Grapefruit Lavender Jam

vintage fruits

About a week ago, I bought a huge bag of grapefruits because they were on sale. I don’t even know why–I think I was grocery shopping hungry which is always a bad idea. Anyway, I ended up with 6 pounds of grapefruits and no ideas. I just made a marmalade, and I don’t really need any more, and grapefruit curd isn’t shelf stable for very long. So, I made up an idea for a grapefruit jam. A bit of googling told me that grapefruit jam is a thing, so I decided to go for it. I really love to add herbs to fruity jams, and I think the sharp taste of grapefruit is a little much on its own, so I chose lavender to add some extra dimension.

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The only skill that this recipe requires that we haven’t talked about before is how to “supreme” a grapefruit and get all the pith/seeds out neatly so that you’re left with membrane-less segments. (I totally just learned it was called that, don’t worry.) If you’d like, you can watch this video to learn how.

Once that’s done, it’s basic jam-making.

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Grapefruit Lavender Jam: (yields about 3 half pints, maybe 4)

4 pounds whole grapefruits, cut into segments, including the juice.
2 cups sugar
1 pack liquid pectin
1 Tablespoon dried lavender flowers

First, simmer the jars and lids that you plan to use for your jam.

After you’ve supremed the grapefruits, put them in a pot with the sugar and bring it to a boil. Add the lavender and the pectin and boil for 10-15 more minutes, or until the jam coats the back of a spoon and passes the plate test. (Spoon some on a plate and let it cool, then tilt it. If it moves in a sheet, it’s ready. Ladle the hot jam into hot jars, place the lids on top then gently tighten the bands. Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes.

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This is how I take pictures of things, in case you ever wondered. It’s a miracle I haven’t toppled off of my chair and into whatever I’m photographing.

Pear Vanilla Jam

serving

I’ve been pretty heavy on the pears this winter, haven’t I? First, I made a Vanilla Pear Aigre-Doux, then the Swiss Chard Pear Gruyere Tart, and now a Pear Vanilla Jam. I’m not going to promise that I’m done with pears, but I’ll try to lay off in the next few weeks. In my defense, I had a half-eaten box of Harry and David pears dropped in my lap by a coworker’s family last week, so I felt like making jam was really my only option.

harry and davidI had never really considered making jam out of pears before, but I read a little about it and decided that you’d really need another flavor, like vanilla or cardamom, something to take control. Pears are such a delicate flavor; a jam with just pears would sort of be taken over by the necessary lemon juice. For this jam, I think it’s necessary to spring for real vanilla beans rather than using vanilla extract. With the beans, you get that great speckly look, and the taste is just vanilla, without the sharp alcohol taste of an extract.

pears and vanillaThis jam is tasty on toast with butter. It does get overwhelmed easily as it’s not too sweet and the flavors are pretty subtle, so I don’t know if it would even hold up against peanut butter. Best enjoyed solo, I think. This recipe comes from Food In Jars, a canning blog that I love. It’s no nonsense, to the point recipes are easy to follow, and the ingredients are rarely too fussy to find at any grocery store at a reasonable price. You can type in almost any fruit and find a starting point to make your own jam. I only adapted this one slightly, using a little less sugar than the recipe calls for and adding some lemon juice.

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Here’s the recipe (adapted slightly from Food In Jars):
yields about 5.5 half-pints

4 pears, thin-skinned, diced–no need to peel
2.5 cups sugar
juice of half a lemon
2 vanilla beans, scraped
1 pack liquid pectin

6 half-pint jars, lids, and bands

Start by setting a boiling-water canner to boil with your jars inside. In a small saucepan, simmer your lids and bands.

In a large, heavy bottomed pot, bring the diced pears, sugar, vanilla bean scrapings and hulls, and sugar to a boil. Boil hard for about 5 minutes, or until the pears are soft enough to smoosh with the back of a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat and use a potato masher or pastry cutter to mush up the fruit a little more. Then add the pectin, stir it in well, and bring the jam back up to a boil, stirring periodically. Test the jam for gelling after 8-10 minutes of boiling. To test, place a spoonful of jam on a plate, then place it in the freezer for a few minutes. Take it out and tilt the plate. If the jam is still runny, keep boiling and test again later. If it looks like jam, you’re done!

Ladle the jam into hot jars, leaving about a quarter inch of headspace. You should fill 5 jars and the 6th about halfway. For the half filled one, put a lid on it and put in the refrigerator to eat first. For the rest of the jars, wipe the rims, place the lids on top, gently screw on the bands, and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

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Pin-spiration Sunday & Fig Lemon Lavender Preserves

Today’s inspiration is Mona. She’s been my dog since I was nine. Although she might be the most difficult animal to care for in the whole world, she’s my favorite one. She’s ornery, mean, mostly deaf and blind, and she has to go outside at least 6 times a day. She takes Prozac. In her younger years, she ran away from home more times than I can count, she once swam across the Intercoastal Waterway and lived off of what she could forage for a week, and she survived both a coyote attack and an accidental baseball bat to the head. I have no idea why she ever made it to old age, it seems impossibly unlikely. But, here we are, almost fourteen years later, and she’s still the most adorable little creature I’ve ever laid eyes on. She’s intelligent, fiercely loyal, snuggly, and as hard-headed as ever. And I love her.

Mona came to visit with my mom yesterday. She napped while we made fig preserves. Just looking up from a steaming pot while my  mom chopped figs beside me to see Mona in her little bed made me smile. The way she curls up to nap makes me feel warm and happy from a place I can’t really identify. It’s somewhere between the pit of my stomach and the catch in the back of my throat that makes me feel a little like crying. When we had a moment’s lull, I would walk over and wake Mona up to be met with this happy face. The way she looks at me reminds me how completely and unconditionally she loves me, and that makes me feel like being a better person. Is that just crazy dog person talk? It probably is. But you dog people understand. There’s nothing in the world like seeing a look of pure adoration on your dog’s face.

Okay, figs? Let’s talk about those. I got hold of my figs from a guy in Pittsboro who has several trees and more figs than he can handle. I had about six pounds total, and we made all of it into preserves.

Oh my gosh, the combination of figs, lemon, and lavender… holy cow! You’re not going to believe it. I wish it was January right now so that I could crack open a jar of this stuff and just smell it. It feels like a dip in the ocean when the water is in the 70s it’s so summery. The lemons make it fresh, the lavender gives it some depth, and the small amount of sugar really helps the figs shine through.

And that’s it. Figs, lemon slices, sugar, and lavender. Cooked until your house smells like heaven and the preserves have thickened. Did I tell you that I recently got a Le Creuset pot? It’s beautiful, right?! I got at the Habitat store for so much less than a new one, I don’t even feel like it’s right to tell you how much I paid for it. I think it would just make you sad. Aside from the price tag, it’s white and doesn’t look like it has been used at all. I’m completely smitten, if you couldn’t tell.

Okay, okay, here’s the recipe:

3 pounds of fresh figs

1 lemon, sliced as thinly as you can manage, seeds removed

1 and 1/2 cups sugar (or 1/2 cup for every 1 pound of figs that you’re using)

1 teaspoon dried lavender blossoms

Wash and cut the figs into eighths, then put them into a large, heavy-bottomed (beautiful) pot with the sliced lemon, the sugar and, the lavender. Heat until simmering and stir consistently for about a half hour, or until thickened. You can tell it’s ready when the jam clings to the back of a metal spoon. Pour the hot jam into sterilized half-pint jars, wipe the edges, screw on the lids, and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

Makes about 6 half-pint jars.

Remember, summer doesn’t last. It might seem like the oppressive heat and long days have no end in sight, but one day–not too long from now–you’ll wish for the heavy plop of a ripe fig in the palm of your hand. Hopefully, you’ll have something as delightful as this jam to remind you of the feeling.