This is my laziest way to make preserves: Just toss your fruit of choice with a bit of sugar, lemon juice, and any flavorings on a sheet tray. Macerate for a few minutes and roast until the fruit is soft and the juices thicken. Then, while it’s still hot, mash the fruit with a fork or potato masher, and transfer to a jar to cool. The resulting “jam” is easy to make, super adaptable to any kind of fruit, and can be made using much less sugar than traditional jam. You can make it with more or less fruit than is listed here, and adjust the other amounts to taste. It will keep for up to 1 month in the fridge, and freezes quite nicely in freezer jars. —Erin McDowell
about 2 pints
(1.36 kg) fruit of choice, not peeled, pits/stems removed, and sliced or chopped (can be overripe, underripe, or perfect – doesn’t matter!)
(149 g) granulated sugar (can be more or less, depending on how your fruit tastes)
flavorings (such as a few pinches of salt or dried spices, vanilla bean seeds, a splash of booze, etc.)
On a baking sheet, toss the fruit with the sugar, lemon juice, and any flavorings. Let macerate while the oven preheats.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and roast until the fruit is very soft and the juices have thickened a bit (they may even start to turn dark at the edges of the tray). Cooking time will depend on the type of fruit—smaller, softer fruits like berries will take 15-20 minutes, larger, firmer fruits like stone fruit may take 20-30 minutes.
When the fruit is very soft and tender, remove it from the oven. While it’s still hot, use a potato masher or large fork to mash all the fruit on the tray. Transfer to a jar or other storage container and cool to room temperature, then refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.
I always carry three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's pie. My first cookbook, The Fearless Baker, is out on October 24, 2017.