I picked some strawberries yesterday, and after eating some fresh and some atop ice cream, as well as admiring them in my vintage enamel bowl (on my strawberry tablecloth), I decided to make a couple jars of strawberry jam.
I like a nice sloppy jam that is in-between sauce and a thicker spread. And, although I love the idea of all those colorful jars of preserves in the cupboard, I don’t like to use the large amount sugar required for the classic version, so I’m resigned to keeping my jam in the fridge or freezer. For a refrigerated jam, you can just cook down fruit and a smaller amount of sugar (as in my earlier post about fresh jam) or you can use commercial pectin designed for a low-sugar jam, which doesn’t require much (or any) cooking. Whichever way you make jam, it is awfully good with hot biscuits or buttered toast.
Recently I was in Alaçati, Turkey (near the Aegean Coast), at a lovely little hotel called Incierliev, which offered a great variety of delicious jams and marmalades with the breakfast. They were less sweet than the standard jams — with that looser texture and intriguing balance of sweet-and-tart that I love.
Sabahat and Osman Poshor, the hotel owners, knew that I love lemons, so they gave me a special sampler with candied lemon and orange peels, and three versions of lemon marmalade (with and without peel and pith).
Osman is the marmalade master extraordinaire. He made 36 kinds of jams last year and Sabahat says he is always experimenting. And the jams are sun-cooked — or at least partially so. He cooks the fruit and sugar a little on the stovetop first, then puts the mixture in a Pyrex casserole dish and sets it out in the sun for two or three days to finish cooking — bringing the dish inside at night.
Here in Western Washington, we really don’t get enough sun to make sun-cooked anything, though I think it’s such an appealing concept.
Osman’s jams, like my own, don’t have enough sugar to act as a preservative, so they can’t be stored on a shelf in the cupboard. Instead, they’re kept in the refrigerator.
Well, any way you make or come by jam (and Osman reminded me of all the wonderful possibilities — sour cherry, apricot, peach, plum, lemon… not to mention fig and mulberries and quince), every season is right for eating it!