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Out of the Ordinary Ingredient Combos for Jam

ajcraig posted a great recipe for Mango Jalapeno Roasted Garlic Jam and toodie jane voiced my sentiments about looking for other unusual combos for jams (or chutneys, jellies, etc) so I thought I'd start a thread for CHer's to add their own unusual, but tasty combos. What have you put together in the preserving kettle that goes beyond the standard jam and tastes great?

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  1. Persimmons and dates

    Lychee and green tea.

    I've always wanted to try something with roasted chestnuts, maybe next year when my apricot tree starts bearing fruit ...

    1. A good friend combined strawberries and lime (cause he ran out of lemons) and the accidental combo turned out to be sensational.

      1. Great, Morwen! (still looking for recipes myself)

        May I chime in here and ask for actual TESTED RECIPES rather than just exotic sounding combo's.

        Because fruit acidity varies so much, you can't just willy nilly change ingredients ina standard recipe and have it come out right (jelled).

        Who's made some great combo jams and what are the recipes?

        7 Replies
        1. re: toodie jane

          I don't know, sometimes I would rather have the inspiration than the recipe - because I'm just going to screw with the recipe anyway. Amazingly enough, I've only really have one jam fail to jell. It's not that hard to make a decent estimate based on proportions from other recipes. Of course, certain additions (versus fruit combinations) don't affect the jell at all, like nuts, spices, etc. For instance, I add sesame seeds to fig jam, which gives it a nice something-something. And I've added cardamom to orange marmalade.

          But I will say that anyone looking for exciting jam recipes should run to the store (or, um., click really fast over to your favorite online book dealer) and buy Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber. Or at least, I think it's Ferber. I'm a little feverish at the moment and too damned sick to go look it up. But, buy, does that book have some great recipes.

          1. re: curiousbaker

            here's the link to the book on amazon:

            The reviews are all pretty good and the names of some of the jams sound interesting, but nearly all reviews had the caveat that this book isn't for novice jammers as it lacks vital basic information about preserving and safety. But for experienced preservers it may be just the ticket.

            1. re: morwen

              I bought this book this summer. I haven't made any yet. The recipes are lovely, the combinations simple but intriguing. Ferber doesn't use pectin unless its her recipe for green apple pectin. Her most common method involves macerating the fruit in sugar, often overnight. Sometimes heating it and macerating again. Its not a method a novice may think of but it definately is of novice competence. I suspect her products have a softer set than some may expect. She also doesn't follow the canning process many may be familair with from say, the Ball canning book. But you can sterilize your jars and waterbath can for 5 minutes and I doubt it would change her recipes.

              1. re: chowmel

                Yes - I'm uptight enough to do a quick sealing bath, and it doesn't affect anything. The method of macerating and heating (sometimes with the fruit strained out, sometimes more than once) is my favorite for getting flavorful jam with hunks of fruit. (Helen Witty does this also). The set is somewhat lighter, but it's not very loose.

            2. re: curiousbaker

              I LOVE this book. I'm currently mascerating peaches for her peaches with pinot noir and cinnamon jam.


            3. re: toodie jane

              Jams are so easy to make that I just follow a basic "jam making" procedure.

              For example, on the lychee/green tea jam noted above I did the following:

              1. Peel, pit lychees and place in a medium saucepan. Use enough lychees so that you fill the saucepan to about a 1" depth.
              2. Add some water so that it covers the lychees.
              3. Drop in a healthy handful of whole, green tea leaves
              4. Bring to boil, then allow to simmer until the mixture takes on a thick consistency.
              5. Remove tea leaves.
              6. Cool and refrigerate in sterlized canning jar.

              1. re: toodie jane

                Yep that's what I'd like to see also, tested recipes. I can come up with interesting sounding combinations all day and I have no fear of whether something will jell or not, but some combos sound great and taste like....well anyway, I've been down that street.

              2. Pears and crystallized ginger.

                1. Not all that unusual I suppose, but I make a blueberry orange amaretto jam that is by far the best jam I've made out of perhaps 20 different kinds. The recipe came from a Canadian cookbook. It's quite soft set so it's to die for in yogurt or on ice cream.

                  1. I've successfully subbed brown sugar for white when making peach and nectarine jam, then stirred a big spoonful of dark rum into each jar before sealing and processing.

                    1. thai spices - lemon grass/chilis/galanga/etc

                      1. Meyer lemon marmalade (can post recipe if you need one) with lavender (cheesecloth bag of dried lavender flowers in the pan, removed just before putting the stuff in jars). Or you can use vanilla sugar (stick a bean in the sugar bag until you can smell it) & add about 1/3 of a vanilla bean in each jar. Warn people first, though, b/c it looks a bit like a bug is in there ... . Have also added ginger (a couple of big chunks during cooking & fished out before canning, & then a piece or two of crystallized in the jars) to Seville orange marmalade, & a slug of Macallan single malt Scotch in at the end.

                        13 Replies
                        1. re: mshenna

                          in my online jam search, I found a forum where a poster told of using stems and leaves form lavender rather than flowers--more flavor! I haven't tried that method yet.

                          1. re: toodie jane

                            Mmm, now where to get the stems/leaves? More lavender flavor = more happiness, at least around here. Must try.

                            1. re: mshenna

                              I think you'd want to try the stems/leaves in May when the plants are getting ready to flower. Stands to reason there'd be more essense at that time. (Easy to grow in pots--use Lavandula intermedia hybrids lke 'Provence' or 'Grosso', they're sweeter. Some varities have an undesirable, strong camphor overtone.)

                              1. re: toodie jane

                                Thanks for the tip on varieties -- I don't have a garden, but do you think it might do OK on a windowsill? (We have good light & houseplants seem to like it there.) Mmm, that'd smell amazing too.

                          2. re: mshenna

                            Yes please, I'd like the lemon lavender marmalade recipe. I've been using the vanilla bean sugar (and vanilla bean Splenda) this year too. Been pretty free with the crystallized ginger too. mmmmmm...Macallan...not sure if it would make it to the jar or my mouth first. Have a bottle of that in the cupboard and also a bottle of Redbreast Irish. Will have to play with those.

                            1. re: morwen

                              Sorry for the delay: here it is (apologies too for longwindedness):

                              About 6 mid-sized Meyer lemons (more if/less if -- I've seen some that were monsters) (see below n.1)

                              6 c. water (see below n.2)

                              Approx. 6-1/2 c. sugar (see below n.3)

                              Dried lavender
                              NOTE 1: You can theoretically replace the Meyer lemons with a combination of regular thin-skinned lemons & mandarin oranges, but it really isn't as good. Ripetoyou.com has had good deals on really large boxes of Meyer lemons in the last few years -- check when the citrus season starts. Or call your friends in citrus growing areas & beg. (Ask them to use plenty of cushioning when packing Meyers.)

                              NOTE 2. John Thorne's Simple Cooking newsletter, some years back, recommended replacing some or all of the water with juice (assuming here that you have lots of Meyer lemons). This gives an incredibly intense flavor. (Zest the shells of the ones you juice -- zest freezes fine & keeps for ages.)

                              NOTE 3. You could, if you think about it ahead of time, make lavender sugar & use it.

                              Anyhow, cut the ends off the lemons, then slice the lemons in half lengthwise & then thinly into half-moons, or thickly if you get bored &/or like thick cut marmalade. Save the seeds & any especially tough membranes separately.

                              Put the cut-up lemons into a big Ziploc bag or equivalent & freeze them for a couple of days. (This softens the peel. The original lavenderless recipe, an old one from the first Sunset Favorite Recipes compilation -- which also contains an *awesome* fig/peach jam -- called for bringing them to a boil with the water & letting them stand overnight, & then repeating the whole procedure. That works fine too but I'm lazy & use the freezer.) You can also freeze the lemons whole before cutting them up, but they are squashy when thawed & really hard to slice so I don't.

                              Dump the frozen lemon lump into a big non-reactive pan & add the water. Bring to a boil & simmer for a few minutes. If the peel doesn't feel tender -- if you can't break it easily with the side of a wooden spoon -- keep simmering until it does. Meanwhile, make two cheesecloth bags. In one go the seeds & lemon ends & fibrous bits. In the other goes a handful of dried lavender. Tie them up & leave long string tails on them & add them to the pot.

                              Once the peels seem tender, measure & add an equal amount by volume of sugar (by eye is OK; you don't have to be too fussy here as marmalades set quite easily due to all the pectin in the rind).

                              Remove children, spouses, significant others, partners, roommates, pets, telephones etc. from kitchen as you will be off the air for about the next hour. Get a chair & a book & a long-handled wooden spoon. (This is a good time to get your jars ready -- sterilize in boiling water & keep hot.)

                              Turn up the heat to a full rolling boil. Turn it down a bit but maintain the bubbling. It will take anywhere from 15 minutes (has happened) to 45 minutes to set. This will depend on your stove, your pan & probably the phase of the moon & the moods of the Fates. Stir it a lot. When it looks ready to set (if you make jam, you know the signs -- it feels thicker when you stir & the sound of the bubbling gets heavier), test for set (I put a dab on a saucer & stick it in the freezer & see what it's like in a couple of minutes -- if it forms a skin, it's done). Fish out the bag of lavender & discard. Fish out the bag of pits & so on & mash it on the (in)side of your pot with the wooden spoon to squeeze out the pectin, which will look like clear ropy gunk. Discard that bag too.

                              Pack hot with 1/4 inch headspace & process -- 10 minutes for pints, 5 minutes for half pints seems to work fine. I have made this nearly every year for over 20 years & haven't had it spoil yet. Hope you like it.

                              1. re: morwen

                                While I have the book out, here is the Sunset Favorite Recipes fig/peach jam, since it's peach season:

                                Queen of Jams [notes in brackets]

                                3 lb. peaches (about 7 medium)
                                3 lb. figs
                                1/2 c. water
                                5 lb. (11-3/4 c.) sugar
                                1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon [their idea of flavoring, hah]
                                [my idea of flavoring, a vanilla bean & a couple of cinnamon sticks & some orange flower water]
                                [also mine: the pits from the peaches, cracked open for the little nuts within]

                                Peel the peaches (and the figs, if you prefer) [why would you do that?], & cut them in small pieces. In a large [non-reactive] pan, combine fruits & the water, & cook slowly until tender. [While cooking, add a cheesecloth bag containing a split or broken vanilla bean, the peach kernels (cracked or bashed with a hammer) & a couple of cinnamon sticks broken in big pieces. Let sit overnight in the refrigerator. Take pan o' fruit out & bring back up to a boil, then turn to a simmer.] Mash fruit with a potato masher, add the sugar and cinnamon [nah, cinnamon already added] [vanilla sugar is amazing here, & you can swap in some brown sugar for part of the white], stirring, & cook slowly [it scorches more easily than most, beware] until almost as thick as desired. (The jam will thicken when cool; to test consistency, place a little on a saucer & chill quickly in a freezer.) [I have a vague memory of overcooking this by trying to cook it to 219 degrees, like other jam, so skip the thermometer.] [Take out the bag of peachpits, vanilla bean & cinnamon & discard.] [Add a good slug of orange flower water or rosewater here, preferably the former.] Pour into hot, sterilized jars; seal according to manufacturer's instructions. [I often wonder what they fear you might do instead.] [Process 5 minutes for 1/2 pints, 10 for pints.] Makes about 10 cups. [As if. I've gotten 12. Sterilize a lot of jars.]

                                1. re: mshenna

                                  Awesome! Very helpful. I'm checking with a friend in citrus country today. Now if I could only find a source for cheap figs. Had free figs when I lived in NC because a friend considered them a nuisance (go figure!) but here in NY the only figs I've seen are in the supermarket.

                                  1. re: morwen

                                    Free figs, lucky you (back in NC).

                                    I'm in NY & get figs in Chinatown (downtown, not Flushing -- go to several places b/c you never know who'll have what), usually. Or you can chat up the midtown corner fruit vendors who sell the little baskets of them. You are going to cut them up (the figs not the vendors) anyhow so their shape & size & even bits of gooshiness do not matter. Fresh figs always seem to have a lot of flavor (have used the black ones & the green ones & both were good). Peaches are another matter -- go to the Union Square or other greenmarkets, b/c you want a really tasty fragrant peach. Again, talk to the farmers at the end of the day, b/c if you are making jam that night, you can use the bruised & nearly overripe ones; the farmers are often really nice about pricing if they've got fruit on the verge.

                                    We had figs in Maryland -- should think they could be grown here but can't recall ever seeing them at the greenmarket.

                                    1. re: mshenna

                                      That'd be great if I were in NYC. But I'm in the Southern Tier and the only place I've seen figs is Wegmans. We don't have corner fruit vendors or green grocers and I've never seen them in the farmers markets. Peaches, no problem. There are beautiful peaches readily available here and most of my peach preserving is already done. But I'm sure your sources will be very helpful to NYC residents.

                                      1. re: morwen

                                        I cannot believe I found fresh figs - I live in rural northern Canada!! I was absolutely stunned - I have talked to the produce manager about getting fresh figs, lemongrass, jicama, celeriac, tamarind, etc. So very impressed! So I had to take advantage of it in case it never happens again.

                                        1. re: chefathome

                                          Figs! I think I love your produce manager! (That jam, btw, makes the kitchen smell luscious for days. Let me know how it turns out if you try it.)

                                        2. re: morwen

                                          Much too late for this year, but talked to mother (parents used to live near Binghamton). She said to check around in Endicott, which has a good-sized Italian-American community, & also to try the University (botany department?) & the garden clubs. Apparently you can grow figs that far north if you take them inside in winter. She has also grown figs herself (though not upstate) & says that the fallen fruit attracts wasps & yellowjackets, so someone with an overbearing fig tree might be willing to make a deal. Next year ... good luck!

                              2. raspberries, cranberry and orange

                                1. I just started making jam and cannng this year. For some of the ideas on this thread, and in general free wheeling jam recipes: it was my understanding that the total amount of sugar in a recipe was very important for preserving purposes? That is, you could make a jam that gels, water bath can it, but the jam could still grow toxins if the sugar was too low? is that wrong? just conservative?

                                  I would like to make interesting combinations, and use less sugar, but I am still afraid of killing someone (!).

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: cocktailhour

                                    I only use approved recipes. I think the sugar has more to do with the gelling than making it safe to eat. Jams without pectin use less sugar.

                                    1. re: sarah galvin

                                      The sugar does help act as a preservative. Jams and jellies with lower sugar tend to mold faster. Jams and jellies made with low/no sugar pectin also mold faster. I've been going the low/no sugar route this year and freezing my jams and jellies because A) I'm diabetic and B) I can't stand the heat but don't want to get out of the kitchen. So far everything has come out great, and I actually like tasting more fruit and less sugar.

                                      So my tips are:
                                      **If you want to use less/no sugar, do freezer jams and jellies just to be on the safe side.
                                      **Put them up in small (4 oz) containers so when you move them to the fridge you use them up faster. I've been using the throwaway type snack size plastic containers. They're cheap, stackable and I reuse them.

                                      If you don't have the freezer space, go with traditional jams. The Ball low/no sugar pectin does have directions for preserving by traditional waterbath for shelf storage but I haven't tried it. Ball's pretty reliable though and may be worth a shot.

                                      1. re: morwen

                                        Not convinced on sugar as preservative - I have several recipes with little or no added sugar - mind you they aren't jam - peach nectar, pureed fruit for babyfood, etc. I make jams without added pectin and have no problem with molding. I always use the water bath method. You could also check out Bernardin's recipes.

                                        1. re: sarah galvin

                                          The U.S.D.A., in an old bulletin from just after WWII, (out of context in making jams) says in its rules about curing country ham that sugar is NOT a preservative.

                                          1. re: sarah galvin

                                            Anecdotal only here, but we don't like artificial sweeteners in our house so don't tend to have low-sugar jams. However, a friend gave us a splenda based strawberry jam recently-just a little half-pint container. My family thought it was yummy but it sure molded fast in the fridge...didn't last nearly as long as jam usually will.

                                    2. pineapple habanero is one of our faves as well as wine jelly. Our biggest hits are merlot and pino grigio.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: chelleyd01

                                        I've not made this combo, but being a chili lover I bought some at the Mustard Festival In Napa one year. As much as I paid for it, you should be selling it! Its wonderful

                                      2. Yuzu and honey
                                        Yuzu and chili
                                        Kumquat and ginger
                                        Kumquat and lemon
                                        coconut and pandan

                                        1. Some of these combos sound really great! But if you would post your recipes or proportions that would be helpful.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. Actually made blackberry, strawberry, raspberry- not so different but very good.
                                            White peach and strawberry with Grand Marnier
                                            Strawberry Banana
                                            And I haven't made these but plan on making Tangerine Marmalade and Lime
                                            But I'm wondering? Has anyone made a Kiwi jam or preserve?

                                            1. We're still going at the jam/marmalade jarring but so far my gal pals and I are sharing the bounty from:

                                              lemon & kiwi marmalade
                                              blackberry honey jam
                                              peach tarragon jelly
                                              merlot jelly
                                              strawberry jam
                                              tomato jam
                                              eggplant & garlic chutney
                                              sweet onion jelly
                                              cantaloupe spread
                                              pear & ginger jam

                                              We still have to finish up with jars of:
                                              grapefruit butter
                                              blueberry jam
                                              rosemary and tomato spread

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                Grapefruit butter? Tell me more, please!

                                              2. Last summer I made a strawberry jam with balsamic vinegar and black pepper, and it was wonderful -- I got the idea from this board. I just used the strawberry jam recipe that I had made before, and added the vinegar and pepper at the end. Lovely.

                                                1. The Jamlady Cookbook by Beverly Alfel. She has recipes for all sorts of fruits most with many flavoring and combination variations. She also has many recipes for low sugar jams including using artificial sweeteners. I have the book from the library now but I think it will be my Christmas request (last year was Blur Ribbon Preserves by Linda Amendt).

                                                  1. I had some watery pluots (from Costco) to use up so I made some sugar free jam with them using Pomona Pectin and a mixture of erythritol and splenda for sweeteners. Tasted it and it mostly tasted of the lemon juice I added... so I mixed in a couple teaspoons of ginger paste from the Indian market - and WOW! It really has zing.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: mimilulu

                                                      ginger paste--what a great idea! Thanks! Cost Plus has lots of products by The Ginger People--I'll look. Alas, no Indian market for 200 miles.

                                                      1. re: toodie jane

                                                        I bet chopped crystallized ginger would work beautifully too.

                                                        1. re: mimilulu

                                                          Might not blend in as well -- preserved ginger is sort of tough (though it'd definitely taste great). For ginger paste without an Indian market handy, peel fresh ginger & grate it to a pulp, (there are terrific Japanese graters just for ginger that even separate out the fibers, & you can get them mail order), or pound it (knife handle or similar is good here) on a cutting board until it is pulverized, or mash it in a mortar & pestle, or process it with a bit of water in one of those mini food processors.

                                                          What proportions, if you remember, did you use of erythritol & Splenda in the sugarfree plum jam?

                                                          1. re: mshenna

                                                            About 1/2 and 1/2 (not scientifically measured).

                                                            The instructions in the Pomona Pectin packet (how alliterative!) call for (as I remember) 3/4 c to 2 c of sweetener for 4 c of fruit. I had 5 c of fruit and used about 3/4 to 1 cup of erythritol and a little more than 1/2 a pack of Splenda Quick Pack (which is equivalent to 1 cup of sugar - but has none of the fillers that the bulk Splenda has... each packet has about 1 tsp of powder = 1 c of sugar)... too bad the Splenda Quick Packs are being discontinued.

                                                            I use this combo for most everything I make - sugar free ice creams, baked goods, etc. Combining the sweeteners seem to cancel out any aftertaste (my hubby is my taste tester - and has given thumbs up on my experiments!).

                                                            1. re: mimilulu

                                                              Thanks (to you & the taste tester too)! Haven't had too much luck cooking with Splenda but will definitely try using the combination.

                                                    2. Not very dramatic, but grapefruit marmalade with brown sugar. I got the original recipe from Nigella's Domestic Goddess book. The brown sugar really makes a difference. I think she also recommends adding some bourbon, but I haven't tried that.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. I always make my own jams, jellies, marmalades, chutneys, confits, etc. Today I made fig strawberry jam and tomato basil jam. I often make basil jelly, lemon oregano jam, pear vanilla bean butter, blueberry and caramelized onion chutney, gooseberry rhubarb jam, plum amaretto jam, cranberry port wine jelly, grapefruit raspberry honey jelly, pear kiwi lime marmalade, apricot honey butter, juniper berry chutney, pineapple orange rosemary jam, and so on. Making preserves is one of my favourite things to do! :-)

                                                        8 Replies
                                                        1. re: chefathome

                                                          Would you care to share the juniper berry chutney recipe? We eat a lot of venison and I use the berries for marinade but a chutney sounds like it would go great!

                                                          1. re: morwen

                                                            We, too, eat a lot of game - my husband is a hunter so we regularly have elk, moose, etc.

                                                            Juniper Berry Chutney

                                                            3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
                                                            1 large tart green apple, peeled, cored and chopped
                                                            1 medium onion, chopped
                                                            *1/2 c sultanas
                                                            1/2 c light brown sugar
                                                            1/2 c liquid honey
                                                            1/2 c apple cider vinegar
                                                            1/4 c water
                                                            1 tbsp juniper berries, crushed
                                                            1/4 tsp salt
                                                            1/8 tsp hot pepper sauce

                                                            Combine all but salt and hot sauce in large saucepan. Bring to oil. Reduce and boil gently for 25-30 min until thickened, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper sauce and cook 2 min.

                                                            Ladle into jars. Process 10 min. for half pints and 15 min. for pints. Makes 4 cups.

                                                            *Although I like the flavour I am not a big raisin fan so sometimes do not even add them.

                                                            1. re: chefathome

                                                              Thank you! That sounds great and very timely too as our tomatoes are starting to ripen. Will definitely make some up!

                                                          2. re: chefathome

                                                            Could you post your tomato basil jam recipe? Thanks

                                                            1. re: chefathome

                                                              i really, really like the sound of tomato basil jam, as well, though i'm having a little bit of trouble conceptualizing it. is it savory? is it like pasta sauce with pectin added?

                                                              1. re: cimui

                                                                It is savoury - great with crudites and goat cheese, etc. Nothing like pasta sauce at all - more like a thick jam/chutney. It is also great to spread on thick bread before adding the cheese mixture in making Welsh Rarebit. Good mixed into pan sauces. Nice tang. Absolutely delicious. I have tons of basil I need to use tomorrow so once I find it I will post!!

                                                                This is really dumb but I misplaced the recipe - I literally have books spread out all over the place and cannot recall where it is. Just had it out! It is a very good one (I nearly have it memorized).

                                                                1. re: chefathome

                                                                  chefathome, thanks for the explanation. this sounds great and i hope you were able to find the recipe! i actually do think i've had something similar (i'm thinking at williams & sonoma?) but it was called a chutney, instead. the jam bit just threw me off, since it made me think of something more jellied and pectin-y.

                                                                  1. re: cimui

                                                                    Is this it: http://www.yumyum.com/recipe.htm?ID=2...

                                                                    Made this tonight...it's very sweet but has an intriguing flavor.

                                                            2. Forgot to mention that we eat my preserves with entrees such as duck, lamb, pheasant, quail, game, etc. more often than with sweet (except on my homemade cream scones, of course!).

                                                              1. one summer when my parents' garden had a zucchini explosion and we couldn't figure out what to do with it all, we made a lot of zucchini jams, which were surprisingly good. a few combinations to try:

                                                                zucchini strawberry jam
                                                                zucchini peach
                                                                zucchini pear

                                                                i've also had interesting fig / garlic jam and fig / chocolate jam (spread?), though i've never attempted it for myself. (figs are too expensive and hard to come by in my part of the country, alas.)

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: cimui

                                                                  In the south we are all about the sweet and hot jam combos. Some of my favorites are pear-carm onion, orange-jalapeno, peach-chili.

                                                                2. This isn't an unusual combination but an unusual fruit. When I was a kid on Guam we had a jujube tree by our quarters. All my life I have remembered that fruit. It must make a wonderful jam. I would probably pair it with some ginger or even tomatillo.

                                                                  1. I usually love the combination of raspberry and some kind of spicy pepper (jalapeno or chipotle)...but other than that I've seen: ginger plum and green tomato.

                                                                    1. Spicy blueberry = blueberries, sugar, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, white pepper

                                                                      1. Cherries, red currants, and cassis.