Preserved: Cranberry Potpourri Jam
Winter is a time of spice, and for good reason. Can you think of a more satisfying way to fend off the cold than by eating delicious things made with warming winter spices? Cinnamon and nutmeg are two of the most comforting flavors I can think of. They always remind me of pumpkin pie, gingerbread, and my sock drawer.
You're probably thinking, "Wait. Did she just say sock drawer?" Let me explain.
This spicy-citrusy-sweet jam was inspired by a project I used to work on every winter when I was a little girl, making gifts to give away as Christmas stocking stuffers. A friend and I would sit down and make little packets of whole spices and dried orange peel, which we would tuck into tiny sachets of cheesecloth and tie with a bow. Not only did they make musty old Christmas stockings smell good; they were also perfect for stashing away with clean clothes in a dresser drawer.
The intoxicating scent never failed to garner compliments from the grownups we'd gift with our handiwork. I always managed to keep few sachets for myself, burying them deep in my sock drawer. When I'd wake up in the freezing cold to go to school, the scent of the spices comforted me enough to get out the door and into the frigid air—which was no easy feat given I had to walk two miles to class.
This jam is perfectly warm and inviting, with the heady aroma of citrus and spice. Cranberry is the perfect base for these flavors, rounding out the sweetness of cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg with an intensely playful tang. I've added a touch of brown sugar to bring these capricious berries back to earth, which elevates the warm spices even more. This jam is perfect for stuffing homemade toaster pastries or slathering onto hot, buttered waffles.
And in case you're wondering why I call for butter in this recipe, here's a quick jam-making tip: a little butter goes a long way in preventing foaming. Foam isn't a positive byproduct of cooking fruit, so leave the butter and save a little effort by not having to skim the surface of your jam every five minutes.
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About the author: Stephanie Stiavetti is a writer and cookbook author in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her food blog, The Culinary Life, is a repository for all things comfort food related, from savory dinners to transcendental desserts. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Her monthly culinary newsletter is full of stories, review, and helpful tips.