Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Can and must

I am hopelessly distracted by the immense amount of beautiful fruit that is suddenly available in the grocery store near my house. No knitting to show you, just jam.

Apricot jam

I have been wanting to try more interesting jams this year, but also wanted to start small and ease into the swing of it, so jam #1 is the very plainest apricot jam. I chopped five apricots and measured the volume of the fruit, added ¾ of that volume in sugar, juiced a lemon into it, brought it to a simmer, and then left it in the fridge overnight. The next day I strained out the apricots and brought the syrup to 220F before adding them back, jarring, and processing. The result is awesome big cohesive chunks of fruit that are very soft, and an intense apricot flavour. I think the jam tastes more like apricots than my apricots did.

#2 is plum and cardamom jam, made from an assortment of plums (I couldn't decide which variety to buy so got some of each). The plums got chopped and macerated too:

Macerated plums

But this time I stirred in about ½ tsp of cardamom before putting it to bed in the fridge, just enough so that I could smell it underneath the plums. The syrup deepened from scarlet to ruby red as it thickened, and when I stirred in the plums it turned downright burgundy, and stayed that way.

Plum cardamom jam

I may need more jars despite my resolution to can only in small batches. I still have peaches in the kitchen (five of them, to which I will add ginger!) and have been eyeing up blackberries (maybe ginger also?) and strawberries (basil!).

This is my high-tech canning setup:

Ad hoc canning rack

That's seven rings from the tops of jars tied together with silk thread, in the bottom of my biggest (only) stock pot. It was a little startling how well it worked: the bottom of a jar just fits in the top of each ring, and it looks slightly precarious to me but none of them have fallen over in the boiling water yet. If a bigger kitchen falls into my lap and I suddenly have room for a canner + rack, it's easy enough to cut the rings apart and stick them back in their box. Excellent.


Leanne said...

It all looks so good!

Meghan Conrad said...

If you go with blackberries, consider lemon and vanilla with them--it's heavenly!

Eileen said...

The DIY canning rack is a really good idea! I just use my pasta insert, but that doesn't reliably keep the jars separated. So.

Alwen said...

We've had a great year for blackberries here. They just fruited like crazy, and I've been canning them by the quarts and pints. So good over vanilla ice cream, or made into a pie!