Category Archives: Jams

Perfect Peach Marmalade Recipe

Peach Marmalade
Peach Marmalade

For as long as I can remember, peach marmalade has been part of our family’s pantry of preserves.  As a small child, I remember the yearly ritual of my great grandmother (who we always knew as “Gram”) making peach marmalade.  And a ritual it was.

Ontario Peaches
Peaches

The Ontario baskets of peaches were highly anticipated each August and we would pick up a basket for Gram, carefully inspecting each peach to ensure it was free of blemishes (lest we hear about it) and ensuring we had one of the large baskets with just the right amount of peaches in it. We would hunt down the best orange we could find (it had to be juicy and, at that time, that was hard to find in August when oranges were out of season), and a small bottle of red maraschino cherries.  We would ensure Gram had all the supplies and she would carefully and tediously get the pulp prepared for the revered peach marmalade.  Then, the following day, she and my grandmother would spend the day together making this special marmalade, slowly cooking and gently stirring it over the wood stove. I think my great grandmother savored every minute of its production as much, I suspect, as eating the actual marmalade.

Peach Marmalade
Peach Marmalade

You see, in my great grandmother’s day (she was born in 1883), peach marmalade was considered a luxury and was not the type of preserve that just anyone in our area made.  My ancestors of the day would have been familiar with strawberry, raspberry,  blackberry, black currant, and pumpkin jams but that would have been about the extent of the repertoire of preserving. These would have been items that would have been grown locally on their farms or, in the case of raspberries and blackberries, probably along the roadsides near their homes.

Peaches
Peaches

Where my great grandmother got the recipe for peach marmalade, I have no idea but my best guess is probably in the local newspaper.  This marmalade would have been cooked on an old wood stove and I always marvel at how the cooks of the day were able to produce what they did because the heat was not easy to control. Today, when I think of myself in comparison to my great grandmother, I have a completely computerized stove that produces consistent and accurate heat all the time.

Peach Marmalade
Peach Marmalade

The recipe I use today is a modified version of my great grandmother’s which was passed down to me with the list of three ingredients (peaches, oranges, and maraschino cherries) and a method that was somewhat vague on the details. The batch that my great grandmother made was more than three times the size of the one I make. Here’s how the instructions read: “Over the peaches and oranges, put white sugar. Let stand overnight. In the morning, add a bottle of maraschino cherries cup up. Also add the juice and boil slowly on back of stove until thick. Then bottle.” If you weren’t someone who had some experience making jams and marmalades, this would not have been much to go on. For example, how much sugar? Those with experience will know that, as a general rules of thumb and in the absence of any information to the contrary, it is typically, cup for cup, sugar-to-fruit pulp but, for an inexperienced cook, I suspect most would not have a clue about the amount of sugar needed for a successful batch of the marmalade.

Over the years, I have adapted this recipe and certainly cut it down in size as I don’t need the amount of jam that 24 peaches would make! I also don’t let the peaches sit overnight in the sugar because I don’t think it is necessary and I think it would discolor the peaches. I also add a bit of lemon to my marmalade, have defined how many cherries are needed, and have omitted the cherry juice because I think it discolors the wonderful peach color of the marmalade. The other ingredient I have added is Peach Schnapps.  My teetotaler great grandmother would be horrified as I can confidently state she would not have had such a liqueur in her house! Anyhoo…….

Peach Marmalade
Peach Marmalade

I am not sure how my great grandmother, a widow living alone by this time, would have eaten up this much peach marmalade but a new batch was made annually. Whether she ate it with homemade bread toasted over her wood stove or whether she served it in a small custard dish with biscuits for a light tea/supper, I am not certain. All I know is that, up until the time she died at the age of 99, the peach marmalade was made every year. After she was no longer able to participate in its production, my grandmother made it on her own so my great grandmother would continue to enjoy it. After my great grandmother passed away, however, my grandmother did not continue the annual tradition of making the peach marmalade.

Peach Marmalade
Peach Marmalade

I can’t say that making peach marmalade is an annual tradition with me.  I do, however, make it many years and I always think of my two grandmothers and their tradition with this marmalade.

Peach Marmalade
Peach Marmalade

Making this marmalade will take a little time as it has to simmer on the stove for about an hour or so. Don’t overcook it (it does not need 2 hours of cooking like my great-grandmother’s instructions said) as it will become too thick and lose its spreading quality and wonderful color (it will become very dark). The marmalade can be made without the Peach Schnapps, of course. The liqueur, however, does deepen the peach flavor a bit. Don’t go overboard on the liqueur as it not only will be too intense but the liquid content will alter the consistency of the marmalade. If you choose not to include the liqueur, you may wish to add a half teaspoon of almond extract, although that is not mandatory either.

Ensure the jars are sterilized before filling with the marmalade. Leave about 1/4″ headroom in each jar. Ensure they are properly sealed with heated lids. I recommend that the jars be processed in a canner with a hot water bath for 10 minutes, following the canner manufacturer’s instructions.

Peach Marmalade
Peach Marmalade

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Peach Marmalade

Ingredients:

7 large peaches, washed
Zest of orange
1 medium-sized orange, seeded and chopped into small pieces
Zest of ½ lemon
½ medium-sized lemon, seeded and chopped into small pieces
1/3 cup maraschino cherries, finely chopped
1½ tbsp Peach Schnapps (optional) or ½ tsp almond flavoring
Granulated sugar equal to amount of fruit pulp

Method:

Plunge peaches in boiling water for about 1 minute to loosen skin.  Peel.  Halve the peaches and remove and discard stones. Dice the peaches into small pieces, about ½“ in size.  Add the chopped orange and lemon along with the orange and lemon zest.  Measure the amount of the peach pulp, orange, and lemon.   Add an equal amount of sugar.  For example, if the total amount of the pulp equals 4 cups, add 4 cups of sugar.

Place 2-3 freezer-safe saucers in freezer.

Place pulp and sugar into a medium-sized stockpot.  Stir. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.  Reduce heat and simmer until mixture thickens and peaches are translucent, stirring occasionally. This could take about an hour, a little more or less*.  To test for doneness, place a small amount of marmalade on chilled saucer and swirl saucer around. Let marmalade sit, untouched, for about a minute, then gently push your finger through the marmalade.  If the marmalade holds its shape (i.e., does not run back together after the finger has been removed from the marmalade), it is set and ready to bottle.  If not, continue to cook mixture, repeating the “chill” test about every 3 minutes or so (always removing the pot from the heat while conducting the chill test) until the marmalade passes the “chill” test.  Do not overcook as it will result in a very thick marmalade, dark in color.

Remove pot from heat and skim off any foam that may still remain on the marmalade. Stir in cherries and Peach Schnapps (or almond flavoring).  Using a canning funnel, pour marmalade into sterilized jars, leaving about ¼” headroom in each jar.  Wipe the jar rims with a clean cloth. Seal jars with heated lids and fingertip-tightened ring bands. Process in boiling water canner, following canner manufacturer’s directions, for 10 minutes. Remove jars from hot water to cooling rack. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward. Refrigerate any jars that do not have lids curved downward and use within 1 month.

Yield:  Apx. 5 half-pints

*Note that it is difficult to give a precise cooking time for the marmalade since various factors, including the pectin level of the fruit and heat level of stove, can vary significantly and may affect cooking and marmalade-setting times. This is why the “chill” test is the recommended method for determining marmalade setting. It is recommended that the first “chill” test be conducted somewhere around the 45-50 minute point in the cooking process.  It does not necessarily mean that the marmalade will be done in that timeframe and more than one “chill” test may need to be performed.

 

Delicious Peach Marmalade made with fresh peaches, orange, lemon, cherries, and a splash of Peach Schnapps

Peach Marmalade

Peach Marmalade

Yield: Apx. 5 half pints

Delicious peach marmalade made with fresh peaches, orange, lemon, maraschino cherries, and a splash of Peach Schnapps. Serve on toast, biscuits, or dolloped onto vanilla custard for a tasty dessert.

Ingredients

  • 7 large peaches, washed
  • Zest of orange
  • 1 medium-sized orange, seeded and chopped into small pieces
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • ½ medium-sized lemon, seeded and chopped into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup maraschino cherries, finely chopped
  • 1½ tbsp Peach Schnapps (optional) or ½ tsp almond flavoring
  • Granulated sugar equal to amount of fruit pulp

Instructions

  1. Plunge peaches in boiling water for about 1 minute to loosen skin. Peel. Halve the peaches and remove and discard stones. Dice the peaches into small pieces, about ½“ in size. Add the chopped orange and lemon along with the orange and lemon zest. Measure the amount of the peach pulp, orange, and lemon. Add an equal amount of sugar. For example, if the total amount of the pulp equals 4 cups, add 4 cups of sugar.
  2. Place 2-3 freezer-safe saucers in freezer.
  3. Place pulp and sugar into a medium-sized stockpot. Stir. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture thickens and peaches are translucent, stirring occasionally. This could take about an hour, a little more or less*. To test for doneness, place a small amount of marmalade on chilled saucer and swirl saucer around. Let marmalade sit, untouched, for about a minute, then gently push your finger through the marmalade. If the marmalade holds its shape (i.e., does not run back together after the finger has been removed from the marmalade), it is set and ready to bottle. If not, continue to cook mixture, repeating the “chill” test about every 3 minutes or so (always removing the pot from the heat while conducting the chill test) until the marmalade passes the “chill” test. Do not overcook as it will result in a very thick marmalade, dark in color.
  4. Remove pot from heat and skim off any foam that may still remain on the marmalade. Stir in cherries and Peach Schnapps (or almond flavoring). Using a canning funnel, pour marmalade into sterilized jars, leaving about ¼” headroom in each jar. Wipe the jar rims with a clean cloth. Seal jars with heated lids and fingertip-tightened ring bands. Process in boiling water canner, following canner manufacturer’s directions, for 10 minutes. Remove jars from hot water to cooling rack. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward. Refrigerate any jars that do not have lids curved downward and use within 1 month.
  5. Yield: Apx. 5 half-pints
  6. *Note that it is difficult to give a precise cooking time for the marmalade since various factors, including the pectin level of the fruit and heat level of stove, can vary significantly and may affect cooking and marmalade-setting times. This is why the “chill” test is the recommended method for determining marmalade setting. It is recommended that the first “chill” test be conducted somewhere around the 45-50 minute point in the cooking process. It does not necessarily mean that the marmalade will be done in that timeframe and more than one “chill” test may need to be performed.
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Rhubarb Curd Recipe

Rhubarb Curd
Rhubarb Curd

I love rhubarb and use it in a multitude of ways.  Being a lover of lemon curd, I figured I would also like rhubarb curd so I set about developing and testing a recipe for it.  This delightful creamy curd can be used in the same ways as lemon curd  – sandwiching cakes together, spreading on scones, filling cookies, eclairs, macarons, and tarts, stirring into (or topping on) Greek yogurt for quick parfaits, and, well, its uses are only limited by your imagination!

Rhubarb Curd
Rhubarb Curd and Coconut Yogurt Parfait

Rhubarb curd is made with only five (5) ingredients – rhubarb, orange (juice and zest), sugar, eggs, and butter. The recipe I am including with this posting is the result of several testings. Here are my tips for successfully making rhubarb curd.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb
Rhubarb Patch

Either fresh or frozen rhubarb can be used for this recipe; however, I always advocate for fresh.  Try to select the reddest stalks you can find and ones that are blemish free.

Rhubarb
Rhubarb

Orange Juice and Zest

Wash the orange really well in hot, soapy water and scrub it with a vegetable brush. Rinse the orange well and dry it before zesting.

Use a citrus fruit zester to zest the orange. This should yield about 2 teaspoons of zest. This zesting process will release the aromatic oils from the orange that will enhance the flavor of the curd. When zesting the orange, take care only to remove the thin outside orange skin of the fruit and not the underlying white pith which is bitter.

Cut the orange in half and squeeze it to extract the juice. Alternatively, bottled orange juice may also be used.

Eggs

I have tested this curd using various amounts and combinations of eggs -i.e., different sized eggs, egg yolks only, and combining egg yolks with some egg white.

Eggs
Eggs

While all combinations I tried were acceptable, I found that my preference is to use 3 extra-large egg yolks combined with one medium-sized whole egg.  I always keep three sizes of eggs in my refrigerator – extra-large, large, and medium – because I use different sizes in different recipes and various combinations of egg sizes in recipes.  I find adding a bit of egg white to the curd gives a bit more fluidity and makes it more silky smooth.  Making the curd with only egg yolks tends to result in slightly thicker textured curd that has a more gelatin-like consistency which is not quite as satiny smooth as can be achieved by adding a bit of egg white.  It’s still tasty but just not as creamy. The photo below is of a curd made with egg yolks only.

Rhubarb Curd
Rhubarb Curd

Adding a whole extra-large egg adds too much liquid to the curd but I found that the addition of a medium-sized egg is perfect as there is just enough white in the medium egg to give the curd that little bit of fluidity without making it overly runny. The photo below is of a curd made with 3 extra-large egg yolks and 1 whole medium-sized egg.

Rhubarb Curd
Rhubarb Curd

I like the rhubarb curd to be soft but not overly runny or too thick – it should more or less stay in place when a dollop of it is added to the top of yogurt or dropped on to a scone or biscuit, for example.

Rhubarb Curd
Rhubarb Curd

The problem that often occurs with adding an egg white to a curd is that the white, or parts of it, can coagulate before being fully incorporated into the curd meaning the white goes from liquid form to a solid. Egg whites cook faster than the yolks so, no matter how much stirring, there can still be little bits of the coagulated egg white in the curd because, once the white has turned into solid mass, it can’t be liquified again. This is easily remedied, however, by straining the cooked curd through a fine wire mesh sieve to remove any little bits of egg white remaining. You would think the thickened curd would not drip through the sieve but, amazingly, it does! Don’t skip this step.

Sugar

This curd is best made with caster sugar which you may know by any of the following names: Fruit sugar, instant dissolving sugar, berry sugar, or super fine sugar. This sugar is extra fine. It dissolves much faster than granulated sugar and is commonly used in making simple syrups used in cocktails because it leaves no “gritty” texture. Regular granulated sugar may be used but, if a pure silky smooth curd is the goal, I recommend using the caster sugar.

Method

Making rhubarb curd takes time. I do not recommend making the rhubarb curd in a pot directly over the heat source because it is very easy to scorch the curd with the amount of sugar in it. My preference is to use a double boiler. If you don’t have one of these sets of pots, simply set a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water.

It’s very important that the top pot/bowl in the double boiler not touch the water in the bottom pot. The curd cooks from the steam heating the top saucepan of the boiler, not by contact with water. About 2” of water in the bottom of the pot is all that is required. Heat this water to the simmering point (around 200°F) and do not let it boil as this will cook the eggs in the curd too fast. This is when curdling can occur and the mixture will become lumpy and lose its smooth texture. The water should be kept at this 200°F temperature throughout the cooking process.  (Note that temperatures for the simmering water may need to be adjusted according to altitude.  The important thing is that the water not boil.)

I add the orange zest at the beginning of the cooking process because that’s when I think the zest can do the most to enhance the flavor of the curd. Simply stir the orange zest into the sugar in the top of the double boiler then whisk in the rhubarb juice.  Mix the egg yolks and the whole egg together in a small bowl, using a fork to lightly break them up. Whisk the eggs and softened butter into the sugar-juice mixture. Place this pot/heatproof bowl on top of the pot of simmering water.

The mixture needs to be stirred regularly as it cooks.  A whisk or a wooden spoon can be used to stir the curd. Be patient. This cooking process can easily take 20-25 minutes for the curd to thicken. Resist the urge to increase the heat to hurry the cooking process along. The curd, when cooked, will coat the back of a wooden spoon. However, the most accurate test is to use a candy thermometer – the curd is cooked when the temperature reaches 170°F.

The curd needs to be strained through a very fine wire mesh sieve to remove any bits of the coagulated egg white along with the orange zest. The zest has done its duty by releasing flavor into the curd. There is no harm in leaving the zest in the curd; however, if the goal is to have a perfect silky finish to the curd, strain out the zest.

Color and Texture

The color of the cooked curd will not be a vibrant red as was the rhubarb juice to start. The color becomes a paler salmon pink/soft orange color because of the addition of the eggs which dilutes the ruby red color of the rhubarb juice. The texture of the perfectly cooked curd should be silky smooth and very creamy, and the curd should bear a slightly glossy sheen.  The rhubarb curd will thicken slightly more as it cools. A true curd does not have any thickening agent (e.g., flour or cornstarch) added to it. The egg yolks are what naturally thickens the curd.

Rhubarb Curd
Rhubarb Curd

Storage

Transfer the strained curd to a hot sterilized jar.  Immediately place a piece of plastic wrap on the exposed surface of the curd in the jar, pressing it gently to ensure it is in direct contact with the entire surface of the curd. This will prevent a skin from forming on the curd as it cools.  Let the curd cool to room temperature then remove the plastic wrap, cover tightly with jar lid, and store in the refrigerate for up to a week.

Rhubarb Curd Spread on Muffins
Rhubarb Curd Spread on Muffins

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Rhubarb Curd

Ingredients:

10 oz rhubarb, chopped into ½” chunks
2 tbsp orange juice

2/3 cup caster sugar
2 tsp orange zest
3 extra-large egg yolks, room temperature
1 whole medium egg, room temperature
3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

Method:

Place chopped rhubarb and orange juice in medium-sized saucepan.  Cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is soft and mushy (about 5-8 minutes). Remove from heat and strain through fine wire mesh sieve to extract the rhubarb juice, squeezing as much juice as possible out of the rhubarb by gently pressing it down with the back of a spoon. This should yield approximately ½ cup rhubarb juice. Cool. Discard the strained pulp.

In bottom of double boiler, bring about 2” of water to the simmer point (around 200°F). Maintain the water at this simmer point over medium-low heat.  Place sugar in top of double boiler or heat-proof bowl.  Mix in the orange zest.  Whisk the ½ cup rhubarb juice into sugar.

In small bowl, lightly beat the 3 egg yolks and the whole egg together with a fork, just enough to break up the yolks and blend with the whole egg.  Whisk the eggs into the sugar and rhubarb juice mixture. Add the soft butter.  Place this pot or bowl over the simmering water. Stir the mixture continuously as it cooks until it is thickened and the temperature of the mixture registers 170°F on a candy thermometer.  Be patient as this may take 20-25 minutes. Make sure the water in the bottom of the boiler does not boil and stays only at the simmer point.

Remove curd from heat and strain through a mesh strainer to remove any of the egg white that may have coagulated as well as the orange zest.  Pour strained curd into a sterilized jar.  Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent it from forming a skin on top. Cool at room temperature. Remove plastic wrap. Cover jar tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Yield: Apx. 1 cup

*caster sugar may also be known as fruit sugar, berry sugar, super fine sugar, or instant dissolving sugar.
Note:  Altitude may affect the temperature at which the water reaches the simmering point. The important thing is that the water in the bottom of the double boiler does not boil or touch the top of the double boiler/heatproof bowl during the cooking of the curd.

Rhubarb Curd Recipe

Yield: Apx. 1 cup

A delightful creamy smooth rhubarb curd that is perfect for spreading on muffins, scones, or biscuit or adding to yogurt parfaits

Ingredients

  • 10 oz rhubarb, chopped into ½” chunks
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 2/3 cup caster sugar*
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 3 extra-large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 whole medium egg, room temperature
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • *caster sugar may also be known as fruit sugar, berry sugar, super fine sugar, or instant dissolving sugar

Instructions

  1. Place chopped rhubarb and orange juice in medium-sized saucepan. Cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is soft and mushy (about 5-8 minutes). Remove from heat and strain through fine wire mesh sieve to extract the rhubarb juice, squeezing as much juice as possible out of the rhubarb by gently pressing it down with the back of a spoon. This should yield approximately ½ cup rhubarb juice. Cool. Discard the strained pulp.
  2. In bottom of double boiler, bring about 2” of water to the simmer point (around 200°F). Maintain the water at this simmer point over medium-low heat. Place sugar in top of double boiler or heat-proof bowl. Mix in the orange zest. Whisk the ½ cup rhubarb juice into sugar.
  3. In small bowl, lightly beat the 3 egg yolks and the whole egg together with a fork, just enough to break up the yolks and blend with the whole egg. Whisk the eggs into the sugar and rhubarb juice mixture. Add the soft butter. Place this pot or bowl over the simmering water. Stir the mixture continuously as it cooks until it is thickened and the temperature of the mixture registers 170°F on a candy thermometer. Be patient as this may take 20-25 minutes. Make sure the water in the bottom of the boiler does not boil and stays only at the simmer point.
  4. Remove curd from heat and strain through a mesh strainer to remove any of the egg white that may have coagulated as well as the orange zest. Pour strained curd into a sterilized jar. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent it from forming a skin on top. Cool at room temperature. Remove plastic wrap. Cover jar tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Notes

Note: Altitude may affect the temperature at which the water reaches the simmering point. The important thing is that the water in the bottom of the double boiler does not boil or touch the top of the double boiler/heatproof bowl during the cooking of the curd.

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Rhubarb Curd

Rhubarb Curd

Luscious Lemon Curd

Homemade Lemon Curd
Homemade Lemon Curd

I adore lemon curd – luscious lemon curd –  that wonderful balance of lemon’s acidity and tartness with the sweetness of sugar. I love it so much that it’s a staple in my refrigerator.

Lemon Curd with Vanilla Greek Yogurt
Lemon Curd with Vanilla Greek Yogurt

Not to be confused with lemon pie filling, which is a different recipe altogether, this versatile heavenly creation known as lemon curd has so many uses – sandwiching cakes together, spreading on scones and biscuits, filling cookies, eclairs, macarons, and tarts, stirring into (or topping on) Greek yogurt for quick parfaits, as a topping on gingerbread or pancakes and, well, you get the picture – uses of lemon curd are limited only by your imagination, creativity, and your love for this divine creation!

Lemon Curd on Scones
Lemon Curd on Scones

Oh, heck, if I’m being honest, I have been known to eat it by the spoonful straight from the jar!

Homemade Lemon Curd
Homemade Lemon Curd

Lemon curd is made with only four (4) ingredients – lemons, sugar, eggs, and butter. While the basic ingredients won’t vary, the amounts of each used and the methods for making curd may differ.  Some cooks favor using only egg yolks, others claim best results using whole eggs, and then there is me who uses both egg yolks and a whole egg. Some wait until after the curd is cooked before adding the butter and lemon zest while others include these at the beginning of the cooking process. Some leave the zest in; others strain it out after the cooking process is complete. Some will cook the curd in a pot directly over the heat while others use a double boiler.

Fresh Homemade Lemon Curd
Fresh Homemade Lemon Curd

I have been making lemon curd for years and have tried different methods of cooking it and different amounts of the core ingredients. The recipe I am including with this posting is the result of many testings which allows me to share my tips for successful lemon curd making.

Lemon Curd Tart
Lemon Curd Tart

Lemons
Always use freshly-squeezed lemon juice – never bottled – for making lemon curd. Choose lemons that have a little spring to them when gently pressed – these will yield more juice than a lemon that is rock solid hard.

Wash the lemons really well in hot, soapy water and scrub them with a vegetable brush to remove any wax that is often applied to lemons before they reach the supermarket shelf. Rinse the lemons really well and dry them.

How many lemons will be required for this curd is difficult to say with certainty because it depends on the size of the lemons and how juicy they are.  The aim is to get ½ cup minus 1 tablespoon of juice (i.e., 7 tablespoons) AFTER it has been strained and the pulp and seeds removed. I can usually extract this amount of juice from 2½ to 3 average size lemons.

Use a lemon zester to zest one of the lemons, ensuring the lemon is blemish-free (now you understand why it’s important that the lemons be thoroughly scrubbed clean – the zest is going into the curd). This should yield about 2½ teaspoons of zest. This zesting process will release the wonderful aromatic oils from the lemon and will enhance the flavor of the curd. When zesting the lemon, take care only to remove the thin outside yellow skin of the lemon and not the underlying white pith which is bitter.

Lemon Zest
Lemon Zest

Cut the lemons in half and squeeze them to extract the juice. Strain the juice through a very fine wire mesh sieve to remove the pulp and seeds. Measure out 7 tablespoons of juice after this process, not before.

Eggs
I have made curd using just egg yolks, just whole eggs, and by using two extra-large egg yolks and one large whole egg.  I find the latter is my preference. I like the lemon curd to be soft but not overly runny or too thick – it should more or less stay in place when a dollop of it is added to the top of yogurt or dropped on to a scone, for example. My experience with making the curd using only egg yolks is that some of the soft texture of the curd is lost and it’s more of a gelatin-type texture and consistency. Using all whole eggs resulted in a curd that was too soft and runny for my liking, most likely because there was too much egg white added.  However, when I use two egg yolks along with one whole egg, the consistency is a lovely satiny creamy texture that is neither too runny or too solid.  The one egg white adds just enough fluidity to produce the desired consistency.

The problem that often occurs with adding egg white(s) to a curd is that the whites, or parts of them, coagulate before being fully incorporated into the curd meaning they go from liquid form to a solid. The whites cook faster than the yolks so, no matter how much stirring, one can still be left with little bits of the coagulated egg white in the curd because, once they have turned into solid mass, they can’t be liquefied again. This is easily remedied, however, by straining the cooked curd through a fine wire mesh sieve to remove any little bits of egg white remaining. You would think the thickened curd would not drip through the sieve but it does! Don’t skip this step.

Lemon Curd with Greek Yogurt
Lemon Curd with Greek Yogurt

Sugar
I have made the curd both with regular granulated sugar and with caster sugar which you may know by any of the following names: Fruit sugar, instant dissolving sugar, berry sugar, or super fine sugar. This sugar is super-duper fine. It dissolves much faster than granulated sugar and is commonly used in making simple syrups used in cocktails because it leaves no “gritty” texture at all. Regular granulated sugar works fine in lemon curd. The caster sugar does, however, provide a smoother textured curd so, if absolute perfection in this regard is your goal, I recommend using the caster sugar.

Lemon Curd on Biscuits
Lemon Curd on Biscuits

Method
Making a quality lemon curd takes time. This isn’t something I’d recommend starting 10 minutes before the curd is needed. I know some cooks do make the lemon curd in a pot directly over the heat source. However, I don’t go that route because it is very easy to scorch the curd with the amount of sugar in it and I think it cooks the curd too quickly causing potential curdling as it’s more difficult to regulate the heat.

My preference is to use a double boiler. If you don’t have one of these sets of pots, simply set a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water and “simmering” is the operative word.

It’s very important that the top pot/bowl in the double boiler not touch the water in the bottom pot. Before beginning to cook the curd, I recommend setting the pot/bowl over the water and lifting it to check to ensure the water is not in direct contact with the top of the double boiler/bowl. The curd cooks from the steam heating the top saucepan of the boiler, not by contact with water. About 2” of water in the bottom of the pot is all that is required. Heat this water to the simmering point (around 200°F) and do not let it boil as this will cook the eggs in the curd too fast. This is when curdling can occur and the mixture will become lumpy and lose its smooth texture. The water should be kept at this temperature throughout the cooking process.  I recommend periodically lifting the top of the boiler to ensure the water is not boiling. (Note that temperatures for the simmering water may need to be adjusted according to altitude.  The important thing is that the water not boil.)

I add the lemon zest at the beginning of the cooking process because that’s when I think the zest can do the most to enhance the flavor of the curd. Some cooks add the zest at the very end after the curd has cooked. However, in my opinion, that’s too late for the zest to release the lemon’s flavorful oils and to have much impact on infusing the curd’s flavor.  Some might argue that having the lemon zest in the curd during the entire cooking process could lead to a bitter taste in the curd. However, I do not find that to be the case as the curd is cooked gently and ever-so-slowly and away from the direct heat source. Simply stir the lemon zest into the sugar then whisk in the lemon juice.  Mix the egg yolks and the whole egg together in a small bowl, using a fork to lightly break them up. Whisk the eggs and softened butter into the sugar-juice mixture. Place this pot/heatproof bowl on top of the pot of simmering water.

The mixture needs to be stirred regularly as it cooks – lemon curd is not something that can be left unattended on the stove to do its own thing.  A whisk or a wooden spoon can be used to stir the curd. Be patient. Very patient. This cooking process can take 20-25 minutes for the curd to thicken. Resist the urge to increase the heat to speed the cooking process along. The curd, when cooked, will coat the back of a wooden spoon. But, the most accurate test is to use a candy thermometer – the curd is cooked when the temperature reaches 170°F.

The curd needs to be strained through a very fine wire mesh sieve to remove any bits of the coagulated egg white along with the lemon zest. The zest has done its duty by releasing flavor into the curd. There is no harm in leaving the zest in the curd; however, if the goal is to have a perfect satin finish to the curd, the bits of zest gotta go! In my view, it just really is not all that pleasant to be enjoying the creamy curd and suddenly bite into a chewy piece of lemon zest!

Luscious Lemon Curd
Luscious Lemon Curd

Color and Texture
The color of the cooked curd should be a natural brilliantly bright sunshiny yellow. The color comes from the egg yolks, lemon juice and, to some degree, from the lemon zest. The texture of the perfectly cooked curd should be silky smooth, very creamy, and the curd should bear a slightly glossy sheen.  Lemon curd will thicken slightly more as it cools.

Sunshiny yellow lemon curd
Sunshiny yellow lemon curd

A true curd does not have any thickening agent (e.g., flour or cornstarch) added to it. The egg yolks are what naturally thickens the curd. This is a key difference between lemon curd and lemon pie filling. Pie filling has a more gelatin-like consistency and is thickened with either flour or cornstarch. In contrast, lemon curd is softer, smoother, and of spreading consistency. Lemon curd also has a more intense lemon flavor than does the filling for a lemon pie.

Lemon Curd with Biscuits
Lemon Curd with Biscuits

Storage
Transfer the strained curd to a hot sterilized jar.  Immediately place a piece of plastic wrap on the exposed surface of the curd in the jar, pressing it gently to ensure it is in direct contact with the entire surface of the curd. This will prevent a skin from forming on the curd as it cools.  Let the curd cool to room temperature then remove the plastic wrap, cover tightly with jar lid, and store in the refrigerate for up to a week….if it lasts that long! Now, where’s the spoon…………

A spoonful of lemon curd
A spoonful of lemon curd

[Printable Recipe Follows at end of Posting]

Luscious Lemon Curd

Ingredients:
¾ cup caster* sugar or granulated sugar
2½ tsp lemon zest
7 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained (apx. 2½  – 3 lemons, depending on size)
2 extra-large egg yolks
1 large egg
3 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature

Method:
In bottom of double boiler, bring about 2” of water to the simmer point (around 200°F). Maintain the water at this simmer point over medium-low heat.  Place sugar in top of double boiler or heat-proof bowl.  Mix in the lemon zest.  Whisk the lemon juice into sugar.

In small bowl, lightly beat the 2 egg yolks and the whole egg together with a fork, just enough to break up the yolks and blend with the whole egg.  Whisk the eggs into the sugar-lemon juice mixture. Add the soft butter.  Place this pot or bowl over the simmering water. Stir the mixture continuously as it cooks until it is thickened and the temperature of the mixture registers 170°F on a candy thermometer.  Be patient as this may take 20-25 minutes. Make sure the water in the bottom of the boiler does not boil and stays only at the simmer point.

Remove curd from heat and strain through a mesh strainer to remove any of the egg white that may have coagulated as well as the lemon rind.  Pour strained curd into a sterilized bottle.  Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent it from forming a skin on top. Cool at room temperature. Remove plastic wrap. Cover jar tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Yield: Apx. 1 cup

*caster sugar may also be known as fruit sugar, berry sugar, super fine sugar, or instant dissolving sugar.

Note:  Altitude may affect the temperature at which the water reaches the simmering point. The important thing is that the water in the bottom of the double boiler does not boil or touch the top of the double boiler/heatproof bowl during the cooking of the curd.

Luscious Lemon Curd

Yield: Apx. 1 cup

Sweet and tart, this luscious lemon curd is a wonderful addition to scones, parfaits, and pastries

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup caster* sugar or granulated sugar
  • 2½ tsp lemon zest
  • 7 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained (apx. 2½ - 3 lemons, depending on size)
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature

Instructions

  1. In bottom of double boiler, bring about 2” of water to the simmer point (around 200°F). Maintain the water at this simmer point over medium-low heat. Place sugar in top of double boiler or heat-proof bowl. Mix in the lemon zest. Whisk the lemon juice into sugar.
  2. In small bowl, lightly beat the 2 egg yolks and the whole egg together with a fork, just enough to break up the yolks and blend with the whole egg. Whisk the eggs into the sugar-lemon juice mixture. Add the soft butter. Place this pot or bowl over the simmering water. Stir the mixture continuously as it cooks until it is thickened and the temperature of the mixture registers 170°F on a candy thermometer. Be patient as this may take 20-25 minutes. Make sure the water in the bottom of the boiler does not boil and stays only at the simmer point.
  3. Remove curd from heat and strain through a mesh strainer to remove any of the egg white that may have coagulated as well as the lemon rind. Pour strained curd into a sterilized bottle. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent it from forming a skin on top. Cool at room temperature. Remove plastic wrap. Cover jar tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Notes

Please be sure to read entire blog posting that accompanies this recipe as it contains important information and tips on successfully making lemon curd.

*Caster sugar may also be known as fruit sugar, berry sugar, super fine sugar, or instant dissolving sugar.

Note: Altitude may affect the temperature at which the water reaches the simmering point. The important thing is that the water in the bottom of the double boiler does not boil or touch the top of the double boiler/heatproof bowl during the cooking of the curd.

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Luscious Lemon Curd

Luscious Lemon Curd

Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam Recipe

Blueberry Jam
Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam

On my stove today was blueberry jam….but not just any jam…Blueberry AND Grand Marnier Jam!  Blueberry and orange are a great flavor combo so why not add a little kick to the jam by adding an orange-flavored liqueur. This does add a level of richness and flavor complexity to the jam.

Blueberry Jam
Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam

My berries came from the Tryon Blueberries U-pick in North Tryon, PEI.  These are high bush blueberries and picking them is quick and easy since the vines are loaded with large flavorful berries. No need to get down on the hands and knees to pick these blueberries!

High Bush Blueberries
Tryon Blueberries U-pick Field
Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

It takes probably no more than 10-15 minutes to pick a 5-pound box or bowlful and that’s generally from only 4-5 bushes.

This is an easy jam to make. I do use liquid pectin in the jam which gives it a soft set.  I find blueberry jam takes forever to cook and thicken if I don’t use pectin.  This is still a soft consistency jam that spreads easily and it is jam packed full of summer flavor!

Blueberry Jam
Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam

The berries need to be slightly crushed so that their juices get released quickly as this jam does not cook long.  Only crush a few berries at a time, using a potato masher, and make sure they are in single layers as you crush them so that each berry gets broken open.  There is no need to purée them as the idea is for the jam to still have some texture to it and not be completely smooth like a jelly.

Adding a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon rind provides an additional flavor boost to the jam.

Blueberry Jam
Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam

This is a super easy and quick jam to make. It is especially good on biscuits, scones, and toast.  It’s also quite delightful dolloped on top of custard or Greek yogurt for a simple and quick dessert.

Jam and Biscuits
Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam on Biscuits

[a printable version of recipe follows at end of post]

Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam

Ingredients:
4 cups crushed high bush blueberries (apx. 2 lbs)
3¼ cups granulated sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 – 85ml pouch Certo liquid pectin
¼ cup Grand Marnier liqueur

Method:
Wash berries.  Using a potato masher, lightly crush berries to release their juice, mashing about one cup at a time, single layer.

In bowl, mix sugar and spices together.  Stir in lemon rind.

Place crushed berries in large pot.  Add the sugar-spice mixture and lemon juice. Stir well and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring to prevent scorching. Once boiling, boil hard for 1 minute, stirring continuously.  Remove from heat and add the pouch of liquid pectin along with the Grand Marnier liqueur.  Stir for 5 minutes, skimming off any foam that may form.  Ladle into hot sterilized jars, filling to about ¼” from the top of each jar. Wipe each jar top. Cover jars with heated lids and screw on bands fingertip tight.  Store jam in refrigerator or cold room. For greater longevity, process in a hot water bath, following canner manufacturer’s directions.

Yield:  Apx. 7 half-pint jars

Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam

Yield: Apx. 7 - 1/2-pint jars

A quick and easy-to-make jam that is flavored with spices and Grand Marnier liqueur

Ingredients

  • 4 cups crushed high bush blueberries (apx. 2 lbs)
  • 3¼ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 - 85ml pouch Certo liquid pectin
  • ¼ cup Grand Marnier liqueur

Instructions

  1. Wash berries. Using a potato masher, lightly crush berries to release their juice, mashing about one cup at a time, single layer.
  2. In bowl, mix sugar and spices together. Stir in lemon rind.
  3. Place crushed berries in large pot. Add the sugar-spice mixture and lemon juice. Stir well and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring to prevent scorching. Once boiling, boil hard for 1 minute, stirring continuously. Remove from heat and add the pouch of liquid pectin along with the Grand Marnier liqueur. Stir for 5 minutes, skimming off any foam that may form. Ladle into hot sterilized jars, filling to about ¼” from the top of each jar. Wipe each jar top. Cover each jar with heated lids and screw on bands fingertip tight. Store jam in refrigerator or cold room. For greater longevity, process in a hot water bath, following canner manufacturer’s directions.
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Blueberry Jam
Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam

Gooseberry Jam

My grandmother had two small fruit-bearing bushes at the edge of her garden – a black current and a gooseberry.  Both were good producers despite their relatively small size and age.  I remember helping her to stem and tip the berries before they were made into jam. Every year, she would make a small amount of black current jam and the same of gooseberry, both of which would be very judiciously produced throughout the year as these were considered very special jams.  One did not eat these jams at the same rate as the more common strawberry and raspberry jams were consumed! I loved her black current and gooseberry jams!

Gooseberries are not altogether commonly found on PEI. However, Belangers U-pick near Hunter River has a small number of gooseberry bushes and I was fortunate enough this year to get enough to make a batch of gooseberry jam and the beautiful blush-colored gooseberries yielded me a stunning deep red-colored jam that has an almost translucent texture.

Gooseberries

Gooseberries

The only deterrent to gooseberries is that they have to be “tailed and stemmed” meaning both tips and stems have to be removed before doing anything with them. While this is a bit of a tedious and time-consuming task, it’s a small price to pay for a berry that yields such a tasty jam! Because of their small size, it takes a lot of berries to yield any amount of jam so that’s why jams such as black current and gooseberry are more rare and are thus often referred to as specialty jams.

Typically, in a berry jam, it is cup-for-cup,  sugar to berries.  However, with gooseberries, I find that the resulting jam is quite sweet so I reduce the sugar by a third of a cup.  This small reduction is not enough to make a difference to the jamming ability of the berries but it does reduce the sweetness just a bit. While my grandmother would never have put a splash of liqueur of any kind in her jam, I do add a couple of tablespoons of orange-flavoured liqueur in mine to deepen the flavour.  This is an optional ingredient but, nonetheless, good. The idea, of course, is moderation so only a couple of tablespoons will do and it’s not so much that you can taste the orange liqueur in the jam as it is the complexity and depth of flavour the liqueur subtly contributes to the jam.

Gooseberry jam is a thick jam and it is very easy to overcook it and end up with a jam that is so thick, it is hard to remove it from the jar.  Therefore, take care when cooking not to over cook it.

To test for jam “setting”, I recommend using the “chill-and-wrinkle” test.  Place 2-3 saucers in the freezer and, as the jam is nearing the end of its expected cooking time as indicated in the recipe, remove a saucer from the freezer and place 1 – 2  teaspoons of the jam on it.

Let the jam sit, untouched, for about a minute then gently push the jam with your finger to make a line through the center of the jam.  If the jam wrinkles slightly and stays in place (i.e., does not run back together after the finger has been removed), the jam is set and ready to bottle. This test may need to be done 2-3 times during the cooking process. Just remember to remove the pot of jam from the heat while conducting the test. If the first “chill-and-wrinkle” test is negative, return the jam pot to the heat, continuing cooking, and test again in about 3 minutes time or so.  Continue doing this until the jam passes the “chill-and-wrinkle” test.

I love this jam on toast, biscuits, scones, and croissants.  A dob of the jam on warm custard also makes a great dessert. Gooseberry jam also works well as a filler in thumbprint cookies or in anything where a sweet, showy red jam is desired.

I think my grandmother would be plum-delighted to know that I am continuing on with her tradition of making the cherished gooseberry jam…..even if I do add a splash of liqueur to the recipe!

Gooseberry Jam

2 lbs gooseberries (apx. 4 cups)
3 ⅔  cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
2 tbsp Cointreau

Wash gooseberries and remove tips and stems from the berries.

Place two or three saucers in freezer for use later in “chill-and-wrinkle” testing to determine if jam is set.

Place sugar and water in large pot. Over medium-high heat, bring mixture to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Then, add the gooseberries and Cointreau. Return mixture to a boil and cook rapidly, uncovered, and stirring occasionally for about 25* minutes or until mixture reaches the setting point.

To determine if jam is set, remove jam pot from heat and place 1 – 2 teaspoons of jam on cold saucer and swirl saucer around. Let jam sit, untouched, for about a minute, then gently push your finger through the jam. If the jam ‘wrinkles’ slightly and holds its shape (i.e., does not run back together after the finger has been removed), it is set and ready to bottle. If not, continue to cook mixture, repeating the “chill-and-wrinkle” test about every 3 minutes or so (always removing the pot from the heat while conducting the chill test) until the jam passes the “chill-and-wrinkle” test. Do not overcook as it will result in a very thick jam. Remove from heat and skim off any foam that may still remain. Pour jam into sterilized jars, leaving about ¼” headroom in each jar. Seal.

Store jam in refrigerator or cold room. For greater longevity, process in a hot water bath, following canner manufacturer’s directions.

Yield: Apx. 4 half pints

*Note that the 25-minute point is the stage at which the “chill-and-wrinkle” test should commence. It does not necessarily mean that the jam will be done in that timeframe. With jams, it is difficult to give a precise cooking time since various factors, including the pectin level of the fruit and heat level of stove, can vary significantly and may affect cooking and jam-setting times. This is why the “chill-and-wrinkle” test is the recommended method for determining jam setting.

Gooseberry Jam

Yield: Apx. 4 half pints

A deliciously rich deep red-colored jam. Serve on toast, scones, biscuits or croissants, in custard, or as a filler in thumbprint cookies.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs gooseberries (apx. 4 cups)
  • 3 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp Cointreau

Instructions

  1. Wash gooseberries and remove tips and stems from the berries.
  2. Place two or three saucers in freezer for use later in chill testing to determine if jam is set.
  3. Place sugar and water in large pot. Over medium-high heat, bring mixture to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Then, add gooseberries and Cointreau. Return mixture to a boil and cook rapidly, uncovered, and stirring occasionally, for about 25* minutes, or until mixture reaches the setting point.
  4. To determine if jam is set, remove jam pot from heat and place 1 - 2 teaspoons of jam on cold saucer and swirl saucer around. Let jam sit, untouched, for about a minute, then gently push your finger through the jam. If the jam ‘wrinkles’ slightly and holds its shape (i.e., does not run back together after the finger has been removed), it is set and ready to bottle. If not, continue to cook mixture, repeating the chill-and-wrinkle test about every 3 minutes or so (always removing the pot from the heat while conducting the chill test) until the jam passes the “chill-and-wrinkle” test. Do not overcook as it will result in a very thick jam. Remove from heat and skim off any foam that may still remain. Pour jam into sterilized jars, leaving about ¼” headroom in each jar. Seal.
  5. Store jam in refrigerator or cold room. For greater longevity, process in a hot water bath, following canner manufacturer’s directions.
  6. *Note that the 25-minute point is the stage at which the "chill-and-wrinkle" test should commence. It does not necessarily mean that the jam will be done in that timeframe. With jams, it is difficult to give a precise cooking time since various factors, including the pectin level of the fruit and heat level of stove, can vary significantly and may affect cooking and jam-setting times. This is why the "chill-and-wrinkle" test is the recommended method for determining jam setting.
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Gooseberry Jam
Gooseberry Jam

Crabapple Jelly

It’s apple season on Prince Edward Island and orchards are filled with trees bearing wonderful apples of so many varieties.  There’s nothing like heading to a U-pick orchard to pick your own apples.  I always pick several pecks each fall — in fact, sometimes it’s easy to get carried away and pick too many!  However, they do get processed into pies, crisps, sauces, and jellies.  Apples are very versatile!

Crab Apple Jelly
Crabapple Jelly

For apple jelly lovers, now is the time to make that rich  red crabapple jelly that is so flavorful.  The apples I used in the recipe I am sharing today came from Arlington Orchards in Arlington, west of Summerside, PEI.  I knew by the color of them that they would make a good jelly.  They are the Dolgo Crabapple variety.

Crab Apples
Crabapples

Now, apple jelly is not particularly difficult to make but it is a lengthy process and does take a bit of skill and know-how to get it cooked to the correct jelly state.

First, you have to wash and cut off the stem and blossom ends of the tiny apples.  Then, they have to be cooked to the “mushy” stage.   I take a potato masher and mash down any remaining chunks of apple after cooking as I find this helps the mixture to drip better once it is in the jelly bag.  The “mush” (pulp) gets bundled into a cheesecloth bag, tied, and hung over a bowl or pot to catch the juice dripping from the cooked apples.    I use a double weight of cheesecloth because I don’t want any apple seeds or pieces of apple peel coming through.  The objective is to have the juice as clear as possible so it does not make a cloudy jelly.  The aim is to have a transparent jelly.

Clear, transparent jelly
Clear, transparent jelly

The time-consuming process is waiting for the juice to slowly drip from the pulp in the jelly bag– it takes several hours and I usually leave it overnight.  The bag has to get suspended to allow the juice to slowly drip out.  I concoct a really “sophisticated” outfit for this — I simply hang the jelly bag on to a broom handle and suspend the broom between two chairs with a bowl or pot placed under the bag to catch the juice.  Really high tech, don’t you think!  Nevertheless, it works and gets the job done.

Once it’s apparent that there is no more juice dripping, discard the contents of the jelly bag. Measure and pour the extracted juice into a stock pot.  Add the sugar and lemon juice and start the cooking process.  I add sugar at the ratio of 3/4 cup sugar to 1 cup extracted apple juice.  Place 2-3 saucers in the freezer — these will be used to test the jelly’s state of “jellying”.  Once a small sample of the jelly is put on a cold saucer, placed in the freezer for a minute, removed, and starts to “wrinkle” when pushed gently with a finger, it has reached the jelly stage and is ready for bottling.

I don’t process my jelly in a hot water bath because I have a cold room in which to store the jelly over the time I plan to keep it on hand.  However, if you don’t have a cold room or space in the refrigerator in which to store the jelly, I recommend processing it in a hot water bath following the directions provided from the manufacturer for your canner.

Crabapple Jelly

Ingredients:

4 lbs crabapples
7 cups water

Granulated sugar (see Method below for amount)
3-4 tbsp strained fresh lemon juice
1 tsp butter

Method:

Wash apples.

Remove stem and blossom ends from apples.

Leave apples whole. Place in large stock pot.

Add the water.

Cook for approximately 40-45 minutes or until apples have softened and begun to break down into mush.

Gently mash any large chunks of apple with a potato masher.

Place a double weight of cheesecloth in a large colander.

Place the colander over a large pot.  Pour the apple pulp into the cheesecloth-lined colander.

Let mixture drip for about 20 minutes or so to get some of the initial juice out of the pulp.

Gather up the ends of cheesecloth and tie tightly with an all-purpose twine or heavy string, making a loop by which to hang the jelly bag to allow the juice to drip out.

Hang the jelly bag on a broom handle and support the broom between two chairs. Place a large pot or bowl under the jelly bag to catch the juice as it drips.

Allow this to drip on its own for several hours (i.e., at least 3-4) or overnight, until no more juice is seen dripping through. Resist the urge to squeeze the jelly bag to hasten the juice flow as this could cause some of the apple pulp to escape the bag resulting in a cloudy juice and jelly.

Place 2-3 saucers in the freezer. You will need these to test the jelly for “jellying” status.

Place six clean one-cup mason jars upright in a large pot. Cover jars with water and heat to 180°F to sterilize the jars. Keep jars hot until ready to use.

When jelly bag is done dripping, discard bag and apple pulp. To determine the amount of sugar needed, measure out the extracted juice and add ¾ cup of sugar for each cup of juice.

Pour juice into pot.

Add the lemon juice and sugar to the extracted apple juice.

Stir to dissolve sugar.

Add 1 tsp butter to reduce foaming.

Bring mixture to a rolling boil.

Continue to boil over medium high heat for about 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, then test for status of jellying.

To test for jellying, remove one of the saucers from the freezer and place a couple of teaspoons of the jelly on it. Place the jelly in the freezer for one minute. Remove it from the freezer and push the jelly gently with a finger. If it wrinkles, it is done.

If it doesn’t wrinkle, keep cooking the jelly, testing every 5-6 minutes until it is done. Do not overcook.

Skim off any foam that may still remain on top of the jelly.  Bottle hot jelly into sterilized jars, using a funnel, leaving between ¼” – ½” headroom . Wipe rims with clean damp cloth.

Heat jar lids and immediately place over hot filled jars. Finger tighten a rim band onto each jar.  Process in hot water bath following canner manufacturer’s directions. Allow jelly jars to sit at room temperature for several hours to set then store in cold room out of light.

Yield: 5½ – 6 cups

Crab Apple Jelly on Fresh Biscuits
Crabapple Jelly on Fresh Biscuits

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Zucchini Jam

Zucchini Jam on Tea Biscuits
Zucchini Jam on Tea Biscuits

Zucchini is one vegetable that seems to grow prolifically.  Come fall and many gardeners have an abundance of zucchini they don’t know what to do with.  Zucchini is actually a very versatile veggie that can be used in cakes, cookies, muffins, and jams.  I like to keep grated zucchini frozen and ready for use in various tasty baking products over the winter.  Another recipe I like to use zucchini in is this one for zucchini jam.  It is quite easy to make and is a great spread on toast, biscuits, or as a dollop on vanilla custard.  Its bright orange color makes it a showy jam.

Zucchini Jam
Zucchini Jam

Zucchini Jam

Ingredients:

6 cups grated zucchini (peel and seed zucchini before grating)

5 cups sugar

1 cup crushed pineapple, with juice

1 tbsp lime juice

3 tbsp lemon juice

1 (85g) orange jello

1 (85g) lemon jello

 

Directions:

Assemble ingredients.

1-DSC00692

Peel and seed zucchini.  Grate enough zucchini to make 6 cups, loosely packed.

Place zucchini and sugar in pot and boil, uncovered, over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in pineapple and the lemon and lime juices.  Bring to a boil.  Boil, uncovered, 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Skim off, and discard, any foam that may form.

Add jellos, stirring until incorporated and jellos are dissolved.

Pour into hot sterilized jars, leaving ¼” headroom on top of each jar.  Seal.

Store in refrigerator or, for longer storage, process the jam in a hot water bath, following the directions provided with your hot water canner.

Yield:  Apx. 7-8 half pints

 

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