Jams that Use Herbs to Kick it up a Notch

Cary, NC — Like many of you, during these COVID times, I have taken to a lot of baking and more recently this summer, canning. One of my all-time favorite things to do is buy a lot of fresh fruit at the Cary Downtown Farmers Market and turn it into jam to be enjoyed throughout the year. Every bite reminds me of summer.

I have a few favorite jam recipes. I make strawberry, blackberry, blueberry and peach jams. My family is teasing me right now because they say our refrigerator looks full of food, but really is just an assortment of cans and jars and nothing that makes a meal. My retort is that these jars make a meal better!

The two recipes I’m sharing today make use of unusual spice combinations to give your jams an unusual twist.

They were originally published years ago in the News & Observer (when they used to have a “Living” section, remember that? Printed on actual newsprint?) I’ve made my own adaptations over the years, but they always come out fantastic. The best part is they do not require very much time.

Notes on Preparation

You must prepare your jars prior to making the jam. Each recipe requires about 5-7, half-pint canning jars.

These are the kind with straight sides, screw tops, a flat lid and a ring band. All the jars, rings, and lids must be submerged underwater in a deep pot (I use a pasta pot), and boiled for at least 10 minutes prior to filling.

After filling the jars with the jam, you must wipe edges, screw on the lids and boil again for another 10 minutes. Then your jam can stay a room temperature indefinitely as long as the seal is not opened. Once the jars are open, store in the refrigerator.

All the goodness of the blueberry jam. For this batch, I used jars I had on hand, all sterilized per instructions.

Spicy Blueberry- Citrus Marmalade

This jam is excellent on croissants or pancakes and I have been making this recipe for over 15 years. In fact my old recipe copy has plenty of drips of jam on it and notes to the side from years that I made this. My eldest daughter absolutely raves about the cooked citrus rind that is a signature part of this marmalade. I love the combination of the citrus with the blueberries, and it does not require any pectin or other thickeners.

This recipe requires 5 half-pint jars. Assemble all your ingredients and get your jars boiling on the stove before you begin.

Ingredients

  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 2 cups granulated sugar

The blueberries as they cook in their fragrant, citrusy bath.

To Make

  1. Peel all the citrus and cut the rinds into thin strips, set aside.
  2. Squeeze juice and pulp from the orange, lemon and lime into a bowl, set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, bring the rind strips, water and red pepper flakes to a boil. Cover, and reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, or until the rinds are tender.
  4. Add the blueberries, sugar, citrus pulp and juice to the saucepan.
  5. Bring to a full, rolling boil. Boil, uncovered and stirring often for 15 minutes or until a gel forms. (What’s a gel?) It will be when you dip a spoon and it comes out gooey and sticky. This is evidence that the jam is forming.
  6. At this point, remove your sterilized jars and lids from the water to drain. They are ready to receive the jam.
  7. Remove the saucepan from the heat and skim off any foam.
  8. Ladle the hot jam mixture into the waiting jars, filling to 1/4″ of the top. Remove air bubbles, and carefully wipe the top edges of the jars. Top with lids and screw on the ring bands.
  9. Return to the boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Makes 5 (1/2-pint) jars.

Originally published in the News and Observer in 2003. Recipe by Nancy Smith of Blue Ridge, Georgia.

Peach Rosemary Jam

I first made this recipe back when we had a rough-looking peach tree in our front yard and I needed to do something with all the peaches that ripened all at once. We have always grown rosemary and I have come to love this combination. This works great as a glaze on pork tenderloin, or also on toasted grainy bread in the morning. In fact, I had some today.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups peeled and chopped peaches (I used 6 large peaches)
  • 1 tsp grated lime zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 1 (1.75 oz) package of powdered fruit pectin
  • 5 cups granulated sugar (you can try to cut this down)
  • You will need 7 (1/2-pint) jars

This jam goes really fast since the ingredients only cook for a few minutes. So stay by the stove, stirring, and be sure to get your pint jars started first so they are ready when you need them.

Cooking the peaches with the rosemary to impart flavor.

To Make

Start by sterilizing your jars.

  1. In a large soup pot, combine peaches, lime zest, lime juice, rosemary, and pectin, and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  2. Add granulated sugar, and return to a full rolling boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Remove jars and lids from the water bath. Drain to prepare to fill.
  5. Ladle hot mixture into hot, sterilized jars, filling to 1/4″ from the top. remove air bubbles, wipe jar rims. Cover with lids and scree on bands.
  6. Process in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Makes 7 (1/2-pint) jars.

This recipe appeared in the News & Observer in 2003 and was originally submitted by Rita Gibbon of Birmingham, Alabama.

I hope this inspired you to get in the kitchen and preserve some summer for use later this year. While 2020 has been a challenge, I try to look for fun things to occupy my time. Canning has been a lot of fun, and a source of goodwill towards others when I share my bounty and gift my jars to others.

Happy canning!


Story and photos by Lindsey Chester.

Delivering Cary’s food scene since 2014. Subscribe by email.

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