In California, there are strawberries at the farmer’s market that are red all the way through. They survive only for a day or two, dripping and sweet. Every summer, I dream of turning them into the jam my mom used to make when we were little. This summer, I did it. Three times.

I tried two recipes — the Barefoot Contessa’s and my mother’s. My mom HATES to cook,  so it may come as a shock to her that she trumped the Contessa, far and away. Her jam recipe comes from the back of a box — like so many great Mom recipes do, and it’s uncooked and somehow captures the summer strawberry essence unaltered.

You could absolutely make this with strawberries from the supermarket.

Don’t you love when you find strawberries that come in the old-fashioned green baskets? It made me feel like a little girl.

The strawberries I found were so sweet and red that I went with a low-sugar recipe — and by low sugar I mean that this recipe actually contains more fruit than sugar. (Some of them are almost all sugar. Ugh.)

This was the Barefoot Contessa jam, stewing. I don’t love it.

All you need for my Mom’s jam: strawberries, jam containers, sugar, and the pink box of low sugar Sure-Jell from the grocery store:

The recipe is inside the box. You cut and mash the strawberries in a big bowl, cook the pectin and sugar on the stove, then stir it all together and put in containers.

And then there will be jam, in 30 minutes.

And then there will be buttered baguette smeared with heaven for breakfast.

And you may be so taken with your homemade jam that you see what else could possibly improve with a spoonful, and try it over vanilla ice cream, and roll your eyes back in your head with pleasure.

Homemade jam + ice cream is something I just don’t think I needed to know about, ever.

It is the perfect simple summer dessert.

I’ve also made this jam with peaches. Instructions here.

PS Did you see in the Williams-Sonoma catalog that canning is becoming stylish again? I love these old-fashioned rituals.