Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cardamom, pepper, tarragon and mint, Part 1

I tried to make the title rhyme with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme(?); however, my choices of herbs and spices as flavorings for jams "sing" of the exotic and the country.

Von Thun's table
Saturday I went to the Metuchen N.J. Farmer's Market in the parking lot off New St. The VonThun farm of Monmouth Junction regularly sets up there and they have a solid offering of all the popular fruits and vegetables. Front and center were some wonderful Jersey peaches, just hours away from the peak of ripeness and ready for jamming. The peaches came from a neighboring orchard. To carry the 6 pounds of peaches, plus corn, eggplant and a melon the size of a pumpkin, VonThun gave me a big tote bag which is so much nicer than the throwaway plastic baggies.

I had two recipes for peaches from the Better Homes and Gardens Canning magazine - peach jalepeno pepper jelly, and peach jam with cardamom. I started with the jelly and Here is the recipe:
Straining the juice with cheesecloth lined 
      Peaches: 2 lbs, peeled, pitted and chopped
       Cider vinegar, 1 cup
      Jalepeno peppers, 3 or 4, seeded and chopped
      Sugar, 5 cups
      Liquid pectin, one 3 oz bag

    Put chopped peaches in a large stockpot and mash with a potato masher. Add vinegar and chile peppers. Bring to boiling and reduce heat, then cook for at least 20 minutes until everything is very soft. Use a jelly bag or colander lined with cheesecloth, strain the mixture. You need 2 cups juice. Discard the solids.
Combine 2 cups juice with the sugar, and bring to a boil, stirring. Quickly stir in the liquid pectin. Bring to a boil again, stirring constantly for one minute. Remove from heat and skim the foam on the surface. Fill hot jars with hot jelly, wipe the rims and put on the lids. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 5 minutes. Makes 5 half pints (8oz jars).
Top: Peach-jalepeno Jelly
Botton: Apple-peppermint Jelly

The best jelly is clear and sparkling, from juice that has slowly dripped through the bag. I wanted every last drop of juice, so I squeezed the pulp almost dry and filtered it a second time 95% clear. When I tasted the juice wow, hot and sour and sweet, you have to try it!

The next batch, also from BH&G, was for peach jam with cardamom. See page 73 for the recipe.This brought back memories of a family vacation in Zanzibar in 2009.
Peach Jam ready for lids
The inn served many variations on mango jam, with black pepper, with cardamom, with cinnamon, etc. It was the first time we had jams with strong spices. In fact, we took a tour there of a spice farm, more of a backyard garden in the jungle than a farm, imagine chickens, cats and a 
few other animal species here and there. We carried umbrellas against the rain and traipsed through muddy fields, yet we saw everything from allspice to vanilla. The innkeeper made the jams herself using mango which grows abundantly. Peaches are similar in color and taste.


  1. Hi. I found my way here from Maria Grazia's blog, Of Pots and Pans. This is a gorgeous post, and it looks like many worthwhile things come of your interest in preserving. Look forward to exploring what you've accomplished.

    1. Hi Trish,
      I'm glad you like reading my blog. I've posted a new entry to begin the canning season. Thanks for writing a comment and following my activities. Take care.