Last week I went on a jam-making mission to use up all of the fruit my mom has brought me this summer from their ranch in Northern CA. Making jam is no easy task with an infant so I was grateful to have the help of my husband, mom, and good friends for all or part of these adventures.
I once again used Rachel Saunders’ Blue Chair Jam Cookbook as a guide for the two jams. However, for the strawberry jam I decided to add a vanilla bean and only made 1/3 of the recipe because I wanted to freeze some of the strawberries for smoothies this winter.
Strawberry Vanilla Jam (recipe adapted from Rachel Saunders)
- 1.3 lbs strawberries, hulled
- 13 ounces sugar
- 2 ounces fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
Place a saucer with five metal spoons in your freezer for testing the jam later.
Combine berries with the sugar and a little over an ounce of the lemon juice in a pot and allow to macerate for about an hour. Place pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly until mixture begins foaming around the edges. Slowly increase the heat to high.
Boil the mixture vigorously for about 15 minutes, gently scraping the bottom of the pan every minute or two with a rubber spatula to be sure the jam isn’t sticking. Continue to cook until the foam subsides and the mixture starts to look darker and shinier. Stir in remaining lemon juice and stir frequently. Remove from the heat and stop stirring.
To test the jam, put a half spoonful on one of the frozen spoons and return to the freezer for 3-4 minutes. Hold the spoon vertically and watch the consistency of the jam as it begins to fall. If it’s thickened to a gloppy consistency, it’s done. If not, return to the heat for another few minutes and begin the testing process all over again.
Pour the jam into sterilized jars, wipe the rims well before screwing on the lids, and put into a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove and have fun listening to the lids popping!
Peach Ginger Jam (recipe adapted from Rachel Saunders)
- 6 lbs 5 ounces pitted and halved ripe yellow peaches
- 3.5 lbs sugar
- 10 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2.5 – 3 ounces finely chopped candied ginger
Day 1: Cut each peach into six equal wedges. Place the wedges in a large container. Pour the sugar evenly over the fruit, jiggle to help the sugar settle, and drizzle 8 ounces of lemon juice over the mixture. Do not stir. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the mixture so the fruit doesn’t brown. Cover and let macerate in the fridge for 3-6 days.
3-6 Days Later: Place a saucer with five metal spoons in a flat place in your freezer to test the jam later.
Remove the peaches from the fridge and transfer to a pot. Most of the sugar should be dissolved. Stir well. Taste and add more lemon if necessary. You should taste it but it shouldn’t be overpowering.
Stir in the ginger and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently with a large heatproof rubber spatula. Boil, stirring frequently, for 5 mins. Remove from the heat and using a large stainless-steel spoon, skim the stiff foam from the top of the mixture and discard. Mash 2/3 of the fruit with a potato masher. Return to the heat and continue to stir over medium-high heat. Cook until the jam has thickened 25-40 minutes. Test for doneness using the same technique described above.