Thursday, July 18, 2013

Confessions of a Compulsive Jam Maker

Bowl of Jam and Plate of Toast spread with Jam, garnished with strawberries
Strawberry Pineapple Jam

by Robin

Do you see your plum tree loaded with fruit and think, “Looks like time to make jam.”  Do you have a friend with persimmon trees who gives you fruit for jam every year? Is your supply of homemade jam stacked high in a cabinet, or overflowing onto random bookshelves? If you saw an overloaded peach tree in a parking lot, would you gather enough peaches to make jam even if they weren’t quite ripe yet? Do bulk prices on raspberries put you in a jam-making frame of mind? Do you frequent blackberry thickets that most people don’t know about, with jam making in mind? Minutes after finishing a batch of wild plum jam, would you buy a half-price flat of strawberries at the Farmers’ Market so that you could make some jam? Have you ever arrived at a U-pick farm super-early so that you could pick as much fruit as possible, then go home and make jam? Congratulations! Like me, you are a compulsive jam maker.

Strawberry Jam Foaming up in Pot
The Exciting Foaming Stage of Jam Making
What is it about jam making that is so addictive? The smell of fresh fruit throughout the house during and after a jam session is intoxicating. The idea of preserving what might go to waste gives us a sense of using nature’s gifts wisely. Having ready-made jam that cannot be purchased in stores available for any occasion helps us feel prepared for social events and gift-giving occasions. Yet the alchemy of the process itself is the most thrilling aspect of all, seeing the fresh fruit go through its changes as it becomes jam. First, it bubbles and foams up, releasing air that was an invisible part of the fruit. Then the foam calms down, and eventually subsides. Next the liquid starts to thicken and take on a beautiful satiny radiance. A short time later, as we continue to heat and test, suddenly and magically we have jam.

Large Basket of Peaches Picked in Local Parking Lot
Parking Lot Peaches: Jam Maker's Score
For my jam-making colleagues, and for beginners who can accept the risk of becoming compulsive jam makers too, I offer the following recipes. This summer I hope to add Wild Plum Jam plus Peach Jam, Peach-Pineapple Jam, and/or Seedless Blackberry Jam. Yes, I am addicted. Please post a link and share your own favorite jam recipes!

Persimmon-Tangerine-Lemon-Ginger Marmalade (fall - winter recipe)

Tree Filled with Yellow Plums
Jam of the (Near) Future

No comments:

Post a Comment