Tag Archives: jams & jellies

Lost in a jam session & can’t stop. Please send help…and toast or biscuits!

Raspberry and red plum and blackberry...oh my!

Last month, fellow blogger Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic posted several stories about the jam she was canning. Strawberry, to be exact. Since then, I’ve had jelly on my brain (figuratively, of course). I used to can things every summer but that was years ago when we still lived in Owasso, Oklahoma. Summers there were not as unbearable as they are here. Once we moved to Houston, the heat and humidity killed my desire to can anything, since it required hours spent over a hot stove. Then I saw Kirsten’s strawberry jam, and became a woman obsessed. She planted a seed; a crazy demon jelly seed. Suddenly, I couldn’t walk past fruit without imagining it cooked into jelly or jam and packed into cute little Mason jars. Heaven help me; I do love a Mason jar.

Enter the $1.00 raspberry sale at my local grocery store. As we walked into the produce department, I was slapped in the face by a poster board sign that read “Raspberries – $1.00 a box!” Yeah, you bet your sweet ass it deserved an explanation point, Mr. Produce Stocker Man. Those little boxes have been going for $4.00 all summer. Naturally, I grabbed 10 boxes and thought about grabbing 10 more. Thanks to a spontaneous intervention from The Complete Package, I stuck with the original 10. But as soon as we got home, I broke out the sugar, pectin and jars and got to work. As I said, I was a little jelly obsessed.

Sweet little jars of fruity goodness; labels are print-your-own stickers

This past weekend, TCP and I stopped in at my favorite fruit stand – Froberg Farms in Manvel, Texas. I love this place more than I love chicken-fried steak. Someday I’ll take my camera out there and share it with you. Where else can you walk out with an entire brown paper bag packed full of freshly picked produce for around $20? It’s incredible. We love to stroll slowly through all the gorgeous produce, dried beans, canned fruits and vegetables. They also sell little fried pies, whole pies, farm eggs and fresh milk. AND they have a little trailer outside that sells all kinds of fabulous, smoky meats. This place is crazy wonderful.

Clockwise: Grandma, Mom, Big Sis & NanaBread

When I saw fresh red plums, I immediately grabbed a big bag full, and again we raced home to make jam. Red plum jam. I don’t know why, but it reminds me of Grandma Montgomery, who died when we were young. She had the most magical root cellar stocked with jars of homemade jams, jellies, pickles and canned veggies. Oh, how I loved the smell of that root cellar. Here’s a photo of her sitting with Mom as we all ate berries and ice cream. I love this old photo of us on Grandma’s porch. I’ve often wondered what Big Sis was thinking at that precise moment. She looks stunned & I look happy. I probably stole her last strawberry. Sorry, Sis. If it’s any consolation, I’m the one with the embarrassing ice cream beard. But I digress; back to jelly!

Old-fashioned red plum jam - it's seriously good stuff!

There’s no real recipe for jelly or jam. It’s just fruit, the right amount of sugar, and some fruit pectin. In fact, pectin manufacturers have made it so easy, they’ve printed a how-to which includes the proper fruit-to-sugar ratios inside the pectin box. How easy is that? The real key is in preserving it. I went old-school and used sterilized canning jars and a boiling hot water bath. If done correctly, jars of jam processed this way can have a shelf life of years instead of months. If you don’t want to process your jars in a water bath and preserve them for all eternity, Ball now makes plastic containers with screw-top lids. You can’t store this jam in your pantry, but you can certainly keep it in your fridge or freezer. Kirsten posted a great freezer jam recipe on her blog with a full-color photo tutorial. Please check it out. So now that my raspberry and plum jams are packed away, I’m eyeing a recipe for peach marmalade I got from a friend a few years ago. Peaches, oranges and maraschino cherries all cooked into a gorgeous, sticky marmalade. Oh, my. I may just have to do it. I should do it. I must do it!

Speaking of my canning bender… do you know what else I used to can years ago? Spicy sweet pickles. And do you know what’s brewing in my kitchen right now? Homemade spicy sweet pickles. It’s been at least 20 years since I’ve made them, but when we found some beautiful pickling cucumbers at Froberg’s last week, I decided to make them again. They’re from an old family recipe that has been passed down through TCP’s family for at least 3 generations. How good are they? Good enough that every time we eat another brand, we look at each other and say, “they’re good, but they’re not Aunt Teenie’s sweet pickles.” Which brings us to a recipe card mystery, a little family controversy, and my next post – Aunt Teenie’s Sweet Pickles: are they or aren’t they? Stay tuned!

Coming soon: spicy sweet pickles from an old family recipe

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Things I Love, Volume 6: Dickinson’s Gourmet Preserves, Jams & Jellies

This post will be short & sweet – both literally and figuratively. My biscuit’s getting cold, and I don’t like cold biscuits. Especially when my butter is already melting into my fluffy biscuit layers. I’ve never considered myself a “jelly” person. I never ate much of it. Then I found Dickinson’s gourmet preserves and jams, and it changed my mind. I bought the black raspberry and apricot to use for thumbprint cookies, and they were so incredible, I started buying them to put on my English muffins and buttermilk biscuits. Now I’m in love….jelly love. And it’s a groovy kind of love. Before you get caught up in the “gourmet” part of the name, I should tell you they are a division of Smucker’s. That makes them a little less hoity-toity in my book. And don’t let that half-empty jar of blueberry fool you, either….the black raspberry is my personal favorite. Good gravy, it’s spectacular! The flavors are intense, and some of them have big chunks of fruit (apricot, cherry & blueberry). And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my biscuit before it gets cold. You know how I hate a cold biscuit.

Oh, one last thing…I’m also in love with Krustaez Oat Bran Muffin Mix. Here’s a tip for you to try: replace the cup of water with a cup of orange juice, then spoon a dollop of Dickinson’s jam on top. As the muffins bake, the jam will sink into the middle. Use a variety of different jams in one batch, and you’ll have Surprise Oat & Jam Muffins, since you won’t know what you’ve got until you bite into it.

Here are the muffins, warm & smelly. Open them up, and there's the jelly!

For more information on the Dickinson’s brand of products, check them out at:
http://www.dickinsonsfamily.com/products/Products.aspx

Note: NanaBread is not related to anyone named Dickinson and is not “on the take” or “in cahoots” with this or any other vendor. She is just a girl, standing in front of a biscuit, asking him to love her. Wait…that was a movie, right? Sorry. Bottom line: NanaBread’s not selling jelly, just enjoying it. A lot.

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Filed under Food & Recipes, Things I Love