But then again, I'm not the average 20-something. I guess you can say I fell into preserving out of my stubborn frugality - our garden every year is so plentiful that I hate to see any of the gorgeous vegetables go to waste! I had a bit of a learning curve at first, though. While my paternal grandmother used to make pickles, freezer jam and jellies when I was really young, she's since hung up the ladle (so to speak). My dad, while a great pancake maker and grill man (who occasionally branches into home smoking and turkey frying), is not what you'd call the homemade pantry type though. My mom is finally starting to emerge from years as a short-order cook for two (rather opposite) childhood palates, but with a relatively new (and ahem, picky) Italian family on the meal ticket plus three grown children and 8(!) pets at home (yeah, I'm one of the squatters) and a full time job, she doesn't have the time or energy to break out the antique drum-like canner and spend most of the day processing fruit and vegetables.
So I've become the next canner in the family. I was given a large canning pot by my grandma back in 2008, and with a little research I took the plunge into tomatoes and pickles - and I've never looked back. Now my repertoire grows bit by bit every year, depending on the crops we have growing and what I find at the farmers market, and I've been able to put up various tomato sauces, tomato paste, pickles, jellies and jams, mincemeats and more chutneys than I ever thought existed. With the availability of products like Pomona's Pectin, which sets jam and jelly with next to no sugar required (most pectins need a good deal of sucrose to activate), I've also been able to make preserves for those in my family looking to avoid sugar for whatever reason using stevia-based replacements like PureVia, Pyure and most recently Truvia.
It was this combination of Pomona's, Truvia and naturally rich dried fruit that created this sweet and spicy fig jam. It's a chunky-style topping that goes well with sharp cheese and a glass of wine, spooned over ice cream or simply spread on a slice of pumpernickel bread. I was able to cut the added sugar by over 50% from the original recipe, partially by replacing it with Truvia (a blend of stevia and erythritol that's 3 times as sweet as regular table sugar) and partially by simply eliminating it. There's also a decent dose of calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese (an important detoxifying agent), but most importantly there is a wallop of exotic and exciting flavour in each bite.
This month's #RecipeRedux is all about Raising the Bar on Food in a Jar. Whether you're packing your lunchtime marinated salad, stashing your homemade granolas and trail mixes or (like me) canning up a storm, the Mason and Ball jars once recycled or shoved to the back of the cupboard are finally getting their well-deserved resurgence to the forefront. Check out the rest of the group's offerings below, and if you have a different innovative use for the container let me know in the comments!
Spicy Dried Fruit Jam
Makes about 4 1/2 cups, 36 (2-tbsp) servings
6 oz. unsulfured dried figs, chopped
2 oz sultana raisins
3 cups strong-brewed black tea
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
4 Szechuan peppercorns
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup dark brown sugar
5 tbsp Truvia Spoonable
2 tsp calcium water (from Pomona's)
¼ cup superfine sugar
½ tbsp Pomona's Universal Pectin
- Combine figs, raisins and tea in a bowl. Cover and let stand 24 hours.
- Add the soaked fruit to a saucepan with the lemon juice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, peppercorns, extracts, brown sugar, Truvia and calcium water. Bring to a boil.
- Cook, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes.
- Mix the superfine sugar and pectin in a small dish and add to the pot.
- Return to a boil and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Ladle into jars, seal and process in a water-bath for 10 minutes.
Total Fat: 0.0 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 3.0 mg
Total Carbs: 13.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.5 g
Protein: 0.2 g