Carrot Cake Conserve

June 21, 2022
1 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 8 hours 50 minutes
  • makes 5 1/2 half-pint jars
Author Notes

This conserve, which is a sort of jam/marmalade hybrid with dried fruit and nuts, tastes like carrot cake in a jar. You can make it anytime and store it away to open up whenever you need a heady dose of warmly-spiced carrots, rum-raisins, walnuts, coconut, pineapple, and citrus. This might seem like a real project if you’re not a seasoned preserver, but the recipe is split up into manageable steps, making it easy to fit into a busy week. 

This conserve makes a bowl of oatmeal extra special and really shines sandwiched between molasses cookies, but we all know carrot cake’s main squeeze is cream cheese. Savor it dolloped on a thick slice of toasted brioche slathered with cream cheese for a quick but decadent snack. For a dinner party, serve it atop cream cheese-based panna cotta or mousse. 

Note: If you don’t want to properly can the conserve, no problem. You can skip Steps 4 and 6, just use clean containers with airtight lids and transfer the conserve to the refrigerator after cooling to room temperature—the conserve will keep at least 6 months in the refrigerator. That said, I encourage you to try my easy inversion method, detailed in the recipe below. After pouring the hot conserve into hot jars, you’ll briefly invert them before letting them cool. Check that they’re properly sealed by removing the ring band and picking them up by the snap lid before storing in the cupboard (if any jars don’t pass this test, just store them in the refrigerator.) I’m confident you’ll find a little effort is nothing in comparison to the feeling of knowing you have a cache of carrot cake flavor socked away to savor at your leisure. 

What You'll Need
  • 1 large orange
  • 3 large lemons, divided
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cups finely shredded carrots (from about 5 medium carrots), loosely packed
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped pineapple (or canned, crushed and well-drained)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  1. Quarter the orange and 1 lemon lengthwise, trimming the ends and discarding any seeds. Slice each quarter crosswise into ¼-inch-thick pieces. Place the sliced citrus in a small or medium pot, cover with 5 1/2 cups of water, then cover the pot. In a half-pint jar, combine the raisins and rum, then seal the jar with an airtight lid. Leave both to soak at room temperature or in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to 24.
  2. The next day, remove the cover from the pot of sliced citrus and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the peels are very tender and about two-thirds of the water has evaporated, about 30 minutes.
  3. Juice the remaining 2 lemons (you should have about 5 tablespoons) into a large, wide heavy-bottomed pot. Stir in the soaked citrus (and water) and the rum-soaked raisins, both of the sugars, carrots, pineapple, walnuts, coconut, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. (This mixture can also be combined in a lidded bowl or container and refrigerated for up to 1 week before cooking.)
  4. Heat oven to 250°F and have ring bands and new snap lids nearby. Place 6 clean half-pint (8-ounce) jars on a rimmed sheet pan and transfer to the oven. Heat the jars for at least 20 minutes before filling.
  5. Bring the carrot mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue to boil, stirring often, until the surface is glossy and covered in large, rhythmic bubbles, and the consistency is thickened but still runny (similar to a canned apple pie filling), 30 to 45 minutes—this can vary depending on pan size and stovetop. Test the conserve for doneness by putting a teaspoon of it on a plate in the freezer. After 2 minutes, it should have formed a skin that will wrinkle when prodded.
  6. Immediately (and carefully) pour the conserve into the hot jars to within 1/4- to 1/8-inch of the rim. (If any jar is not filled this high, cool to room temperature and store in the refrigerator—see Author Notes for more storage information.) Wipe the rims clean, then top with snap lids and ring bands. Using a kitchen towel or potholders to grip the hot jars, seal as tightly as you can, then invert jars onto the sheet pan for 1 to 2 minutes. Flip right-side up and let jars sit at room temperature, undisturbed, for 24 hours.
  7. After ensuring the jars are sealed (see Author Notes), label each with recipe name and date. Store somewhere cool, dark, and dry, where they will keep for at least 1 year. Once opened, refrigerate for up to 6 months.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • AntoniaJames
  • camillawynne

2 Reviews

AntoniaJames September 26, 2022
The inversion method is considered unsafe. See .

The reasoning:

"The thought behind the method is the hot food will sterilize the seal while creating a vacuum by allowing air to escape. This thinking has since been disproven, as the food in the jar doesn’t reach a high enough temperature for the appropriate amount of time to ensure food safety, and it can compromise the seal."

All that said, it looks like a delicious conserve, one well worth the effort of conventional canning. (The walnuts will get soggy, however, whatever you method is used, so I'd leave them out, sprinkling them on when serving.) ;o)
camillawynne September 26, 2022
Hi! Definitely the inversion method is unsafe for things like canned fruit or pickles, but for jams, jellies and marmalades that are at temperatures higher than 212F for a prolonged time during cooking and sealed in sterilized jars while above 194F, it is safe! It's a very common method in artisanal production and outside of North America. That said, you can absolutely water bath can this recipe for 10 minutes if you prefer.
The walnuts definitely don't retain their crunch, but I like them like that. Good call to sprinkle on top if you don't feel the same way!