Making your own jam is one of fall’s great joys…
I must admit that I haven’t bought jams for years – I much prefer making my own, as making jams is one of the most delicious ways to preserve a season’s harvest. Whether using fall fruits, strawberries from a local orchard, or berries from my own garden, I end up stirring jam many times over the course of a year.
… but have you ever made a vegetable jam?
But why stop at making fruit jams? Vegetables are wonderful candidates too. And carrots are especially delightful here. The only way this vegetable jam differs from a fruit jam is the way it’s cooked – indeed, we’ll need to compensate for the firm texture of the roots, as well as for their low sugar content.
What is star anise?
This carrot jam is simmered with lemon juice and with star anise – a small star-shaped pod harvested from evergreen trees native to Vietnam and China. Star anise is unrelated biologically to anise (aniseed), but it has a similar flavor. It’s commonly used in the cuisines of China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam, and it’s said to have myriad medicinal benefits. Here, it gives the jam a lovely flavor without adding sweetness.
The jam is wonderful on its own, but it really shines when served with cheeses… especially soft, creamy, bloomy cheeses. So for a stunning assortment, pair the aromatic jam with fresh goat cheeses, Camembert, Brie and triple cream cheeses… or make these Pullman toasts with carrot jam and triple crème cheese.
Carrot jam with star anise
makes 2 3/4 cups
active time: 30 min
- 1/2 cup spring water
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 1/2 lbs (680 g) young carrots – peeled and thinly sliced (use the slicing attachment of a food processor) (5 cups)
- 1 3/4 cups organic sugar
- 4 whole star anise
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- Place the water, salt and carrots in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently so the carrot slices warm evenly. Once the carrots are warmed through, cover the pot, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until the carrots are tender. Mash with a potato masher until finely mashed, but not puréed. Add the sugar, star anise and lemon juice. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes until the juices have reduced and look syrupy and the carrots look translucent. Stir the jam from time to time, and more frequently towards the end of the cooking. (You might also need to reduce the heat to low towards the end of the cooking. The jam should not simmer too fast.) Test the jam for consistency by placing a spoonful on a small plate and placing in the freezer for 5 minutes until cooled. The jam shouldn’t be too thick or sticky. It should have a slight jammy consistency. If you overcook the jam, it will congeal when cooled. Transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature and refrigerate for up to 8 weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving.
- Half a cup might seem like a lot of lemon juice for a small batch of jam, but carrots don’t have any natural acidity. So the lemon juice is a key ingredient. It brings a wonderful (and essential!) contrast to the sweetness of the jam.