For the last few years I have toyed with an idea that’s relatively radical (at least for me): the notion that I don’t need to make jam out of vast quantities of fruit. A small quantity suffices, and I needn’t reach for the pectin packet, either. Sugar and fruit will do.
It seems that at this time of year I am stuck with a lot of “widows and orphans,” fruit-wise. Our weekly trip to the fruit market seems to occur before last week’s fruit has been consumed, so there is usually a handful of something, a few more of something else, and bags of last year’s smoothie-ready fruit is still downstairs, right when this year’s harvest is ready to be frozen. So here’s the recipe:
Prepare (peel/stem/chop) and weigh a certain amount of fruit
Measure out an equal weight of sugar
Put a few tablespoons of water into your largest non-cast iron skillet, add and stir the fruit and the sugar: put a lid on it and place the heat on medium. On boiling, remove the lid and let it reduce down, waaay down, over the lowest heat, stirring on occasion so it’s neither sticking nor burning. Once it’s thick, place the lid on it and let it sit overnight (if that doesn’t appeal, place the whole pan in the fridge). Reheat it in the morning. You can scrape the contents out into hot, sterile half-pint jars, place lids on them, tighten, and process (either boiling-water bath, covered by min. 1″ of boiling water, for 20 minutes or in pressure canner for 10 minutes at 10 pounds).
I find this works great for mixed fruits. Peach/nectarine/cranberry/ginger, say; or cherry/peach/blueberry, or strawberry/blackberry. Whatever you have. The stuff is thick! and reliably set…and a lot less hassle than jamming, oh, I don’t know, those 20 pints of strawberry jam I made in June. Jam on, people! This method works really well if you don’t eat much of the stuff to see you through the year.