In retrospect, my love of jam making seems inevitable. It combines my love of seasonal fruit, gift giving and preserving (pun intended!) memories of picking fruit with my sons.
But I actually just arrived here. It started when I hoped to emulate an incredible blackberry jam that my brother picked up in Ireland. He actually bought it for my mom, but I confess, I ate almost half before I caught myself! After a bit of on-line research and obsessively reading as many jam-making books as I could, I realized that what I loved most about that jam was its lack of pectin. In fact, "European style" jams are often made with less sugar and lemon juice. So, instead of an almost jello-like jam, you end up with a spread that tastes like the essence of fruit.
So, after my sons and I picked pounds of blueberries and peaches, together we began to mix and stir. I relied most heavily on the Blue Chair Jam cookbook by Rachel Saunders. I made thick preserves from wild plums at the farmer's market and a delicious spread with sour cherries at Russos. My favorite, to my surprise, has been a simple, thick rhubarb spread as well as blackberry that was close to the Irish jam that started it all.
Soon, the kitchen was piled high with small ball jars filled with luminous jam. I have been giving it away to friends and family as thanks for all their incredible support during the challenges of the past two years. My sons and I have been savoring it, too, feeling lucky to be together and to enjoy this.