Thursday, September 11, 2008

I'm hooked on jam

Back to our previously scheduled series on Preserving the Harvest...
So jam. I'm kinda hooked on it. I've heard the description of opening a jar of homemade jam in the middle of winter, and tasting summer. And I'm okay eating summer jam in summer too. Because homemade jam is tasty.

I've never been a big jam eater. Eh, no big deal. But then we made strawberry freezer jam at the beginning of the season? And I was in heaven. Seriously. Look at this picture and tell me it doesn't look delicious...
Strawberry freezer jam is so vibrant red
So we took it up a notch this summer, and made some jam. Actually, it was preserves because we didn't use any pectin: raspberry and tayberry. It was berry central here. Tayberries are a delicious cross between raspberries and blackberries and smell delightful.
Making berry preserves is pretty simple. Mainly, you have to match the right amount of sugar in order to preserve the fruit. Some people play with that a bit, and with a lot of berries, you don't even have to use pectin (the jelling agent). If you just cook it slow and steady, your berries and berry juice will turn to a nice thick consistency, and eventually thicken up a bit. And if they don't thicken up a bit, that's okay too. Because it's delicious no matter what.
Tayberry Preserves (adapted from Preserving the Harvest)
3 quarts tayberries
6 cups sugar
In a 4-quart saucepan, heat the berries slowly until the juice is extracted, then add the sugar. Boil the mixture for 20 minutes. Skim off the foam. Pour the preserves into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inche of headspace. Cap, seal and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.

And then there were the peach preserves. Oh, and the peach butter. Cooked overnight at a very low temperature and in a crockpot, the peach butter. This is a definite keeper. And it's so easy. Here are the step by step directions.

So you know how I said I'm hooked on jam? We made more jam. With these.
And these.
And fig preserves with a little bit of orange zest and orange liquor? Uh, yeah. That's going to be a part of a wintertime appetizer or dessert. You can bet on it.

So now there's talk of pears, and no, I will not be making pear jam. But following quickly on its heels come apples. And I think about apple butter and how easy that crockpot fruit butter is and the free jars that are coming my way via family and I think maybe. It's best I don't count all of the jars of preserves, butter and jam lined up in the basement. This winter I think we shall be just fine.


Tim D. Roth said...

How I love the less common jams, like Apricot and Fig. I like to spice my apricot jams/preserves because sometimes it seems like they just need another component, plus it makes them a bit more festive during the colder months. Yum!

Rozanne said...

Yeah, the freezer jam looks totally yummy. The color is just great! I have a couple of tubs of it in the freezer that I am saving for the winter doldrums.

I don't have any specific details on this, but I read that if you boil a few of the berry leaves and stems along with the berries they will help the preserves jell. Might want to look into that.

Karolcooks said...

YAY freezer jam. I sometimes throw in some lime or lemon zest for a little "gotcha."

Tricia said...

Apricot Jam? My favorite- especially homemade. We had a tree in my parents backyard- my mom always made it... Mmmmm.. on a hot scone with butter. Yum!

Are those Thomas's English Muffins? I love those too!

What time is brunch on Saturday??