We're jammin

13 October 2006
3:09 PM

For our community night, Emily decided that we would make jam. Strawberries are in season, so she bought a good looking quart.

Step one: The Joy of Cooking, page 835, “Making Jam.”

The Joy of Cooking

The recipe calls for “perfect strawberries,” and instructs you to cook the bubbling mass for “exactly 15 minutes.” I think we might be a little out of our league. Onward to step two: the strawberries.


Step three: take those stems off, put them in the pot, and start the cooking.

Strawberries in the pot

Almost miraculously, just as The Joy of Cooking said, juice started to come out of the strawberries. They cooked in their own juice, and then we added some sugar. I can say that our jam is 100% fat free and 100% sodium free, but after the four cups of sugar that we added, it would be something of an untruth to say that it is sugar free. Alas, such is the nature of jam. Anyway, step four: adding the sugar.

Bubbling berries

While we waited for the mixture to heat, I flipped through some of my old notebooks here in the house. By sheer coincidence, I found an aborted to-do list at the beginning of my first notebook here in South America. The list had a single item: learn how to make jam. So far so good. Step five, let the bubbling mass cook for exactly 15 minutes. Man, this Joy of Cooking is good—it really does look like a bubbling mass.

Bubbling mass

To practice for future jam making, we sterilized our jam jar. I think this was merely a formality because we planned to eat all the jam within days (or hours) of making it. Practice makes perfect, though, so sterilize we did. Step five and a half.

Sterilizing a jar

Exactly on the fifteen-minute mark we proceeded to let the jam continue cooking for a couple extra minutes. This was mostly because the jam started to over-flow from the pot at one point, so we turned off the burner and did jam triage. Hey, it’s just food, right? What could go wrong?

Pots on the stove

Well, usually plenty when you ask questions like that, but everything turned out fantastically this time. After letting the jam cool and thicken, we poured it into our jar. The next morning, we finished with the most important step of all, eating.

Finished jam in jar

On fresh bread from the local bakery, the jam was a slice of heaven, so strawberry-licious. Next time we might even save the jam for a day before we eat it.