Maple Nectarine

September 24, 2008

The other preserve that I worked on this week is a Maple Nectarine Preserve.

Pretty straightforward stuff here:

Cut up nectarines.

Bring to boil with sugar, maple syrup, and lemon juice (and Bourbon).

Transfer to ceramic bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Bring back to boil, reduce, check set and put into jars.

As you can see, I’m experimenting with different jars to see what shape I want to sell the preserves in. The little one would be part of a sample set of, say, 5 different preserves.

A tasty little treat from the waning days of summer.

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I wanted to go in a bit of a new direction with my preserves this week, something with an intended savory application.

The grape jelly I made last week had me in the mood for wine and, so, I started there.

I worked at a high-end French restaurant in Madison some years back and we made a wonderful Shallot Confit that we served with our hanger steak and it immediately popped into my head once I sat down to make a plan.

Why not translate that recipe into a preserve? Besides, confit is French for “to preserve.”

The basic plan for the confit is to first julienne the shallots very finely.

Let me just say that I LOVE julienning shallots and onions. Especially with a gorgeous, extremely sharp Japanese chef’s knife.

I am now resisting the very strong urge to go to my kitchen and start cutting things.

I then caramelize the shallots completely.

Then, I deglaze with wine, add sugar, lemon juice, red wine vinegar and sugar-free pectin (important for a preserve with savory applications).

Here’s the result.

I think it would be delicious with steak, terrines and blue cheeses.

The Nuisance of a Name

September 21, 2008

Hey folks, here’s the deal.

I’m working on jumping through all the legal hoops to get a license to sell my jams and preserves for real money. All that’s fairly easy once you know what you have to do.

The hard part is coming up with a name.

david matthew sounds kinda formal and a bit like a furniture collection (“Oh, I just love your couch.” “Thank you, it’s a david matthew.”)

But I also kinda like it.

I’ve been coming up a lot of good ideas, but nothing great.

That’s where you come in.

I’m looking for a name for my preserves business that would go on every jar and that would capture these adjectives:

high-end
elegant
fun
comfortable
tidy
delicious
artisan
hand crafted
Anyone got any bright ideas?

Jellies Resurgent

September 21, 2008

Well, I’ve been working on jellies in the last couple of weeks and I’ve got two projects done.

The first jelly was the classic grape jelly. I got a bunch of fresh, organic concord grapes from Blue Skies Farm for super cheap because they were split in the picking.

I guess the farm makes wine from the majority of the grapes they grow, so the field hands aren’t very careful in picking the grapes. Perfect for a jelly maker.

The first time I had concord grapes, maybe 4 or 5 years ago, they were sitting on the counter in the kitchen of the house I was living at at the time. I absent mindedly picked one off the vine and threw it into my mouth. “Wow,” I thought, “this tastes just like grape jelly!” I had always just assumed that the flavor of grape jelly was as related to the taste of real grapes as blue razzberry is to real raspberries. Wrong! It’s just that concord grapes have a flavor all their own. Musky, tart, striking. I liked them a lot and have been eating them every year since as they come into season.

My goal was to try and make the grape jelly without pectin, as I’ve been trying to do with all my other jams. I found a recipe online that suggested I could do it, but I noticed that Ferber adds whole apples to all of her grape jams and jellies. I decided to trust the internet, over Ferber.

Honestly, what was I thinking?

The long story short is this: I’ve managed to make a great tasting grape thing with the consistency of molasses. There’s not really any pectin in grapes, so making jelly out of them is not really an option without added pectin of some kind. Oh well, lesson learned.

Here’s the jelly slowly working its way through a muslin lined chinois to achieve really clear jelly.

My next project was watermelon jelly. I had gotten a watermelon from my friend Andy at Sprouting Acres farm at market and was excited to get it into jelly form. But, after my grape jelly experience, I was wary. I also didn’t want to go the pectin stock route, because one of the great things about the watermelon juice I was turning into jelly was it’s bright pink color and I didn’t want to mess that up.

In the end, I decided to give commercial pectin a try. I can see that it has it’s uses and I’d like to be comfortable using it when appropriate.

This jelly turned out great in terms of color and texture. I also really like the flavor, but it’s not a peanut butter and jelly jelly. It’s also not really a cheese friendly preserve. I will tell you that it’s nice on toast and english muffins. It needs to be on or with something fairly light and unobtrusive because it itself has a fairly light and delicate flavor profile.

Also, depsite the fact that Watermelon Rose sounds both like a bath gel and a stripper, I added a rose hip infusion to the jelly as well. And before you get all in a huff, rose water and rose petals have a totally different flavor than rose hips, the fruit of the rose plant. Rose hips are tart and unctuous, not overly floral and grandma-y.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to in the jam world.

What’s coming next you say?

Maybe Maple Nectarine, maybe Quince Preserved in Honey.

Maybe something else entirely.