A couple weeks ago, I went with my neighbor and a friend to pick berries on the north shore at Russell’s Orchard in Essex. This was my third year visiting Russell’s for the berry harvest, which you may remember from this 2011 post. The 3 of us met there late morning on a saturday and picked blackberries and blueberries to our heart’s content. It was the perfect summer day: not too hot, not too buggy, and a bright blue sky. We celebrated our berry bounty afterwards with fried seafood & beer at Woodman’s of Essex – per the recommendation of a friend. Needless to say, I returned home in Boston with a full belly and grand plans for a number of fabulous baked goods.
The truth is – the baking never happened. Work got crazy. I got lazy. My sister was coming into town for The Timberman and I didn’t feel like cleaning up a “royal flour-ing” of the kitchen. The berries sat on my counter for 2 days, and then I got worried about fruit flies so I put them in the fridge. A few days after that, I pulled them out, frowned at them, and decided to go the simple route…so jam it was going to be.
I pulled up some recipes online and decided pretty quickly that I didn’t need as much sugar as many called for. I also decided that I didn’t really need a recipe. It’s fruit and sugar, people. So what I did was throw all of my berries (about 4 pints of blackberries) into my sauce pot with about 1/4 c sugar (to start) and thought I would just see what happened. As they cooked down, I gradually added more sugar to the berries until it tasted right and coated the spoon. My conclusion is that nobody needs a recipe for jam. Just cook them down with sugar, starting with a little bit and adding more as needed..feel your way through it until it tastes good to you, then spread it on something nice. The first thing I made was a grilled PB&J for my husband – pictured below. I also made a second batch, with the most adorable little strawberries from Connecticut (check out the image with the Quarter, for a little perspective). They were so cute!
*Jam should keep in the fridge for up to 2 months.