Jam – For More Than Toast!

Let me begin by saying thank you to all my new followers! I hope you enjoy.

This is just a quick post to talk about some fun alternative ideas for jams and preserves. When I am at Farmer’s MarketsI often get the comment “I don’t eat bread (or toast) so I have no need for jam” or something to that effect…

So here are eight alternative uses for jam and preserves:

1. Use them as an accompaniment on a cheese board.

2. Stir them into plain yogurt. No need to spend extra money on yogurt with added fruit! It also helps control the sugar amount since you put in as much or as little as you like.

3. Use them as an alternative to syrup to top your waffles, pancakes, or crepes.

4. Serve them with scones, croissants, or other decadent pastries.

5. Scoop them over ice cream!

6. Use them to make a pan sauce for grilled meat and vegetables.

7. Use them as the base of a vinaigrette.

8. Use as a cake filling. Spread between layers or mix with buttercream.

What is your favorite way to use jam or preserves? And what other ideas do you have?

Stay tuned – my next post will be looking at what to do with an assortment of berries from last season I found in the freezer!



Jelly Challenge – Pomegranate

Okay, that title may be a bit misleading. Jelly making is typically not a challenge for me. After years of making it and getting great insights and tips, I feel like I have it pretty dialed in. For this month’s #fijchallenge what I did not have dialed in was navigating canning projects in a new house! Well, no time like the present to jump in and search for everything. The ingredients were easy, I only needed three. It was tracking down all of the equipment that resulted in 3 separate trips to the pantry (which is downstairs…) In the end, this helped me figure out the best places for everything to ultimately get stored. In searching for canning items I even found my missing mixer parts! Yay! The beginning of the project was a bit confusing, yet it all worked out in the end. And now there is some lovely pomegranate jelly gracing my pantry shelves!

There is not much in the way of fresh local fruit available right now and, besides, I was not in the mood to pull out the juicer, so I went the easy route and used a jar of 100% juice. I would recommend using juice that is not from concentrate for a brighter fruit flavor, but I used what I had, which did have some water added. It still worked out beautifully! Just remember to not use a juice with any added sugar.IMG_3359

A big bonus of small batch canning is not having to use the massive canning pot and rack to sanitize, keep hot, and process the jars. I can use 4 or 8 ounce Kerr/Ball jars with my tall stockpot and have enough room to cover the jars with water when processing. I also use a blossom trivet so the jars don’t touch the bottom. This recipe ended up making 5 1/2 cups of jelly, so I now have (3) 1/2 pints and (5) 4 oz. to enjoy and share!


Pomegranate Jelly

4 Cups 100% Pomegranate Juice

4 Cups Organic Cane Sugar

2 Boxes (or 3.5 ounces by weight) regular, powdered pectin

1. Prepare a boiling water bath canner and your jars, whatever combination you will want for 5 1/2 cups of jelly.

2. In LARGE pot (larger than you think you need, this jelly foams a lot at a rolling boil!) bring the juice to a boil.

3. Once boiling, sprinkle in the pectin with one hand and use a whisk to quickly mix it into the juice with your other hand. Do not dump all the pectin in at once, it will clump. By sprinkling and whisking at the same time it gets thoroughly mixed in. Bring the mixture back to a boil.

4. Once the juice/pectin mixture boils again, slowly whisk or stir in the sugar. Do not add the sugar all at once, if you do the temperature will drop too quickly and you run the risk of  the sugar not thoroughly dissolving, resulting in a grainy finished product.

5. Once all of the sugar is incorporated, bring the mixture to a full rolling boil (one that cannot be stirred down) and let it boil for 1 minute. This is where the large pot is a requirement! The photo on the left is the mixture just starting to boil, the one on the right is at a full rolling boil – almost to the top of the pot!

6. After 1 minute, turn off the heat, let the jelly settle, and test for jell. I prefer the chilled plate method. I keep 3-4 small plates in my freezer at all times so when I make jam and jelly I can just pull one out, spoon a small amount of my mixture on it, and quickly know if the set is where I want it.

7. Skim off any foam. Remove hot jars from canning pot and fill with jelly, leaving 1/4″ headspace.


8. Wipe rims with damp paper towel. Place lids on jars and tighten rings finger tight. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

9. When 10 minutes are up, remove the jars from the water bath canner and set them on a folded dish cloth or a wooden cutting board and let them cool. Check the seals and store accordingly. Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to a year. If any jars did not seal, pop them into the refrigerator for immediate enjoyment!


*By adding the pectin before the sugar and re-boiling, you allow the pectin to absorb the liquid and fully dissolve.

*With jelly recipes I prefer to use a whisk to insure full incorporation of all ingredients.

*A personal note on pectin – I often see jelly recipes calling for liquid pectin, which I do not care for. I have consistently had issues with my set when using liquid pectin and I feel it leaves a funny taste. I get very consistent, high quality results using powdered pectin so you will not see liquid pectin called for in any of my recipes. The is just how I feel and what I have experienced, but if you like using liquid pectin, by all means, do what you are comfortable with and enjoy! If a recipe calls for liquid pectin and you would like to use powdered pectin, substitute 2T. powdered pectin for 1 pouch liquid pectin. It will give you a nice loose set perfect for all kinds of toasted goodies, or spooning into yogurt or over ice cream!

Salt Preserving Challenge

Where has the time gone?! I cannot (okay, yes I can) believe how long it has been since I have put any words down here. The last 6 months have been a crazy whirlwind. We moved from Hawaii to Oregon, I put my business on hiatus, we dealt with some terrible winter weather (for Portland anyway…), and the last three weeks have been filled with unpacking boxes, trying to find a place for everything, and a lot of “where did I put (insert item here)?”  Things are starting to come together and I have been missing my quiet, organized kitchen time. This year Food In Jars came up with the the Food In Jars Mastery Challenge, a challenge where those participating would “focus on a different pickling or preserving skill, with the intention that we end this calendar year with a greater level of expertise and comfort with a wide range of food preservation techniques than when we started.” As comfortable as I am with canning and experimenting in that department, I felt I could definitely use the push of a monthly challenge, both to inspire me to try new techniques and to challenge me in areas I am already familiar with. January’s challenge was marmalade – a challenge I could not participate in due to the move and having no kitchen. But one I would have thoroughly enjoyed because I have quite an extensive marmalade repertoire due to tips and tricks from Food in Jars and all of the amazing citrus available to me when I was in Hawaii! So, moving on to February and a challenge of Salt Preserving. I was determined to make something this month, but it had to meet some criteria:

  • It had to be something to ease me into the new working environment of a new house.
  • It had to be something simple and useable, not something I would have to search out an elaborate recipe to use it in.
  • It had to be small batch.
  • It had to be something to expand my skills.

That narrowed it down to citrus/herb salt, vegetable soup base, or Gravlax. I opted for Gravlax because it fit all of the above – something quick, I had very few ingredients to buy, we would consume it in a short time, and it was something I had never made.

My main go-to when I am approaching something new is America’s Test Kitchen. I love how they research and test everything and explain why they take the approach that they do. A few years ago I saw their DIY Cookbook on a friend’s coffee table and I knew I had to have it. And today I used it to craft my first ever Gravlax.

Five simple ingredients

As you can see, five ingredients are all it takes. Drizzle the brandy all over the salmon fillet. Mix the salt and sugar together in a bowl and then pack it onto the top and sides of the salmon.

I happened to have a local Apple Brandy on hand
Packed with salt and sugar

Pie plate, canned beans for weight




Organic fresh dill, one of my faves


Top the fillet off with a thick layer of roughly chopped fresh dill. Loosely cover with plastic wrap, top with smaller baking dish and weights (canned goods work well), and place in the refrigerator.

Now I will baste it once daily with the exuded juices and swimming dill for the next three days, keep my fingers crossed, and look forward to enjoying this for brunch on Sunday!  I will post an update once it is finished.

Cheers to happy kitchen time!

GRAVLAX – DIY Cookbook, America’s Test Kitchen

  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 1 (1 pound) skin on salmon fillet
  • 3 T. brandy
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill (do not use dried)

Step 1: Combine sugar and salt in small bowl. Place salmon, skin side down, in 13×9 glass baking dish. Drizzle with brandy, making sure to cover entire surface. Rub salmon evenly with sugar mixture, pressing firmly on mixture to adhere. Cover with dill, pressing firmly to adhere.

Step 2: Cover salmon loosely with plastic wrap, top with square baking dish or pie plate, and weight with several large heavy cans. Refrigerate until salmon feels firm, about 3 days, basting salmon with liquid released into baking dish once a day.

Step 3: Scrape dill off salmon. Remove fillet from dish and pat dry with paper towels before slicing. Gravlax can be wrapped tightly in plastic and refrigerated for up to one week; it should be left whole and sliced just before serving.