It’s Time to Get Jamming

Hello again … and goodbye! We’ve reached September, which means that Sam Sifton is back on the grid and will be back in your inbox on Friday.

In the meantime, have you ever made jam? I simmered up my first batch in college after reading a recipe for plum jam in Laurie Colwin’s brilliant “More Home Cooking.” It was her relaxed instructions that got me: no exact timing, no finicky temperatures, no fear-inducing admonishments about sterilizing jars (which you don’t need to do if you make a small batch for the fridge, which will be gone in a week). You just simmer the fruit and sugar until they look like jam; that’s it!

Now, I make small batches whenever I frantically buy, say, too many end-of-season peaches because I know they’re about to disappear. When they all ripen, it’s preserving time. Yewande Komolafe has an excellent piece out in the Food section of The Times about this urge to preserve, along with three mesmerizing recipes: fig jam scented with rosemary; a vibrant no-cook ginger-plum jam (above) that, she writes, “captures the joy of biting into a cold, crisp plum”; and a wiggy apple jelly that’s first on my list. I might make it this weekend so I can serve it for Rosh Hashana dinner. It would be nice alongside honey to smear on olive oil challah.

There will definitely be some kind of fruit-filled chicken dish on the holiday menu to bring in a sweet new year. Maybe this sheet-pan recipe with roasted plums and onions, or roasted chicken with pears and figs. I might go all out and make chicken soup, too, perhaps Joan Nathan’s recipe with matzo balls. And I can serve it all next to David Tanis’s summer vegetable salad with charred eggplant and a little bit of anchovy (yum) before finishing with an apple cider honey cake.

Of course, there’ll be plenty of meals before that. Tonight’s might involve roasting the gorgeous, multicolored sweet peppers filling the markets right now. Roasting is a misnomer because really, you char them.

Making them on the grill, if you have one, is the easiest option. Simply throw the whole peppers over high heat and turn them with tongs until the skins are blackened and crinkly all over. (The grates over your stove’s gas burners work, too.) Or use the broiler: Halve the peppers through their stems and plop them on a baking sheet, cut side down. Broil as close to the heating element as you can get.

Put those floppy peppers in a bowl, cover with a plate, and let steam until just cool enough to handle. Then slip off the charred bits of skin and all the seeds with your fingers, wiping your hands on a towel as you go. Don’t rinse the peppers, it will just dilute their sweet juices.

I like to season the peppers with some flaky sea salt, then cover them with good olive oil and slivered garlic (and basil and anchovies if you like). They’ll keep for at least a week in the fridge and for three or four months in the freezer. Serve them for a light dinner with olives, fresh goat cheese or Camembert, some sliced avocado and grilled or toasted country bread rubbed with the cut side of a garlic clove. If you need more protein, add oil-packed tuna or sardines straight from the can.

We’ve got plenty of recipes for other delightful end-of-summer meals, too, like this creamy, herby corn soup with optional squash blossoms. I can’t wait to make Ali Slagle’s ginger-mint grilled shrimp. And to satisfy my always-ready sweet tooth, Samantha Seneviratne’s apple cider whoopie pies are just the thing to take us into fall.

Need more options? We’ve got thousands upon thousands of them at New York Times Cooking, and the beginning of autumn is a perfect time to subscribe.

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That’s all for now!



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