Chunky apples sweetened with raisins and a few dried cranberries, tempered by thyme and softened by a shot of port, this conserve will be great with potato pancakes, baked winter squash, pumpkin soup, and any number of other wintry dishes. I also made this with pears and raisins, and it was equally good. Both versions were pretty spunky from the orange and lemon juices, relatively small amount of sugar and the addition of herbs. For the December (can’t believe it’s been a whole year!) Tigress Can Jam, the theme is dried fruit, used as an accent. When we focused on alliums earlier this year, I made a curried onion jam with raisins, which I plan on making again soon, before the local onions disappear, so I was pretty confident that raisins would be a good counterpoint to the fruit.
The recipe for this concoction was based on “Pear, Port and Thyme Conserve” in Erica Bone’s Well-Preserved cookbook, which she in turn adapted from a recipe I couldn’t identify in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. While I used Bone’s concept and method, I changed just about everything else.
Apple Conserve with Port and Thyme adapted from Erica Bone’s Well-Preserved
½ c freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ c lemon juice (bottled to guarantee acidity or a little additional fresh)
1 tbsp lemon zest
½ c turbinado or demerara (brown) sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
Pinch of salt
½ c raisins
2 tbsp dried cranberries
3 lbs apples, peeled cored and coarsely chopped (1/2-3/4-inch pieces)
4 tsp fresh thyme leaves
¼ c port wine
Prepare the canning jars. Place the juices, seasonings, sugar and dried fruit in a large saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the apples, stir to combine and let them boil gently, with the pan covered, for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and cook slowly for another 15 minutes or until the fruit is soft but still somewhat chunky. Add the port and thyme and stir to combine. Ladle into hot canning jars, making sure to tamp the fruit down to eliminate air pockets. Process the jars in a water bath canner for 10 minutes after the water boils. Turn off the heat, remove canner lid and let sit for 5 minutes until moving to a spot where the jars can sit undisturbed until cool. Makes about 5 half-pint jars.