This Year’s Flavor: Cranberry Pear Jam

Every year, I make jam for my friend’s holiday gift baskets. I choose whatever fruit looks tasty at the farmer’s market, and then look for a recipe. This year at the market, I found pears and cranberries, and so a beautiful red preserve was born.

I thought I would be making plum jam, but boy, was I wrong. I went to the market one day in September and found a slew of various purple and jade colored plums. The next thing I knew, my book was finally finished, and it was December. No more plums! Time for Plan B.

I was disappointed when all I saw were apples and pears. I love homemade apple sauce, but I’ve never canned it, and with exactly two free days to make thirty gift jars of preserves, this didn’t seem the time to try. When I spied a trough of cranberries, I knew it was a good sign. Cranberries are colorful, and they don’t require peeling or cutting, both good qualities when you’re making a big batch of jam to give as gifts.

I found this excellent recipe for Pear Cranberry Jam on the wonderful canning site Food in Jars (based in my hometown of Philly!), courtesy of blogger and cookbook author Marisa McClellan. There I learned that cranberries have a high percentage of natural pectin, making them an ideal jam ingredient, particularly when paired with a low-pectin fruit like pears.

I followed the recipe pretty closely, adding vanilla extract and ground cinnamon, two options that Marisa suggests. I must say the result was divine. The jam is lemony, just sweet enough, and has a festive note from the vanilla and cinnamon. The texture is chunky and spreadable. I look forward to using it to jazz up savory foods, just like Marisa did here, with these fried egg and avocado sandwiches. Yum!

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