November 22, 2013 by firstname.lastname@example.org
My third idea for a farm friendly gift is to make jam and/or dried fruit using farm fresh produce. Persimmon, for example, is colorful and currently abundant at farmers’ markets. I recently tried my hand at Dried Persimmons and Persimmon Jam and both turned out well. I did panic a little (a lot) about perfectly canning the jam, but I made it through. And then I put it all together into packaging to see if it would pass for a gift.
First, little plastic gift bags fit a jar of jam/dried fruit with a bright orange fresh persimmon perfectly. I did add some red and green shredded paper to the bottom for effect. And then I thought of that Love Actually Gift Wrapping scene and laughed at myself.
Next, for a bigger gift, a few jars of jam and dried fruit with fresh fruit make a lovely gift basket.
If you are interested in this gift idea, here’s how it all came together:
First, I used the appley (not pointy bottom) Fuyu Persimmons.
While making dried fruit and jam I quickly figured out a lazy way to peel and slice persimmons. Note that the peel is edible on Fuyu Persimmons but I was nervous about the peel getting too tough on the dried fruit.
1. Cut off the skin from the top, sides, and bottom of the persimmon to make a perfect square.
2. The seeds are in the middle, so slice 1/4″ slices off the ends until you reach a seed in the center. You will end up with perfect, seed free, persimmon slices. Just compost the middle part.
The Dried Persimmon Slices
I cut up a lot of persimmons, using my lazy method, into 1/4″ squares. And then I sprinkled half of the slices with a mix of cinnamon and nutmeg (mostly cinnamon with a pinch of nutmeg).
I placed half of the slices in our food dehydrator…
And half on two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. These slices went into our oven on the lowest setting (170 degrees). I wanted to see if folks without food dehydrators could make dried persimmon slices.
You can! The slices were dry enough after 6 hours in the oven and after 8 hours in the dehydrator. No difference. They are dry enough to store in an airtight container (and give as gifts) if moisture doesn’t condense out of the fruit onto your packaging. The spiced persimmon slices are better than the non-spiced, hands down. They taste like tiny pieces of pumpkin pie.
Lastly, I packed them tight into clean, dry jars.
The Persimmon Jam
I found this spectacular Persimmon Jam recipe, courtesy of Geek Mom on www.wired.com. I peeled the persimmons the same way as for the dried fruit and pureed the slices. Also, I quadrupled the recipe and the jam came out thick and fruity with the perfect hint of spice. The nutmeg in this recipe really made the jam taste like Autumn in a jar.
I then canned the jam using the Ball Canning Method. I was really nervous about getting this wrong, and I did actually. As the words “may the odds be ever in your favor” repeated over and over in my head, I learned that 1/4″inch is bigger than you might think. I overfilled the jars and fruit spilled out while the cans were boiling. So, you know, don’t do that. Most people say you should relax while canning and it will turn out ok. And if you seriously can’t relax (like me), read this funny “How Not To Die From Botulism” article from Northwest Edible Life.
And on that note, happy gift making!