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Sweet Cherry and Yellow Peach Preserves

finished cherry peach preserves

A couple of weeks ago, just before I left on my trip to Portland, I hit a familiar preserving wall (I bash into it at least once a summer. And sometimes more than once). I had a fridge full of fresh produce, stonefruit ripening on the counter, and I had just a day and a half before I was leaving town.

peeling peaches

There was no time for careful preserving, with long maceration times. I needed to prep as quickly as possible and fling everything into the pot. I peeled the three pounds of peaches that my friend Audra had given me from her tree by cutting them into halves and quarters, lining them up in a baking dish and pouring boiling water over them.

cherries in a pot

I pitted the cherries (these were from my July Philly Foodworks share) by heaping them into a pan, adding a tiny bit water, and simmering them for 10 minutes. Once they were cool enough to handle, I plunged my hands into the warm fruit and pinched the pits out. My fingernails were stained for days, but the cherries took less than 8 minutes of active work.

simmered cherries

I combined the peaches, the pitted cherries, and any juice left in the cherry pan in a large measuring cup to see how much I had and found that I had exactly 8 cups of fruit. I poured the fruit in my beloved maslin pan and spent a moment thinking about sugar.

peaches and cherries in measuring cup

As you may have noticed, I’ve been making lower and lower sugar preserves, mostly because I want to be able to eat what I make and I don’t always want to be eating fruit with an equal measure of sugar. I’ll often use Pomona’s Pectin in order to get a good set with minimal sugar, but this time, I just didn’t feel like bothering with pectin at all. Instead, I decided to add 2 1/2 cups of sugar, boil the heck out of it, and be happy with whatever set it ended up with.

prepped cherries and peaches

After about 40 minutes of vigorous cooking, I ended up with 6 half pints of deep red preserves. It has a very soft set, but isn’t so loose that it can’t wear the catch-all preserves handle. It’ll be a good one for eating with yogurt, cottage cheese, or oatmeal come fall and winter, and I wouldn’t be at all ashamed to tuck a jar or two into gift baskets.

cherry peach preserves two jars

Note: Because the peaches I used in this preserve were a tiny bit tangy, I didn’t use any lemon juice in this preserve. However, if your peaches are quite sweet, a drop or two wouldn’t go amiss. Additionally, you could easily spice this one up with a touch of ginger or cinnamon.

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Small Batch Peach Jam for Live Online Class

cut peaches in a bowl

Tomorrow night at 8 pm eastern time, I’ll be teaching my third live online class of the summer. For this one, I’ll make a small batch of peach jam and talk about how to preserve summer stonefruit without making yourself crazy. During the first class, a participant suggested that I make demonstration recipes available ahead of time, so that if you so desired, you could can along with me. So that’s what I’m doing!

This is the recipe I’ll be making on Monday night. You’ll want to have your canning pot prepped, your peaches peeled and chopped, and your sugar measured out. The rest we’ll do together.

And just to be clear, you don’t HAVE to can along with me to take the class. However, I do love the idea of all of us making the same thing at the same time.

When: Monday, July 13 at 8 pm Eastern Time
Where: Your living room, kitchen or office, via Concert Window
Cost: Pay what you wish

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Sweet Cherry Rhubarb Jam

cherries in colander (1)

When I got my box of fruit from the Washington State Fruit Commission back at the beginning of June, I had grand plans to dedicate a full week to my many delicious cherry creations. And then life got in the way (as it so often does). Instead, I’ve been publishing these tasty things in fits and starts.

measured sliced cherries

Today’s recipe is for a batch of cherry rhubarb jam, made with minimal sugar and set up with Pomona’s Pectin. The combination of cherries and tangy rhubarb make for a preserve that has a really nice balance of sweet and tart.

measured rhubarb

At this point, I must confess I am bereft of words to describe this recipe. The photo shoot for the next book started today (and I still have four more preserves I must make and deliver to the studio), my inbox is clamoring for my attention, and most difficult, my mother-in-law has been in the hospital since Friday night. Oof.

mixed cherries and rhubarb

I would like to point you to some of the other Canbassador projects I’ve posted in the past.

finished cherry rhubarb jam 1

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Low Sugar Strawberry Vanilla Jam

cluster of strawberry vanilla jam

Last Friday, I stopped in to Reading Terminal Market to see Annelies and pick up a few things. While there, I wandered by the Fair Food Farmstand and commented on the gorgeous, fragrant strawberries. In response, the operations manager Anne, offered to sell me a flat of seconds*. Cheap.

berry seconds

I am unable to resist fruit bargains and so ended up walking the eight blocks home hugging a flat of berries. I found that people responded to the berries in much the same way they do when I’ve found myself carrying a new baby through a grocery store. They smile at your parcel and murmur under their breath, “Baby! (Berries!).”

hulled strawberries

I made it home, berries intact, and set my load down near the air conditioner to cool (there was no space in the fridge). There they sat until later that evening. When I finally started disassembling the flat, I discovered that these were true seconds and needed careful culling.

discarded strawberry bits

I put on a podcast and sidled up to the sink. I hulled and sliced, ruthlessly eliminating all the bits that moldy, slimy, or had started to smelly boozy. In the end, I had enough berries for some slow cooker strawberry butter (a batch of this, sweetened with cane sugar instead of maple) and a batch of low sugar strawberry vanilla jam.

strawberry puree in slow cooker

I pureed the berries for the butter and set them up on low in my ancient four quart cooker to reduce overnight. I put the rest of the berries into a large bowl and pummeled them with a potato masher until I had about nine cups of pulp. That went into a eight quart pot with 2 cups of cane sugar and 2 split and scraped vanilla beans.

cooking strawberry jam

Now, had my refrigerator not been packed to the gills, I would have put the sugared berry mash in there and kept it cold overnight. However, there was no space in the inn, so I cheated a little. I brought it to a rolling boil for a couple minutes and then turned off the heat. I covered the pot, shoved it to the back burner, and left it there overnight.

steamy strawberry jam

Food safety experts might ding me for this practice, but the quick boil kills off the worst of the bacteria and the sugar acts as a preservative (plus, it was a relatively cool night. I don’t do this during the true heat of summer).

It was entirely fine when came back to it the next morning, and so I pulled the pot back to my most powerful burner, added 1 tablespoon of calcium water and the juice of 2 small lemons, and brought it back to a boil.

strawberry jam overhead

I boiled the fruit for 25 minutes (or so), until it had reduced by about half, was thickening up a little, and the worst of the foaming had subsided. I stirred 1 tablespoon of Pomona’s Pectin into 1/2 cup cane sugar and whisked it into the jam in a thin, steady stream so that the pectin didn’t clump.

pint of strawberry vanilla jam

Two more minutes of rapid boiling and it was done. The batch made 4 1/2 pints and I processed them in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes. The finished is sweet, but the primary flavor is strawberry. It’s a very good one for stirring into plain yogurt because it doesn’t overpower the pleasing tartness of the yogurt.

empty berry boxes

And remember, you can always treat this recipe as a template. You can add different flavors (strawberries with a little cinnamon and nutmeg is always nice). You can also slice the batch in half if 4 1/2 pints of a single flavor is more than you want in your pantry.

*If you’re in Philly and want in on cheap flats of berries, Anne has yet more. Leave a comment on this post and I’ll connect you.

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Urban Preserving: Small Batch Vanilla Rhubarb Jam

chopped rhubarb

I’ve been keeping this blog long enough that I’m starting to repeat myself. This rhubarb jam, for instances, is nothing more than a simplified, scaled down version of the one I posted in the first year I was writing here (there’s also a very similar recipe in my first cookbook).

sugared rhubarb

The honest truth of it is that I can as much for myself as I do to create content for this site, and I very much love this easy little preserve. And so I make it every year or two, each time tweaked slightly. I thought you’d like to see how I do it when I’m only making a little bit.

vanilla rhubarb jam

You could also use this recipe as a starting place for a strawberry rhubarb jam. Either swap in berries for half the rhubarb, or double it (I know that I typically discourage people from doubling small batch recipes, but because this one has a touch of pectin, it scales up nicely).

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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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