Typically speaking, jam is a mixture of fruit and sugar—often lemon juice, sometimes pectin—cooked until glossy and thick and as spreadable as soft butter. But this recipe stops at the fruit.
And not fresh fruit either. While preserving is a simple way to stretch the seasons—to carry spring strawberries into summer, summer peaches into fall—dried fruit is evergreen, shelf-stable, and, it turns out, just as jam-able.
In this recipe, from Eden Grinshpan’s new cookbook Eating Out Loud, the chosen ingredient is Medjool dates. Also known as “the diamond of dates” (!), Medjools are plump and meaty, with the sweetness of maple syrup and chewiness of mochi.
I reliably have a bag or three in the pantry for afternoon energy slumps (grabbed by the fistful) and midnight snacks (halved, pitted, and stuffed with almond butter). Also, salad-ishthings and shakes.
This one-ingredient wonder is my new favorite use for them.
As Eden told me, the recipe was a last-minute addition to the book: “It happened during the photo shoot.” The crew was working on Date Banana Bread With Coconut Crumble (which gets its caramelly sweetness as much from fruit as it does from sugar), when Eden had an aha moment. “After I smeared on the butter, I was like: Date jam! And we made it right then and there. It took no time at all.”
The process goes something like this: Combine Medjool dates with water. Simmer for a few minutes until they start to break down. Blitz in a blender until smooth. Return to the pot and cook for a little longer until jammy. Store in the fridge.
“They’re so naturally sweet and rich, it would have been a shame for me to add any other sugars,” Eden said.
The yield is about 1 cup, so, after you serve it with banana bread, keep going. Try date jam...
Swirled into yogurt
Smeared inside a grilled cheese
Served with a cheese plate
Spread on toast, scones, etc.
Blended into vanilla milkshakes
How would you put it to good use? Let me know in the comments below.
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Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.