The book cover. (Mike Lascelle photo)

The book cover. (Mike Lascelle photo)

Gardening: Becoming a purveyor of fine jams and jellies

Nothing seals the deal like a tasty food sample

It’s finally done. All the writing, editing, picture selection, proof-reading and layout considerations are finally behind me, so all that’s left is the actual printing of my new book, which is due out in early March.

Extraordinary Ornamental Edibles – 100 Perennials, Trees, Shrubs and Vines for Canadian Gardens took me about three years to compile. I literally sought out every rare edible being grown in gardens from Vancouver Island to the Fraser Valley, interviewing fruit experts and painstakingly photographing the edibles in bloom and at maturity.

About two weeks ago, I finally got to see the finished book cover, and I have to say that the designer at Douglas and McIntyre did a superb job – as it conveys the spirit of the contents concisely.

My concern, while promoting it, was how to capture the imagination of potential buyers. And although this tome is well illustrated with some 300 colour photographs, when it comes to edibles, nothing seals the deal like a tasty food sample.

So I stole an idea from Bob Duncan at Fruit Trees and More on Vancouver Island, a citrus specialist who grows everything from Meyer lemons to Chinotto sour oranges. Bob’s wife Verna makes delicious marmalades from their unique crops and offers these for sale to the public who visit their demonstration garden.

So I decided that I would try to preserve as many of the unusual fruits in my book that I could source with any sort of volume. Essentially, I became a purveyor of fine jams and jellies with the help of my wife, who grew up on a farm and is an old ‘canning’ pro.

I started with a blended Osoberry (Oemleria) and wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) jelly, as the former is one of the first fruits to ripen in our local forests.

From there I moved onto numerous jams and jellies, using Chokecherry, quince, strawberry guava, rose petals (from Rosa rugosa), Oregon grape, Goji berry, crabapple and cape gooseberry.

Probably the most interesting preserve I made was a fruit butter based on the red ball-like drupes of the Korean dogwood or Cornus kousa. This common ornamental tree is not usually thought of as a potential edible, but the fruits have a pleasant tropical taste (think mild mango) when picked at peak ripeness and can be made into a jam-like apple butter.

While some people just puree these through a food processor, the outer skin can be a bit bitter, affecting the overall flavour – so I chose the slow route of scooping these out by hand.

The recipe is fairly simple, just bring four cups of strained dogwood fruit pulp and 1.5 cups of water to a boil, add five cups of sugar (the recipe called for seven, but I cut this back) along with ½ tsp. cinnamon, ¼ tsp. nutmeg and 1/8 tsp. of ground cloves for flavour. Stir and bring to boil again, adding one package of powdered pectin and allow to hard boil for one minute – after which you can ladle your creation into sterilized jars.

The resulting fruit butter is tan in colour (similar to apple sauce) and absolutely delicious when spooned generously onto hot buttered toast.

My canning season isn’t over yet as I have about eight pounds of medlars (Mespilus germanica) ripening in boxes in my garage. This fruit literally needs to rot before it is ready for consumption, and while both the fruit (which the French call ‘cul-de-chien’ or ‘dog butt’) and the mushy interior seem a bit disgusting, the jelly is absolutely delicious.

Mike Lascelle is a local nursery

manager and gardening author

(hebe_acer@hotmail.com).

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Email your cooking questions to Chef Dez at dez@chefdez.com.
ON COOKING: Chef Dez does parsley pesto

Pesto traditionally has fresh basil but parsley is a tasty alternative

A cyclist was struck on Lougheed Highway at 209 Street on Monday afternoon. (Neil Corbett - The News)
Cyclist injured after collision with car on Lougheed Highway

Police, fire and ambulance respond to call in Maple Ridge

Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Community Services’ Better at Home Program is now offering a grocery delivery program for seniors. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows organization now delivering groceries for seniors

Community Services’ Better at Home Program filling in the gaps of Thrifty Foods Sendial program

An acro performance as part of the Greg Moore Youth Centre’s talent show video. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge’s talented youth featured in Youth Week video

BC Youth Week marked by Greg Moore Youth Centre

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

Elias Pettersson and the Vancouver Canucks drew a large crowd to the Abbotsford Centre in 2019. Canucks management hopes the crowds return for the planned AHL team this fall, and early returns are positive. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
Canucks: ‘Incredible’ early interest for Abbotsford AHL tickets

Team has had a strong response to both e-mail information and priority ticket lists

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Most Read