Sunday, December 5, 2010

CanJam # 12- The Grand Finale- Dried Fruit

Sniff. I can't believe it's over already. Seems like it was just a few days ago that I read about the CamJam on Well Preserved and convinced Colette to sign up with me. Actually she didn't take much convincing; since the first time I taught her how to make my dad's dill pickles she's been a complete convert. But she's also been a bit of a silent partner on this journey- we both thought she'd be a regular addition to the blogging portion of the challenge but other than one guest post in Feb she hasn't really had time to contribute her thoughts. Which is a shame really- if you knew her in real life you know she's as chatty as I am and and canning with her is more fun than work! So it seems only fitting that she chose this final recipe and actually wrote about it!


My friend & fellow can-jammer Heather is a wonderful writer and extremely creative. This is why I’ve left the stories to her. For the dried fruit CanJam, we made Pear Port Compote – from the Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving.

Pear Port Compote

5 cups prepared pears – washed and cut into little pieces

1 cup each golden raisins and dark raisins ( we also added some dried cranberries)

Juice and zest of 1/2 of one lemon and one orange

¼ cup dried apricots - chopped

¼ cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

¼ tsp ground ginger

Pinch of pickling salt

½ cup walnuts, chopped

½ cup port

Peel, core and chop 10 cups of pears.

Combine raisins, apricots, zest and juice of lemon and orange, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt in a nonreactive pot. Add pears and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer with lid on for 30 minutes.

Uncover and boil about 15 minutes until thick, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Add walnuts and port and boil for 5 more minutes, stirring constantly.

Ladle into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 " headspace, and add seals and rings. Process for 15 minutes in a hot water bath.

My pears were picked from the neighbour’s tree earlier this summer and saved in the freezer for a perfect recipe like this one. I have no idea what kind they are, just that they are definitely local. My port was actually an amazing find during our summer holiday from a farmer’s market in Quebec City- it's called Portagen and it's made from berries, chokecherries and other delicious local fruit. I was saving it for a special occasion – and what’s more special than our year-end can-jam?

The recipe for the Pear Port compote says “Like fine wine, aging improves the flavor of this product (best used with a year). Spoon the compote into tart shells or pie crusts. For a rich, decadent dessert, serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream” which is just what I plan to do. YUM. Hey Heather – maybe we can try it with your mom’s Blanche Mange!

I loved this recipe as soon as I saw it because I had something in mind but hadn't figured out a way to put it into action. Back in Sept I wrote about my adventures at Henry of Pelham Winery (see Days of Wine and Walnuts). Since then I'd been mulling around the possibility of making a preserve using both the wine and the walnuts. The Pear Port compote seemed like a good jumping off point so here is my take on it that I'm calling Pelham Preserves. We divided the original recipe in half and included some of the remaining pears I picked in Oct with Not Far From the Tree. By incorporating other ingredients found in the Niagara region where the winery is located and using the walnuts I picked on site as well as the wine it was a way of capturing the spirit of that weekend.

In place of the raisins and apricots I used 1 1/2 cups of mixed dried fruit which included apples, cherries, blueberries and for colour tho they aren't local to Niagara, a few dried cranberries. I also added some whole spice- cloves, allspice and star anise. And because the wine is less concentrated than port I used a whole cup of Henry of Pelham's Cabernet Baco 2006 vintage. I allowed the mixture to cook down slowly, concentrating the the flavours and the results are sublime- it's like Christmas in a jar! It's fitting finish to the year and I'll be proud to give it as gifts.

It's been a wonderful year of preserving adventures and I want to send a big thank you to Tigress [Tigressinajam, Tigressinapickle] for organizing the CanJam. She did a fantastic job of reading and commenting on all the recipes each month for the past twelve! I'm sure when she originally set this in motion she had no idea the response would be so huge and it can't have been easy to keep tabs on all the submitters every month. Thank you for challenging us, for keeping it fun and for not laughing at us as we bungled our way through pickles and pectin. I sincerely hope the CanJam continues but I won't blame you if you decide to pass the torch or retire it altogether.

This is what a year's worth of CanJamming looks like.

So cheers to Tigress and all our fellow CanJammers- now I'm going to go crack open a jar of something delicious and polish off the bottle of wine. A toast to all of us! Let the festivities begin!


  1. O!M!G! Best thing ever to do with pears, which I find an uninspiring fruit.

  2. I just warmed up the pear port compote and served it over ice cream. This one is a hit! I asked John to comment and all he could do was raise his eyebrows and smile. We are going to have to make a ton more of this one as I don't think there will be enough for gifts.

  3. I know! I took two jars to give to my parents and my aunt and I ate an entire jar on the train ride there.