30 June 2014

My jam is your jam

If I began this post by relating, "everyone should have a homemade jam recipe up their sleeve, " I'd slightly roll my own eyes. I don't particularly like to feel pressured when cooking publications tell me what I should be executing. To each pace her/his own. And yet so many times they're right. Yes, Maldon makes everything wonderful. Yes, quick-pickled onions are those bright pink earrings to accompany any little plain dress. Yes you should roast a whole bird at least occasionally, homemade breadcrumbs = money in the bank, and indeed, you can and should make your own jam. Especially the uncanny kind. This recipe is simple, customizable and DIY. Look twice and you might miss it.

(Lead photo: these scones but with blueberries instead of rhubarb. Yummy, I tell you.)

Refrigerator jam is a great start for making your own spreads. No worries about canning or sterilizing, and spreadable fruit at your fingertips made from your own (presumably bountiful; it's berry season!) supply. Here's some suggested reading. And here too. But once you read those, just go off on your own. Take any berry or mix of berries--for the above batch I used a mix of a rhubarb, blueberries and strawberries, and put into a saucepan with some sugar, an aromatic like zest or citrus peel, which you can remove at the end, and lemon juice, boil, then simmer, cool, and store. About the sugar. As most would contend, sweetness is in the tastebuds of the beholder. I want something sweetish but not cloying, and I'm finding a ratio of 1 cup fruit to a scant 3 Tbs sugar to be sufficient.

Stove Jam

1 heaped cup fruit (chopped strawberries, rhubarb and blueberries for example)
3 Tbs sugar
1-2 swipes lemon peel
1 tsp lemon juice

Place a spoon in the freezer. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and as the sugar and fruit begin to cook, use a wooden spoon to mash a bit.  Bring to a boil then quickly reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10-20 minutes, or until liquid reduces and the jam starts to thicken.  Keep an eye. Remove a spoonful and test on your frozen spoon. If it holds, you're good. Remove from heat and let cool, removing lemon peel, then spooning into a jar as soon as it is cool to handle. Store in the fridge.

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