It's that time of year for many. With harvests so plentiful people are rushing to preserve some of their favorites to enjoy throughout the year. Making jams, jellies, butters, sauces, preserves, dehydrating, drying herbs, freezing, pickling, the ways to preserve food from our gardens are as seemingly endless. Matched only by all the wonderful combinations many canning & food preservation recipes call for.
This past weekend Gail and I learned a few more lessons on canning while making batches of Cranberry-Jalapeno & Spiced Port + Plum Jams. We ended up with a nice little haul that we look forward to sharing with others, as well as saving some for ourselves:
Above is our final haul after a second attempt at jam making- 4 pints & 4 1/2 pints of Cranberry Jalapeno Jam & 4 pints & 9 1/2 pints of Spiced Port & Plum Jam. Why yes, I did say second attempt. The first attempt proved to be pretty fruitless (ha!). One recipe called for liquid pectin, which I didn't have so I tried to substitute powdered but did a poor job converting. The other recipe did not call for pectin at all, and I think it would have solidified nicely but I do not think I cooked down the original batch enough for it to solidify with the pectin found in the lime juice that was used.
All in all the final result is 2 really delicious jams and some lessons learned.
Lesson 1 - Patience. Let the jam cook slowly and allow it to thicken
Lesson 2 - Try to get the correct ingredients
Lesson 3 - Sterilizing the jars and making 2 batches of jam is fine, but having to go through the entire process twice is a real pain in the ass!
That third lesson is what I will have in mind when I make more jams in the future, but the final products are quite delicious!
Cranberry Jalapeno Jam
1/4 lb of finely diced Jalapenos other Hot Peppers
3/4 lb of Cranberries
1/3 cup lemon juice
5 1/2 cups of sugar
1 1/2 cups of cider vinegar
6 oz liquid pectin
In a food processor grind the peppers and berries with 1/2 cup of cider vinegar. Add remaining cider vinegar and slowly heat. Once starting to bubble add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Slowly head the mixture until at a rolling boil. Once at a boil, cook for 5 minutes then add pectin and boil an additional 2 minutes.
Ladle into jars leaving 1/4 in. of clearance. Water bath process for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and seal.
This jam is really versatile and can be served mixed with cream cheese as a dip, or with crackers, bagels, tea breads, with roast beef, pork, or chicken.
Makes 6-10 pints
We used a mix of Jalapenos and Wax peppers from our own Garden!! We were also short some cranberries so I added a little bit of huckleberry to make up the difference. Each huckleberry has a ton of seeds so it gives the Jam a nice little 'crunch' without changing the taste.
Spiced Port & Plum Jelly
4lb plums, halved and pitted
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick, snapped in half (or more if you desire a greater 'spice')
Juice of 1 lime
6 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2-3 tbsp port (or more if you like)
1 packet dry pectin (optional)
Add the plums cinnamon, and lime juice to a heavy bottomed saucepan, then pour over 2 cups of water. Simmer gently over low heat for 20-25 minutes or until plums start to break down and soften. Add the sugar, stirring in slowly until it has all dissolved, then bring to a boil and keep at a rolling boil for 6-8 minutes or until the jam begins to thicken and reach the setting point.
Discard the cinnamon stick, stir in the port, and ladle into jars.
Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Allow to cool and seal.
makes 6 pints.
This jam is... great! A nice balance of spice and sweet. I can imagine using it as a topping for ice cream, yet it is equally delicious on a piece of banana or zucchini bread.
Though all of the jam had to be made twice, which was more then a little tiring and frustrating the final product is worth it. Hopefully my friends, family and I will enjoy the fruits of all our labor.