Making jam, “confiture” in French, is a beloved tradition in France. When Americans think of canning, they often picture steaming stockpots, pressure cookers and rows and rows filled jars lining the pantry shelves. I know that’s what I thought! In France, it is quite common to can just one or two jars of confiture. Fruit is selected at the peak of ripeness and cooked with cane sugar, pectin, and a little lemon juice in a copper pot. Being high in acid, jams can be canned in a water bath which is safe, easy and doesn’t require lots of complicated equipment. Here is a great water-bath canning how-to.
I often make just a few jars of jam. Last week, I made one of my favorites… Raspberry and Rosé Jam. You can find the recipe here.
Strawberry, Mint and Black Pepper Jam is another traditional recipe I love. Mint is one of the easiest, hardiest herbs to grow, and I’m always looking for ways to use it. Don’t be put off by the black pepper. The amount is small and you actually don’t taste it; rather, it offsets some of the sweetness of the strawberries and brings out the mint. You can find the recipe here.
Of course, fruit tastes best when fresh and in season. When I see something fabulous I want to make into jam but don’t have the time, I vacuum seal and freeze it. Canning and vacuum sealing are my best friends when it comes to eating locally and seasonally! I just made a batch of jam using frozen, vacuum sealed strawberries.
If, like me, you’re not putting up an entire pantry full of canned goods, you don’t need an industrial strength vacuum sealer! I have owned two Food Saver brand vacuum sealers over the past 20 years. Here is my second, current one. They are affordable and the customer service is excellent. Get one and it will soon become your best “eating seasonally and locally” friend, too!
Here is one last reason to make jam. A jar of jam makes a wonderful gift. Beyond being delicious and pretty to look at, they are personal. Recipients truly appreciate the care that goes into making them.
As always, feel free to contact me with any questions.