Tag Archives | jam

Low Sugar Blackberry Rhubarb Jam

three jars of low sugar blackberry rhubarb jam on a bench

Lately, Trader Joe’s had been selling 12 ounce containers of blackberries for right around $3.50. For those of you who live in the Pacific Northwest, it might seem crazy to pay for good money for blackberries since come August, they’re going to be everywhere. But for those of us who live in less blackberry-rich environs, this is a very good price.

blackberries, rhubarb, and sugar in a pot before being cooked into jam

As a result, I’ve been making lots of preserves with blackberries. I did a batch scented with lavender, and another batch with cinnamon and nutmeg, like my mom always makes. I also did this low sugar blackberry rhubarb jam, encouraged by an email from a reader who asked if I’d ever done such a combination).

I really love how it turned out. Tangy from the rhubarb, rich from the berries, and just sweet enough with a relatively small amount of sugar. If you wanted to make this jam with honey rather than with sugar, reduce the amount to 1 cup and save 1/3 a cup to add at the end with the pectin.

a close up of two jars of low sugar blackberry rhubarb jam

Oh, and if you don’t want to spring for blackberries now, but can get them at a better price later in the season, you can still make this jam. Just chop up a pound of rhubarb now, put it in a ziptop bag, and tuck it into the freezer until August. Frozen rhubarb behaves beautifully in jams.

Finally, if this jam doesn’t float your boat, I’ve got a couple other blackberry recipes in the archives. Perhaps my classic Blackberry Jam or this Blackberry Apricot Jam will float your boat!

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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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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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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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Making the Most of a Baking Mistake + Cornmeal Muffins

concave corn muffins

Earlier today, I made a mistake. I put a batch of cornmeal muffins into a preheated oven and then, inexplicably, switched off the heat. It had been a long day in the kitchen and it was my final cooking project of the afternoon (I also made creamy vegetable soup, cornbread with bacon and a big batch of chili for the freezer). I peeked at them twice as they “baked” and couldn’t figure out why they weren’t rising as they should (I wondered at one point whether I’d left out the leavening).

corn muffin

I figured it out after they’d been sitting in a cooling oven for nearly twenty minutes and quickly switched the heat back on. While they eventually baked up into serviceable muffins, they did suffer a little for the error. Instead of rising into pleasantly toasted brown domes, the muffins were completely concave in the middle.

corn muffin with jam

As I looked at my poor muffins, the thought occurred that often that people hollow out the center section of baked goods in order to fill them with frosting or fruit or pastry cream. I decided to do the same with one of the muffins. I grabbed a jar of strawberry jam from the fridge and spooned a generous scoop into the hollow. It made a nice afternoon snack and redeemed my goof nicely. I plan to eat the rest of the batch in much the same manner.

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Pear Cranberry Jam

pear cranberry jam

It is no secret that pears are one of my great loves of the fruit world. They have a delicate, flexible flavor that goes well with nearly anything (including vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and lavender). They work in fruit butters, jams, and chutneys. Many varieties don’t need to be peeled before cooking. And if you’ve never tried one, you should know that a pickled pear are one of life’s true delights.

chopped pears

Knowing my general appreciation for all things pear, it should surprise no one that a couple weeks back, I matched them up with a bunch of cranberries, to see how the two would jam together. Well, the results are in. Pears and cranberries make a very good team.

pears and cranberries

One of the things I like about making jams with cranberries is the fact that since they contain so much natural pectin, you’re able to dial back the sugar more so than with other fruits and still expect to develop a very nice set during cooking.

My normal ratio for jam is two parts fruit to one part sugar. You’ll notice that in this recipe, I shaved off a full cup of sugar and still wound up with a gorgeously set, plenty sweet jam.

adding lemon

Like so many of the jams I make, I kept this go-round fairly unadorned. It was just pears, cranberries, sugar, and the zest and juice of one little lemon. I like to keep the first pass simple, to ensure that the primary players work well together before I muck around with secondary layers.

Happy with the basic version, chances are good that I’ll come back to this formula again and tweak it with some ginger, or a few warm winter spices. You are welcome to add a pinch of this or that on your first pass, should you so desire.

182/365

Though I missed the obvious Thanksgiving window for this jam, I have a hunch that it still has many opportunities to shine before the year is out. I’m confident it will pair up nicely with a plateful of latkes in place the the traditional applesauce (Hanukkah starts in just over a week!). I know for a fact it is dreamy with a smear of fresh goat cheese. And as you head into the holiday baking season, consider filling a thumbprint cookie with a dab of this sweet-tart spread.

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