Jam is a treat and although made from fresh berries it’s hard to argue that it is “healthy” as sugar is an important ingredient. If you are going to indulge yourself a bit, jam made from organic berries picked at their peak, pure cane sugar, freshly-squeezed lemon juice and fruit pectin is better for you than store-bought brands and you sure as heck can taste the difference.
Do you ever get a chemical after taste from store-bought jam or a gummy, overly sweet taste?
Fruit, never mind the raspberries you think you are buying, is often not even the first ingredient in store-bought jam. Look out for ingredients such fruit syrup (concentrated juices from less expensive fruit such as apples, pears or pineapples), high fructose corn syrup which is cheaper than pure cane sugar (now this is an ingredient you should avoid at all costs), natural flavours (which can be a whole lot of things that have nothing to do with raspberries) and citric acid which is made in a lab to substitute for lemon juice.
I will let you in a little secret. I make absolutely no profit and do not even cover my costs when making jam with raspberries from our farm and selling it for $7 (Canadian) a jar. Hence…spreading the love.
The jars, lids and rings cost about $1 each although to find that price now I have to search for sales as these prices go up every year.
My labels, not including the one-time design cost, are about 25 cents each. (They would be slightly cheaper if I ordered in larger quantities.)
Each jar has a pint of fresh-picked organic raspberries from our farm which I would sell for $5.
The fresh lemon juice is also an expensive ingredient.
So with the cost of the ingredients, jars and labels adding up to my sale price I have not yet added in labour which includes sterilizing everything, meticulously cleaning work surfaces, making multiple small batches to control the quality and electricity to make the jam and boil the water in the canner. In addition time is spent marketing and distributing the jam which I often deliver.
Why do I make and sell jam? I love making jam. The smell of a simmering pan of raspberry jam is my favourite scent in the world. I like it that we have developed a bit of a following (and a wait list) and local bed and breakfasts, lodges and neighbours appreciate how great it tastes and have an inkling of what goes into making it. As cheesy as it sounds, it truly feels like spreading the love.
This Naramata take on a classic Victoria sponge is two fluffy sponges lightly flavoured with vanilla and almond with a very special sandwiching layer…Legend Raspberry Jam and a healthy dollop of whipping cream.
Here is a Cole’s Notes version of what went into making that legendary jam:
Grow the raspberries on our farm.
Harvest the raspberries at their peak.
Deliver to Legend Distilling.
Legend makes Slowpoke Farm Berry Vodka with them. (Check out my post about how it’s made minus some secrets.)
Make raspberry jam with some more of our farm fresh raspberries and some of Legend’s Slowpoke Farm Berry Vodka made from our raspberries. It’s like raspberries times three.
A limited supply of this special jam is for sale at Legend Distilling during the Christmas season… You can of course substitute a high-quality raspberry jam but your cake will be slightly less legendary.
Our recent snow fall has put paid to my fresh raspberry supply so it’s time to bring out the jam.
3/4 cup unsalted butter (soft)
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
3 extra-large or large eggs (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached self-rising flour
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 8″ round cake pans. Cut a round of parchment and fit in the bottom of your pan and grease and flour.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until well combined and smooth.
Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.
Add the extracts.
Add the flour, beating gently just until well combined.
Divide the stiff batter evenly between the cake pans; there’ll be 11 to 12 ounces of batter in each, depending on the size eggs you used.
Bake the cakes for about 20 minutes, or until they start to pull away from the edges of the pans. Remove them from the oven, cool for a couple of minutes, and turn out of the pans onto a rack to cool completely.
When the cakes are cool, place one layer on a plate. Spread with the Legend jam or a jam of your choice.
Whip the cream — 2/3 cup cream makes a medium-thickness layer of filling; 3/4 cup cream, a thick layer. Sprinkle in 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, or to taste, as you whip the cream until it’s quite stiff. Stir in the vanilla at the end.
Pipe the whipped cream over the jam. You could also spread the whipped cream if you prefer.
Top with the second layer of cake.
Sift icing sugar over the top of your cake.
Refrigerate the cake until you’re ready to serve it. It’ll be at its best within 12 hours; but is still quite good up to 2 or even 3 days later. The difference will be the whipped cream, which will gradually settle/compact. Yield: about 12 servings.
Our raspberries are summer captured in juicy jewel bites. When they hang out with Legend Distilling‘s craft vodka along with some BC blueberry and cranberry pals summer is but a pour away, anytime of the year.
A good portion of our Naramata Carpe Diem berry farm’s raspberries end up at Legend Distilling, a short walk from us. They use them as a cocktail garnish and in their Slowpoke Farm Berry Vodka.
Distiller and Legend owner Doug Lennie was pressing off the fruit that had been infusing into his craft vodka for a secret amount of time when I dropped off this morning’s harvest.
Who doesn’t love a sale? But how many regrets stem from snapping up a bargain that maybe didn’t fit quite right, didn’t match your decor or really wasn’t needed at all? My rentthechickens will not fall into that category as the Black Friday bargain was an “item” already on this savvy shopper’s list and eggs never go out of style.
My two laying hens, 100 pounds of chicken feed and portable coop will arrive in May from Kamloops’ couple Ron and Marie McGivern’s farm and will be picked back up in October. These rentthechicken.com hens are a perfect way for us newbies to get our feet wet. If we chicken out, no harm, no fowl. Ron and Marie will come and pick them back up.
For about $500 including delivery and pick-up, the hens will lay the equivalent of eight to 14 golden eggs a week…somewhere around $2 an egg. The point is not to save money but to give us the chance to test out a risky purchase before making a commitment to longer term chicken husbandry.
Rentthechicken.com was started by an enterprising couple from Freeport Pennsylvania. “Your chickens will come from our affiliate homesteaders in Kamploops,” says Jenn Tompkins. “We started out thinking we could rent chickens to a few Pittsburgh hipsters and that would be it. We were dead wrong. We now have more than 35 affiliates all over the U.S. and Canada and are renting out more than 1,000 chickens. People are really interested in having their food closer to their tables without a longterm commitment.”
Jenn says the hens will quickly become my pals. It’s all a matter of who feeds them and who brings the yummy table scraps, she says.
What’s in a name?
Downtown Abbey characters like Lady Mary and Edith are trending chicken names, according to Jenn as are Laverne and Shirley with the older demographic. Younger renters are leaning toward characters from Friends or the Big Bang Theory. Charlotte and Mrs. Feathers have made the cut.
Our hens will be named Maria von Trapp and Baroness von Schrader, Maria and Ness for short.
Rentthechicken does away with the four to six months rearing period until the hen is ready to lay and also the risk of ending up with a rooster chick – no eggs, lots of noise.
My farm neighbours will be incredulous at my rental hen scheme but I like the idea of an exit plan, no need to winter-over the girls or deal with “end of life issues”. My ladies will come in their egg-laying prime and Maria and Ness can be rented in following years if we bond or we can adopt them and give them a forever home if we get really brave.
Jenn assures us that two hens won’t make a lot of noise and their portable coop will spread their fertilizer around to help our berry farm. She told a story of a couple of hens that were used as therapy birds for an autistic boy. We all need a little therapy right? Wonder if a therapy session should start with a why did the chicken cross the road joke or would it quickly devolve into the which came first chicken or egg existential question… I wonder if rentthechicken.com could include a sub-business…Rent a Cock to fertilize my hens should we choose to start a brood or How Would You Like Your Eggs incubating service…
Bring on May and Marie and Ness, future blog stars.
This is a part of our farm in our first year of production with some blueberry picking happening. Can’t wait until next year when our crop should triple. Thank you to our lovely customers at Legend Distillingwhere our raspberries are happily at home in their Farm Berry Vodka, Nummer’s Gourmet, where they are baked into nummy treats and the Bench Marketthat sold them fresh or incorporated in their fruit salads.
The blackberries are the last of our berry crops and one of the most beautiful. Their size and juiciness is a marvel enjoyed by us and our bear visitors so picking as soon as they are ripe is important. This very Naramata cake recipe combines our berries with red wine and was a perfect late summer cake for my good pal Janet’s birthday.
Lips that touch wine will never touch mine. Come on, who wrote that nonsense. I suppose they don’t like cake or chocolate either.
I sent The Handyman off to the Naramata store for a bottle of red with a good price point for it’s cake ingredient fate and he came back with a $10 bottle which I was worried was too good to be true…even for a cake. Surprisingly, Bodacious was pretty darn good in the cake and in the chef’s glass.
This recipe makes one three-layer 6-inch cakes that served our party of 10 perfectly with no left-overs.
Red wine cake
1 1/2 all purpose flour
1/2 plus 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I like Droste, amazing chocolate…)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (never skip the room temperature step…if you don’t have time…put the butter in a bowl in a warm water bath in your sink to soften it up)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 cup full-bodied red wine
Pre-heat the oven to 350F and grease and flour three 6-inch cake pans and set aside. I did it the hard way and used my one and only 6-inch pan and made the cake in three batches.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium until smooth. Add the sugar and mix on medium-high until the butter is light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl.
Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the red wine, while taking sips from your wine glass in between, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix on medium for no more than 30 seconds.
Evenly divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake for 23 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
3 cups whole fresh blackberries
2 tbs granulated sugar
1 cup chopped good quality bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Place the blackberries and granulated sugar in a saucepan. Heat over medium-high until the berries start to break down and expel their juices, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and strain the juice through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Discard the solids.
Place the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and set aside. Reheat 6 tablespoons of the blackberry juice in the saucepan until it begins to simmer (reserve the remaining blackberry juice for finishing the cake). The simmering juice smells amazing p.s. Pour the hot juice over the chocolate. Let sit for 30 seconds, then whisk until combined. Set aside until the ganache cools to room temperature but is still spreadable.
Once the ganache has cooled, whisk to loosen it and stir in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth.
Some assembly required
Once the cakes have cooled completely, level them and choose which layer will at the bottom. Generously brush the layers with the remaining blackberry juice. Place the bottom layer on a cake plate or serving dish. Spread about 1/3 cup of the blackberry ganache with an offset spatula. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat with the ganache, finishing with the final layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with remaining ganache and top with the whole blackberries.
This is an excellent cake from a few standpoints. It’s relatively easy to make as the filling between the layers and the icing is one recipe. It looks great with the blackberry topping and doesn’t involve mad piping skills. Verdict on the taste was a 10 at the party it was served at…”rich, moist, earthy and chocolatey”. I will make this one again.
This recipe comes from fellow Canadian’s Tessa Huff’s amazing book, Layered. Every cake I’ve made from this book has been stellar. Her easy to follow instructions will make you a better baker. As Tessa says, “layer cakes are the ideal vehicle for both creative expression and deliciousness…And let’s fact it — everyone loves a layer cake…It’s time to toss the cake mix and canned frosting and reach the height of your cake-baking potential!” Cheers to that.
Adding fresh lime and ginger zings up the blueberries in this summer sorbet in the most amazing way. You need a bit of technology to make this one…a blender and an ice cream maker. If you don’t have an ice cream maker I highly recommend getting one. There are a million ice cream and sorbet recipes to choose from and it’s easier to make than you can imagine.
Makes 8 1/2 cup servings.
5 cups fresh, washed and stemmed blueberries (I picked my own from our farm but it’s blueberry season and they are everywhere at the farmer’s markets and supermarkets.)
1/4 cup honey (Penticton Farmer’s market purchase)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 6 limes)
1 teaspoon lime zest
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
Add all ingredients to a blender and liquefy about 2 minutes until the mixture reaches a deep purple colour. Refrigerate for about 2 hours until cool. Taste and add more sugar if you desire but I like it a bit tart so didn’t add any more sugar.
Follow the instructions of your ice cream maker. Run the ice cream maker for 20 to 25 minutes — until the sorbet thickens to soft serve consistency.
Transfer to a container and freeze for 4 hours or overnight. Scoop and serve.
My first step was to pick. Your’s may be to pick up a couple of pints at a farmer’s market or the grocery store.
This recipe involves three steps: The pastry, a gourmet crumble and the blueberries and cream filling.
For the pastry I elected to use a Pâte Brisée, which is a wonderful flaky pie dough that works well as a dough to line tart shells. Although there are many methods to make it either by hand, with a mixer or a food processor, I find the later is the easiest.
Ingredients for pastry dough
1 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons cold water
1 cup butter
3 cups minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Combine salt and flour in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the butter in cubes and pulse after each small batch. Add the water and mix only until the dough comes together. It is important not to over-mix. Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, flatten and place in the refrigerator for at least a few hours or preferably overnight.
Roll out the dough, place into your tart pan, perforate the bottom of the dough with the tines of a fork and blind bake. Preheat the oven to 325 F and top the pastry with parchment and add rice or beans all the way to the edges. Bake with this faux filling for 15 minutes, the remove the rice or beans and return the shell to the oven for another 15 minutes until golden brown and evenly coloured. Remove from oven and cool completely before filling. Just before assembly, brush the tart shell with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with a tablespoon of water) and bake for 5 minutes.
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup turbinado sugar (sometimes called sugar in the raw)
1/2 cup cake flour
3/4 cup ground almonds or almond flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon Kirschwasser
Preheat oven to 325F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Cut the butter into pieces and place all the ingredients in a bowl and rub the mixture between your hands. Spread on the parchment-lined baking sheet and bake 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp. Cool completely. Store left-overs in the freezer for future use on ice cream or muffins.
Ingredients for blueberry filling
2 1/4 cup blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 vanilla bean
2 plus 1 teaspoon egg yolks
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 heavy cream
In a saucepan, combine the blueberries and 1 teaspoon of the sugar and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and boil for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the lemon juice, water and cornstarch in a bowl and gradually stir into the berries and simmer 1 minute until thickened. If the juice is still watery and another 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch in a tablespoon of the juice and stir in. Remove from heat when thickened.
Use a paring knife and split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a medium bowl. Add the egg yolk and remaining sugar and whisk together. Add the milk and cream and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the blueberries and take a moment to celebrate the colour.
Some assembly required
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Sprinkle about 6 tablespoons of the crumble in an even layer over the bottom of the pre-baked tart shell. Spread the blueberry filling on top. Place on a sheet pan and bake 30 to 40 minutes until just set. If you shake the pan gently, the middle will jiggle a bit under the surface until it cools, when it will firm up. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Sift on some icing sugar if you like. We served our’s with whipped cream.
Christmas excited, our first Carpe Diem berry farm raspberries are ready for picking. Not even exaggerating here…I get into things. Pyjama-clad I head into the patch with my coffee, weigh scale and pint baskets and am in an early morning heaven. It’s just me and the birds… Any marred berries I eat. (Stream of consciousness: “When the harvest really gets going will I be like the I Love Lucy chocolate assembly line scene and come in dripping in horror-movie red juice? Ah, maybe I’ll make jam…”)
Day two. Same excitement. Pyjamas, coffee, scale, baskets and RAIN. Now I know I’m a farmer. Rows of perfectly ripe berries and it’s pouring. Sure, you can pick in the rain but it doesn’t do the berries any favours. Their already short shelf life is shortened more by moisture.
While waiting for a dry spell to get back outside, I browse through MyNaramata, our communities top-notch, on-line, hyper-local source of news and read about the cherry growers and their real issues with rain while listening to the sound of an Apocalypse Now number of helicopters outside my window.
“In the last three weeks before cherry harvest, it is important to keep the cherries as dry as possible to prevent splitting,” the article says. “Rain collects in the well on the top of the cherry, is absorbed into the cherry causing it to swell and skin to split. Enter the helicopters which hover to blow the water off.”
As The Handyman and I share a similar quirky sense of humour he is immediately game for a photo session with our raspberries and his remote-controlled helicopter. I send the photos to MyNaramata as a Photo Friday submission.
Snickering and general joviality all round.
MyNaramata publishes my photo. The editor has a laugh.
Early Saturday morning the phone rings.
“Hi, my name is Mark and I have a question about the helicopter you used to dry your raspberries.”
“Sure, I’ll pass you on to the pilot…”
“The pilot is there? Great, that’s fantastic.”
(“Hey Maverick, the phone is for you. There is a guy who has a question about your helicopter…”)
“Hi, I want to know what helicopter you have there. I was looking at a double rotor one like that in New Zealand but it’s priced at over $200,000. What is the make of yours? Where did you get it? How much was it?”
“Mmmmm,” says Maverick politely but grinning madly. “Not sure if you’ve looked at that photo closely but it is a remote-controlled helicopter we were using there as kind of a joke.”
“(Big pause)…(laughter)….Oh my God (laughter), you’re right. Wow, you got me. (Laughter).”
In the meantime, I’m overhearing the discussion and am doubled over in hysterics…eyes streaming, the biggest uncontrolled yet stifled laughter of the year. I’m trying not to be audible as I don’t know if the guy is dying of embarrassment or not. Turns out it he is a good sport and enjoyed the joke himself. The photo was really small and he was fixated on the rotors without clueing in to the scale problems.
He owns a two-seater helicopter himself and has an interesting story I want to blog about… if he’ll let me…