I was lucky to have some great jam helpers with me this past weekend. Allison and her mom Barb came and assisted me in a the kitchen as we made "Boozy Apple Preserves" with rum-soaked currants, cardamom and blood orange. They were a delight to cook with, and the preserves turned out great. I wish I had thought to take a few photos of them with rags on their heads and gloves on, geared up for jammin--it was adorable! It was heartening and inspiring to cook alongside mother and daughter, as we peered into pots and tasted the elixir together. The love and laughter definitely filtered into the jam.
We soaked currants in rum for an hour or so, but we could have soaked them longer. They plumped up like little drunkards, and we added them to 1/4 inch diced Winesap apples. We threw in some sugar and then juiced and zested a few blood oranges to add acid, flavor and depth to the concoction. Meanwhile, I simmered cardamom pods in syrup and added this, plus a few pods to the apples mixture. Then we cooked it for awhile until we reached the gel stage (221 Fahrenheit). While we waited for the jam to jam, Carla plied us with chocolates and pastries, not perfect enough for the restaurant, but just right for our taste buds.
I love having helpers in the kitchen! If I'm lucky, I have a few every month that come join--students, friends, strangers and jam fans--to learn my jam secrets and assist me in the artisanal process. It adds to the love in the jam, and makes it taste that much better.