The bounty of fresh vegetables and fruit is non-stop right now, which means my canner is dusted off and my half pint jars are cleaned and ready to go. Jams and jellies not only taste mighty fine, they are a fantastic way to preserve the mountain of tomatoes, onions, cherries, plums and berries you have on hand. While preserving does take a little time, once you crack open that jar in the middle of winter, all your hard work will be well worth it.
Makes four 250 mL jars
Tomato jam is a fancier take on ketchup, and a wonderful way to use up all of the beautiful fresh Roma tomatoes in the fall. This savoury jam is simple to prepare – just dump all of the ingredients in a large pot, and stir-stir-stir, and a real treat to eat. Slather on burgers or sandwiches, or even mix with mayo for a dipping sauce for French fries.
2.2 Kg Roma tomatoes, cored and chopped
3½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup (125 mL) fresh lime juice
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated and peeled
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 TBs sea salt
2 -3 tsp red pepper flakes (more if you like more heat)
Combine all the ingredients in a large, nonreactive pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and then turn the heat down to low. Simmer the jam, stirring regularly, until it reduces to a sticky, jammy consistency. Toward the end of cooking, be vigilant about stirring, as it burns easily when it’s nearly finished. When it is done (around two hours), it should look glossy and not runny.
This jam keeps for six months in the refrigerator, so you can funnel it into jars, let it cool and then pop it in the back of the fridge. However, to preserve the tomato jam for longer, or to give away as a gift, here is what you do:
When the jam is nearly done, prepare a boiling water bath and sterilize four half pint (250 mL) jars. Place the lids in a small saucepan, cover them with water, and simmer over very low heat.
When the jam has cooked down sufficiently, remove the pot from the heat and ladle the jam into the prepared jars, using a wide mouth funnel. Wipe the rims, put on the lids and rings, being sure not to twist the ring on too tight, and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes, from the moment the water comes back to a boil after you add the jars. Turn the heat off at 20 minutes, uncover and let the jars stand for 5 minutes longer. Carefully remove the jars from the hot water and let cool on the counter for 24 hours.
You should hear a popping sound when they are sealed. Preserved, unopened jars of tomato jam will last up to two years.
Balsamic Onion Jam
Makes four 250 mL jars.
The ordinary onion gets the royal treatment with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and red wine, becoming a delicious, extraordinary onion jam. Slowly simmered for over an hour, the onions reduce down into a luxurious spread, wonderful on sandwiches (looking at you, Reuben), ricotta toast, even omelettes. Once you have it in your pantry, you will find many ways to incorporate it into your culinary masterpieces.
1.5 Kg peeled and trimmed onions, yellow, white, red, or a mix
½ cup (125 mL) extra virgin olive oil
3 bay leaves
3 to 4 (15-20 mL) tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (125 mL) balsamic vinegar
¼ cup (125 mL) red wine vinegar
¼ cup (60 mL) red wine
½ cup (125 mL) honey
¼ cup sugar
- Cut the onions in half andslicethem thinly crosswise. You need ten heaping cups of onions.
- Heat the oil in a heavy 5 or 6-quart stock pot with a tight-fitting lid and add the onions, turning them over repeatedly in the oil to coat them. Stir in the bay leaves. Season the onions with two teaspoons of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper, and lower the heat to a simmer.
- Cover the pot and cook the onions for 15 to 20 minutes, until they have softened and released their liquid.
- Remove the lid and add the vinegars, wine, honey, and sugar, stirring well. Season the mixture with 1 more teaspoon of salt and a few more grinds of black pepper. Continue to simmer and cook the onions for an additional 20 minutes, stirring the mixture often with a wooden spoon.
- When the liquid has reduced by about half, pick out the bay leaves and continue cooking for another 15 minutes. Taste the onion jam and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. As the liquid continues to reduce, keep stirring to prevent the onion jam from burning. Continue cooking until soft, sticky, and moves from the bottom of the pan as you stir.
- When you’re happy with the consistency, ladle the jam carefully into sterilized jars, using a wide-mouth funnel. Seal the jars and process in a water bath for 20 minutes (see tomato jam recipe) if you plan to store them, or keep the onion jam refrigerated for up to two months.
Blackberry and Raspberry Brown Sugar Jam
Makes 250 mL
Everybody needs a quick, no-fuss recipe for jam. There is no hot water canning involved, which means this is simple, small batch stuff, and a great way to use up some berries that are a little past their prime. Brown sugar adds lovely notes of caramel, but granulated white will work just fine too.
3 cups mixed blackberries and raspberries
½ cup (lightly packed brown sugar
1 Tbs (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
Pinch of kosher salt
- In a large saucepan, combine the ingredients and crush with a potato masher until the juices start flowing. Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally until the jam is thickened and a bit reduced, about 20 minutes.
- Skim off any foam. Transfer the jam to a clean jar and let it cool to room temperature. Seal tightly with a lid.Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
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Sour Cherry and Plum Jelly with Vanilla and Cardamom
Makes eight 250 mL jars
This is a smashing combination of flavours, and the lovely, jewel-like colour speaks for itself. A big batch of jelly does take a little time, but one taste and you’ll know it was worth it. Perfect on buttered toast, spread between layers of cake, or even spooned out of the jar, this recipe is a keeper. Works well with frozen sour cherries and plums, too.
1.5 Kg ripe plums, skins on, unpitted if small plums, pitted if large plums
1.5 Kg ripe sour cherries, unpitted
1½ cups (375 mL) water
Juice of 2 lemons
36 cardamom pods, crushed in a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder
1 pack (57 g) powdered pectin
6½ cups granulated sugar
2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
- Line 2 tall juice pitchers with cheesecloth. Adhere withclothes pins. Fill a canner about 1/3 full with water.
- Bring plums, sour cherries, water, lemon juice, and cardamom to a boil in large pot over high heat. Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer until fruit is soft, about 15-20 minutes.
- Pour the plum mixture into the juice pitchers. Without pressing on the fruit, let the mixture drain until all juice has strained into the pitchers, about 45 minutes. If needed, add water to make 5¾ cups (1.5 L)of juice.
- Return the juice to the pot with pectin, and bring to a rolling boil over high heat until the mixture doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred. Bring the water in the canner to a boil.
- Stir in the sugar and return mixture to a rolling boil. Boil and stir for 1 minute. Remove the pot from heat, stir in the vanilla and skim off any foam from the top. While the jelly boils, sterilize the jars, lids and rings.
- Ladle the jelly (use a wide mouth funnel) into eight half pint (250 mL) hot, sterilized jars, filling them to within½ cmof their rims. Cover each jar with a lid and screw on the ring, not too tightly.
- Place the jars in the canner and process for 15 minutes, beginning timing when water comes to a boil. Turn off the heat and remove canner lid. Allow jars to rest in hot water 5 minutes.
- Remove the jars from the canner and let cool on the counter for 24 hours. You should hear a pop when they are sealed, and the center of each lid does not spring up when pressed.