It’s amazing to me that even while the rest of the country is freezing their buns off, we still have it so easy here in San Diego. Sure it’s no surprise that we have pretty perfect weather, world renowned waves and an active lifestyle, but we reap the benefits of nature’s wonders in less superficial ways too. Our valleys are caked with crops, boasting some of the finest fruits and vegetables in the country. In no other state is the occupation of a farmer as popular, and in no other state can you get plentiful produce year round.
My aunt likes to spend her down time celebrating these gifts from the earth with her amazing cooking. Her dishes are vibrant, well balanced and always changing, but every fall I look most forward to her pear preserves. She has explained to me how easy they are to make, that any fruit can really be preserved. I filed the thought away for a rainy day, until I found some inspiration in an unexpected place.
My boyfriend and I took a bike ride to our local produce stand to pick up some veggies for dinner, and there were stacks of cartons of sweet berries at an insanely affordable price, glowing in the summer-like sun. I began researching different jam recipes that day, and after pondering many different varieties, I stuck with my guns and planned to make some simple mixed berry jam – without pectin [ick]
**side note: pectin is a soluble gelatinous polysaccharide [aka carbs] that is present in ripe fruits and is extracted for use as a setting agent in jams and jellies. There are already carbs in fruit, so adding pectin – although helpful – makes jam stick to your ass. Luckily, there are good people in the world who avoid using pectin in lieu of more natural ingredients and processes.
Valentine’s Day was right around the corner, and I wanted to spread some love to my friends – no pun intended. Rarely do I use jam in my own life, however PB&J is one of my guiltiest pleasures, and it’s a great thing to have in the fridge if you have guests over for brunch.
I carved out a few hours to make my first batch of homemade jam, but discovered it was a lot easier and more fun than I had expected. Sure, my jam could have thickened a little more, but most of my friends finished their jars before the end of the month, so maybe I will keep my version of the recipe exactly how it is 🙂
4 cups each of raspberries, blackberries and blueberries
3 cups of sugar
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Have ready 8 hot, sterilized half-pint jars and their lids. I boiled mine ahead of time, and then popped them into a baking dish and kept them warm in the oven @ 250 degrees while I made the jam 😉
In a large non-reactive saucepan, gently stir together all of the ingredients. Bring saucepan to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently. The original recipe said it should take about 15 minutes for the jam to thicken. I went for about 30 – 45 minutes and it probably could have stayed on longer.
Ladle the hot jam into the jars, leaving 1/4 in. of headspace. Wipe the rims clean and seal the lids on tightly.
Place the jars in a bath of boiling water for ten minutes. They can go right into the pantry from there, but must be refrigerated once opened. Enjoy on your favorite gluten free pastry, pancakes, or in a good ol fashioned PB&J.