Why would anyone make carrot jam, you say? To luxuriate in carrots elevated to a higher, sweeter calling? To treat spring’s plucky root veg to an honourable place in the jam cabinet? To have an excuse to buy brandy?
All the reasonable reasons. And this isn’t some budget jam for drifters too thrifty to afford a box of raspberries – it’s a fancypants thing. A hint of brandy adds mystery and depth, toasted ground almonds enrich, feathery bits of micro-carrot swirl through it for texture and beauty. See? Fancy dancy.
Also, it is kind of a budget jam, to be honest. Carrots are one of the nicest most affordable vegetables (so much that I once turned orange from eating soooo many of them ( ; •ー_一 •) … and the almonds don’t have to be there, or the brandy. This was made from a 27 kilogram bag I picked up at the miniature organic marché on my corner for $2.50. Maybe it wasn’t that heavy. Maybe it was. Never enough carrots, I say.
Anyway, the real reason I made it was that I wanted something thematic to put on a swiss roll cake, so it’s like, specifically useful for imparting flavours. And it’s not health food. But it’s springtime appropriate and I want to eat it on warm toasted rye slices with almond butter, like, right now.
Carrot and Almond Jam
Adapted from Marguerite Patton’s Jams, Chutneys, Preserves, Vinegars and Oils
Makes approximately 16 oz. of jam (enough for two half-pint jars)
- 1 pound (454 grams) young carrots, peeled and trimmed
- 1 cup (250 grams) water
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 ½ cups (300 grams) sugar
- 3 tablespoons (45 grams) fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) sweet sherry or brandy
- ½ cup (75 grams) blanched almonds (optional)
Heat oven to 325℉, spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast (checking often) until browned and aromatic. Cool them completely, then with a food processor, mortar & pestle, or chef’s knife, grind to the texture of pebbly sand.
Set aside one big carrot and grate it finely to make about a cup of shreds. Slice the remaining carrots thinly (thinner perhaps than pictured here) and put in a medium-sized heavy bottomed saucepan with the water and citrus zest. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until carrots are very tender. Check every few minutes and add more water if necessary to bring the level back to where it was initially.
When the carrots are tender, tip them into a blender with the citrus juices and make a smooth purée. Return the purée to the pot and add the sugar over low heat, stirring to dissolve it. Add the sherry or brandy (if using), and the shredded carrots. Bring the jam to a steady bubble over medium heat. Stir the bottom often to prevent sticking, and cook until the jam thickens slightly. Add the ground almonds and cook until the jam is darkened, thickened, and glossy and a trail is left on the bottom of the pot when you run a spoon across it. Ladle into sterilized jars and seal down. You can also keep it in the fridge for about 3 weeks.