Saturday, June 12, 2010

I had no idea how much I love jam!

My friend Erin asked me to make her jam for her birthday.  I did not let the fact that I have never ever made jam, or canned anything for that matter, stop me from agreeing instantly.  Since I am surrounded by farms and her birthday is in June, it seemed like a reasonable request.  And lets be honest, I was flattered by the fact that the request was made without being prefaced by, "Do you know how to..."  Erin's unfettered faith that of course I could make jam sealed the deal.  I'm pretty sure she had no idea, but that was wicked smooth if she played me like that.  Touche! 

But I soon got tired of reading all about canning, the odd tools it requires and the tediousness of the methodology.  I was ready to give up so I whined a bit to my mom who is from the South where learning canning is essentially a right of passage for girls, the Southern version of a bat mitzvah.  Mom told me to suck it up and follow the procedures in my beloved BH&G cookbook.  And that's where I discovered freezer canning, which basically means make the jam and put it in your freezer and forget about all that weird boiling of jars and making sure they seal right.  So, I got some strawberries grown under the sun about a mile from my house and some just-picked peaches grown even closer and pulled a few sprigs of rosemary from my garden and got to work.  I made Erin some strawberry jam and some rosemary peach jam.  And by "some" I mean close to a dozen pints. 

Now, if you've never had homemade jam, stop right now and make yourself some.  It is amazing.  I have never ever been a jam or jelly person.  I don't even like it on a peanut butter sandwich, I prefer sliced banana or even just good ol' pb all by itself.  But homemade jam?  Get outta town.  It's ridiculously delicious. I've never eaten so much jam as in the weeks after I made it from scratch.

But wait!  You might still be hung up on the rosemary part.  Slow it down and hear me out.  Martha Stewart told me to do it.  She may be a convicted felon, but she knows what's up in the kitchen, so I gave it a try.  You would not believe the harmony between peaches and rosemary.  In this jam, the rosemary is subtle but present at first but lets go completely fairly soon into a lovely, calming peach blanket over your entire palate.  It will knock your socks off.  In my opinion, the best way to eat it is spread on top of some Laughing Cow cheese on a thick slice of fresh sesame seed artisan bread.  But really, you could eat it on an insole and it would still be delicious. 

Now, you might be saying to yourself, "I thought this was a cake blog?"  So here's the juridictional hook, as it were.  I love to make fruity buttercream.  But, when I add sliced peaches or fresh strawberries to a buttercream recipe, the frosting doesn't ever set right because it's too watery.  Its' still fantastic and delicious, but if you want to make it as pretty as regular buttercream, use jam or preserves in place of the milk or cream.  This method gives it the right amount of flavor without wateriness.  There you go!  Plus, don't even get me started on how you can pipe fresh jam into the center of a cupcake or spread it between the layers of a cake.  Remind me to add strawberries to my grocery list...

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