In a (Delicious) Jam!
Summertime brings about some pretty amazing fruits, which, as a pastry chef, is such a welcome change from the derth of fruit the past several months!! Depending where you are in the country, the growing seasons can greatly differ. For example, here in New York we see much shorter local berry seasons than in, say, North Carolina. So when the fruits start showing up at the markets, there’s a feeding frenzy!! A great way to utilize any fruit surplus is to make a batch of jam.
Jams are made with whole fruits (unlike jellies which use just the juice), sugar and lemon juice. That’s all you need. On occasion, depending upon what kind of fruit you are using to make the jam, a recipe may call for pectin. Pectin is a substance which naturally occurs in fruits that help form a gel when it is cooked with sugar and some acid. Some fruits lack enough natural pectin and require a small amount to be added to help the gel form. Fruits low in pectin include raspberries and peaches. Fruits high in natural pectin include apples, plums & quince. Sometimes, a combination of fruit yields a sufficient amount of pectin (as we count on here with the mixed berries!). Also, contrary to popular belief, fruits which are slightly under ripe contain more pectin than overripe fruit. A great reference–besides the internet!– for jam making (and other home canning projects) is the Ball Blue Book of Canning. I prefer to pick up the older versions which can easily be found on ebay. I love old canning books–they have so much to teach us!!
So here I found a small surplus of berries, and a lack of jam in the fridge–a perfect excuse to make some jam! Make as little or as much as you like, you just need to scale the recipe up or down accordingly. Now you have a reason to make some fresh bread!! Besides being delicious on toast, its also wonderful stirred into plain greek yogurt–you can make it as sweet as you like. Get jamming!! : )
Delicious Mixed Berry Vanilla Bean Jam
1 pint Strawberries, washed, hulled and cut up
1/2 pint Blueberries, washed and dried
1/2 pint Blackberries, washed and dried
1 cup sugar
1-2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (optional but very tasty!!)
Combine all ingredients (including the vanilla bean) in a heavy medium sauce pan. Bring mixture to a boils, stirring well to be sure no undissolved sugar remains. Crush fruit with the back of the spoon if desired. Boil mixture on medium to medium high heat until mixture becomes thick and viscous, and falls off the spoon together in one large drop (rather than several small ones). Remove vanilla bean.
Pour jam into 2 clean pint jars, clean top and seal immediately. Cool and store in refrigerator.
Tips from A Cook:
Be creative with whatever kind of fruit you want to use! Be sure to check on line or a canning manual to see if your fruit needs extra pectin to make it gel.
This recipe makes two pint jars–keep one and give one as a gift!
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