Archive for the ‘Jam and Jelly’ Category

Apricot-Orange Shortbread Bars

March 7, 2011

Apricot Orange Shortbread Bars

If I could only have one cookie for the rest of my life this might be the one. Statements like that are so melodramatic but it manages to convey how much I love these bars. Prior to eating one of these I might have told you I don’t like apricots. Ha! That’s obviously not true! I would have said yes, I like shortbread, and I adore anything almond. What I’ve learned is that the three together are a heavenly combination.

I used to use only Hero brand apricot preserves for these, but I’ve discovered that there is something different about those preserves and they aren’t as good as they used to be. My recommendation for preserves is to choose a brand with the least number of ingredients on the label, and more fruit than sugar if possible. These bars were made with Bonne Maman French preserves. Next fall when the apricots are plentiful I’m hoping I can find the time to make my own. The Bonne Maman preserves are wonderful, but as much as I like them I’d like to figure out a less expensive alternative.

This recipe can be found at Epicurious.

Rhubarb Raspberry Jam

July 10, 2009
Rhubarb Raspberry Jam

Rhubarb Raspberry Jam

Let me say this up front. While this jam is wonderful, please don’t make it the way I did. It was dangerous and there are much easier ways to make jam than this.

We have our very own prolific rhubarb and raspberry plants in our backyard. The raspberries are about to start ripening and we still have a few in our freezer from last year, so I decided to get busy and make some rhubarb raspberry jam. A personal favorite. I’ve done this before, but haven’t ever written down a recipe. I’m sure I used amounts of fruit based on what was available, and I’ve always used Sure Jell Light. The stuff in the pink box. The jam always turned out great, so why I wanted to tempt fate and try something different is beyond me.

It occurred to me that there are natural occurring pectins and that I don’t have to rely on a box to make jam. Apples and gooseberries both have a lot of pectin in them and they’re readily available to me. I decided it would be fun to add a little apple and use that as my pectin. Apparently I need to do more research on how to properly use natural pectin. For some reason I thought that the mixture needed to reach 220 degrees to become jam. I cooked it and cooked it some more and mine never reached 220. This went on for longer than I care to admit. The cook top was covered with splattered jam, as was the microwave above the stove, the coffee pot to the right of the stove, the knife block to the left of the stove, the  knives in the knife block, the floor in front of the stove, my shirt, and the counter tops on either side of the stove. It’s a wonder that my feet didn’t get burned because I didn’t foresee the splattering and was wearing sandals. Thank goodness I have good reflexes!

The up side of this saga is that the jam did set, and despite being cooked for an unreasonable amount of time, it tastes great.

Here is the recipe that you shouldn’t follow. I only offer it as a guideline for what not to do, and for my own personal reference in case I should ever temporarily lose my mind and want to try this again. Please get a box of Sure Jell or Sure Jell Light and follow the directions carefully. Or, refer to a reputable jam making source. Please note that I don’t process my jam. I put aside one jar to use right away and the rest gets put into freezer containers for future use.

Rhubarb Raspberry Jam

1 Granny Smith apple


2 c. raspberries

5 1/2 c. sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

2/3 c. water

pinch of salt

Peel the apple and dice it finely. Add rhubarb to the apple to equal 3 lbs. Place the apple, rhubarb, raspberries and water in a large pan and cook it over medium heat until the rhubarb is tender. This takes about 15 minutes.

When the rhubarb is tender add the sugar, lemon juice and salt.

I cooked this over medium heat for a very long time trying to get it to 220, which didn’t happen. I would recommend cooking it until it passes the wrinkle test. Place a saucer in the freezer for a few minutes. Put a dollop of jam on the frozen saucer and return it to the freezer for a few minutes. Push on an edge and if it wrinkles up call it done.

Place in prepared freezer containers. Cool completely and freeze.

Here are a few links with better information about making your own jam.