Monday, June 1, 2009

Jammed up with Jam

or how much sugar does this house need anyway?

I have jam from three years ago. It's lovely jam. It's delicious jam. It was my first year back into serious preserving and I went overboard and made two batches of it. The first batch I used too many raspberries and it came out very stiff -- it rescues wonderfully as a syrup for pancakes, waffles, cake, fruit-and-yogurt when diluted with water, to go from a half-pint to nearly a full pint. So I have even more of the stuff on hand. I also made some Black Forest preserves that I still have a few jars of.

I didn't make any of that jam the second year. Instead I made an orange marmalade that turned out runny (and is turning out to be a wonderful base for other stuff), a blueberry-lime jam, and a single jar that stayed in the fridge all season of honeydew-lime-mint marmalade. The blueberry-lime jam has aged beautifully. I'm enjoying it now on English muffins and kefir.

Last year I made four cups of the honeydew-lime-mint marmalade, a spiced pumpkin butter, and a batch of strawberry-rhubarb jam entirely from my own produce.

Of course I can use it for gifts and my son expects at least a couple jars of sweet stuff at Christmas. My husband rarely uses it -- he takes his sugar straight in his 2 - 5 cups of coffee a day. Do I use more than 2 tablespoons a week? I doubt it. I prefer a low-sugar diet. An 8 oz jar contains 8 tablespoons. A jar will last me a month or more. Most recipes make 6-7 jars of stuff (sometimes more).

So how much sugar does this house need? I just bought a 20 kilogram (44 pounds) bag of sugar. A pound of sugar is two cups. A kilo of sugar is sufficient for a batch of wine but not for most jams and definitely not for jellies. At up to 2 tablespoons a day, my husband averages 5 cups a month. I might use 2 cups a month for baking (cookies, crisp toppings) -- except in November/December when I do mega-baking for the holidays that lasts us through January. I usually go through 3-4 pounds of sugar for the baking. A 2 kg bag of sugar usually last us over a month except during preserving and holiday baking months -- then it doubles.

I have at least 20 jars of various jams on my shelves. If I made nothing this year, I'll probably still have 10 jars left next spring.

But of course I'll make something. It looks like I may have a bumper crop of raspberries this year if emerging bloom is any indication. But maybe I'll make WINE instead. If I invest twice the fruit and the same amount of sugar, I get a gallon or 5 bottles of wine. Now that I'll use!

I've already got two gallons of dandelion wine on the go. I've got three gallon jugs left for wine starts this summer. With one I want to do a cherry melomel (honey wine). That leaves two for other fruit wines.

I'm betting that bag of sugar will last past Christmas.

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