Two Cups of Kiwi Jam

Two Cups of Kiwi Jam

Kiwifruit comes to us from China via New Zealand.  Originally known as Chinese gooseberry, it was first marketed under the invented name of Melonette because of strained relations between the US and China at the time.  An importer, Ziel & Company suggested that this name was unsuitable, and suggested the name Kiwi, New Zealand’s national symbol, because the bird and the fruit share a small, brown, furry appearance.  Inside though, Kiwis are a vibrant green colour with dramatic black seeds.  This results in a gorgeous jam that is not incidentally delicious.  It turns out that Kiwis are high in natural pectin, so no commercial pectin is needed.

You will need

2 lbs of Kiwi (1 kg)

3 cups sugar

2 tsp lemon juice

 

Scoop the Kiwi out of the shell.  Chop or mash the Kiwi, add lemon juice and cook until some of the juices release.  Add sugar and cook to 214o F (105oC).  If you don’t have a thermometer, don’t worry, you can see the jam thicken up.  You can do the frozen saucer test – take a saucer, place a small amount of hot jam on it, and put in the freezer for 3 minutes.  The jam should wrinkle up when pushed with your finger.

 

In the meantime, you have washed a big jar in hot, soapy water, and placed it in a 250o F oven for 10 minutes.  Take it out and fill with the hot jam.  Let cool on the counter and then refrigerate.

Crabapples

I get a lot of requests for crabapple jelly.  Last year, I sold out in the middle of the Christmas season so I thought I’d make more this year.  My faithful helper Caitlin (also my beloved niece) and I booked a picking day.  We went out to Okotoks – a nice couple there lets us pick their tree.  Their son-in-law is an arborist and trims the tree yearly so it yields like a real working tree would in an orchard.  The branches were heavily laden.  We picked 2 1/2 large bins.   Caitlin was sure it was the same amount we’d picked last year – I thought it was perhaps twice as much.

I had been at a funeral two weeks prior and noticed they had a great tree.  I called and received permission to pick there.  So we went and picked everything we could reach which was easily another bucketful.   I started processing soon after and by the time I was done straining the juice, I had filled three 8 litre buckets and my huge canner (probably 15 litres).  This seemed like more than I’d had last year.  Yes.  Yes it was.  By the time I was done making jelly for 11 hours, I had 225 jars.  Yikes.

That night I wrote an email to my supplier asking him if he knew the variety of tree it was.  He wrote back saying he didn’t know but he’d picked the rest of the apples (the high ones) and would I like them.  I had to drive out and give them a big jar of jelly in any case.  When I got there, he handed me two huge bags.  Turned out to be 35 more pounds of apples.  I did some internet research and found a crabapple butter recipe.  It is delicious – 35 lbs of apples yielded 45 jars (would have been more but I burned one batch).

 

I often wondered why people didn’t use their crabapples themselves.  I suppose the answer is that no family can eat 225 jars of jelly and 45 jars of butter in a year.

 

An Ode to Raspberry Chocolate Jam

Recently, I gave a small jar of jam to a wonderful woman named Tasha who works with me. I left it for her on the desk wrapped in a piece of paper.  The day she got it, I received this poem on my FB Page.

Jam goddess, Jam goddess you are so nice

And simply saying “thank you” would not suffice.

Imagine if you will my utter delight,

To find on my evening shift, some jam in my sight!

Unwrapping the paper, I squealed with glee

“Irene made raspberry chocolate jam just for me!”

Looking to my left after scrambling for a spoon,

I saw a hungry psych resident contemplating its theft!

Another spoon was found and we each gave it a try,

And after we had a taste, we both let out a happy satisfied sigh.

Thank you Irene 🙂

Priddis & Millarville Fair 2012

I am happy to report that I entered three jams in three different categories in the Priddis & Millarville Fair.  The judging was on Friday night.  When I got to the Market yesterday morning, the arena didn’t open till 9.  *tap tap tap*.  I rushed in to find the following:
Naked Raspberry – 1st prize in Raspberry/Strawberry Jams
*Great Presentation.  This jam has a great buttery flavour – felt like it melted in our mouths.  Delicious.  #1 Great Spreads.*

You can’t see the ribbon – I was too excited to do a good photo

Rhubarb, Rosemary and Honey – 1st prize in Other Jams
*Superb.  Delicious.  Great blend of all flavours.  Well done.  Good presentation.*
  Meyer Lemon Marmalade – 1st prize in Marmalades and also, Best of Section for Canning
*Okay. This jam shows some great skill. Excellent Flavour and Taste. Good job.*   *Most unique – good working of lemons*
*evil cackle*.. world jam domination will soon be mine….

Mrs. Beeton’s view on Seville Orange Marmalade

Mrs. Beeton’s Family Cookery and Housekeeping Book:  A Useful Guide in Households, both Large and Small (1905) has four recipes for Orange Marmalade made with Seville Oranges.  They are all complicated because, as anyone who makes Seville knows, there is a lot of work involved.  At the bottom of the first recipe she writes:  NOTE:  The best marmalade is made by Keiller, and many are of the opinion that when it can be bought so cheaply and good it is scarcely worth making it at home.   (I checked and you can still buy Keiller’s Marmamalde lo these many years later).  Course, you can also buy it from me.

Here is one of the recipes:

Equal weight of fine loaf sugar and Seville oranges, to 12 oranges for one pint of water.  Average cost, 6d per lb.

Let there be an equal weight of loaf sugar and Seville oranges and allow the above proportion of water to every dozen oranges.  Peel them carefully, remove a little of the white pith and boil the rinds in water 2 hours, changing the water three time to take off a little of the bitter taste. Break the pulp into small pieces, take out all the pips and cut the boiled rind into chips.  Make syrup with the sugar and water; boil this well, skim it, and, when clear, put in the pulp and chips.  Boil all together from 20 minutes to ½ hour, pour it into pots, and, when cold, cover down with bladders, or tissue-paper brushed over on both sides with the white of an egg.  The juice and grated rind of 2 lemons to every dozen of oranges, added with the pulp and chips to the syrup, re a very great improvement to this marmalade.

Time:  2 hours to boil the orange-rinds; 10 minutes to boil to syrup; 20 minutes to ½ hour to boil the marmalade.

Seasonable:  This should be made in March or April, as Seville oranges are then in their perfection.

Jam Course August 2011

August 2011.  I fly to Chicago, go to see the Chagall Windows at the Art Institute, have dinner with my favourite Chicagoans, Paula and Toph, site see, and then, on Monday morning, I rise at 0600h and go to my Jam making course.
A good first day.  12 people in the class 5 of whom worked in health care at some point.  One person who asks a million questions and most of them over and over because every class seems to require that action.  We had lectures this morning and then cooked all afternoon.  Broken into teams of two, one half the class made 5 recipes and one half did the other five.  My partner and I made Dill Pickles, Candied Ginger, tart dough for a mincemeat tart tomorrow, and the mincemeat and apricot jam. Some of which were prep work for things we will make this week sometime.  We really had to move.  They were just a little disorganized but everyone got done in time so no big deal.   My partner, who took the serious 6 month course which was graded is a neat freak.  She says that the course did that to her – that one was graded on a clean work station.  So she had the bottle of disinfectant out every 10 minutes.  She is a worrier with not much sense of haha but is an 11 year liver transplant survivor so I suppose one can forgive her level of earnestness.
 
Cooking is a great equalizer.  A Master’s Degree or a physician’s license isn’t much good when you are filling jars.  One of the docs, who is a retired genito-urinary surgeon says that she finds it all meditative.  Which is what I get from making jam – I call it my working meditation.  Steady, careful with measured movement.  Enjoying the zen of the day – in and out, up and down, stir and chop.  The callus on my middle finger from stirring – the mark of the jam maker.  I did learn today that when my chocolates get bloom on them (yes, I make chocolates too) it means that I got the chocolate too hot when I melted it.
 
After class, I was going to hop a cab but decided that I would head in the direction of the hotel as long as my ankle held out (osteoarthritis – severe I’m told).  It was a glorious summer day.  And I wanted to explore a bit – see if there were any hidden gems between there and here.  But no.  Just retail and beggars.
 
I need a nap then I might go out and explore a bit more.  Sit in the park perhaps and watch the world go by.
 
P.S.  I did not get one spot or splatter on my white chef’s coat.  This is an achievement for me.  Usually I’m all Miss Piggy cooks.
 
The rest of the week speeds by in a splattering of information, a stirring up of questions, and a satisfaction of competency.  We make all kinds of things – some well, some badly.  The last day, I cannot bear to cook one more damned thing.  I halfheartedly stir the home-made ketchup with the addition of honey, lavender and what I think are far too many spices that I am to turn into BBQ sauce. I was too lazy and I guess rebellious to chop the onion that was required so tossed it.  Sneakily of course.  I look at my partner who says “I don’t want any” and I think, well niether do I.  I make perfectly good BBQ sauce at home and my already overweight suitcase cannot take ONE MORE JAR.  I stop stirring and slink to a sink in another room, far from the eagle eyes of our instructo to dump it out.  My classmate/physician to the left discuss the wisdom of putting lavendar in BBQ sauce.  We agree this is a stupid idea.  Later, a dish is put out for us to taste.  Ever game, we try it.  We look at each other and have to bashfully admit that we like it.  Teach me to have a closed mind.
 
We eat some scones which are really just a vehicle to get the freshly made lemon cream into our mouths, trade jars with each other.  I give away most of my jars because again, I can’t take 40 jars of product with me.  And then it’s over.  We disperse to waiting cabs, family members, the subway.  And it’s over.  I learned a lot.  I got some sublime recipes.  And I had a great time.  I will say one thing – any nice fantasies I was harbouring about ever doing a 6 month course at a real cooking school are tossed.  I could never take that discipline.  I will not be told what socks to wear or be chastised for talking when Chef is talking.  It actually makes me laugh – I’m too far gone.  But again, it was a great course.  And a wonderful experience.  Jam rules.
 
 

When Life Gives you Lemons, Make Marmalade

About two years ago, I started to hear about the world famous but seldom seen Meyer Lemon.  Mostly, my source was the Harvest Forum at iVillage*.   I heard from my local fruit monger that Superstore sometimes carried them but I didn’t have any sense of when they were in season or what they looked like.  Then, I went to Texas to visit my BFF.  I am teaching her to do small batch jam making.  She had Meyer Lemons in her fridge so we made a small amount of marmalade winging the recipe.  I don’t normally recommend this but by now, after 1000 jars of marmalade plus or minus, I have some sense of what the basic drill is.  In any case, those Meyer Lemons made great marmalade.

 

Flash forward to my visit to the Dentist (four small cavities – time to start brushing between tastings).  My dentist laughingly says she should underwrite my jam business because it so clearly drives business to her.  But I digress.  She had seen Meyer Lemons at Superstore and made curd.  Making curd is out of the question for me because I can’t stop eating it.  But again I digress.  I whipped over to Superstore to be told they had Meyer Lemons a week ago.  I was dejected so had to buy myself a chocolate croissant.  A week later, my dentist came through for me again – Meyer Lemons had been spotted at Costco.  I leapt into the Mazda and headed for the store, thinking, if they don’t have them, I’ll get customer service to call around and see if there are any left at the other stores (always contingency planning am I).   Long story short, a cornucopia of plenty greeted me.  I put numerous boxes in my cart and then answered questions from other customers about what the hell those were and what the hell one did with them.  Interestingly, these Meyers were not quite the same as those in Texas – they were larger and orange in colour.

I got home, adjusted the recipe my recipe for the volume of each clamshell of lemons and got busy slicing.  Damn things are full of seeds but luckily, I had learned how to “supreme” citrus so I cut the core out of each half lemon which removed most of the seeds with it.  I only cut myself 4 times.  The recipe called for soaking the peel overnight, then boiling for 30 minutes before adding the sugar (if boiled in sugar solution, peel will not soften).  The next morning, I leapt out of bed, turned on the stove, and added the sugar.   I was well on my way to achieving a merry boil when I realized I should have boiled the peel first in the soaking water.  Oh well!!  There was nothing to do now but forge ahead.  After all, one cannot retrieve sugar molecules once they are in solution unless one has lab equipment.  Luckily, Meyers have a very soft skin and the marmalade turned out well.  It was thick with loads of peel which I know my customers love.  I now firmly believe that, like apricots, the divine purpose of Meyer Lemons is to give their little lives to Marmalade.  Holy schneikies – it’s good.

*Drops voice* I would say it’s my new favourite but I’m afraid the other marmalades will hear me.  ssshhhhh!!!!!

 

*Harvest Forum is a discussion board of all things canning.  It has been around for a long time and is a valuable source of the kind of information you never find in books.  Many of the people who post there and answer questions are expert canners – some teach canning in University extension classes.  I highly recommend this site for new canners as well as experienced ones.  I learn something almost every time I go there.

 

Mes Confitures

My good friend and a huge supporter of Jam Goddess is in Paris.  He told me that he would try to find some of Christine Ferber’s Jam for me.  I sent him the name and a place where I think it’s sold.  Hallelujah!!  This morning I received the following text message from Paris “Found it”.  I’m so excited.  Ready the bread Raoul.

Such Sweet Madness

Every summer we would travel to the Okanagan Valley in BC where we’d climb ladders and pick fruit while other kids got to go to the beach. No really. We’d race home with the car packed full and our feet resting on boxes of fruit in the backseat. Upon arriving at some ungodly hour in the middle of the night, we’d go to bed and my mother would start canning. Continue reading