Ethical Food On A Budget: Make Your Own Jam

  makejam Artisan preserves and jams can be pricey for a daily spread on your toast or used as a versatile flavor to enhance a cheese plate, roasted meat, or added to variety of different cookies. Creating your own jams and spreads when a certain fruit is growing in abundance can be a cost effective way to extend the flavor of a season all year round. The next time you purchase a large flat of strawberries at the farmers market or find yourself with an abundance of tomatoes that have all ripened in your garden at once, why not make them into a preserve or quick, no-cooking necessary freezer jam? As autumn turns to winter, we’re in for fruits like quince and citrus marmalades.

Freezer jam

Freezer jam is popular amongst those who find themselves with a large amount of very ripe fruit but don’t want to go through the traditional process of cooking it and boiling jars to sterilize them. This recipe simply requires you to mash your fruit (made expedient with the use of a food processor or high powered blender), mix in the ingredients, and then progress straight to jarring. Your end result can be stored in the freezer for up to a year and will retain the taste of fresh, ripe fruit. We chose a recipe for strawberry freezer jam posted on Dana Made, which includes easily followed directions as well as the author’s recommendations on which pectin brand to use.

Refrigerator jam

This recipe for refrigerator jam from The Kitchn requires no pectin. Naturally, underripe fruit contains more pectin than ripe fruit so if you mix in a nice combination of the two, this jam can last up to 3 weeks in your fridge while still offering the sweet taste of perfectly ripened fruit. This recipe from The Kitchn takes around 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your batch.

Traditional jam, pectin- free

This recipe for traditionally prepared jam requires that you simmer your fruit mixture and sterilize your jars and lids to ensure that your product has a healthy shelf life free of any bacteria. The author offers her reasoning behind omitting pectin from her recipe posted on North West Edible Life:
Every year, my strawberry jam tasted exactly like the strawberry jam of everyone else who wore the Sure-Jell shackles. The jam was never bad, but it was never really mine, either.   When I make preserves now, I work with my fruit, tasting and adjusting things like sugar and spice based on fruit ripeness and variety and juiciness and what sounds good. I reduce water out of my preserves to get the consistency and depth of flavor I’m looking for. I reduce sugar levels down to one-forth or less of typical levels and still produce a preserve that is full of sweetness and sunshine. My jams, each and every batch, are creative and unique.
While perusing the ingredients list, you will discover what the author refers to as “Dry Zing” and “Wet Zing” which simply means an added dry and wet flavor to add complexity to the jam. Dry Zing refers to herbs and spices while Wet Zing refers to extracts, vinegars, alcohols, etc. You can find the author’s explanation as well as recommendations for Dry and Wet Zing pairings here.

Safety tips for the novice

Lastly, for those of you who are new to canning or pickling, you may find these safety tips helpful when you are sanitizing your jars for the first time.

Make jam!

The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook Jam On: The Craft of Canning Fruit Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It: And Other Cooking Projects Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Make Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Chutneys & More Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round