How to Turn Your Abundance of Summer Fruit Into Jam
Alright folks, listen up. Fresh summer fruit is too damn delicious AND expensive for you to be sitting idly on this wealth of natural sweetness until it has gone bad. There is no stronger feeling of self-loathing quite like the one where you bid adieu to what was once a delightful basket of fresh berries, and is now a moldy, shriveled-up crime against fresh produce. When the summer months are in full swing and you’re struggling to keep up with the vast amounts of fresh fruit that seem to be entering your kitchen (TBH, it’s a very amazing problem to have), an tasty, low-effort solution is making JAM.
Whether it’s berries, stone fruits, or a combination of the two that you just can’t seem to consume fast enough, there’s nothing that a sweet summer jam can’t solve. Even if your fruit genuinely seems like it is merely hours away from going bad, there is no time like the present than to save nature’s bounty by heating it with some sugar. The first step? Put a rubber spatula in your freezer (I know, it sounds weird. We’ll return back to this). In a saucepan, add your fresh fruit (pick one or opt for a medley—the world is your oyster), sugar, and fresh lemon juice. A general rule of thumb is that for ever 2-2 ½ cups of fruit, add ¼ cup of sugar and the juice of half a lemon.
The amount of sugar and acid that you ultimately will want to add to your jam depends on the ripeness of your fruit (the riper the fruit, the sweeter the jam) and your personal preference. I like to keep the lemon half (washed thoroughly, of course) in the fruit mixture while it cooks because it adds zesty flavor and makes the process feel extra loving and homemade. Plus, there’s pectin in the rind, so this will only promote the ultimate setting of your jam. Mix together your ingredients and slowly bring the mixture to a boil. As the fruit in the saucepan warms, use a masher or a wooden spoon to gently break down the fruit, making sure to avoid pulverizing the lemon so that you can easily remove it at the end.
Once the fruit has broken down into a jam-like consistency (you can leave larger pieces of fruit if you desire, you’ll just have a chunkier jam) and come to a boil, let it cook for 5-8 minutes. Next, grab that spatula from your freezer and run it through your jam. Once the jam on the spatula has slightly cooled, run your finger through it. If the line that you created with your finger remains, then your jam is set. If the mixture bleeds back into the path, then it needs to continue boiling until you can clear a line on your spatula without it running back. At this point, give your jam a taste (let it cool, dude), and if you think it needs any more sweetness or brightness, add more sugar or citrus juice accordingly. If you add more sugar, make sure it fully dissolves before you take it off the heat. If you’d like, you can also add a pinch of salt, but it’s not completely necessary.
From here, pour your jam into jars with lids, and tuck these away in your refrigerator until they’ve cooled completely (it’ll keep for up to 3 weeks). Smear your jam on a piece of toast (nut butter optional, but strongly encouraged), mix it into (hot or cold) cereal, top it onto plain yogurt, or drizzle it over ice cream. If nothing else, put a pretty bow on your trendy mason jar that is filled to the brim with your homemade, artisanal jam and give it to a friend. They don’t need to know that their delicious gift made from summer’s beautiful bounty was actually just a bunch of fruit that was dangerously close to the trash.