Tuesday, July 23, 2013

That's my Jam!

It's the return of the blog. No fanfare necessary. I was working on a movie about a chef, and I had the good fortune to come home with what we nice Southern girls call a f*@kload of fruit. So I made a metric ton of jam. Footnote: For the film, I also got to work in the kitchen of Hatfields with Roy Choi. NBD. We had to clear out a walk-in fridge worth of food at the end of the night, so I took home as much as I could realistically use. This included several heirloom tomatoes, 2 fennel bulbs, 1/3 of a box of olive oil, a couple lemons, a big ol' clamshell of micro greens, a bunch of organic kale, a pint of grape tomatoes, several dozen beautiful macarons handmade by the lovely Christine Manke, a quart of blueberries, and more stone fruit than you can shake a stick at. Even hosting a barbecue, I was hard-pressed to use all this stuff. But I do love a challenge. Let's talk jam.

The seasons in Los Angeles are a bit ambiguous in the conventional sense, so I think of them more in terms of "when all the flowering trees bloom" or "when it rains." Right now it's "when all the berries and stone fruit are ripe and cheap." I already had a wealth of blueberries thanks to the largesse of the Trader Joe's gods. Man these berries were good. So with all the loot from the movie, I had a holy f*@kload of blueberries.

One of the only items I actually had to purchase for the BBQ was thyme (for the sliced heirloom tomatoes. Oh yeah!). Since you never need even half the quantity of herbs you purchase, I had plenty of that left. I still do, actually. More thyme than I know what to do with. I decided maybe the blueberry jam needed thyme. I googled it, and of course someone else on the internet had tried it already, so I figured it must be ok. That's a good way to judge if something's a good idea, right? I used this recipe, rather unfaithfully, added thyme, and remarkably, it set up perfectly despite my lax attention to procedural concerns with the sugar and pectin.

Not content to make only one kind of jam, I combined a holy trinity of drupes: nectarines, peaches, and apricots. I considered adding plums, but it just didn't feel right.

Why mess with that color?

I pretty much followed the directions on the pectin box for this one. I used the lo-no sugar pectin, so I was able to add a small fraction of the sugar most jam recipes call for. The idea was to keep the fruit tasting like itself. I'm pleased to say it did, and the peacotarine jam set up nicely as well.

All told, I made 6 pints of jam. That's 12 cups. Oh snap!

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