In the Summer Kitchen

Memories of childhood summers include the intense fruity fragrance of jam making on a hot summer's day. Stirring the bubbling cauldron of sugar and berries. More stirring. The caution to "stand back, it's hot," as the pot is removed from the stove. The sound of jar lids popping as they cool and seal.

I learned how to make jam from my mother and have made it for years with commercial pectin. However, I've been experimenting with recipes other than the ones that come with the pectin packets or the companies that have a vested interest in pectin. I took a book out from the library recently called Food in Jars, by Marisa McClellan. She has a blog, also called Food in Jars. Her recipes call for a little more cooking of the jam and fruit and a bit of liquid pectin at the end. But the ratio of fruit to sugar is much, much higher. Both the raspberry jam (Simple Raspberry Jam) and the Rhubarb Jam (Rhubarb Vanilla Jam with Earl Grey) are from her book. 

So. Delicious. I licked the jam pot after both. Yum. Yum. Yum. The Rhubarb Jam is made with a whole vanilla bean that is scraped out and all the bits added to the jam. If you look closely you'll see the dark flecks. And, instead of water she adds double strength Earl Grey tea for just a hint of bergamot. This takes rhubarb to a whole new level. One thing she forgot to mention is to remove the vanilla bean carcass before pouring the jam. But most cooks can figure that one out.
Do you make jam? I find it so simple to do and it tastes so much better than commercial jams.

Last fall's garlic planting shot up garlic scapes this week. I likely waited a bit too long to clip them for tenderness, but I'll just cut off the woody bits and sauté the tops in a little olive oil or butter. 

Another version of infused water - melissa (aka lemon balm) and cubes of watermelon. So refreshing! 

A question for you. What is your favourite picnic food? I don't mean food to grill, I mean food to pack in a cooler and take along to a park or a picnic site. Potato Salad, Quinoa Salad, Deviled Eggs? I'm looking for some new ideas in the portable picnic range. I know you'll have wonderful suggestions.

Now I"m off to watch a Little Miss while her mother goes to her own eye appointment. My own appointment, last week, went well. I just need to order the new prescription. And choose new frames.


  1. I could almost smell and taste that luscious raspberry jam! Rhubarb also goes well with ginger and I have a recipe for rhubarb and rose petal jam I occasionally make which has a delicate slightly scented hint to it. I remember the only jam my mother used to make that I didn't like was marrow jam - too sweet and with no discernable taste but it was a waste not want not recipe for when one had a marrow and it couldn't be wasted! I have never added pectin and don't suppose my mother had access to such a thing back in the 50s although I have used preserving sugar which presumably contains it but if using ordinary sugar some lemon juice or a fruit which does contain plenty of the setting agent added to the mix works too.

  2. suggestions for a picnic. You're much more healthful than I.

    I do not care for jam; however, John loves it. He has a favorite that no one can match OR so he tells me. I don't even try. If I did like jam, I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy these. ☺

  3. The jams look wonderful !
    Devilled eggs are usually in my picnic sister likes to bring cold cauliflower crusted pizzettes.
    Pickled asparagus wrapped in prosciutto is another favourite.
    Have fun choosing new glasses!

  4. I love home made jams much better than store bought ones. The raspberries are just starting to com on here so I hope to pick next week and make a batch of jam. The rhubarb with Earl Grey tea sounds interesting. It is my favourite tea! Have fun choosing new eyeglass frames. That has to be one of the biggest decisions one has to make every 2 years. LOL

  5. We enjoy indoor picnics when traveling and our favorites are to buy some good salami, an avocado and a nice baguette of fresh bread and maybe some cheese. If we end up somewhere on a beach or lake we will find some good take out spots close by. Your jams look fabulous.

  6. I've made up my own recipes for jams - not liking the huge amount of sugar (sugar companies own or partially own the commercial pectin companies) I experimented and found that 1/4 to 1/3 of the sugar they call for on the pectin packages is all that is needed. You come out with a little less jam, but the taste of the fruit is intense, instead of just tasting sugar. I cook it longer, but what is a little more stirring for better tasting and healthier jam. Sometimes, if I have them, I toss a cheesecloth bag of apple peelings into the boiling jam - the natural pectin in the apples helps set up the jam and the flavor isn't that overwhelmingly apple - it still tastes like the original fruit.

    Our favorite thing on picnics is not unusual - but we do like a nice bowl - or jar - whichever container you like - of fresh cut-up fruit - in season. Watermelon, cantalope, berries, grapes, cherries. We keep them nice and cold in the ice chest and it is a refreshing treat for dessert - or along with crackers and cheese. I guess our favorite thing is just to go on a picnic - grab up whatever is at hand if necessary, or plan a menu - the picnic is the fun part.

    Oh - oh jams - peach/raspberry is superb - my niece tried it and then I had to and was delighted. Because of the peaches you need to boil it a bit longer than most jams - and it might take a day or two or three to set up - but it is worth it.

  7. I do strawberry jam every year. This year I made it as freezer jam and it was so quick and simple! It tastes wonderful. I also like to do peach jam at the end of the summer. Yum!

    Thanks for mentioning this book. I'll have to check it out from the Library.


  8. Oh, quelle tentation ! Certaines années je faisais de la confiture et j'aimais bien. Mais là je suis dans le grand rangement de la cave et de la maison, et je peins les murs à la peinture à la chaux (faite maison). Donc pas le temps d'aller chercher les fruits au jardin ! (mais tes photos m'en donnent bien envie... et le thé, pour l'arôme de bergamote, quelle bonne idée !!)

  9. Your jams look delicious and remind of the ones my mother used to make. We don't eat a lot of jam so I only buy small jars of good quality for when I care to have some on toast or scones.
    Potato salad is my favourite picnic food, not too exciting but a must for the hamper.

  10. Anonymous4:22 PM

    The jam looks delicious. I remember helping grandmother with jam making.

    Glad your eye appt. went well. Let us see your new frames when you decide.

  11. I have been making jam lately too and following recipes in a book called, Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber. No pectin, but lemon juice in it's place. For 9 years I had a line of jams and jellies I sold to teashops. There were 9 flavors in the full line and all but two had tea in them. I still have the online company, but not jam. Being a food product I had to keep product moving and shipping as a huge pain. Tea shops come and go and I couldn't keep up with it all. I really miss my jams. My company is Marmalady's.

  12. Your jam looks delicious! And I've never heard of garlic scopes but you took a lovely photo of them!
    No ideas for a picnic -- we mainly pack a sandwich lunch if we picnic as we travel. Not too exciting, our lives!

  13. I'll be gearing up for making batches of fig jam again this year - probably late Summer - because I have not one but the two trees loaded with fruit this year! I've given away most of last years jars so will enjoy making more once I have fruit ripening. To some I add lemon peel, others finely sliced candied ginger - love both flavors. I'm ceasing filling bird feeders this week to keep them and the squirrels off the trees hopefully!

    Love the sound of the rhubarb with Earl Grey tea.

    I made a smashing potato salad for supper tonight - will try to post on it soon as it would be great for a picnic as it doesn't require chilling, in fact it was still warm and I served it as our entree, so good!

    Hugs - Mary

  14. I'm still on the jam...that looks stunningly beautiful, and I bet it tastes as good.

    Jam that has less sugar in it is definitely a good thing, right!

    Going to check out her blog...I have some Okanagan apricots just begging to be made into jam.


  15. Your jams look so pretty and mouthwatering too. I made jam a few times many years ago. Now when I look at the recipes, I have a hard time getting past the huge amount of sugar they require.
    Your infused water does indeed look refreshing. I need to try that combination.
    As for picnic food, I find the salads with black beans, corn, tomatoes,onion,cilantro with a light oil/lime based dressings (I suppose they are called southwest salads) seem to go over well. I like them for picnics as they don't contain mayo. I also like bar type desserts that can be eaten w/o a fork and don't have frosting or things that melt in the heat.

  16. Earl Grey with Rhubarb! Awesome idea!
    We usually pack crusty bread, fresh mozzarella, basil, home grown heritage tomatoes and olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Lemon flavored anything with berries for dessert.

  17. Your jams look and sound delicious! In fact, I just scooted away for a time and put the book on hold at my local library. :)

    We don't go on many picnics, but Bekah often requests a picnic on her birthday. We have sometimes picked up prepared food on our way, but I have also made chicken salad with grapes and mandarin oranges, one of her favorites, and put it on sandwiches.

  18. You reminded me about my favorite potato salad recipe, so I got it together and published it on my blog. Thanks!

  19. I have not made jam in a long time mostly because I don't have easy access to fresh berries. We have raspberries and strawberries, but not enough yet to do much with them. Now the rhubarb sounds very interesting. I have made jalapeño jelly and boy was that a hit. Your jam jars look so pretty and yummy, too. Sorry I cannot help you on a picnic recipe. For our reunion trip to the mountains we picked up Subway sandwiches.

  20. I used to make jam every year, but don't now, as my husband is diabetic, and jam is not good.
    I found that the juice from cooked apples replaced pectin perfectly well.

  21. The jams look so good. My picnic baskets always contain potato salad (not very imaginative, but so delish!) and sometimes a chicken salad, flavored with curry powder. I've been envying, in a good way, your boat excursions!

  22. Your jam looks delicious! Reminded me that I'm not done with jam making yet. My favorite new jam is a nectarine plum jam and I don't want to miss those red plums this year.
    As to sugar, as long as there is less sugar than fruit .. it's all good.

  23. I love pressed sandwiches for picnics. Especially w/ grilled veggies. Stay cool, it has been so hot xox Clarice

  24. Hello Lori, I love the detail of the jelly jars in your photos. Your perspective is always so fresh. It will be wonderful to open those jam jars up and smell the taste of summer this winter. Will you be baking fresh bread as well? It's good to be back visiting today.

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  27. You are ambitious! I do make jam every year, but generally just blackberry. Your different varieties look delicious.

  28. I have that book ! i made tons of jam last year, all her fault :) STONE FRUIT !! do that one..just a small batch but oh MY ! I had made strawberry and peach and peach- strawberry and then that one. WOW. :)

  29. We used to make our own jam for years and years when we had gardens. It does taste great! Potato salad is a classic for us to bring to a picnic. Fruit salad, mixed with coconut shreds and yogurt, with a touch of honey, is another favorite.


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