I love jam - making it, creating new recipes, and trying to hit the sweet spot between flavour and texture.
Many of us were lucky enough to have a mother or grandmother who knew how to preserve the fruits and vegetables of the summer so they could be enjoyed through the long winter. They did it out of necessity – keeping the family well fed on a budget was their job. They also did it because they could not bear to waste the produce that came into season in quantities far to large to consume.
I remember the huge oval copper canner my mother used. It fit over 2 burners and was so deep you could stack two levels of quart sealers into it with the aid of a divider my father had cut out of plywood. Only as an adult doing my own preserving have I realized this was a way to cut down on the overall time it took to process a batch as many recipes from that time call for an hour’s boil.
My mother pickled crabapples, beets, cucumbers, and watermelon rind. She made apricot, plum and cherry jams. Having been raised in the Ukraine, she didn’t have much knowledge or interest in prairie berries. She also canned chicken whole – I can still recall how good those were. She also made something called Ikra which was a carrot and oil-based vegetable pickle. Some of these products are not considered safe in today’s canning science. I know that if meat was not canned properly, it would either break the jar at some point, or you could smell it when the jar was opened. Trust me, the smell is something you will never forget.
She was a busy woman, very task-oriented, and didn’t care to have us underfoot in the kitchen. But there exists some weird kind of osmotic process where you just pick things up by walking through the kitchen and seeing something done over and over.
I didn’t start making jam until I was in my 40s. My mother had, until that point, continued to provide us with quart sealers full of jam, mostly apricot, on demand. After she had passed away, there was nothing to do but learn how to make jam because, of course, we were total jam snobs and would only eat home-made.
I became interested in the various methods of cooking jams which led me to a world I had not known existed – that of creative flavours. I began experimenting with recipes out of Christine Ferber’s Classic “Mes Confitures” and soon I had so much jam I had to start selling it. And here we are now.
So, try some jam. Try it in ways you’ve never tried it before. I hope you enjoy eating it as much as I enjoyed making it.
Anytime of year is a time to enjoy jams, jellies and marmalades. Should you have a jam emergency, contact us through our email address.