This Labor Day weekend was full of all things expected. Last minute school supply shopping, exchanging one size of jeans for another, buying the right “breakfast” groceries to ensure the kidlets get off to their first day of school with at least something of substance in their bellies. But it was also full of a few indulgent moments. Dinner at Spinasse. Lunch with Uncle Joey. And a fien-fien dinner consisting of potato chips, dip and two margaritas. Another more productive moment included a brief stop at the Ballard Farmer’s Market where we picked up a few flats of the most beautiful berries that we had seen all year. Blackberry and raspberry – big juicy organic pints of yumminess.
So we decided to make jam. Simple, right? Our moms made jam every summer. We grew up with pantries filled with jam, pickles, carrots, applesauce and the most adorable stacked canned peaches known to man. For the menial task of making jam, our mothers even went out and picked the darn berries themselves. Big buckets full of raspberries, blackberries, even huckleberries. They were hardcore, no doubt about it. Here we were grabbing a few flats at the Market for our jam making adventure. Happily paying the farmers for “picking” our bounty of berries, we went about our task. How hard could it be?
First there was the selecting of the right jars. Do we go the classic (boring) Mason jar route? Or the new stylish Weck jars route with their pretty contrasting color seals and stainless clips? We are designers after all. Presentation is everything. After one trip to Crate and Barrel and one to Metropolitan Market, we selected Weck. Sure they were a little more complicated, but they just look better. And they were different than the classic Mason jars our mothers had used. So they had to be innately better. Right? Jars chosen as a nod to our savvier selves, we were onto the next step.
Next was the selection of the recipe. For the love. There are a lot of simple jam recipe’s out there. From Cooks, to Martha, to Epicurious, to FoodNetwork, to Ball, to the NYTimes. We finally settled on a combination of recipes, making our own along the way. We did appreciate the canning lady’s photo essay. She had lovely pictures, and step-by-step instructions on what seemed to be a very simple process. Plus, she used our Weck jars so that was a good sign.
Finally, there was the making of the jam. The careful measuring of the berries, sugar and lemon. The boiling of the berries, the jars, the lids. The boiling of what seemed like everything. There was careful cooking of the berry concoction to the perfect temperature of 220 degrees. And tasting along the way to make sure we had the right balance of sweetness. Transferring the filled jars to a boiling water bath for sealing was precarious at best. Here is where those Mason jars would have actually been easier. But in the end, we ended up with this most delicious, beautifully packaged jam that I have ever seen. Jam that would make our mothers – dare I say it – proud!
Our efforts created just a few jars. Four each of raspberry and blackberry. Quality not quantity is true in all things in life, including jam.