You have come to the right place if you’re looking for unusual jam recipes! From corn cob jam to bourbon jelly and from banana or bacon jelly to T.O.E. jam!
When I first moved to North Carolina, I was amazed at the number of roadside stands. They have all the usual stuff like apples, peaches, and strawberries in season, homemade crafts like walking sticks and blankets and jelly. All different kinds of jelly ranging from Kudzu to Moonshine to Corn Cob. Corn Cob Jelly? Huh? Let’s see what these are all about.
A Brief History of Unusual Jams
Back up in the hills and hollers of Western North Carolina there lived some of the poorest of the poor. Some of these people slept 6 kids to a bed and wore hand-me-downs from the oldest to the youngest. With so many mouths to feed, mamas had to get creative. This is the origin of some of the most unusual jellies that we still see today. Necessity really is the mother of invention.
Basic Unusual Jam Recipe
Place the plant material in a glass or stainless steel bowl, cover with the boiling water, and let it steep for 5-6 hours or overnight.
Strain, squeezing as much of the liquid out of the plant material as possible. If there is not enough liquid, add water to make 2.25 cups.
Pour your liquid, along with the rest of the ingredients into a large pot, bring to a boil, and stir.
Simmer for a minute or so, until all of the sugar is dissolved.
Pour the jelly into clean, sterilized jars, making sure the rims are clean and leave about 1/4″ headroom.
Screw the caps on and process in a hot water bath for about 10 minutes.
This will make about 5 half-pint jars.
Most of the jellies that I’m going to list will be able to be made with the same basic recipe. You may need to add, reduce, or delete some of the sugar or the other ingredients, but they will all basically be the same.
Types of Unusual Jam for This Recipe
We talked about a few things above, but here is a better list of the things that I’ve seen. I haven’t tried them all, but you can bet I will someday!
- Corn Cob
- Irish Stout
- Kentucky Bourbon
- Kudzu Flower
- Sorghum (yes, jelly!)
- F.R.O.G.-Figs, Raspberry, Orange peel and Ginger
- T.O.E. Jam-Tangerine, Orange, and Elderberry (you can’t make this stuff up!)
- Red Clover
- Salted Vanilla
- Wild Rose
- Root Beer
I’m not sure about some of these unusual jam recipes, but a lot of them sound pretty tasty!
Notes on Sugar and Pectin
While it may seem like there is a lot of sugar in this recipe, remember that sugar is needed for the jelly to take shape. Remember, you can substitute some of the sugar for a lighter mix, but using stevia or monk fruit may leave your jelly a bit loose. Further, you may need to add more pectin or use something with it, like apples, that have natural pectin. And you certainly can use pectin that you purchase in a store, but you can also make your own. Learn how here!
Lastly, make sure you collect your plant material ethically and legally. For example, don’t collect from an area that you know has been sprayed. Also, avoid heavy traffic areas as they have a chance to contain more contaminants. Therefore, I have a patch of woods that I collect elderflower and roots for root beer jelly and a hillside where the kudzu grows along with roses. I also use some plants I find on my neighbor’s property and she welcomes my foraging. Just be sure you have permission there.
Making jelly is a time-honored tradition in many areas. What unusual jam recipes have you tried?