If you are not a jam maker — we aren’t, but we’re trying — this recipe from Lucy Baker’s book Edible DIY might be a bit daunting. It was to us, but we read that the end result tastes just like carrot cake! Who could resist? Not us, and probably not you. Oh, and while the recipe seems daunting, it’s not so bad. We’ll take it step by step and help you through, so that you, too, can have carrot cake on toast for breakfast.
Jams and conserves always seem a bit difficult, but that is probably because we don’t make jams very often — this is just our second try. But, they are nothing more than variations on cooked fruit with sugar and pectin, pectin being the jelling agent. It’s what turns the fruit into jelly. And, while you can process your jams so they are shelf-stable, you can also just make them, pack them in jars, and store them in the fridge. It’s easier. So, take a deep breath, think, “I can do this,” and let’s get scratchin’.
Makes 3 pints
- 4 tsp calcium water (made from a packet inside the Pomona’s box)
- 3 cups sugar
- 2 tsp Pomona’s Universal Pectin
- 1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and grated
- 1 1/2 cups tart apples, peeled, cored, and grated
- 1 3/4 cup crushed pineapple, including juice
- 2 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup raisins, chopped
- 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp butter
Long list, right? Don’t have pectin sitting in your cupboard? Stop at a health food store or food co-op; they should have Pomona’s. It will set you back $4-5 for a box, but you won’t use it all. Health food stores carry Pomona’s because you can use it to jell with less sugar — apparently it’s the mystical calcium water that does it. For the carrot conserve, the recipe originally suggested using Granny Smith apples. We didn’t have any, so we used Pink Lady apples, instead.
Mix calcium water. The instructions included with the pectin say to mix 1/2 tsp of calcium (small packet in photo, above), with 1/2 cup water. Put it in a small jar, so you can keep the rest for other jams.
Mix sugar and pectin. Measure out the sugar and whisk in the pectin (large packet). Set aside. You want the pectin thoroughly mixed in, or, we suppose, you might get bits of jam that are super-jelled. That would be weird.
Juice. Juice a lemon. We want to do this before we grate the carrots and apples, so we can pour the juice over them, and they won’t turn brown. It turns out that this doesn’t matter in the end; the jam is the color of carrot cake, anyway.
Grate. To make it a bit simpler, we used our Cuisinart with the grating blade, but by hand would work, too. Grate carrots. We grated the apples, too. Since we didn’t know how many carrots and apples we would need for the 1 1/2 cups, we used the extras for Polish Carrot Salad.
Cook. Measure out the carrots, apples, lemon juice, calcium water, cinnamon, and pineapple into a heavy bottomed 3-4 quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly so the mixture doesn’t stick and burn.
Simmer. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the apples are soft, about 20 minutes.
Add raisins, sugar, and butter. Stir in the raisins, the pectin-infused sugar, and that little dab of butter.
Boil. Turn heat up and bring back to a full boil. Let boil for 1 minute.
Add walnuts. Stir in the chopped walnuts, and remove from heat. You’ve made jam!
Pack. While hot, ladle into hot jars, and cover. If you know how to can, these would process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath. If not, once cooled, store in your refrigerator. Unless processed properly, this is not a shelf-stable product.
So, was that difficult? Yes and no. It did seem a bit daunting at first, especially since we tried our hand at canning the jam, but, in retrospect, it wasn’t really that hard. Basically, cook fruit (and carrots), and sugar, and pectin. Then store. Oh, there was a bit left over that wouldn’t fit into our jars, and, yes, it does taste like carrot cake, but a bit sweeter. On toast it will be great. Because of the somewhat complex nature of this recipe, we give it four stars, but we think experienced jammers would give it five.