Posted by: oysterculture | January 18, 2009


homemade jam and jelly

homemade jam and jelly

I find homemade is a word that strikes people differently, leaving them conflicted.  Along the way, I think it got a bad wrap; homemade became a cheap substitute for what could be purchased.  Frankly, I don’t get it.   Maybe because of our brand centric culture, if a label is not smacked on the product, it is considered inferior.   Or, maybe, it was how a person was raised; if their family made everything at home, than something store bought was believed to be better. 

Have you noticed that premier bakeries, ice cream parlors, and high end confectioneries tout their homemade goodies, even charging  a premium?  But when non-professionals offer their efforts they’re seen as substandard.  Despite this tendency, certain holidays mandate homemade, or at least the appearance of   – Thanksgiving, Christmas present the time to bond with the family, especially in the kitchen.  I realise, some creators have not honed their skills, and the results may be akin to watching footage of the loosing entries on American Idol.   Give homemade a chance.  

This holiday, I’m proud to admit I made food gifts, in part because I wanted to try my hand at some food I had never prepared before, and also because I felt that what I had purchased in those high end stores was inferior to what I could make.  I tried my hand at jams, truffles, and pate, and I have to say I am pleased with the results.  I made Cabernet Sauvignon jelly and offered it with a triple cream cheese that was not homemade (yet).  I also made pineapple rum jam and cowboy candy (candied jalapenos)  When I compared the cost to make to what I found in the store it was either compatible or more expensive.  I did not skimp on the ingredients, and used the best products what I found.    I had not made jam or jelly in years – not since I won grand champion for my jam when I was in 4-H ( I’m happy to brag).  However, I had my mom within shouting distance should I have needed assistance, but I had no such safeguard this time.  I was nervous, but oh, so happy with the results.  My truffles were a dark chocolate with a kirsch ganache and covered in ground walnuts.  I even got the chocolate to temper which was more luck than skill.  Given the response, I must increase my selection for next year.

My mother grew up on a farm in Iowa.  Because of the distance to town, her family could not drive to the grocer if they ran low on an item, and they had to find a way to use the produce that came in waves in the fall so it was not wasted.  For her family, homemade was not a luxury, but a way of life.  For some people, this may be why homemade does not have that same connotation of swellness for everyone. 

To satisfy the engineer in me, I did one of my google searches and found over 5M hits for “gourmet, homemade”  So marketers definitely feel a premium exists to offering food billed as homemade and gourmet.  At a time, when sustainable food is pushed will we be the lucky recipients of homemade goodies?  I hope so.  As someone who offered homemade gifts, I found the experience very rewarding. 

As someone also on the receiving end, I must add Tangled Noodle sent an incredible gift this year – a work of art in this beautiful scarf.  No one in San Francisco has anything remotely this stylish, and I’m not sharing.  Now I must create a homemade meal worthy of such a garment.

Thing of beauty

Wearable Art



  1. I bet those homemade jams taste wonderful – I never saw such combinations. are those secret recipes?

  2. They were rather tasty if I do say so. The recipes are no secret and I’d be happy to post them.

  3. Yes, please post the recipes…especially looking forward to cowboy candy!

  4. Will do. I’m still formulating my fabulous post. The challenge for me is to limit everything to 5!

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