As the summer days become shorter and the evenings grow cooler, the abundance of seasonal fruits and vegetables begins to decrease. In order to preserve the delicious tastes and smells of warmer days, you can cook and store these fruits in glass containers, where they may keep indefinitely.
Making your own fruit jams can be very fun and rewarding, and wild berry jams are extremely tasty, especially when picked at the peak of freshness. Depending on how much jam you want to make, you should set aside glass jars which can hold anywhere from 4 to 10 ounces of jam. These can be old containers that have been washed and will be reused. For the jam recipe you will need 2-3 cups of the wild, fresh berries of your choice. These should be washed; in the case of strawberries, blackberries, and so on you should also remove the stems. Pat the berries dry with a paper towel. If you want to make seedless berry jam, make sure you have a strainer on hand.
You will need one tablespoon of lemon juice, or fruit pectin, which will serve as the preservative and will also heighten the sweetness of your wild berry jam. One cup of sugar (white sugar is best for this recipe, as brown sugar has a very mild taste) and one cup of water should be poured over the berries in a large simmer pot. Allow the sugar to dissolve and the berries to soften slowly under low heat, covered. Stir the mixture occasionally as it thickens and the berries' pulp begins to break down. You will know the jam is ready when it generously coats the back of a spoon and the syrup has a honey-like consistency. With bigger berries, the texture will be far chunkier.
As the mixture cools, you may choose to scrape it into a large strainer if you want your jam to be seedless. Otherwise, you may begin to pour it into your glass jars. You should seal the jars as tightly as possible to keep air out. Jam jars make wonderful gifts for friends and family, and can be labeled, covered with linen cloths or tied with decorative ribbons for a personal touch. Making jam at home can become a family tradition, one you will enjoy on a yearly basis, and is also a great way to get small children into the kitchen. You may enjoy preparing your own jam so much, you stop buying it altogether!