Tag Archives: jam

Blackberry Lavender Jelly

19 Sep

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The other day I was in my local fruit and vegetable shop and I noticed they had some gorgeous local blackberries available.  The deep purple (almost black) berries were fat and plump and perfectly ripe.  I knew I had to buy them but wasn’t yet sure what I would do with them.

When I got home I took a little tea break in my garden and noticed my neglected overgrown lavender plants.  Usually I’m not a huge fan of using lavender in cooking and baking but I thought the dainty lavender perfume  would match perfectly with the tart blackberries without giving it that soapy  aftertaste that I’m not so fond of.

So I decided to make some homemade Blackberry Lavender Jelly and I’m so happy I did.  It turned out to have the perfect amount of tartness and sweetness paired with a delicate hint of lavender.  It’s a quick and easy recipe that is perfect for serving with fresh out of the oven biscuits.  We’ve already gone through two of the three bottles so I think I’ll have to whip up one more batch before blackberry season is over.  Maybe a Blackberry Lavender Crostata would also be appreciated by friends and family.

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Read on for recipe… Continue reading

Blueberry Anise Jam (with bling)

29 Jun


Last week, on a scorchingly hot day, a friend of mine and I took our children to the local organic blueberry farm to pick some delicious high-bush blueberries.  We picked over 3 kilos of beautifully plump sweet berries.  I put about half in the freezer for next winter and have been busy using up the other half since then.  I was of course contemplating what sort of jam or jelly I could make with them as well.

After talking with my mom she convinced me that star anise and blueberry are flavours that work really well together.  She told me that the anise gives it a warm spiced undertone without being too overbearing.  I wanted to add fresh ginger but she suggested to keep it simple and see how it turns out.  And you know…I’m glad I listened to her.  The jam turned out perfectly and there is indeed a deep blueberry flavour with the slightest hint of anise (which is a good thing because you don’t want to go overboard on such a pungent flavour). 

This is a very simple and quick recipe.  I cooked 6 cups of mashed blueberries with 3 1/4 cups of sugar, the juice of half a lemon and 2 whole star anise until it became thick and syrupy ( I ended up letting it simmer for about 20/25 minutes due to having to chase escaped chickens back into coop).  Since I didn’t have any pectin to add it isn’t really thick but works just fine as a jam or a sauce to pour over ice cream.

Since we  had picked so many blueberries I was busy the whole week making not only blueberry jam but also blueberry gelato, blueberry crumble and even blueberry financier cakes.

Apricot Rosemary Jam

20 Jun


I’ve officially become a jammer (oh geez).  I spend my days planning my next jam-making session and scour the local fresh fruit and vegetable stands for the best in-season fruits.

I’ve slowly acquired all sorts of different sized jam jars and bottles and I’m slowly becoming more comfortable with the whole sterilizing process that goes into canning and preserving jams.  I’m still terrified of poisoning my family or friends with botulism but my fear is waning slightly.

Last week I bought some delicious looking apricots from the local produce truck and decided to make Apricot Jam with Rosemary (found on my all-time favorite preserving site Food in Jars).

Seeing as I almost didn’t survive after making the Cherry Rhubarb  Lavender Jam a few weeks ago  I had to enlist the help of my husband to do the initial cleaning, pitting and chopping of the fresh apricots.  But once they were safely in the Le Creuset and I was gloved, I was ready to start the whole process ( I was even tempted to don some swimming goggles but was terrified of some of the locals catching a glimpse of the crazy Canadian making jam WITH GOGGLES!).

This is a quick jam recipe and I have to say it has such  a unique end result with the addition of rosemary.  It’s sweet with a distinctive savoury background that really makes for a new experience for your taste buds.  It might even initially  confuse them.  But that’s a good thing.

For lunch today I made this sandwich above.  Rustic raisin bread with thinly sliced Gruyere cheese,  salame di Parma and a good layer of the Apricot Rosemary Jam.  It was more than delicious (although I’m pretty sure the kids would bolt from the table if I tried to serve them this).   This past week-end I marinated magret de canard (duck breast) with this jam and some garlic and barbecued it and it turned out to be an absolutely delicious combination.  

Please pop over to Food in Jars for the recipe!

Cherry Rhubarb Lavender Jam (the jam that almost killed me)

7 Jun

Yesterday I picked up some ripe, beautiful cherries at the supermarket and decided I needed to continue my successful jam-making run that started a few months back (Blood Orange Marmalade, Strawberry Lime Vanilla Jam).

Many years ago I loved to sit down with a paper bag filled to the brim with fresh cherries and polish off the whole thing.  Unfortunately things have changed since then.  Since my last pregnancy I’ve acquired a fruit allergy and am unable to eat  most fruits raw.  It was a hard adjustment for this fruit-lover but the little boy I got in return was well worth it.

So now I have to enjoy apples, peaches, pears, plums, strawberries and cherries (to name a few) cooked.  Usually the thought of cooked fruit brings images of old people in hospital beds but I’ve found some great ways to enjoy my favorite fruits over the years.

So how did this jam almost kill me?  Well, I pitted all the cherries, washed my hands with hot water and soap 5 times and an hour later touched my eyes.  And this my friends turned me into a swollen-faced mess.  My face puffed up to double it’s normal size, my eyes were swollen shut and welts appeared.  My kids ran away screaming in terror.  I actually heard my son ask my husband in a traumatised voice “will mama ever go back to normal?”.  Luckily I had some antihistimines close by.  The jam ended up turning out so delicious that it was almost worth it.  Almost.


I browsed through the internet for a good cherry rhubarb recipe and came across this one on the apt 2b site (amazing recipes on this blog).  In the end I couldn’t really manage all the steps that the recipe calls for (due to suddenly being blind!) so I literally dumped approximately 300g of chopped rhubarb with 200g sugar into a large pot and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.  I then added about 600g chopped pitted cherries, another 2500g  sugar, a few tablespoons of lemon juice and a few apple quarters.  I let it simmer for another 15-20 minutes before adding some fresh lavender tied in cheesecloth (the recipe didn’t call for it but I thought it would be a nice addition) and a few tablespoons of powdered pectin.  I let it simmer a further 5-10 minutes and then removed the apple pieces and lavender bundle.

Then I went and soaked my head in cold water for half an hour to try and get the swelling down while the jam cooled.  The jam cooled but the swelling didn’t go down.

I think I lucked out because the jam turned out perfectly.  It’s sweet with a slight tart and perfumey aftertaste.  My family loves it and after breakfast one jar was almost finished.  I take that as a compliment.

Strawberry-lime vanilla jam

19 Apr

We’re heading into strawberry season here in Italy.  You can find big, ripe strawberries in all the supermarkets, outdoor markets and from produce trucks on the side of the roads.  Yesterday I bought a big boxful from the local Sicilian produce truck and was excited to get home and try them out.  They smelled so sweet and delicious.

There’s only one slight little problem.  I’m allergic to fresh strawberries.  But somehow every year when strawberry season comes around I convince myself that it’s a possibility that my strawberry allergy has miraculously been cured.  And every year I pop one lovlingly in my mouth, taste that divine sweet berry flavour then proceed to swell up.  My eyes get red and swollen, my lips puff up (think Angelina Jolie here) and my throat starts to itch so terribily I’ve been known to contemplate shoving a fork down to scratch it .  In other words I look frightening.  Scare-the-neighbourhood-kids sort of frightening.  But let me tell you…those 10 seconds of tasting fresh strawberries is almost worth the discomfort I feel from the allergic reaction.

So in order to use up some of the strawberries that I purchased I decided to give jam making a try again (I’m not allergic to cooked strawberries).  Last time it was actually a success (Blood Orange Marmalade).   And I’m proud to tell you this time was as well.

Today we gave this new batch of jam a try with fresh out of the oven homemade biscuits.  Delicious.  The sweetness of the berries with the addition of the tart lime juice and rind is really perfection.  And to round off all the flavours the vanilla gives it such a deep sweet richness.

Unfortunately only one of my three children likes jam (the other two run away in horror at the mere mention of spreading it on their bread).  So a nice thing about this recipe is the fact it makes quite a small batch.  I managed to get 3 normal sized jars of jam out of this recipe.

Recipe: Strawberry Lime Vanilla Jam

4 cups chopped strawberries
2 cups of sugar (divided in two)
1-2 vanilla bean (split and pulp scraped from the inside)
1 lime (zest and juice)

1. Place chopped strawberries in large bowl with 1 cup of the sugar and the vanilla bean and let marinate (some prefer the term macerate…not me) for 2-3 hours.

2.  Add marinated strawberries into large pot with the remaining cup of sugar and bring to a boil and simmer until it reaches 220 degrees (I use a candy thermometre).

3.  Add the lime juice and zest and boil for additional 5-8 minutes or until the jam is at the correct consistency.

4.  Remove vanilla bean and pour jam into prepared and sterilized jars.

Enjoy! (I found this recipe here)

This jam brings back warm and fuzzy memories of one of my favourite childhood books “Bread and Jam for Frances” by Russel Hoban.  I so related to Francis and her love of bread and jam.  Still do.

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