Ray's Garden Rows: Four-fruit pie, jam are dining delights

Ray Mueller

One of the rewards of growing and harvesting fruits during the growing season is the enjoyment of eating them throughout the year.

On that point, my household engages in two special recipes or activities: the making of pie and jam containing four fruits each.

Let's start with the pie, which can be made at any time by using frozen ingredients. Those ingredients are a commercial deep dish pie shell along with rhubarb, elderberries, groundcherries, red raspberries and a liquid custard.

Ground cherries

The recipe I have devised and maybe should patent is this: a bottom layer of chopped rhubarb (still frozen), a layer of elderberries (thawed enough so they are loose), a filling of groundcherries (also frozen) to a bit above the top layer of the pie shell and a custard composed of a vigorously shaken blend of an egg, milk, flour and a vanilla extract flavoring. The custard should fill about three-fourths of the pore space in the pie shell.

Baking at 350 degrees takes a long time, about three hours. One hopes that the liquid doesn't bubble over. When the contents appear to be solidifying, it's time to add a top layer of frozen red raspberries for only approximately the last 20 minutes of baking so they don't incinerate.

Compote jam

We call our second special recipe “compote jam.” It is composed of strawberries, raspberries, elderberries and currants. Wild grapes would be another possibility. The fruits can be either fresh or frozen. Because of when they're ripe for picking, it's not possible to have a fresh supply of all of them at the same time.

However, we like to make the jam during the summer with at least two fresh fruits, usually the raspberries and currants. The somewhat secret ingredient in this recipe is the Pomona pectin (order through Amazon if necessary).

Using the pure citrus pectin reduces the amount of sugar called for in making the jam by about 50 percent. Ordinarily, a jam or jelly needs to be 55 to 85 percent sugar in order to activate jelling.

The Pomona pectin introduces some complications and time-based restraints for making the jam. But one merely needs to follow the instructions.

This year, it took my wife and I about four hours to make 16 containers of the compote jam. We use 32-ounce plastic yogurt containers.

The process involves a combining and mashing of the four fruits; a mixing of the Pomona pectin with a calcium supplement in boiling water; and a timed period for adding the pectin to the mashed fruit mix. The final step is to fill the containers and immediately put them in the freezer, so there won't be a natural process of expansion and a release of liquid.

With the cutback in the amount of sugar, the jam isn't quite as sweet as versions of jam with the high rate of sugar. But there's still good flavor and lots of excellent nutrition from the berries.