Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Urban Foraging - Pyracantha Jelly


This is another recipe from the PNM cookbook, Cocinas de New Mexico, and a fun urban foraging project. Pyracantha is that thorny shrub you see all over town at this time of year, with red or orange berries. It's related to cotoneaster and hawthorn, but cotoneaster doesn't have thorns. I don't have a pyracantha in my yard, but my friend Ashley gave me some from hers. You can find them in parking lots, along the side of the road, and in many public places. Contrary to popular belief, pyracantha berries are not poisonous. They are in the family Rosaceae, along with apples, plums, and strawberries (to name only a few!)

3 cups pyracantha berries
6 cups water
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 grapefruit
1 1/2 ounces powdered pectin
Sugar

Wash and stem the berries, and place them in a large stock pot with the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add lemon and grapefruit juice to the pot. Place a clean dishtowel in a strainer and pour the mixture through into another container. Do not squeeze, otherwise the juice will become cloudy! Meanwhile, prepare the water bath for canning - boil water in the largest pot you have, and put the canning jars in to sterilize.

Measure the amount of liquid, then measure out as many cups of sugar. Combine the liquid with sugar and pectin in the pot. Bring to a rolling boil and cook 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture will still be thin, but it will jell in the jars. Remove the mixture from the heat, and skim off any foam.

Pour the mixture into hot, sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace below the lip of the jar. Screw lids on and process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes (longer at high altitude). Leave the jars on a dishtowel to cool overnight, and you will hear the pinging of the lids sealing over the next few hours.

It's a nice, slightly tart, light flavored jelly, but I think it tastes mostly of grapefruit - next time I'll use twice as many pyracantha berries for the same amount of everything else.
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