Making homemade jam is a little bit like finding true love.
Some people think it's not worth the trouble. That it's too much work, too difficult, too time-consuming. And with all those hot juices bubbling away, there's a good chance you might get burned.
Of course, there are some drawbacks to the quick jam fix. For one thing, there is no commitment. It's just a fling. Sure, you might enjoy it for a while, but the attraction is fleeting. Admit it... you really can't see yourself making breakfast with that jam every day.
Also, the kind of jam you pick up off the shelf is, well, easy. That's part of the appeal, right? But in the back of your mind, you know it's not the one you've been hoping for. It might look good, it might even taste good, but you probably wouldn't bring it to brunch at your parents' house. Plus, there are lots of people who have picked up that very same jam in the very same store -- dozens, maybe hundreds of times. When you start to think about it, that kind of jam is a little seedy.
But this. This, my friends, is a different kind of jam entirely. You know from the moment it first touches your lips that this one is special. It's the kind of jam that makes you go weak in the knees. A jam so soulful , you're proud to show it off to your friends and family. So sweet, you can hardly wait for the next spoonful. And so seductive, the memory of it brings a blushing smile to your face for the rest of the day, leaving others to wonder what secret you're hiding. It's the kind of jam that people envy.
To be sure, homemade jam requires time and care. There's always the possibility that it might not work out exactly as you planed. But just like love, when something is this good, it's worth the effort.
Raspberry and Fig Jam
Adapted from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving recipe for fig jam.
Due to a rather mild summer and an unusually warm fall, raspberry season has overlapped with fig season where I live. I am also lucky to have an enormous black Mission fig tree nearby, so this wonderful jam was a tree-to-table endeavor. Note that figs do not ripen any further once picked, so whether you are foraging or buying, choose fruits that are dark and plump, and make the jam soon after bringing the figs home.
They say figs are an aphrodisiac. I don't know if that's true. I do know that together with hot espresso and some toast spread with soft chevre, this jam makes a light, indulgent breakfast... perfect for a romantic rendez-vous. How you spend the rest of the morning is up to you.
Use organic whenever possible.
1 kettle of water
2 1/2 pounds black Mission figs
4 cups crushed, fresh raspberries (about 1 quart whole raspberries)
6 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 1/8 cup water
1 lemon - zest and juice (at least 1/8 cup juice)
Prepare the figs. Bring a kettle of water to boil. Place figs in a non-reactive pot or heat-proof bowl. Pour just enough boiling water over the figs to cover. Let stand 10 minutes, then drain, stem and chop figs. Measure 2 quarts of chopped figs (reserve extra figs, if any, for another use).
Prepare a boiling water canner that is tall enough to ensure you have at least 2" of water covering the top of your jars, plus space to allow for a hard boil without slopping over the rim.
Make the jam. Combine figs, raspberries, sugar and water in a large, non-reactive pot. Bring slowly to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Keep the mixture at a full boil, stirring frequently as mixture thickens, 30-50 minutes. Mixture should reduce by about half, and reach the gelling point. Stir in lemon zest and juice; cook 1 minute longer and remove from heat. Ladle hot jam into clean, hot jars.
For Weck jars - such as those pictured above - leave 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims clean and top with glass lids to which you've already attached the rubber rings. Clamp shut.
Process jars in a boiling water canner (212°F / 100°C) for fifteen minutes. Remove jars immediately and set upright on a clean towel or wooden surface, away from drafts. Let jars sit undisturbed for 12 hours. Carefully remove metal bands (Ball/Kerr) or clips (Weck). Check for proper seals. Label the jars and store in a cool, dry place for up to a year.
Yield: about 8 half-pints.
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