Make This the Summer You Start Making Jam
Jam is one of those kitchen things, like making bread with yeast or pie dough, that seems to be an intimidating no fly zone for even some of the most experienced cooks. It just seems hard! And maybe you'll accidentally grow something gross in there. And I don't know, isn't jam best left to the experts, and grocery stores, and maybe the kind of people who have beautiful farmhouse kitchens with acres of counter space?
The answer is nope. You, too, can make jam, and you don't need anything more complicated than some jars and a saucepan. As long as you're eating your jam in a relatively short time period—like a month, not a year—you can safely keep it in the fridge. And it's a really great way to keep a little bit of the best fruit going in the market around for longer, particularly when it starts to be the time of year when the markets are full of fruit bounty.
If you're a jam newbie, this Foolproof Strawberry Jam is a great one to start with, since strawberries are in season just about now, and easy to find in the grocery store at other times. You probably already have much of what you need for the jam—sugar, vinegar, butter, salt, and water. The only specialty ingredient here is pectin, the thing that makes the jam hold its jammy texture, which is usually available in the grocery store, but you can also order it cheaply online.
All you do is combine your hulled strawberries along with everything but the butter in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Cook the mixture until the strawberries break down and the mixture starts looking like you would imagine a jam to look like, somewhere around 15 minutes, though of course your timing may vary depending on your stove and pan and life. Once it gets there, you add the butter, which helps prevent the jam from getting cloudy.
Once you've mastered this basic jam, you can start experimenting. Balsamic vinegar would be great here, or some fresh basil or mint. It would work just as well with buleberries, peaches, or blackberries, as long as you adjust the sugar to your liking. Jam makng is really a basic technique that makes your breakfast table look fancy, but there's no reason to fear it. Let this summer jam be yours.