While I was out on the west coast a few weeks back, I got an email from a very nice woman from the Whole Foods Market corporate offices. She was writing because they’ve recently launched a travel company called Whole Journeys and were partnering with bloggers as a way of shining some light on some of their featured trips and destinations.
In this particular round of promotion, they were inviting a few bloggers to create a preserve would combine seasonal produce with an ingredient from one of the regions visited on a Whole Journeys itinerary.
Despite my crazy schedule, I just couldn’t say no to this very interesting recipe development challenge. Plus, they were kicking in a gift card to cover supplies and another one to give away to a FiJ reader (more about that at the end of the post).
When I got back to Philadelphia, there was a package waiting for me that contained a few jelly jars, a little tub of raw mountain honey, and a sheaf of paper telling me all about the Dolomites, which is a mountain range in the northern Italian Alps.
I spent a goodly amount of time wondering what I could make that would be both appropriately Italian and evoke a mountainous region. So much time, in fact, that I missed the challenge deadline and still didn’t have a plan. Oops.
Last Thursday, I stopped thinking and started canning. One of the details included in the material they sent was the fact that the Dolomites is known for cheeses, speck (it’s a lovely, smokey cured ham), and wines. I decided to make a preserve that would go nicely with all those things.
I took 2 1/2 pounds of cherries, split them in half, popped out the pits and piled them in a low wide Dutch oven. I added the honey that had come in my box (it was a 16 ounce jar), along with a fragrant stem of rosemary (I brought a gallon size bag of rosemary clipped from a giant shrub in my parents’ front yard back to Philly with me). I let it sit for a bit, until the honey dissolved and the cherries released some juice.
Once it was juicy, I put the pot on the stove and brought it to a boil. I cooked it at a rapid bubble for about 20 minutes, until the cherries softened and the syrup thickened a bit. I didn’t add any pectin because I wasn’t going for a jam, but instead wanted tender cherries in a rosemary and honey flavored syrup. Towards the end of cooking, I added the juice of one lemon and just a pinch of sea salt, to help sharpen the finished flavor.
The preserve is a perfect accompaniment for cheese and cured meats, so I think I hit my mark. It’s one that I look forward to cracking open later in the fall when the evenings turn crisp and the days shorten.
Now, the giveaway. I have one $50 gift certificate to send out to one of you. Here’s how to enter.
- Leave a comment on this post and tell me what you would have made given the same challenge!
- Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, July 26, 2014. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, July 27, 2014.
- Giveaway open to United States residents only.
- One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.
Disclosure: Whole Foods Market gave me a gift card to cover the cost of supplies for this challenge (along with a few jars and a little tub of honey) and has also provided the $50 gift card for this giveaway. My thoughts and opinions remain, as always, entirely my own.
- 2 1/2 pounds sweet cherries
- 16 ounces raw honey
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary (about 6-8 inches lont)
- juice of one lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Prepare a boiling water bath canner and enough jars to hold 4 half pints of product.
- Wash cherries. Remove stems and pits, and slice in half.
- Combine the chopped cherries with the honey and rosemary in a low, wide pan.
- Put the pan on the stove and bring to a boil. Cook at a moderate boil, stirring regularly, for 15-20 minutes. The preserve is done when the liquid has thickened into a slow running syrup and the cherries are soft.
- Towards the end of cooking, add the lemon juice and salt.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Funnel preserves into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.
- When time is up, remove canner from heat and set the lid aside. Let the jars cool gradually in the pot for an additional 10 minutes (this is to prevent any liquid loss).
- Remove the jars from the canner and set them on a folded kitchen towel to continue to cool.
- When jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals. Rinse the jars to remove any sticky residue.
- Sealed jars will keep on the shelf for up to a year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.