When most of us think of jams and jellies, we imagine something fruity. We think berries, maybe: blackberry, raspberry, boysenberry, strawberry, lingonberry, and ultimately mixed berry. We think classic concord grape, apple, or apricot. Some of us might get a little pithier and delve into marmalades, preferring a bit of bitterness to the typical sugary delight.
Regardless of where we might land on this spectrum, most of us don’t first turn to the vegetable, herb, or flower gardens for jam and jelly flavors. But, what if we did? Innovated cooks and gardeners have long created jams and jellies that aren’t those typical fruit flavors at all.
For those of us who like to take culinary adventures, fruit-free jams and jellies might provide an entirely new landscape to explore. It might make for some exciting flavor combinations and some fun in the kitchen.
1. Mint Jelly
When and where it grows well, mint can take over a garden or even a lawn. It can grow in such abundance a person could drink mint tea every day and barely dent the supply. And, while there are a few other ways to utilize mint, the reality is that most of us don’t use it all that much. Try mint jelly.
- Pick a packed 1½ cups of mint, crush it, and steep it in 2¼ cups of hot water for about 10 minutes.
- Strain out the mint, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and dissolve 3 cups of sugar, heating the solution to dissolve the sugar.
- Finally, once it’s boiling and the sugar is dissolved, add 3 ounces of liquid pectin and let it boil for another couple of minutes then cool.
2. Pepper Jelly
Jalapeños, especially, make great pepper jelly, combining both sweet and spicy. Plus, for those that grow jalapeños, the pull from one or two plants can become difficult to keep up with. Homemade hot sauce is a great option, but it would be a mistake to skip out on pepper jelly.
- Combine a cup each of jalapeños, bell pepper, and cored apple in one-inch chunks.
- Blend the mixture up in a food processor (or similar device)
- Add a cup of vinegar and 2 cups of sugar
- Boil it all for about half an hour, i.e. until it thickens to the consistency you like
3. Green Tomato Jam
For those who grow tomatoes at home, green tomatoes just happen. Sometimes they fall off the vine. Sometimes we can’t wait. Sometimes autumn arrives early. Of course, green tomatoes already have a popular fate: fried green tomatoes. However, they can also be used to make tasty green tomato jam.
- Cut up 3½ pounds of green tomatoes
- Zest a lemon, storing the rind in the fridge in a little lemon juice
- Squeeze half of the lemon into the diced tomatoes and add a pound of sugar
- Let this macerate overnight then boil it on low for about an hour, stirring so it doesn’t stick
- Add the lemon zest and puree the mixture with an immersion blender
4. Caramelized Onion Jam
Onions are pretty easy to grow, they come with loads of medicinal benefits and they have no problem finding a place in lots of dishes. However, they don’t often feature as a flavor, save onion rings or French onion soup. An option that isn’t considered nearly enough is caramelized onion jam.
- Cook 2 pounds of thinly sliced onions in ½ cup of olive oil over medium heat for 15 minutes
- Add ½ cup of water, a teaspoon of sugar, and teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and simmer for half an hour
- Add a little salt to taste and let the caramelized onions cool into a delicious jam
Source: Magnus Franklin/Flickr
5. Rose Petal Jam
Though we use them much more in bouquets for Valentine’s Day, roses are actually edible and delicious. In fact, all species of rose are edible, including wild roses, and they all have varying degrees of medicinal attributes. And, rose petal jam is something we might imagine angels eating.
- Add 1½ cups of water to 2 cups of rose petals and simmer for 10 minutes
- Dissolve 1¾ cups of sugar (3 tablespoons of lemon juice) into the simmering rose water
- After 10 more minutes, mix another ¼ cup of sugar and a teaspoon of pectin in a separate bowl then add it, simmering for another 20-30 minutes to thicken the mixture
Making jams at home is a great hobby to get into, and it so much more versatile than people first realize. It isn’t always about the berries, grapes, and apples. Sometimes some mint and peppers (a great combination jam) can work their way into the mix. From there, things might just get funky.
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