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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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Honey Sweetened Plum Pear Jam

finished pear plum jam

As the weather cools and each day comes bearing less light, I find that my almost-compulsive urge to make jam is starting to go quiet (I’m not worried. It will return with the strawberries in May). The kitchen still pulls me, but once standing at the stove, I make vast pots of soup, warm grain salads, long simmered beans, and oven-roasted compotes of apples and raisins.

plums and pears

I find this time of year to be the very most satiating, both when it comes to food and to general living. My body loves the cooler weather and the bounty of winter squash and cruciferous vegetables, and my mind so appreciates the earlier bedtimes and the reintroduction of pleasure reading that happens when I’m not trying to work through all the waking hours.

pouring honey

I plan on sharing more of these homey soups, salads, and roasted fruit compotes with you in the coming weeks. However, I do have a preserve that is itching to be written up before it is forgotten forever. It’s a honey sweetened jam made from plums and pears that bridges the season in a very appealing way. I realize that in most places, plums are but a distant memory. If that’s the case for you, bookmark or pin it for next year, as it is worth making.

cox honey bottle

This one started as so much of my preserving does, with an assessment of what produce was most urgently on the verge. On the particular afternoon I made this jam, the answer to that question was a quart of plums from my Philly Foodworks CSA share and the last two very ripe pears that remained from a six pound bag we’d bought at Costco ten days earlier.

fruit and honey

I chopped the fruit, cutting away any unseemly bits (the pears teetering on their very last leg) and plunked it all into the pot. I added 2/3 a cup of honey (the ratio of fruit to sweetener was about four to one), the juice of half a lemon, and a heaping half teaspoon of ground cinnamon and cooked it for about 20 minutes, until it was thick.

pear plum jam close

The finished yield was just four half pints. There was a bit leftover in the pan that I swirled into yogurt while it was still warm (so good). I do so love the satisfaction of transforming things that would otherwise get tossed into good, usable food.

Disclosure: The Cox Honey that’s pictured above was part of the shipment of honey that I detailed in this post. The plums were part of my October share from Philly Foodworks.

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Spicy Peach Preserves

peach pulp with spices

It feels bittersweet to write these words, but I do believe that this will be my last fresh peach recipe for this year. I’ve peeled, cooked, and processed about 25 pounds this season and I feel utterly done with them. However, if you’ve still got some peach energy, this sweet, spicy, tangy preserve might be a fun one for you.

spicy peach preserves close

To build this recipe, I took the bones of my beloved tomato jam and made just a few small tweaks. I reduced the amount of sugar, added a little salt for balance, and reduced the cooking time (because peaches don’t contain as much water as tomatoes do).

spicy peach preserves

The finished jam has a nice sweet and savory balance, and would be really great to use as a glaze for baked chicken or as a dipping sauce for roasted vegetables. I’m sure that when the days get a little cooler, I’ll stir some together with apple cider vinegar and use it as a tasty braising medium for chicken thighs.

If you make it, let me know what you think, since this one is more of an experiment that most of the recipes I post here.

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Vanilla Yellow Plum Jam

three pounds yellow plums

The summer is waning and I have a massive backlog of recipes that are rapidly becoming moot as produce moves out of season. My plan for the next couple weeks is to keep my posts relatively simple and just get as many of these new preserves up here as I can before they are no longer timely.

macerated yellow plums

This yellow plum jam variation is one I’ve made three times over the years and yet it hasn’t wound up on the blog or in any of my books. I find that yellow plums aren’t always easy to find, and so when I do stumble across them, I like to pick up a few pounds and make this jam.

four half pints yellow plum jam

This year, I came across yellow plums at my Saturday farmers market, where one of my favorite farmers had no more than a dozen pints, at just a buck a pint. So ripe that they barely made it back to my kitchen intact, I prepped them by squeezing them into pulp over a large measuring cup.

yellow plum labels

Because the plums were so sweet and ripe, I tempered them with a goodly amount of lemon juice to keep them from being cloying. If your plums are quite tart, back off on the lemon juice or skip it entirely (remember, when a recipe calls for fresh lemon juice, that’s your signal that it’s there for flavor balance, not safety. It’s only when a recipe indicates that you need to use bottled lemon juice that you should stick exactly to the amount of lemon juice called for).

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