Blueberry Preserves

I’ve already posted a blueberry jam here a while back, but this recipe, adapted from Blue Ribbon Preserves, is also worth your time. And if you like picking your own berries, this is a great way to showcase the result of your efforts. (I picked mine at Fishkill Farms last summer.)

Although I’m usually against the American obsession of putting cinnamon in nearly every dessert, the spice happens to pair very well with blueberries, as long as the dosage remains very subtle: you should barely be able to taste that something’s been added.

The same applies to the amount of vodka. We’re not making blueberry liqueur; the goal is just to make the end result taste more complex, without being able to taste the alcohol.

Blueberry Preserves

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Spring Onion and Garlic Jam

Here’s an easy first recipe to mark the arrival of spring: buy every possible variety of spring onions, shallots, and garlic (including garlic scapes) at your local farmers’ market and turn them into this delicious jam. Onion and garlic jam may not be your go-to choice for breakfast, but it’s much milder than you might think, and it combines very well with savory dishes. Try it with cheese, charcuterie, and other cured / smoked goods. The recipe is adapted from Linda Amendt’s Blue Ribbon Preserves.

Spring onion and garlic jam
Yields 1 pint

9 oz peeled spring onions, shallots, and garlic with only a small part of their green stems
1 oz butter
7 oz Riesling
2 tsp lemon juice
0.25 oz powdered pectin
5.5 oz sugar

  • Slice the onions, shallots, and garlic very finely, then sauté with the butter in a small pan over low heat. Cook until translucent, stirring frequently — do not allow to brown, or the jam will have a tough texture.
  • Add the wine and lemon juice, sprinkle the pectin, and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Mix in the sugar progressively, bring back to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Transfer to a sterilized pint jar, seal, and process in a 200 F water bath for 15 minutes.
  • Let cool for about 30 minutes, then refrigerate.

Armenian Brandied Apricot Preserves


Related to my recent trip to Armenia, here’s a recipe for apricot preserves with a Caucasian twist. As you can see from the picture above, apricots are plentiful in Armenia. Why not combine them with some local brandy and honey? Young Armenian brandies may lack the subtlety to be enjoyed as digestifs, but they offer a robust flavor that can stand the heat of cooking applications. I’ve already mentioned the famous Yerevan Brandy Company here, and their 5-star (which means 5-year old) Ararat brandy is perfect for the kitchen — you can even find it in some U.S. liquor stores. For the honey, choose something light and mild, such as acacia honey.

This recipe is adapted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, which covers all the aspects of canning in over 400 recipes. Try the preserves with an almond croissant!

Armenian brandied apricot preserves
Yields 1 pint

24 oz pitted apricots, quartered
6 oz sugar
1 1/2 oz light honey
2 tsp lemon juice
6 g powdered pectin
3 oz Armenian brandy (such as 5-star Ararat)

  • Toss the apricots, sugar, honey and lemon juice in a saucepan, and let rest for 45 minutes.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then gently boil for 25 minutes, stirring regularly.
  • Mix the pectin with the brandy, add to the saucepan, and boil for 3 minutes. Skim off the foam and let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Transfer to a sterilized pint jar, seal and process in a 200 F water bath for 15 minutes.

Drunken Rhubarb

This recipe is a 2-in-1 kind of deal. Not only does it produce a delicious flavored vodka, it also leaves you with pieces of rhubarb you can serve with tea or use to make a cake, such as a babka.

Originally from China, rhubarb was transported along the Silk Road starting as early as the 14th century. As the usual route lay through Russia, it became known as “Russian rhubarb”. Nowadays, it’s especially popular in Northern Russia and in the Baltic states — you’ll find a rhubarb bush in every Estonian vegetable garden. Check out the countless rhubarb recipes from Estonian blog Nami-Nami.

You can use any variety of rhubarb you want, but cherry red rhubarb will give you the brightest red color.

Drunken rhubarb
Yields 1 pint

9 oz cherry red rhubarb, cut into 1″ pieces
4 oz sugar
1 oz white wine
4 oz vodka

  • Place the rhubarb in a saucepan with the sugar and white wine, and let rest for 4-5 hours.
  • Bring the rhubarb to a boil, stirring regularly, then boil for 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Transfer to a sterilized pint jar, gently stir in the vodka, seal and process in a 200 F water bath for 15 minutes.
  • Store in a cool place for at least 1 month.

Red Currant Jelly

Although red currants are found in forests all over Europe, their acidic taste means that their use remains marginal, except in jams and jellies.  Red currant jelly is nonetheless a great companion to game meat, and if you want to make your own, the time is now! You can keep it in your fridge until game season begins.

Notice the easily remembered proportions, which are probably applicable to other berry jellies: X oz juice, X g pectin, X oz sugar (just watch the measurement units).

Red currant jelly
Yields 1 pint

20 oz red currants
3 oz water
10.5 g powdered pectin
10.5 oz sugar

  • Place the red currants and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, cover with a lid and cook for about 10 minutes. Pass through a chinois and weigh 10.5 oz of juice. Blend with the pectin in a blender on low speed.
  • Return to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the sugar in a few additions, bring back to a boil, and cook for 1 minute.
  • Transfer to a sterilized pint jar, seal and process in a 200 F water bath for 15 minutes.

Sour Cream Ice Cream and Strawberry Preserves

I’m slightly ahead of the curve this time, giving you a preserves recipe before the strawberry season actually starts! This simple recipe produces outstanding results — these are simply the best strawberry preserves I’ve ever eaten. Make sure to pick the best berries you can find.  I typically check every single stand at the farmers’ market before making my decision. The sour cream ice cream with its slight acidity is a perfect match, a refreshing change from the usual plain vanilla.

I created the ice cream recipe using the invaluable information from Frozen Desserts by Caroline Liddell and Robin Weir. The calculation table you see below gives the composition in grams, followed by the percentage of each solid ingredient, which is the key to a balanced ice cream. The preserves recipe is adapted from Blue Ribbon Preserves by Linda Amendt.

Sour cream ice cream
Yields a bit less than 1 qt

16 oz sour cream
1 egg yolk
4.5 oz sugar
5.5 oz non-fat milk
0.8 oz non-fat milk powder
1/2 tsp lemon juice

  • Place the sour cream in the freezer until almost frozen.
  • In a bowl, whisk the egg yolk with half of the sugar. Place the rest of the sugar in a saucepan with the milk and milk powder, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Pour into the bowl while whisking, then place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk the custard until it coats the back of a spoon. Pass through a chinois into a container in a bowl of ice water, and let cool. Transfer the container to the freezer and wait until it is completely cold.
  • Mix the sour cream and custard in a bowl, then churn in an ice cream maker, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to the freezer for at least 2 hours before serving.
Ingredient Weight Fat MSNF Sugar Other solids
1 egg yolk 20 6.6 / / 3.4
4.5 oz sugar 128 / / 128 /
16 oz sour cream 453.5 75.5 45.5 / /
5.5 oz non-fat milk 156 / 13 / /
0.8 oz non-fat milk powder 22.7 / 19.1 / /
1/2 tsp lemon juice 2.5 / / / /
Total 782.7 82.1 77.6 128 3.4
Percentage 100% 10.5% 9.9% 16.4% 0.4%

Strawberry preserves
Yields 1 pint

12 oz (about 2 1/2 cups) hulled strawberries
1 tbsp lemon juice
5 g powdered pectin
10 oz sugar
1/2 tsp butter

  • Combine the strawberries and lemon juice in a saucepan, sprinkle the pectin and bring to a boil, stirring constantly (there is very little liquid at this point, this is normal). Boil for 1 minute and remove from heat. Mix in the sugar, and let rest for 4-5 hours.
  • Reheat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the butter, bring to a boil, and simmer for 7 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Transfer to a sterilized pint jar, seal and process in a 200 F water bath for 15 minutes.
  • Let cool for 30 minutes, refrigerate upside-down for 1 1/2 hours, and flip.

Blueberry Jam

Blueberries are mostly found in North America, but their cousins, bilberries, are found all across Europe and are highly praised in berry-gathering, preserve-loving Russia. The Russian Wikipedia informs us that in 1964, Soviet Union issued a stamp representing bilberries, and the Great Soviet Encyclopedia mentions that bilberry juice can be used for the dubious purpose of coloring wine.

This blueberry jam is pretty low in added sugar — I find that many jam recipes are overly sweet. Try it with blini and tvorog!

Blueberry jam
Yields 1 pint

3 cups blueberries
1 tbsp lemon juice
5 g powdered pectin
12 oz sugar

  • Crush the berries with a hand blender or a food processor. Do not process too long, as you want to keep chunks. Add the berries and lemon juice to a saucepan, sprinkle the pectin and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Add the sugar progressively, bring back to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Transfer to a sterilized pint jar, seal and process in a 200 F water bath for 15 minutes.
  • Let cool for 30 minutes, refrigerate upside-down for 30 minutes, and flip.

Peach-Raspberry Preserves

I’ve already posted peach preserves inspired by my trip to Kakheti, but I feel compelled to share the recipe for this peach and raspberry combination that I jarred months ago and opened last weekend. It is just delicious, and would probably make a great pie filling, too.

The raspberry purée can either be purchased or made by blending berries and passing through a chinois.

Peach-raspberry preserves
Yields 1 pint

12 oz very ripe peaches, peeled and pitted
1 tsp lemon juice
6 g powdered pectin
1/4 cup raspberry purée
11 oz sugar
1/4 tsp butter

  • Crush the peaches with your hands to obtain chunks of various sizes. Combine with the lemon juice in a saucepan, sprinkle the pectin and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Add the raspberry purée, then mix in the sugar progressively. Bring back to a boil, stir in the butter, and boil for 1 minute. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Transfer to a sterilized pint jar, seal and process in a 200 F water bath for 15 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes.
  • Refrigerate upside-down for 30 minutes, then flip.