Posts Tagged limes

Little black beauties

I’ve been having a lot of fun at the community garden, with kale and mint joining the precious handful of strawberries that I used for a strawberry rhubarb jam. I gleaned a few stalks of asparagus at the start of the season, and in exchange I exercised all sorts of back and shoulder muscles planting vegetables in heavy soil and puling up large, aggressive weeds. Thistles have amazingly deep roots, and they prickle through gardening gloves.

But now it’s berry season, and the sun-drenched garden has a sprawling patch of tiny black cap raspberries, a fruit that the internet tells me is a native plant that grows wild across much of North America (Quebec to North Dakota, and as far south as Arkansas and Georgia). I’m assuming our little patch is one of the many cultivated varieties of that wild plant.

blackcapThe fruits look like baby blackberries rather than raspberries, but they come off the stem just like a raspberry does and the taste is much more raspberry than blackberry — sweeter than a raspberry but more delicate as well. But the stems are covered with an extraordinary amount of vicious little thorns and I’ve got a mesh of scratches on my arms and my legs to show from two days of picking. But I’ve also got four jars of almost black jam, with another batch of fruit just waiting to be jammed up. No need for pectin with these babies — the jam set almost too firmly, if such a thing is possible. If I get nothing else from the community garden all year, I’ll be happy.

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The recipe, in case there’s anyone else out there with access to black cap raspberries. My recommendation: wear long pants, and a heavy duty, long-sleeved shirt. Not much you can do about the scratches on your hands.

Black cap raspberry jam

6 generous cups black cap raspberries
4 skimpy cups sugar (I think I will cut this a little next time)
Juice of two limes (the store was out of lemons)

Put all the ingredients in a big pan and heat gently until the sugar is melted, and then bring to a rolling boil until it sets — I let it boil for about 10 minutes, and that was perhaps a minute or two too long. Bottle in sterilized jars. Water bath for 10 minutes.

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Perhaps too precious to give away. But perfect with plain yogurt, ice cream, bread, cake or thumbprint cookies.

Rating: 4? (out of 5)

I’m conflicted on how to rate this one. The taste is wonderful, although it’s a solid set and a sweetish jam, which might point to less sugar or more lemon next time around. But there are an awful lot of seeds.

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Not just sticky fingers

My attempt at melon jam has to be the stickiest thing I’ve ever made.

I tried the recipe with New Jersey canning buddy earlier this year and have been waiting for the Ontario melons to roll in so I could try it again. But either we did things more efficiently last time, or I left before the cleanup, because this recipe was seriously sticky, and I keep coming across new surfaces in the kitchen and elsewhere that I didn’t wipe down yet. My fingers are still sticky underneath my wedding ring, I now discover. I mean huh?

The full recipe is listed over here, but the process goes something like this. Peel and chop a ripe, juicy melon, a sticky task at the best of times, then add sugar to compound the stickiness. Then macerate it for several hours and separate out the fruit (sticky) boil up the syrup (sticky), add fruit, more sugar and other yummy stuff (sticky), boil (sticky), add pectin (surprisingly not sticky), boil again (sticky) and splosh into jars (sticky). Spend a long, time cleaning up.

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But while last time we snafued by adding one pouch of liquid pectin rather than the two the recipe called for, and ending up with syrup, this time I snafued by adding just two cubes of my home-made pectin, and it clearly needed far, far more than that to set.

I offer melon syrup, with bits. Delicious, limey, gingery, melony syrup, but syrup nonetheless, a few notches runnier than maple syrup.

Options

  • Add to Greek yogurt for a seriously yummy desert
  • Boil it up again with another couple more cubes of pectin, and hope it sets this time
  • Use it as a syrup, probably diluted with water or even wine, to poach other fruit, infusing pears, apples, apricots or peaches with that glorious melon-lime-ginger taste

Right now I like the idea of option 3.

But I reserve the right to change my mind.

Any other ideas?

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Cranberry capers

New Jersey canning buddy, the one who introduced me to home made jams and chutneys, snagged a half dozen bags of half-price cranberries in the post-Christmas sales, so I felt morally obliged to head down to New Jersey to help her use them up. We spent an evening scouring the internet for recipes, double guessed ourselves a few times and ended up with a highly gratifying selection. Can’t for the life of me remember where we got all the recipes, and our post-cook taste tests won’t really do justice to the finished product, so I’ll keep this to a picture and a list. In the order we made them:
Cranberry orange marmalade. Cranberries, oranges, sugar and ginger. What can possibly go wrong. I insisted on slicing the orange peel rather than processing it, and I don’t think we needed the pectin the recipe wanted. But it certainly looks good.

Cranberry chutney. A Bernadin/Balls recipe that included chunks of candied pineapple as well as cranberries, apples and ginger. A notch heavy on the cloves, if truth be told, but it may mellow with time

Moroccan chutney. It might have been this one, but we were looking at many options and I can’t remember which one we chose in the end. But I somehow suspect it wasn’t. The one we made seems spicier, and it doesn’t look anything like the picture. Maybe canning buddy can help me out.

Lime pickle. We made this last year, but I never got to take any home with me, so we had to try again this time. I’m not allowed to open it for another week or so (at least that’s what the recipe says), but it definitely has a kick.

There’s something very, very satisfying about a few dozen jars of Home Made Stuff.

 

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Apricots vs raspberries vs strawberries

Each time I think I have a favorite jam, another one comes along and bumps it off the list, and this year I’m struggling to decide between three of my favorite summer fruits, strawberries, raspberries and apricots.

I fell in love with strawberry lavender jam when I made it early in the summer (I liked it so much that I made it twice), and then I fell in love with a raspberry lime jam made with fruit from the front yard.

My latest love affair is with apricots, and I haven’t even started thinking about last year’s favorite peach peppercorn jam yet.

I already blogged about the apricot jam I made one evening a couple of weeks ago, and there have been two more micro batches since, an apricot rosemary jam and an attempt to recreate the apricot redcurrant jam we’ve been making every year since we started this can-and-jam adventure. The apricot rosemary has a wonderful taste, and it certainly set like a charm. But it’s a little bit woodier than I would have liked, even though I thought I chopped the rosemary virtually to dust with my sharpest knife. Maybe I need to separate every single bit of stem even more carefully rather than just stripping the leaves off by hand and hoping I did it right, or maybe I need to find another herb.  And after almost burning my first apricot jam of the year, I think we were too cautious with the apricot redcurrant, which is a little runny and not really very redcurranty at all.

(Oh, and my thanks to the cat for again conceding to pose for the picture. Her name is Billie. The spouse complains that she’s getting rather fat, but I promise it’s not from jam.)

Other ventures in a quickfire Saturday morning can-o-rama were a tried and tested apricot lemon chutney (also a little runny), and a peach chutney from Doris and Jilly Cook that was a recommendation from the awesome Food in Jars Facebook feed (and web site). It’s also a little runny, if truth be told. We got impatient, perhaps.

There are so many bloggers/canners/jammers out there, that I really feel pretty insignificant.

And a question:

The blackberry bushes are almost as prolific as the raspberry ones were earlier this year (and the zucchini have got out of hand again). Do we just eat them fresh, or does anyone have a knock-your-socks off blackberry jam recipe to share?

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