You should be making jam. Like right now. For three reasons: 1) The insanely great summer fruit that you use to make homemade jam is about to go away. For a while. Get some before it’s too late. 2) This is not old-fashioned jam we’re talking about, the kind that requires jars, tongs, steam, and almost guaranteed injuries. No, this is the easy kind; the kind that cooks on your stove for no more than 45 minutes and lasts in your fridge for no less than a week (or in your freezer for much longer). 3) It’s so damn good!
The recipe here calls for a pound of fruit, any fruit, but this time of year I’d set my sights on things like peaches, plums, cherries, or the last of summer’s berries. Other than fruit, you don’t need much; just some sugar to sweeten and thicken it, and a few tablespoons of liquid, citrus juice, vinegar, hooch, whatever strikes your fancy. Once the jam is done cooking, it may look a little thin, but just remember that it will thicken in the fridge as it cools. For a thicker version (good for fruits that are low in pectin, like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and peaches), add a tablespoon of pectin powder. OK, I’m going to cut myself off; the longer you spend reading this the less time you spend making jam. Get to it.
Makes: About 1 ½ cups
Time: About 45 minutes
1 pound fruit, peeled, pitted, and chopped as necessary
¼ cup sugar, or more to taste
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, vinegar, booze, or other acidic liquid
Put the fruit in a medium saucepan over medium heat. After a minute or so, add the sugar, juice, and seasonings if you’re using them.
Adjust the heat so that the mixture bubbles steadily, using a higher heat if the mixture looks too soupy; lower the heat if it seems dry. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick, 10 to 30 minutes. Taste as you go and add more sugar and/or seasonings as you like. Cool completely and refrigerate; it will thicken more as it cools.
Store in the refrigerator, where it will keep for at least a week. Freeze for longer storage. If necessary, remove any seasonings before using.
Mark Bittman is the author of more than 20 acclaimed books, including the “How to Cook Everything” series. He wrote for The New York Times for more than two decades, and became the country’s first food-focused op-ed columnist for a major news publication. He has hosted two television series and been featured in two others, including the Emmy-winning “Years of Living Dangerously.” Bittman is currently the special adviser on food policy at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and the editor-in-chief of Heated.