There was a whole lot of exchanging going on for the second annual jam and jelly exchange.
If I'm missing anything, please send me an email and I'll do an update. I wouldn't want to overlook any of our lovely participants. I hope I have it all straight, but good gravy! Things got real confusing real fast as I dug through everyone's emails. I've been working on this post for weeks, piecing together all the bits and pieces of information.
If you joined the exchange but haven't mailed your jar yet, please do so, and send me an email letting me know, otherwise I'll soon be mailing out jars on your behalf.
Because this is such a wordy post, I figured I'd dig into my photo archives and splash around photos of some of the berries that grow here in Alaska -- sure to quicken the pulse of berry-pickers and jelly-canners.
Megan from Megan's Cooking sent me a jar of garlic jelly as well as a bonus jar of vanilla spiced peach jelly (those are the two jars on the right in the photo above). Look at how that garlic jelly glows! Such a pretty color. I haven't cracked either of these open yet because I already have several jars open in the fridge -- both here at home and at work -- and I don't want any to go to waste. You can bet there's a post coming on each of these though. She has the garlic jelly with cream cheese on crackers, or I could do like her daugher does and have it on an english muffin. She says the spiced vanilla peach is her favorite because it tastes just like pie filling.
Megan received some plum ginger jam and (bonus!) some peach jam just in time for her birthday! It was packed in popcorn (awesome) from:
Mary from Norwalk, Ohio and the blog Shazam in the Kitchen. Mary remembers her mom making batch upon batch of jams when she was a kid. She even had a fruit cellar lined with jars of jam -- sounds like heaven! She says 6 kids eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches will kill a jar of jam pretty quick. Her non-recipe looks so good I'm tempted to dump my plans for making salmonberry ginger jam this morning and make plum ginger instead!
Red currants, ripe for the plucking
Mary received a jar of black currant jam, a Norwegian candy bar, and a postcard of the lovely town in which the lovely Siri lives. Siri lives in Forde, Norway and she was glad the jam arrived in one piece because she arrived at the post office with the jam still unpacked and only a small stack of newspapers for padding -- she kept having visions of Ohio Mary opening her soggy purple box to find shattered glass and moldy jam. Mary writes that she doesn't think she's ever had a currant that wasn't dried and the jam is just wonderful -- she describes it as a molasses-y-tasting fruit jam and she's posted a terribly good-looking photo of it slathered on toast (click on the link above).
Siri received cloudberry jelly from Nicole of Fairbanks, Alaska and the blog Arctic Garden Studio. Nicole took note when Siri commented here that she really liked cloudberries, but they're nearly impossible to get in Norway and really expensive. Nicole was only able to get two half pints this year, but she couldn't resist sending it. What a thoughtful gesture. The jelly makes an appearance in this post too.
Raindrops on watermelon berries -- whether or not these are good eating is a hotly-contested issue on hikes. Some love them, some call them... well ... snotberries.
Nicole received two jars from Rebecca in London, England: (1) greengage and gooseberry cham (a cross between a chutney and a jam -- did you make that up, Rebecca?) and (2) bramble and elderflower. A bramble is a wild blackberry and a greengage is a type of plum. Do I have that right? Take a look at Rebecca's superior jar decorating skills in the photo posted here! Is it possible to have a crush on jelly jars? If they're decorated like that it is.
Rebecca in London received salmonberry jam from Angie in Eagle River, Alaska. Rebecca said it was very exciting to hear the door buzzer ring and see the postman arriving with a suspiciously jam-jar-sized package. Rebecca says the exchange has really turned her into a jam and jelly making enthusiast. She recently branched out into chutney. Angie and I have been enjoying Rebecca's by-invitation-only food blog, From a North London Kitchen (she's willing to share with jam and jelly folks if you're interested -- just email me), and we've taken to calling her 'the cooking Jane Austen girl' because we enjoy her writing style so much. How can you not be smitten with a girl whose posts are titled things like "Cometh the hour, cometh the jam!"
White raspberries from my mom's backyard
Angie received a box of bounty from Michelle. There was a spiced pear jelly, an apple pie jelly, lemon curd, and dried kiwis and dried tomatoes! Michelle is:
Neena received blueberry-lemongrass jam grown locally in Minnesota and ginger peach sauce from Wisconsin that she's been enjoying over vanilla ice cream. Most intriguingly, Neena says both jars came with Elvis toppers. I NEED a photo. Those came from:
Heather in Minneapolis. Heather received TWO jars: crabapple jelly and peach raspberry jam from Kirstin in Michigan. Heather says "the only problem is, I promised to make homemade bread to honor the jams, and I haven't done that yet. So, they're on the counter being admired daily. Such a civilised pursuit!"
April from Knoxville, Tennessee and the blog Abby Sweets sent a pear vanilla bean jam to Laura in Niskayuna, New York. I loved this bit from April's blog:
"My great grandmother was very domesticated. She always made fried pies, or a cake from scratch. Every day there was something sweet that she had made. She quilted, embroidered, made jams. I guess that is where I get it from. My mom and nanny and mamaw do not like to do any of the above. But me, I want to make stuff everyday. I can't get enough of it. Right now, the thing that I am just can't get enough of is jam making. I have made peach, apple pie, pear honey and now blackberry jam. I am going pear picking tonight, so next will be pear honey and hopefully sugar free pear butter. I love the feel of accomplishment when I have cooked the fruit, poured into the jars, topped with a lid and left to cool, and when they have completely cooled, flip the jars over and the lids are sealed. It is almost as if my great grandmother is right there beside me giving me tips on how to do this stuff, although I have never met her."
That's what this exchange is all about!
My mom getting swallowed up by the raspberries bushes along her back fence.
April received some very pretty raspberry jam made from hand-picked raspberries. It came from...
...Stephanie from Rochester, NY and the blog Steph Chows. This was her very first attempt at making jam and it looks like her efforts were a smashing success -- and she tackled canning while in the middle of a move and she picked raspberries in the rain while her sister was going into labor in DC. What a trooper -- Steph AND her sister. She received salmonberry jam from Valerie...
Valerie lives in Kodiak, Alaska and her blog is Blissfully Unaware in Alaska. She's keeping her salmonberry jam recipe a secret -- my friend Angie tried to pry it from her but to no avail. She received triple berry jam (blueberry, raspberry and salmonberry) and her family had it with biscuits and caribou sausage gravy. It was from...
Courtney in Anchorage, Alaska. Courtney forgot to put the card in the box before taping it up but Valerie didn't even notice and was glad she hadn't thrown the box away yet. So glad to hear I'm not the only one who forgets to put the card in the box before I tape it up! Courtney received some awesome huckleberry jam from...
Nancy in Emmett, Idaho. In addition to the jar of Wild Idaho Huckleberry Jam, Nancy threw in a 5-pack of flourescent highlighter pens to Courtney the studious student.
Nancy was kind enough to send me an email and photo of her brilliant spill-proof berry-picking jug, modeled after one featured in her local newspaper:
Spilling your hard-earned berries is a real hazard when picking huckleberrries here in Idaho... they tend to grow on fairly steep slopes. It's a two liter pop bottle with the top cut off and inverted, then laced in place. This was her first model and she make the mistake of lacing it all the way around. That requires you to completely unlace it to dump the berries out. It's better to just lace it in a few places, as shown. The inverted top stays in place and you can just pull it out to dump the berries into a larger container (with a top), then keep picking. Be sure to connect the end of the string, too, to serve as a necklace, thereby freeing up both hands to pick. In addition to the no-spill feature, you don't have to be nearly as precise in placing each berry in the mouth of the jug. You can just toss them in haphazardly and they literally 'circle the drain' as they fall in. Easy to imagine how this can increase the berries picked!
Brilliant. I'm thinking of using this design to modify my berry-picking bucket:
Laura in Niskayuna, New York sent strawberry preserves to Nancy.
I sent a jar of red ribbon red currant jelly to Brenda who emailed me to say she "whooped in joy when I saw the box on my porch, and whooped again when I read the return addy? It's like, celebrity jam!! Jam that's been on the internet in pictures. Famous jam...!!! Squee!!" So I think she might have liked it. She also appreciated my spider bravery in tromping out into the woods to pick those currants. She hasn't weeded her garden in months because spiders live there. A girl after my own heart. Brenda sent...
Blueberry lime jam to Paula in Canada.
And you should know that I participated in a little bit of back-door jelly exchaning: I sent a jar of my peach preserves to Neena in Atlanta. She started the illicit exchanging. How could I say no to her email invitation? Her husband nearly fell over when a package from Wasilla, Alaska arrived at their door because our little town is the talk of the nation at the moment because of the thrilla from Wasilla (although I object to Her Highness stealing my nickname).
In return I got a jar of fig cocoa jam from Neena -- you can see it on the left in the top photo, above. I love how her jar-decorating meshes so well with Megan's. Love those earthy toned fabrics. Like I said up top, I haven't cracked it open yet but you'll surely hear about it when I do.
And I think that's all the scoops I've received so far from participants.
Whew! That was hard -- all that linking and rounding-up makes a girl want a piece of toast slathered with jam.