Tag Archives: condiments

California Fig Jam


I might as well call this California Fig Jam – both the figs and I are from and currently residing in CA. I’m very proud to say that this is the first thing I’ve preserved without a recipe (gasp!). Some may find that frightening, but fear not. I know the key ingredients and important steps for successful, safe canning. Let this jam serve as evidence!

This was not in the plan for today. I was driven to make it by the impending deadline to send out some jars for a jam exchange that Steph put together. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew the date was coming up. I fretted about my meager preserving efforts this summer but continued to procrastinate. Finally, I checked the due date this morning. September 10th! I had to mail my jams by September 10th! That’s day after tomorrow! Whew, at least I realized that in time and happened to have a recently purchased more figs than a girl and her fig-hating husband can eat.

So, with this very basic, spontaneous canning outline from Food In Jars, I started chopping. My figs were perfectly, perfectly ripe. The timing could not have been better. I would have liked to use honey in this recipe but I don’t have any. I used brown sugar instead, hoping for the deep, caramelized sweetness it provides. A splash of lemon juice was the only other thing I needed to create this simple spread.


On fresh-baked bread with coconut butter (or off side of the pan when my jars were filled), this stuff is amazing. For my taste, it turned out a little on the sweet side. I erred on the side of caution with the sugar and took into account that most people like things sweeter than I do.

Simple Fig Jam

Approximately 3 cups chopped fresh figs
1 cup packed brown sugar
juice from 1 lemon

Combine ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan or large skillet and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for about half an hour, or until the mixture thickens and does not immediately flow back together then you scrape a spatula across the bottom of the pan (here’s a great demonstration of this)
When the jam is ready, process it using your preferred method. You can read all about canning from this USDA source.
Don’t forget to heat your pot of water for processing the jars! I forgot that today but fortunately my pressure cooked boils water super fast!

As you may have gathered, I also made bread today. This was not just any bread, it was my first loaf from the Master Recipe in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I bought the book a couple months ago when I saw it on sale a book store. I had been wanting a copy ever since it came out. I read and heard so many raves about Jeff Hertzberg, Zoe Francois and Mark Luinenburg’s first book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Some friends of mine took to baking their own bread all the time after receiving this book as a wedding present. I tried their bread. It was very, very good.


Francois and Luinenburg’s version, concentrating on healthful bread recipes, promises to be a much-used cookbook in my kitchen now that I’ve tried the first recipe. The dough was easy to mix and their whole bread making process made sense to me. The loaf I made today really did come together very quickly. I got it ready to put in the oven while my jam cooked and had fresh bread by lunch time! The flavor is awesome and I think I’m finally getting a hold of the oven-steaming crust procedure.

Bread, I love you, the making and the eating too. (Did I just write a poem about bread! Ha!)



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Cranberry conserve – bright, crunchy, stowed away for winter


Provisioning the boat always leads to a few impulse purchases, usually of treats to pull out of a locker at a later date. On one shopping trip for this sail, though, I ended up with a bag of Maine cranberries. I couldn’t resist them. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked with fresh cranberries and they marked a transition from Maine summer produce to fall and winter foods.
That bag of cranberries has been shuffling around the boat’s fridge since we left. I had a plan for it, though. I found a recipe for Cranberry Conserve in my canning cookbook that sounded like a perfect way to preserve my impulse-buy cranberries and give us something festive to enjoy around the holidays.
The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving defines conserve as “luscious combinations of fresh and dried fruit and nuts, cooked to create a thick, sweet spread with a varied texture.” Yum! I know. It sounded like a winner to me.
I halved the recipe, since I have a limited supply of jars and there weren’t quite enough cranberries to make a full batch. My half batch was a bit too much for two, 8 oz jars, maybe because I didn’t let enough water evaporate by leaving the lid off early in the cooking process. I opted for almonds as my nut.
This conserve has a gorgeous, bright cranberry color and the orange peel and almonds add festive colors to the jars. The spread is definitely sweet and tastes similar to cranberry sauce. It has a slight citrus flavor from the orange and fun crunch from the almonds. The texture is very thick – perfect for spreading – or, as Lee did this morning, plopping on top of your oatmeal.


This is my Fall Fest recipe for todays celebration of “The mad stash”. Visit A Way to Garden to find out more.



Cranberry Conserve
From the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Makes about 4 8-ounce jars

1 orange (un-peeled), seeded and finely chopped
2 cups water
4 cups cranberries
1/2 cup raisins
1 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Prepare canner jars and lids.
Combine orange and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
Cover partially, and boil gently until the peel is tender (5 min. or so).
Add cranberries, raisins, and sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves.
Return to a boil over medium-high heat and boil hard, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens (10-15 minutes).
Stir in nuts and cook, stirring constantly, for another 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and test gel. If the mixture gels, skim off foam.

Ladle hot conserve into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace.
Wipe rims, center lids on jars, and tighten to fingertip-tight.
Place jars in canner, covering them completely with water. Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes.
Remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars and leave them to cool completely.


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Saturday morning tomato jam

First: I’m very excited to announce that my Apple Cinnamon Bran Muffins were featured on Baking is Hot today. Yay!
Second: eggs, cheese, and tomato jam were made for each other.


        It is a beautiful, sunny Saturday in Maine. The breeze is cool. The sun is warm. There is work to be done and fall scenery to enjoy.
        Yesterday I took on a food I have been itching to make all summer: jam. Ever since my mom mentioned an interest in canning and I spotted some intriguing jam recipes online I’ve been thinking about giving it a try. Lee got me a pressure cooker for my birthday, partly so I could use it for canning. That sent both of us into a flurry of research on preserving jams, jellies, pickles, salsas, and whole fruit. This is complicated stuff! Canning is a science not to be taken lightly! That said, it really isn’t that hard once you wrap your brain around the basic do’s and don’ts. I encourage anyone who’s never tried it to consider canning on a stormy day, which it what yesterday was around here.
        Rain and wind kept us inside so I whipped out the tomato jam recipe from Cosmic Cowgirl, got my canning tools in order, and started chopping tomatoes. To tell the truth, Lee’s mom had already blanched and peeled the tomatoes and they were waiting for me in the fridge. They came from her mother’s garden and there was just the right amount for this recipe.
        I was surprised by how simple this jam was to make. I just threw everything in a pot and simmered it till it was “jammy”. Fortunately, my mom gave me little cheesecloth spice bags for my birthday so I had something to contain the herbs. The cinnamon sticks are definitely my favorite ingredient in this recipe. They made the whole house smell fantastic, like cinnamon mixed with a smell it doesn’t normally accompany: cooking tomatoes. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the whole cloves the recipe calls for. They would have been yummy but they were nowhere to be found in the pantry!
        This morning’s taste test took place in much sunnier weather than yesterday’s concocting. The sight of three, brilliant, deep red jam-filled jars on the counter this morning beckoned for a relaxed weekend breakfast. I used the last two homemade english muffins, a couple of eggs, some cheddar rice cheese, and a two generous dollops of tomato jam for Lee’s egg sandwiches. I also thawed and baked the second half of the cinnamon rolls I made last month. This time I topped them with a little butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon when they came out of the oven. Yum!
        I leave you with a jam recipe, perhaps to peak your interest in canning just because you want to know what tomato jam tastes like. We will enjoy the 3 half pint jars of this on countless things. When they’re gone I’ll probably make it again with the cloves and more spicy spiciness. While the flavor is fabulous, this jam would be even better with more bite, in my opinion.


Heirloom Tomato Jam
From Cosmic Cowgirl, originally from White on Rice (makes approximately 3 half pints)

2 pounds heirloom or homegrown tomatoes
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or whatever herbs you like)
8 whole cloves
2 sticks good quality cinnamon
4 tsp aged balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp bottled lemon or lime juice

Blanch, peel, and roughly chop the tomatoes.
Place thyme or other spices in cheesecloth of a tea ball infuser (cinnamon sticks can go straight in the pot).
Combine all ingredients, including spice bag, in a medium-sized saucepan and cook at a medium simmer for 30-45 minutes (My jam took about 45 minutes).
Remove spice bag and cinnamon.
Put jam into clean, warm jars, add lids and process in a hot water canner for 15 minutes.
See The USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning for detailed processing instructions. This seems like a good general guide to canning and has some recipes as well.

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