Because sometimes we just want to make jam but only have a few berries.
I’m a sucker for anything strawberry. To me, strawberries mark the beginning of summer, and summer is my favorite season. Growing up, I remember having homemade strawberry shortcake at my grandma’s house. It was a big production, every June, for my aunt’s birthday. I don’t remember helping with the baking back then, but my sister and I would help assemble the dessert. And of course, we’d assist with the eating 😉
Those were the days. Even the whipped topping was made from scratch! And the strawberry sauce? Oh my. I’m salivating just thinking about it.
I’m also making a mental note to grab that recipe so I can make myself some shortcake very soon!
Strawberry + Basil = Summer
For now, I’ve got strawberry basil jam to savor. I think it’s a fair replacement for shortcake. A lot less fuss for sure!
Originally, I wasn’t going to add the basil. I was gonna make some straight up, simple strawberry jam and I was gonna be damn happy about it. But then I threw it in. Nearly an afterthought but boy did it change the game.
So, if you happen to have some basil and some strawberries hanging around — please make some for yourself. You can thank me later.
I used to think making jam had to be a big production too. Processing multiple pounds of berries; cleaning them, hulling them, quartering them, cooking them down, canning them, sterilizing them. Gives me nightmares just thinking about it!
I’m not one for canning in the traditional sense, which is ironic because nearly all my food is stored in jars. 😂 I don’t trust myself to do the process correctly. And I’m impatient. Yadda.
But then, we stopped buying pre-packaged jams and preserves (zero waste and all). I wanted to make my own so I did a lot of reading and research on jams. I found a great site, foodinjars.com, which introduced the idea of “small batch” jam. And I was hooked.
Why Small Batch Jam-Making is Great
So this is how I make all my jam these days. A little bit, here and there, just when the mood strikes. Takes no more than 10 minutes to whip up really.
And the best parts?
You don’t have to worry about messing up the recipe by not cooking it enough, or adding too much or too little sugar. Because you’re only making a little bit! If it doesn’t come out perfect, so what? Learn from your mistakes and make some more 😛
You don’t have to do the whole sterilization process. A few small jars of jam are easy to freeze and/or will keep in the fridge for a month (easily) and definitely longer — but you didn’t hear that from me!
So yes, I improvise my jam-making and so should you. It’s kinda fun how free-form it is. Rebellious even.
How to Make Small Batch Jam
Here’s how it goes:
You will need:
At least a pint of fruit
A heavy-bottom skillet
A wooden spoon
A small jar
Take some fruit (overripe or nearly overripe is best). Clean and chop it small. Add to a shallow heavy-bottom pan over medium heat.
Sprinkle some sugar over the top. (Be generous, it is jam after all!)
Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. (Also sometimes I add the tip of the lemon into the mix to help with the thickening. It works, promise.)
As the fruit cooks, you’ll want to smash it with the back of a wooden spoon. Sometimes I use my potato masher to get the job done quick (this is a great trick!).
Stir frequently and keep an eye on it. A tiny bit of fruit will jam up lickity-split.
It’s ready when you can run a spoon through the pan and the mixture stays separated. Also, you can tell when it’s boiling ferociously and no amount of stirring will calm it down.
That’s it! Fun, no?
What’s your favorite jam? What’s your favorite season? Let me know in the comments!