We are in that sweet spot between summer and fall with everything from peaches to pumpkins available. A farmers’ market paradise! This past week, as I wandered the market making my usual stops for Rachel’s Ginger Beer and Communitea’s Kombucha (though I’m starting to brew kombucha at home ... more on that to come), I was dazzled by the colors and beauty of everything around me. My bag grew heavy as I picked up plums, peaches, tomatoes, blackberries and pears. The rest of my weekend was happily spent making more plum jam, the last peach dumplings of the season, tomato sauce, blackberry crisp and pear studded challah. Oh my!
Best of all, I stumbled upon a new discovery: Huckleberries! All of my life I’ve read about them, but given their short growing season I hadn’t yet had the pleasure of eating one of those dark purple berries. They have an intense flavor, but are smaller, firmer and, according to cookbooks I’ve read, more difficult to harvest than blueberries.
I had to preserve them somehow before I ended up popping all of them in my mouth! Jam was the way to go. I plopped the huckleberries in a pot and turned on the heat. A splash of maple syrup and some lemon zest and they started cooking. I snipped a bit of thyme and tossed that in, as well, since lemon and thyme pair so well. Bridging the seasons was definitely on my mind, because before I knew it I was chopping an apple to stir in.
This deep violet jam has a tart, rather wild, taste and is scrumptious. I’m eating it slowly and keeping it slightly hidden in the fridge so I can savor the taste of summer on my toast a bit longer.
Makes 1 cup
1 pound huckleberries
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/2 of small apple, peeled and diced
In a medium-sized saucepan, combine all the ingredients over medium-high heat and stir. Cook until the berries begin to bubble and soften, about 6-7 minutes. Lower the heat to a simmer and let cook for about 20-25 minutes, until the berries thicken and pieces of apple can be mashed smooth. Stir often to avoid scorching on the bottom of the pan and lower heat if necessary. Remove from heat and let cool. Store in a covered jar in the fridge for up to 1 month.