A jam, or a butter, or a conserve? Honestly, I don’t even know. Do you ever have those food preserving (or cooking, or baking, etc.) moments when you think to yourself, “I have no freaking clue what I’m making, but… fingers crossed it works and tastes half way decent”? My sentiments Thursday evening when I was asked, “remind me again, what is it exactly that you’re making?!” While perusing the local farmers’ market last weekend, post yoga, hungry, and feeling creative, I found myself day dreaming of the savory flavors of the roasted onion jam that I made a couple years ago. Caught in that late winter come early spring produce limbo (i.e. no fresh fruits or anything close to resembling it), I found myself thinking, “aside from pickles what other preservation method can I employee this week?” I spotted a bountiful bunch of carrots and scallions at the Maple Springs Garden farm stand and thought to myself, “is carrot jam even a thing? hmm…”.
Sweet, tart, weirdly apricot tasting, and somewhat resembling something you may have tasted at an Asian restaurant, the set of this experimental jam shocked me when I woke up this morning. “Holy crap it worked!” I find myself torn over whether to call this a jam or a butter as the texture is more of a butter, but the preservation method follows that of a classic jam. Nonetheless, enjoy this roasted carrot jam atop toasted bread or savory crackers, paired with a mild cheese and salty cured meat.
“I mean if it were me, I’d add one tablespoon of bitters to EACH half pint… mmm!” If you haven’t gotten word of the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge yet then you may be wondering why I’m going marmalade crazy. Specifically booze marmalade crazy. I apologize in advance to all the food swap’ers at this month’s Bull City Food Swap. Guess what you’re getting? 🙂 Typically, I never make marmalade. But after this batch, I’m beginning to question why. It’s like eating candy out of a Ball Jar. After last week’s lemon vermouth marmalade experiment, I decided to play it safe with something a bit more attainable. Since moving to Durham, I have came to love the flavor of bitter cocktails. Perhaps it’s the creativity, or the wide range of craft bitters created right here in the Triangle, or maybe it’s just the bartenders…
Anywho, for this month’s marmalade challenge I present to you blood orange marmalade finished with Angostura bitters. Depending on your preferences, I’d suggest adding 3-5 tablespoons of bitters. Adding the bitters right before the set point ensures that the flavor of the bitters doesn’t burn off. With the expected bitter flavors exhibited by the orange rinds this marmalade delivers a perfect bitter sweet punch. Enjoy!
“I suggest a sweet vermouth”, “I’d go with a dry white vermouth… Dolin Dry?”, “I agree, what about something like Cocchi Americano Bianco?”. Apparently it’s extremely easy to get booze based marmalade advice around Durham. Who would have thought? 😉 Tis the marmalade season and ’tis the booze based preserves season… Last week Marisa from Food in Jars announced a year long Mastery Challenge. As I just missed out on the Tigress Can Jam held back in 2010, I immediately jumped on the band wagon. Up first, marmalade… both a challenge for me as I’ve only made it once, and second because I knew I wanted to make it vermouth based. You may have noticed that the title of this recipe includes the word experiment. The struggle with booze based jams/jellies/marmalades is the loss of booze flavor during cooking, plus the inundant sugar necessary for a set. As my goal was to retain the vermouth flavor, I decided to play around with two different vermouths and two different marmalade processing methods. Plus, with nearly a foot of snow fall in Durham this week, I had plenty of time on my hands.
My initial hypothesis was that the 2 cups of sugar would overwhelm the flavor of a sweeter white vermouth (Cocchi Americano Bianco) and that the dry white vermouth (Dolin Dry) would offer a more pungent flavor backed by the lemon and sugar. To initially test this hypothesis I made two sugar, lemon juice, and vermouth drinks. Surprisingly, I was wrong, the Cocchi presented a stronger lingering flavor. For the first vermouth/method I followed Marisa’s small batch marmalade method found here. This resulted in a thicker consistency with less booze flavor. I figured that cooking the lemons for 55 minutes before processing them into marmalade caused too much vermouth flavor loss.
Happy December! Happy belated turkey day as well! I have an important question up for debate: when you think of warm winter boozy drinks do you think of a) hot toddies, b) hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps, c) mulled red wine, and/or d) hot cinnamon apple cider with schnapps? By no surprise, I personally think of hot cocoa with any type of booze. Recently my friend Ed invited me over to learn and assist in his homemade eggnog making shenanigans. At that point, I was pretty sure that I had tried real eggnog before. Walking in to Ed’s kitchen and laying eyes on the 2 liters of bourbon, 1 quart of brandy, and 1 quart of rum, I realized that I had not in fact tried real eggnog before, tasting our creation, 100% confirmed that uncertainty.
Following in the tradition of my last three “booze jelly” winters, I figured it was time to dust off my limited, yet growing, bar. Browsing the web, I searched for top warm winter cocktails… Schnapps, schnapps, and more schnapps. Peppermint schnapps. Knowing from experience that booze plus sugar doesn’t equal jelly, I decided to search for peppermint & apple cider cocktails. While any bartender guru (just sayin’) may find this combo a bit undetectable, I made myself a cocktail (OK two- one warm, one cold) and deemed it pretty tasty and definitely worthy of some homemade jelly play. Depending on your peppermint flavor yearnings, you may need to either up your schnapps volume (careful as this will add liquid volume adjusting your liquid to sugar to pectin ratio), or add a few drops of peppermint extract right before pouring the jelly into the jars. Warning, peppermint extract is crazy strong compared to other pantry extracts.
My very first week in town at my very first Downtown Durham Market last summer I came across the Waterdog Farms stand, a small tea farmstead located north of Durham and Hillsborough. From across the stall, I couldn’t help but notice their axolotl (google it) logo! I probably came off as very rude, as the sight of that sign took me daydreaming back to my days of newt and amphibian pet keeping. Snapping out of it, I noticed these odd hibiscus fruits. I had figured that hibiscus flowers bloomed out of something, but I was never aware of hibiscus fruits, also called rosellas. Made up of a seedpod and a stout fleshy red calyx, rosellas can be used in a variety of culinary ways including: tea infusions, food coloring, and jams and preserves. The plan was to pickle them, but when I figured out exactly what they were, jam seemed like a better bet.
I scooped up a hearty pint of rosellas, a huge stalk of fresh ginger from Waterdog, and grabbed some fresh blueberries and citrus from my local grocer. Depending on your process, the seedpods are in fact a great source of pectin. My attempt didn’t go so well as I forgot to cover the pot and all my pectin evaporated off, but if you simply cover and boil the seedpods in just enough water for 10-15 minutes you will get rosella derived pectin. Great for jams and jelly making! A tart somewhat bitter, mildly sweet, and vibrantly red jam. Serve this jam as you would any berry jam. My choice will be atop a scone or a fresh-out-of-the-oven biscuit.
© 2017 Erin A. Urquhart All Rights Reserved.