Some years ago my better half & I travelled in Canada – to be precise: in Nova Scotia. One day we came across a garden – privately owned, but open for public – w/ a large piece of land dedicated to herbs. There was also a little shop where you could buy this & that – especially herbs & food w/ herbs. I found some jams w/ herbs – new for me! So I bought some small jars for tasting: in short the best was a lemon jam w/ thyme (…for me – my better half gratefully declined because it was rather… acetous… bitter… tangy…).
This year – we’re now in full jam season – I decided to give jams w/ herbs a try. Of course I started w/ cooking lemon-thyme jam! (I could feel this rather unsusal flavour still on my tongue…)
Altogether I prepared 3 different jams w/ herbs: each time I made only a small batch for the sake of diversity. It took me about 90 min – maybe 120 min when counting the clean-up of the kitchen afterwards: a wonderful experiment during a wonderful spring morning…
For the record:
Yes – the orange jam above looks very smooth… It had the texture of a soft honey – nothing compared to the jelly-like behavior of the other jams. However, it tastes fine, very fine, very-very fine…
I looked for organic lemons to scrape their zest & thyme. I’ve got a lot of fresh thyme on my window sill, but when cooking jam I decided to go for the dried version.
For the record:
When cooking (or frying) fresh herbs the herbs tend to shrink & get brown or black – not so nice in appearance. (Well: it doesn’t matter when you’re dealing w/ tomato sauce or any other meat sauce or fried vegetables…, however, when cooking a jam…?)
Also I decided not to enrich any jam jar w/ some fresh herbs – after cooking just for decoration. Once I tried to prepare some scented oil w/ herbs: it was fine – for about 2 weeks. Then the herbs started getting musty… I didn’t intend to repeat this lesson w/ my jam.
I imagined a real hearty jam in spite of the sugar when starting w/ lemons, lemon zest & lemon juice having some intensive thyme flavour in the background.
My next adventure resulted in combining organic oranges w/ fresh ginger & dried roughly cut rosemary. I thought about a mix of sweetness, bitterness & fresh spicy ginger prickling on my tongue.
…finally I opted for strawberries, lemongrass & dried basil. Strawberries are the season’s favourites at the moment, lemongrass should add some mild exotic lemon flavour & intensive basil should care for the herbal finish.
In the beginning assemble enough jam jars for the planned results. I had a wide selection of small jam jars (215 ml resp. originally filled w/ 250 g of jam when coming from my trusted food store).
All jam jars have to be cleaned – at least w/ hot water (or even sterilized…)… & use a fresh clean tea towel. The same applies for the twist-off lids.
I started w/ the strawberry mess because strawberries need some time & lots of sugar to produce lots of juice.
So I cleaned & hulled & chopped the strawberries, added preserving sugar, lemongrass cut in pieces & dried basil. After a thorough mix I let it rest until ready for cooking.
While the strawberry mess idled on my kitchen top I cared for the next jams.
For the lemon mess I grated the lemon zest & added preserving sugar & dried thyme. Finally the pot was filled w/ lemon juice. I mixed & started bringing it to a boil. The sugar cleared… The jam had to boil fervently for 4 min – then everything was ladled in the waiting jam jars: the lid screwed on top & the jam jar put upside down.
The orange mess was just as easy. Scraping the zest of the orange, adding grated ginger & preserving sugar & dried rosemary: finally adding the orange juice.
Once again: boiling… ladling… jam jars upside down…
For the record:
I used fresh 100% lemon juice & orange juice from my trusted food store (no dehydrating & adding water afterwards!). Of course you can squeeze the juice by yourself if you like.
Lemon juice & orange juice as well as organic lemons & oranges are available all the year round – so you can prepare these jams all the year round!
(While strawberries otherwise…)
After these short sessions the strawberry mess waited for me: same procedure… except: discarding the lemon grass pieces – leading to some upside down jam jars at the end.
Voilà: These were the „last“ jam jars – not quite filled to the rim…
Have a look at the manifold!
I got 4 jam jars for each type!
Well: the herbs tend to sit together on top (because of the upside down method…). When opening a jam jar just put all the jam in a clean bowl & mix w/ a clean spoon until the herbs are well distributed. Then fill the jam back in the jam jar & store in the fridge. We’re dealing w/ small jam jars so it’s unlikely that the jam jar sits in the fridge for endless weeks…
Here are now our jams!
The lemon jam is really acetous & tangy: you’ll need only a small amount of jam for a thick toast or even rye bread. Nevertheless the thyme flavour is obvious. (I cannot remember that it was so acetous when I indulged in the Canadian jam…).
The orange jam is sweet & a little bitter & a little spicy & a little rosemary flavoured. It’s nice – I like it. Well: for some reason it’s a little lazy flowing i. e. not like a solid jam – it’s perfect when you have a croissant to dip into the orange mess.
At last: the overwhelming strawberry jam (w/ strawberry bits – I didn’t mash the strawberries!) w/ a hint of lemongrass & a hint of basil.
The businesswoman w/ too many office hours thinks
Lemon & orange jam can be produced very fast – the lemon jam is – very – special, but I got used to its taste. I think about any other approaches: like grapefruit juice w/ thyme or pineapple juice w/ ginger or…