When I first got really curious about cooking, some dozen years ago, jams and preserves were one of the first things I tackled. Jam just seemed so We're Officially Cooking Now. Making something you can buy in the store? What a thrill. I felt like a grown-up, with my little pots of overcooked strawberry jam.
But these days, I can't remember the last time I made jam or pickles. I just really can't be bothered — except for very specific instances. Can you relate to this? Or is preserving always a part of your summer routine? Here's a little more on what pushes me to actually make jam.
It's so easy to find good jam (and for that matter, pickles and tomato sauce and frozen fruit and all other kinds of preserved produce) that I find the effort of making it myself best reserved for other things.
But there are some exceptions. I get really motivated to make jam when I lay my hands on some unusual fruit, like juneberries from my front yard, or the muscadines and scuppernongs I would find in Florida.
However, blueberries and strawberries — eh. I can find great jam with more common fruits at my farmers market or specialty grocery.
Personally, I feel the same about pickles and frozen fruit, although I am sure that I would feel differently if I had a garden this summer and needed to freeze my bounty of herbs and tomatoes and hot peppers.
I do love the sense of accomplishment and plenty that comes with putting a few jars of homemade jam in the pantry, or steeping fruit in booze for a special cocktail treat.
What about you? Do you take the effort to preserve fruit and vegetables from the farmers market or your garden, storing up holiday presents and hostess gifts, or are you more like me, having to be nudged towards preserving by a special occasion?
(Image: Nealey Dozier: Quick Recipe: Mission Fig Jam)