The Sandwich Saga Part 3

In preparation for the (hopeful) abundance of our recently planted garden (pictures as soon as it stops raining I promise), I have been learning how to make jams, jellies, preserves, and pickles. I have wanted to do this since I was a little girl, and now that I have the time and resources at my disposal, I figured it was time. My first attempt at making jam turned out pretty good, but it was definitely a learning experience. 
Angela, Dennis, and I went around the corner and picked loquats off of a tree growing out of the sidewalk. We brought them home, washed them, and I made jam from them. There are a few things I should have done differently:

1. Chopped them finer - I had no idea how resilient their skins were and assumed they would cook down softly, but they remained whole, which makes for a very chunky jam.
2. Used less sugar - Since I didn't have a recipe for loquat jam I used one for plum jam. I also didn't have as much fruit as the recipe called for, but I halved the recipe to compensate. But the amount of sugar seemed to me to be too much, but I used it anyhow and I think the jelly is a bit too sweet.
3. Not stirred during the final boil - It doesn't say anywhere in any of my books whether or not you are supposed to stir the fruit as you hard-boil it to 220 degrees, so I stirred it now and again. The place where I stirred it the most caramelized much faster, giving a deeper flavor, but also making the color a little muddier. I now know that you're supposed to just let the jelly boil away and not touch it...

Which brings me to my next canning project: pyrecantha-rose jelly. Pyrecantha berry bushes are common as ornamental plants due to their lovely foliage and bright red berries. What many people don't know is that they are also edible, though I wouldn't recommend snacking on them right off the bush as they are horribly bitter and have the texture of a mealy old apple. But I read that they make a marvelous jelly, so I thought I would give it a try. So the gang and I again went hunting for free fruit, and found it right in our own yard. We also thought it would be fun to gather wild climbing tea rose hips and petals to put in the jelly too, so we got those from around the corner. And I added an apple for extra flavor and pectin.
So we went home and I was left to sort and clean the berries, which took for-frickin'-ever, but was made easier by that wonderful fruit and veggie wash from TJ's. It was late by the time I finished, but I wanted jelly asap, so I started boiling the fruits together so I could hang them to drain in a jellybag overnight. I put them on the stove and went in my room, and when it was time to turn them off I came out and the house smelled... Funky. Like really old roses and apples. And when I opened the pot all the fruit had turned muddy brown and looked very unappealing. But I wasn't going to stop now so I drained it and went to bed. In the morning I got up and saw that the juice had a pleasant pinkish color to it and smelled better now that it was cooled. So I strained it a few times to make it clearer, and set to boiling it. All the recipes I found online called for almost twice as much sugar as juice and a whole package of pectin. Having learned from the first jam, I reduced the sugar and pectin amounts. I hate jelly that is so solid you can bounce a quarter off of it.

So there it was, starting to become jelly, and I was so worried that it would taste bad, or look gross, or smell funny, or not set properly. But then, like magic, after adding the sugar and some lemon juice, it started to change into the most lovely jelly ever. The aroma was spicy, floral, and sweet, and the color brightened and deepened to a rosy-orange hue, like the berries but softer. And after hot-water canning the jars and trying some, it set perfectly and has the most subtle, delightful flavor.

The taste of the jelly can be likened to a combination of many fruits. It has a lovely floral note because I added wild tea rose hips to the berries (which are also full of Vitamin C), and added a layer of rose petals on top. The Pyrecantha berries add a beautiful subtle flavor, a combination of grape fruit, pear, apple, and rose, with a spicy note reminiscent of allspice. Needless to say I'm hooked, and as soon as we have more berries to pick I can guarantee that I will be making more.

Oh, and in case you want to try some, I have the extra 5 jars for sale in my etsy store, here. ^_~


  1. You have so inspired me to make something other than strawberry jelly this year! Yay!~
    P.S. Your photos are fabulous too.

  2. Thanks Kelli!
    Don't be afraid to experiment with jam! The worst that could happen is you waste a bit of time and sugar, but the risk is well worth the possible rewards!