Making jam is something I look forward to each summer. This year, I’ve been busier than usual. The jam I had made earlier in the season is long gone, and it was looking like I wasn’t going to have an opportunity to get my hands dirty again before summer was over.
I hear from folks all the time how they love homemade jam, but they don’t know how to do it, or that it seems too hard to do on your own. When I heard my friends Dawn and Roxanne express interest in learning the process, I jumped at the chance to teach them.
And I jumped at the chance to get a new cookbook, The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook. Oh, it’s a beauty. Really. Page after page is filled with gorgeous photographs and interesting jam recipes with unusual flavor combinations, as well as old favorites.
Since strawberries are a great price right now, we settled on the Grown-Up Strawberry jam recipe, which features Drambuie. Right before they came over, though, Dawn realized that Drambuie has honey in it. Since she is vegan, that wasn’t going to work. Luckily, there were plenty of other fabulous choices. The Strawberry Jam with Aged Balsamic and Black Pepper stood out to me. I already had some lovely aged balsamic, so why not?
Not only was this a jam class for Roxanne and Dawn, but I was learning something new as well. I had never made jam before without the addition of commercial pectin. I realized the recipes in the Blue Chair Jam Cookbook don’t call for pectin. Uh oh. What to do?