summer smells like so many things to me, the top 5 have to be hawaiian tropic tanning lotion, sun-warmed skin, citronella, grilling and jam-making. all of these—save for jam-making—always take me back to fond memories of summers spent boating and lakeside with my family and later with my friends. growing up i spent many days at my grandparents house, first in martinez and later in colfax, california in the sierras. so, to me, summer looks like red dirt, sand, pine and oak trees, blackberry brambles, the American river, river rocks and lakes. all invoke nostalgia of lazy days and warm, long evenings sipping iced tea and cocktails…even jam-making.
however, i have only really made jam in the summer for about two years now, so the nostalgia is false, but it is just one of those things that tricks your mind and sends you back anyway. maybe because it smells a bit like baking pie—another staple summer smell (yay! for alliteration). what i think i am trying to get at is making your own jam is satisfying and wonderfully nostalgic. i want to make it a tradition for myself and my future. if you think it is too hard or too time consuming, it really isn’t. i thought it would be daunting, but i wish i had tried it earlier. if you don’t know what to do with your jam spread it on toast, scones, waffles or other bready items, or warm and pour over ice cream, or use it to glaze meats. yum.
note: my good friend brooke recently told me that she sometimes eats a spoonful of my last batch of strawberry-balsamic straight from the jar…best compliment ever.
this is a helpful website for safe home canning, but i am sure there are more. i tried to find the one for the fda, but i got lost and frustrated on their website. sorry.
i made apricot with ginger (add 1 inch ginger cut into pieces large enough to remove before canning), strawberry balsamic (add 2 tbsp. balsamic vingegar to jam and cook), and blackberry bay leaf (add 1 bay leaf to pot while jam reduces). this is the basic recipe i used from the june 2008 issue of bon appetite. i used about a half cup less sugar for the berry jams ( i like tart jams) and pretty much followed the instructions for the apricot.
6 5-to 6-ounce containers raspberries and blackberries (3 containers each)
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Combine fruit, sugar, and lemon juice in large bowl. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Put 2 saucers in freezer.
In bottom of heavy large stockpot at least 3 inches deeper than height of jars, place metal rack or extra screw bands from canning jars to protect jars from direct heat. Fill pot with water, cover, and bring water to boil. Reduce heat to low. Wash jars, lids, and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse well. Set screw bands on clean towel to dry. Place lids in small saucepan; cover with cold water and bring to simmer; turn off heat. Fill jars with very hot water.
Transfer fruit mixture to large saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Mash to thick puree with potato masher. Reduce heat to medium and boil gently until mixture begins to thicken, stirring often, about 18 minutes.
Remove saucepan from heat to test jam for gelling point. Drop 1 teaspoonful jam on chilled saucer and return to freezer 1 minute. Remove saucer and push edge of jam with fingertip. If jam has properly gelled, surface will gently wrinkle. If not, return saucepan to heat and cook jam a few minutes longer; repeat test.
Drain hot water from jars and shake out excess water. Place jars on cutting board. Ladle hot jam into each jar, leaving 3/4-inch space at top. Slide flat plastic spatula between jam and jar to eliminate air bubbles. Clean rim of each jar with damp cloth. Using tongs, lift hot lids from saucepan, 1 at a time, shake dry, and place atop jars. Seal each with screw band, twisting to close but not too tightly. Return filled jars to pot of hot water.
Add water to pot, if necessary, to cover jars by at least 1 inch. Cover pot and bring to boil; reduce heat and boil gently 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Wait 5 minutes; use tongs to remove jars without tilting. Place upright on towel; cool completely at room temperature. Jam will thicken as it cools.
Check lids for seal by pressing each lightly. Lids of sealed jars will be concave and show no movement when pressed.
Test-kitchen tip: For peach or apricot jam, use 2 pounds fruit, 2 cups sugar, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Rinse, dry, and rub any fuzz off peaches, if using. Halve, pit, and cut fruit into 3/4-inch pieces. Place in bowl and toss with sugar and lemon juice, then follow directions above.
p.s. dear lake tahoe,
i miss you very much and have not forgotten your clear and frigid waters. since the temperature here in the truckee meadows has not yet peaked 90 and the snow has not yet melted off the mountain tops, it is too cold to spend the day on your sandy shores. however, i may not be able to stay away much longer. i love you.
jam-boree tunes: citronella, the guild league