When summer fruit season arrives, I buy fruit at the farmer’s market with the youthful enthusiasm of a 14-year-old girl let loose in a discount Abercrombie outlet with a limitless credit card. The only difference is that fruit rots a lot more quickly than clothes and can’t be handed down or CAN it?
Last year, I started making strawberry jam with my overfull fruit basket. One batch was so good the jam almost helped @gregorytlee win his annual blintz-off with his Auntie Sharon. But I’ve only made jam in small batches that I refrigerate and use up in a week or two.
Over the last year I’ve been lucky enough to meet two hugely talented food bloggers and published writers, Cathy Barrow of the blog Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen and Marisa McClellan of the blog Food in Jars. Both of these ladies are also expert canners. In addition, I found out that a long time coworker and friend of mine is secretly a gold medal winning canner (more on that in an upcoming post). So I’m rethinking my fear of canning and potentially killing someone with the results. Apparently, it’s not rocket science (although there is science involved) and it would allow me to hand down, at least for a year, the overflow of my farmer’s market purchases.
Recently, Cathy Barrow wrote this article in the NY Times and a blog post about the basics of canning. And Marisa McClellan just published a book on canning and preserving called Food In Jars (yeah Marisa!). The one thing Cathy listed in her equipment list that I didn’t have today, was time. But I did have apricots and raspberries that needed to be used up and about one half hour. So in baby steps, I moved along the canning curve by practicing making jam worthy of giving away or feeding my own family. We recently bought a jar of Maman apricot raspberry preserves and it disappeared from the fridge in a flash. So I gave it a go with what I had in the house.
To the apricots and raspberries, I added some orange zest and a couple of tablespoons of a wonderful liqueur we discovered in Mexico called 43. It has citrusy and vanilla undertones which seemed like a lovely pairing with this jam. I also used less sugar than most recipes call for, but our family tends to like jam less sweet and as I tasted it, it seemed like just enough with the sweetness of the fruit.
Here’s the recipe for the jam I made:
Apricot Raspberry Jam
- 12 oz fresh raspberries preferably organic, washed
- 5 apricots washed, pitted, cut in quarters
- ½ lemon juiced
- 1/2 cup sugar
- zest of ½ an orange
- 2 tablespoons 43 liqueur or Cointreau optional
Combine the lemon juice and fruit in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook on medium heat for about 7 minutes while it breaks down and releases its juices.
Once it is boiling and juicy, add the sugar and zest, turn down to medium-low and continue to boil and reduce for another 15 minutes or so. You’ll feel as you mix it that the liquid is reducing and you’ll see on the sides of the pan that the level goes down about 1 inch in volume (depends on the size of your pan of course). As you mix occasionally, skim off the white foam that appears.
It’s done when it is visibly thicker and all the fruit is broken down. As it cools, it will thicken further.
Transfer it to glass jars, let it cool a bit more, and then refrigerate. You’ll need to use it up in a week or two. I've read that you can freeze it as well. I've never tried it so I can't confirm or deny that this is a good option.
If you are gutsy and talented enough to can it, it will last a lot longer!
Do you can or preserve anything? If so, what and how did you learn your skills? Sharing your experience will help build my confidence so don’t be shy!