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For mom this Mother’s Day, why not make homemade jam? Just don’t tell her how easy it is

  • This image shows a strawberry jam recipe atop of a...

    This image shows a strawberry jam recipe atop of a scone in New York on Feb. 10, 2022. (Cheyenne M. Cohen via AP)

  • This image shows a strawberry jam recipe in New York...

    This image shows a strawberry jam recipe in New York on Feb. 10, 2022. (Cheyenne M. Cohen via AP)

  • This image shows a strawberry jam recipe on pastries in...

    This image shows a strawberry jam recipe on pastries in New York on Feb. 10, 2022. (Cheyenne M. Cohen via AP)

  • This image shows a strawberry jam recipe in New York...

    This image shows a strawberry jam recipe in New York on Feb. 10, 2022. (Cheyenne M. Cohen via AP)

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Associated Press

By KATIE WORKMAN (Associated Press)

Mother’s Day always feels like a bit of a push-pull to me on many levels. Leaving the wide range of family dynamics aside (that’s another article, to be written by another writer!), the-stay-in-and-cook vs. going-out conundrum bubbles up every year.

Make mom a fabulous meal at home (with the ensuing clean up, and perhaps a bit of pressure)? Personal and thoughtful for sure. But maybe not in the cards for everyone. Take mom out for a lavish celebration? Lovely if you can swing it, but also with some downsides (cost, fighting for reservations, etc).

If you’re looking for something simple and doable, think about . Sure, maybe even call it brunch, but I can promise you as a mom, and the daughter of a mom, the best part about Mother’s Day is keeping it happy and uncomplicated.

And what’s more happy and uncomplicated than breakfast? . . Buttered toast. or a bowl of mixed berries. Maybe some .

And . From-scratch jam is one of the best simple pleasures in life. Fresh and sweet and the kind of red that just makes you feel happy. No one has to know how easy it is to make — seriously three ingredients and you’re done!

All you have to do is combine chopped strawberries and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often until the berries start to collapse. Add the lemon juice, and continue to simmer for about half an hour, stirring often, until the mixture looks like loose jam. You are looking for a temperature of 220 degrees F measured with a candy or instant-read thermometer ( is a great brand). If you don’t have a candy thermometer, that’s OK. You can just cook it until it starts to look like loose jam. It will thicken as it cools, even firm up even more once refrigerated.

Crush the berries as you stir and cook them. When it’s ready, spoon the jam into the clean jars and cool to room temperature. Then seal the jars and refrigerate.

And now Mom has lovely breakfasts ahead for weeks. She can spread the jam on toast, English muffins, crumpets, croissants, scones, muffins of any kind, bagels. But she also will want to stir some into plain yogurt, and spread some on warm pancakes or waffles. And it makes a lovely addition to a (and then she can also tell her friends her kid made it, and believe me when I say that might be the best part).

This jam can certainly be canned using a water bath, and then it will be shelf stable for about a year. But for us non-canners, you can just spoon your strawberry jam into clean jars, and they can be stored in the refrigerator for about a month. Be diligent about using only clean utensils to scoop out the jam. Food starts to deteriorate more quickly if you get other foods mixed in – so avoid sticking a knife with bread crumbs or a smear of butter into the jar.Your jam will last longer!

If you are dropping off the jam rather than serving it up, you might also seek out a particularly cute vintage jelly jar and spoon to gift with the jam. There are some awfully cute and/or dishtowels out there, too. You could also bake up a batch of homemade scones or biscuits or muffins to go with.

Back to breakfast. It can be special even while staying simple. Buy good European style butter. Put some tulips in a vase. Use cloth napkins. And the tip I learned from my mom and stick to: no packages or containers on the table. Everything gets scooped out into a little bowl, no yogurt tubs or cream cheese wrappers allowed.

Except your homemade jam, which can be served right in the jar.

STRAWBERRY JAM

Serves: 16

Ingredients:

2 pounds strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped

1 1/2 cups sugar

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

Wash two 2-cup canning jars or other jars with tight fitting lids very well, and allow to dry completely.

Directions:

Combine the strawberries and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until the sugar has dissolved and the berries are starting to break down. Add the lemon juice, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook at a gentle simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes, stirring often, until the mixture looks like loose jam, and has reached a temperature of 220 degrees F measured with a candy or instant read thermometer. If you don’t have a candy thermometer just cook the strawberry mixture until it starts to look like loose jam. It will thicken upon cooling.

As the jam cooks you can crush the berries with a wooden spoon against the side of the pot as you go, or use a potato masher. Leave some chunks of berry in there for texture. Spoon the jam into the clean jars and allow to cool to room temperature.

Seal the jars and refrigerate.

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Katie Workman writes regularly about food for The Associated Press. She has written two cookbooks focused on family-friendly cooking, “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.” She blogs at She can be reached at Katie@themom100.com.

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