How To Make Quick Jam

Photo: julochka I always find that when I venture through the farmers market, I always seem to buy fruits and vegetables I wouldn't ordinarily buy. The strawberries, the blueberries, and every piece of fruit in between always looks so amazingly fresh at the farmers market that I get home and have an abundance, and of course you never want this beautiful fruit to spoil. Spoiling is wishful thinking, and you need to think fast on how to savor this seasons farmers market harvest. This is where quick jam fits in perfectly. Making a quick jam solves so many wonderful problems and also uses up all of the fruit you so anxiously bought. Whether it be spooned on top of hot waffles or the tomato jam served with the corn bread at Red Rooster Harlem, jam can add a nice touch to a variety of things. Here are a few quick and easy tips for making quick jam at home. 

You Already Have Half of What You Need:

Making quick jam is really easy once you realize you are actually half way there. There is no need to boil jars, sealing tops or any of those intricate details. What you need is already in your kitchen. A large pot to boil the fruit, a spoon, and a jar to keep your jam in, is really all that's required.

Small and Personalized:

When making quick jams, it's better to make them in small batches. Using 1-2 pounds of fruit at a time is ideal. This helps keep the jam consistent  and also with smaller batches you can experiment with flavors. Strawberry jalapeño jam? Blueberry lime? Peach and chilies? Working in small batches will allow you to have variation and will also help when using up all of your farmers market finds.

Let's Jam:

For a quick jam, all you need is fruit, sugar and lemon juice. A key step in making quick jam is simmering or boiling the fruit, sugar and lemon together, but also allowing it to cool completely. As it cools, the jam will thicken and congeal, which is exactly what you need it to do, so you can smear it on your morning toast.

Here are 4 recipes that can accompany your jam! 

Red Rooster Harlem Cornbread Recipe 

Buckwheat Walnut Flax Bread 

Raspberry Jam Torte

Raised Waffles 

The Basics of Making Your Own Jam

Learning how to can your own jams and preserves can be a fun and economical way to save your summer fruits and enjoy them for several months. By canning your own fruits, you know exactly what you are eating and you don't have to worry about too much sugar or the unhealthy preservatives you might find in some store-bought jams.

If you want to try out canning for the first time, there are only a few things you'll need and a few things to keep in mind. There are various home canning kits you can buy in stores or online, which will include things like a canning pot, a canning rack, a funnel, and a jar lifter.  However, you probably already own many of the tools you need!

What you'll need: - Fresh fruit and sugar. These are the basic ingredients for almost any jam. Consult a recipe for the exact measurements and jam making procedure. - A large pot. - A sturdy pair of tongs. - A rack or tea towel. To prevent the jars from sitting directly on the bottom of a your pot of boiling water, you can place them on a rack in the pot or just line the bottom of the pot with a tea towel. This will just prevent the glass from getting too much direct heat and from clinking around too much. - A funnel. This can be helpful, but is not necessary. A funnel will just help you minimize the mess when filling your jars with the jam. - Several glass jars with matching metal lids and screw bands. You can reuse the jars and screw bands over time, but you will need new a new metal lid for each jar. The metal lid has a sealing compound that will get used up each time, so new ones will be necessary for future cannings.

The basic steps: - Cook down the fruits into a jam. There are various methods of doing this that include roasting the fruits first or boiling the fruits down into a pulp. Consult a recipe for this since different techniques will work better for different fruits. - Add the jam to the pre-sterilized, still-warm jars. Make sure to leave about a 1/4 inch space between the top of the jam and the top of the jar. - Place a lid on the jar. Before you do this, make sure the top of the jar is completely clean of any jam residue otherwise the jar can't seal properly. - Screw on the metal band onto the jar to hold the lid down. Screw it on snuggly, but not too tightly. - Place the jam-filled jars back in the pot. Cover with water by at least one inch and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, or whatever your recipe directs. - Remove the jars from the boiling water and let them rest overnight, undisturbed. Make sure to keep them upright the whole time. - Check to see if the jars sealed correctly. If the lid pops back up when you press it down, it is not sealed correctly and you should use the jam soon. If the lid stays down, you can store away your preserves for several months.

For more tips and information, check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation and their section on jam and jelly. If you don't want to make your own jam, there are great specialty jams right now. Check out these five delicious artisan jams for something special on your next PB & J.

Do you can or make jam at home?

Photo: ryochiji

Try These Five Delicious Artisan Jams

Photo: AZAdam on flickr

With summer here, a lot of different fruits are in season. In addition to delicious fruits, fruit salads, and fruit pies, fruits jams are also going to be available soon. Even though the first crop of strawberries are a revelation, then maybe the next get baked into a cake, inevitably there are some leftover berries or other fruits that need to be stored. Whether it's freezing fruit before it goes bad or making preserves, it's important not to throw out leftover fruit!  Of course, you don't need to make your own jam to enjoy summer's flavorful bounty-new artisan jam-makers are changing the flavor profiles of the generic jams you grew up with, resulting in creative palate pleasers like Strawberry with Pink Peppercorn and Mint. For breakfast, an afternoon snack, or swirled into yogurt for a light dessert, artisan jams make for a fresh, traditionally made, and exciting taste experience. Check out these great five artisan producers for something new on your PB&J!

Blue Chair Fruit - Located in Oakland, CA, Blue Chair Fruit has been offering a variety of artisan jams and marmalades since its inception in 2008. With selections like Apple-Meyer Lemon Marmalade, Adriatic Fig & Candied Ginger Jam, and Blood Orange-Chestnut Honey Marmalade with Rosemary, Blue Chair has enough exotic flavors to keep you interested for a while. The company also sells a home jam-making cookbook, various accessories, and offers classes on jam making.

Ellelle Kitchen - Ellelle Kitchen was founded by a journalist-turned-chef name Lennie LaGuire who trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and wanted to bring traditional methods back to America to create new and exciting flavors for her handcrafted jams. Flavors like Strawberry with Pink Peppercorn and Mint, and Backyard Grapefruit with Campari are available at various markets and farmers' markets near the Ellelle Kitchen in Pasadena, CA, but can also be bought online and shipped around the country.

June Taylor Jams - Hailing from Berkeley, CA, June Taylor and her company work with small family farms to find "heirloom and forgotten fruits," in order to revive and keep alive these flavors for their marmalades, conserves, and fruit butters. By doing this, June Taylor is able to offer flavors built around less common fruits. Bergamot Marmalade, Diamond Princess Peach Converse, and Gravenstein Apple Fruit Butter are among the offerings that can be shipped around the country. June Taylor also sells a selection of other specialties like candied citrus peels, tomato ketchup, fruit paste, and vegetarian mincemeat.

Bonnie's Jams - Gathering the freshest and most fragrant fruits from around New England, Bonnie Shershow hand makes all her jams, preserves and marmalades in Cambridge, MA without any pectin and with about half the sugar of commercial jams. Besides offering classes in her kitchen in Cambridge, Bonnie can ship her jams all around the country. And with simple flavors like Raspberry Lime Rickey, Peach Ginger, and Red Pepper Jelly, it would be difficult not to place an order!

Jam According to Daniel - Based out of Charlottesville, VA and working exclusively with local fruit in season to ensure the highest quality and best flavor, Daniel is able to fit one pound of local fruit into every jar of jam. By adding less sugar, foregoing pectin, and cooking the fruits down to their purest flavor while removing most of the water content, Daniel produces flavors like Strawberry, Lime and Caraway, White Peach and Hibiscus, and Lemon Italian Plum. Jam According to Daniel is available in the Charlottesville Farmers Market on Saturdays from April to December or through online purchase.

Photo: AZAdam

Food Language - Food Thoughts with Sheryl Estrada

Food and language are cultural. So, it's no wonder many U.S. regions have their own names for certain food and drink. My recent attempt to purchase a sandwich reminded me of this. And, made me think of other examples. A sub hero.

It all started at the counter of a deli section at a popular supermarket chain in Florida.

"Can I have a 6-inch hero with...?" I began.

"You want a what?" the employee asked.

"A hero...oh, I mean...a...sub," I said reluctantly.

As a native New Yorker, I call the sandwich made on long Italian bread with meat, cheese and veggies, a hero. But, most of the country refers to it as a submarine sandwich or a sub. Come to find out, in the U.S. there are actually 13 different names for the sandwich, according to the paper, "The Submarine Sandwich: Lexical Variations in a Cultural Context," in the 1967 American Speech: A Quarterly of Linguistic Usage. Here's the first page:http://www.jstor.org/pss/452990

If you go to Philadelphia, Pa., be prepared to call the sandwich a hoagie. You might hear it referred to as a poor boy in St. Louis, Mo., or po-boy in Southern Louisiana, what linguists call a dialect variation.

But for me, it will always and forever be my hero.

Jam preserves jelly.

I remember the TV commercial for Polaner All-Fruit spread airing in the '80s. A group of high-brow individuals sit a table eating what appears to be breakfast, with classical music playing in the background. They politely ask one another, "Please pass the Polaner All-Fruit." Yet, there is an unsophisticated male in the group who asks, "Would you please pass the jelly?" The question caused people to gasp, one woman faints.

I think the physical difference between preserves and jelly, or jam and jelly is evident. All are cooked, pectin-gelled fruit products, though, jellies are based on the juice of fruit. Many families include a can of jellied cranberry sauce with their Thanksgiving meal. And, there's the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich. While, jam and preserves differ from jelly as they include the seeds and pulp of the fruit or pieces of fruit.

But, we do often interchange the words jam, jelly and preserves. What's interesting to know is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration published standards of identity in 21 CFR 150, recognizes jam and preserves as the same, but distinguishes jelly from jams and preserves. So making a distinction between jam and preserves can be quite a pickle.

Soft drinks.

Soft drinks evolved in the U.S. from consumption at soda fountains in ice cream parlors or drug stores to the sugary carbonated drink, or sugar substitute carbonated drink in bottles and cans. In my opinion, we consume way too much of the beverage. But, I digress; I'm just discussing its name right now.

I say soda 100 percent of the time when referring to soft drinks. Even when I'm in a place where using pop is popular. To me, pop only goes with popcorn, pop music or to be used as a term of endearment for your dad.

However, yes, there is a huge percentage of Americans who use the word pop. Check out the map created by Matthew Campbell and Prof. Greg Plumb of East Central University in Oklahoma, Generic Names for Soft Drinks by County: http://popvssoda.com:2998/countystats/total-county.html . Some regions of the U.S. even use the name coke to refer to all kinds of soft drinks.  A 1996 study addresses this, "Soda or Pop?" by Luanne Von Schneidemesser in the Journal of English Linguistics. http://eng.sagepub.com/content/24/4/270.extract

Are there regional names for food and drink you have encountered?