The rowan berries will be ready soon. Last year I shared my favorite method for preserving them in syrup, which makes them taste a bit like cranberries, and curbs their bitterness so much you can eat them right from the jar. The only catch is that it takes a while for the berries to cure in the syrup.
Sometimes I don’t want to wait. Also, gathering food for the restaurant and working long shifts takes it’s toll on my free time, so when I do go out to hunt goodies for the restaurant, I try to stretch ingredients for all they’re worth.
I came up with this jam as a way to use rowan berries right away, but also to stretch them, since when you combine them with the apples, you get a lot of yield from just a small amount of berries.
Cranberries are paired with apples to mellow their tartness. Rowan berries are similar, but much more bitter. The key with them is figuring out a way to curb their punch, and enhance their fruity-ness. Traditionally, jellies are made from rowan berries, but jellies often have way too much sugar for my taste.
I tend to stray towards slightly sweet jams and thick fruit purees that utilize the skin of the fruit as a thickener, (I couldn’t dream of making strained jelly and throwing away the rest of the nutrient rich goodies left in the cheesecloth). This means that you have to deal with the high amount of natural, mouth-drying tannin in the skins of fruit, but with a little effort, it’s not offensive at all.
That being said, the mechanics of the jam are simple. Cook some apples and rowan berries together, then puree them. That’s it. The apples mellow the tannin and bitterness of the berries, but the jam retains enough of their flavor to make it interesting, and it definitely isn’t too sweet.
Rowan Berry-Apple Jam
Excellent on a cheese plate, mixed with meat stock, cooked, and mounted with butter for a sauce, spread thin and dehydrated to make a sweet-sour fruit leather, there’s plenty of possibilities.
If you like a less sweet jam, pour some boiling sugar syrup over the berries and let them sit in the fridge for a week, then pour the syrup off of them and proceed as below, or cut the sugar in half, experiment and be creative.
The jam could also be canned in a pressure or water bath canner, but if you use a water bath, make sure to use a ph tester and make sure the ph is 4.2 or below. If the ph needs to be adjusted, add a little apple cider vinegar, then retest until you get a good ph level.
Yield: about 2 cups of jam
- 4 cups ripe rowan berries
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 4 cups diced firm apples, like braeburn, fuji, honeycrisp or granny smith, peeled and diced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, roughly chopped, or more to taste
- Pinch of salt
- Cook all ingredients on medium heat in a non-reactive pot until soft, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the pan gets dry, add a tablespoon or so of water.
- Puree the mixture in a high-speed blender, then pass through a fine chinois strainer or a food mill. Put the jam into a labeled, dated container, then freeze or refrigerate until needed. If the jam looks watery, put it back on the heat and cook gently to dry it out until it thickens. The jam will keep in the fridge for a week or two.
Rowan Berry Jam With 4 Spices and Orange
Here is a great variation on the basic recipe above, it ends up tasting a bit like peach jam.
Follow the recipe above, adding the following right before pureeing in the blender:
- 1/8 teaspoon each: toasted ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice
- Grated zest of one orange