As Jen so aptly pointed out, most SKC impulse buys tend to be spreads or jams. Recently, I spent an afternoon poring over various jams at a Minneapolis farmer’s market, and decided there would be no better way to procrastinate – and have it pay off in a big way – than to make my own jam. Making jam takes time but isn’t impossible. The best part? Adding your own special touch to this useful food item makes the perfect gift for a hostess, house-warming, or friend. Bonus: this recipe does not require a fancy canning set up! Before we begin, a few things to keep in mind:
1. Sterility is key. If you’re new to making jam, buy new jars. (Only about $10 for a 24-pack of half pints.) The risk with canned foods is that mold can develop, or worse, botulism, and you don’t want to poison anyone. Make sure to follow directions to a T, especially when boiling, touching, etc. Read through this canning overview before you begin so you feel comfortable with the process.
2. Experiment with flavors… You’re an SKC reader, after all – you know what it’s like to make things on the fly. Start with some classics and throw something new into the mix. Fruit combinations are good, and if you want to get fancy you can incorporate spices (mint, lavender) by putting them in a cheesecloth sachet during the boiling process.
3. …but in the end, nothing beats the delicious simplicity of perfectly ripe fruit. Choose fruit that is in its prime for maximum flavor. It’s a good way to use some of that almost-on-the-edge produce in your fridge. So far I have used recipes with fruits that don’t require added pectin (a natural jelling ingredient that helps create the jam/jelly texture) such as apricots, berries, & peaches. Other fruits may require pectin.
Kenzie Zimmer lives, eats, and writes in Minneapolis, land of 10,000 lakes, even more mosquitos, and endlessly nice folks.
Blueberry Apricot Jam
2 1/2 cups blueberries, rinsed and crushed
3 fresh apricots, finely diced
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg
1 set tongs, sanitized in boiling water
5 half-pint jam jars with lids & rings
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well combined. Macerate the fruit with a potato masher or fork to release the flavor. Pour into a large sauce pan and bring stove top to medium high heat. You will be stirring the jam frequently as it simmers, usually about 45 minutes to an hour.
While the jam cooks, prepare your jars. Stick the jars on a baking tray, open mouth up. Heat the oven to 250 and put the jars in the oven for 30 minutes.
Fill a sauce pan with water and bring to a boil. Drop in jar lids and rings. Allow them to boil for 15-20 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit.
Test if your jam is approaching the correct consistency by spooning some out and allowing it to cool. Jam should not slide off an overturned spoon. You will also start to see build-up on the side of the sauce pan.
Fill a deep frying pan about halfway with water (water level should cover jar lids when jars are placed upside-down into the pan) and bring to a low boil.
When jam is done, remove from heat. Use a spoon to fill jam jars, making sure not to touch the sides or mouth of the jars with the spoon. Use your tongs – not hands – to remove lids and rings from the water and place on the mouth of the jar. When the opening is covered, use clean hands to screw the lids on securely. Make sure lids are tight but do not require a death grip to open.
Place sealed jam jars upside down in the frying pan of boiling water. Make sure the lids are fully immersed. This will allow the jars to seal and provide the final step for sterilization. Allow jars to boil for 7 minutes, then remove with tongs. They will be hot! Place them right-side-up on a heat resistant surface and allow them to cool. You will know when a jar has properly sealed if the lid makes a popping sound. When jars have cooled, press down on the top. If it doesn’t give, it is sealed. If it does give, no worries – put in the fridge and eat before the week is up.
Finally, get creative! Label your jars with jam type and the date they were made, for reference. Sign your name, attach a cute note, add ribbon… the possibilities are endless. Jam on!