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End of the Year Spicy Marmalade with Kaffir Lime Leaf

31 Dec

The Makings of Something Great

I can’t think of a better way to cap off 2011 then with a preserve, especially this one. It represents the best of my year, a little spontaneous, a little spicy, definitely sweet and totally ready for celebration. I’m not sure what I’m most excited about, the fact that I managed to make this after a two month preserve-making hiatus, that I made this preserve quickly and while wearing a baby, or that it tastes delicious.

The uncanny clan are visiting with family near Toronto and a trip here always means one of our famous “ethno-grazes”, where we visit several spots in Toronto and load up on ethnic delights and refill our spice cabinet. This past trip meant a stop to Chinatown and returning with a big bag of kaffir lime leaves. While I normally reserve these leaves for my curries, one sniff and I knew I had a preserve in the making. Luckily, there were some lone oranges kicking around my father’s fridge that needed some love and some lovely dried chill peppers meant an interesting preserve could me mine.

It’s a very small batch, totally spur of the moment, but preserves can be that fabulous. While canning means more preparation with cleaning and sterilizing, but mini-batches means you can experiment and have a lot of fun discovering flavours you might like (or not!). I particularly liked this preserve and am looking forward to featuring this preserve over a chèvre and crackers for our New Year’s Eve celebration.

I opted for the largest orange in the fridge and sliced it using my favourite citrus slicing method a la Hitchhiking to Heaven. I tossed in about 1/4 cup of water and then added more orange juice as it softly boiled to prevent scorching, about 1/2 cup of liquid all total. Two small pieces of hot pepper were added and that was enough for a nice kick, but you can start judiciously and add more near the end if it’s not spicy enough. 4 kaffir lime leaves seemed the right amount, so adjust accordingly if you’re making a larger batch.

Let the mixture softly boil until the orange slices turn to mush when you squish them between your fingers, or eat a slice and when its softened to your liking, add your sugar (I added to taste).

Voila!

To try this yourself:

Spicy Marmalade with Kaffir Lime Leaf

Yields: 1 cup

1 large orange, cleaned and scrubbed, quartered with the middle pith removed and thinly sliced

4 kaffir lime leaves

1 inch piece of dried hot pepper

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup water/orange juice (approx.)

1. Combine orange slices, hot pepper and kaffir lime leaves and water/juice and bring to a low simmer, cover and stir occasionally, about 40 minutes.

2. Put a dish in the freezer to test for gel point.

3. When you’re happy with the softness of your citrus, add sugar and increase heat to medium-high and continue cooking until the set point is reached. Remove hot pepper and lime leaves. Enjoy!

Honey Jasmine Tea and Peach Jam

31 Aug

I keep meaning to slow down. I *want* to slow down, I really do. All those prenatal exercise videos keep staring at me and my prenatal clinic keeps reminding me about signing up for labour preparation classes (like I need a reminder of how it’s going to go – its labour! It’s long. It’s painful. It’s not for the faint of heart,  but you get a cool present at the end.)

So, I jokingly blame canning and preserving bloggers for keeping me from nesting. Particularly bloggers much further south of me that come into their fruit season a good 3-4 weeks ahead of me. I’m taunted by some drool-worthy food photography and the most incredible sounding recipes with bold combinations that I just keep squirreling away until my turn arrives. Everyday I seem to be canning just one more preserve, while I tell myself that eventually I’ll get around to preparing for 2.0′s arrival (in a way, I am preparing, right?!) Besides, I’d take a well stocked preserves pantry over a pristine nursery any day!

So, I present this gem of a jam – Honey Jasmine Tea and Peach Jam. Initially inspired by Buffy and George’s recipe for Peach Jam with Honey and Earl Grey Tea, my jam is a riff on theirs and makes use of an ingredient I’ve been longing to try for years: loose leaf tea. I loved the colour of their jam and how the brightness of the peach was still intact and yet the subtle tea flavour still shone through. If you haven’t tried preserving with tea, give it a whirl. This jam had the lovely aroma and flavour of green tea, without being too tannic or punchy. It was delicious on an afternoon scone and I think the floral peach and Jasmine tea combo is a winner.

Honey Jasmine Tea and Peach Jam

Honey Jasmine Tea and Peach Jam

Adapted from: Peach Jam with Honey and Earl Grey Tea from Buffy and George

4 cups peeled, chopped peaches (if you want a smoother texture, mash with a potato masher)

1 tsp good quality loose leaf Jasmine Green Tea

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup lemon juice

4 tsp calcium water

3 tsp Pomona’s pectin

1. Combine chopped peaches with 4 tsp of Pomona’s calcium water, loose leaf tea and lemon juice in a large preserving pot/pan. Let stand for 10 minutes, giving the tea time to rehydrate.

2. In a bowl, measure out your sugar and stir in 3 tsp of Pomona’s pectin. Measure honey and reserve.

2. Bring peach mixture a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 2 minutes. Stir in sugar/pectin mix and reserved honey. Boil for another 2 minutes. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars with 1/4 inch headspace and process for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Can You Can It? – Highbush Blueberry Lemon Verbena Jam

7 Aug

For those unfamiliar with uncanny‘s whereabouts, we’re nestled at the farthest south-east tip of New Brunswick, on the border with Nova Scotia. Oxford, Nova Scotia, a little town about half an hour away that has the honour of being the wild blueberry capital of Canada. With our acidic soil, we produce some really great blueberries, both wild and highbush.

Highbush Blueberry

 

Since wild blueberry season is still a few weeks off and anxious for blueberries, my family and I decided to head out to a highbush blueberry u-pick. The highbush blueberry is about triple the size and is incredibly easy to pick. While I normally hold off until wild blueberry season, Mr. Uncanny has recently become a real homebrew whiz and after a very successful batch of strawberry wine, he decided to try his hand at blueberry wine and it turns out highbush is the way to go.

 

With a scant 1 lb remaining from the 8 lbs we picked, I decided to make the highbush blueberry shine with the help of some citrus and some citrusy herbal goodness growing in my garden. This jam was a lot of fun to make for two reasons: 1. I’ve never made a micro-mini batch of jam 2. Small batches are perfect for the fridge and I didn’t have the heat and steam of a boiling water bath on a hot summer day and 3. I rarely make jam for home consumption. People love to joke about how much jam we consume and it’s true, we love our jam and find unique ways to eat it, but truthfully, it’s the dribs and drabs after I’ve finished bottling them. Most jams get purchased and it’s only in the case of very large yields or double batches that I keep a jar for our use.

 

I humbly present to you my ode to the highbush blueberry and my entry into the Can You Can It? contest:

Highbush Blueberry Lemon Verbena Jam

Yield: 2×250 mL jars

1 lb highbush blueberries, washed and stemmed

1 lemon, quartered, sliced thinly with middle membrane removed (see photo)

7 leaves of lemon verbena, rinsed and sliced

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup water

Blueberries and Lemon Verbena

Lemons

 

Directions:

1. Put saucer in the freezer.

2. Place quartered, sliced lemon with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water and simmer over low heat until lemons have softened, about 10 minutes.

3. Add in blueberries and lemon verbena and increase heat to medium.

4. Stir until blueberries begin to break down and add remaining 3/4 cup sugar.

5. Continue boiling over medium heat until the gel point is reached on your frozen plate test. For me, it was about 5 minutes.

6. Pour into jars and refigerate, or, pour into sterilized jars and boil in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Highblush Blueberry Lemon Verbena Jam on a Croissant

 

I enjoyed it almost straight away and admittedly, the citrus is outnumbering the lemon verbena, but I know better than to judge a jam by it’s first bite. Time and mellowing can do wonderful things with a jam and I have no doubt the herbal citrus flavour will shine through. If not, it’s still tasty! Enjoy!

*Guess the Jelly Contest*

29 Mar

Can you guess the specific type of jelly I’ve made with the following ingredients? It’ll be tempting to name the predominant flavour, but the key is the supporting players that are adding a unique and specific type of flavour. Guess the correct jelly and you might win a jar! Please note: lemon and orange rind couldn’t attend the photoshoot, but are present in the jelly.

Those that guess correctly will be entered into a draw for a jar.

Guess the Jelly

Guess the Jelly

Winner will be announced next Tuesday, April the 5th. Contest limited to residents of  Canada and the U.S.

Blueberries!

18 Aug

One of the joys of living in the Maritimes is access to the most delicious and sweet wild blueberries. They are a real joy to work with and these small but mighty berries are a testiment to the enduring Maritime spirit. I’ve made some exciting preserves to celebrate blueberries this week, from preserves with a hint of lime to a true French style preserve with real lemon slices, to a refined-sugar free spread with apples (sweetened with apple juice concentrate).

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