Here’s a short that my video partner Chris Bohnhoff and I put together. One of the areas I was hunting this year had the most incredible fruiting of rowanberries I’d ever seen, so I thought it would be cool shoot the area, and then show one of my favorite things to make with the berries-a jam of 50-50 rowanberries and apples.
For most of our videos, I rely on my hunting diary where I keep track of what I’ve picked, how much, and when throughout the years, since I don’t have infinite amounts of free time to scout places the day before a shoot.
I waited about a month to go back to see the rowanberries, and unfortunately nature didn’t want to cooperate, the birds ate nearly every single berry from the plot of mountain ash trees I found. There was only one, small scraggly looking tree left, and the berries had been picked at and weren’t in the greatest shape, but by god they were rowanberries, so I took the berries I could and picked out the good ones.
We didn’t get beautiful pictures of branches overflowing with giant red berries, but slightly ugly berries are a great excuse to make jam, since it’s all getting pureed in the end!
In a nutshell all you need to do is sweeten the berries somehow, then cook them with apples, a bit of ginger, buzz it all up, strain it to remove the tough skins, then return it to the heat if you want it to thicken up without canning it for long term preservation.
Besides the video, I’m including my favorite variation of the basic jam I made this year with spices and orange zest, it ends up tasting eerily of peaches. If you pick rowan berries, give it a shot-it’s delicious.
One thing to note-in the video I pour boiling sugar syrup over the berries to lightly sweeten them before cooking which is not in the recipe method below, the reason being that I will be using the jam in the video to make sauces I don’t want to be overly sweet. If you like sweeter jam, you can skip the syrup part, and just add sugar to the finish product to taste while cooking. There’s more than one way to get from point a to b.
Spiced Rowanberry Jam
Yield: about 2 cups of jam
- 4 cups ripe rowanberries
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 4 cups peeled, diced, firm apples like braeburn, fuji, honeycrisp or granny smith
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, roughly chopped, or more to taste
- Pinch of salt
- 1/8 teaspoon each: toasted ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice
- Grated zest of one orange
- Cook all ingredients except the orange zest 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.
- Stir in the orange zest, then puree the mixture in a high-speed blender and 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 month, tightly sealed.