I keep seriously over-thinking my jam

4 09 2010

I think that maybe all last year and most of this summer I was having a jam problem. I was on a quest to come up with the MOST DELICIOUS JAM EVER. And so I was trying to combine all sorts of different fruits and flavors. In retrospect, I think I was trying to impress everyone with my jam-making prowess. It was like I was in some sort of jam-making competition that only I knew about. But then, after reading this post by David Lebovitz about jam, I changed my tune. French people, apparently, enjoy single-fruit, simple jams. And aren’t French people usually right about anything food-related? Except snails, I think. What I realized is that jam is about the FRUIT. The most delicious, ripest, full of glory fruit. That’s what we’re trying to capture, right? Fruit at its peak, in a jar. Bottled up so we can enjoy it all year.

But before I had that epiphany, I struggled my way though a couple batches of jam. The first, peach-raspberry, is actually pretty good. I used a peach jam recipe in a Sure-Jel pectin package as a framework, and combined peaches and raspberries from the farmer’s market. It turned out well, only I realized way too late (like, after everything was in the jars, out of the hot water bath, and cooling off) that I didn’t even consider straining the raspberry seeds out. So, if you love the sensation of raspberry seeds wedged in your gums, this jam is totally for you. I can’t really post a recipe, because I think what I did was use maybe 3 1/3 cups of peaches and 1 cup of raspberries. Or something like that. But really, maybe I just should have used peaches? Forget the fancy combinations. Maybe just peaches, or just raspberry? I really over-thought it.

So then I decided to make some of David Lebovitz’s apricot jam, from the aforementioned link. David Lebovitz is like the food Jesus (and I’m not even religious!), so I will do anything he tells me to. His recipe is simple, and I’m sure his turned out much better than mine, because I was all, “I must make this the most amazing jam ever,” so I added vanilla to it, a little too much vanilla, and now the taste of ripe, Colorado-grown apricots is totally overpowered by the flavor of vanilla. It’s not bad, I mean, it’s good, I guess, but it totally does not capture the deliciousness of fruit at its peak. *sigh* I do recommend his recipe, though. Just don’t screw it up like I did.  I won’t repost the recipe here because if you don’t already read his blog, you really should!

Of course, just after I was finishing up the apricot jam, I got an e-mail from Steph at Steph Chows inviting me to participate in the jam exchange again! ARGH! I had a lot of jam I could share, but I was positively gripped with jam exchange anxiety! I mean, what if my jam partner opened up my package expectantly, thinking, “Oh I just can’t wait to taste a little bit of ripe summer fruit,” but was crestfallen to discover two jars of seriously over-thought jam in which any good flavor was totally obscured by all my drastic tinkering?! DOUBLE ARGH! NOW I MUST MAKE BATCH UPON BATCH OF PLAIN, SINGLE-FRUIT JAM SO THAT MY PARTNER DOESN’T HATE ME!!!

Seriously everyone, what is wrong with me? Why am I thinking so hard about jam???




2 responses

7 09 2010

Were you jams… JAM-packed with fruits?…

9 09 2010

But of course! And they are best eaten whilst sitting in a traffic jam.

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