Sunday, December 27, 2015

Fresh Fruit into Icebox Jam

I love slathering nut butter onto a cracker or slice of bread and layering on a juicy topping of fruit preserves. Kind of like the familiar "P,B&J" of our childhoods. However, store-bought jam -- even the "only fruit" variety -- usually gives me a hot flash, which means to me that it has an inflammatory effect on my system. I love my fruits, but want an anti-inflammatory effect these days. What to do?

I discovered "Icebox Jam" at craft shows in NJ this Fall. It's made using refrigeration, rather than the complicated boiling and canning technique that some of us can remember our grandparents or parents using. The flavor is fresh and light, more reminiscent of the actual flavor of the fruit itself. And, for me it had the bonus of no-hot-flash.

Strawberry icebox jam

Last week, I experimented at home with simply stewing fresh strawberries in water with a little bit of honey to make Strawberry Icebox Jam. Instead of cooking them until all the liquid was absorbed, as soon as the fruit was mushy to the touch, I strained the liquid into a jar, mashed the solids with a fork and poured them into another jar.

The solids make a delicious jam, and I use the liquid in salad dressing or mixed into plain yogurt as a "lassi" drink. Yum, yum, and yum.

As I tried the same process this morning with some leftover frozen blueberries, it reminded me of all the jars of stewed prunes that my dad canned over the years. He used the traditional mason-jars-in-boiling-water technique, adding a touch of lemon juice and a couple of cloves into the mix. And he stewed tomatoes the same way -- tomatoes, of course, harvested at their juicy peak from his backyard New Jersey garden.

If you want to sample really interesting icebox jam flavor combinations, check out the wonderful offerings at Whenever I see those folks at a show, I make sure to buy a few jars. 

Meanwhile, at home in my more basic and lazy kitchen, I'm looking around for some more fruit to turn into jam.

TIP: Since strawberries are pricey, you can "stretch" this jam recipe by combining the strawberries with chopped apples and cooking them together to make Strawberry Apple Jam

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