Fruit

A Wintry Jam That’s Totally Bananas

February 12, 2018

When you hear jam, you probably imagine all the berries—strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries—and other sunny friends, like figs and peaches. Eventually, as pool days make way for school days, apple jellies and pear preserves start bubbling on stoves. Come winter, there’s less to do. Orange marmalade, sure—but have you ever made orange marmalade? Talk about a ton of work. What about a jam that feels right for winter, but doesn’t consider itself a weekend project? You know, a low-key jam.

Bananas, jammin’ out. Photo by Rocky Luten

I never thought to turn bananas into jam, probably because they’re turned into just about everything else. Like bread. Or fritters. Or cake. Or pudding. Or cookies. Or ice cream. Or milkshakes. Or daiquiris! Turns out, jam is just about the easiest thing you can do with overripe bananas. I scrolled by the idea on Instagram, casually mentioned alongside chocolatey peanut butter:

What the what? I followed the trail to Stagg Jam & Marmalade:

Literally jam-packed with ripe bananas and real vanilla bean. Vanilla bean brings a mellowness to round out the boldness of sweet bananas to create this simple but super addictive jam. Peanut butter hasn’t seen something this fabulous since chocolate.

Sold! Now, let’s recreate it at home. I bopped around websites and flipped through some cookbooks, and one thing became clear: People want me to commit to this jam more than I want to commit. (Do I have jam commitment issues? Is this a thing? A bad thing?) In 1986, Florence Fabricant published a recipe in the New York Times that tells you to make a big batch of simple syrup, then cook bananas in that for up to 45 minutes. This aligned with other banana recipes I found. It also goes against all jam theory I’ve been taught: Cook the fruit for as little time as it takes to release pectin and thicken; this way, its natural brightness is preserved and the sugar doesn’t start to caramelize, a flavor that would overpower everything else.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I've enjoyed making banana jam for about 4 years now, my little niece loves it on her toast. The recipe here is more of a grown up taste one, and looks delicious, I'll have to try it too. The one I have currently, I do water bath can it, it IS a different recipe than the one here which has more acid added to it to make it stable enough for canning. If wanting to try that for canning it is: How To Make Banana Jam, by Author: Ellen Christian”
— WIC
Comment

In this recipe, I drew upon that let-it-be mentality: Peel bananas and roughly break them up so they fit into a pot. Add white and brown sugar and mash until the sugar turns syrupy. Set over medium-low heat and add a splash of water, lime juice, and salt. Cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until a spoon starts to leave a trail in the pan. Remove from the heat and stir in dark rum and vanilla extract. Done.

This jam wants, very much, to be stirred into oatmeal. Or dolloped on honey-drizzled yogurt. Or slathered on peanut butter– or tahini-smothered toast. Or spread on—wait for it—banana bread. Or is that just too bananas?

What’s your favorite kind of jam? And your favorite way to eat it? Share in the comments below!

15 Comments

WIC February 17, 2018
I've enjoyed making banana jam for about 4 years now, my little niece loves it on her toast. The recipe here is more of a grown up taste one, and looks delicious, I'll have to try it too. The one I have currently, I do water bath can it, it IS a different recipe than the one here which has more acid added to it to make it stable enough for canning. If wanting to try that for canning it is: How To Make Banana Jam, by Author: Ellen Christian
 
karen February 16, 2018
OMG! This is great! Something other than banana bread! Yes! This recipe is a keeper! Making it this weekend! Thank You from all of us stuck on: the bananas are overripe. What do we do????
 
Cca February 16, 2018
Can you use bananas that have been previously frozen?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. February 20, 2018
I haven't tried the recipe that way myself, but I don't see why it wouldn't work! The color might be affected slightly, but the texture should be fine.
 
Sarah T. February 16, 2018
Is there a substitute for all that sugar? A little maple syrup, maybe? What works to get the right consistency?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. February 20, 2018
Hi Sarah, you can lower the sweetness slightly, and replace some of the sugar with maple syrup, honey, sorghum, etc. The catch with replacing *too* much of the sugar is consistency, like you said, and flavor; the sugar offers neutral sweetness, but a flavorful syrup might overpower the banana.
 
Kelsey February 16, 2018
Sounds tasty! Just please no one waterbath can this, as bananas are not acidic enough.
 
Noreen February 16, 2018
Did I miss how much sugar amounts?<br />
 
Lee A. February 16, 2018
Click the "go to recipe" link for ingredient amounts and directions.
 
Lisa February 16, 2018
So excited to have a new outlet for all of my aging bananas! How long will this keep in the fridge?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. February 20, 2018
Hi Lisa, at least a month! (I'm judging by how long mine has been in the fridge–over four weeks and it's still great.)
 
Gerlinde D. February 16, 2018
My favorite marmalade is my orange marmalade I make . It’s easy and so delicious. The recipe is on my blog. I like your banana jam.
 
Linda February 16, 2018
My favorite right now is your recipe for grapefruit and Meyer lemon marmalade. Sure it’s a lot of work but soooo worth it! Can’t wait to try this one. Thanks for sharing.
 
HalfPint February 13, 2018
Try adding a little cinnamon to this jam. It's so darn good.
 
Pollie February 16, 2018
Good idea!