Kodiak is one of my favorite places in Alaska. Whether for fishing, hunting, hiking, flightseeing, bear viewing or kayaking–it’s a great spot. Quite often, my hosts are Marty and Marion Owen. In addition to running the “Galley Gourmet” dinner cruise in the summertime, Marty and Marion own and operate a delightful B-n-B right on the water: Cliff House.
When I called Marion this morning, she was making jam. So, I asked her to send along the view from the waterfront–and share with the class about her “Jammin’ in Kodiak”. Check out the three kings (above).
Marion’s Greenhouse is on the left. Woody Island and the channel are in the background…
King: “Red Plum-Strawberry-Ginger” Jam
King: “Rhubarb-Strawberry” Jam
King: “Yellow Plum-Ginger” Jam
At right, the production facility. As Marion says, “Foaming, hot and caramelizing a little, the jam is almost at the right temperature and texture to pour into the hot jars. Guess who gets to clean up all the splatters?
“Homemade gifts are value-added because they come from the heart. And one of my favorite things to give is homemade preserves. So when the weather outside is frightful, I start grabbing bags of frozen berries and mixing â€˜n matching fruits and spices. Hereâ€™s my favorite way to make homemade jam, which comes from my 1975 edition of Joy of Cooking. Itâ€™s a pectin-free, slow cook method, made in small batches to produce the yummiest preserves youâ€™ve ever tasted.
The Worldâ€™s Easiest and Best Tasting Jam
4 cups fruit
3 cups sugar (3-3/4 cup for tart fruit)
Prepare fruit by washing, pitting, trimming, dicing–whatever needs to be done.
In a medium saucepan, add fruit and a little water if necessary. Simmer the fruit uncovered until soft, then add sugar, stirring until it is dissolved.
Bring mixture to a boil over low to medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Reduce heat and cook, uncovered, until the mixture thickens and reaches 221 degrees F (at sea level), which is 9 degrees above the temperature of boiling water.
It can take up to 30 minutes, but donâ€™t rush the process by turning up the heat. Once the mixture reaches the right temperature, spoon it into hot, sterilized jars to within 1/8 inch of the top for half-pints (1/4 inch for pints), wipe the rims and screw on the lids. Turn the jars upside down for a minute then upright them again.
What makes this jam recipe so good?
The ingredients couldnâ€™t be more basic, just fruit and sugar, no pectin. Pectin is very finicky to use and pectin-based jams taste unfinished, watery and flat, while slow-cook jams develop a rich, slightly caramelized, concentrated fruity flavor. After tasting the difference, youâ€™ll never use pectin again. Besides, like most good things in life, the best jams take their sweet time.”
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