Honey Sweet Holidays

For holiday gifts and treats, try these great recipes preserved in honey

 

In my family, no holiday gathering is complete without an array of jellies, chutneys and other condiments. We typically have at least two dueling versions of cranberry sauce, some manner of chutney, and a jar or two of homemade jam to eat with warm scones.

Recently, I have found myself using less sugar and more honey in my beloved holiday condiments. The resulting preserves are still plenty flavorful, but without the teeth-aching sweetness they once had.

When it comes to preserving with honey, there are just a couple things you should know. The first is that you’ll often end up with a slightly softer set than with sugar. Second, honey-sweetened preserves don’t keep as long as sugar-sweetened ones. If you don’t think you’re going to get through a whole batch quickly, either can or freeze it for longer storage.

Honey Sweetened Cranberry Jelly
Makes 2 half pints
1 12-ounce bag cranberries (approximately 2 1/2 cups)
1 cup light honey (like clover or wildflower)
1/3 cup apple cider
1 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice

 

Wash the cranberries and pick out any bad ones. Combine them in a medium saucepan with the honey, apple cider, and lemon juice. Place the pan over medium-high heat and cook until the cranberries start to burst, stirring regularly. If the cranberries thicken to the point that it’s hard to stir, add a splash of water to keep it moving. When cranberries are finished cooking, pour them into the bowl of the food mill using its finest screen and work them through, or use a fine mesh sieve and a rubber scraper. Mill the cranberries until all that remains are the dry seeds and skins.

To can for shelf stability, funnel the finished jelly into a pair of clean, warm half-pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe the rims, apply clean, simmered lids and rings, and processing in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

If you plan on eating the jelly within the next week, you can also scrape it into a heatproof container and keep it in the refrigerator.

 

Honey Sweetened Vanilla Pear Preserves

2 ½ pounds Bartlett pears (approximately 4-5 cups of chopped fruit)
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 cups light honey (like clover or wildflower)
Juice of 1 lemon

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, combine pears, honey and vanilla bean seeds and scraped pod. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring regularly, until fruit can easily be smashed with the back of a spoon or spatula and the preserves seem quite thick. If they sizzle madly when you scrape the bottom of the pot, they’re done. Stir in the lemon juice and remove from heat. 

To can for shelf stability, funnel the finished preserves into three clean, warm half-pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims, apply clean, simmered lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes. 

If you plan on eating these preserves within the next week, you can also scrape them into a heatproof container and keep them in the refrigerator.

 

Small Batch Apple Honey Chutney
Makes 3 half pints

4 cups peeled, cored and chopped apples
1 cup minced onion (about 1 small onion)
¾ cups raisins
1 ½ cups darker honey (like buckwheat)
1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
Zest of 1 lemon
2  tsp. sea salt
1  tsp. cinnamon
2  tsp. freshly grated ginger
½  tsp. ground cloves
½  tsp. mustard seeds
¼  tsp. red chili flakes

Combine all ingredients in a wide, non-reactive pot, 4 quarts or larger. Place pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Once it bubbles, reduce heat to medium and simmer gently, stirring regularly, until slightly thickened. 

Stir every minute or so to prevent scorching. It is done when you can pull your spoon through the chutney and the space doesn’t fill in immediately, or, as vintage canning books recommend, if a spoonful scooped from the pot sits in a high mound in the bowl of the spoon instead of runing to the edges. 

When the chutney is nearly done, prepare a small boiling water bath canner and three jars. Place lids in a saucepan and simmer. When chutney is done, remove from heat and funnel into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes. 

If you plan on eating these preserves within the next week, you can also scrape them into a heatproof container and keep them in the refrigerator. 

Photo and recipes by Marissa McClellan. McClellan is a full-time writer, teacher, and blogger at Food In Jars.