Canning demo and book signing at the Fremont Public Library. 6:30 pm. Free.

Tuesday, June 7
Gurnee, IL! Canning demo and book signing at the Warren-Newport Public Library. 6:30 pm. Free. Register here.

Wednesday, June 8
Lake Zurich, IL! Canning demo and book signing at the Ela Public Library. 6:30 pm. Free.

Thursday, June 9
Northfield, IL! I’ll be speaking at a luncheon to benefit Canning for Kids and The Ferrer Foundation. More details here.
Chicago, IL! Event with Read It and Eat. More details coming soon.

Friday, June 10
Chicago, IL! Canning demo and book signing at The Chopping Block’s Merchandise Mart location. 5:30-6:30 pm. Free.

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Fourteen Ways to Preserve Strawberries and a Pie

hulling strawberries

I haven’t seen any local strawberries yet here in Philadelphia, but my sources say they’re coming any day now (just as soon as it warms up a little!). For those of you who have them or are just dreaming about them like I am, I thought I’d put together a collection of my strawberry preserves from over the years. At the end of this post, you’ll find a recipe for the strawberry pie I try to make at least once a year (because it’s just so good).

strawberries in a colander

The Small Batch Recipes

small batch strawberry vanilla

The small batch version of my beloved strawberry vanilla jam. I make several batches of this preserve every year because it’s quick and delicious.

quart of berries

An itty-bitty batch of strawberry rhubarb jam.

strawberry rhubarb rosemary

Strawberry rhubarb jam scented with rosewater. If you make this one, add the rosewater in stages, in case yours is more potent than the one I used.

strawberry fig jam

Strawberry fig jam. If you can’t get fresh figs, you could also make this one with frozen figs.

strawberries and kiwis - Food in Jars

Strawberry kiwi jam. A teeny, tiny, tangy jam.

finished strawberry caramel

Strawberry lavender caramel. A sweet sauce for drizzling and glazing.

strawberry balsamic jam

Strawberry balsamic jam. The perfect strawberry preserve for serving with cheese.

The Large Batch Recipes

strawberry vanilla jam large

My very first strawberry jam recipe. It’s a classic. It’s strawberry vanilla jam!

strawberries and apples

A nice big batch of dusty pink strawberry applesauce.

pint of strawberry vanilla jam

Want a big batch of strawberry jam with half the sugar? This low sugar version is for you!

strawberry chutney ingredients

For the fans of sweet and savory, consider this strawberry chutney. It’s so good with stinky, runny cheeses!

The Butters and Compotes

strawberry rhubarb butter

Strawberry rhubarb butter. Super smooth and spreadable.

maple strawberry butter

Slow cooker strawberry butter, sweetened with maple syrup.

roasted rhubarb and strawberries

Roasted rhubarb and strawberry compote. Eat it over yogurt. Stir it into oatmeal. Top it with granola and call it a crumble.

strawberry pie

Now for the pie. Check the recipe after the jump!

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Homemade Fig Mustard

Finished Fig Mustard - Food in Jars

I’ve been in California for the last week and I’ve spent most of that time sitting on my best friend’s couch, trying to recover from the flu. This was supposed to be the triumphant start to my book tour, but instead I’ve been forced to lay very low.

It’s been a lesson in flexibility and surrender, as well as a reminder that I’ve pushed myself too hard over the last year. However, thanks to a cocktail of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, decongestants, and Tamiflu, I am starting to feel human again. And so I thought I’d drop in to talk about mustard.

Fig Mustard in New Persian - Food in Jars

Mustard has long been one of my favorite condiments. I learned to love it when I was very young as an accompaniment to hot dogs and turkey bologna, and as an adult, eat it with cheese, sausage, and cold turkey. And I do so love a toasted cheese sandwich with spicy, flavorful mustard.

Dried Figs - Food in Jars

The inspiration for this particular mustard came from Louisa Shafia’s wonderful book, The New Persian Kitchen. I revisited my copy earlier this year because Joy and I were featuring the book on Local Mouthful and this mustard practically leapt off the page at me.

Toasted Mustard Seeds - Food in Jars

I marked it a couple months ago, but finally made it just a few days before I left for this trip (admittedly, I was stockpiling recipes so that I’d have some things to post here while I was away). I ended up tweaking the ingredients a little and streamlining the process.

Fig Mustard in Pot - Food in Jars

I increased the amount of acid a bit, both because I wanted the finished flavor to be a bit tangier and because I wanted to ensure that it would be safe for canning. I also opted to use an immersion blender for the pureeing process, rather than transfer the mustard to a blender or food processor. Beyond that, the recipe is all Louisa.

While I haven’t dug into my jars yet, I feel certain that this mustard will be magical on turkey sandwiches. I bet it would also work nicely as a glaze for roasted chicken legs and thighs.

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Meyer Lemon Lavender Jam

Meyer Lemon Jam Tower - Food in Jars

Oh friends. I meant to post this recipe weeks ago, but with the intensity and chaos of life lately, it got lost in the shuffle. We’re getting late in the season for Meyer lemons, but if you’re motivated, you should be able to find a few for this jam. If you’re in Philly, know that Sue’s Produce has them (for $4 a pound, but still).

Trimmed Lemons in Pot - Food in Jars

I made my first whole fruit citrus jam a few years ago, and continue to love it as an alternative to marmalade. You get all the zippy tang and flavor, without the hours of chopping and mincing (though if you love marmalade for it’s texture, this is no substitute).

Meyer Lemon Jam Jars - Food in Jars

To prep, you wash and trim the fruit. Layer it in a pot large enough to hold the fruit in a single layer and run enough water in to just cover the fruit. Set the pot on the stove, put a lid on it, and simmer the fruit for about 20 minutes, until the lemons are tender, but not falling apart.

Once they’re cool, you cut the fruit in half, scoop out the seeds over a sieve, puree the fruit, and cook it down with sugar and flavorings. In this case, I infused the fruit with some dried lavender, but I’ve been pondering a batch spiked with chiles.

Dozen Meyer Lemon Jam - Food in Jars

The applications for a jam like this vary. I’ve had great success pairing it with fresh, creamy cheeses like ricotta or farmers. If you leave it a little bit runny, a drizzle into a bowl of yogurt, fruit, and granola is terrific. It can also be used to lend acid and sweetness to stir-fried chicken or shrimp. Heck, if you left the lavender out, I can see it being a delicious dipping sauce for homemade chicken fingers.

On the beverage side, you could stir a spoonful into a mug of hot water when your throat is scratchy. Or use some in a hot toddy in place of honey. There are just so many options.

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Canning 101: How to Make Jam With Frozen Fruit + Apricot Meyer Lemon Jam

frozen apricots - Food in Jars

It is mid-winter, which means that the pickings are quite slim for canners in search of fresh fruit to turn into jams and fruit butters. However, if you’ve got a preserving itch that must be scratched, take heart and turn to the freezer.

frozen apricots top - Food in Jars

Whether you’re using fruit you yourself tucked into the deep freeze or you’ve decided to rely on that which you can find in the cases at the grocery store, it’s possible to coax satisfying spreads out of previously as long as you remember a couple of things.

frozen apricots sugared - Food in Jars

First and most important, don’t defrost your fruit prior to combining it with the sugar. I’ve made jam from a wide array of frozen fruit in my time, and I’ve learned that my results are always better if I liberally dust the fruit with sugar while it’s still frozen.

The sugar draws away some of the water in the fruit, which helps it hold its shape better, while also providing some protection against browning. This is especially helpful in the case of light-colored fruit like apricots and peaches, which will turn grey and squishy if left to defrost on their own.

defrosting apricots - Food in Jars

The second tip for success when using frozen fruit in preserving is to use weight as your measurement tool. Because you’re going to sugar the fruit before it has defrosted, volume measurements for the fruit won’t be accurate. By using weight as your guiding measurement, you’ll be able to keep the proportions of fruit to sugar steady and set yourself up for success.

finished jam - Food in Jars

For those of you who made plenty of jam back in the summer and question why one would want to make jam from frozen fruit, I have four words for you. Apricot Meyer Lemon Jam.

This season bending preserve isn’t possible to make on the east coast without the aid of a freezer, but it is good enough that I try to stash four pounds of apricots in my freezer drawer each summer, so that I’m able to make it when Meyer lemons are in season. Oh, and if you can’t wait another year for this one, try freezing some Meyer lemon juice and zest right now, to save for apricot season.

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