The other day I bought a bunch of monarda herb from Na samini, a Slovenian eco farm run by one of my friends (they also sell quail eggs!). I hadn’t tried it before, although I knew it is used to flavour teas and other drinks, so a quick Internet search turned up that monarda works really well in pear jam. I couldn’t find an exact recipe, but I figured I’d give it a try and the result was really good, so I’m sharing it here.
Monarda (M. fistulosa) is also known as bergamot, which is probably a more familiar name to most of us. There’s bergamot the citrus fruit, commonly found in Earl Grey tea, and bergamot the herb from the Monarda genus, which also comes in lemon version. Monarda bergamot tastes a bit lemony, spicy with a distinct bergamot smell and taste and it really does work amazingly with pears, so this jam turned out delicious. The herb is very strong though, so you should only use a very small quantity. Also, this jam uses about a 1:3 ratio of sugar to fruit, because I prefer less sweet jams and am using gelling sugar, but you could also make it with the more traditional 1:2 ratio.
Pear jam with bergamot recipe
- 1.5 kg pears
- 350 g gelling sugar
- 1 lemon
- 5-6 fresh bergamot (monarda) leaves
- a pinch of salt
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Peel and core the pears and put them in a blender. Add the bergamot leaves, lemon juice and salt, then blend until smooth and even. Mix in the gelling sugar and try the jam between steps so you can adjust to taste (more or less sugar, lemon juice and bergamot).
Transfer into a pot and cook on medium heat until it boils. Stir often and make sure the jam doesn’t burn at the bottom or boil too violently. Simmer for about 15 more minutes, then start filling the jam into glass jars while it’s still hot. The jars should be clean and sterilised before use (the easiest way is to put them in the oven at high temperature for about 15 minutes or boil them in water). Fill them up to about a finger’s breadth from the top, wipe off any spilled jam with a clean cloth and seal the jars. Let them cool down slowly, so they form a vacuum and enjoy!
This recipe makes about 2 litres of pear jam with bergamot. It should keep for at least a year if properly stored, but as always with homemade preserves make sure you inspect the content of your jars for any changes in colour, smell or mould before you eat anything. Do you ever make jams or marmalade?
Warning: There’s a whole lot of debate about the proper procedure for home canning and bottling food as the traditional methods like turning the jars upside down etc. are not 100% safe, but honestly, I haven’t had anything go bad before if the jars formed a decent vacuum (I have only limited experience though!). Sometimes I turn them upside down, sometimes I don’t, however, there is always a chance of problems and you could even get botulism poisoning if there’s not enough acid, salt or sugar in your chosen preserve (there usually is though). So, it pays to be informed of the risks and read a bit about it so you can decide what you’re comfortable with (similar to pickling VS quick pickling). Here are some guideline articles to start with: Basics of home canning, Canning with and without special equipment and Problems with inversion canning.
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