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Low Sugar Spiced Peach Jam

finished peach jam

For the last four summers, I’ve been invited by the folks at the Washington State Fruit Commission and Sweet Preservation to participate in their Canbassador program. Essentially, sometime around mid-summer, they drop me an email and ask if I want to make something tasty with their fruit. When I say yes, the ship a box of delicious Washington-grown cherries, peaches, plums, or apricots.

peach box

Some years, they send me a mix of fruit. Other years, it’s just a single variety. Here’s what I’ve made for this partnership since kicking things off in 2010.

chopped peaches

This year, they sent me a giant box of sweet, juicy peaches. About half the fruit was at the apex of ripeness upon arrival. I triaged the box, sorting the peaches that had to be used immediately from the ones that could stand a couple of days in the fridge. When I was done, I had six pounds of peaches that required immediate action.

And so I peeled them, roughly chopped them, and divided them between a couple of large jars. I added some sugar to help hold them (1/2 a cup for the quart jar and 1 cup for the half gallon), gave both jars a good shake to distribute everything, and plunked them in the fridge for 2 1/2 days while I went down to Washington, D.C. to teach some classes.

peaches in the pan

When I got home from the trip, I poured the macerated peaches into a low, wide pan (in fact, the one I wrote about here). I added a tablespoon of calcium water (Pomona’s Pectin), 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, and the zest and juice from a lemon.

I brought it to a boil and cooked until the peaches where very soft and the syrup became to thicken. I whisked 1 tablespoon of Pomona’s Pectin into 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar and after about 35 minutes of cooking, stirred it into the jam. A few more minutes of simmering to help everything combined and then the jam was done.

cooked peach jam

Funneled into eight half pint jars and processed for 10 minutes, this jam is lighter on sugar than many, but doesn’t sacrifice anything in terms of flavor. It’s a nice one for holiday gifts and eating with fat slices of angel food cake.

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Honey Sweetened Raspberry Preserves

glowing berries

When I was in Portland a few weeks back, I spent a morning at the Beaverton Farmers Market with Kate Payne. We did side-by-side demos, signed books, and greeted all the nice folks who stopped by to see what we were doing with carrots (her) and strawberries (me).

By the time we finished, the market was starting to close down for the day. Kate dashed off to buy some Hood strawberries for her next demo, while I went off in search of one of the half flats of raspberries I’d seen walking by our table.

raspberry pulp

After just a little bit of wandering, I found the raspberries I was looking for. They’d been out in the heat for hours so were starting to look a tiny bit soft. The woman working the stand, pulled six of the best looking pints that she could find for me and fitted them snugly into the cardboard half flat. Then, she took two more pints and scattered them over top. She gave me a wink and said, “End of the day special.”

finished jam

I ate at least a pint on the drive home (all of 25 minutes) and my parents helped polish off a second pint within the afternoon. The rest were destined for preserving. My mom and I gently tumbled each pint out onto a dinner plate and sorted through, separating out any berries that seemed to have started to go truly bad from the ones that could go into the cooking pot (we also pulled a few of the fresher looking ones to save for breakfast the next day).

processing jam

We collected the berries in a roomy 4-cup measuring cup, occasionally mashing the fruit down with a fork in order to make room for more. When we were finished, we’d filled the measuring cup to the brim and still had a scant pint that were sturdy enough to last the night in the fridge.

finished raspberry jam

I combined the berries with two cups of local honey and a goodly amount of lemon zest and juice in my mom’s widest pan and brought it all to an active boil. Stirring regularly, it took about half an hour to cook down and thicken (had I had some Pomona’s Pectin on hand, I may have spiked it with a bit to encourage a thicker set in less time).

When it was done, I had three half pints and one full pint of lovely, bright, honey sweetened raspberry preserves (I’m not calling it jam, because it ended up with a fairly soft set and I want to establish the correct expectations). Hooray for Oregon berries!

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Honey Sweetened Rhubarb Compote With Ginger

chopped rhubarb

I am currently in a motel room about an hour north of Pittsburgh, PA. My class in Columbus yesterday went gloriously well (so many thanks to The Seasoned Farmhouse for having me!) and my appearance on All Sides with Ann Fisher earlier today was so fun (you can watch it or download the podcast here).

The upcoming weekend in Pittsburgh got some really nice coverage in the Post-Gazette today. If you’re in the area, please do come out and say hi!

rhubarb compote

Happily, this blog post isn’t only about what’s happened over the last few days and what’s to come later this week. I also have a recipe for honey sweetened rhubarb compote with ginger. This particular preserve doesn’t have much of a story behind it. It was one of those ideas that sprang fully formed into my brain and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about it until I made it.

I used two forms of ginger (freshly grated and juice. I used this bottled juice, but instructions on how to make your own can be found here) to make it kicky, and had I been able to find my jar of crystalized ginger, I would have included some chopped bits as well (how does one misplace a pint jar of ginger?), but the kitchen is a bit of a mess these days and I just couldn’t put my hands on it.

Still, even without the third form of ginger, it’s quite good. I had intended it to be something closer to a jam, but it refused to thicken beyond a very soft set, and so I’m calling it a compote in order to set consistency expectations. You can call it whatever you’d like.

Honey Sweetened Rhubarb Compote With Ginger

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds rhubarb stalks
  • 1 pound honey (or 1 1/3 cups, if you prefer volume measurements)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ginger juice

Instructions

  1. Prepare a boiling water bath canner and four half pint jars.
  2. Trim rhubarb stalks and cut them into inch-sized segments. Place them in a pot and add the honey, grated ginger, and ginger juice.
  3. Let the rhubarb sit for 5-10 minutes, until the honey mingles with the ginger juice and starts to dissolve.
  4. Place the pot on the stove and bring the rhubarb to a boil. Cook at a fast bubble, stirring regularly, until the rhubarb breaks down and the whole mess has thickened to your liking.
  5. Remove jam/compote from heat and funnel it into the prepared jars, leaving about 1/2 inch head space. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
  6. When time is up, remove jars from canner and let them cool. Sealed jars are shelf stable for a good long while. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and eaten within a couple of weeks.
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Ten Ways to Use and Preserve Spring Rhubarb

rhubarb

I have a confession to make. As much as I’m enjoying this book tour (and truly, every step of it has been a total delight), I am ready to go home, see my husband, and cook in my little kitchen again.

To tide me over until Tuesday, when I’ll be home for a longer stretch than 12 hours, I’ve been digging back through the archives, to remind myself of what I like to cook this time of year. The thing that’s popping out at me most? Rhubarb! Here are nine ways that I’ve preserved and loved rhubarb in the past.

Cooking rhubarb

My first ever rhubarb preserve is still one of my favorites. It’s just rhubarb, vanilla and a little bit of earl grey tea for extra flavor.

rhubarb chutney

Another oldie but goodie is this recipe for rhubarb chutney. It was my first-ever chutney and is still one that I come back to about every other year.

rhubarb syrup

For summertime cocktails and vinaigrettes, cook yourself up a little bottle of rhubarb syrup. Next time I make it, I’m going to plunk a little bit of ginger in for extra zing.

rhubarb butter, from above

If you want less sugar, I find that a fruit butter is always the ticket. I’ve got both Rhubarb Butter with Orange and Strawberry Rhubarb Butter to choose from.

rhubarb/sugar/rosemary

For something slightly more herbaceous, there’s always Rosemary Rhubarb Jam.

roasted rhubarb pieces

If you can bear to turn on your oven, how about some Roasted Rhubarb Compote (this link will take you to the Mrs. Wages site, but I promise, the recipe is still all mine).

macerating fruit

And finally, the small batches! Strawberry Rhubarb Jam. With roseflower water.

cake square

And if you’re not up for preserving at all, but want something tasty, may I suggest this rhubarb cake? It uses up the last of a jar of preserves you’ve got laying around, along with runny yogurt and whole wheat pastry flour. It’s one of my favorites for spring brunches.

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Urban Preserving: Strawberry Kiwi Jam

strawberries and kiwis - Food in Jars

When it comes to travel prep, my husband and I are not well matched. He likes to be fully packed at least 36 hours before a trip, so that he can get a peaceful night of sleep before a flight or drive. I am a bit more frenzied, often packing and re-packing my suitcase moments before it’s time to leave. What’s more, my last minute nature extends to preserving projects.

cooking strawberry kiwi jam - Food in Jars

Last December, the last thing I did before putting my coat on to head to the airport was take half a dozen jars out of the hot water bath and turn off the stove. I had a citron melon with a broken rind. It would not last and I couldn’t bare to throw it away. It had to be done.

finished strawberry kiwi jam - Food in Jars

More recently, I found myself in the kitchen at 11:30 pm, having that familiar debate. Trash can or jam pan? You see, we had most of a pound of strawberries in the fridge that would not last my absence and four wrinkly kiwis that would be well on their way to hooch if left in the fruit basket another four days. I could either bear the responsibility for wasting them or make a quick batch of jam.

strawberry kiwi jam in a jar - Food in Jars

And so, I made jam. I followed the formula you’ve all seen me employ before. I chopped the berries, scooped the kiwi out of its fuzzy wrapper, and heaped them both into a measuring cup to eyeball my volume. Three cups. I added in 1 1/4 cups of granulated sugar (I calculate half as much sugar as fruit and then use a bit less than that) stirred until it was juicy. The fruit and sugar combo then went into a skillet, where I cooked it until thick and spreadable (in the last two minutes of cooking, I added a little lemon juice to balance the sweetness).

Instead of being in possession of fading fruit, I had two half pints of tangy strawberry kiwi jam. I may not have gotten as much sleep as I could have used, but I was set free from the guilt of wasted fruit. A fair trade, in my book. And just this morning, I ate a bit on a slice of peanut butter toast and thought fondly of that late night investment of time.

Where do you all fall on the pre-travel canning continuum? Do you preserve at all costs, or do you occasionally let the produce go?

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Honey Sweetened Cara Cara Orange Jam on Simple Bites

finished orange jam

I got back from Chicago last night with a stack of other peoples’ business cards, half a dozen water bottles from the Housewares Show (more on that soon), and a fog-inducing head cold. I’m good for nothing right now beyond curling up on the couch with a book and some tea.

Happily, I don’t have to leave you all entirely empty-handed. I wrote a piece for Simple Bites on Honey Sweetened Cara Cara Orange Jam that went live today. It’s bright, well-balanced, and can be used a number of different ways (on toast! with yogurt! in vinaigrette!). Please do head over there and take a look.

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