I have made the year’s first jam! Actually, I’m pretty sure this is the first jam I’ve made since I’ve been in the double-digits, age-wise. I have a murky memory of stickily stirring a bubbling pot with my dad, but I’m pretty sure we only tried the jam-making venture once or twice. After that, we mostly stuck to eating veg we grew straight up and (in his case) pickling beets.
I’ve been mentally stockpiling a number of recipes for over a year now, and this past weekend, I got the chance to try one. Wait, a second, you might think, aren’t you the girl who took two years to finish off Dan and Maria’s (half-pint!) of wedding jam? Why yes, yes I am. What business do you have making more jam, then?! The thing is, I’ve finally accepted that I’m just not a jam-and-toast kind of gal. More specifically, I’m not that big into toast. (Bread, yes. Toast? Ehn.) Consequently, despite my love of jam, I didn’t really have a way to eat it. That is, until the Muses gifted me with the following thought: jam can be eaten in yoghourt.
I know, right?! I eat yoghourt pretty much every morning, usually with honey in it as a sweetener — why not jam instead? Better still, this is a perfect use for jams that are slightly too runny for spreading on bread (a pet peeve of mine); everybody wins! Needless to say, the remaining jam in my fridge didn’t last long after that. (I do still have a half-pint of red currant jelly, but I have a feeling that will go very nicely with spreadable cheese on crackers…)
So what did I make? Why Christine Ferber‘s strawberry lemongrass jam of course! (Many thanks to Luisa for posting about the experience; I doubt I would have mentally earmarked the recipe if it weren’t for her blog entry.) If you don’t know who Christine Ferber is, don’t feel bad. I didn’t either until I read Luisa’s entry. Then I borrowed a couple of her books (Mes confitures as well as La cuisine des fées et autres contes gourmands) and… well, let’s just say that her reputation as the Jam Fairy of Alsace is probably very well-deserved. If you’re looking for solid inspiration for jam-making (or just cooking with fruit), check her out.
This recipe, incidentally, is what set off yesterday‘s 1000-degree bike ride (in a polyester dress). The thing is, I’d bought myself a mess of organic strawberries that morning and… forgotten to pick up some lemongrass. With The Boy off on an errand, I wasn’t sure when he’d be back with the truck and, well, I had jam to make! Time was a-wastin’! So I dragged his bike out of the shed (that’s right folks, this jam inspired the year’s first bike ride for me; sad but true) and high-tailed it to the Asian grocery, hoping that it was open on Sundays. (It was.)
Can I tell you that jam-making seems a lot less hot and sticky when you’ve just come inside from a sweltering bike ride? It’s true. In fact, it was downright pleasant in my kitchen after that. Especially when it came to
tasting testing the jam for set on the chilled plate.
This jam was strangely a lot less work than I tend to think of jam-making as being; funny, given that you need to candy the lemon slices before the boiling of the jam. Maybe I’m used to fussing around with multiple pots for all the ice cream and sorbet I make. Maybe I was just excited to get another chance to bust out my beloved Christmas dutch oven. Maybe I just appreciated the meditative aspect of all that stirring. I’m not sure. Two things I definitely learned though:
- I need a new candy thermometer. I’ve known this for some time, thanks to my weekly yoghourt-making, but this thermometer is the reason I overcooked the jam to a consistency slightly too thick to be easily stirred into yoghourt. (It’d be slightly stiff even to spread on toast, actually.) Curse you, lying thermometer!
- I need to make more jam. I even have the next one mentally lined up: blueberry. That’s right, the girl who hates blueberries, wants to make blueberry jam. I just need to find the time to go pick them…