Shared Jam: Bounty in a recipe exchange

27 11 2009
71370-Jars of Jams

Image by SeattleRay via Flickr

I didn’t find out about Under the High Chair’s Virtual Jam Swap in a straight-line kinda way. I was reading my latest Foodbuzz headlines, and saw a new post called Jam Swap from Coco Bean, a blog from the Montreal food improv team of Ian and Christie. Seems they’d discovered that canning – at first intimidating – could pay off just like a cookie exchange at their friend Aimee’s real-life Jam Swap. I followed their link to Aimee’s Under the High Chair blog (don’t you love the way links are the internet’s version of a bread crumb trail?) At UtHC, I discovered that in addition to her live jam swap, about which Ian had written, Aimee had just posted a round-up of her virtual (blogging) jam swap. Her post includes the links to the adventures (and misadventures) and 25 recipes from jammers who personify the improvisational approach to preserving flavor.

Julie Powell cooked her way through Julia Child‘s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I want to cook my way through all 25 recipes in Aimee’s Virtual Jam Swap. Always on the lookout for unique and new jam recipes, several of the VJS entries caught my eye, and fit right in to the kinds of fruit available at this time of year in central New York:

Apple Pie Jam from Kim at Flavorista (lower sugar, with pectin)
Grapefruit Cranberry Marmalade from Cheri at Kitchen Simplicity (no added pectin)
Coconut Jam (Kaya) from Cheryl at Backseat Gourmet (no added pectin)

UtHC’s jam swap also collected recipes for jams, butters, marmalades and spreads made with plums, rhubarb, apricots, peaches, blueberries, cherries, mint, peppers, berries and apples.

I’ve got a lot of reading and recipe-sorting to do; I definitely need to put some of these recipes into my jam repertoire. Thanks, Aimee, for sending out the call for your Virtual Jam Swap, and then sharing all of the bounty with the world.

What jams will you be making next – for holiday gifts, or when the fresh fruits in your area come back into season? Will you share your jam plans?

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North Carolina State Fair Jam: 2009 jam & canning results

28 10 2009
NCStateSeal
Image by themaxsons via Flickr

The North Carolina State Fair finishes its October 15-25 2009 run in Raleigh, North Carolina with the following jam-making and preserving results from the official state fair website.

The fair features over 200 jam, preserves, marmalade, canning and junior competitor canning and preserving categories.

http://www.ncstatefair.org/2009/General/index.htm

Results appear here. I would love to include them all for a shout-out, but there are forty-four PAGES of results in mroe categories than I can count. To see the results in a spreadsheet, which is somewhat easier to download, download the results from the website.

Congratulations to all who entered, and to those who came home with a placement or category winning ribbon.

The 2010 North Carolina State Fair will be held in Raleigh form October 14 – 24, 2010.

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Double Jam: Pears two (more) ways

25 10 2009
A colour plate from The Pears of New York (192...
Image via Wikipedia

In central NY, pears are a transitional fruit – hardy enough to grow in home gardens on special cultivars, but with fruits too fragile to ‘hold’ in cold cellars like apples. They come into the market in October, but are soon replaced by apples, and then citrus and imported melons.

Last week, after a few days basking in baskets on my counter, several pounds of pears filled my condo with their delicate ripening. After a summer of enriching peach, apricot and strawberry jams with balsamic vinegar, chipotle peppers and sweet spices, I wanted the delicacy of aromatic pear jam, recipes that would use pears without enhancements. This Simply Recipes Pear Butter – similar to my own in all but the star anise and nutmeg – is on my list to try with the dark-ripened fruit that is the last of the pear harvest, along with my Pear-Orange Honey. But for my first batch of 2009 pears, I wanted a simpler pear recipe, something slow-cooked without pectin – just enough sugar, a splash of citrus or vanilla to brighten the jam – but all pears, straight up.

On Recipeza’ar, I found #147884 from “dividend” – Pear Vanilla Jam. I reduced the sugar, used all Bartlett pears instead of a mix of Bosc and Asian pears, and used a bit of fresh lemon zest instead of the original recipe’s ground nutmeg – because I just don’t like nutmeg in pear jam! From an old recipe for Spiced Pear Jam, I removed the spices and substituted brown sugar for half of the orginal amount of sugar, improvising on a recipe for Butterscotch Peach Jam. Each of these recipes makes about 5 cups of jam.

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Pear Vanilla Jam
3 lbs fresh pears (about 6 pears, to create about 3 cups of puree)
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1/4 cup lemon juice, divided
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • Peel, core and quarter the pears. Toss the quartered pears with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to prevent the fruit from darkening.
  • Coarsely chop the pears in a food processor or chopper, and measure them to ensure that you have 3 cups chopped fruit. Add the pears, sugar, grated ginger and three tablespoons of lemon juice to a large pot, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  • Grate a couple pinches of fresh nutmeg over the sugar.
  • Simmer about 40 minutes, or until the jam reaches the jellying point (220 deg. F.) Stir frequently to prevent scorching.
  • Remove the fruit mixture from the heat, and stir in the vanilla extract. Pass the fruit through a food mill if you would like a smooth jam.
  • Spoon into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Wipe the jar rims and adjust the lids.
  • Process in boiling water for 10 minutes.

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Pear Jam

4 cups pear puree (about 3 lbs. whole pears, peeled, cored, put through a food mill)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • In a heavy saucepan, heat all of the ingredients to boiling, stirring constantly until the boiling can’t be stirred down.
  • Lower the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for 1 hour or until thickened to a jelly consistency.
  • Skim off foam with a metal spoon.
  • Pour immediately into hot sterilized jars, filling to about 1/4 inch from the top.
  • Remove air bubbles and wipe jar rims. Cover the jars with lids and bands, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

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