2020 Production Report

As usual, I’ll be making batches of the chocolate syrup throughout the year, too often to bother with tracking them here.

K – Kiwi Jam (01/14) A combination of first, holiday madness and then, illness made for the gap of a full month between the first jam of this year and the last of the last. Oh well, the stuff still tastes good when I get around to making it.

MC – Mango Chutney (01/26, etc. etc.) I think I got juuuuust the right number of Jalapeños in the first batch. Capsaicin up front but not overwhelming.

Pickled Beets (2/6, 7/19, 9/15) I’m continuing the experiment I started last year of adding no sugar at all and advising recipients to take a taste and then add precisely the amount of sugar they want. Don’t know why I didn’t think of this years ago.

LM – Lime Marmalade (02/22) I saw these limes at a good price and had a flash of inspiration. Why not make a marmalade of them. Since they’re seedless, the prep work went rapidly, and then I boiled them down, tested only to find the skins tough, added more water, boiled ’em down more, tested again only to find the skins still tough. Boiled them down still more and in exasperation decided that it would be ok if the marmalade were a bit chewy, so I jarred them. But since there was still nagging doubt, I took a jar down to the games group with a fistful of spoons and asked the gamers to take tastes and give me a rating. It was universal! Thumbs down. It is so very disheartening to have to scrape the contents of a dozen jars into the compost after you’ve put all that effort and money into a failure. I report this in a spirit of full disclosure. Yes, there are sometimes failures. OUT OF STOCK.

Pickled Snow Peas (2/25) Pisum sativum, variety group macrocarpum. These have gone over very well in the past when I’ve got them from the Herrs at the Noe Valley Farmers’ Market, but they’re not growing them now and I had to make do with grocery store produce. Still good.

MLM – Meyer Lemon Marmalade (3/2, 3/25) Citrus x meyeri The skin on Meyer lemons is so fragile that it tends to break apart in cooking, but the taste is lovely.

Pickled asparagus (3/20, 3/24) This will be it for the pickled asparagus this year since I’ve used up all my tall, less than quart-diameter jars. People who like asparagus like it pickled, so get in line. And bring me some tall smaller-than-quart diameter jars.

Pickled Sugar Snaps (3/24, 4/12, etc.) Pisum sativum variety group macrocarpum. The present sugar snap pea originated from Dr. Calvin Lamborn’s cross between a shelling pea mutant found in 1952 by Dr. M.C. Parker and a snow pea cultivar, so the relation between them and the snow pea is downright incestuous. First of the season for these, but there’ll be more since they are so very popular. When I make a batch, I usually put a dried hot Thai chile in half the jars and a Piper retrofractum (the Javan brother of the Indian Long Pepper) in the other half.

KLM – Key Lime Marmalade (3/24) Citrus aurantiifolia was brought to the West Indes by the Spanish, and the Florida population (in the botanical sense) was brought there from Mexico by Henry Perrine in the mid-nineteenth century. They are a coveted lime and fetch high prices when they can be found. The currently existing Mexican lime, a distinct botanical race from the Key lime, is readily available at reasonable prices in Mexican markets in San Francisco, and unscrupulous grocers have been known to pass off Mexican limes as Key limes. So have unscrupulous marmalade makers, so I’ll go ahead and confess that the Key limes that went into this marmalade were of the Mexican race. The taste, as best I can tell is very similar if not identical, but the Mexican ones remain dark green when ripe and have a thicker skin. I had to boil this one down for quite some time to soften those little skins. It will be a while before I make it again because seeding and slicing the little things is so tedious. Get it while you can.

ELM – Eureka Lemon Marmalade (3/29, 4/28, 5/12, 6/16) I made a marmalade of Citrus limon last year and it went over very well, so here it is again. And again. And again.

Pickled Brussels Sprouts (2/26, 7/19) Sra. Yerena has to hold off on the carbohydrates like me; so instead of jams and jellies, I give her pickles. And like the jams and chutneys I give her husband and son, the pickles have chiles in them. Somehow I’d never given her the sprouts, and when I gave her the last of the 2/26 batch, she was curious enough when I handed her the jar that she opened it and tried a sprout right there. Her eyes widened. She held the jar out for her husband to try one. His eyes widened, and he tried another, and another; upon which she jerked the jar back. The next time I was there, Alex plaintively reported that his parents had let him eat only the last delicious one. Gave ’em a bigger jar of the 7/19 batch.

SB – Strawberry Jam (4/24, etc.) My first strawberry jam of the year. I waited for a couple of weeks after strawberries made their first appearance, and these, from the Yerenas, made a good jam. Better yet, I pretty much nailed the proper consistency of the jam this time.

RLM – Rangpur Lime Marmalade (5/7) Lovely Carol came through for me with a big bag of Rangpur limes from her Potrero Hill tree. Thus this marmalade from these little treasures.

SBT – Strawberry and Thai Chile Jam (5/8) I needed to get some piquant jams for the chile lovers. I have a bag of dried Thai chiles of indeterminate age, so I used this old coffee grinder, the little vertical cylinder with a bowl on top into which you put the substance to grind. Then you press down on the clear plastic lid until everything’s ground as small as you want. Worked fine and produced Thai chiles ground fine. Put one level teaspoon in first. Kept adding teaspoons until I got to four, and still did not come up with a jam as piquant as many people like. Oh well, maybe I should change the name to “Mild Strawberry….” OUT OF STOCK

RLELM – Rangpur Lime/Eureka Lemon Marmalade (5/11) See, the bag of Rangpur limes that Carol gave me turned out to weigh 7 1/2 lbs, and since I make my marmalades with five pounds of the fruit, I had 2 1/2 pounds left. So I bought 2 1/2 pounds of Eureka lemons to bring the weight up to five. Turns out that this one might be better than either of the others is by itself.

hMC – Mango Chutney (5/14) The lowercase “h” indicates that this is not as piquant as the batch I made last December and labeled with an uppercase “H”, but it’s still a bit hotter than a plain MC. OUT OF STOCK.

A – Apricot Jam (5/17) Arata at the Noe Valley Farmers’ Market had his first apricots. Thus this jam.

N – (multiple occasions) Yellow nectarines are my favorite fruit and they’re now in season. I experimented once by cutting the nectarines off their pits and then giving them a good ride in the Cuisinart to chop up the peels. Turned out delicious, if you ask me. For the second batch, I omitted the Cuisinart ride but in most later versions stirred around with the stick blender.

SBI – Strawberry and Italian Pepper Jam (5/22) The peppers were not very hot, so I used lots and lots of them without making the jam too hot. OUT OF STOCK

CSB – Chandler Strawberry Jam (5/30) I stopped in at Yerena’s at the Mission Community Market, and he had dead ripe Chandler strawberries, so damn good that a lot of ’em went into my mouth during the stemming process. Those things are the queen of the strawberries.

RHC – Royal Something Cherry Jam (5/31) Stopped by Alfieri’s at the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market and picked up six pounds of a delicious cherry variety. The name is two words, the first of which is “Royal”, but I can’t remember now whether the second is “Helen” or “Hazel”. Made a delicious jam anyhow.

TB – Tayberry Jelly (6/7, 6/12) Yerena has brought the first of the season’s tayberries to market, and I was there waiting for them. They have an excruciatingly short season, so my hope is that I’ll be able to make three batches of jelly from them. As many as possible, anyhow, since I have yet to find a single person who didn’t just love tayberry jelly. As usual, I’m steeping the leftover seeds and pulp in vinegar in the refrigerator for a month before I strain the mass through a cloth to get a berry flavored vinegar.

BCP – Bing Cherry with Patak’s Hot Lime Relish Jam (6/11) I used about a quarter of a jar of the relish in this and threw in a couple of seeded and deveined Jalapeños. Shoulda used more Jalapeños, but it’s still good.

NCJ – Nectarine Curry Jalapeño Jam (6/15) We have this exotic treat thanks to my not paying full attention when I was in Casa Guadalupe and grabbing a jar of Patak’s Hot Curry Paste under the impression that it was Patak’s Hot Lime Relish. And since I had no Lime Relish in the house, I substituted the curry paste. Threw in a couple of seeded and deveined Jalapeños to crank the capsaicin up without using so much curry that it overwhelmed everything. Turned out pretty good. OUT OF STOCK

BLB – Blueberry Jam (6/15) Caught these at the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market and cooked ’em down into a jam.

Pickled Haricots Verts (6/15) I spotted these at the Alemany Farmers’ Market and did a doubletake. Asked the vendor (trick question), “Are these Jade beans?” She said, “Oh no, they’re French beans”. “What kind of French beans?” “Haricots verts”. So I grabbed three expensive little packages. I rarely see real haricots verts nowadays and fondly remember seeing them years ago at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market labeled “Harris Coverts”. Look, I’d rather have my farmers nurturing their crops rather than wasting time learning to spell their names. Nowadays, I’ve seen more than one vendor try to pass off Jade beans as haricots verts since the Jades run a lot smaller than, say, Blue Lakes. It’s been a number of years since I pickled these tiny things, and yes, it’s still like building a ship in a bottle. But damn, they’re cute. And tasty. Not handing these out to random strangers but will wait for my readers to ask for them. Do. You owe it to yourself.

RB – Raspberry Jelly (6/19) Got to Yerena’s stall at the Mission Community Market too late yesterday afternoon and found that the tayberries had already sold out. So I substituted a flat of gorgeous raspberries. Modesty prevents my describing how good the jelly turned out.

BB – Blackberry Jelly (6/29, 7/8) Big plump blackberries from Yerena make a good jelly.

BC – Bing Cherry Jam (7/5) Cherry season is at its end, but I managed to snag six pounds of Bings at the Alemany Farmers’ Market. Cooked it down until quite thick, so you don’t have to worry about keeping your toast level.

BBJ – Blackberry and Jalapeño Jelly (7/22) Put three large, seeded and deveined Jalapeños in this one, and they turned out to be just enough to give the batch a mild chile flavor because Alex Yerana had comped me a half flat of berries, which meant that I was making the jelly with 50% more berries than usual. Actually, this may be the perfect ratio of chiles to blackberries because the capsaicin is present from the beginning without becoming overwhelming.

Blackberry Vinegar (7/30) From the steeped seeds and pulp of the 6/29 BB jelly. (I make jellies of blackberries, tayberries, and raspberries and steep the pulp and seeds in vinegar for a month. Then I strain them through a cloth to produce a vinegar strongly flavored with the berries. This year I forgot to label the jars, so I didn’t label the bottles of the resulting berry vinegar either.)

SBJ – Strawberry and Jalapeño Jam (7/31) This one also has three large, seeded and deveined Jalapeños, so it’s picante but not Ay Caramba!

RBJ – Raspberry and Jalapeño Jam (8/2, 8/14) The master plan was to make the second batch much more piquant than the first. Turns out that neither got all that hot. Just as well, as both have a very pleasant hint of capsaicin that come creeping in after the raspberry taste.

SSB – Roasted/Charred Strawberry Jam (8/6) Yes, an experiment. For those who like oven-roasted vegetables pushed to the point that there’s a bit of charring, this jam’s for you.

GG – Greengage Jam (8/11,8/15) Greengage plums are not widely grown because the trees can be a bit capricious and thus do not endear themselves to farmers. Rodin is my only source, and I try to make sure I turn out two batches of jam with them every year.

FBW – Fig, Balsamic Vinegar, and Walnut Jam (8/15) I put some recipes together last summer to come up with this one, and it went over well, very well. Did it again this year with a higher percentage of roasted walnuts. This one is too good to pass out to folks who haven’t asked for it.

GGj – Greengage Jam with a lowercase amount of Jalapeño (8/20) This marks the end of the cruelly short Greengage season.

Blackberry Jalapeño Vinegar (8/25) From the steeped seeds and pulp of the 7/22 BBJ jam.

SB – Strawberry Jam (9/4) Plain old strawberry jam like grandmother made.

NJ – Nectarine Jalapeño Jam (9/5, 9/11) I put four large seeded and deveined Jalapeños in the first batch, so the capsaicin is right up front. For the second batch, I’d found some beautiful red Jalapeños and used two large and two small. So the second batch is noticeably less piquant….but still good.

SP – Sugar Plum Jam (9/10) Sugar Plums are the small ovoid plums with a meaty mouthfeel. They are prunes d’Agen in their native France, and to make things confusing most of our crop is dried into prunes. Anyhow, they’re my favorite eating plum and make an excellent jam. Barely caught the end of their season this year.

Ukrainian Tomatoes (9/20) The recipe was in the Chronicle’s Sunday food section, and I couldn’t resist trying it for four pints worth. Small tomatoes cut in quarters, put in jars, and covered with an herb/oil mixture. Passed three out here in the building and all got good reviews.

YP [mislabeled “PJ”]- Yellow Peach Jam (9/26) We’ve reached the end of the yellow nectarine season, but my main vendor still had some yellow peaches. As strong as my bias for nectarines is, these were quite good peaches. Today may mark the last of the jams and jellies this year because I went to place my usual jar order with Target (five cases of twelve 8 oz. jars) and was shocked to discover that Target was out of ’em. No prob, I thought, I’ll find another source and went online….and went online….and went, only to discover that everybody is out of ’em. Well, except for a couple of vendors who’ll gladly sell you some at four times the usual price. Humph. Perhaps Bell, Kerr, or Mason will light up a factory and churn some more out in the next few months, but in the meantime my only preserving will be of things that don’t go in 8 oz. jars. Like the pickles, the berry vinegar, and the chocolate syrup. So I won’t be sitting idle.

Blackberry vinegar (10/27) This is from the last big jar of seeds and pulp that I had steeping in the community refrigerator.

GMM – Green Mandarin Marmalade (12/31) I got the Olsens to bring me a bag of unripe mandarin oranges so I could make a marmalade of them. It worked although my favorite is still the Eureka Lemon Marmalade. Oh, and the Great Jar Drought is over.

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