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Makrut Lime Marmalade

vertical image of lime marmalade

The citrus situation in my kitchen is out of control. There’s a big bowl of clementines on the table, three red grapefruits in the basket with the onions, and a open bag of cara cara oranges on the counter (not to mention the remaining Meyer lemons, which are lined up on a rimmed baking sheet and hanging out in the living room). I realize I should probably restrain myself, but citrus feels like the only good way to combat the short days, chilly weather, and non-stop parade of head colds.

limes

Up until a couple days ago, there was also something a lime situation. Because I’m a long-time customer, Karen from the Lemon Ladies will occasionally slip an extra treat into my order. This year, she tucked in a bonus pound of makrut* limes in with the Meyers. Both makrut limes and their leaves are used a great deal in Thai cooking and have a heady, slightly woodsy fragrance.

slicing limes

Because I am who I am, you should not be surprised to hear that I took those makrut limes and made marmalade with them. I used the Hungry Tigress’ Lime on Lime Shred Marmalade as a starting place and got to work (just a glance at her site makes me nostalgic for the days of the Can Jam).

I stretched the making of this marmalade out over three days. I find that this is my favorite way to make any labor-intensive preserve, because it never ends up feeling like too much of a pain. If I force myself to do it all at once, I often end up hating the process. If I work in small spurts, I end up delighted with the experience instead.

naked limes

So, on Monday evening, after the dinner dishes were cleaned and I had clear counters and an empty sink, I turned on a podcast and set to work. I had a scant pound of makrut limes and three quarters of a pound of conventional limes. After giving the makrut limes a good scrub, I cut them in half across their equators, plucked out the seeds, and using a freshly sharpened knife, cut them into the thinnest half moons I could manage.

jars for lime marm

Because the other limes weren’t organic, I didn’t want to use their skins. Instead, I cut away the peels to expose the interior flesh and, using my very sharp knife a little too close to my fingertips, I sectioned out the pulpy innards. Then I pulled down a wide mouth half gallon jar and scraped all my prepared fruit bits into it. Four cups of filtered water went in on top, and it all spent the night in the fridge (next to some fermented dilly beans and leftover soup).

lime marm in jars

The next night, I poured the contents of that jar out into a big, wide jam pan (this one, to be specific) and added four cups of granulated sugar. I stirred the sugar into the fruit and brought it to a brief boil. Then I killed the heat, fitted a round of parchment paper to serve as a makeshift lid, and went to bed.

jars of lime marm

The next morning, before I’d even taken a shower, I fired up the canning pot, brought the lime slurry to a boil, cooked it until it reached 222°F (a little higher than I sometimes recommend, but I wanted to ensure a firm set). The end result was just a little less than four half pints (I canned it in hexagonal jars that hold four ounces, and there was a bit left over that went into a jar for the fridge).

The finished marmalade is bright, pleasantly bitter, and may well travel with me to the Philly Food Swap next week. Who knows!

*Makrut limes also go by another name. It is deeply problematic and so I’ve chosen not to use it here.

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Urban Preserving: Pear Vanilla Drizzle

pears in a bowl

There a short list of canning recipes that I think of as my greatest hits. They are the preserves I come back to again and again, and are also the ones about which I’ve gotten the most feedback from readers and friends. This tomato jam is one. The roasted corn salsa in Food in Jars is another. And this time of year, I always make a batch of apple cranberry jam to share for Thanksgiving.

chopping pears

Another recipe that tops the greatest hits list? Pear vanilla jam. It’s a recipe I first made in early 2011 and I’ve since done it so many times that I can produce it entirely from memory. It’s a jam that works equally well on peanut butter toast or as part of a fancy pants cheese plate (try it with Delice de Bourgogne) and is always makes for a welcome hostess gift.

pan of cooked pear jam

Recently, I’ve been taking a slightly different approach to this jam. I start with just two pounds of pears, cut the proportion of sugar down a hair, and then, when it’s all done cooking, I scrape it into a heat-proof measuring cup and puree the heck out of it with an immersion blender.

pureeing jam

What the pureeing does is that it transforms it into a sweet, sticky glaze that retains a bit of the pear’s wonderful graininess. I call it a drizzle, though if the jar has been in the fridge, it can harden slightly past the drizzle point. I’ve taken to spreading micro-thin layers on toasted and buttered whole grain pancakes (I try to keep a stash in the freezer) and really like an afternoon snack that includes rice crackers, goat cheese, and little dabs of this sweet pear goo.

pear vanilla jam drizzle

It’s not a flashy preserve, but it’s one of my favorites. Maybe it will become one yours too!

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Urban Preserving: Concord Grape Jam

concord grapes

Two or three times a year, I pack up a big box of jam and mail it off to my sister and her family in Austin, TX. While Raina knows the fundamentals of jam making (and I know she has at least two cookbooks that could show her how), my mom and I easily (and happily) meet the bulk of her fruit spread needs.

grapes in a pan

In the last shipment, one of the jars I sent was a squat little half pint of concord grape jam. I’d made it as a test batch sometime last fall and hadn’t thought much about it beyond assuming that my nephew might dig it. When Raina reported back on the winners, the thing she raved about most was the grape jam. They ate through it in record time and were all a little sad to hear that there wasn’t even a drop more.

simmered grapes

So when concord grapes came into season this fall, I made a point to pick some up to make another batch of jam for Raina and her crew. I started with 2 pounds of concord grapes. I gave them a quick rinse, and popped them in a saucepan with 1/4 cup of water. I set the pan on the stove and brought it to a simmer. I let it go for a few minutes, just until the grapes popped.

Once the grapes where soft, I poured them into a food mill that I’d fitted with the finest screen and milled them through. This is the step that makes this preserve more of a jam than a jelly. It’s not going to have a ton of texture from the skin, but some gets through and gives the finished product a little more body.

grapes in a food mill

Once I couldn’t mill any more, I measured out the pulp. In my case, I had a little more than 3 1/2 cups, but your results will vary. I poured the pulp into a low, wide pan and added 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar (roughly half the volume of pulp) and the juice of half a lemon. Then I cooked it until it was thick (times vary, use your judgment).

Once the jam was done, I funneled it into two half pint jars (there was a little leftover for the fridge) and processed them in a boiling water bath canner for ten minutes. They sealed perfectly and will be in my checked luggage when I head for Austin later this month to meet my new nephew (!!!). He was born at 7:59 this morning and everyone is well.

 

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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.
http://foodinjars.com/2014/06/honey-rhubarb-ginger-compote/

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