Posts Tagged ‘preserve’

Rhubarb rosemary jam

7 June 2014

photo(22)

This is me realizing that jam need not be a well planned out, day-long project. It can be, of course, and should, on occasion, because is there a better way to spend a day than whiling away the hours hunched over bubbling vats of sugared fruit? This is not about those days. This is about how making jam can be an afterthought, as easy as clearing out the fridge before a week-long holiday.

I was the first to consider jam making an incredibly laborious process. Carefully timed trips to the market to grab the last of the season’s fruit at an unbeatable bargain, endless kilos of berries to cut and trim and wash, giant jam pans boiling furiously for hours… I didn’t make jam very often. For one, market vendors in New York don’t usually sell off fruits for a good bargain, even as they pack up to leave  (I’ve tried); second, fruit at home often disappears so quickly I need to hide it to keep it safe (and I have); third, I don’t own a jam pan, giant or otherwise.

So I don’t (didn’t) make much jam. There were exceptions, naturally, few and far between, so noteworthy I usually recorded them, here, and here.

A few years ago my mother gave me Christine Ferber’s book (available only in French). Christine Ferber is a world re-known Frenchwoman from Alsace, widely described as the ‘fée des confitures’ (jam fairy). I’ve never actually eaten from one of her jars, but I have read so many tantalizing descriptions that I feel I might have. Taken literally, her technique is quite time-consuming, but using her inspiration, some latitude, and a little improvisation (she would be appalled), I’ve realized that making jam can actually fit quite snugly into my life.

Key is that the process in divided into two parts. In the evening, prep the fruit, mix it with sugar and lemon juice, and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, cook the jam. Chances are, it’s easier to find 15 quick minutes in the evening and another 45 of mostly cooking time the next day, than scheduling a full long slot for the entire process.

Emboldened by this realization, last week I made jam, the easiest thing I found to save a few remaining bunches of rhubarb.

Rhubarb jam recipe

1 kg rhubarb

1 kg sugar

Juice from one lemon

Few sprigs rosemary

Wash the rhubarb, trim the ends, and chop the stalks into 1/2 inch (1 cm) pieces.

In a saucepan, mix the rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice.

Let sit overnight in the refrigerator.

The next morning, cook the jam. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for approximately 30 minutes. At first it will bubble furiously, but as the jam jells it thickens, the bubbles slow down and burst at a more leisurely pace. To check whether the juice has “gelled,” take out a small spoonful and let it cool. Once cold, the juice should have thickened in the spoon, and when you try to pour it the drip is not liquid but heavy, as though it was sticking to the spoon. Cook longer if necessary and check again.

Meanwhile, sterilize the jars in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes.

Once the jam is ready, stir in the rosemary to steep for about 5 minutes. Remove. Pour into sterilized jars and close tightly.

Jam is best stored for a few weeks (and up to a year at least) before eating.

 

 

Plum jam with candied ginger

26 September 2011

I bought dodgy plums at the market on Wednesday; they looked good but were suspiciously soft to the touch. And although at Union Square market, even questionable plums are rarely at a discount, I got them anyway hoping it would force me to make jam. It protects the plums from rapacious children, and me from making tarte. It worked.

The plums sat undisturbed on the kitchen counter for a couple of days as I pondered how I might jazz up the plum jam. With a dash of alcohol perhaps, or some spice.

Then I read Oui Chef Steve’s Plum and Ginger jam and my attention wandered over to a permanent squatter of the second right hand shelf in my kitchen – candied ginger. The decision seemed to make itself.

I am told I will have to keep the jars for at least a few weeks before opening, since jam benefits from a little aging, but just from licking the spoon I think I can say – it tastes pretty great.

***

2 lbs (900 g) plums

2 3/4 cups (550g) sugar

Juice of 1/2 lemon

About 15 pieces of candied ginger

***

Wash plums, cut them in half and again into quarters. Take out the pits but reserve and count them, as they will be cooked with the jam then removed. (The French like to leave pits in jams and cakes as they believe it enhances the flavor – we can’t help it).

In a heavy saucepan, mix the plums as well as the pits, sugar, and lemon juice and slowly bring to a boil.

Cook over medium heat.

Add the candied ginger cut into small slices after 15 minutes.

After about 20-30 minutes, check whether the juice has “gelled.” To do this take out a small spoonful and let it cool. Once cold, the juice should have thickened in the spoon, and when you try to pour it the drip is not liquid but heavy, as though it was sticking to the spoon. Cook longer if necessary and check again.

Meanwhile, sterilize jars in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes.

As soon as the jam has “gelled,” remove from the heat and scoop out the pits (if you have counted them you will know exactly how many need to be fished out). Then pour into sterilized jars and close tightly.

Resist opening the jars immediately, wait at least a few weeks.

The jam keeps well; once opened it should be stored in the refrigerator.

*

Related posts

Quince jelly

Plum cake

 

Quince paste

3 November 2010

Quince paste, also known as membrillo in Spain or cotognata in Italy, is a thick, sweet fruit paste that pairs perfectly with Manchego and other types of hard sheep’s milk cheeses. It keeps for a while though it never lasts long. I eat it off the tip of a knife when the children aren’t looking. It’s irresistible.

I use the fruit cooked to make quince jelly for this recipe, but the quinces could also be baked, covered, in a low oven (300°F or 150°C) for about 1 1/2 hours.

***

Stewed quinces (without the juice) or baked quinces (hard cores removed)

Sugar

Lemon juice

***

Purée the quinces with a vegetable mill (the skins and seeds will be retained by the mill).

Weigh the purée and add the same amount of sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the juice from half a lemon per 2 lb (1 kg) of fruit. Mix, bring to a lively boil, and stir constantly (otherwise the quince will burn very quickly) until the mass darkens and thickens. Depending on the amount of purée, it may take more than an hour.

Pour onto a large flat plate or shallow container and let set. Quince paste keeps for months in the refrigerator.

Quince jelly

3 November 2010

I made quince jelly last year for the first time. It’s not that I don’t sincerely love quince, it’s because I don’t like making jelly very much. To make jelly the fruit is cooked in water, and only the clear juice is used. An awful lot of pulp is wasted in the process. Of course it can be used as a purée to eat with yogurt, but it does not last, and there is only so much quince purée a family can eat in a couple of days. For this reason I don’t make jelly, generally. But last year as quinces appeared at the market I simply couldn’t resist. Having made the jelly (a few pounds of quinces rendered three very small jars), I had a lot of quince pulp on my hands, and dismayed at the idea that it might go to waste, I suddenly thought about membrillo, the Spanish quince paste that pairs so perfectly with Manchego and other hard sheep’s milk cheeses. As it happens, all that is required for quince paste is fruit pulp and sugar.

So making quince jelly has become a perfect excuse to make quince paste (or the other way around?), and I think no recipe for one should ever be published without the other.

***

Quinces

Water

Sugar

***

Making jelly is a fairly long process, but it can be broken up into 2 stages if you don’t have a big uninterrupted chunk of time.

Wash quinces thoroughly to remove fuzzy coat. Cut quinces into quarters or eighths, depending on the size of the fruit so all the pieces have approximately the same size. Place quince pieces in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and add just enough water so it reaches the top layer of quinces but does not cover the fruit. Bring to a boil and simmer gently until the fruit becomes soft, stirring occasionally to submerge the fruit on top so it gets a chance to cook through. Poke around to check that all the pieces have softened (quinces will cook through at a different rate depending on how ripe they are – it could take up to 1 1/2 hours). Once all the quince is very soft, remove from heat.

**You can take a break at this point. Leave the quinces in the water, let cool and place in refrigerator once cool for up to 24 hours. If you refrigerate the cooked fruit, you will have to reheat it slightly to release the liquid before starting the next stage.**

Strain the juice through a fine mesh sieve and then through a cheesecloth to remove any impurities. Don’t mash the fruit or squeeze the cheesecloth too much or the jelly will become murky. Reserve fruit pulp for paste (refrigerate unless using immediately).

Measure the juice as you pour it into a (smaller) heavy-bottomed saucepan. For every cup (250 ml) of juice, add 2/3 cup (150 g) sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer, skimming off any foam that forms on the surface. After about 20-30 minutes, check regularly whether the juice has “gelled.” To do this take out a small spoonful and let it cool. Once cold, the juice should have thickened in the spoon, and when you try to pour it the drip is not liquid but heavy, as though it was sticking to the spoon.

Sterilize jars in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes. As soon as the juice has “gelled,” remove from heat and pour immediately into sterilized jars and close tightly. Keeps unopened for up to a year; once opened should be stored in the refrigerator.

Green tomato chutney

6 October 2010

Because every time I see green tomatoes I feel compelled to buy some…

Unripe green tomatoes (not the heirloom variety) usually appear toward the end of tomato season, in early fall. Tomatoes that remain in abundance on the vines but may not get a chance to ripen are picked green before the cold weather sets in.

I buy green tomatoes every year at least once, just for the pleasure of seizing the fleeting moment. I have made green tomato jam, which I remember from my childhood; I have improvised fried green tomatoes, after seeing the movie; this year I decided to make green tomato chutney. This recipe is compiled from examples I found in a couple of my cookbooks and online.

***

3 lb (1.5 kg) green tomatoes

1 lb (450 g or about 2 medium) apples

2 medium onions

1 untreated lemon

Small piece fresh ginger root (about 2 in or 5 cm long)

1 3/4 cups (250 g) raisins

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 1 /2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups (300 g) brown sugar

2 cups (1/2 l) cider vinegar

***

Coarsely chop tomatoes and apples, finely chop onions, and very finely chop lemon (with rind) and ginger (without peel). Place all in a large, heavy-bottom saucepan. Add raisins, cayenne, salt, sugar, and vinegar. Mix.

Slowly bring to a boil then simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking to the pan, until the chutney has thickened.

Sterilize jars in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes. Pour hot chutney into sterilized jars and close immediately. Wait for a few weeks as chutney needs to mature.


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