Sunday Things: Winter Jam

Red, fragrant, delicious, I’m not talking about music when I refer to winter jam. But I might as well be, the way that this jam is music to your taste buds, hums in your throat as you swallow it, puts a song in your heart like the one you can’t get out of your head.

Winter jam, jam wherein the warmth and savor of summer are conjured through small batches of love in a jar. Some people call it strawberry jam, but this is no ordinary strawberry jam. Made in the depths of winter and with one secret ingredient this jam, in its quilted jars, sparkles like jewels, like rubies, in your hand.

To make winter jam, you need to be able to scoop at least one handful of snow off your windowsill. That handful of snow will go into the big canning pot as part of the water bath for the jars. If you can’t do that — scoop a handful of snow off your windowsill for the big pot — then what you are making is just-jam, not winter jam.*

I live five floors up and I was still able to grab a handful of snow from my windowsill because the wind blew it there.

Something about that handful of snow makes the water bubble all the merrier and the strawberries blush all the redder. Something about incorporating snow, the very stuff of winter, right into your jam-making process is magical. Just telling you so you’ll know.

Use your favorite jam recipe, cook it up (the aroma of summer will fill your snowed-in home as you do this), ladle it into jars (notice how it sparkles and throws prisms of strawberry light around the room). And if you share your winter jam with friends and family be prepared to lock the door behind them because they will be pounding on it asking for more.

Some things you can do with winter jam:
Just look at it in its jar, so red, so bright, enjoy the visual beauty of winter jam.
Eat it with a spoon straight out of the jar.
Spread it on hot toasted bread (with or without butter).
Dollop it on scones and clotted cream.
Layer it in your homemade jelly roll (my mom always made jelly rolls–the best ever!–when I was growing up).
Use it as a topping for ice-cream. Yum!

*And that handful of snow has to be fresh and clean even though it is going to be boiled in the big pot along with the rest of the water that you will submerse the sealed jars in.