With sugar free recipes and the option to bake only with honey, the most practical approach to my Christmas cooking and baking is to prepare all the ingredients myself. I usually make berry jams with chia, thick orange marmalade, citrus (lemon and orange) peel, citrus glaze and thick sauces to be used as icing. First on the list are jams, marmalade and peel, which can be stored in cupboard or in the fridge.
Making preserves from berries, oranges and honey demands adjustments to desired taste all the time. Recipes can’t be for exact quantities of ingredients. Slight variations in their quantities depend on sweetness of berries and oranges, on the acidity of oranges and lemons and, finally, on the taste and sweetness and acidity of honey. Making many different types of preserves with honey for a year now, I have learned to use 2/3 of honey initially and adjusting honey and lemon juice quantities in the recipe after tasting the product. I am also keeping an open mind with water quantities, added to fruits and berries at the beginning of cooking.
Today I share the recipe for a spicy rhubarb jam, made with just honey, no water added.
Spicy rhubarb jam
- 600g rhubarb, chopped in 1-2 cm pieces
- 310g organic honey
- 1 deseeded vanilla bean
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 cloves
- wash and dry rhubarb, discard rough parts, chop in 1-2 cm pieces
- add honey and start cooking on a low heat
- add vanilla, cinnamon and cloves at boiling point
- cook on low heat, constantly stirring 15 min (or until rhubarb pieces disintegrate and the mix changes colour from light green to dark pink)
- take the sauce pan from the heat and let the mixture infuse with spices (1-5 hours)
- taste and add more honey if necessary, if the jam is too sweet, add lemon juice by table spoon
- heat again and cook on low heat stirring until the desired thickness is reached
- transfer hot jam into clean glass jar, cover with a lid, let it completely cool
- keep refrigerated
Spicy rhubarb jam can be used on its own on toasts, to serve with desserts and with some meat dishes, instead of cranberry sauce. If blended to fine texture this jam can be used as a glaze on fresh from the oven baking products. Thickened with walnuts and almond meal this jam can be used as a filling for jam biscuits and pastries.
Soft orange peel
- 190g orange skin, cleaned from nearly all white inner layer
- 210g organic honey
- 2 table spoons lemon juice
- water 300-350ml (I use water unmeasured, to cover peel with honey completely)
Orange peel preparation is previously described here. Since publishing the recipe, I have made 2 changes.
- I cover the peel with cold water, heat it to boiling point, discard water, cover orange peel with cold water for the second time and repeat the procedure. As the result of discarding boiling water twice, the bitterness is removed twice from the fresh peel together with all possible impurities from orange skin. It also removes some acidity and flavour. Extra lemon juice is required to replace intense citrus flavour.
- I changed my strategy of using measured amount of water, because it means that I have to watch carefully when it is nearly evaporated, but the peel is not yet cooked and have to add more water to continue cooking. Now I simply add more water initially, put the sauce pan on low heat and let the peel cook unattended for 20-30 min. When the peel becomes translucent and is nearly ready I check the taste and adjust it by adding either honey or lemon juice.
When liquid is fully evaporated and the sauce pan is nearly dry, the peel becomes dry and more caramelised when cooled down. It is perfect to be used in dried fruit and Christmas cakes. If some liquid is left with peel, and the peel is stored in this thick syrup, the final product is soft and chewy and is excellent for orange cake decoration.
The syrup can be used as glaze for any baking products to achieve shiny surface and infusion of intense orange flavour.
Sugar free orange marmalade recipe and preparation can be found here.
Sugar free frozen or fresh berries jam recipes with chia seeds can be found here.
Sugar free sauces with lower concentration of honey can’t be stored for a long time even refrigerated, and it is better to prepare them closer to the date of usage. In general, sugar free preserves, especially jams, marmalade and peel are excellent Christmas presents for those who face a hard time to find acceptable produce in the shops.