Since we discussed peanut butter earlier, (and what’s PB without the J?) I think it only fair to include a small piece on the topic of homemade jam. I know, I know…..it’s much easier to pick up a bottle of jam or preserves at the grocery store than it is to make your own. Or is it? Honestly, it’s not so hard. And there’s nothing more divine than biting into a PB&J sandwich with homemade summer strawberry jam! If you are lucky enough to have a farmer’s market near your home during the summer months, pick up some fruit of your choice, and just see how easy it is to make your own jam. Jam lasts for about six monthsin the refrigerator, so once you’ve made it, you will be set for a while. (That is, unless your family consumes copious amounts of jam!)
**Of course, since we’re now in the thick of dreary winter, and that summer strawberry seems like a distant memory, there is always the option to use frozen fruit instead. Most grocery stores carry a wide variety of different fruit. If you are planning on using frozen fruit, first let it thaw out. You also will not have to cook it as long as you would if you were using fresh fruit.**
My favorite jams to make are strawberry, apricot, and fig. The beauty about making jam is that you really don’t have to measure anything accurately. Before you go to bed, cut up your fruit, put it in a heavy bottomed pan, add a splash or two of whiskey (you can omit this if you like), some sugar, and then cover the lid.
Depending on the sweetness of the fruit, either add more or less sugar to your liking. For example, if I use a pint of strawberries, which is 2 cups, I would add 1-1 ½ cups of sugar. However, if I am making apricot jam, I would add at least 2 cups of sugar to 2 cups apricots. It truly depends on your palate. I don’t like jam that is too sweet because, in my opinion, I lose the flavor of the fruit.
In the morning, you will see that the fruit will have released a majority of its liquid. Place the pan onto a stove burner and turn the heat to high. Keep a close eye on your liquid to make sure it doesn’t boil too long, resulting in a super sticky burned bottom, which is practically impossible to scrub clean. (Obviously I am trying to teach from my own mistakes!) When the jam begins to thicken, turn off the heat. Allow to cool and place in a clean glass jar. Voilá! C’est magnifique! You will now know exactly what ingredients are being consumed by your family. And it feels great to be able to boast to your children that they are consuming PB&J sandwiches with their mother’s homemade jam!