Food is seasonal, which I know you have heard this over and over again, but the more we learn to embrace it the better off we will be. I don't remember really growing up with this concept of seasonality. It just wasn't talked about in my house. I knew at times in the grocery store there were certain produce and at other times they weren't available. I didn't know what that was, but as we have become more aware of food, gastronomy, seasonal farming, and local produce, the more we have to support this in our recipes and cooking habits.
Cuisines are based not only off their culture, but also from the food their land produces seasonally. Now begins the magnificent season of fall. I wish the leaves changed here in Miami, but I can't complain because we do have spectacular weather most of the year. The food is starting to dramatically change in the farmers markets and in the grocery stores. One simple thing we can do when our seasons change and the produce is plentiful is to make jam.
Recently while staying with a family in Italy I learned so much about making jam and all the different varieties that can be made. Granted the area in Italy I was provided so many wonderful fruit and unfortunately I had just missed a few of the fruit harvests to make jam. Like local plum to the Emilia- Romagna region, kiwi, sour cherry (which was absolutely incredible I wanted to eat the entire jar when I tried it), and blackberries. Preserving fruit, well preserving food has been around for centuries. It ensured that the food wouldn't spoil and that there would be things like sweet fruit or summer and fall vegetables in the heart of winter. Now a days preserving food really isn't necessary. In many places of the world we can have food whenever we want, almost any fruit and/or vegetable and well if it spoils no big deal just toss it.
Unfortunately there are many other places in the world and even in this country where getting good quality food is difficult or very expensive. So the process of preserving food still is a big part of the culture. Fruit jams have been recorded as part of a luxury item during the Roman times around the 1st century, and were brought back to life during the French Revolution when foods were scarce and chefs/pastry chefs wanted to "Wow" their guests.
Marmalades and jams are different. Marmalades are made with citrus fruit and were first documented during the 16th century. It was first created as a medicine to help Mary Queen of Scotts recover from a cold. Jams on the other hand are made with any other form of fruit. Jellies, compotes and fruit syrups all differentiate themselves by the amount of sugar to fruit ratio and their consistency.
Since we are at the end of summer and beginning of fall I thought it would be a great idea to start preserving. It doesn't take very long and if you make enough you will have plenty to get you through the seasons without the fruit. Give it a try! I bet you will enjoy the jam much more knowing you made it.
Yields 2 6 oz mason jars
1 1/2 - 2 lbs concord grapes - remove the stem
2/3cup cane sugar
A pinch of salt
1. In a nonstick pan add the concord grapes, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Turn the heat to medium and bring it to a boil. Make sure to stir a few times.
2. Let this lightly boil and cook for about 15-20 minutes. You can break apart and smash the grapes to help it cook if you'd like.
3. Once it has reduced some, pass the jam through a very fine sieve. Make sure to place a bow underneath to catch the grape syrup (pour this over pancakes or waffles!). Now concord grapes have a million tiny seeds. With a spoon remove the seeds. This part does take some time and patience but totally worth it.
4. Once you have removed the seeds, pour the jam into cleaned mason jars. Fill a large pot with water and bring the water to a boil. Once you have filled and sealed the jars carefully place them in the pot of hot water and let them boil for about 8-10 minutes. Wipe the jars off and let them cool for about half a day. Once you open the jar they will need to be refrigerated but they keep for a very long time in the fridge.