Jammin’ in the okanagan

All jam-making normally starts with a nice little adventure of fruit picking. Here in Kelowna, BC, we harvest apricots from an abandoned tree by the university (if we get to them before the wasps) and heaps of raspberries from our backyard. Blueberries don’t really grow in the dry forests around here, but you can buy them for cheap from some farmers that cultivate them.

Once you’ve got the berries all you need is two large pots, some old jars and a bunch of sugar (and spices if you want to mix things up a bit).

The amount of sugar you need to add depends on if the fruit is sour or sweet. I normally just fill up with sugar so that it looks like the fruit/berries are somewhat covered. In most cases you don’t need to add water, the sugar will dissolve the fruit into nice a juicy jam.

When the jam is boiling (on low heat so that it doesn’t burn) foam will form on the surface. Remove the foam by scooping it off with a spoon since you don’t want it to end up in the jars.

Once the jam has boiled for a while and reached a nice consistency (it will be rinnier hot than once it’s cooled down), put the empty jars and their lids in a boiling water bath to kill potential pathogens and then while the jam and the jars are still hot, fill the jars with jam and seal the lids. Let the jars rest until they cool down, then the lids will pop down and seal. A lot of people buy new jars or lids, but I’ve always just used old olive jars or jam jars with their lids and it has worked just fine, as long as you make sure to boil everything.

The end result might look something like this:

Here are some of the flavour-mixes for this year’s harvest:

From the left: Apricot-ginger-cinnamon (made with fresh chopped ginger and cinnamon sticks), Raspberry-lime and Blueberry-vanilla (made with a dried vanilla pod that I cut open).

My favourite out of the bunch is the blueberry-vanilla one. It has a perfectly balanced sweetness and the hint of vanilla coats your mouth in a smooth and comforting way. I actually got the idea to combine bluberry and vanilla from a jam I got from my friend Amanda that she had bought in a cheese store in Umeå where they make cheese and jam pairings. It is considered a good complement to soft cheeses like a brie or a cambozola and I can guarantee that it sure is!

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