High Bush Cranberry and Jalapeno Jelly

 

High Bush Cranberry and Jalapeno Jelly

High Bush cranberries, or Virburnum trilobum, grow wild in New Brunswick and while aren’t actually a part of the cranberry family, their bright red berries create a stunning jelly like their buddy the low bush cranberry. I was lucky enough to harvest some ripe and ready berries from my friend April‘s country home. While one baby played in the grass, two kids chased ducks and chickens and with one baby on my back, we yanked and pulled and snipped those berries off the tree!

Thanks to some very helpful blogs and websites, I was able to put it all together to create a superb sweet and spicy jelly. Akin to a pepper jelly, it’s is incredible on a cracker with cheese, slathered on your grilled cheese or melted and used as a glaze for meat.

While this recipe is a bit time consuming with two different straining mixtures, the results and delicious and you have plenty of jars to show for your effort. The juice yield from your cranberries will vary on the ripeness of your berries. Any extra juice can be stored in your freezer or added to another fruit for a multi-fruit jam. Or, if you’d love to give this jelly a try but aren’t in a high bush cranberry growing zone, stop by our Etsy shop where this and other preserves are available for purchase.

Etsy---High-Bush-Cranberrie

High Bush Cranberry and Jalapeno Jelly

Yields: 6x250mL jars

Recipe inspired by: The Kitchen Magpie and Taste of Home

8 cups high bush cranberries, picked over and cleaned

3 cups water

3 chopped jalapenos, seeded and ribs removed (or not, if you like it really spicy)

1 cup vinegar

7 cups sugar

2 pouches liquid pectin

 

1. In a large pot, gently boil cranberries and water together for about 15 minutes, crushing with a potato masher to release the juice. Pour mixture in a jelly bag and measure out 3 cups of juice. Clean out your large pot.

2. In your clean pot, pour your 3 cups of juice and diced jalapenos. Bring to a gentle simmer until jalapenos have softened. Pour through cleaned out jelly bag or through a double-lined cheesecloth in a colander and measure out 3 cups of juice.

3. In your pot (no need to clean it out), add cranberry-jalapeno mixture, vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add in two pouches of pectin and return to heat, giving it a hard boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into sterilized jars with 1/4″ headspace and process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath.

Enjoy!

 

 

High Bush Cranberry and Jalapeno Jelly on Punk Domestics
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Haskap Maple Whiskey Jam

Haskap Berries

Haskap Berries

I read about haskap berries from the now defunct Harrowsmith Country Life and I was both intrigued and excited that a fruit that originated in Siberia proved viable for our Canadian climate, was hardy and had a taste that was a cross between a raspberry and blueberry.

We’ve been growing haskaps for more than 5 years now and rarely have I had more than a few berries. Between the destructive winters and our crow overpopulation, we’ve only enjoyed them this year. This year, my two little bushes were abundant and the crows distracted long enough for me to harvest over a cup and I was determined to make my first ever haskap jam.

Haskap Maple Whiskey Jam

Haskap Maple Whiskey Jam

Haskaps are tart with a unique flavour, but similar enough to blueberries to share in some flavour overlaps. I love blueberry and maple together, so I knew some maple whiskey would be the perfect companion to haskaps. I was gifted with Sortilège, a liqueur using both Canadian whiskey and maple syrup and a splash was all this jam needed to hit all the right notes. If you don’t have haskaps, try this liqueur with your next batch of blueberry jam.

 

Delicious in yogurt.

Delicious in yogurt.

Haskap Maple Whiskey Jam

Yield: 1/2 cup

1 cup haskap berries

1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar (depends on the sweetness of your berries)

1 tbsp. lemon juice

2 tbsp. Maple Whiskey Liqueur

 

Combine all ingredients but the liqueur and bring to a soft boil until the gel point is reached, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add liqueur, ladle into jars and boil for 10 minutes. (Click here if you need a refresher on safe water bath canning.)

Enjoy!

 

Haskap Maple Whiskey Jam on Punk   Domestics

Peach Vanilla Prosecco Jelly (Canning as a Love Song)

Peach Prosecco Jelly

It’s peach season, one of my favourite seasons and while peaches aren’t local to our region, I can at least be kept in good supply of beautiful peaches from the Niagara region.  Mr. Uncanny and I would visit many of those orchards when we were young and early married, living as students in Toronto and vacationing in the wine region, drunk on love and a few too many wine samples.

Peaches bring back fond memories for us but even more so about our daughter. I don’t post a lot about our family. I respect their privacy and their inability to approve of the pictures or stories I’d post. It doesn’t make me any less proud of them though and I often wish I could crow their accomplishments all day long. Honey Bear and her brother are my heart’s delight and being able to stay home with them, while balancing my creative passion through uncanny is a gift that I know many parents would love to enjoy.

Honey Bear’s birthday falls in the height of peach season and in fact, I was in early labour with her when making a big batch of peach conserve. I was 5 days overdue and determined to have a real gritty early labour experience, complete with laundry and jam making. I’d stir through each 2 minute contraction, clutching my back and trying to concentrate getting the conserve to the perfect setting point. It did. I called it my Pre-Game Jam and gave it out to the nurses and doctor at the hospital, but one jar remains in my pantry and I can’t bring myself to open it.

To me, that is the essence of canning. You bottle a moment, a season, a feeling, a wish. Everything I dreamed about our first encounter, all my hopes about her childhood, all my best wishes for her as she grew into an adult. All of it, as I stirred and stirred in the morning before we’d meet.

So this jelly is a love song to our girl. She turns 3 and like this jelly, she continues to sparkle and shine with sweetness.

Peach Vanilla Prosecco Jelly

Yield: 3x250ml

3.5 lbs peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped (reserve the peach skins)

2 vanilla beans, split and caviar removed

Juice of 1 lemon

2 cups sugar

1 cup prosecco

1 pouch of Certo liquid pectin

Directions:

1. Add vanilla beans and peach mixture to a slow simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, until softened, mashing with a potato masher.

2. Strain mixture in a jelly bag and measure out 1 cup of juice. (Save the pulp and the skin. I’ll tell you why in a minute.)

3. In a clean pot, add peach juice. prosecco and sugar. Stir and bring to a boil for a couple of minutes until all sugar has dissolved.

4. Add in liquid pectin and boil hard for one minute. Remove from heat and ladle into jars. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Voila!

** One of my favourite things to do with the peach pulp and skin is to turn it into a peach syrup, which I learned about from Homemade Trade. What a fantastic way to make those peaches stretch even further. There is still lots of flavour in the pulp and that vanilla bean still has ways to go. **

Cheers!

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Thinking Outside the Jar: Pepper Jelly Glazed Cheddar Scones

Pepper Jelly Glazed Cheddar Scones

I make a lot of preserves. I love selling at the Sackville Farmer’s Market and catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. There really is no better place to be on a Saturday morning. Each year, I make 20-30 different types of preserves and almost 400 jars of preserves. You’d think that I’d finally figure some things out, like, how to make a great jelly (strain, strain, strain!) or that if you don’t add enough underripe strawberries, you’ll never get a great set on a pectin-free strawberry jam. So, I continue to plod on, making rookie mistakes and plunking those jars of unsellable preserves in my pantry.

Well, I have almost 100 jars in my pantry. Too many. Way too many! Apparently, some lessons need to be learned over and over again.

Like jelly, especially pepper jelly. Maybe it’s just me, but when it’s hot and humid, I have the worst time getting a jelly to set properly. I’ve opened windows, I’ve closed windows and brought up a dehumidifier, I’ve tried canning first thing in the morning or really late at night and still, it can be endless jars of jelly that either set too quickly before I could gently tilt the jars and distribute the little bits or it’s a runny syrup. Often times, if it’s not a problem with the set, it’s a problem because I’m neither paying enough attention nor thinking through the steps and so another batch of preserves gets shipped off to the pantry.

This recipe utilizes one of those jars of unsellable jelly – a beautiful apple cider jelly and jalapeno jelly that is perfect and tasty but oh so cloudy. Natural apple cider has sediment and needs to be strained, preferably in a coffee filter, to make the jelly a beautiful amber hue. Since there is only so much pepper jelly one can eat on crackers, enter scones.

I’m a sucker for a sweet scone, but I had no idea a savoury scone could be so incredible. I made these for the end-of-the-year book club meeting with the additional jelly stirred into some cream cheese and ready to be slathered on the warm scones. They were flakey and rich and all the flavours worked well together. Even better that a lonely, neglected jar of jelly got a new life.

Pepper Jelly Glazed Cheddar Scones

Barely adapted from Canadian Living’s Green Onion and Cheddar Scones

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup cold butter, cubed

1 cup shredded extra old cheddar

1 egg

1 cup milk

2 tsp assorted fresh herbs – I used lemon thyme and chives

1/4 cup jalapeno apple cider pepper jelly, melted over low heat

Mix together dry ingredients and with a pastry knife, cut in the cold, cubed butter until it’s a coarse and crumbly mixture. Add in the cheese and herbs and stir.

In a separate bowl, whisk egg and milk together and pour over the dry mixture. Stir until barely combined and turn onto a lightly floured board and knead 10 times (Canadian Living is very specific on this and I’ve heard from other expert scone makers that ten is the magic number here). Roll or pat to about 3/4″ thick and cut out with a cookie cutter. I often use a 2″ round cutter as it seems the best size, or cut into fours for a traditional wedge shape. Place scones on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Glaze scones with melted jelly and bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Let cool before tucking in (that jelly is really hot and can scorch the roof of your mouth. Trust me on this.)

Enjoy!

Strawberry Marsala and Vanilla Bean Jam

Strawberries have arrived! For me, it’s the fruit that really marks the beginning of the summer season and I’ll go just about anywhere to get my hands on plenty of them. While my garden patch is doing well, it provides just enough for the occasional treat so it’s off for my yearly pilgrimage to the u-pick farm where I usually pick my weight in berries, put up the majority of them and freeze the rest. It’s labour intensive, but it’s brief and you have a year’s worth of sunshine to see you through to the following June.

This year, I was excited a new strawberry patch opened up nearby, saving me almost 1.5 hours of driving. Hick’s Berry Patch has beautifully laid out rows, each identified by their variety. It’s easy picking and the berries were wonderful.

Just don’t get lost en route…

An hour and 17 lbs of strawberries later and I’m armed and ready to start this year’s Strawberry Preservefest. While almost all of them were earmarked for Cocagne River Orchard, I saved the last bit for a spur-of-the-moment and late night attempt at something unique and really special. Born out of a necessity to use up some sweet Marsala wine I inadvertently bought for a Chicken Marsala dish, it’s a gorgeous, deep red jam with a beautiful set and rich flavour.

Strawberry Marsala and Vanilla Bean Jam

Strawberry Marsala and Vanilla Bean Jam

Yields: 2x250ml, 1x125ml

4 cups crushed strawberries

1.5 cups sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

1 vanilla bean pod, halved and seeds removed

1/4 cup sweet Marsala wine

1. In a large pot, stir vanilla bean seeds and pod in crushed strawberries. If possible, let sit and marinade for a couple of hours. Remove pod before boiling. (I rinse the pod off and put it in granulated sugar.)

2. Add sugar and bring strawberry/vanilla mixture and bring to a soft boil over medium heat. In about 10 minutes, check the gel point. Mine took about 14 minutes for a soft set and I tested using the frozen saucer test.

3. Once set to your liking, stir in 1/4 cup of Marsala wine and ladle into hot jars. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Strawberry Marsala and Vanilla Bean Jam on Punk   Domestics

What Grows Together, Goes Together

*****

Uncanny has some exciting news: For the first time in our history, we’ll be available for retail outside of the Sackville Farmer’s Market! We’re very excited to be working with Cocagne River Orchard a family run apple orchard located in beautiful Cocagne, New Brunswick. Owners Denis and Nicole are long-time supporters of buying local and living gently on the land and uncanny is delighted to be working together, highlighting the best of South-East New Brunswick. The orchard is available as a u-pick, so when you’re done picking apples from their beautiful property, please visit their boutique where you’ll find a wide range of uncanny products and other interesting finds.

*****

On the theme of growing and going together is a really special preserve that has been crafted from the abundance of local and readily available ingredients. A helpful way to look at flavour combinations is to tour your garden and look at what’s in season and chances are, those flavours will compliment each other. Right now the rhubarb season is winding down, the strawberries are turning red on the vine and the roses are in full bloom. All the makings of a lovely, summery preserve!

If you’ve never preserved with rose petals before, as I hadn’t, give it a try! Here are just a few benefits:

1. They make your kitchen smell like a fairy tale.

2. They are easy to harvest. Nip them in the bud stage and  give them a 2 minute bath in cool, soapy water and a thorough rinse to ensure no bug friends join the party. They open during the day and the petals are ready to fall out by the evening. Super easy harvesting.

3. The flavour is really subtle. I was worried the preserve would taste like a funeral home, but it added just the right amount of floral note. Don’t worry, this is not a jam you’ll be dabbing behind your ears!

My strawberries weren’t perfectly ripe but I wanted them included in the preserve so I opted for my homemade Strawberry Liqueur. All together, you have three beautifully pink ingredients.

I went with a French style with this preserve, letting the rhubarb macerate for a couple of days before boiling the syrup and adding the remaining ingredients back in. I think it’s a darling of a preserve.

Rhubarb Rose Petal Preserve

2 3/4 pounds of chopped rhubarb

2 3/4 cups sugar

juice of 2 lemons

1/2 cup rose petals or petals from 2 small roses. Please make sure they’re unsprayed.

**Optional: 2 tbsp Strawberry Liqueur **

1. Slice the rhubarb and toss sugar and juice of one lemon together and pour into 9×13 pan. Cover with parchment paper and refrigerate overnight.

2. The next morning, strain rhubarb mixture and pour juices into a large pan. Add the juice of your second lemon with the strained rhubarb juices. Bring to a boil and reduce by about half. Stir in rhubarb and fresh rose petals and stir over low-medium heat until the preserve is cooked to your liking. I like a bit of texture, so I reduced my liquid to the setting point and added the fruit in. It didn’t take long to finish and the jam is chunky. If you want a smoother, more stewed-like jam, don’t boil the rhubarb juice as much and give your rhubarb extra time to cook and break down.

3. Remove from heat and stir in your strawberry liqueur. Pour into sterilized jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Perfect for Tea Time.

Rhubarb Rose Petal Preserve on Punk   Domestics

Goat Cheese – Take 1

I love making preserves, I really do, but after hundreds of different kinds made I’m itching to break into different forms of preserving and one of my stated goalsis to branch off into cheesemaking.This is take 1 of the Great Cheesemaking Experiment and thanks to the wonderful blog notes from maggie’s farm, I had a wonderful recipe and tutorial. I made a very scaled back version of her recipe, but was still satisfied with the amount it made. Maggie suggests really fresh goat milk and since I’m a member of a CSGS (Community Supported Goat Share), I pick up my freshly pasteurized goat milk every Saturday morning for the incredible price of $2.50/L. I figured even if the cheese didn’t work out, it was hardly a risky financial venture. (For more interesting information on CSGS and the trials and tribulations of my local goat farmer, see the CBC article and video found here.)

Sunday afternoon, in went the litre of goat milk into a medium sized pot set over low heat (my range goes from minimum to 5 and I kept it around a 1.5). If you have a candy thermometer it comes in handy as mine had the attachment to rest on the side of the pot, unlike my meat thermometer. Stir frequently. Your goal is 175 degrees, which takes about 30-40 minutes to reach.

How It Begins

Once it has reached the proper temperature, we dropped it down to the minimum heat setting and kept it there for 10 minutes before removing from the heat and stirring in 1/2 ounce of white vinegar, covered the pot and let it sit for five minutes. Realizing it wasn’t enough to separate the whey from the curds, we added an extra 1/4 ounce for a total of 3/4 ounce of white vinegar. We covered the pot for another five minutes and was rewarded with this:

Separating the Curds from the Whey

We poured it into a fine mesh cheese cloth, hung it from a cupboard knob and let it drip overnight. Easy peasy.

Strain

Mr. Uncanny went ahead and mixed in the salt the following morning (with unknown quantities, I was a little groggy and pre-coffee and didn’t think to ask). Shaped it and threw it in the fridge and I enjoyed a little hunk of it tonight with some cranberry preserves. It was a delicious, mild cheese that adapted itself well to sweet and savoury. It did lack the distinct tang you expect from a goat cheese and reminded me of a paneer. Still, as from maggie’s farm points out, you’re a cheesemaker and that’s a pretty fantastic accomplishment!

Behold: Goat Cheese!

I wonder what’s next…