Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Jams: Peach/Huckleberry and Apricot

It may sound silly, but one of the things I knew I was going to miss the most about Oregon was blackberry season. It was a huge consideration for me when deciding whether or not to move (that and wild mushrooms and fresh off the boat tuna) Blackberries grow like weeds in the Willamette Valley and we would spend many weekends picking berries to can, freeze, and ferment.

I was very pleased to realize that I didn't have to give up berry picking, rather, I just had to switch which berry I would obsess over. In Montana the berry is huckleberry. They are much smaller than blackberries, grow closer to the ground, and involve slightly more difficult terrain, but they are worth it.

We came home from an hour or so of picking with about 8 cups of berries, plenty to make into jam all by themselves, but we decided that we wanted to save some for other purposes (mainly huckleberry pancakes). We chose to mix them with peaches and used Food in Jars Peach Jam recipe, substituting 3 cups of huckleberries for 3 cups of peaches.

Brian was also invited to pick apricots from a coworkers tree. We were not expecting there to be so much fruit! We came home with enough for two batches of jam.
For the first batch we chose a simple Apricot Jam recipe, but for the second I wanted to be a little more adventurous. I chose Apricot Jam Recipe with Noyaux, Spices and Bourbon. It was very unique and I got to try new things. I'd never cracked open an apricot pit to use the kernels in cooking before and it uses the candy method instead of pectin so I had the pleasure of standing over it and stirring it for what felt like forever. I'm now a huge fan of pectin.

The only changes we made to the recipe was we couldn't find cardamom pods so I used 1/3 tsp ground instead.

I liked the recipe, but I think I'd make a few changes next time. Ours boiled down a bit to much so we only got 5 half pints instead of 8. I think I would use the pectin method next time to save time, and get more jam. The lemon flavor came through a little strong, so I think next time I would use a little less lemon and a little more spices, maybe a little more bourbon too. All in all, it was a great recipe to try.

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