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Roasted Seedless Grape Jam

Our intrepid contributor Alex Jones is back with a recipe for roasted grape jam. Just reading this post makes my mouth water!I can’t even imagine how good her kitchen must have smelled during the roasting process! -Marisa

I didn’t taste a Concord grape until I was in my late 20s and buying them from local Pennsylvania farmers to share with members of the Greensgrow CSA. And once I had — while I finally understood what “grape” flavor is meant to emulate — I just couldn’t get down with the seeds. They were too much work to snack on compared to the fat, juicy table grapes I’d grown up with as a kid in California.

So imagine my delight when I found out that when Lem Christophel, a Mennonite who runs Eden Garden Farm in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, brings grapes to my local farmers’ market, they are completely seed-free.

I love them for snacking (these days, I try to leave the California produce as a special treat to help me get through the depths of winter), and last year, I made possibly the most delicious raisins I’ve ever had by steming a few bunches and throwing them in the dehydrator. But I’d never canned them before.

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Spiced Plum Jam

When I was very young, my family lived in an old house in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Eagle Rock. We had a trio of plum trees that produced great heaps of fruit every other year. My parents would fill paper grocery bags with plums and pass them out to friends and neighbors. Even after those bags were distributed, there were always more plums.

My mom would always make two or three batches of delicious, runny plum jam, spiked with cinnamon and bright with lemon zest that we’d eat on oatmeal, pancakes, and yogurt. Because of those preserves, the flavor of plum jam satisfies my deepest taste memories in a way that other jams can’t touch.

This recipe is my attempt to recreate that childhood jam. The only difference is that I use a bit of pectin to ensure that mine has a firmer set than the batches my mom used to make.

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Peach Jam with Brown Sugar and Bourbon

This peach jam is sweetened with brown sugar and is spiked with a few tablespoons of bourbon, for a sweet, boozy spread.

Back in August, the Washington State Fruit Commission (follow them on Instagram for lots of fruit inspiration) sent me a big box of peaches and nectarines. I made a juicy nectarine tart, a batch of mixed fruit compote, and a batch of this smooth peach jam with brown sugar and bourbon.

I chose to use brown sugar as the sweetener, because it has a rich, molasses-y flavor that plays nicely with both peaches and bourbon. And while I could have left the jam chunky, I like to have some jams in my pantry that can double as a drizzle for desserts and ice cream. This one fits that bill nicely.

When it comes to adding booze to jams and preserves, I typically pour them in during the last few minutes of cooking. My goal is to evaporate the alcohol, but retain the flavor. However, you could certainly add the bourbon a little later if you wanted the finished jam to be a little more spirited.

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Wild Blueberry Jam with Berries from Maine

A few weeks ago, I did a slightly crazy thing. On Friday morning, I packed up my car, did some quick grocery shopping, and spent eight hours driving to Maine to teach a class at Frinklepod Farm. I got there around 10:30 pm, tumbled into a cozy bed tucked into stone room in a majestic barn, and woke up to a gorgeous morning, ready to teach.

I spent seven hours setting up, teaching (such a delightful group of students!), and cleaning up (thankfully, I had plenty of help from Flora and MaryJo) and then hopped back in the car and drove myself home. All told, I was only there for about 16 hours. I wish I’d managed to spend a little more time in Maine, but the craziness of late summer didn’t allow for me to spend any more time away from home.

Despite the shortness of my visit, I did manage to bring a little bit of Maine back home with me. Three perfect pints of intensely flavorful wild Maine blueberries.

Now, we get plenty of cultivated blueberries here in Philly, but these tiny wild berries are a different beast. Sturdy, tart, and intensely flavorful, they make gorgeous jam. They are also a little fiddly to separate from their stems (which is why, if you look closely, you’ll see a few stems. I lost my patience with trying to remove them all).

I used a ratio of three parts fruit to one part sugar for this batch (calculating by weight). This means, if you have access to wild blueberries and don’t have the exact amount that I used, you can still proceed with what you’ve got.

I might need to drive to Maine again next summer, so that I can make more of this tasty jam. (The jar labels pictured above are from site sponsor CanningCrafts and the jars are from site sponsor Fillmore Container).

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Sweet Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Time is running out on cherry season but there’s still time to make this Sweet Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade! And if you can’t find Meyers, regular lemons will also do (thought get organic if you can!).

Seven jars of Sweet Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Back in early July, the good folks from the Washington State Stone Fruit Growers sent me a giant box of cherries as part of this year’s Canbassador program (8th year! Crazy!). I shared a recipe for spiced cherry preserves and another for sweet cherry ketchup, and then life got a little crazy (vacation! work travel! an endless cold!).

lemons and cherries for Sweet Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade

I promised I’d share recipes for the final two things I made with my cherry shipment, and I’m going to fulfill half that promise tonight with this recipe for Sweet Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade (I can’t find my notes from the cherry black raspberry jam, so that recipe may be lost until next season when I can take another stab at the combination).

I’m also motivated to get this recipe up because while sweet cherries are still available fresh, I hear that they’ll be around stores for no more than another week or two. So while we’re on clock here, it is still possible to make this preserve this year!

Ingredients in the pot for Sweet Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade

I’ve made a lot of different things with sweet cherries over the years and I’ve found that the preserves I like the best are the ones in which I aggressively temper their sweetness with tart, tangy, and sour flavors (case in point, these lightly pickled sweet cherries).

In the case of the this marmalade, I use a full pound of Meyer lemons to bring the pucker. These particular lemons were grown by the always-delightful Karen of Lemon Ladies Orchard and I hear she’s got a few summer lemons available, should you need to get your hands on some.

a close up on the jars of Sweet Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade

I approach this recipe over the course of two days. On day one, the cherries are stemmed, heaped in a pan with a cup of water, and simmered until soft. Then they’re left to sit overnight until cool. Simultaneously while the cherries do their initial cook, the lemons are cut into slivers, placed in a roomy bowl and covered them with two cups of water. They also soak overnight (this helps soften the rind and makes for a more pleasing finished texture.

The next day, you pinch the pits out of the cherries, add the lemons and their water, along with four cups of sugar. Finally, you boil it all down into a pleasingly sweet, tart, and spreadable marmalade that married seasons and flavors beautifully.

Oh, and one last thing. Should you want to see what some of the other Canbassadors have done this year, make sure to follow the Washington State Stone Fruit folks on social media, as they’ve been sharing all the posts. Here’s where you can find them.

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Small Batch Nectarine Lime Jam Recipe

On the hunt for a quick, satisfying preservation project? Look no further than this small batch nectarine lime jam recipe!

I love making tiny batches of jam (I often wish I could write a second volume of Preserving by the Pint, because I so enjoy developing small, quick preserving recipes). This one is a three ingredient job, made with just 1 1/2 pounds of nectarines (thanks Washington State Stone Fruit Growers!), a scant cup of sugar, and the zest and juice from a small lime.

Cooked down in a stainless steel skillet, it needs no more than 15 minutes on the stove. You can either process it, or funnel it into a jar, pop it in the fridge, and eat it until it is gone. Fast. Easy. Good.

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