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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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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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Three Springs Fruit Farm + Food in Jars

Three Springs Fruit Farm + Food in Jars Preserves

As so many good things in life do, it started with a conversation at the Headhouse Square Farmers Market. Ben Wenk from Three Springs Fruit Farm was looking for ways to make their line of preserves more interesting and wondered if I had any ideas. I suggested some recipes that I thought might work for large scale production. And thus, a partnership was born.

Food in Jars logo on Tart Cherry Jam

Right now, there are just three preserves that are made with Ben’s fruit and my recipes, but hopefully there will be more. There’s the Salted Brown Sugar Peach Jam, the Tart Cherry Jam, and my classic, beloved, much-celebrated Tomato Jam. You can buy them online as a set of three, or if you’re in the mid-Atlantic region, in person at a farmers market.

These preserves don’t mean you should stop making your own. But it does mean that if you run out of tomato jam in March, you can now get your hands on a few jars to tide you over until tomato season returns.

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Low Sugar Apple Ginger Butter

A light, silky apple butter with shot through with fresh ginger. Try it with latkes instead of plain applesauce.

Apple Ginger Butter - Food in Jars

Back in October, Janet sent me two boxes. One contained an assortment of apples and the other was filled with fragrant, fuzzy quince. I laid the fruit out on big, rimmed sheet pan and spent a day admiring it (and sniffing the quince for the pleasure of their rosy scent).

apples for butter - Food in Jars

Soon though, it was time to get down to the business of preserving. There were enough apples for two recipes (we’ll talk about the quince later). I transformed half the apples into a batch of maple sweetened butter (like this one, but with several tablespoons of apple cider vinegar stirred in at the end for extra tang). The remaining six pounds became this light, gingery butter.

apple butter on the stove - Food in Jars

I’ll confess, I’ve gone back and and forth inside my head, debating as to whether or not to actually call this recipe a butter. You see, most of us think of fruit butters as intensely dense things, brown from spices and hours on the stove.

This apple and ginger preserve is light in color and silky in texture. It is zippy and bright where a traditional butter is earthy. But jam isn’t quite right. Neither is jelly, conserve, sauce, or puree. Until I come up with a better name, butter will just have to do.

apple ginger nectar - Food in Jars

If you decide to make this preserve, make sure to save those cores and peels left over from prepping the apples. Heap them into a saucepan, add more fresh ginger, and fill the pot with water.

Let it simmer away on the back burner for an hour or so, until the peels are soft and translucent. Once strained, you’ll have an apple-ginger nectar that is delicious sipped warm or chilled. It’s an almost effortless way to get all the goodness from your apples that you can.

Apple Ginger Butter close - Food in Jars

In this, the season of latkes (Hanukkah starts on December 6!), I can think of no higher calling for this butter than a top a disc of fried potatoes. However, if latkes aren’t your thing, don’t think you can write this one off. It’s awfully good stirred into a bowl of steel cut oats and I can’t stop imagining it layered into shortbread bar cookie.

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Low Sugar Pear Cranberry Jam

Low Sugar Pear Cranberry Jam - Food in Jars

Last week, a day or two before I left for Portland, I made three batches of jam in rapid succession. The first was a combination of pears and persimmons. The second was a gingery apple butter. And the last one was a low sugar pear cranberry jam.

I meant to share the apple butter last week, and then got lost in travel and the pleasure of being with my parents and thus getting to be slightly less responsible than normal, so it didn’t happen. Because Thanksgiving is looming and I’ve been procrastinating, I thought I’d get this one up first, so that if it appealed to you, there’d still be time to make it before the holiday.

Making Pear Cranberry Jam - Food in Jars

And while we’re on the subject of Thanksgiving and cranberries, don’t forget that the archives of this site are bursting with seasonally appropriate recipes. Here are some of my favorites.

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