This is going to sound completely made up, but I’m going to tell you anyway. When the folks at Storey Publishing asked me to be a part of the blog book tour celebrating the release of Put ‘Em Up! Fruit, I was making a batch of pickles from the author Sherri Brooks Vinton’s other book, Put ‘Em Up!. I just use it that much. Put ‘Em Up! is a super-reliable preserving volume with a very wide scope that quickly became a stand-by in my kitchen. I can see Put ‘Em Up! Fruit, which focuses in on 80 ways to practically preserve fruit and 80 ways to use it up once it’s in jars, earning a similarly prominent place on my bookshelf.
Lemon, Red Onion, and Oregano Jam
Excerpted from Put ‘em Up! Fruit (c) by Sherri Brooks Vinton, photography (c) by Jennifer May, used with permission from Storey Publishing.
Makes 5 cups
This recipe is a tad intense to prep. Halfway through julienning the lemon zest I start to curse the fuss of it. But all the fuss is forgotten when the heat hits the pot — the perfume of the lemons and lovely pink hue that the onions bring to the picture dispel all memory of tedium. This is truly a gorgeous jam.
2 pounds lemons (8–10)
2 cups water
4 cups sugar
4 teaspoons Pomona’s Universal Pectin
1 pound red onions (about 1 large or 2 medium), diced
½ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons calcium water (from the Pomona’s Universal Pectin kit)
1. Using a vegetable brush, scrub the fruit with a nontoxic, odorless dish soap and hot water.
2. Remove the zest from the lemons with a vegetable peeler, being sure to leave any white pith behind. Julienne the zests. (See page 35 for more on julienne.) Combine the zests and water in a small nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer gently for 30 minutes to soften the zests.
3. Combine 2 cups of the sugar with the pectin in a small bowl and set aside.
4. Supreme the lemons (see page 130), discarding the white pith and seeds. Combine the lemon flesh with the softened zests and their simmering liquid in a large nonreactive pot. Add the remaining 2 cups sugar, onion, vinegar, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
5. Stir in the calcium water. Slowly add the pectin mixture, stirring constantly to avoid clumping. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, continuing to stir constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
6. Remove from the heat. Allow the jam to rest for 5 minutes, giving it an occasional gentle stir to release trapped air; it will thicken slightly. Skim off any foam.
Refrigerate: Cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
Can: Use the boiling-water method as described on page 20. Ladle the jam into clean, hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace between the top of the jam and the lid. Run a bubble tool along the inside of the glass to release trapped air. Wipe the rims clean; center lids on the jars and screw on jar bands until they are just fingertip-tight. Process the jars by submerging them in boiling water to cover by 2 inches for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the canner lid, and let the jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Remove the jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check the seals, then store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
(Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher, but my opinions remain my own.)