Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Spiced Root Vegetable Conserve

I like to create flavor combinations that raise eyebrows until they are tasted - and the taster's face mellows into a soft and satisfied grin. Honestly though, I didn't think that I was doing that with this conserve. This combination of flavors seemed like a no brainer to me. Sweet/tart apples and dried cherries, earthy carrots and parsnips, buttery pecans, and a healthy dose of warm spices. All the goodness of autumn in one place. Sort of like carrot cake in a jar without the need for cream cheese frosting.

So I was surprised when I placed the nicely labeled jars on the Wintergreen Farm table at the Ontonagon County Harvest Festival and they were greeted with more than a few pairs of raised eyebrows. Still, those brave enough to taste the contents did find themselves grinning in satisfaction.

Try it yourself and see what happens.

Spiced Root Vegetable Conserve

Makes about five 8 ounce jars.
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • about 1/4 of a nutmeg nut
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar - I use "evaporated cane juice" and I do think it's tastier, plus it's fair trade and organic
  • 1 pound carrots, cut into uniform small dice
  • 1/4 pound parsnips, cut into uniform small dice
  • 3 medium tart apples, peeled and cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup dried tart cherries
  1. Place the spices in a small spice bag and crush them lightly with a mortar and pestle or rolling pin.
  2. In a medium sized, heavy bottomed sauce pan bring the water, sugar, and spices (still in the spice bag) to a simmer.
  3. Add the carrots and parsnips to the syrup and simmer until they are just tender.
  4. Add the apples and continue to simmer until the apples are beginning to turn translucent at the edges.
  5. Stir in the pecans and cherries and remove the pan from the heat.
  6. Remove the spice bag, ladle the conserve into jars that have been prepared for canning.  Be sure to stir well as you fill the jars because the cherries tend to sink to the bottom of the pan.
  7. Seal and process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes. 

My daughter taking a break from her toys to taste some finished conserve. She smiled just after this.

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