Hello Stranger | Login | Create Account
 
 
 
 
 
  SAUCE MAGAZINE
|
Dec 15, 2017
|
Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
|
SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
Features
Print | Text-size: A | A | A
Jam Session
By Ligaya Figueras | Photos by Carmen Troesser
Posted On: 08/01/2012   


When the mother lode of sweet peaches and finger-staining berries arrives, you either move it or lose it. Making fruit preserves – jams, jellies, conserves, marmalades and the like – has long been one of the easiest ways to enjoy summer’s bounty long after the harvest has ended. But rather than turning to sugar and citrus, funk up that fruit with some indie sweeteners and acids, get inspired by the unique flavor of wild flowers, or jump into the mosh pit using the kernels of stone fruit. Throw on the apron, dust off the Mason jars and turn up the stereo – it’s time to jam.


FIG JAM
Back when Home Wine Kitchen chef-owner Cassy Vires was helming the stove at Ernesto’s Wine Bar and napping pork tenderloin with a savory sauce of dried figs and balsamic vinegar, her sous chef suggested sweetening the concoction with wine. “That’s a great idea!” Vires recounted saying. Fast forward a few years, and that great idea has become a fig jam that’s one of the few staples at Vires’ ever-changing Maplewood restaurant – set upon a cheese board, dotting a dessert plate or sold in homey canning jars.

The three-ingredient jam is wonderfully simple. Vires relies on balsamic vinegar for the acid since “the liquid not only cooks into the fruit, it also cooks down.” She grabs a 12-year-aged balsamic, but “the more awesome (read: higher quality) the balsamic, the more savory” the jam will be. Dry red wine also gets the nod for sweetening the pot as it reduces. Vires opts for pinot noir because it’s light, fruity and laden with sugar.

Use It: Spread it on toast or shortbread, couple it with goat cheese, or sub it for honey in your favorite vinaigrette.

Courtesy of Home Wine Kitchen’s Cassy Vires

3 cups

4 cups dried figs, whole
2 cups pinot noir or other light red wine
2 cups balsamic vinegar
Water, as needed

• Combine the figs, wine and balsamic vinegar in a medium-sized pot and place over medium-low heat.
• Bring to a simmer and let simmer until most of the liquid has cooked into the figs, approximately 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
• When cool enough to handle, purée the mixture in a blender or food processor, adding water as needed to loosen it, until the mixture is the consistency of a smooth, thick paste.
• Transfer to sterilized jars, cap and let cool. Store in the refrigerator for 1 month. Alternatively, water-process the jars, then store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.


GINGERED RHUBARB JAM


“You have to use a lot of sweetener with rhubarb, particularly with a jam,” advised Bryan Carr, chef-owner of Pomme Café and Wine Bar and Atlas Restaurant. But rather than pour in the granulated sugar when making this rhubarb jam, Carr opts for brown sugar and local Stinger’s honey – the latter of which lends complex flavor to the fruit spread. “Honey is twice as sweet as sugar,” cautioned Carr, “so you have to adjust accordingly.”

Use It: Smear this nicely spiced jam in the a.m. atop toast or muffins. For dessert, it’s a lovely addition to pound cake. To add it to your next cheese plate, Carr suggested choosing a cheese with a strong, tangy edge to counter the sweetness, such as a quality aged cheddar or sharp goat variety.


Courtesy of Atlas Restaurant and Pomme Café and Wine Bar’s Bryan Carr

5 to 6 cups

2 lbs. fresh rhubarb, trimmed, leaves discarded and cut into short lengths
10 oz. brown sugar
6 oz. local honey such as Stinger’s*
3 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 bay leaves
½ cup water
Zest and juice of 1 lime

• Combine all of the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot with high sides.
• Begin to cook over low heat, stirring frequently. As the fruit and sugar cook, the amount of liquid will increase and you will be able to turn up the heat to a simmer.
• Cook until the mixture is thick. (The high sugar content and the need to cook the mix until very thick can make it easy to scorch. Watch the pot carefully, stirring frequently.) Remove the bay leaves from the jam.
• Transfer to sterilized jars, cap and let cool. Store in the refrigerator for 1 month. Alternatively, water-process the jars, then store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.

* Available at all Straub’s locations, Local Harvest Grocery, Starr’s and Parker’s Table


BLACKBERRY-RED WINE PRESERVES
Deep and dark are the resounding themes for Carr’s blackberry-red wine preserves. To cook down the blackberries, Carr uncorks a fruity, aromatic red wine such as a Beaujolais or Grenache, which gives the preserves a slight tannin edge. If the birds ate all your blackberries this season, plums, cherries or any other dark fruit can bathe in the wine as well. As for the bay leaf and fresh thyme, don’t leave those out: They’re there for aroma more than flavor.

Use It: Devour this berry-luscious pantry perk on toasted grain bread.

Courtesy of Atlas Restaurant and Pomme Café and Wine Bar’s Bryan Carr

6 to 7 cups

8 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
48 oz. blackberries
30 oz. sugar
1½ cups red wine (such as Beaujolais or Grenache)
1 packet Sure-Jel or other pectin*

• (Tie the thyme sprigs in a bundle with string.) Combine all of the ingredients, including the herb bundle, in a heavy-bottomed pot with high sides.
• Begin to cook over low heat, stirring frequently. As the fruit and sugar cook, the amount of liquid will increase and you will be able to turn up the heat to a simmer.
• Cook until the mixture is thick. (The high sugar content and the need to cook the mix until very thick can make it easy to scorch. Watch the pot carefully, stirring frequently.) Remove the herb bundle and bay leaves from the preserves.
• Transfer to sterilized jars, cap and let cool. Store in the refrigerator for 1 month. Alternatively, water-process the jars, then store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.

* Available at most grocers in the aisle near the Jell-O


GROUND CHERRY-ELDERFLOWER JAM
Ground cherries, sometimes sold as husk cherries thanks to their papery outer husk, are quite tart. To counteract that sharpness, Sauce photographer Greg Rannells worked in the floral notes and orange essence of elderflower cordial. In this most uncommon jam, dried elderflower blossoms yield soft, fragrant, botanical goodness; orange peel provides aroma and bitterness; while juice-heavy, pulp-light Valencia orange juice offers even more fruit flavor. Coupled with lemon juice, it also provides enough acid for the jam to set.

Use it: This golden fruit-flower spread shines as a breakfast jam best enjoyed slathered with butter on hot, crusty bread or, to get persnickety, on crumpets.

Courtesy of Greg Rannells

2 cups

1 cup water
3 Tbsp. dried elderflower blossoms*
2 lbs. ground cherries (husk cherries)**, outer husk removed
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Juice of 1 Valencia orange
2 cups sugar
1½ tsp. dried orange peel***

• Boil 1 cup of water and pour over the elderflowers. Let steep for 15 minutes, then strain. Reserve the liquid and discard the flowers.
• Place the ground cherries in a deep saucepan. Add the steeped elderflower liquid, lemon juice, orange juice, sugar and dried orange peel.
• Bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes on high heat, stirring constantly to ensure it doesn’t boil over.
• Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 1 hour, or until the mixture reaches a jam-like consistency.
• Transfer to sterilized jars, cap and let cool. Store in the refrigerator for 1 month. Alternatively, water-process the jars, then store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.

* Available at St. Louis Beer and Winemaking
** Available at the EarthDance Farms booth at Schlafly Farmers Market and Ferguson Farmers Market in September, and at Jay International Food Co. in late August
*** Available at Penzeys Spices


APRICOT CONSERVES
Chef Josh Galliano has bested little old ladies at state fairs with his masterly jams, jellies and conserves (That last one is actually a jam made of fruit stewed in sugar.). When it comes to apricot conserves, Galliano’s secret is to use the kernel from the pit of the fruit to impart an almond flavor. “It’s in the background,” he explained. “You don’t sense it right off the bat.”

Like most conserve recipes, Galliano’s doesn’t call for pectin. One ingredient it does prescribe: apple juice, which lends a different sort of sweetness and keeps the harsh lemon juice in check. Butter also makes the cut. “If [the preserve is] chunkier and you’re hoping not to skim off parts of chunky goodness, that’s when you use [butter] – not for jelly because that would cloud it.” Looking to make a conserve with something other than apricots? Galliano recommended using any fruit that can withstand long cooking times.

Use It: Galliano recently served apricot conserves with bread and Green Dirt Farms’ aged, washed rind Bossa sheep’s cheese, available at Local Harvest Grocery and Whole Foods. Other ripe ideas: Pair it with pork or use it as a filling for pastries.

Courtesy of Josh Galliano

8 cups

3 lbs. apricots, cut in half, pits reserved
2 lbs. sugar
2 cups apple juice
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. butter
 
• Place all of the apricot pits on a wooden cutting board. Cover them with a towel and crack them open with a mallet. Carefully extract the kernel from inside the pit, making sure not to get any of the pit.
• Add the apricots and kernels to a large pot. Place over medium-low heat, and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Simmer for 10 minutes.
• Add the sugar, apple juice and lemon juice. Continue to simmer for another 30 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove any scum that rises to the surface.
• Add the butter, and simmer for 5 minutes longer.
• Transfer to sterilized jars, cap and let cool. Store in the refrigerator for 1 month. Alternatively, water-process the jars, then store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.


BLUEBERRY-LAVENDER JAM
Blueberries may be the focus of this fruit concoction by Harvest chef-owner Nick Miller, but it’s the supporting cast of white balsamic vinegar, fresh flowers and herbs that elevate it to blue-ribbon territory.

Miller uses white balsamic because it’s slightly sweeter than balsamic and adds “just enough acid to round out the jam, giving it a nice, clean finish.” It also lets the color of the blueberries shine through. Fresh lavender and rosemary lend a savory component while enhancing the bouquet, but if you can’t get your hands on fresh-from-the-soil flowers, Miller recommends finding floral notes in other places. Dry hibiscus flowers, when subjected to cooking, reconstitute and add flavor and fragrance to a fruit preserve. Flower waters can also do the trick. “I’ll use rose water or orange blossom water at the very end [of cooking], which perfumes whatever you’re putting it into but doesn’t overpower it.” To try this method, stir in a miniscule amount of flower water (about half of a teaspoon per 3-pint batch of jam) after removing the jam from heat.

Use it: Let this thick jam stand in for the sauce over duck or a grilled leg of lamb.

Courtesy of Harvest’s Nick Miller

Approximately 6 cups

2 qts. fresh blueberries
1 Tbsp. fruit pectin*
½ cup sugar
Pinch kosher salt
¾ cup white balsamic vinegar
1 2-inch sprig fresh rosemary
5 freshly picked lavender flowers
 
• Wash the blueberries in cold water, discarding any that are smashed or bruised. Allow to dry in the refrigerator.
• Once the berries are dry, toss them with the pectin, sugar and salt. Place the mixture in a heavy-bottomed (preferably stainless steel) pot over medium heat.
• Add the white balsamic and bring to a simmer.
• Once the blueberries begin to simmer, add the rosemary and lavender.
• Increase the heat slightly, stirring constantly, and boil for 1 minute.
• Remove the rosemary sprig.
• Transfer to sterilized jars, cap and let cool. Store in the refrigerator for 1 month. Alternatively, water-process the jars, then store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.

Note: This jam will take 24 hours to set.

* Available at most grocers in the aisle near the Jell-O


Prepare,
Prepare,
Prepare


Making preserves is as much about the jars you use as it is the tasty little treats you pour into them. Here, a few rules of thumb for keeping that farm-fresh flavor in – and the bacteria out.

Jars
Examine last year’s jars for cracks, uneven rims or other defects. Deem any that aren’t in mint condition your table’s new vases.

Whether old faithfuls or brand spanking new, wash all jars. Don’t have a dishwasher? Good ol’ hot, soapy water will do.

Submerge jars in a large pot or water canner in water until they’re covered. Bring water to a simmer (180 degrees), and let the jars bathe in the simmering water for 10 minutes.

Bands
Last year’s lids have seen their heyday. Only use the newbies. Wash them in hot, soapy water and then rinse in hot water.

A clean band means a happy jam. Place bands in a saucepan and submerge them in enough water to cover. Bring water to a simmer (180 degrees), and let the lids simmer away until they’re ready to be used.



Fill ’Er Up

It may sound like the easiest part of the process, but pouring your precious preserves into those tiny little jars can send even the calmest cook into a downright temper tantrum. Follow these steps for keeping your cool in the kitchen.

Once the jam is ready, ladle it into jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace.

Remove air bubbles by placing a nonmetallic spatula inside the jar between the jam and the side of the jar. Press the spatula back against the jam to release any trapped air. Repeat several times.

Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean, damp cloth.

Place the lid on the jar rim, centering it atop the glass. Place a band over the lid and screw it onto the jar. The band should be firm and snug but not overly tight.



Safe and snug

Can’t wait to spread that jam on your morning toast tomorrow? After filling and capping the jar, let the jam cool and move it to the fridge, where it will keep for 1 month. Hoping to save a jar for a rainy day? To safely store jams unrefrigerated for up to 6 months, follow this basic method for water-processing.

Fill a boiling-water canner half full with water and bring to a simmer (180 degrees). Position a canner rack over the simmering water.

Place the filled jars on the canner rack and carefully lower the rack into the simmering water. Make sure the water covers the jars and caps by 1 to 2 inches, adding boiling water as necessary.

Put the canner lid in place. Adjust heat to medium-high and bring to a rolling boil. Maintain a rolling boil for 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat and remove the canner lid. Let the canner cool for 5 minutes before removing the jars.

Remove the jars from the canner and place them upright on a dry towel to cool, leaving a few inches of space between them. Don’t tighten the bands if they loosened during processing. Let the jars cool naturally for 12 to 24 hours.

Once the jars are cool, check for a vacuum seal: Press the center of the lid. It should be concave and not flex up and down. Next, remove the band and gently try to lift the lid off with your fingertips. The lid shouldn’t lift off. Screw the band back on and store in a cool, dry, dark place.


Fig Jam
Home Wine Kitchen's Cassy Vires
Makes 3 cups

INGREDIENTS

4 cups dried figs, whole
2 cups pinot noir or other light red wine
2 cups balsamic vinegar
Water, as needed

PREPARATION

• Combine the figs, wine and balsamic vinegar in a medium-sized pot and place over medium-low heat.
• Bring to a simmer and let simmer until most of the liquid has cooked into the figs, approximately 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
• When cool enough to handle, purée the mixture in a blender or food processor, adding water as needed to loosen it, until the mixture is the consistency of a smooth, thick paste.
• Transfer to sterilized jars, cap and let cool. Store in the refrigerator for 1 month. Alternatively, water-process the jars, then store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.

Want to comment on this article? Login or sign up on Sauce.

SEARCH SAUCE
Conceived and created by Bent Mind Creative Group, LLC ©1999-2017, Bent Mind Creative Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Sauce Magazine 1820 Chouteau Ave. St. Louis, Missouri 63103.
PH: 314-772-8004 FAX: 314-241-8004