Monday, August 8, 2011

jamming, take 1 + 2

It's definitely summer in New York City. Living sans air conditioning and holding out on buying a fan until late July meant that I've suffered long sweaty, mosquito-filled nights like a martyr. Mostly, I was too lazy and stubborn to head to Home Depot for a window fan. Living in Brooklyn and away from my go-to NYC grocer stores,  I've started buying fruit occasionally from the "fruit cart" guys that sell everyday next to the subway. I have some hang ups about buying their stuff because I imagine that it's covered in exhaust and know that it's not organic and probably not local. I do like supporting them, and can't resist buying pints of bluberries or strawberries when they're $1.50. Ah, summer.

So, homemade jam was made. I perused recipes for simple jam, sometimes called a "conserve" made without difficult canning methods and without using pectin. The first time, I made a plain strawberry version, throwing in some ginger. The second go, I made an even better strawberry/blueberry varation. I've been putting it into morning oats and between bread with almond butter since.

Here's how:
1. 3 cups berries (I tried 2 versions, the second time mixing strawberries and blueberries)
2. 2 cups white sugar, or substitute coconut/beet sugar
3. Juice of one lemon
Optional: throw in cinnamon stick or sliced ginger for flavor, to be picked out later

Start by breaking up fruit. I like to leave larger chunks of fruit in my jam, but it is good to eat least chop strawberries in half so that natural sugars can break down. I placed everything in a big saucepan and then mashed the fruit a bit with the back of a tablespoon. 

Next, throw sugar and optional add-ins into the pot with the fruit and turn on high heat. Bring the mixture to a quick boil and then reduce heat to simmer for about 20-25 minutes. Without the use of pectin the jam will have a looser consistency, it won't "set" like jelly. To test, take out a spoonful after 20 minutes, let it sit until reasonably cool, and if it seems too runny, add a bit more lemon juice. While simmering, foam will appear on the top. I scraped this off. Let the jam cool, then store in a mason jar. Mine tastes good after two weeks.

This makes one small jar. To doubebatch, just keep the same fruit to sugar ratio (3:1 fruit:sugar).