My friend Philip is quite the cook and upon my last visit, the idea was suggested that we make jam. I have never made jam and only know (from that chapter in Little Women where Meg makes a huge mess and then cries) that it seems difficult. Naturally, I was excited by the challenge.
The jam we were making comes from špendlíky which means “pins” in English. I have never seen this fruit in the USA and have no idea what we’d actually call it. But they look like very small apricots or biggish cherries and are either yellow or red.
Let me preface this by reminding everyone that my ability to put things together in any effective capacity in the kitchen is on the limited side. Also, there was a very cute kitten in the kitchen while we were working on this project so… I may have gotten a little distracted.
Below are the steps of the recipe as I recall them:
- Prepare your space – Clear counters and wipe down tables so you have room to cut fruit, etc. Put on an apron, wash hands, etc.
- Cut and pit špendlíky – slice the fruit down the middle and twist the sides to reveal the pit (like twisting an Oreo to get to the cream filling). Drop the pit in one bowl and the meat of the špendlíky in the other. Wash your hands again because you pet the kitten and its hair is sticking to your juicy hands. Also wash the knife and anything that has come within close proximity of said kitten.
- Weigh and measure – place prepared fruit on the measuring thing that probably has a name (a scale? I don’t know, I really don’t). You will need roughly [this part is fuzzy because the kitten was chewing on a string and nothing else mattered at that moment] kilos of fruit to get [now the kitten is pouncing on it like a tiger] of jam.
- Pour ⅔ fruit into sauce pan – make sure to spill fruit everywhere possible to give the jam a nice “this has been on the floor” taste. Pet the kitten again.
- Stir on medium heat, add sugar – [Actually, take back that point about medium heat. Philip was managing the stove and although he probably said what to do…I remember none of it]. Pour SPECIAL, MAGIC, UNEXPLAINABLE SUGAR PACKET into fruit mixture that will help it gel. Heat. Stir. Pretend you’re cooking someone’s brains.
- When mixture has cooked down, add remaining fruit – there was a reason for doing this. I forgot what it was. You will too.
- Blend – With a blender thingy, puree the fruit/sugar mixture until it looks like soup. But it’s not just any soup. It’s got the SPECIAL, MAGIC, UNEXPLAINABLE SUGAR PACKET.
- Let simmer and prepare jars – use clean (or unclean – your call) jam jars, preferably with lids that fit. Test the jam mixture on a plate or an area of the counter that you don’t mind being irreparably stained. If the mixture gels when cool, it is ready to be put in your jars.
- Pour mixture into jars – be careful not to spill on the counter, the floor, the kitten or yourself.
- Squeeze on lids and flip – once the lids are securely fastened (dude, that part is important. SECURELY FASTENED), flip the jars upside down so that they will [something about compression and pressure and suction] as they cool.
11. Finish! – pat yourself on the back, go pet the kitten, drink some tea. Whatever makes you feel like a success in the kitchen. Because you are!