The Preserve Swap

I have been looking forward to this evening's preserve swap for weeks. Finally an opportunity to speak with people who are perhaps as crazy about preserving as myself:).

I stood downstairs in my pantry for about 20 minutes perusing the lined up jars to determine what I would bring.

Raspberry Jam - selfishly I only have 4 jars of that left and it is my personal favourite, so the decision was that it would stay right where it was.

Angry Pickled Garlic which was made on a day when I was burning with anger. Those crispy spicy bite sized delicacies should be shared with others. Angry Pickled Garlic - check.

Spicy n' Sweet Pickled Carrots. What goes better in a Caesar than these other than perhaps pickled green beans. I love chopping these babies up and adding them to a salad. Add them to the swap list.

Pickled Shallots with Tarragon - these really need at least another 3 weeks before they are ready to be opened. I don't want anyone to get a substandard preserve, so I will save those for the next swap

Pineapple Jam - with the gorgeous winter weather we have been having it almost feels like spring out there. What better to accompany a sunny and mild winter day than a taste of the tropics. Some lucky preserve swapper will walk away with a jar of these.

Tomato Basil Jam - ooh another personal fav of mine. Great as an alternative to ketchup and so tasty in a toasted panini. The fresh basil from my indoor planters add the perfect snap of spring.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade - I have a few other marmalades to bring, so perhaps these can be saved til next time.

Marmalade with brown sugar and vanilla - an experiment with my favourite ingredients. Fresh vanilla pod which I looooove, brown sugar which adds a nice molasses flavour to the jam and the tartness of seville oranges. Nummies

Onion Garlic Jam - this jam might not be something one wants to eat while mingling at the preserve swap or on a first date. But the flavour of sweet onion, garlic and white wine married with a sharp cheddar or cheese of your choice is a delicious snack and a must bring.

Grapefruit marmalade - I go a bit marmalade crazy in February with Seville Oranges finally being in season and decided why stop with oranges. This refreshing marmalade is so good in the morning.

Apple Earl Grey Almond Jelly - I can't make shortbread cookies when I have this Jelly in the house. Their marriage of flavours would be sure to add 15 pounds to my frame.

Spicy Zucchini Relish - your burger will thank you. Do they serve burgers at The Avro?

Pickled Cauliflower - this is my favourite way to eat cauliflower. Pickled in brine with a bit of a bite, these crunchy pickles will find a good home on someone else's shelves....I hope :)

The jars are all ready to be swapped and find new homes and now I can't wait to see what I can swap these babies for!

Tomato Jam - duelling recipes

Until last week I had never even heard of Tomato Jam, but when I stumbled across a recipe for it during a Google search, it sounded too good to pass up. When I posted my intentions on my facebook page it received a variety of responses from "Yum" right down to my favourite comment from my Uncle Rudy which was simple and to the point "Yuck". I wondered which way it would turn out. The recipe called for 8 cups of sugar which seemed like a lot to me.

Now if you are like me and anywhere near approaching the Big 40, you realize that things like 8 cups of sugar tend to stick in places it never used to :). With this in mind I decided right out of the gate to reduce it to 6 cups and forged ahead. The end product is delicious but still a touch to sweet for my liking. So the search was on to find a recipe that maintained the deliciousness of my first attempt but that reduced the sweetness.

I settled on this Tomato Jam recipe because it called for 3 cups of sugar...and on top of that it is a great blog that you can spend hours cruising around for ideas and recipes. So I suggest you check it out.

I followed the recipe in every way except for the tomatoes. There were some great ripe Ontario tomatoes on special for 99 cents a pound and with my friend Andi's recent addiction to couponing fresh in mind decided to go with the less expensive and might I add 'locally grown' tomatoes instead. Keeping the tomatoes on a boil for 30 minutes concerned me at first because I am used to the slower reduction...but I love the time it saved and the end flavour wasn't impacted negatively in the least. And I love anything that saves time.

More than half of the sugar called for in the first recipe I tried and the end product is fantastic. Spoiler alert for friends and family - I will be giving jars of this stuff out as Christmas gifts.