The first time in our marriage Sam asked me to buy jam from the grocery store, I was nearly offended on behalf of fruit everywhere. But since it was winter, and we were on a tight, student budget, I obliged. I bought strawberry jam. There have been a few other mass-produced fruit concoctions in our fridge at various points during our marriage (even a grape jelly at one time), but even Sam will proclaim hands-down, there is no comparison to homemade jam.
I love seeing bits of fruit spread on a warm and crisp piece of buttered bread, and I hate the way cooking changes a fruit's texture, so jellies and cooked jams are out of the question. I am a freezer jam girl, through and through. I grew up on the stuff; I have visions of jars and their lids, mounds of sugar and mashed berries, and my mother wiping sweat from her brow with the back of her hand. (That last detail is surely a construct of my imagination. Making freezer jam is surprisingly easy.) Eating a perfect piece of toast with jam transports me home.
The first time I made a homemade jam, I geared up for a lengthy and involved task. Less than an hour later, I gazed at my accomplishment shocked by the ease of it all. Making freezer jam will make you feel like you were born to be domestic. My favorite is raspberry, though it is easier to consume large amounts of strawberry in one sitting-- the raspberry is much more intensely sweet. I get a box or two of pectin at the grocery store and follow the enclosed directions exactly. I love to give jam away, so I usually buy a couple fun jars (including these from IKEA this year) (I also hear the plastic freezer jars work well) and use regular tupperware for what doesn't fit in a jar. Freezer jam lasts for a month in the fridge and a year in the freezer. The only disappointing part of the jam I made this year is that we are moving in a couple weeks-- there will be no jam to pull out of the freezer this winter. I'll have to make up for it now by eating double the recommended daily dosage.
*I insist on buttering my toast before the jam. Sam had never heard of this method-- only choosing one or the other, but he now swears by it (I, on the otherhand, have never followed any other practice). If you have not yet married the two tasties, try it. Try it now.