Food & Drink

Get your jam on: Making jam isn't hard, it's just time-consuming

Keen On Cooking: Strawberry-raspberry jam has only four ingredients

Gluten-free lemon poppy seed bread topped with strawberry jam on Sunday, April 1, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Gluten-free lemon poppy seed bread topped with strawberry jam on Sunday, April 1, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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Here’s a little secret: I’m probably not a better baker than you are. I just said “yes” when asked if I wanted to write a food column.

Part of the reason I decided to do this, though, is to push myself into cooking things I might not try if it were not my job to do it.

Case in point, jam.

Jam isn’t necessarily a difficult thing to make (the jam I made has only four ingredients), but it is time-consuming.

You have to let the berries and sugar meld together over several hours; you have to keep an eye on it while it cooks to make sure it’s reaching the right temperature and actually jelling together; and you have to let the jarred jam sit in hot water and do all sorts of things.

Now, would I have done this if I didn’t have a column due and needed to figure out how to impress you people?

Probably not. But holy cow, am I glad that I did.

Y’all, I want to put this jam on top of everything.

As a matter of fact, I have. I made blueberry scones and put the jam on that.

I made some lemon poppy seed bread (also delicious and the recipe is included, you are welcome) and put the jam on top of that.

I also just scoop it out of the jar with a spoon and eat it by itself.

But look at me now — making jam like a pro and impressing all of my friends on Instagram.

This whole weekend was a chance to grow my baking skills. As I said in my previous column, I recently found out I have a gluten and a dairy intolerance, so this column also is forcing me to find ways to make things without gluten taste like they have gluten in them.

For instance, I had no idea what xanthan gum was until this weekend.

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It’s a food additive that helps thicken and stabilize gluten-free foods, and it’s a game changer.

Now, I’m off to figure out what to make next month so I can continue to look like I know what I’m talking about.

Also, if you want to follow along in the adventures (and you like pictures of cats), follow me on Instagram @crkeenan.

Berry Jam

  • 2 pints strawberry
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 lemons

Wash berries and drain thoroughly. Hull strawberries and discard their hats.

Combine berries with sugar and let stand for 3 to 4 hours.

Bring berries to a boil slowly, stirring occasionally. Add juice of two lemons.

Cook rapidly over medium heat for 15 minutes until the syrup thickens.

Ladle berry preserves into hot jars, leaving inch head space. Do not place lids on jars.

Bring pot of water to boil and put jars in a nice hot bath for about 10 minutes. Remove and add lids. Put jam on top of everything.

Source: Recipe modified from thespruce.com

Lemon Poppyseed Bread

  • 2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum — omit if flour blend already contains it
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons poppyseeds
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon — zest and juice
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper.

Mix together flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add lemon zest, sugar and poppyseeds.

In a separate bowl, mix together coconut milk, eggs, vegetable oil, lemon juice and vanilla.

Combine wet and dry ingredients.

Transfer batter to pan and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour.

Let cool completely. Eat with jam.

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.