Choke Cherry Jelly

Making the Juice:

Take 5 pounds of choke cherries and place in a pan.  Cover with enough water to sink them all.  A good way to measure is to put your finger into the water and touch the choke cherries.  The water should be no higher than the first joint of your finger.

Bring water to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for an hour with the lid on.  About 30 minutes in, take a potato masher and mash the berries a bit.

When done, turn the contents into a large sieve and drain for an hour.

If you have less choke cherries, don’t worry.  Just add water in the same way.  The goal is to get at least 3 cups of juice.

 

Measure the following into a pot:

3 cups of strained juice

6 1/2 cups of sugar (yes, that’s right, 6 1/2 cups).  If you put less in, your jelly will not set.  Sugar binds to the water molecules and the pectin which gives you set and stops spoiling.

Bring to a hard boil and leave at that boil for 2 full minutes.

Empty 2 packages Certo liquid pectin into the pot and bring to another boil.  Take off the heat and let sit for 4-5 minutes.  This makes it easier to skim off the foam that invariably develops.  Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal.

You can process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.  Do not do this for any longer or you will ruin your set (jelly is delicate)

Note:  Most recipes say to barely cover the berries in water and then cook only for 15 minutes.  This has given me not enough juice and also a burned taste.  Also, the pectin package and all online recipes I found said to boil the juice/sugar for 1 minute and add pectin.  I live in Calgary, altitude 3300 feet.  I think that makes a difference and the added minute of boiling removes just that much more water to enable you to get a set.

 

Good luck.

Quince

I found this in the Joy of Cooking:

Given our cultural predilection for breeding the most uniform, shelf stable, and prettiest fruits and vegetables, it’s a wonder the quince has survived our agricultural fervor.

Quinces are knobby and irregular, like lumpy pears. They are a bit drab-looking and neglected and are prone to patches of rot. Their flesh is pale and grainy–much like the flesh of a pear, but far more pronounced. They do not soften as they ripen, and they cannot be eaten like an apple, for their flesh is highly astringent, making them unpleasant to eat out of hand.

Hearing all this, you may think, indeed, why has the quince, a highly inhospitable specimen, survived the quest for “ideal” fruit? I can only attribute the quince’s staying power to the inexplicable inertia of longevity. The quince has played part in humankind’s orchard for centuries at least. The quince was Paris’s offering to Aphrodite, and Apicius’s ancient Roman cookbook contains recipes for stewing quince with honey. If quinces have one thing going for them, it is time.

But in fact, quinces have quite a lot more than just time going for them. A bowl of quince can perfume a whole room with their delicate, floral scent. In Jane Grigson’s Fruit Book, she even suggests placing some in the bedroom or living room, and states that in earlier times, quince were often stored with linens. Quince is doubtless a much finer scent than nose-numbing sachets of cinnamon potpourri.

This heady fragrance is not just skin deep. The flavor of cooked quince is much like a rose or violet. And indeed, along with apples and pears, quinces belong to the same horticultural family as the rose. To be perfectly honest, the proper words to describe the flavor of quince elude me. My first exploratory nibble of quince jelly flooded my tastebuds with aromatic notes of rose, and ripe apple and pear. Beyond that, there are ineffable aromas that perhaps only a parfumier could elucidate. But I think it is just that–the mysterious and subtle flavor of the quince–that so enthralls me.

Further, quince, not unlike the Horse of A Different Color from the land of Oz, changes color. Like cut apples or pears, quince will oxidize and brown once the flesh is exposed to the air, but as you cook quince–either by roasting, simmering, or stewing–its nondescript, cottony white interior turns pink. If you continue to cook quince past the pink stage, it attains an almost ruby red or magenta hue. It is, in a word, gorgeous.

Quince needs some coaxing to attain its full splendor, but it is more than worth the effort, as is the case with many stubborn but delicious foods (artichokes, I’m looking at you). There are many ways to cook quince. Most recently, I have seen recipes for Quince Tarte Tatin and a Quince-Apple Tart, but my favorite thing to do with special fruit is to preserve it.

I am not much of a jelly-maker. I have long preferred the chunky, rustic texture of preserves and compotes over strangely smooth jellies, but I do see their appeal. They are refined and feel a bit fancier than preserves. Indeed, they have an air of something fit for a formal tea service, although this is perhaps my own flight of fancy, having never been served formal tea before.

And quince jelly seems particularly suited for tea, owing to its delicate pink hue and subtle but distinct floral flavor. But I’ll settle for simply spreading it on toast or serving it with soft cheeses. Quince jelly is a good one for beginners to make, as quinces are full of pectin, which means that it doesn’t take long to reach the jelling point, and you don’t have to worry about adding additional pectin.

 

Damson Plums

Good morning Jam Lovers!!!  I stumbled upon the last 5 pounds of Damson Plums at Souto’s down at the Crossroads Market on Sunday.  I had never used these before but people who know these plums, love the jam.  I must say, it’s really good.  I only made a small amount and have 6 jars for sale.  If you want some, please let me know ASAP and I’ll put it aside for you.

Crabapple Jelly

I now have Crabapple Jelly again after managing to swoop in and pick the apples just a day ahead of the snow and ice.  It’s gorgeous, red and you can read through it (I’m given to hyperbole).

 

I also have Crabapple Butter for those who were asking for it.

 

 

Update August 2014

I have been remiss at posting in here – too busy making jam I suppose.

I wanted to let people know that I have been busy stocking up again and have amended the product list so that you knew what jams I have back in stock now – these include some big favourites such as Green Fig, Strawberry Rhubarb, and Creme de Cassis.

Blue Rodeo Jam

It’s been a big day at Jam Goddess.  I sat with Jim Cuddy at a charity event in Edmonton 2 years ago and asked if I could name a jam after Blue Rodeo.  This year, I sent the band 4 jars.  They were nice enough to post a photo and a thank you on their website.  Is it wrong of me to brag, just a bit?

Here’s the link:

 

Two Cups of Rosemary, Rhubarb & Honey Jam

Two Cups of Rhubarb Jam with Honey and Rosemary

Who does not remember sitting on the porch on summer evenings, dipping a stalk of rhubarb into a bowl of sugar?  I suppose there are people who don’t like rhubarb, but I don’t know any.  The tart flavor seems universally loved.

This jam is one of my favourites.  There is something about the honey and rosemary that adds a huge depth of flavour to the jam.  I love it on bread but also stirred into plain yogurt.  You can also eat it as a condiment with chicken or pork.  And if you want to bake a matrimonial cake but aren’t nuts about dates, this makes a great filling.

1 pound  chopped rhubarb (1/2 kilo)

1 ½ cups sugar  (300 g)

3 ½ ounces honey (100 gm)

Juice 1 small lemon

5 sprigs rosemary

Cut rhubarb into small dice.  Macerate the rhubarb, the sugar and the juice of one lemon overnight.  The next day, sieve and pour juice into a sauce pan.  Add the rest of the lemon juice, the honey and the rosemary.  Cook to 214 degrees (at Calgary altitude) – reduced volume by about half if you don’t have a thermometer.  I take the rosemary out at this point because if it’s not really fresh, the spears will come off the stalk and you’ll spend a lot of time fishing them out of the jam.

Now, add the diced rhubarb and cook gently till set.  It will be quite thick with little liquid and bubble like molten lava.  Do not stop stirring – it burns easily.  Fish out the Rosemary before jarring.  Place in a jar that you have washed in hot, soapy water and put in the oven for 10 minutes at 250o F.  Let cool on the counter, then refrigerate.

Roiling Boil

The berries tumble in the pan

Excited to give up their juice

Destined to roil till they’re jam.

The berries tumble into the pan

Sugar plum fairied, ready to dance

Their dresses flounced brightly with puce

The berries tumble in the pan

So ready to give up their juice

 

———- the Jam Goddess as poet