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My jam cupboard

Although I have made jam most summers for over 20 years, it has taken on a new dimension here in Umbria. No longer do I wait until my local ShopRite is overstocked but rather when the trees and bushes are bursting with ripe fruit. Here it’s all about abundance — abundance and friends and neighbors with gardens.

To my jam cupboard, that is still well stocked from last year, I have just added my second batch of apricot jam. The bright orange jars stand out against the deep red-purple of the plum, the glossy mustard of the peach, the soft yellow-green of the fig, and the rich midnight of the blackberry. With so much to choose from there is always a jar of each opened in my refrigerator that is liberally spread on buttered toast for breakfast.

I’ve discovered my guests’ first choice is usually the blackberry so this year I am going to go through the arduous task of berry picking at a friend’s B&B near Todi again.

About half the size of American blackberries, the intensely flavorful dark berries need to be wrestled from huge bramble bushes that know how to protect themselves from raiders. It takes one person about 3 hours to fill half a galvanized bucket with fruit. But it is worth it. The blackberry jam is fantastic for dessert too. My favorite ways are as a topping for panna cotta or when dripped over hot fried and sugared dough. Guests can’t believe how simple and delicious.

A jam cupboard filled to capacity is a sure promise that the taste of summer will be enjoyed well into the winter. Shared with guests here at Palazzo Fiumi-LaPlaca or given as presents when invited to meals with friends, everyone is happy to receive a jar of whatever.

(Grazie tanto a Fillipa per le more, Concetta per le albicocche, Enrica per le prugne, e Paola per i fichi.)