Made in heaven

I’ve been playing around a lot with fennel flowers this summer in a gallant attempt to persuade our two fennel plants to concentrate on bulbs not flowers. But I think it’s a losing battle. The fennel flowers are a gift that just keeps giving, which means more experiments, more couscous and risottos with fennel, and still more small batch jams.

I’m proud to say that the latest venture, a blue plum fennel jam, is amazingly delicious, and paired with a sharp cheese (cheddar, manchego, an espresso-washed hard cheese from Wisconsin), it’s a marriage made in heaven.

I made just 2-1/2 jars of this in a quick evening experiment on Thursday, and the half jar is already almost gone, which means I bought more plums today to try to recreate the magic. Here was the (approximate) recipe.

Plum fennel jam
1 quart blue plums, stoned and quartered (this made just under 4 cups of chopped fruit)
2-1/2 cups sugar
juice of one lemon
a dozen fennel flowers, chopped very, very fine
2 star anise stars

Mix all the ingredients together and let them sit around for a couple of hours so the sugar dissolves a little. Taste, to be sure that the star anise flavor isn’t going to overpower things, and fish the anise out if you think it’s strong. My star anise were from last year, so they have lost a little of their pungency. I took them out midway through the boil.

Heat the mixture, slowly until all the sugar dissolves, and then at a fast rolling boil until it sets. My plums were pretty unripe, which means oodles of pectin, so this one set fast. From boil to bottle took something like 5 minutes.

Bottle in sterilized jars. Waterbath 10 minutes.

Easy as pie. Actually a lot easier than pie, if I think about it. No pastry to make, roll out and worry about.

Rating 4-1/2 (out of 5)
I love the taste, texture and set, and I absolutely adore the way this goes with cheese. But the little bits of fennel are marginally disconcerting, like the little seeds in a blueberry jam.

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2 Comments »

  1. I read your comments on Miranda Plum jam post and popped over to learn what I can about how to use fruit that is high in pectin instead of store-bought pectin. That makes sense to me. Sincerely, Emily

  2. I only dabble in the logic, and try to avoid the reality (of store bought pectin), because I don’t like the overset, gluey texture that store pectin can offer. Take a look at Well Preserved’s post for a far better explanation than anything I have offered. (Old post, but still valid)
    http://wellpreserved.ca/2010/05/30/more-thoughts-on-avoiding-pectin/

    Having said that, I made two jams this year that you can almost cut with a knife, as in far too much of a set — a blueberry jam and a different plum one. Neither used pectin.

    Oh, and welcome!

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