Any-Fruit Jam

Sweetness defines jams—and sometimes overpowers them. To my mind, a jam that leaves a lingering coat of sugar on your tongue misses the point: savor the fruits of summer. Making fruit-forward jam is simple once you understand a bit of the science behind it.

Fruit needs three things to set, or thicken, a spreadable consistency: acid, sugar, and pectin. Think of the molecular interactions in fruit like a high-school romance: Pectin molecules are attracted to water, but water is attracted to sugar. If water and sugar “hook up,” the pectin molecules will bond—with a little encouragement from their best friend, acid—and the jam will thicken.

The traditional method of encouraging this interaction is to throw enough sugar into the batch to distract all the water molecules. But more sugar is not the only option. An acidic pectin, like one based on citrus fruits, is an effective matchmaker for pectin molecules. Another method to encourage pectin couplings is to reduce the pool of available water molecules.
Learn to make Any-Fruit Jam without Added Pectin and Any-Fruit Jam with Added Pectin

Rhubarb

I grew up in a rhubarb family: large patches growing in my dad’s and grandpa’s gardens, rhubarb pie at Thanksgiving (never diluted with strawberries), and a stash of rhubarb sauce in my mom’s fridge that I put on everything from ice cream to Cheerios. Among the first things I planted when I moved to Montana were rhubarb eyes taken from my dad’s plants; they’ve since spread out into a garden patch that produces all summer long and never bolts—one of the few perks of gardening in the shady woods.

After a winter of playing with various combinations of produce-influenced cocktails that put a splash of summer into the grayest day, I instantly saw “beverage” when I cut my first stalks of rhubarb in spring. The straight rhubarb needed another flavor to balance the bright pink syrup, and I knew from making sorbet that rosemary would add just the right touch in a summer cocktail. Learn to make Rhubarb–Rosemary Syrup and Rhubarb–Orange–Ginger Marmalade