Jamming 101



I grew up eating croissants or baguette with a pat of butter and a dollop of fresh homemade “confiture” for breakfast or afternoon snack throughout my childhood.  Then, somewhere along the way to adulthood, in the busy-ness of my adult life, I started buying store-bought jam more and more.  The store-bought jams never tasted the same as those I’d always had at home.  Over the years, as it got harder and harder to find a good organic commercial brand that was organic, and had that same taste I grew up with – that perfect blend of not-too-sweet yet tangy sweetness,  I just stopped eating jam altogether.   

Then this Christmas, my mother’s organic Kumquat tree was bursting with fruit weighing down heavily every branch of her 12-ft. tree, and she pleaded with me to take as much home as I could.  Driving home to Orange County with 20lbs. of fresh organic Kumquat in my car - the fragrance of which kept me awake and energetic the entire 7-hour journey, I thought about taking on the challenge of making homemade jam again, as my aunt and my cousin had done when I was a little girl.  I had only made small batches of easy, no-pectin berry jam a couple of times in my life, and had never tried the full-on, serious jamming version with pectin, sterilization-and-all on my own before; so once back home, with boxes of Kumquat sitting there on my Kitchen counter, the task seemed overwhelming.

They sat there for a few days while I pondered and researched about whether or not I was going to take on the challenge.  Then, my son rolled up his sleeves and said, “Come on!  I’ll help you.  How hard can it be?”  I dove into the recipes I had found, and it turns out that it’s not very hard at all.  Many of the recipes I researched looked overwhelming.  As it turns out, it’s actually quite easy, as you’ll see in the recipe and process I’ve put together below.

Jamming is not difficult, but just a little labor-intensive (there’s a difference), and I was cursing myself for having started the process while I was cutting up the fruit, but it was also because I had 20lbs. of fruit to cut!  If you make it in small batches, or just 2-3 jars, it should take no time at all, and you’ll be rewarded with a few jars of jam that perfectly matches your palate.

On the surface, simple things like making your own jam at home may not seem like it is going to make a whole lot of difference in reversing Climate Change, but the fact is, the more things we can make and do for ourselves at home, the lighter our footprint will be on the earth. The batches I made took me back to mornings full of laughter and conversation with my aunt, cousins and mother eating baguette and croissants with French butter and jam in the sunlit warmth of my childhood kitchen.  Perhaps yours will too?