By Becky Hoff of Harmony, Minnesota
Harmony is a small but active rural community nestled in the southeast corner of Minnesota. It has been my home for the last six years and is also where I work, managing the Visitor Center and Chamber of Commerce office. From a tourism perspective, Harmony is known as a destination for bicyclists, and as being the home of both Niagara Cave and Minnesota’s largest Old Order Amish population.
Amish produce stands are prolific in the area, selling an abundance of locally grown fruits and vegetables as well as trucked in fruits from warmer states. Our local farmers had a bumper strawberry crop this past June, and many home canners made good use of those beautiful berries. I myself canned the most delicious Strawberry Jam with the help of Pomona’s Pectin and my new favorite jam ingredient — Balsamic Vinegar. My husband wants me to use balsamic vinegar in all of my jams now!
I’ve been hunting raspberries at an Amish place near me — Raspberry Balsamic Jam sounds like something I want to eat. . . . I went out to the farm stand last week. Although they didn’t have any raspberries, I left with a crate of peaches and about a laundry basket’s worth of other produce! So I spent that evening making Peach Salsa, a couple Peach Pies for the freezer, and Peach Jam with Blackberry-Ginger Balsamic Vinegar. Plus we’ve been eating fresh peaches every day since!
Finally got the call from a local orchard, Blossom Hill, that the raspberries had been freshly picked, so I spent that Sunday experimenting in the kitchen!
I made a double batch of Raspberry Jam following the Pomona’s Pectin instructions, and added one Tablespoon Plain Balsamic Vinegar for each cup of mashed raspberries before cooking. The results were very pleasing. The dark vinegar creates a beautiful deep raspberry color, the tart taste is similar to Raspberry-Rhubarb Jam.
I also used Plain Balsamic Vinegar with blueberries. In my experience blueberries can stand up to anything you add to them; they always take over when you do a mixed fruit jam, for example.
As summer gives way to fall I will continue with my Balsamic Vinegar Jam experiments, and I will certainly share any new favorite recipes! (Right now, Strawberry with Lavender Balsamic is at the top of my list!) I would love for other readers to comment on what they like to do to make their jam recipes sing!
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