I remember when I was a child, there were few things I hated more than jam on toast. Peanut butter and jelly? Just fine. But for some reason the thought of putting jam or preserves on toasted bread with butter was absolutely repulsive. It’s funny how things change with age. Flash forward to my mid-twenties, and I am OBSESSED with this simple delicacy. Mostly because I’ve found the easiest, most delicious way to make fresh jam and preserves.
Jam and preserves are essentially the same thing. Both can be made with or without pectin (I go without, relying on the fruit’s natural pectin to do my bidding). The only difference, really, is a slight change in texture. Jam tends to be thicker all around, while preserves are left chunky in a more syrupy mix. Both are super simple to make, and take less than a half hour to complete!
First off, you can make jam or preserves with just about any fruit. So far, I’ve had wonderful success with pears, nectarines, grapes, cherries, strawberries, & apples. (I’ve been dying for blueberry, but haven’t had success finding any good deals all summer on organic berries! LAME!) The other 2 ingredients, that’s right, JUST 2, are raw, organic sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Combined, with a little patience and love, you can create the most luxurious jam you’ve ever tasted!
Easiest Fruit Preserves & No-Peel Grape Jam
1 lb organic, local fruit (Or however much you have on hand. I just use whatever fruit is about to go bad and add sugar/lemon accordingly. I rarely measure, so these are ‘guesstimates’ at best!!)
1 cup raw organic sugar (Use the best quality you can afford! Add more sugar as necessary!)
1/2 organic, local lemon (juice) per 1 lb fruit
Optional Add-Ins: fresh ginger, cinnamon, vanilla beans, cayenne, ect! Be creative!! :)
Dice the fruit however you desire. Place fruit in a saucepan, along with sugar and lemon juice. Heat on medium-high until fruit is heated thoroughly. Use a potato masher, or similar device, to break up the fruit. The juices will begin to release and the texture will already be noticeably different. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer and stir for about 20 minutes or so, until you get the thickness you desire. (Jam generally takes a bit longer than preserves, and you’ll want to mash the fruit up a little more!) Pour your preserves into a sterilized canning jar. (Sterilizing is as easy as washing it and then rinsing the inside with vinegar.) Your preserves are now ready to eat!!
*You can prolong the shelf life of your preserves by giving the jars a water bath in boiling water for about 5 minutes. (If you are unfamiliar with this technique, you can watch a video here.) If you don’t want to go through the trouble, just make sure your jam is eaten within a month or so. I’m not sure exactly how long it lasts, because in my house, it’s only around a couple of days!!!
Upon researching how to make grape jam online, I became slightly perturbed. All the recipes I came across called for silly sounding things like steaming the grapes first, and then removing all of the skins individually. Or, you can cook the grapes down and run them through a food mill. I don’t have the time, nor patience, (nor food mill!) for all that jazz. So I just decided to make grape jam the same way I make the above preserves. And guess what? It turned out perfectly. The skins aren’t at all slimy or gross like I had read about. They actually melded quite well into the overall texture of the jam. I quite like it. Quite. Try it out yourself and tell me what you think!!
Enjoy & Namaste! <3