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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mulberries and Peaches

It's been a while since I've had a big canning day and lots of fruit is coming in. Today I made mulberry jam for the first time. Then I followed that up with peach jam and peach conserve. The mulberries came from a tree in Dwayne's folk's yard. I just never thought about using them before, but they are really good!

I wish I had gotten some pictures of us trying to pick these. They could also be named "stainberries." Some fruit is so abundant, I wonder, why do I never see this in the store? With mulberries, I think we don't see them used commercially because they are so delicate. The ripe berries are very soft and fall easily from the tree. In fact, when we were picking, our shoes were so wet with purple juice from fallen fruit that the ladder rungs got slippery. It seemed that for each one we picked, another two fell off of the disturbed branch. We finally go the idea to hold a sheet under each branch while Bill gave it a shake. Much more efficient, but we sure did stain the sheet and our shirts where we got bombed. Each berry has a small stem. Because I planned to seed the pulp, I didn't bother to remove the stems.
I used the recipe from the low-sugar Sure Jell package. I simmered the berries and mashed them with a potato masher, then ran them through this food mill. The berries are very sweet and not very acidic, so I added 2 tbsp. lemon juice. Acidity is important for the safety of the product and also helps with the jelling process. The recipe didn't call for lemon, but I just kept adding it teaspoon by teaspoon until it tasted like the same tartness as blackberries.
Here's my jam-day lunch: omelet with chard, shallots and Parmesan and brand new mulberry jam. Yum!
Some of the seeds came through the food mill because they are so small. They are not hard like blackberry seeds, but are hollow and crunchy more like fig seeds. I'm glad some made it through. I also think these have quite a lot of natural pectin because it thickened and mounded up very quickly. I'm still waiting for the peach jam to thicken up and it may take a few days.

Here are the lovely peaches I bought at Blue Goose Produce in Loomis. I got a good deal - $1.00 per lb. I have found that a lot of growers will give you a deal if you buy 10-20 lbs. I made one batch of regular peach jam with the low-sugar Sure Jell. I didn't take many pictures of that because I wanted to share my experimental batch of peach conserve.

For both recipes, I started with dropping the peaches in boiling water for 1 minute, then placing them in ice water. This eases the removal of the skin. As I peeled the skins away, I put them in a strainer over a bowl so I could capture any juice that might come from the skin. A lot of the rosy color is in the skin, and as you can see above, I got some of that great color to add to the chopped peaches.

As each peach was peeled, I dropped it into a large bowl of acidulated water. I added about half a cup of bottled lemon juice to the water in this big bowl. This allowed me to take my time without the peaches turning brown.

Here is the bowl of peaches, apple and golden raisins waiting to get boiling.

This came out really yummy. I made up this recipe and I'm pleased with the result. I did learn a few things. One is that raisins sink. Most fruit floats, so if you walk away from the pot for a few minutes, it's not a problem as long as it doesn't boil over. Because the raisins sank, they got a little scorched before I realized I needed to keep stirring. It wasn't too bad, and a fished a few out. The result is that this mixture got a deep caramel like flavor that was further enhanced by the toasted almonds. It never got up to the 22o degrees that I expect for the jell to form. I'm getting a better eye for the correct consistency and pulled this off just in time. It's already thickening, so we'll see what happens as it cools over the next few days. I think this will be good on my morning toast or yogurt, but it is screaming to be baked in buttery pastry.

Mulberry Jam
about 8 cups of fresh mulberries
1 cup water
4 cups sugar
Lemon juice
1 package of Sure Jell for Less or No Sugar Recipes

Prepare lids, jars and boiling water bath.

Remove any twigs or leaves from the berries but don't worry about the small stems. Place the berries and water in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Crush lightly to separate juice and seeds. Pour berries into a food mill placed over a large measuring cup. Process to remove the stems and some of the seeds. 5 cups of pulp are needed.

Taste the pulp and add lemon juice until it is about the same tartness as blackberries. Mine took 2 tbsp.

Measure the sugar into a large bowl. Scoop 1/4 cup of sugar out into a smaller bowl and mix it with the pectin. Stir the pectin/sugar mixture into the fruit pulp. Place the fruit on the heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once it has boiled, add the remaining sugar and return to a boil. Once it reaches a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, set the timer and boil for one minute. Remove from heat and skim any foam. Cool for a few minutes and stir so that any seeds that came through will be evenly distributed. Ladle into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space, and carefully wipe rims and rings. Top with lids and rings. When all jars are filled, place in the boiling water bath and boil gently for 10 minutes. Carefully remove and allow to cool. Check seals and remove rings and dry any remaining water from tops of jars and rings.

Peach Conserve
Conserves traditionally combine two or three fruits, dried fruits and nuts.

7 cups prepared peaches (peeled, seeded and finely chopped)
1 apple, peeled cored and finely chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups golden raisins
6 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups toasted sliced almonds

Prepare lids, jars and boiling water bath. Place a few saucers in the freezer.

Combine peaches, apple, lemon juice, raisins and sugar. Place on the heat and bring to a boil. Boil, stirring very frequently, until mixture reaches desired thickness or 220 degrees. (You may need to skim foam a few times during the cooking.) To test consistency, scoop out a teaspoonful onto frozen saucer and allow to cool a minute or two. If it wrinkles when pushed, or mounds up, it is thick enough. Stir in almonds and cook about a minute more. Ladle into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Wipe rims and top with lids and rings. When all jars are ready, place into the boiling water bath and boil gently for 10 minutes. Carefully remove and allow to cool. Check seals and remove rings and dry any remaining water from tops of jars and rings.

1 comment:

  1. Looks delicious! I have many fond memories of mulberry-picking with my sister. Maybe I could make a batch to send to her for her birthday!