Skip to content

Em-i-lis – A Guest Post And How To Make Jam!

 

Strawberries prepped for jam

Strawberries prepped for jam

E m-i-lis, the lovely blog that I enjoy every single morning while I’m having my morning cup of coffee, I enjoy it because it’s honest, open, always has amazing recipes and satisfies the voyeur in me by giving me a peek into the life of Emily, her two sons Jack and Oliver and husband T and I can’t forget her adorable Percy the pug and Nutmeg the cat. I asked Emily to do a guest post for me because I love her blog but I also LOVE her jam, I have been the recipient of several jars and it’s the best jam EVER!! I also had the opportunity to meet her in person when she and T came to NYC, we had a great day. I first met Emily on Food52, we became online friends I was in awe of her recipes she submitted on the site, each one so delicious like this Rhubarb Cherry Hibiscus Crumble. Emily is a mother, blogger, caterer, canner, organizer, well she wears many hats. She teaches canning/preserving and jam making in Washington DC where she and her family reside. Check out her blog, subscribe, you’ll love it. I really enjoy sharing what I think is great content on blogs that I follow, I love making jam but haven’t a clue how it is done properly. Emily’s instructions are easy to follow she’ll make a great jam maker out of anyone, even me, you see I have a fear of canning or preserving. 

Allow me to introduce Emily who will demystify the art of jam making and she is also offering a delicious recipe for Strawberry Cardamom Jam. Take it away Em!!

Two of my fondest memories involve jam. Or at least, the jam-making process, also known as canning. When I was a young girl, I often watched my grandmother cook. Nanny, my mom’s mom, lived just a few miles from us, and I grew up spending a great deal of time with her, something I felt lucky about then but appreciate even more now that I’m an adult with children of my own. 

Nanny, a French Cajun, married a Sicilian-American, a handsome, sometimes-grumpy restaurateur who loved to eat. We called him Papa and most of our Sunday lunches were spent sitting with them at their 1950s Formica table, eating steaming plates of spaghetti and roast, fresh salad and iced tea. Papa regularly bellowed from his end of the table, “More cheese!” and one of us would dutifully pass the freshly grated Parmesan Nanny kept in an hinged-top silver bowl. 

One of Nanny’s specialties, and one that very literally made our holiday tables special, was her cranberry sauce. It was the antithesis of that canned cranberry log by which I mean it was instead, a spectacularly crimson, lazy suspension of cranberries and chunks of diced lemon in a sweet-tangy combination of sugar, Mayhaw (a Southern berry-producing tree) juice and grated apple which had dissolved away into nothing but flavor and pectin. Her cranberry sauce made turkey sing, and it was equally wonderful straight from the jar, licked off a tea spoon. She taught me to make it and those lessons were my initial foray into canning. 

Fast forward many years, and my husband and I are in Normandy, staying at a B&B near Mont St. Michel. We were newlyweds so everything was dreamy anyway, and on top of that: France. After we awoke our first morning there, we made our way down to the dining room where we found a literal buffet of fresh jams made by the Madame. We ate an ungodly amount of bread during that breakfast, simply to keep tasting her concoctions. They were magnificent, though the only flavor I recall is her rose petal jelly; the others have swirled together like a decadent taste tie-dye.

It seems no more than obvious, really, that I should now be such an avid canner. I teach canning and preservation classes throughout the D.C. area, and during the summer months, my canning pot never leaves my stove top. Putting things up, as canning used to be called, feels like a bind to the past, a connection to what I idealize as a simpler (though not easier) time. I like being constrained by the seasons, preserving week by week what is being harvested locally at that time. 

Strawberries (Fragaria ananassa) are technically not berries but accessory fruits, meaning they grow not from the plant’s ovaries but from the vessel that envelopes them. Nonetheless, they are, at present, brightening up farm stands and grocery displays everywhere. They’re leaking their lollipop red juice down eager fingers, throughout shortcakes and all over whipped cream. Part of the great red trinity that also includes watermelon and tomatoes, strawberries let us know that summer is most definitely here.

A flat of fresh strawberries

A flat of fresh strawberries

Although strawberries are an incredibly delectable ingredient in jam, their lack of natural pectin can make it tough to achieve a set any firmer than sauce. Strawberry sauce is wonderful in its own right; think spooned over ice cream, stirred into fresh lemonade, blended into smoothies. But for toast and its bready kin, you really want something more spreadable than pourable. 

You can certainly add pectin, the powdered or liquid forms made by Ball for example, but I prefer not to because I find that it leaves a vaguely metallic aftertaste (the powdered type) or instills a slightly unnatural wobble (the liquid). Also, I use organic fruit and sugar and feel like I’m letting them down if I add to them a commercially produced substance. Pomona’s natural pectin is gelatin free which is great for vegetarians and folks who keep kosher, but you’ve got to activate it by adding calcium water to your jam, and I rarely feel like taking that extra step.

To avoid dealing with pectin altogether, you can add a pectin-rich fruit to the strawberries -rhubarb adds just the heft you need- but what if you want straight up strawberry jam in which the strawberries are the lone star on the stage? A cored and grated apple does the trick beautifully. Apples are high in pectin and fill in the gelation holes that strawberries alone cannot. 

This recipe, one of my newest, lets summer strawberries shine. Their flavor is buttressed by sugar, apple and lemon, while cardamom adds a magical element of mystery and offsets the sugary sweetness nicely. It’s a loosely set jam studded with hunks of berry and, as was Nanny’s cranberry sauce, it’s as good when used in the “expected” way -toast- as it is off a spoon straight from the jar. I also love it with Greek-style yogurt and homemade granola!

If you have a trusty wooden spoon, use that when you make jam. A great way to tell if your jam is at a set-point is if it sheets, rather than rains, off the back of the wooden spoon. A stainless, plastic or silicone implement will not work for the sheet versus rain test.

Strawberry-Cardamom Jam 

http://em-i-lis.com/wordpress/recipes-new-format/jams-chutneys-and-other-canned-treats/strawberry-cardamom-jam/

Ingredients (I recommend using organic if you can):

4 cups washed and trimmed strawberries, cut into halves or quarters

1¾ cups unrefined, granulated sugar (I use the 365 organic from Whole Foods)

juice of ½ lemon

¾ teaspoon ground cardamom; use a nice pungent one; I like Guatemalan

1 small apple (roughly 4 ounces), cored, grated

Instructions:

Fill your canning pot (or your largest, tallest stock pot) with water, cover, and set over high heat. Do this first because it takes a long time to bring this much water to a rolling boil. You will need enough water to cover the jars by at least a half-inch.

Ready the appropriate number of jars (3 for this recipe, more if you double) and get out your canning funnel, ladle, lid lifter, hot pads and such. On the counter next to your canning pot, place a dish towel; when you remove your sterilized jars from the water (and, later, your filled and sealed jars from the pot), you can rest them here without worry that they’ll slip or slide.

Strawberries macerating

Strawberries macerating

In a jamming pot or other heavy-bottomed stainless pot, stir together all your ingredients. Let sit for a half hour (you can also macerate this overnight; in that instance, don’t start heating your canning pot until you’re ready to actually cook the jam).

When a decent amount of syrup has pooled around the strawberries, set the pot over high heat, and stir regularly (but not constantly) as the mixture comes to a boil. You want it to boil like crazy so as to evaporate off as much water as possible.

Starting to give off liquid

Starting to give off liquid

See the syrup

See the syrup

Strawberries foam a lot as they cook, so if that bothers you visually, skim or carefully spoon the foam off. Keep stirring, and if your berries aren’t breaking down as you’d like, crush them with a potato masher. It really depends on how much “chunk” you like in your jam.

If you’ve not already, sterilize your jars by placing them in the boiling water bath. Sterilize your lids too either by putting them in your canning pot for 2-3 minutes as it boils or by placing them in a smaller pot of boiling water which you then remove from heat. You do not need to sterilize the jar bands.

If you have a Thermapen or similar instant-read thermometer, start checking the temp after about 20 minutes. You want to get to at least 217° F. When things are getting close, a rim of strawberry gunk should have adhered to the sides of your pot (at the level of the jam), the bubbles in the boiling jam should look thick like lava, not loose like boiling water, and the jam should sheet not rain off the back of a wooden spoon 

Strawberry rim

Strawberry rim

When the jam is ready, carefully ladle it into your prepared jars (leave roughly 1/4″ of headspace) and run a thin tool like a chopstick or knife blade around the inside of each jar to let any air bubbles escape. If the bottom of your jamming pot looks like this, you can feel confident that your jam has achieved a good set.

Thick

Thick

Look at that thick luscious jam

Look at that thick luscious jam

Wipe the rims, apply the lids and bands and carefully place into your canning pot. Process for 10 minutes, remove and sit on a kitchen towel for at least two hours.

Strawberry Cardamom Jam

Strawberry Cardamom Jam

For a list of helpful canning resources and equipment, click here: http://em-i-lis.com/wordpress/cooking-eating/a-year-of-canning/

 

68 Comments Post a comment
  1. Wow, all those strawberries look divine!

    July 5, 2014
  2. Hi Suzanne, I’m so flattered you asked me to guest post. I’m happy to be here on your lovely site! Enjoyed some strawberry-cardamom jam on yogurt and with granola for breakfast this morning! Hope you had a happy 4th!!

    July 5, 2014
    • I am so thrilled that you agreed to do this post. I love your jam and am so glad you are sharing some of your knowledge. Thank you.

      July 5, 2014
  3. talkavino #

    I have a lot of memories of home made jams back from growing up as a kid – we did a lot of it. Nothing beats home-made jam or preserve… But we don’t really do it here – finding enough of the good fruit or berries at a good price might be a challenge in itself…

    July 5, 2014
    • I agree, I have to learn to preserve or do the whole processing part of it. There is nothing like homemade jam or jelly or preserves.

      July 5, 2014
  4. I love making homemade curds and jams! Strawberry jam is definitely my favourite, lovely recipe!

    July 5, 2014
  5. Is it really that easy? It sounds delicious.

    July 5, 2014
    • Hi Melissa, Once you have some basic equipment and then find a well-written recipe to follow, it’s not hard at all! I quickly became an obsessive canner. 🙂

      July 5, 2014
  6. looks great and thank you for introducing us. I tried for the first time last year to make jam, i find it hard but am going to try again this year xx

    July 5, 2014
    • It’s a learning process, I really wish I lived in DC so I could attend one of Emily’s classes. I like being shown how to do things, Emily has a wealth of knowledge.

      July 5, 2014
  7. I’ve made blueberry jam before but I’ll have to try this one.

    July 5, 2014
    • I went to the farmers market today not one container of strawberries, actually no berries at all of any kind. I wanted to try the jam. Oh well, I guess I missed strawberry season or it’s late. Hope you give this a try, Emily’s recipes are no fail.

      July 5, 2014
      • That is so disappointing, Suzanne. I’m surprised y’all don’t get more in the way of strawberries!!

        July 5, 2014
      • All there were today was gooseberries. So disappointing, no berries at all produce so far is very disappointing. Usually we have plums, none, a few sad peaches that I bought today. Do you have a good jam recipe for peach jam, maybe with ginger. I have some ginger honey.

        July 5, 2014
  8. Great tutorial! I love making jam at home, it just tastes so much better than the store bought kind. 🙂

    July 5, 2014
  9. Oh, i’m drooling about the strawberries. I think i can smell the jam cooking! 🙂

    July 5, 2014
    • Me too, wish I had some good strawberries it would be on the stove now. Thanks Teagan.

      July 5, 2014
  10. I’ve always wanted to make jam! You make it look so easy 🙂

    July 5, 2014
    • I have sworn to learn and with Emily to teach me I think this time I will do it. Thanks so much Kelly!

      July 5, 2014
  11. What a beautifully vibrant red strawberry jam – just lovely! It was great to read this post, as I love making jam, but am definitely still at the novice stage! Thanks Suzanne and Emily!

    July 5, 2014
    • Thank you, Margot! Good luck with your canning adventures! 🙂

      July 6, 2014
  12. I have never made jam before, your post makes it look easy. The strawberries are fresh and we still have access to the local farm to pick, they are really sweet this year. Planning to make strawberry ice cream tomorrow.

    did you see that I made it a year blogging! I can’t believe it’s been that long already, check out my giveaway!
    http://michaelswoodcraft.wordpress.com/2014/07/03/happy-anniversary/

    July 5, 2014
    • Thanks Michael, wish we had good strawberries here. Love strawberry ice cream. Just entered your giveaway, thanks so much.

      July 6, 2014
  13. The red strawberry look so tempting and I love the picture with the wooden spoon 🙂

    July 6, 2014
    • They really are. I love fresh strawberries and strawberry jam is always a favorite. That thick jam on the spoon is so delicious looking.

      July 6, 2014
  14. Making jam is so much fun! Yummy 🙂

    July 6, 2014
  15. Looks luscious and fun to hear the story of your grandmother, Emily! I just spent a couple mornings making jar after jar of blackberry jam with a friend who is making 180 jars to give to everyone at her daughters wedding next month! The kitchen smelled so delicious!!

    July 6, 2014
    • WOW, Rhonda! What a gift to give, and what an endeavor to do so. Cheers! 🙂

      July 6, 2014
  16. Love the idea of cardamom here!

    July 6, 2014
  17. never tried apple in berry jams looks juicy… Yum yum

    July 6, 2014
    • You don’t know it’s there. It adds pectin so the jam firms. It works so well.

      July 6, 2014
      • Great to know. …will include next time for sure…thanx a ton….

        July 6, 2014
  18. Yum! Strawberry jam is the best!

    July 6, 2014
    • It is right? I love strawberry but for me a close 2nd is homemade concord grape jam. Love it!

      July 6, 2014
  19. Thank you, Emily and thank you, Suzanne. Jam making is another one of cooking skills I don’t have, and must learn. 🙂

    July 6, 2014
    • Thanks Fae, jam making eludes me or at least the preserving end of it. I do jar after jar of refrigerator jams. Also the unthinkable and reuse but sterilize the lid thingy’s . If I were preserving I wouldn’t do that I would use new ones. I don’t have the proper equipment for this, I really do want to learn though.

      July 7, 2014
  20. Such a great jam Suzanne and Emily .

    July 6, 2014
    • It is wonderful isn’t it. I have to try the combination of strawberry and cardamom.

      July 7, 2014
      • I had made a strawberry jam with cardamom some time back and it was delicious. Wasn’t aware of Emily’s recipe then :).

        July 7, 2014
      • I made spiced plum once but have never really been too adventurous with my jams. I do love cardamom, use it in baking a lot I think it sounds like a great match with the strawberries.

        July 7, 2014
    • thank you!!

      July 8, 2014
  21. I’ve felt a little intimidated with canning…but these instructions make it seem quite simple. We have our own strawberries growing this year. They aren’t quite ripe due to our cool eary summer. But soon they should be ready. Great tutorial.

    July 7, 2014
    • I feel very intimidated by canning, I am afraid I will do something wrong or miss something and bacteria will get into the jar. I guess that sounds silly, I grew up watching my Mom can/preserve fruit and vegetables she was great at it. Hope your strawberries ripen soon and thank you.

      July 7, 2014
  22. Looks devine!! Such beautiful strawberries

    July 7, 2014
  23. An invitation….Come join and post your vegetarian recipe links and baking treats to the new food Facebook group…@ https://m.facebook.com/groups/1433687623575418?ref=m_notif&notif_t=group_activity

    See you there too!
    Regards D

    July 7, 2014
  24. My! Doesn’t this look divine! I want a piece of toast with this jam on it right this minute. I suppose I must wait though….

    July 7, 2014
  25. Yum, this jam looks fantastic!!! My husband’s grandmother makes great jams, sadly, we can’t bring any back in Australia

    July 8, 2014
    • Oh thats too bad, do you make jam? It’s easier than one would think. Thanks so much for stopping by and I bet your husbands grandmothers jam is amazing.

      July 8, 2014
  26. Homemade jams are much more healthy than the store bought, taste better but most of all you know exactly what it’s in there!

    July 8, 2014
  27. Strawberry jam is perfect for summer! Yum!

    July 8, 2014
    • It is and it’s one of my favorites I just wish we had strawberries at the farmers market. Look at those beauties Emily got.

      July 8, 2014

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Em-i-lis on apuginthekitchen « Em-i-lis
  2. Putting Up Jam A La Em-i-lis!!! | apuginthekitchen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: