Monday, September 5, 2011

Summer Solstice Preserves

Ohhh, I'm soooo far behind on blog far in fact recently I have even stopped opening the blogger website and reading other blogs that I follow. If you don't see it, it doesn't exist, right?
If the truth be known, that last batch of strawberry-rhubarb jam with jalapenos that over set really kinda put a damper on my blogging. I had planned on opening the jars & re-batching it with additional fruit. That is, until I read Food In Jars post about jam set testing methods. Ok, idea was nixed. Marisa from Food In Jars recommends calling it Pate de Fruit...slice it up and serve with breads, cheeses and charcuterie. But honestly, how fun is it to blog about failures though? I do believe I may be over the hump now...I purchased a waterproof digital thermometer and sat down and actually calculated what the correct temperature for jam set point is in our little mountain town.

So here's a little math for your morning. At sea level, water boils @ 212 degrees. As the elevations increase, the boiling point decreases...yeah, I know, what?? Kinda confusing, but it has something to do with atmospheric pressure, blah, blah, blah. Yes, I've read the scientific reasoning behind this MANY times, and no, it does not stick in my brain...maybe because I don't really care? Okay, I have digressed...back to math. For every 1,000 ft increase in elevation, you should subtract 2 degrees to find out the degrees at which water boils.  We're at 5,500 ft, so I subtracted 11 degrees from 212. Boiling point here is 201 degrees. Now the jam set point...jam sets 8 degrees above boiling point, so for our area its 209 degrees...bam...done....take your jammie's temp & your golden. Well, golden to a point...I have still noticed set variations with the last three fruits I have put up. The summer solstice preserves made with tart cherries and blueberries is a solid movement from the jam when the jars are tilted.  The sweet cherry jam is thick, but there's a sultry luxurious "ness" to the way it sways when the jar is tilted. I also put up four batches of peach jam (I told you I was behind in my blogging!!) and there appear to be slight variances in the thickness of each batch.

So, back to the subject of Summer Solstice Preserves. I found this recipe in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. The only modification I made was throwing in a few extra blueberries because I had them on hand. Should affect the jam consistency right? I thought so, but so far it looks fine in the jar.  The recipe calls for tart pie cherries. I was fortunate enough to get local cherries from Bonnie @ Boja Farms out of Bridger.  Pitting these tiny buggers was an exercise in patience though. That's all I will say about that task!!

Summer Solstice Preserves

Makes about 5 8oz jars

3 cups halved pitted red tart cherries*
1 cup blueberries (I added 1 3/4cups)
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 pouch (3oz) liquid pectin
2 tbsp Kirsch or cherry flavored Brandy (I used Kirsch)

*I know this post is not very timely, in the fact that we are way past cherry season. I imagine you could use frozen tart cherries if you put them up this summer.

The picture below shows the size of Kirsch bottle I found at the Liquor Store. You can also see how much I used. Looks like I'll have to find another use for Cherry Liqueur.

  1. In a large, deep stainless steel stockpot, combine cherries, blueberries, sugar and lemon juice. Stir to mix well. Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  2. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
  3. Over high heat, stirring constantly, bring fruit mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.  Stir in pectin. Boil hard, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Test jam set point temperature. Boil longer if needed. When jam is at correct set point, remove from heat and add Kirsch. Skim foam.
  4. Ladle hot preserves into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Remove air bubbles and adjust head space, if necessary by adding hot preserves/  Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
  5. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. (I added 5 minutes for our increased elevation) Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool & store.

Jars in particular are a ♥ of mine. The jar pictured 2nd from the left is a vintage Ball jar. The left most jar is my latest fave. It's a squatty half pint from the Ball Elite collection ...!

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