The poor man’s jam

picking rowan berriesWe really did have the perfect weekend. It was just two little ones and myself and the house was quite quiet and clean. I do have to mention that it was actually clean because it stayed that way without too much effort  until everyone came home Sunday evening and all of the laundry from the weekend was suddenly in a pile and our three-year old must have decided that the childrens’ room was just too tidy for her liking. I could hear a thunk and then three more as she was looking for the perfect book and the rest of them also ended up on the floor. Sigh. But I shouldn’t let it spoil my relaxing weekend with just the three of us. We had the most perfect weather. If you have ever spent an autumn in Finland you will know that often it is rainy and gray and somewhat dreary. So far we have been really lucky. It was nearly shorts weathers and the sky was almost cloud-less. We went on a casual bike ride everyday. There was no hurry. We stopped at the store and bought a baguette and some brie cheese and mustard harm for an evening snack. Then we walked back and forth in the ice cream isle and picked out the perfect ice cream. If you have ever visited Finland you will know that the ice cream here is wonderful and there are quite a few options and so that is why it took so long to decide.

rowan berriesOn Saturday morning we made a game plan. We had a lazy breakfast and then a bike ride to go pick some Rowan berries as I had plan for these red-orange berries that decorate the landscape during the early fall. Next we were going to finish cleaning the downstairs and then go swimming at the local swimming hall. Our Hugo who is one, thinks he knows how to swim and kept wanting to put his face into the water and was somewhat annoyed when I would not let go and let him swim independently. For the most part he had a jolly time splashing us all and swimming in his little hand-me-down swimsuit that looks like a wrestling suit. And we had fun laughing at him. After our swim I was looking forward to the sauna which is my favorite part. Hugo thought swimming was much more fun than sitting in a hot sauna. I did have him sit on the steps coming into the sauna as it is not very hot there. But he just didn’t like it and so we didn’t stay for very long. It didn’t matter as we had a little jamming project waiting at home.

rowan berry collageIn Finland it is quite common to make a jam that pairs carrots with another ingredient that is very tart such as rhubarb and call it the Poor Man’s Cloudberry jam. Cloudberries are very valued as they require a lot of work to pick and grow in the bogs and marshes and in wet meadows. They are golden in color and look a little bit like a round yellow raspberry. I decided to make my version of the Poor Man’s jam with the Rowan or pihlajanmarja. The rowan is high in vitamin C and because of it’s thick skin I boiled the rinsed berries in water and then strained them by gently mashing them to get some of the pulp as well.

pihlajanmarja hilloPoor Man’s Jam –using the wild Rowan berry


225 g/8 oz rowan berries, rinsed
3 dl/1 and 1/3 c water
225 g/8 oz carrots, peeled and finely chopped
plus 2 dl/1 c of hot water to pour over the strained berries
175 g/6 oz jamming sugar (sugar that has pectin) or regular sugar

Place the berries and water into a pot and allow to simmer on low for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and pour through a strainer. Gently mash the berries with the back of a spoon and pour about 2 dl/1 cup of hot water over the crushed berries. Place the juice of the berries, sugar and finely chopped carrots back into the sauce pan and cook on low for another 20 minutes. Using an immersion wand, mix until the consistency is desired. I did not purée mine completely as I prefer to have a little texture. At this point the carrots will be a little candied in texture.

Serve with popovers or maybe scones.

Since I am still a beginner when it comes to canning, I would recommend the canning instructions by John at Bartolini Kitchens. His posts are always very thorough and enjoyable to read.

rowan berries and bikesunflowers and berriesOn the way home from our little outing we picked sunflowers for our dining room table. It is that time of year again when the sunflowers are in bloom. There is an entire field of them just the down the road from us and there is a sign that says “Pick flowers—pay what you want” I once wandered down their long drive way to see if they might be home, that time nobody answered my knock. I know it is an elderly couple and thought it would be fun to chat for a bit as I’m sure they brighten the days of so many with their yellow sunflowers. I will have to try another time.


  1. I don’t think we have Rowan berries here in France, but I sure would love to try them… Lovely post. Very non chalant and romantic!

    1. Oh, thank you Stéphane! I found that the Rowan berry had many names and many variations. One was the European Mountain Ash. Perhaps you have a variation of the tree/bush growing somewhere?

  2. We don’t have rowan berries in Texas. According to my short research, they are an arctic fruit with a bitter flavor. Your area of the world apparently has a rowan berry that is not bitter. I would love to try it. The photos are lovely. 🙂

    1. Our rowan berries do have a bitter flavor and that is why they work in a jam or maybe in a juice but certainly not plain! I’ll have to start experimenting to see what all could be made with them as they are in abundance here.

  3. Hi my dear,
    In our neck of the woods there is a mountain ash tree that produces a fruit that people do not eat: I believe there is a folk tail about the Rowan berries and a fox, can’t quite remember. Ask Hannele.

    But, would you believe? Yesterday we planted a European Mountain Ash. Tree in the side yard!

    Another fine addition to your blog.

    Love, Grampa

    1. Hi Grampa!

      What a coincidence. When looking online to see what the pihlajanmarja was called in English I found a picture of the European Mountain Ash that looked very similar…I think it is the same tree! We have two small ones planted in the north-east corner of our yard. This year one of them had quite a few berries. I’ll have to send Hannele a note and ask her about the fox tale. 🙂

      Lots of love,

  4. Poor man’s jam – what a glorious name and beautiful pictures. A real story through images. And I’ve read about cloud berries but know very little about them so far. Thanks for educating me xxx

    1. I thought the name had so much character in it as well. 🙂 I have some cloud berries in my freezer that my sister-in-law picked for me…perhaps I’ll have to think up something for them. They are a such a rare treat that they are waiting for a special occasion.

  5. It looks like you had amazing weather this weekend by looking at your marvelous photos. I am so interested to hear about this new jam called poor mans jam. lovely colors and vibrant flavors I am sure. Have a super week!

  6. Beautiful photos! The jam sounds delicious…though I don’t believe the berries are available here. Hope you’re able to pick more before this batch of jam runs out!

    1. Thank you Nancy…I think if I’m quick I should be able to pick some more of the those delightfully colorful berries. Yesterday I had a little on my toast and it was delicious.

    1. I think it would work wonderfully with crabapples…I would love to hear if you give it a try 🙂 Yes, cloudberries are perhaps an acquired taste but they are not sour or bitter and so it probably depends on how it is served.

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