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Honey Sweetened Gingery Peach Butter

This naturally sweetened gingery peach butter is fragrant, flavorful, and brightly hued. It’s great stirred into yogurt or eaten directly from the jar with a spoon.

close up of gingery peach butter

A couple weeks ago, the annual box of peaches and nectarines arrived from the folks at the Washington State Fruit Commission. This is the seventh summer I’ve been part of their Canbassador program. I always enjoy the challenge of finding new and delicious ways to preserve all that goodness.

quartered peaches for gingery peach butter

This year, I’ve made four different preserves. Today, I’m sharing a recipe for Gingery Peach Butter. Tomorrow, I’ll have a batch of Peach Habanero Hot Sauce. Next week, you’ll see recipes for Nectarine Conserve and Nectarine Ketchup.

pressure cooked peaches for gingery peach butter

I’ve got a new trick to tell you for prepping peaches. For this preserve, instead of peeling them, I gave them their initial cook in a pressure cooker (an Instant Pot, to be exact). The added heat and pressure helped break the skins down. That made it possible to blend the skins into the pulp for a perfectly smooth puree.

pureed peaches for gingery peach butter

Now, if you don’t have a pressure cooker, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make this preserve. But in that case, you might want to peel the peaches to ensure a lush, smooth texture.

cooked gingery peach butter

Once your peaches are pureed, you add just a little bit of honey and three heaping tablespoons of grated ginger and cook it down. Wanting to retain a softer texture and brighter color, I didn’t take this one as far down as I sometimes do. That makes it’s a lighter spread, better for drizzling over pancakes and stirring into yogurt.

five pints of gingery peach butter

How have you been preserving your peaches this summer? Continue Reading →

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White Nectarine Jam with Rose Water

This simple, low sugar white nectarine jam uses a splash of rose water at the end of cooking to give it a hint of floral flavor. Try it stirred into yogurt!

White nectarine jam in jars

A couple weeks back, I got an email from one of my regular fruit dealers, asking if I might be interested in a half bushel of white nectarine seconds. Despite the fact that white nectarines need a bit of extra consideration in preserving (they’re lower in acid than their yellow counterparts), I said yes. Because they are transcendently good nectarines.

box of white nectarines

When I was in grad school and on a very tight budget, I’d go to the farmers market each week with $20 to spend on produce. If I was careful, I could get just enough to see me through the week. When these nectarines were in season, I would allocate one-quarter of my budget to spend on them. I would ration them throughout the week, so that I could have a taste of sweetness every day.

white nectarine jam beginning

So to have nearly 25 pounds of nectarines that had once been a major treat? I was all in. I’ve spent much of the last couple weeks working with these nectarines. I combined them with plums for a mixed fruit jam. I’ve pureed them down and made fruit leather with them. And I’ve also turned them into a pure white nectarine jam. This is a jam with plenty of lemon juice to make up for their lower acidity and a tiny bit of rose water, to emphasize the nectarine’s floral nature.

white nectarine jam end

As with all seconds, these needed a little careful knife work to prep for the jam. My rule of thumb when working with seconds is to cut away anything that looks particularly gross, but not to obsess too much over every single shallow bruise. Whenever I’m in doubt, I give it a good sniff. If the bruised part smells fresh and fruity, I use it. If it smells boozy and weirdly off, it gets thrown out.

white nectarine jam square image

The finished white nectarine jam retains a rosy color that I just love. This is one that I’m particularly careful about storing out of direct sunlight, so as to retain that pink hue for as long as I can.

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Simple Apricot Jam Recipe

This simple apricot jam is made with just fruit and sugar. The recipe is calculated using a three to one ratio, so it can easily be scaled up or down, depending on how many apricots you have to start.

A vertical image of jars filled with simple apricot jam

This is the first summer in nearly six years that I’m not working on a cookbook. While this scares me a little bit (I like knowing that I have the next project locked down), it also feels totally liberating. Because it means that I am free to make whatever I want. What’s more, everything I make can eventually make it to the blog. I don’t have to hold anything back.

Apricots spread out to ripen on an old sheet tray

A couple weeks ago, I got about 22 pounds of apricot seconds from a local grower. If I was producing for a book, those apricots would have been earmarked for particular projects. I would have needed to have made interesting flavor combinations. What’s more, I would have been timing every aspect of the cooking process, to be sure that I could accurately represent the process in writing.

Pockmarked and scarred apricots in an old blue and white colander

Instead, I made three large batches of plain, unadulterated, totally simple apricot jam. Just apricots and sugar, measured by weight, macerated overnight, and cooked down into slightly runny, intensely tart, vividly orange jam.

Chopped apricots for simple apricot jam

Because, my friends, as much as I like apricot butter, apricot jam spiked with rosemary or thyme, and apricot chutney, this very simple apricot jam is one of my favorite things on the planet. And because I was canning only to please myself, that is what I made.

Apricots cooking down into a simple jam in a copper preserving pan

My whole sensory self was engaged as the jam cooks. I watched the bubbles, felt the fruit thickening as I stirred. The fragrance of cooking sugar rode up with the steam and the sound of the boil became more frenzied as the process neared completion.

Finished basic apricot jam in a copper preserving pan

This is not canning that easily fits into a book. It doesn’t bring anything new or novel to the table. It is, in fact, how people have been making jam for a very long time. But it brings me joy. It’s artful, creative jam making.

A cluster of mason jar filled with simple apricot jam

A note on working with seconds. Normally, when calculating recipes by weight, I measure out the fruit before I pit and quarter it, figuring that the loss will be minimal. However, when I’m working with seconds that require more trimming and culling than unmarred fruit, I wait until after I’m done with the prep work to weigh the fruit and calculate how much sugar to use. It’s this second approach that you’ll see reflected in the recipe below.

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Red Currant Jelly

Tart, sweet, and gorgeously ruby-hued, this red currant jelly is the perfect way to make the most of a relatively small amount of currants.

Six half pints of fresh red currants.

Over the years, I’ve canned nearly everything there is to be canned. I’ve done every stripe of stonefruit, all the common berries, and have pickled nearly everything I could. The list of things I’d not worked with was relatively short. However, there were a few notable things that had thus far avoided my jam pan. Chief among them, currants.

Red currants in a yellow colander

It wasn’t that I was disinterested in currants. The issue was simply that they were either impossible to find or cost-prohibitive when I did come across a small display. And so they remained on firmly on the list of things I wanted to experience but just hadn’t gotten to yet.

Happily, Ben Wenk of Three Springs Fruit Farm has started growing an array of hard-to-find fruits, including gooseberries and currents in multiple colors. A couple weeks ago, he cut me a deal on a mixed flat of currants so that I could finally see what all the fuss was about.

Red currants in a stainless steel pot on the stove.

I brought them home and promptly consulted Pam Corbin’s The River Cottage Preserves Handbook (like I mentioned in my gooseberry jam post, she is my first stop any time I’m working with unfamiliar fruit that is common in the UK). I followed her instructions for simmering the fruit in water until soft.

Three cups currant juice, soon to become red currant jelly.

Somewhere in my apartment, I have a jelly bag and draining rig, but I could not put my hands on it the day I started this jelly. I used a nut milk bag to separate the pulp from the juice and it worked nicely.

I also flouted the advice* in the book and squeezed the heck of out of the currant solids, trying to wrest out every last bit of juice (I only started with a little less than two pounds of red currants, so I wanted to get as much from them as was possible). I wound up with three cups of juice, when all was done.

Red currant juice in a pot, soon to become red currant jelly.

Once you’ve extracted the juice, the work of making the red currant jelly is quick. Currants are quite pectin-rich, so all they need is sugar and a few minutes of boiling and they’re ready to set into jelly. I used Pam’s ratio of 1 cup of juice to 1 cup of sugar. While I normally opt for lower sugar preserves, currants are so tart and tannic, that in this case, the sugar doesn’t feel at all overwhelming.

Red currant jelly in assorted jars.

Following Pam’s instructions, I brought the juice to a boil first and then added the sugar. Once combined, I noticed signs of setting within five minutes. The temperature was a gel-friendly 221F and the droplets hanging off the spatula were thing and viscous. In the end, I had four half pints of glowing, gorgeously red jelly.

*Both Pam and conventional wisdom says that if you squeeze the bag, you’ll end up with cloudy jelly. I don’t particularly care if my jelly isn’t perfectly clear, so I pressed and squeezed that bag. I got an additional 1/2 cup of juice for my efforts, so it was well worth it.

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Yellow Plum Apricot Jam + Facebook Live

This little batch of yellow plum apricot jam is sweetened with honey and is gorgeously sunny and bright.

yellow plum apricot jam

A giant thank you to everyone who joined me on Facebook Live last night! I had a great time talking my way through a batch of jam and answering your many canning questions. I had such a good time that I’m going to do it again next week. Join me again on Tuesday, July 19 at 9 pm EDT/6 pm PDT. I’m not sure what I’ll make yet, but I’ll announce it over the weekend (when I have a better idea of what produce I’ll have on hand).

If you missed it last night, you can still watch, and in fact, the video is embedded below. Just skip over the first 3 minutes, because I started a little early to make sure the technology was going to work and then left it running while I finished getting ready. I won’t do that next time. Live and learn.

Finally, the recipe I made last night is after the jump. You could easily double the batch, should you wish! It’s set up with Pomona’s Pectin, so there’s a bit more flexibility in the size of the batch than there is when you’re not working with pectin.

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Tiny Batch Gooseberry Jam

In possession of just a few gooseberries? Make this tiny batch gooseberry jam!

A single pint of green gooseberries.

I have a standing work date with my friend Audra. Once a week, we meet up at a coffeeshop to catch up, do a little work, and do our best to shake off the inevitable sense of isolation that comes when one works from home.

Audra and I met in early 2009 because we both happened to be Philadelphians who were blogging about food preservation (she was once the primary voice behind the site, Doris and Jilly Cook). While our friendship has long since expanded beyond the kitchen, we do often find ourselves on the topics of cooking, gardening, and sourcing produce for our canning pots.

Eight ounces of trimmed gooseberries, in a saucepan.

A few weeks ago (and knowing that I would appropriately value them), Audra showed up with a pint container of gooseberries from the bush in her backyard. Gooseberries are notoriously hard to come by in Philadelphia (at the turn of the last century, they were thought to harbor a fungus that was a threat to pine forests, and so were banned in many states. Their commercial production has yet to recover) and so my excitement was audible.

Once home with the container of gooseberries, I debated how to best make use of my small cache. I pondered incorporating them into some larger recipes, before deciding that their highest purpose was to become a tiny batch of gooseberry jam.

My tiny batch gooseberry jam, in a 12 ounce jar.

I consulted The River Cottage Preserves book (written by Pam Corbin, who is the reigning queen of gooseberries) to refresh my memory on ratios and preparation before diving in. With so few berries, it took no time to trim away the tops and tails, before heaping them in a pan.

I made this jam with one part fruit and one part sugar, by weight (it’s more sugar than I normally use, but gooseberries are quite tart). I also added a generous splash of water, to dampen the sugar until the berries burst and added their liquid. The finished jam vibrates with the tangy essence of gooseberry and I’m saving the sole 12 ounce jar I made as a mid-winter treat.

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