This has been a bit of an odd summer for me. Not only has it been much cooler than average, but I also had foot surgery nearly 4 weeks ago. While I’ll be happy with the result, my mobility the last few weeks has been limited. When I’ve gone out I’ve had to stay away from crowds to make sure no one accidentally steps on me. As a result I’ve missed out on many of my normal summer activities.
Last week I decided to sneak out to one of our newer Farmers’ Markets at Interbay. My tomatoes have been very slow to ripen – of course I planted them very late – and I’ve craved ripened-on-the-vine tomatoes. I knew Billy had a booth at Interbay and with the market’s location I hoped I could park close and get in and out before the after work crowd arrived.
My plan worked! Not only did I score some gorgeous tomatoes but there were also peaches. The box of seconds, while not as pretty as the best peaches were perfect for jam.
I’ve been making jam as long as I can remember, as it’s a family tradition. We always used pectin to help the jam thicken and set. I have no issue with that method but for the last few years I’ve turned to making jam with only fruit, sugar and lemon juice. I like the idea of using this simple process, although it does take a little practice to ensure you cook the jam down enough so when it sets it will be thick. The nice part is that you don’t really hurt anything if you don’t quite get it right, your jam is just a little runny but still edible. Or, if it’s really runny, you can use it for pancake syrup or a sauce!
Another benefit of this method is you don’t need a specific amount of fruit for the recipe to work. The recipe is simply a ratio of sugar to fruit so if you find yourself with just a small amount of fruit you can adjust the sugar for what you have.
The “recipe” I use is basically this one from David Lebovitz. Although his recipe is for cherries, it will work for any fruit. I don’t add the lemon zest to my jam, as he does, but that’s just personal preference. For the batch of peach jam I made today I used 3 Tbsp of lemon juice for about 8 cups of chopped fruit. The lemon is what helps the jam set and you must use fresh lemon juice. It replaces the commercial pectin in the recipe.
After completing this one small “normal” summer task I now feel like I can go back to sitting around and babying my foot. For today anyway…