Rhubarb Ginger Jam

My English friend Tanya brought over a jar of this amazing jam, which her mother always made, and we finished it off in the first week.  So I decided to make a batch yesterday with my friend Donna.  It’s so unusual and so good. (Think it would be amazing on baked Brie!)

Tanya mentioned that the recipe was on BBC Good Food.  After much research, (what exactly is Jam sugar?) metric conversions and hard math, we came up with this recipe:

8 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ pieces
Juice and zest of 1 1/2 lemons
9 Tbsp pectin powder
1/3 cup finely diced crystallized ginger
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger root (Use more if you really like ginger)
8 cups sugar

Add everything except sugar into a large pot. On high heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly then reduce heat and cook for a few minutes until the rhubarb is soft. (I used rhubarb I chopped and froze after a hailstorm, and it got soft pretty quickly.) Be sure to continue scraping the bottom as the pectin like to stick there.

Add sugar and bring back up to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute. Ladle into prepared jars and can as usual.

Grean Apple Mulberry Jam

Maya and her friends were Beatles fanatics starting in middle school and referred to themselves for a time as “The Grean Apples” and later just “the Gaggle.” We gave the girls pretty much carte blanche to cook in our kitchen.  One day they got a wild hair to make Mulberry Jam, after picking a bucket of mulberries from Elmwood Park. Each girl got to take a couple of jars home and they had a blast making it.

3 lbs. mulberries
1/2 cup lemon juice
7 cups sugar
1 pkg liquid pectin

Wash berries. Put into a large pot and mash gently. Heat on low heat for 15 minutes, covered. Add sugar and lemon juice, and bring to the boil. Stir in the pectin, and keep at a boil for one minute, stirring constantly.

Pour into prepared jars and seal. (I think we had just run the jars through a hot dishwasher, but I can’t remember if we sterilized them.) We just kept it in the refrigerator and they were gone fast anyway.

Chokecherry Jelly

Choke_Cherry_01Chokecherries grow wild in Nebraska, sprouting a spike of white flowers in the spring and deep purple/black berries in the fall. They are blisteringly sour, but make delicious jelly or wine.

In 2011, Maya and I were driving along the main road at Niobrara State Park, and saw a large shrub/tree bobbing and swaying in a dozen different directions.

Slightly freaked out, we slowed down and realized that there were actually a flock of wild baby turkeys (poults) on a chokecherry feeding frenzy.

Since we love chokecherry jelly, we stopped at the park office and asked if it was okay to pick chokecherries. Reassured, we headed back into town and picked up sugar, pectin,  mason jars and an empty box to hold our berries at Farnik’s Market.

We found a chokecherry bush that was loaded with berries and started picking.  Just as we were finishing, calamity!  Maya slid down the hill, badly scraping her arm on the way.  We took our berries back to the cabin and washed and bandaged the worst of her scrapes.  Poor kid! She was a real trouper (as always) and still pitched in.

3 lbs. chokecherries to yield 3 1/2 cups of juice
4 cups sugar
1 box powdered Sure-Jell
1 cup mason jars (7 or 8) washed in hot soapy water, and rinsed with boiling water. (Leave the jars in the hot water until you’re ready to fill them.)

In a large pot, wash and remove berries from stems. Drain well. Add a cup of water to the berries, and cook on medium/low heat, stirring to break the berries open.

Lay a piece of thin fabric (we improvised with a cotton bandanna) in a colander with a bowl underneath and pour the berries in. Tie the corners together and let the juice drip out for a couple of hours. Then gently squeeze the berries to get out any remaining juice.

Add the juice and Sure-jell to a pot and bring to a boil. Add sugar and bring back to the boil for one more minute. Pour into mason jars, cover and lower them into a gently boiling pot of water. Keep the water simmering for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool.

Nebraska City Apple Butter (our version)

Nebraska City is home to Arbor Day Farm and Morton Orchards, which is famous for their apples. We love their apple butter, which Lied Lodge uses with sauteed apples to make amazing oatmeal. This recipes comes as close to their delicious apple butter as we’ve been able to get. Tart apples are great for this, but we often use a blend of whatever is looking good. Maya and I first made this on 9-24-08.

enough apples to make 9 cups crushed apples or apple sauce

5 cups sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup apple cider

Peel and quarter apples. Cook with cider until soft. Add everything else, and cook for one hour on low heat. Pour into sterilized jars and process as usual. Sweet, spicy and a little tart – it is so good.

Spicy Peach Jam or Sauce

peach jam finalUpdated August, 2019.  This recipe comes courtesy of Stephenson’s Apple Farm, a wonderful restaurant in Kansas City that no longer exists. It’s a sweet, spicy jam that I’ve never had anywhere else.  Make it without pectin for a wonderful, bright sauce for bread pudding, pancakes or ice cream.

5 cups of unpeeled peaches (3 lbs. – can cut into chunks and buzz them gently in a food processor, or just cut into small pieces and use as is.)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger powder
Scant 6 Tbsp  Pectin (I used Ball Classic Pectin)
5 cups sugar

Should fill 9- 10 half pint mason jars.

Sterilize jars in oven.  Boil lids for 5 minutes and remove from heat.  Create a water bath by filling a large stock pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer.

Put everything but sugar into a large kettle. Stir over high heat to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. (If using fruit in chunks,you may want to reduce heat and continue cooking until fruit is all soft.) Be careful to keep stirring the bottom – where the pectin can tend to clump.

Add all sugar and bring back to a full rolling boil. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off any foam that rises to the top. Stir and skim for 5 minutes. (The foam is edible, just doesn’t look nice in the jar.)

Ladle into clean mason jars, and follow regular canning procedures.

Note: My dear friend Donna got two lugs of beautiful Colorado peaches and we made Peach Jam and Rhubarb Ginger jam yesterday.  She showed me an easy way to sterilize jars in the oven, saving stovetop space. Here’s how to do it:

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Wash jars in hot soapy water and rinse, but do not dry. Place them upside down in a roasting pan and place in the oven. Bake 20 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly so you can handle them for filling. You’ll still sterilize the lids in boiling water, but can use a much smaller pan for that.

If you don’t have time to make the jam right when peaches are really good,  either buzz them in the food processor or cut them into chunks and freeze 5 cups in a freezer bag, laying the bags as flat as possible in the freezer.  Then when you’re ready, just add them frozen to the pot and make the jam as usual.