For many years jam, as a slang, was considered bad news. One was in a jam. Stuck, I guess. A traffic jam for instance. Today, jam is more often heard in a positive description like “This music is really my jam!” or “That brisket we ate last night was The Jam!” Jam is the new affirmative.

Jam seems so simple, so fundamental, yet so few make jam at home.

Little known fact: jam is the glue that helps bind communities together. It defines our sense of self. Jam is the hero in this story. It needs a flag or a cape to accompany it. Nothing says “I care” like homemade jam.

My mom made jam my whole life, but never once did she share that recipe with me. Odd, thinking back now, how I helped her with everything else in the kitchen but never with jam. Jam making involves scalding hot sugars with deliciously inviting smells! I wonder if including children in its craft is a scarring accident waiting to happen?

For a long time, I have joked that only losers purchase jam while I gathered up my self-worth in how many homemade canned goods I had been gifted or traded.

I felt pity for folks who had to buy jam from a store, thinking, “Hey, if you haven’t cultivated enough friends or stayed in touch with any family who make and trade jam you must really be a terrible person.”

I was pretty cocky right up until recently (I had a fight with my mom), and I realized no one has gifted me jam for months. I may now have to go to the store and, heaven forbid, purchase some cold-hearted factory jam. What have I become?

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After a little bit of research (on YouTube), when one discovers jam is simply fruits, usually berries, cooked with sugar in a pan, you think, “Wow, I could have been making jam this whole time. I could have saved so many people from becoming potential losers like myself. Why did I wait so long?”

Fruit, sugar, heat, save the world. All in that order.

Fresh or frozen, the journey of a thousand jams starts with your first berry.

Do not be afraid to embark upon that journey when the time feels right or when you’ve run out of gifted jam like me 46 years later.

This is a great opportunity to mobilize your homemade shake flour and use up all those frozen berries in your freezer before they ice over. Then we can get busy making presents everyone will delight in this holiday.

Most medicated jam recipes I found involve making an infused weed honey first then adding that to jam. I have been exploring effective yet delicious ways without honey for our first attempt, and we won’t be hippies right out the gate, either, so let’s use white sugar.

I looked into pectin, too, wondering how necessary that was. Here’s what I found out. Fruits have natural pectin that comes out if you cook them long enough. Different lengths for different fruits. A bit of citrus helps this process. The secret of powdered pectin is to help your berries congeal faster, so you don't have to cook them so long. The longer they cook the more you reduce volume and lose some flavor and juices.

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I wanted to make our first effort into jam via super simple ingredients. So, we are not going to use pectin. We are going to cook it longer and add a bit of salt at the end.

Canning your jam? Let’s try that too. It lasts longer. Canning simply means at the end we will boil our freshly filled jam jars in a hot-water bath. Sounds cozy, right? It all factors into the taste. Pamper your jam, it will pay you back one day.

And don’t forget to buy some new small canning jars with fresh lids. It’s like investing in futures. They say you can’t eat money, but you can eat jam… with a spoon and nothing else.


Medicated Jam Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 cups frozen berries
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • juice of 1 lime/lemon
  • 1 tsp. of grey salt
  • 15 grams shake flour

Method

  1. In a saucepan on medium heat dry sauté the shake flour. Don’t let it burn but try to toast it nicely before adding the berries.

  2. With the shake flour in the saucepan, add berries and lemon juice then cook on medium heat. It helps to get the berries into a more liquid state before adding the white sugar. You can add half the salt now and save the other half for right at the end.

  3. Once you have shake flour, berries, lemon juice, sugar, and salt in the saucepan on a slow boil, go read the rest of this magazine and remember to stir after each article. This jam took almost two hours to boil down. Add remaining salt at the end.

  4. Boil the canning jars for 10 minutes to kill any bacteria. Simmer the lids quickly. Use tongs to extricate. Then pour jam in jars, secure on the lids and boil filled jars for 10 minutes. Remove with tongs and set aside to cool.

  5. The next morning, I checked and they sealed great. Jam was perfectly congealed. The toasted shake flour makes it taste a bit thicker than most jam but mixed with plain yogurt or put on a bagel it’s divinely unnoticeable.

After three tries here is what I’ve learned.

  1. It takes forever for the jam to congeal so maybe pectin is a good idea.
  2. Clearly mark your jam as “MEDICATED” for obvious reasons, then put on your pyJAMas you may want to stay in today.
  3. I ate most of the jam within a few days so canning may be unnecessary for serious jam enthusiasts.
  4. Consider Canna-compote. Berries, shake flour, and sugar reduced in a saucepan and used immediately.

“Nothing says you're not a loser like homemade jam.” — Watermelon