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Posts Tagged ‘jam’

Pear-cardomon butter

I made this last year and fell for it-hard.  I ate it on bagels, with peanut butter, off the spoon…and then I ran out.  And pear season was over.  So here I am, rejoicing in the new batch.  The only thing I did differently this year was to leave the pears somewhat chunky.  Not because I disliked the smooth puree, but because I just wanted to see how I enjoyed the other end of the spectrum.  We had it on french toast New Year’s morning- so yummy!

Pear Cardamom Butter from The Traveler’s Lunchbox

To make a smooth puree, cook the pears until they have completely softened.  Remove the pot from the heat and use a hand-blender to puree until smooth.  Return the pot the the heat and continue to cook to the desired thickness.

  • 6 pounds pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
  • 2-1/2 cups sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground cardamon or 1 teaspoon pre-ground cardamon (the fresh stuff is soooo much better!)

Peel, core and roughly dice the pears. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and pears and allow them to macerate for 1-2 hours.

When the mixture has become very juicy, pour it into a large, heavy-bottomed pot.  Add the lemon juice and cardamon.  Bring the mixture up to a simmer and skim any scum that rises to the surface.  Continue to simmer gently, stirring regularly to prevent sticking, for at least one hour, or until thick. (To test for thickness, have a small dish chilled in the freezer.  Place a dollop of hot pear butter on the dish.  It will cool quickly so that you may judge it’s consistency.)

Ladle into sterilized jars and either freeze, or process in a boiling water bath.

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For once in my life

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While I’m mostly inclined to continue that title phrase by busting out a little Stevie Wonder, I had actually planned to go a different route.

For once in my life I’ve had the sense to make jam on a day that doesn’t register as one of the hottest days of the year.  Well not yet, anyway.  I’m sure the thermometer will soon spike, and I’ll be left to finish my project in a hot, humid, sticky kitchen, without the faintest relief-breeze.

But in the meantime, I’m going to thoroughly enjoy the cool air next to my jam pot.  I really haven’t made much jam this year, which is totally out of character.  In fact the only jam I’ve made is strawberry.  But then I saw the Elephant Heart plums that Blossom Bluff Orchards had on display last Tuesday at the farmer’s market.  And I thought to myself, “I just can’t go a whole year without that plum jam”.  So I bought a flat and got busy.

Elephant Heart plums are my favorite.  Their skins are vaguely grayish-purple with dark speckles, and their flesh is ruby-red.  They are sweet, but with an edge of tartness, and they have an almost raspberry-like brightness to their flavor.  I just love them.  And of course the jam turns a brilliant red that manages to uplift even the dimmest of winter mornings.

Plum Jam To Keep You Cheerful Through the Winter

  • 10 pounds plums (yielded 16 cups pitted and chunked)
  • 5-6 cups sugar
  • 3 pods of cardamom-optional (because I’m a good Norwegian girl)

Place the plums and the 4 cups of the sugar in a large (I used a 10-quart) pot and turn the heat on high.  Stir regularly until the sugar is completely melted and the plums begin to lose their juice.

Bring the fruit and sugar to a boil and skim any foam that rises. Taste for sweetness.  Remember that the jam will taste less sweet once it has cooled.  Add up to 2 more cups sugar if necessary.  Add the cardmom pods.

Continue cooking at the boil, stirring regularly to prevent sticking.  As the jam reduces in volume, you’ll need to turn down the heat- it will continue to boil even over medium-low heat.  Be sure to stir constantly with a rubber spatula, and be VERY CAREFUL around the hot jam-it will splatter somewhat as it boils.  Wear long kitchen gloves or a towel over your hand so the lava-like splatters don’t burn you.  Reduce to the desired viscosity (*do a freezer test to help determine how thick the jam will be once it has cooled).  Ladle into sterilized jars and either freeze or process in a boiling water bath.

*To do a freezer test, place a small plate in the freezer before you begin.  When you reach a point where you think the jam’s viscosity is right, spoon a little jam onto the chilled plate.  The jam will instantly cool, making it easier for you to decide if you’d like it thicker, or not.

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Jammin’

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I make a lot of jam through out the year to give as Christmas and Hanukkah presents during the holidays.  One of my past roommates put Bob Marley’s “Jammin” as his ringtone and would call himself so that I would hear the ring whenever he heard me clanking around in the kitchen with all my canning supplies…

And strawberry jam is the one that usually starts off the season.  The berries appear at the market in early spring, and somehow manage to last all the way in to September.  I always taste the berries from each farm since they really do change from week to week.  But my favorite always seems to be Dirty Girl.  They attend the Tuesday Berkeley market, as well as the Saturday Ferry Plaza market in San Francisco.

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The thing about strawberry jam is that strawberries are really juicy!  And that’s not always good for jam making.  The idea when making jam is to cook the fruit as little as possible, to preserve the fresh fruit flavor.  So if the fruit is too juicy, you have to cook it for a long time, reducing it down until you get the right consistency.  (That being said, you could also use pectin, but I just don’t like dealing with it).  I came across a “sun dried” strawberry jam recipe in the Chez Panisse Fruit book and wanted to give it a shot.  But since we were  without sun for so long, I used my oven instead.

The recipe turned out great!

“Sun Dried” Strawberry Jam adapted from Chez Panisse Fruit

I used one flat (12 baskets) of strawberries and made the recipe twice, yielding a total of 9 half-pint jars.  I used my 12- quart dutch oven to create a large surface area for easy evaporation while the fruit was cooking.

  • 12 cups hulled and cut strawberries
  • 4 cups sugar (add up to 1 cup extra sugar if your berries area a little tart)

Toss the cut strawberries with the sugar in a large, non-reactive pot.  Stir and allow to sit for about 15 minutes.  Then place the pot over high-heat, stirring regularly.  When it comes to a boil, allow it to continue cooking, stirring often, for 10 minutes.  Skim any foam that rises to the surface.  Pour the jam into two large flat-bottomed baking dishes, so that the depth of the jam is no more than 1/2-inch thick. * Place the baking dishes in the oven, turned to it’s lowest setting.  (“Warm” on my oven is around 150 degrees.)  Watch it carefully, as ovens vary widely.  It took about 4 hours for me. When it reaches the consistency that you like, pour it into sterilized canning jars and process in a water bath for 15 minutes.  TaDa!

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*The Chez Panisse method is to put the baking dishes in a sunny spot in your kitchen (choosing a place that is inaccessible to ants) and letting it sit for a few days.

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