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Food for Thought: Nancy gets jammed up


This story originally aired July 24, 2019. 


Nancy Leson's apricot tree, a Puget Gold she's had for 21 years, only puts out fruit about every five years. This was one of those years, and a bumper crop it was.  With all those apricots the only thing to do was make apricot jam. There was just one problem.

"Over the years," she says, “the one thing I have failed at is jam-making.”


Not anymore.


The problem seems to have been the pectin. Her results were either too gelled or not enough. So Nancy dispensed with pectin altogether and went with this recipe from Food in Jars, which she tweaked by adding half of a lemon as her friend, food writer Rebekah Denn, advised.


First attempt was in a cast iron enamel pot, but Nancy wasn't happy with its uneven consistency. “What was on the bottom of the pan was great. On the top? Not so much. So then I bought myself something I'd never even heard of.”


It was a dedicated jam-making pot, the Maslin pan. 

Credit Nancy Leson / KNKX
Canning pot and Maslin pan.

Better results? “Oh man, it was so good.” Leson's since run wild, making plum jam with Shiro plums she got at the farmers market, as well as a batch of raspberry jam.


Here at Stein/DeGroot manor, the L&T grows raspberries every year. Her preference is for freezer jam, which does use pectin but isn't cooked and canned like Nancy's. Instead, you just store it in the freezer. DeGroot likes it because she says it tastes just like fresh raspberries.

Fruitophobe that I am, I'll take her word for it.


"It must be jelly 'cause jam don't shake like that.” – Sunny Skylar



Dick Stein joined KNKX in January 1992. He retired in 2020 after three decades on air. During his storied radio career, he hosted the morning jazz show, co-hosted and produced "Food for Thought" with Nancy Leson and wrote and directed the Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen.