I love roasted garlic. I roast big batches of garlic periodically, then puree the softened cloves with olive oil and freeze it all in ice cube trays. So good added to pasta sauces, or gravies, or dips, or smeared on sliced baguettes and topped with thin wedges of brie….
I could go on and on.
So at first the idea of a roasted garlic jelly was very appealing. But then I read that you have to strain the roasted garlic, so all you get is the juice (there are other ingredients – I’ll get to those). Which makes sense – it’s a jelly, not a jam. But I was trying to imagine a clear jelly smeared on a baguette, and it wasn’t happening for me.
This isn’t something you’ll be able to make all the time, of course. In fact, in order to make the project worth your time and effort, it helps if you gradually stock up on the ingredients over, say, a year.
It really helps if you’ve got small children and your whole family gets massive head colds throughout the winter. Just, you know, save the bits and pieces in ziploc bags in the freezer so they’ll stay nice and almost-fresh.
I’ve never been a fan of marmalade. I think maybe I’d tried some when I was a kid and the slight bitterness of it turned me off. I probably had it at my maternal grandparents’ house. They were English, so, you know, they were required by law to have at least one jar of marmalade (MAAHHM-uh-lade) in the house at all times. I think I tried orange.
But last month, when I was scrambling to make Christmas gifts for people, I came upon a recipe for Lemon-Ginger Marmalade, and it sounded really interesting. I’ve got an English cousin living nearby, and I figured he and his family (the rest of whom are Yanks), might like it…maybe my mother…and I forget who else I gave a jar to.
So I made it. And this morning, just before I started typing this post, I opened the one remaining jar, made some toast, and tried it.
Hot Paper Lantern Habanero Peppers, ripening in our garden.
We grew a variety of hot peppers this year and, amazingly, they’ve all done really well. We’ve made fresh salsa with them, and recently I canned some Jalapeno salsa and will probably make another batch of that when more of the peppers have reached maturity.
A couple of years ago our friend, John, made some sort of hot pepper jam or marmalade and gave us a jar. I don’t remember all the details, just that it was hot and sweet and completely addictive.
With our lovely selection of peppers this year, I really wanted to make a jam or jelly myself. Over the winter I’d gone through various canning books and recipes, and marked the pages of the jellies I wanted to try. And finally, with our peppers ripening, and some of them turning brilliant shades of red, it was time.
If you've never made jam, and are feeling hesitant about going through the whole cooking and canning process, and you just want to maybe dip your toe into the jam-making pool and see what temperature the water is, then this is the way to do that.
Alex - the jam afficianado in our house - has pronounced this jam "Not bad...it's actually pretty good." With two approving nods of his head. So I'm thinking I got about an A-.
As I'd mentioned after my trip to the Farmers' Market on Friday, I bought a total of 4 quarts of strawberries: 6 individual pints of berries from one farm, one quart from another farm. All were gorgeously ripe and red all the way through. I also bought 2 lbs of rhubarb from the Honey Stick Man. So I figured I'd have enough for a batch of jam and a pie. Happily, I was wrong - I got two batches of jam and a pie out of the deal. Well, nearly two batches. But I'm getting ahead of myself.