Cranberry Pear Conserve with Ginger recipe and a canning swap

I can think of fewer places I would rather be on a chilly November afternoon than sipping tea and chatting with girls who have gathered together to swap jam, jellies and preserves.

That was how I spent part of my Sunday past, enjoying the warm hospitality of my good friend Melanie, while the boys stayed home to rake leaves. Clara came too, sitting primly on the sofa in her party dress and nibbling crackers so neatly that my heart swelled with emotion at the thought of all the tea parties we have ahead of us.

It was delightful to be a guest for once, and the practical aspect of the swap made it a not-to-be-missed event on my calendar. Read on for a few photos from the swap and a recipe for Cranberry Pear Conserve with Ginger, my contribution to the table.

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Sour Cherry Jam

Sour cherries have a relatively short season. I’ve never found them in a grocery store but we visited a u-pick to pick raspberries and, to my delight, discovered three rows of sour cherry trees.

Sour cherries are gems to find because although they aren’t necessarily for snacking, they make some of the best jams and baked goods around. So, even if you can’t find them at your grocers or farmers market make sure to check out some u-picks nearby. They are worth every ounce of trouble to get them.

If you don’t have a cherry pitter, no worries, I don’t either. Depending on what I’m using the cherries for I will either cut the cherry in half and remove the pit with my fingers or, if I want to use the cherries whole, I use the wavy end of a clean bobby pin to loosen the pit from the stem end and then insert the bobby pin through the other end and push the pit through. At first it may take a bit to catch on to the technique but once you’ve got it down it’s easy peasy.

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Join me for canning week (Recipe: Sweet Cherry-Plum Jam)

This summer I’ve been making a conscious effort to up my canning game. Getting my act together for preserving takes setting a specific time aside for the job, penciling it on the digital calendar, and communicating with Danny that, dude, you so have all the kids on Saturday, but it’s going to be so worth it when we’re eating preserves all winter long.

Once the dates were set, I rounded up every canning jar in the house, took stock of my Tattler lids, invested in a few Weck jars, and purchased more standard jars that I anticipated I would need. It’s important to get your gear in order before you buy your fruit. Fruit can spoil quickly, but jars can sit around forever.

So far, it’s been going well, with my running list of preserves looking like this:

The weeks are just flying by, though, and I feel like I am barely staying on top of the seasonal produce as it comes and goes at the market. I’ve already missed my chance to pickle asparagus, but they weren’t on my all-important list of ‘must-haves’. (Speaking of essentials, have you written up a practical assessment of what you need to can and you will eat? This helps keep your canning projects realistic – and your sanity intact.)

I thought an official canning week was just what we needed around here to keep up the momentum, share a few recipes, and inspire each other.

Read on for information on how to join in, as well as a recipe for cherry-plum jam.

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Raspberry Jalapeno Jam

Written by Marisa of Food in Jars.

I’ve always been of the opinion that when it comes to preserving raspberries, the simplest approach is the best. That’s because to my mind, raspberries are nearly perfect without anything extra. Most years, I struggle to save enough to preserve because I so love eating them just as they come.

However, my rational side always chimes in to remind me that raspberry season is fleeting and that if I want taste them in February, it’s in my best interest to put a few aside for canning. So I squirrel enough away to make a couple precious jars of jam that I ration out into bowls of yogurt or oatmeal.

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For the Love of Small Batch Canning (Recipe: Spiced Plum Jam)

Written by Marisa of Food in Jars.

Plum jam tastes like childhood to me. When I was very young, my family lived in a house with three Santa Rosa plum trees scattered around the yard and every other year, we spent three weeks wading through a sea of plums.

We’d eat them until we couldn’t bear to look at another and then my mom would make enough jam to last until the trees ripened again.

All photos by Marisa

These days, I don’t live surrounded by plum trees but that doesn’t stop me from making a yearly batch of plum jam. I cook it up just the way my mom did, with cinnamon and nutmeg. The result is a sweet and tart spread that tastes just slightly of Christmas.

This summer, I’ve become enamored of making smaller batches of jam. When you reduce the volume of jam you make, you also get to cut down on both the preparation and cooking time.

It also means that you can make a wider variety of flavors because you haven’t filled your pantry with a dozen jars of the same thing.
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