Tag Archives | tigress can jam

December Can Jam: Cranberry Marmalade with Dried Apricots

cranberry chutney

I’m not quite sure how it’s possible, but we’ve reached the end of the 2010 Can Jam. I’m not sure if I’m still even eligible to participate, since I’ve gotten my posts up past the deadline the last two times, but it felt strange not to finish things off, so I’m posting a contribution nonetheless.

sliced oranges

As you might guess, due to Wednesday’s potluck, I’ve had The Essential New York Times Cookbook on the brain a bit lately. I’ve had my copy for about two weeks now and even before Amanda Hesser signed it, I found myself carrying it from room to room (granted, we really only have three rooms, so that isn’t as much of a feat as it sounds) so as to always have it near. You know, in case a recipe emergency struck.

cooking the chutney

When it was time to determine what I was going to make for the December Can Jam, it felt right to turn to my new best-friend-in-book-form and see what it had to offer. There’s a whole chapter devoted to Sauces, Dressings, Condiments, Rubs and Preserves, so there was quite a wealth to choose from. Keeping the theme ingredient (dried fruit) in mind, I settled on a recipe for Cranberry Chutney. It called for dried apricots and was quite seasonal to boot.

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Originally designed as part of a low stress Thanksgiving meal, it’s a chutney recipe different from those I’ve encountered in the past. It does not include onions or vinegar, so it doesn’t offer the pucker or sweet-and-savory aspect that so many of us have come to associate with the word chutney. That does not mean, however, that it isn’t worth making. I found it to be quite delicious, though more akin to marmalade than chutney (whole, chopped orange will do that a palate).

cranberry chutney with dried apricots

For once in my life, I followed the recipe fairly devotedly. The one place I deviated is that I did a bit of small batch canning with it. I kept one jar for the fridge (that’s the one you see above) and then filled as second (traditional, with a two-piece lid) pint jar with what remained and water bath canned it for ten minutes (using my handy little asparagus steamer). I did this because while it was quite tasty, there’s no way I’ll be able to work my way through two full pints quickly enough to merit that kind of refrigerator space. Because the recipe was written for Thanksgiving, it did not include directions for canning. However, the recipe is made of up a cacophony of high acid ingredients, so there shouldn’t be a problem. For even longer shelf stability, you could replace some of the honey with sugar.

The recipe is after the jump.

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October Can Jam: Peach Jalapeno Jelly

jalapenos

Using the syrup leftover from canning peaches to make jelly is not an idea original to me. I got the idea from Putting By, and it was such a good one that when I canned my last batch of the season, I made certain to strain my remaining syrup and stash it in the fridge.

Well, that was a month ago. I’d see that jar of syrup every time I opened the fridge and each time, I’d give it a little nod and a promise that soon, soon I’d pay it a bit of attention. Every so often, I’d crack the lid and take a whiff to make sure it wasn’t fermenting, before putting it back behind the yogurt container.

steeping chiles

Finally tonight, the stars aligned and I talked myself into the kitchen after dinner, in spite of nearly falling asleep on the couch at 8 p.m. My commitment to canning truly knows no bounds.

candied jalapenos

I started with 24 ounces of leftover syrup. I strained it into a saucepan (in order to remove the bits of peach particulate matter that could have made the jelly cloudy) and dropped in two sliced jalapenos. I let that simmer for a bit, tasting every minute or two until it had reached the level of spiciness I could handle. Then I added two cups of sugar, stirred, removed the jalapeno rings and stirred in one tablespoon of regular old powdered pectin.

finished jar

I boiled the mixture until it reached 220 degrees, strained it again (to remove the rest of the jalapeno seeds) and filled the jars. Processed the half pints (three in total) for ten minutes. So far, it’s still quite liquid-y, but judging from the way the remains in the pot looked, I’m confident it will set. The flavor is good too. Slightly spicy (I’m not a heat freak), fruity and so fragrant of those peaches (I still can’t quite believe that they’re gone for the year).

*Update*
After a week, this jelly has set nicely and firms up even more when refrigerated.

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September Can Jam: Peach-Plum Ginger Jam

peach-plum ginger jam

I feel a bit like I had already canned stone fruit nearly every way possible by the time this can jam came around. I was at a bit of a loss as to how to make something new and interesting for our monthly challenge. In fact, I must confess that I’m actually looking forward to the seasonal slow down that’s now coming. Not that I’m tired of canning exactly, but I am ready to be turned loose from this urgency to capture as much summer goodness as possible before it takes its final bow.

This particular batch of jam was born from the fact that I had a couple of pounds of peaches that were ripening faster than I could eat them, as well as a handful of plums that were going soft. A generous hunk of ginger was hanging out in the fruit bowl. And thus, a jam was born.

My fruit ratio was approximately 3/4 peaches to 1/4 plums, but you can vary those amounts to accept whatever proportions you have on hand. The ginger was blended with a bit of water and then squeezed through cheesecloth in order to make a potent, gingery brew.

The result is sweet and spicy (not for those who shy away from a strong ginger flavor). I liked it upon initial taste, but I’ve found that my overrun jar in the fridge has mellowed into something I’m really digging.

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August Can Jam: Tomato Butter

blanched tomatoes

Once again, I’m right up against the deadline for this month’s Can Jam. I didn’t intend for it to work out this way. In fact, I made a batch of Tomato Jam last week, based on my friend Amy’s recipe, thinking that it could be my contribution to the month’s challenge. It’s a delicious recipe and I may end up posting it at some point down the line.

However, I had this other idea tickled the back of my brain. Remember when I announced that it was my summer of butters? Well, it’s been awhile since I made one. And I had this idea that tomatoes might make a nice butter.

peeled tomatoes

I started with a little over five pounds of Lancaster County tomatoes. Blanched, cored and peeled, I fed them into my Vitamix so that I had a chunky raw puree (if you don’t have a Vitamix, you could either pulse them in the food processor or take a potato masher to them).

tomato pulp

Using my beloved slow cooker, I let the 10 cups of pulp cook down without any spices or sugar overnight and for an entire workday. It wound up being approximately 18 hours of cooking. Look closely at the next picture, you can see the rings from the cooking down process.

cooking down lines

When I got home from work today, I had a bit less than four cups of cooked tomato, a far cry from the 10+ cups I started out with. Using an immersion blender, I whirred in some honey, brown sugar, lemon juice and zest and an array of my typical jam/fruit butter spices – cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. In the hopes of giving this butter a little zip, I also included 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne. Not so much to make it unpleasant, just to give it a little extra interest.

tomato butter

When all was done, I had a spread that was a bit sweet, but not cloying, with a nice spice profile. Consistency-wise, it’s quite similar to ketchup, but without the familiar vinegar-y zing. I’m looking forward to pairing this butter with a dab of goat cheese and seeing how it works on flatbread with caramelized onions. How would you use it?

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July Can Jam: Cucumber Pepper Relish

relish going into the canner

This month’s Can Jam recipe is a direct result of an abundance of green peppers in my CSA share and a hot night at a ball game. I like a nice crunchy green pepper as much as the next girl, but when you come into the possession of ten of them in the course of two weeks, even the hungriest green pepper lover can’t keep up.

hunks of peppers

When I was growing up, my mom often made stuffed green peppers. She’d cook up a combination of ground beef, brown rice, onions and raisins. They’d get baked until everything was bubbly. In the last five minutes of cooking, a slice of muenster cheese would be draped across the top of each pepper half, to help bind it all together. I love these peppers, but they’re sort of heavy for the heat we’ve been having lately (and Scott doesn’t cotton to cooked raisins).

chopped/grated veg in pot

A few weeks ago, we went to a Phillies game. It had been years since I’d been to a live sporting event of any kind, but when Scott got the tickets from work, I was excited to go, mostly because I love a good stadium hot dog. To me, the perfect hot dog is served in a squishy bun and dressed with mustard, sweet relish and chopped onions (preferrably dispensed in bulk from a stainless steel container with a rotary handle that controls the output).

stirring the relish

So, when it came time to make something for this cucurbits challenge, I had sweet pickle relish on the brain and peppers to use. What I did was mash up this Garden Relish recipe (because it used a lot of bell peppers) with the Sweet Pickle Relish in the Ball Book (page 52 of the 2008 edition). I skipped the green tomatoes called for in the Garden Relish, and instead made my main players peppers and kirby cucumbers, with some shredded onion for kick.

bubbling the relish

I made a point of increasing the vinegar a bit since I omitted the one ingredient (green tomatoes) that could have lent some additional acid to the party and added a pinch of red chili flakes to the array of spices, to help balance the sweet and tart flavors. I very much look forward to eating a scoop of this on a hot dog in the very near future. I’m also delighted to have cleared out all those peppers from my fridge. The other nice part of this recipe is that it gave me the opportunity to pull out the shredding disc for my food processor. It made incredibly quick work of the cucumber and onion.

cucumber pepper onion relish

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June Can Jam: Slow Cooker Blueberry Butter

washing blueberries

Well kids. The Tigress Can Jam challenge this month was anything that ended in “erries” and since this is my summer of fruit butters, I have made a batch of blueberry butter. Last weekend, my friend Shay and I took a little drive out to my favorite blueberry pickin’ spot in South Jersey and spent a couple of hours rattling berries from branches, filling our buckets and bellies.

However, the true treat of the day came when we rounded the corner of the farm stand in order to pay for our hauls. Standing right in front was my cousin Amy, out for a day of picking with her partner and two of their grandkids. We had one of those truly lovely moments, when you gape open-mouthed for a moment before laughing and falling into hugs.

blueberries in the Vitamix

Once home with my seven and a half pounds of berries, I spent several days eating them popcorn-style out of bowls, before hunkering down and making a preservation plan for the rest. Last year I called blueberry my foundational jam and that’s still a phrase that feels correct. I will always love that simple jam (in fact, I still have some from last year), but this time around I wanted to try something slightly different.

Originally I had planned to make a blueberry butter spiked with a hint of lavender, but this week was busy enough that I didn’t have a chance to get to Reading Terminal Market and that’s the only place close by where I can get food-grade lavender. So I went simple and stuck with my mom’s preferred flavor profile of lemon zest, cinnamon and just a bit of nutmeg.

drippy slow cooker

Lately, I’ve been turning to two gadgets to make my preserving work just a little bit easier to accomplish. The first is my trusty Vita-mix. I grew up with the vintage chrome version of this incredible blender and so during wedding time last year, made it a priority to dedicate some of our gifted resources to acquiring my own.

While I had an inkling that it had the potential to be a transformative piece of equipment, I had no idea how it would revolutionize my jam making. Here’s what makes it so special: When you run it on very low speed, it doesn’t puree the fruit. It just chops it up into small bits, which coincidentally, are the absolutely perfect size for jams and butters. I know it’s a little bit unfair to rave about something that’s so darned expensive, but really, this thing has changed my life for the better.

half pint of blueberry butter

The other small electrical appliance (that happens to be on the very other end of the cost spectrum) that I’m using all the time these days is my ancient, $3-at-a-thrift-store slow cooker. I’ve found that older slow cookers are far superior to newer ones, because they cook at lower temperatures. Truly, food safety regulations have made it so that what was once the high setting on the old pots is now the low setting on the new ones (you should never be able to achieve a boil in one of the pots from the seventies or eighties). And when you’re cooking a butter, you want to cook it as low and slow as you can. Slow cookers are truly perfect for this.

This particular butter reminds me a bit of blueberry pie, which makes it a winner in my book. Tomorrow morning, I’m having some friends over to do a little fruit butter tasting (in recent days, I’ve also made apricot butter and sweet cherry butter). We’ll see if they like the blueberry version as much as I do.

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