Monday, January 6, 2014

Spread The Love

A couple years ago in the heat of summertime, I found myself staring blankly at beautiful, ripe fruit at the farmstand. I was at a loss - I wanted to buy the beautiful fruit in front of me but knew there was no way I could eat it all before it was too late.

It was then and there that I decided to learn how to preserve fruit. I did a bunch of research on the internet - which, in the end only scared me more. There are a ton of rules and even more opinions on the subject of which I eventually sifted through. And once I got over the fear of botulism, I talked Colin into joining me for a day of canning and preserving the fruits of summer.

We made a bunch of yummy jam, including Rosemary Peach and Apricot. To this day, apricot is still one of my all-time favorite jams to make, and when that fruit is in season, you can find me at the stove.

A couple years later, canning is now one of my favorite things to do. I love experimenting with different flavors and combinations. And, my friends love it, too. One of my best friend's sons loves the Strawberry Balsamic flavor and asks for it by name.

Until now, it was just a labor of love, something I enjoyed doing for myself and for my friends and family. But on Christmas, I was talking to my sister, and she actually convinced me to try selling my jams on Etsy. Initially, I hesitated because that makes things so official. But she's recently had some success with her shop, so I decided to give it a try as well. 

Here's one of the recipes I recently made. And it's for sale here, if you're interested in taste-testing. 

Pear Jam with Cardamom
Adapted from Food & Wine

4 lbs Anjou pears - peeled, cored and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups sugar
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons green cardamom pods, lightly crushed

In a large bowl, toss the pears with the sugar and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Put a metal spoon in the freezer - this will be to test the doneness of the jam later on. Transfer the pears and the liquid to a large pot and bring to a boil. Put the crushed cardamom in a tea ball and add it to the pot. Cook the pears over high heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid starts to thicken and the pears become translucent - about 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.

Put a third of the pears into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Add the puree back to the pot. Bring back to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the jam is very thick, about 5 more minutes. 

To test the jam's doneness, drop a small amount on the chilled spoon and freeze for 30 seconds. Tilt the spoon - if the jam runs down the spoon slowly, the jam is done. If the jam is runny, cook it for a few minutes longer, then test again.

Ladle the jam into clean, sterilized jars and then process for 10 minutes in a water bath. If you don't want to process the jam, it will store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. 

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