I hope that wherever you are, this blog post finds you happy. Having just spent a weekend in the freezing cold of Durham, North Carolina (where it snowed for the week prior to that), I can’t help but be happy about the amazing weather I’ve been so fortunate to live with. Mind you, it’s raining in San Francisco now, which means that everyone has decided it’s the apocalypse.
But good news, everyone! Spring will be here before we know it. And Spring, being my favorite season of the whole year, means breezy, warm days with blue skies and happy feelings all around. It also means Spring fruits, such as strawberries and apples!
So what to do with all those strawberries and apples (and any other fruits you may have lying around)?
YOU MAKE JAM!!
Strawberry Apple Basil Jam
- 3 cups chopped apples
- 3 cups chopped strawberries
- 10-20 leaves of fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar (or other sugar alternative)
- 1/2 lemon
Start by prepping your fruit! Peel the apples (these are mini apples, so don’t be fooled into peeling 5 of those huge apples from Trader Joe’s). Pit the apples, removing any seeds, and then finely chop the apples into tiny small bits. Keep in mind that although the fruit will shrink as you simmer (later on), there will still be chunks of fruit in your jam. Therefore, the tinier you chop now, the better!
Place your apple bits in a pot, and cover with the juice of half of a fresh lemon. The lemon will add a zing later on, as well as keep the apples from browning while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
Next, prepare your strawberries! They will also be finely chopped and de-leafed.
[Side-note: Aren’t these pictures amazing?!?! I’ve recently invested in a DSLR and plan on taking the most beautiful, delicious photos of the food I cook (and other things) from now on. Let me know what you think of them!]
I’m sure some of you have been wondering how in the world basil could go in a jam. Basil makes you think of pesto and caprese salad, not of sweet succulence! Fear not! Believe me when I say that it will work beaaauuutifully with your jam. Basil can be quite sweet when it wants to be, and adds that perfect fragrance and zestiness to the jam.
Once you’ve prepped the fruits and basil, you can start to stew them. This is done at a medium-low heat, stirring the fruits to get them well mixed. Add your brown sugar and continue to stir gently. Once the fruits seem to be cooking and losing their juices, cover the pot and let stew for 10 minutes. Check only occasionally to make sure things aren’t burning. As they cook, the fruits will juice and reduce in the pot, creating a delicious bubbly goodness. The sugar acts not only as a sweeter, but also makes the concoction syrupy.
After the 10 minutes are up, add your basil, cover the pot back up, and continue to stew another 10 minutes. The basil will eventually be filtered out of the mixture, so don’t worry too much.
Upon completion of the second set of 10 minutes, turn off your stove and let the jam cool in the pot. You can also take the basil out now, if you wish, or wait until the mixture is cooled. While the jam is cooling, prepare your mason jars! You’ll want to make sure that they are clean and sterilized. I usually do this with a run in the top rack of the dishwasher.
Once the jam is cool and the basil is removed, mash it up gently, either with a fork in a bowl or with a food processor. I ended up leaving mine be since I like the pieces of fruit in jam.
The only step after that is to go ahead and can it! You should try your best to fill the jar all the way so as to leave as little air in there. The more air, the more likely your jam will spoil. Anything you won’t use right away, freeze for later. Whatever you use now, keep refrigerated upon canning, and then add copiously to your waffles and cottage cheese and ice cream and chicken and EVERYTHING. (Heck, you can even eat it straight out of the jar by the spoonful! I won’t judge. )
Spring is more than just sunshine for me. Every Spring, I feel like the world is blossoming and is ripe with potential. The year is just starting, the weather is conducive to adventure and excitement, and anything is possible. When you walk down the street, you feel energized and excited for whatever new thing may come your way. Much like this jam, every little thing is filled with sweetness and zing. While life certainly may not be peachy perfect, it definitely is much better than we think. I say that we all put down our pens/mouses, take a stretch break outside, go back inside, take a delicious bite of jam and toast, and then relax. Remember, life is sweet.