Reading About Jam

The Ball Blue Book of Preserving is the grandmommy of jam-making guides. You can probably find a used copy as it’s updated regularly. I’ve never used it — I have a really useful Good Housekeeping recipe book from the 1950s that covers much of the same territory — but thousands of others have and they can’t all be wrong. (formerly got me started and has a lot of reader-submitted recipes. (Always read the comments on cooking websites — tips from amateur enthusiasts are often really helpful.) Chowhound’s Home Cooking board and Gardenweb’s Harvest forum are also great resources.

The Jamlady Cookbook by Beverly Ellen Schoonmaker Alfeld and Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber complement each other wonderfully in method and style.

You may well not care that I think the Jamlady book borders on madness, but when you are trying to navigate the index or make sense of the way the chapters are arranged, you may in fact begin to agree with me. It’s worth noting that the book is narrated in the third-person, Elmo-style.

With that said — The Jamlady Cookbook mostly makes up for its peculiarities with its extraordinary riot of recipes. Here’s a cook who likes to experiment, and it’s fun to read about all the combinations of fruit she tries out and the oddball ingredients she throws into her preserving pan on a whim.

Ferber’s book is a masterpiece of soothing and elegant restraint by comparison. The jams in her recipes are very sweet — most use the standard 100:80 or 100:100 fruit:sugar ratio. But they’re also stunningly beautiful and her use of herbs and spices is inspiring.

Oddly, or perhaps not, there is not a single traditional marmalade recipe in Mes Confitures.


One thought on “Reading About Jam

  1. Pingback: A quince lesson; poor hoshigaki « We Can Jam

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