|My cherry trees in San Francisco|
So, I've been hoarding the fruit I froze last summer to the point that I realize that spring is here and fresh fruit is weeks away. So excited. This also means I can stop being so stingy with the fruit and clean out the freezer. So I pulled out a couple bags of the sour cherries from Baugher's Orchard, to make some jam this morning. Baugher's is one of the few local places to go for fresh sour cherries and also home to some of the best apples (you mustu try the Mutsu) I've ever had. The cherries are excellent, but still not the best sours I've ever had. That prize goes to the cherries I would pick myself in the Sutro woods by my old apartment in San Francisco, and they were free, you can't beat that.
Making jam is a great DIY project and usually far superior to what you can buy. Unless you don't mind paying more for small batch jams made of quality ingredients, (shout out to local favorite and maker of some fine apricot balsamic bail jam, infused spreads). Making jam was one of the first food products I made for myself. Freezer jam require no special equipment, and cooked jam isn't too much harder, but does require jars, lids and such. The only thing I questioned was the massive quantities of sugar. Really. Do you need nearly equal parts of sugar to fruit to set the pectin? No, you don't. Even the pectin billed as low-sugar isn't really that low sugar and offers options for alternative fake sugars instead, which is not what I was looking for.
Then I found this, Pomona's Universal Pectin. This is the stuff I had been wanting without knowing for years. It works with sugar, honey, fruit concentrate and in much lower quantities. The flavor of fruit is not overtaken bay sweetness! Amazing. And you can make freezer jam or cooked jam that you for canning. And you get a lot more jam out of one box of this that one box of the other stuff. I cannot recommend it more. I found it once at Trader Joes, at some natural foods stores, but I can always find it at Whole Foods and on Amazon.
If you are thinking of making jam for the first time, it is nearly rhubarb and strawberry season in Maryland, although it has already arrived in other areas. Have fun. Make jam. Go easy on the sweeteners.
Do you make jam? What is your favorite kind to make?