In commemoration of the recent changes in food laws in Florida, specifically regarding “cottage” cooking laws, I thought writing about my recent venture into jam-making was in order.
In the past, you could not use a home kitchen to prepare commercial food products.
Now, the Legislature has loosened the rules a bit, on some items, including jams. Here is how the whole thing started...
A few years ago, our friends, David and Susan Coffey, were remodeling their house at the end of Hodges and working with me on a landscape plan. He wanted to focus on only native vegetation and was willing to go as far as removing non-native vegetation from the property.
Lucky for us, that included three really big pindo palm trees. I didn’t really know anything about them but I am a plant-holic so when he offered them, naturally I said, “Sure!” They were dug up and moved into our yard. Instant trees. They looked fabulous with their silver fronds against the darker green background. But, I digress.
A couple years ago, one of them started to produce a cluster of green fruit. A big cluster — about two feet long. They eventually turned into a golden/orange color and we had to try them. The fruit looks like a big, orange-ish cherry and tastes like a cross between cherry, pineapple and mango. It is incredible.
We could not eat them fast enough and the concept of urban gardening, the loco-vore movement and edible landscaping is up our alley.
Luckily, my best friend Suz, was visiting as the crop ripened and since she and her husband have decided to leave NYC and live on a 65-acre farm in Vermont, she is now a Laura Ingalls Wilder clone. I get regular updates and photos of her out-of-control mint plants, asparagus beds, mushroom logs and canned foods. Who better to help me make jam?
We did and it was great — it was a freezer jam (one you don’t have to process in a hot water bath). But, the tree went crazy and produced a small second crop and then a huge third crop.
So, this past weekend, I made another batch that I processed in a water bath so that they don’t need to be kept frozen. It was just this simple:
Cook down a bunch of the berries and once it is cool, remove the seeds and stems by hand. I left the skins.
Bring back to a boil, mash with a potato masher, add dry pectin and sugar according to the recipe on the box of pectin. You can use less than the amount stated or use artificial sweetener. It’s not an exact science.
Clean the jars and rings with hot soapy water and put the lids into hot water. Fill the jars with the fruit, wipe the edge clean, put on the lids and put them into a hot water bath with a couple inches over the lids. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes, take them out of the pot and set on a towel. You should hear a satisfying popping noise as they seal.
That is it, in a nut shell.
So I write all this to tell you that if you have a great family recipe for jam or bread, for example, you might want to read the regulations and start producing it in your kitchen and sell it locally. You might be surprised how popular it is.
Oh, my jam? No, sorry, it is not for sale.
Ada Lang covers Cedar Key, for the Beacon.