All year, the patient gardener tends to his trees, vines, and plants. Watering, waiting, weeding, looking for the first sign of a sprout or a bud. And finally, months later, the fruits of his labor begin to appear—all at once.
Apple trees are bursting with crisp red Galas, blackberry vines hang heavy with enormous purple fruit. Even after picking buckets upon buckets, there's still way too much to eat or give away before it spoils.
So you start freezing, slicing, baking! But once the freezer is full of gallon-bags of fresh blackberries, and you've got enough apple slices to carry you through the holidays' apple pies, what else can you do with all that leftover—but oh-so-mouthwatering—fruit?
For starters, you can make jam. In the dead of winter, when the juicy peaches and tart blueberries of summer seem aeons away, spreading some sticky-sweet preserves on toast will satisfy that yearning for fresh fruit.
The best part? Even novice canners will be able to master a simple jam recipe in no time. Our talented Food Editor Merce Muse broke the basics down for us in this simple recipe that will transform peaches, strawberries, plums, grapes, blackberries, or whatever seasonal bounty you have on hand into a gloriously gooey jam.
Basic Jam Recipe
Active Time: minutes
Total Time: minutes
Combine the fruit, sugar, and salt in a heavy bottomed pot. Zest the lemon and then cut the rest of the lemon into slices. Mix both the zest and lemon slices into the fruit mixture.
Allow the sugar to dissolve over low heat. Once dissolved, increase the heat slightly until the juices have been released and the mixture is gently bubbling, stirring frequently all the while.
Increase the heat to high, and boil until the fruit and sugars caramelize, reduce, and begin to set. As the jam reduces, it will thicken. Cook until the mixture becomes fairly thick, continuing to stir frequently.
Turn off the heat and remove lemon slices from the mixture. Let cool—the jam should set more as it cools. Store the jars in the fridge.
If you want to can your jam for long-term storage, check out this handy post to learn a little bit of canning 101.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont