Good jam can be a bit like good poetry, can’t it?
Just the right few ingredients, and a bit of magic is made. When it’s really really good, it takes you beyond your normal everyday experience into… well… the sublime. Just like a really really good poem.
This Friday’s Martin & Sylvia: More Adventures story is all about that. “Jam Poetry” is it’s title. The children delight in finding words to describe their experiences of fresh, homemade jam.
As you might imagine, we’ve been making jam (you know how the stories often grow out of our every-day lives here in Vermont). We’ve had two incredible harvests that both demanded some serious cooking. And the result: two amazing batches of jam that inspired one delightful story.
The first harvest was a big surprise – and a blessing. You see, we have these apricot trees in our front yard. (Who has apricot trees in their yard in Vermont?
And for the previous years that we’ve lived here, they’ve produced a bit of fruit. But not a ton. Enough for everyone to have a taste, plus just enough to make a wee bit of sauce to go over pancakes.
This winter, we had them pruned. And well…. they… PRODUCED.
(This is just a tiny portion.)
And what do you do with lots of fruit, that you know won’t last long enough to eat it all fresh?
I picked a recipe recommended by my favorite canning blog, Food In Jars. I wanted to try something without quite so much sugar. And something with a little character.
This recipe, from Simple Bites, combines apricots, honey, and thyme. Simple & beautiful.
Honey Sweetened Apricot Jam
1 quart (1.5 lbs) apricots
¾ cup honey
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Wash the apricots, cut in half, and remove pits. If the apricots are larger, roughly chop them. Place apricots in a large bowl. Add the honey and thyme leaves, and stir until well combined.
Scrape fruit, honey and thyme into a heavy pot – ideally a wide pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring very regularly, until the fruit is bubbling and has thickened – about 10-12 minutes.
Aimee (author of Simple Bites) says “you know the jam is finished when you can pull a spatula through it and the space you’ve cleared doesn’t immediately fill back up with jam.” My jam never got to this point, but it did thicken up nicely! I decided it was done when all the fruit was completely soft and cooked.
When the jam is finished cooking, remove the pan from the heat.
If the skins of your apricots are on the thicker side (like ours), put the jam through a food mill, separating the skins from the rest of the jam.
Funnel the jam into the prepared jars. And either can the jam (you can follow Aimee’s instructions) or refrigerate!
But be sure to try just a little immediately. De-lish.
We ended up with an absolute ton of jam. (Can anyone say “Christmas Gifts”?)
Next, blueberries. We went blueberry picking on Sunday. And we came home with 34.1 lbs of blueberries.
Yes, you read that right. Thirty-four point one pounds.
(I think we got a little crazy out there!)
I needed an EASY recipe, because I knew I was going to spend the day cooking, canning and freezing blueberries. But I wanted something — again — with a little character. So I picked this recipe I found on Pinterest (thanks Pinterest!)
It has lovely spices in it — cinnamon and nutmeg — plus lemon juice and lemon zest. A combination that’s warm and rich.
from the book Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan
6 cups smashed blueberries (and yes, you’ll want to smash them. You can start with about 6 pints.)
4 cups sugar
1 lemon, juice and zest
2 tsps ground cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
1 1.75 oz package of dried pectin (the original recipe calls for 6 oz. liquid pectin)
Combine the smashed blueberries and sugar in a large non-reactive pot. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the blueberries and boil 15-20 minutes. Stir the jam frequently to avoid burning at the bottom of the pan. When the jam has thickened and looks shiny, stir in the dried (or liquid) pectin. Let it return to a rolling boil for 5 minutes. Remove the jam from heat and start ladling jam into the jars to prepare for canning or refrigeration. (See the full recipe for canning instructions!)
Hopefully the Martin & Sylvia story will inspire the desire to make a little of your own jam! (It really is satisfying to make something and then can it, to then tuck it into your cupboard for a later day.)
If you do, we’d love to hear about it!
If you liked these recipes, here are others you might enjoy:
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About the Author
Lisabeth Sewell has worn many hats at Sparkle over the years, from Sparkle Kitchen Blogger to Editorial Director to Doer of All Odd Jobs. Her primary role is as CEO.