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

Homemade Sorbet

I started making sorbets a few years ago after tasting rhubarb–rosemary sorbet created by our local Sweet Peaks shop. I believe these purveyors of handcrafted ice creams had recently opened and were peddling their chilly concoctions from a converted horse trailer at the weekly farmer’s market. The sorbet was to die for. I immediately thought, “I can grow rosemary, and my shady property produces rhubarb all summer. I could make this!”

A bit of research revealed that I needed to make sorbet: not only does it burst with fruit flavor undiluted by dairy, but it requires no special equipment, like an ice cream maker (although if you own one, you can put it to use). A few tricks and techniques produce a silky sorbet from just about any fruit you can think of and show off herbs and other botanicals. I use two methods, depending on the featured fruit.
Learn to make Raw Fruit Sorbet and Cooked Fruit Sorbet

Fruit Syrups

Syrup. For most of us, the word brings to mind pancakes or waffles drizzled with—OK, drowning in—liquid maple sugar or its cheaper, corn syrup–based counterpart. But as you start harvesting from your garden, the word expands to endless options based on the fruits of summer and enhanced with herbs.

My love of fruit syrups grew when I learned how to extract bonus jars of the flavor-packed liquid from fruit solids intended for jam—and make jam more easily in the process. Syrups are less finicky than jelly but can still be processed for long-term storage or simply stashed in the fridge. Traditionally made from boiled fruit that’s been strained to separate its juice, I’ve found a cold method separates the juice even more effectively from almost any fruit and a roasted method gives an extra boost of flavor.
Learn to roast and freeze fruit for syrup