Wednesday, April 3, 2013

a jam

When I first moved to New York, I lived off a bag of frozen Ikea meatballs for a really long time. You plunk four or five into a microwavable bowl and in about a minute you have piping hot meatballs begging on their wobbly round knees for a bit of lingonberry jam by the same maker to enrobe them. Sometimes I still crave this pairing but luckily am deterred by the difficulties which a trip to Ikea presents. This makes up the bulk of my adult experience with jam, until a few days ago.

A few days ago, I started to compulsively steal spoons of my roommate's Bon Maman preserves to put on leftover cornbread muffins I would pop into the microwave for twenty seconds and top with a pale square of butter. It tasted so good that I ate it before, after, or with four consecutive meals until a visible depletion of said preserves overwhelmed me with guilt.

Out of laziness and because in general my baking and sweets-making skills are zero, I decided to make a "quick jam", which I learned is not a true jam because it requires neither pectin nor processing. It's more a fruit compote, or sauce, that I chose to eat like a jam; and thus it was--

Strawberry Tarragon Jam

adapted from martha stewart

Ingredients : 

2 cups of fresh, hulled strawberries, cut into pieces 

3/4 cup raw sugar
1 lemon, juiced
4 springs of tarragon, chopped 

Directions : 

Place strawberries, sugar and lemon juice into a pot over medium heat, stirring often. 
Everything will begin to bubble and foam--this is great! Add the taragon.

Cook, cook, cook until strawberries begin to lose their form, ten to fifteen minutes.

Skim off any foam that has accumulated, and transfer to a jar. Allow it to come to room temperature before covering, and refrigerate for up to ten days.

For a smoother consistency, puree the strawberries in a food processor before you begin.

So please take the Helen Frankenthaler above as inspiration for how to eat your jam, swashed romantically over a piece of white bread. Also really good with a bowl of plain yogurt. Or stirred into seltzer for a strawberry soda. Cute!

The jam has a fresh sweetness, tethered by the fragrant bite of the tarragon; it smells like candy as it's cooking, and is indeed quick, thus living up to the name "quick jam". Though frankly, its making wasn't the transcendent experience I had expected it to be. And when I took a photo, it looked much like my chili did.

In the future I wonder if it wouldn't be just as nice to stir a bit of freshly chopped tarragon into a few spoons of Bon Maman? I'll report back.


  1. I haven't tried tarragon yet but the strawberry-tarragon jam sounds wonderful ! For a jam novice :D , that jam looks terrific !

  2. Wondering how tarragon would have been in jam. Looks so tempting and would habe been flavorful too

    1. the tarragon is great! keeps it from being too sweet or one-dimensional.

  3. I remember those Ikea meatballs as well. ;) But I usually just eat them when I shop at Ikea and seldom bring a bag home.

    This Strawberry Jam looks wonderful and so simple to prepare. I love the tarragon in it. I'm sure it taste way better than any store bough jam!