Count Broccula's veg-head ramblings

My home experiments with vegetarian cooking. Focused on seasonal produce with some vegan stuff thrown in for good measure. I may include random other food-related stuff as I please.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010



I've been making a ton of jam. I made two batches of pear-ginger conserve (as my big bag of pears got ripe). I found myself with an excess of nectarines and plums last week and made nectarine-plum. And we finally have enough garden tomatoes for tomato jam!

For the tomato jam, I searched for my recipe from the canning class, but I just couldn't find it. Instead, I went here:
I did make a few changes. I used crushed red chili peppers instead of a serrano (I wasn't really prepared -- I just did it off the cuff). I threw in a star anise, because it was looking at me when I raided the spice cabinet. I did peel all my tomatoes. Oh, and I used cider vinegar. I also more or less tripled the recipe, since I love giving my homemade stuff away as presents, and most of the recipes I found didn't really make much. I'm making it as we speak, so I don't know how it is yet. I do know it's taking a lot longer than 45 minutes to get to a nice consistency, but that's probably because of the volume.

When I made the first batch in the class I took, it came out pretty sweet, but it made a really nice topping for bread and cheese -- like a baguette with some brie and the tomato jam on top.

As for the nectarine jam, I followed this recipe pretty closely. Except, of course, instead of apricots, I used nectarines and plums (probably a few more nectarines than plums). And I didn't peel these, because I like the color and don't mind the texture of plum or nectarine peels. Of note: the recipe calls for both water and lemon juice, but then never instructs you to add them. I added the lemon juice only and skipped the water, and I did so just after I brought it to a boil. Also, I prefer a not-as-sweet jam, so I used the low-sugar pectin and only about 4.5 cups of sugar.

This jam came out divine! It is the most beautiful rosy color, and it is sweet, but not overly. I mentioned something about giving this away and keeping a jar for ourselves, and my Sweetie said "I hope we're keeping more than one jar!"

And finally, the pear-ginger conserve is fantastic, too. So fantastic that although I had initially planned to make only one batch and can the rest of the pears in halves, I ended up just making another batch. A Facebook friend sent it to me, and it was exactly the kind of thing I was in the mood for. The only change I made was that I couldn't reach my damn lemons (we've picked all the low-hanging fruit), so I used dried sour orange peel.


Time: 30 minutes preparation; 50 minutes cooking; 15 minutes processing.

4 Lbs. ripe pears, peeled and chopped (about 9 C)

3 C. sugar

½ C. lemon juice

4 tsp. grated lemon zest (no white pith)

¼ C minced crystallized (or candied) ginger—get it at Trader Joe’s, yo.

1 cinnamon stick

Prepare 6 half-pint canning jars (run them through the dishwasher and leave them in the hot machine, or wash the jars in hot soapy water, rinse, and hold in hot clear water)

Combine pears with remaining ingredients in large saucepot. Cook, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves. Cook rapidly until thick, stirring to prevent sticking, about 30 minutes. Mixture will mound up on spoon. Remove cinnamon stick.

Pour into prepared jars, seal, and process:

* Fill jars with hot mixture, leaving ¼ inch headspace between the top of food and lid
* Run a wooden spoon around the jar between the food and the glass to release any trapped air bubbles.
* Wipe the rim clean. Place lid on jar and screw bands securely, but don’t use force.
* Place the jars in a large stockpot or canning pot, leaving enough space between jars for water to circulate.
* Add boiling water to cover jars by 2”. Return to a full boil.
* Cover pot and process for fifteen minutes.
* Carefully remove jars with tongs or jar lifter and allow to cool.

Test seals—there should be an indentation in the lid. Refrigerate any unsealed jars.

This came out VERY gingery, and I liked it a lot. I liked it on waffles and toast, but I think it would also be good on something like a pork chop.


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