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Among the very excellent DIY food books that have come out this year, there's one I am particularly excited about. Rachel Saunders' inaugural book, The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, is absolutely my go-to cookbook for jams, jellies and preserves. Saunders' recipes are no-fail, generally focusing on single-fruit preserves, often accentuated with a single enhancing flavor. She also relies on maceration to create jams with a natural set that requires no added pectin even for low-pectin fruits like strawberries.
With her follow-up book, Blue Chair Cooks with Jam & Marmalade, Saunders takes on what to do with the open jar, integrating jams, jellies and marmalades into everyday dishes. Breakfasts and desserts are the low-hanging fruit (so to speak), and there's plenty of ideas here, but the best aha moments come from her applications of jams to savory dishes.
Though she arms you with inspiration and knowledge to pull any preserve into your cooking, she focuses on a few mainstay workhorses, each with its own merits: Apricot jam, long a favorite dessert glaze, also plays well with Middle Eastern and North African dishes. Fig jam is a natural with cheeses, but also adds mellow sweetness in a sausage flecked with fennel and orange. Bright greengage plum jam brings acidity to deeply umami dishes like tempeh with mushrooms and bok choy. Tomato jam's natural savory notes make it a suitable substitute for ketchup and other tomato-based condiments. The creamy texture and gentle sweetness of apple butter brings body and backbone to a wide array of dishes, especially soups. And kumquat marmalade's intense citric punch wakes up savories, like her remarkable Brussels sprouts with kumquats and smoked salt.
Though many of these preserves appeared in her original book, she's included updated recipes with an eye on using them in cooking. Once you've dabbled in using them in your dishes, you'll find it an easy transition to experiment with other preserves.
The book is a substantial tome, as weighty as her first. If you're plagued with a wealth of jars, whether your own or others', you'll keep returning to Blue Chair Cooks with Jam & Marmalade for fresh ideas.