22 August, 2013

Blueberry and Mirto Jam

Blueberry jam with Mirto liqueur

I find such a huge pleasure in making jams at home that if I only had a possibility to get good quality fruit at reasonable price I think my house would be invaded by jars of all colours.
This year I got a little lazy and made only Strawberry Vanilla Jam, but, hey, at least three batches (if I remember well). And I got really sad when I realized the other day that all the apricot jam I made last year was gone (and I made quite a lot last year) and the apricot season is well over where I live. Perhaps it's still not too late to make some Peach jam instead.
There was, however, one jam that I never made - blueberries. I know there are mountains not far where they grow, but I never went blueberry picking myself. Those would be to die for. And would end up not only in jam but in my favourite liquer ever, Mirtillino.
To my surprise, a couple weeks ago I saw fresh blueberries sold at much lower price than I'm used to (at least 1/2 or 1/3 of the usual price), so I asked immediately for 1 kg. The girl looked at me all confused and asked me 3 or 4 times to confirm that I asked for such a "big" quantity. The high price was the main reason why I never made blueberry jam at home and I was definitely not letting go of this opportunity.
Since I normally like to add some fresh herbs to kick up the flavour of fruit, I was unsure what to do this time. To add some rosemary or thyme as usual? No, I wanted something different. I had seen a recipe once for blueberry jam with myrtle twigs added to aromatize it, but where on Earth could I find myrtle? As far as I know it grows only in Sardinia... And there I had a flash. The bottle of Mirto liqueur we brought from Sardinia a couple years ago. I love this liqueur. One of my favourite digestives. And so, a little part of it ended up in this jam. The result? Fantastic, fabulous, yummiest blueberry jam ever.

Blueberry jam with Mirto liqueur

A few words about the method I use. For the last 3 or 4 years, the industrial pectin has definitely disappeared from my kitchen. I never use any for the jams I make at home.
And if you thought the alternative was sweating for hours over the cooker, I'll prove you wrong.
First of all, I start the preparation in the evening. Wash, clean and eventually chop the fruit.
Then I mix it with sugar - I normally stay in the range of 350-400 g of sugar per 1 kg of fruit.
I let the fruit macerate in the fridge overnight and then proceed the following day.
By separating the pulp from the juice, and cooking the juice alone in the first phase, you actually save time and you don't torture the pulp later cooking it for hours.
As far as the help from pectin, I find the pectin naturally present in lemon skins and seeds works much better than the industrial powder. Ok, you may argue that with that powder jam is cooked faster, but it's the consisteny that bothers me. Naturally cooked jam has that rustic, thick consistency. If you heat it it won't turn into water like the store bought one or the homemade jam cooked with the addition of industrial pectin. If you use it as a filling for cookies or crostatas or croissants or  crescents, it won't simply turn into water and leak out or evaporate. On the contrary, even after baking you'll have the pleasure to enjoy it at it's best.
And I repeat, you will obtain this result in relatively short time, without actually slaving over it for hours.
I hope, really hope you'll give this method a chance and forget about industrial pectin for ever, like I have.


Blueberry jam with Mirto liqueur


Blueberry jam with Mirto liqueur

(ingredients for 600 ml or 800 g jam)
* 1 kg fresh blueberries
* 300 g fructose (or 400 g sugar)
* 2 lemons (juice, skins and seeds)
* 50 ml Mirto liqueur

Carefully wash the blueberries and remove all impurities.
Put the blueberries in large enough container with a lid. Stir in the fructose (or sugar), cover and let macerate in the fridge for 12-24 hours. Try to stir the fruit several times during this period to make sure the sugar melts evenly.
When ready to make your jam, separate the pulp from the juice pouring everything into a colander placed over the pot you'll be using to cook the jam.
Start cooking the juice first over medium heat until it starts caramelizing and has a consistency of a thick syrup, approx. 20-25 minutes.
In the meantime, peel the yellow zest from the lemons (you may discard it, unless using organic lemons, in that case save it for cakes or other). Cut the peeled lemons in half and squeeze all the juice.
Add the juice to the blueberry pulp. The empty  skins and the seeds will serve as a source of pectin, so make a little bundle tying them up in a piece of cheesecloth.
When the fruit juice has turned into a syrup, add the blueberry pulp and the lemon bundle in. Cook the jam stirring often over medium heat for about 20-30 minutes. Remove the skins and seeds trying to squeeze as much of the juices they've absorbed as possible (I recommend using a potato ricer if possible, it's the easiest and safest way ).
Continue cooking the jam for 5 more minutes and then remove from heat. Add the Mirto liqueur and fill the warm, sterilized jars with hot jam.
Turn the jars upside down to create the vacuum and let them cool down completely in this position. Turn them in normal position, label and store in a cool, dry place. Refrigerate the jam only after opening.
*To sterilize the jars, put the perfectly washed and dried jars into a cold oven. Turn it on to 110°C and leave the jars in for all the time the jam is being cooked. To sterilize the lids, I leave them immersed in alcohol and just take them out later without rinsing or drying them on the inside.



Blueberry jam with Mirto liqueur


Confettura di mirtilli con Mirto

(per 600 ml o 800 g di confettura)
* 1 kg di mirtilli freschi
* 300 g di fruttosio (o 400 g di zucchero)
* 2 limoni (succo, bucce e semi)
* 50 ml di liquore Mirto

Pulite e lavate i mirtilli. Metteteli in un contenitore con coperchio, aggiungete il fruttosio (o zucchero), mescolate bene e mettete a macerare in frigo per 12-24 ore. Durante questo tempo cercate di mescolarli più volte per far sì che lo zucchero si sciolga bene.
Trascorso questo tempo, separate la polpa dal succo che si è creato filtrandola attraverso un colino.
Mettete il succo in una pentola e cuocetelo a fuoco medio per circa 20 minuti (o poco più) finché cominci a caramellare e assumere l'aspetto di uno sciroppo denso.
Nel frattempo, sbucciate i limoni togliendo solo la parte gialla con un coltello o sbucciapatate. *se avete i limoni biologici, sfruttate le bucce per dolci o altro, altrimenti scartatele.
Tagliate i limoni a metà, spremete il succo e aggiungetelo alla polpa di mirtilli. Le bucce vuote e i semi, invece, raccoglieteli e legateli dentro un pezzo di garza. Questo pacchetto e la fonte di pectina e serve per far addensare la confettura.
Quando il succo che state cuocendo ha iniziato ad addensarsi, aggiungete la polpa con il succo di limone e il pacchetto con le bucce e semi.
Cuocete la confettura per circa 20-30 minuti mescolando spesso. Togliete il pacchetto con le bucce e spremetelo bene per far uscire più succo possibile (consiglio di usare lo schiacciapatate), lasciate cuocere per altri 5 minuti fino a raggiungere la densità desiderata (considerate il fatto che la confettura diventerà ancora più densa raffreddandosi). Togliete dal fuoco e aggiungete il Mirto.
Versate la confettura ancora calda nei vasetti caldi e sterilizzati. Chiudete i vasetti, girateli a testa in giù e lasciateli raffreddare in questa posizione. Una volta freddi, rigirateli e conservate la confettura in un luogo fresco e asciutto (dopo l'apertura conservatela nel frigorifero).
Per sterilizzare i vasetti, inseriteli ben lavati e asciugati nel forno freddo. Accendete poi il forno a 110°C e teneteli così per tutto il tempo che la confettura si sta cuocendo. Per sterilizzare i coperchi invece, li metto nel alcol per 15-20 minuti senza sciacquarli o asciugarli dopo.
Nella mia esperienza, confetture preparate in questo modo si conservano benissimo anche per 2 anni. Appena preparate hanno un colore bellissimo, e la consistenza fantastica (cambia naturalmente con il tipo di frutta). E completamente naturale e senza conservanti, ma si conserva benissimo anche se non avete una cantina o altro luogo fresco in casa come me. 

Blueberry jam with Mirto liqueur


Pekmez od borovnica s Mirtom

(za 600 ml ili 800 g pekmeza)
* 1 kg svježih borovnica
* 300 g fruktoze (ili 400 g šećera)
* 2 limuna (sok, kore i sjemenke)
* 50 ml likera Mirto

Pažljivo operite borovnice, odstranite eventualne listiće i/ili druge nečistoće.
Stavite ih u veću plastičnu posudu s poklopcem. Dodajte fruktozu (ili obični šećer) promiješajte poklopite i stavite u hladnjak na 12-24 sata. Tijekom tog vremena, nastojte promiješati voće nekoliko puta da se šećer bolje istopi.
Kad ste spremni kuhati pekmez, uspite voće u cjedilo i odvojite pulpu od soka koji je voće pustilo.
Stavite sok u lonac i kuhajte ga na srednje jakoj vatri 15-20 minuta, sok će se početi lagano zgušnjavati u sirup.
U međuvremenu ogulite limunovima vanjsku, žutu koricu (skinite tanki sloj) i odbacite je (ako vam je limun neprskani iskoristite je naravno za kolače, kekse itd.). Prepolovite limunove i iscijedite sok iz njih, ali sačuvajte sjemenke.
Naprevite zavežljajčić od gaze u koji stavite iscijeđene polovice limuna i sjemenke.
Kad se sok lagano zgusnuo u sirup dodajte pulpu borovnica, sok limuna  i zavežljajčić s limunovim koricama i sjemenkama.
Kuhajte dalje 20-30 minuta. Izvadite zavežljajčić s limunom i dobro ga iscijedite jer upije dosta pekmeza. Najlakše je to napraviti tijeskom za krumpir.
Kuhajte pekmez još pet minuta, maknite s vatre, umiješajte liker, a zatim ga sipajte još vrućeg u tople, sterilizirane staklenke.
Da biste sterilizirali staklenke, stavite ih dobro oprane i posušene u hladnu pećnicu. Uključite pećnicu na 110°C u trenutku kad počnete kuhati pekmez i neka stoje tako dok pekmez nije gotov.
Kad ste usuli pekmez u staklenke, zatvorite poklopcima i okrenite ih naopako. Na taj način će se stvoriti vakuum i ujedno poklopci sterilizirati od topline pekmeza. Kad se pekmez potpuno ohladi vratite staklenke u normalan položaj i spremite ih u ostavu.

* Svrha korica limuna (samo bijelog dijela) i sjemenki je brže zgušnjavanje pekmeza, budući da i jedno i drugo prirodno sadrže pektin. Dakle služe kao prirodna zamjena za prah želin. Može vam se tijekom kuhanja činiti da je pekmez previše rijedak, ali će se hlađenjem dodatno zgusnuti, stoga nemojte pretjerati s ukuhavanjem (govorim iz iskustva).
* Ako volite pekmez bez komadića voća, prije nego ga sipate u staklenke kratko ga promiksajte štapnim mikserom.

Blueberry jam with Mirto liqueur

4 comments:

  1. Peach jam is on my agenda for today. I have found that apples have enough natural pectin to thicken cranberry jam. I am too much of a chicken to not use pectin today, Last batch did not thicken for me.

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    Replies
    1. That's true, I used to add apples to strawberry jam, the only thing is it changes the taste slightly, which is not case when using lemon skins. I've never had problems with this method ever since I used it for the first time, and with every fruit I've made it with, peaches included. Good luck

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  2. This sounds positively delicious! But I must say, that frosty bottle of Mirto is making me thirsty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was definitely hard taking a photo without taking a sip :D

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