Saturday, July 2, 2011

July's Forge: Italian Prune and Cardamom Conserve or Brandied Red Cherry!

It's July and we have gotten over the shock of kids being out of school. Fresh fruit abounds and it is time to can some of the bounty up for winter! I know, I said winter. When you are Canadian, it is hard to forget about the cold.

But trust me, you'll thank me in those frosty months when you have some bottled up summer to graze on.

Time to fire up the canner! Choose one or both of the featured canning recipes from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook to forge this month. Link up your forges to share! 

teaparty Italian Prune & Cardamom Conserve 

Italian Prune & Cardamom Conserve

From The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders

The term conserve typically refers to a jam involving both fresh and dried fruit, often with the addition of liquor, spices, and nuts. These preserves are traditionally served alongside savory dishes or with cheeses, as well as for breakfast. In this delicious fall conserve, Italian prune plums are accentuated by dried currants and a generous splash of plum brandy.

Ingredients:
4 pounds pitted and halved Italian prune plums
1 1/2 pounds white cane sugar
3 ounces strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 ounces slivovitz or other dry plum brandy
2 ounces dried currants
1/2 teaspoon white cardamom seeds

Day 1
Place the prune plums, sugar, lemon juice, slivovitz, and currants into a glass or hard plastic storage container. Stir well to combine, cover tightly, and refrigerate for 48 to 72 hours, stirring once each day.

2 to 3 Days Later
Place a saucer with five metal teaspoons in a flat place in your freezer for testing the jam later.

Transfer the plum mixture to an 11- or 12-quart copper preserving pan or wide nonreactive kettle. Place the cardamom seeds into a fine-mesh stainless steel tea infuser with a firm latch and add it to the mixture.

Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently with a large heatproof rubber spatula. Continue to cook, monitoring the heat closely, until the conserve thickens, 35 to 45 minutes. Skim off any surface foam with a large stainless steel spoon. Scrape the bottom of the pan often with a heatproof rubber spatula, and decrease the heat gradually as more and more moisture cooks out of your conserve. For the final 10 to 15 minutes of cooking, stir the conserve nearly constantly to prevent burning.

To test the conserve for doneness, carefully transfer a small representative half-spoonful of conserve to one of your frozen spoons. Replace the spoon in the freezer for 3 to 4 minutes, then remove and carefully feel the underside of the spoon. It should be neither warm nor cold; if still warm, return it to the freezer for a moment.

Nudge the conserve gently with your finger; if it seems thickened and gloppy when you nudge it, it is either done or nearly done. Tilt the spoon vertically to see how quickly the conserve runs; if it runs very slowly, and if it has thickened to a gloppy consistency, it is done. If it runs very quickly or appears watery, cook it for another few minutes, stirring, and test again as needed.

 When the conserve is ready, remove the tea infuser, then skim any remaining foam and discard. Pour the conserve into sterilized jars and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions or as directed on page 52.

Approximate Yield: five to six 8-ounce jars
Shelf Life: 18 months

or

Brandied Red Cherry Conserve

cherry conserve Brandied Red Cherry Conserve 

From The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders

Even at the very beginning of summer, I keep the cooler months in the back of my mind, always trying to stash away a few wintry jams when the occasion presents itself. Cherries are particularly suited to spice, and this is one preserve I love to make in mid-May, when the first flush of summer cherries arrives. Its flavor is very concentrated, almost like mincemeat’s, and it makes a staggeringly good holiday pie filling. This recipe may be varied any number of ways: Use a different combination of dried and candied fruits, or replace the plum brandy with plain brandy or cognac. But the combination of citron, cloves, and plum brandy is my favorite: Christmas in a jar.


Ingredients:
3 pounds pitted sweet red cherries, divided
1 1/4 pounds white cane sugar, divided
3 ounces strained freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
2 ounces dried currants
1/2 pound chopped candied citron (see page 91)
2 1/2 ounces slivovitz or other dry plum brandy
3 to 4 drops almond extract
3 cloves

Place a saucer with five metal teaspoons in a flat place in your freezer for testing the jam later.

Combine 1½ pounds cherries with 10 ounces of the sugar and 1½ ounces of the lemon juice in an 11- or 12-quart copper preserving pan or wide nonreactive kettle.

Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently, and cook until the cherries have softened, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the cherries rest for 5 minutes. Put them through the fine holes of a food mill, scraping any fruit that will not go through back into the resulting puree.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cherry puree with the remaining cherries, sugar, and lemon juice, and the currants, citron, brandy, and almond extract, stirring well to combine. Let the mixture macerate at
room temperature for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After 45 minutes, transfer the mixture back to your preserving pan. Put the cloves into a fine-mesh stainless steel tea infuser with a firm latch and add it to the mixture, pressing down on it to be sure it is submerged.
Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring often.

Boil vigorously, gently scraping the bottom of the pan with your spatula every minute or two to be sure the mixture is not sticking. Continue to cook, monitoring the heat closely, until the conserve acquires a darker, shinier look, about 20 minutes. At this point, remove from the heat, discarding any cherry pits that may have found their way into the mixture, and test the conserve for doneness. While you are testing, use a metal spoon to carefully scrape all the stiff white foam from the top of the mixture and discard.

To test the conserve for doneness, carefully transfer a small representative half-spoonful of conserve to one of your frozen spoons. Replace the spoon in the freezer for 3 to 4 minutes, then remove and carefully feel the underside of the spoon. It should be neither warm nor cold; if still warm, return it to the freezer for a moment.

Tilt the spoon vertically to see how quickly the conserve runs; if it runs slowly, and if it has thickened to a gloppy consistency, it is done. If it appears watery, cook it for another couple of minutes, stirring, and test again as needed. When the conserve is ready, remove the mesh tea infuser. Stir the conserve briefly to evenly distribute the cherries, then pour it into sterilized jars and process according to manufacturer’s instructions or as directed on page 83.

Approximate Yield: six 8-ounce jars
Shelf Life: 8 to 10 months



1-Cherry & Kirsch conserve
2-Natashyas Plum and Cardamom Conserve



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7 comments:

girlichef said...

Mmmm...I may just have to make both!

Foodycat said...

Cherries yes please!

Foodycat said...

Well, it tastes good, but I can't taste the cloves at all. And it has set very firmly in a very short space of time!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Interesting - and cloves are usually so strong!

Foodycat said...

... it's ridiculously sweet. And I left the currents out! I think if you can't get sour cherries I would go with the prune version.

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

I've started the plum one - don't know what Italian prune plums are.. so went with regular.
It sits in its own juices for a couple of days - I used the zest of the lemon as well, and added in cardamom seeds that I found - not the pods but the sesame-sized seeds. I used a whole tsp too, I really like cardamom. Oh, and I had no kirsch, so I used DiSaronno.
I'll let you know how it turns out!
Might take a look at the cherry one now..

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Conserve is up! Going to check out Foodycat's soon. Looks tasty!