Clara has been accompanying me to the market for the past few weeks, and each time we walk through, her eye is invariably drawn to the glowing soft pink light emanating from the Helen B’s Preserves booth. See, someone at Helen B’s got the inspired idea to put a light behind their apple jelly so customers could bask in the perfect pinky glow. Clara has been like a moth to a streetlight. Imagine her glee when I steered her straight to the Helen B display this week.
I always like to go that extra step for you, dear readers, so I asked Mike (the SON of Helen B) to recommend something that might not be what I would pick easily.
Mike’s first recommendation was the zucchini pickles. Zucchini bread and butter pickles, you might be thinking, but you would be italicizing that thought incorrectly. Next time, try thinking like this: Zucchini!!! Pickles!!! We accepted the jar with some trepidation and then chose some other delights.
I picked out Mulled Cider Jelly, and Scrooge Jam (which is a combo of lots of berries and stuff), and a Muscat Wine Jelly. I will not be reviewing the wine jelly because it was a gift to my dear old Dad whose eyes lit up when he saw the label. As for the aforementioned pink paradise jam, Clara got to select a jar of Apple Jelly and she was finally able to hold that pinky goodness in her hot little hands.
When we got home I opened the jar of zucchini pickles and called out “who wants to try zucchini pickles?” Clara and Max were keen, Solomon not so much. Then I told him he had to try one and he said “…then why did you ask if I wanted to?” Smart aleck. I think I said something like “because SCIENCE!” They each took one…and then came back for thirds and fifths. The pickles are just what you’d want – crisp and tangy and a little sweet. I love the undercurrent of apple cider vinegar. Completely delicious. Finally – a use for all the million zucchinis that one measly plant you plunked into your garden as an afterthought!
Next we had to try the jellies and jams. I know that sampling sweet flavourful gorgeously glistening blobs of pure joy is not everyone’s thing, but I do the tough jobs for you. We decided to kill two birds with one stone: we’d been invited out to dinner, so we decided Thumbprint Cookies would be the perfect vehicle for sampling the flavours.
Credit for cookie-making belongs to Mike and Clara, and maybe Solomon a bit, too.
I’m here to tell you this is a fantastic use for these jams. The apple jelly is luscious and exactly what you’d expect and want from an apple jelly. The Scooge jam is a lovely mixture that makes every bite a little different. It’s a great blend of flavours with BIG chunks because the berries are mostly whole. It looks really pretty and it tastes really pretty, too.
My big favourite, however, was the mulled cider jelly. It combines everything I love about mulled cider without the dribbling-on-my-shirt and (usually) freezing cold scenario in which I’m drinking it. Plus: no prep time! You don’t have to smell it for hours on your stove, only to have your hand slapped away when you’re about to take a teeny tiny sample. No: you can just open up a jar of this goodness and enjoy that lovely robust and earthly delight that is hot apple cider with a sprinkling of warm inviting spices. Yummy. It’s like apple jelly for the more discerning palate. Which is going to be my line when the kids ask for it and I give them the straight up apple jelly instead.