I am a lousy jam maker. It's something I've become comfortable with after numerous seasons of buying different canning books and thinking the problem was rooted in the fact that I hadn't found proper instruction. Then I bought cute jars thinking I needed an aesthetic nudge. Turns out neither are true. It's just not one of my kitchen skills — to me it starts to feel fussy and time consuming, and while I love the idea of it, I generally don't have a great time in the midst of it. That's why quick jam (or freezer jam) like this Triple Berry Quick Jam is right up my alley.
Quick jam is a great way to use up summer fruit that you know you won't be able to finish on its own, and it's also a great way to stow away the season's sweet berries to ensure you'll have ample spoonfuls on the inevitable gray February day when you're craving a bite of summer. All of this without a hot water bath, gelatin, tongs or more than 30 minutes active cooking time. See why I love it?
If you haven't made quick jam before there are a few things to know: the consistency won't be thick like jelly. It'll be a touch runny, which I love and which makes it an equally good candidate for for your morning yogurt, oatmeal or ice cream. You can use any mix of summer berries in this recipe — I just happened to use raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries, but feel free to toss in some blueberries if you have them on hand or play around with the ratios of each.
I aim to use 5 1/2 - 6 cups of fruit for each 1 cup of sugar, so if you keep that in mind, you'll likely have delicious summer quick jam. The jam will be good for 3 weeks in the refrigerator and we generally have no problem eating ours before it would need to be frozen, but if you'd like to freeze yours, see instructions below. Happy jamming!
Triple Berry Quick Jam
Makes about 2 cups
fresh raspberries (about 3/4 pound / 2 1/4 cups)
fresh blackberries (about 7 ounces / 1 1/2 cups)
fresh strawberries (1 3/4 cup), hulled and thickly sliced
(6 1/2 ounces) natural cane sugar (like turbinado)
Pinch kosher salt
In a large bowl, combine the berries and sugar, and let them macerate for about 10 minutes, or until the sugar has begun to dissolve into the fruit. Transfer them to a heavy pot and place on the burner over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Add the salt, lemon zest and lemon juice and reduce the heat to medium-low.
Allow the berries to gently simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the fruit breaks down and the mixture starts to cook down, thickening slightly. If the fruit isn’t breaking down on its own, use the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to help it out. (I tend to like a chunkier jam so I don’t go to great lengths to do this.)
When almost done, the jam will still be loose (it’ll firm up more as it cools), but should coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove the jam from the heat and pour into your favorite clean glass jars to cool. Cap and allow it to cool completely. Transfer the jars to the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks, or freeze for up to 6 months.
I always freeze my jam in tupperware or plastic containers, but if you want to use glass jars, avoid the ones with the curvature just beneath the lid (jam expands slightly and you don't want it pushing up against those curves). Straight-sided jars are best.
(Images: Megan Gordon)