Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to take a night and put up a few jars of jam. It was at the crossroads during summer where so many local fruits are ripe and just begging to be preserved. Some are enjoyed fresh, of course (usually with cream and in a variety of pastries), but the abundance all at once means some have to be put away to be enjoyed later. Strawberries, black currants, blueberries, raspberries, black caps, and sour cherries made an appearance and now that we're into August the peaches, apricots, and elderberries are ripening on the trees. It's sort of a blessing in disguise the tomatoes are slow to ripen this year (same with the corn) as the beans, beets, cucumbers, and everbearing fruits are keeping me busy enough.
When people see my selection of preserves they usually comment on the 'different' flavour combinations I have available. They way I see it, so many other people have 'regular' jam available for sale. Sometimes they make it themselves but more often than not they have someone else do it for them and slap their label on it. That being said, many of the businesses that do this give their own produce to the canner to use. With so much competition on the market for selling jams and preserves, I have to be different. Jars aren't cheap and neither are kitchen rental rates. Combine those expenses with the actual cost of the food such as premium produce (frequently hand-picked), exclusively locally sourced, often organically grown and you can see why it's much more economical for folks to make it themselves.
For those who are DIY'ers, here is the recipe for Raspberry Anise Jam. It's a combination of sweet and tart with a hint of liquorice flavour that comes from crushed anise seeds. For those who appreciate the craft and taste of small-batch preserves but don't have the time to put up their own, send me an email for prices and shipping rates.
Raspberry Anise Jam
Makes 8 pints
12 cups raspberries
2 tbsp calcium water (refer to directions with Pomona's Pectin)
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp crushed anise seeds
3 cups organic cane sugar
6 tsp Pomona's Natural Pectin
Elgin County Rumpot
Another method of preserving the bounty of summer fruits is to macerate them in booze, traditionally rum, brandy or grappa. Rumpot is a German-inspired technique where berries and/or stone fruits are combined with sugar and rum throughout the summer to blend into a melodious symphony which rings of summer after several months of blending. The first berries to ripen are strawberries which are combined with equal parts sugar than submerged in rum. Next come raspberries, then currents, then blueberries, etc. As the season progresses, you add a bit of perfect fruit to the mixture with progressively less amounts of sugar and only enough rum to keep the fruit submerged. Keep the crock or jar in a cool place. When Christmas rolls around, the fruit is often served with a simple cake and the reserved rum-fruit syrup is enjoyed as a cordial for New Years.
In the past I have prepared rumpots using only fruit I hand-picked, rumpots with berries only, rumpots with white rum, rumpots with dark rum, and sometimes just a small rumpot (a few berries at a time) for my own personal use. This year my rumpot is being prepared with only fruits sourced from Elgin County - no Niagara, no Leamington. I've used Sailor Jerry's Spiced Rum (my favourite) and each fruit is coming from a different farm. Again with the lack of heat this summer I am eagerly awaiting certain berries to ripen but no matter what this rumpot will tell a story come December.
Eating. Drinking. Sharing.