Jams:

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I have been in a reading slump (since I finished The Oregon Trail last weekend), and things have otherwise not been very exciting around here.  I have, however, been cranking out the word count.  I’ve started editing my second novel so that when I get so annoyed with the first one that I could spit, I have something totally different to turn to.  Both have been progressing nicely, although the almost finished novel is going better than the other.  Mostly because I don’t know where I’m taking the other yet (it seems to be totally different than the first draft indicated it would be).

Brian and I ran around all weekend in LA.  He had a work thing, and we had a party that night, and in the mean time we hung out at Gamehaus Café, ate pear/honey paninis, and played board games.  It was quite lovely, actually.  I was worried about driving around in LA because it was supposedly the weekend of the “Slow Jam,” meaning that tons of things were shut down and traffic was supposed to be horrible.

It wasn’t that bad, at all.  But speaking of jams…

The thing I’m most proud of this week is my latest round of fruit jam.  Brian and I have been looking into saving money via the food we’re buying and eating each week, and $5.00 for a jar of jam seems so steep when I can make 5 jars for about $10 or less.  I spent about $10 on things this time, but probably will spend less next time, as there’s plenty of pectin left over in the cupboard.  The bonus of making my own stuff is that I get to go with funky flavors.  The Persimmon Cinnamon jam I made at Christmas time turned out great, although it was my first round at jam and too runny.  It’s all gone now, so I needed to make something else.

When I left Scripps, they gifted me a lovely jar of jam that was Apple Lemon Verbena flavored.  But it was bad for PBJs because the apples were cut into large chunks and you couldn’t spread it.  It was great on vanilla ice cream, though, and amazing alone with a spoon (don’t judge me).  So that meant I was going to rip it off for my latest jam.  Bonus points because I had about a TON of small apples that Brian and I didn’t get to in time that were looking a little wrinkly.  Not so appetizing.  But mushed up with a ton of sugar?  Yum!

I also looked everywhere for Verbena, but didn’t find any.  Home Depot did have some Lemon Balm, though, that I thought might be as good.  It certainly smelled excellent.  So my jam is Apple Lemon Balm.  Here’s the recipe.

Apple Lemon Balm Jam:

  • 1 large bag of tiny apples – any kind, but sweet is better
  • 2 large lemons
  • 3/4 tablespoons of lemon balm, chopped (or any herb you think goes well with lemon and apple)
  • 4 tablespoons Powdered Pectin
  • 4 cups sugar

Core, peel, and chop the apples into fairly large chunks.  Put in a saucepan and cook at medium/low heat until some juices release and apples are soft.  While the apples are stewing, juice the 2 lemons and set aside.  Throw lemon peels into a food processor and pulse until the peel is in small pieces/pulpy.  Reserve 1 cup of this mixture.

Once the apples are soft, toss those into the food processor and pulse until they are also pulpy – just slightly chunkier than applesauce.  Reserve 3 cups of apples.  You can do the fruit in any quantity, as long as you end up having 4 cups of it.  So if you’re a little shy on the apples, throw in some more lemon peel…

Put the apples, the lemon rind, the lemon balm, and the lemon juice back into the saucepan you stewed the apples in.  Add pectin and bring the mixture to a boil.  Boil for about 1 minute, and then add the sugar in slowly.  Boil another minute or 2, until mixture is thick and glossy. Don’t forget to taste it and add more sugar as needed.

If you’re unsure how thick your jam is just by stirring it, feel free to dip a spoon in it and let the jam cool on the spoon for a few seconds.  It should give you a heavy coating that reminds me of glue.  I think a little more solid is better than a little runny, so I err on the side of too firm.  You’ll know once you’ve done this a few times, but trust your gut and know that it will be tasty no matter what you do.  Once you’ve reached your desired consistency, pour that jam into jars and seal them up.

At this point, you have 2 choices.  You can put it all through a water canning bath and your jam will be good for a year or so.  Or you can just pop them in the fridge and make sure to use them within the month.  I go with option 2 because I’m lazy.  And because we eat a lot of jam in this house.

So there you go.  That’s my weekly accomplishment, and now it can be yours.  If you’re willing to wash sticky dishes, that is.  I promise it’s worth it.

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