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The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook Hardcover – September 21, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 120 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

""The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook" is the end result of 10 years of research and includes nearly 120 recipes - everything from marmalade to conserve. The best part - besides this hardcover book looking good enough to eat - is that Saunders organizes her recipes according to the season. "Blue Chair" could well become the jam maker's quintessential reference book." --SFGate.com, September 26, 2010

"[The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook] is a complete and exquisite guide to making jam and marmalade at home. In addition to sharing 100+ recipes, Saunders walks you step-by-step through the process with in-depth explanations as well as photos of the various steps so you see exactly what each phase looks like." --Epicurious, September 23, 2010

"Rachel Saunders, author of The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, is quite possibly the high priestess of jam making. Her book - a comprehensive, year-round guide to jellies, jams, conserves, preserves, and marmalades - belongs in the kitchen of anyone interested in keeping their pantry stocked with delicious and unique fruit preserves. And Rachel's instructions are so thorough and clear, even beginners are assured success." --The Splendid Table's "Weeknight Kitchen" newsletter

About the Author

Rachel Saunders is the owner and founder of Blue Chair Fruit, a jam company specializing in sustainably farmed fruits of the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to cooking and creating all of Blue Chair's preserves, Rachel teaches year-round jam—and marmalade—making classes at her Oakland kitchen. A native of New York State, she studied France and the French language at Smith College in Northhampton, Massachusetts, and at La Sorbonne-Paris IV. She received her degree from Smith at age 20. This is her first book.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing; First Edition edition (September 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0740791435
  • ISBN-13: 978-0740791437
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 1.7 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Rachel Saunders is the owner and founder of Blue Chair Fruit, a jam company specializing in sustainably farmed fruits of the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to cooking and creating all of Blue Chair's preserves, Rachel teaches year-round jam--and marmalade--making classes at her Oakland kitchen. A native of New York State, she studied France and the French language at Smith College in Northhampton, Massachusetts, and at La Sorbonne-Paris IV. She received her degree from Smith at age 20. This is her first book.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I haven't made jam for over 20 years, back when it was very difficult to find interesting pectin-free recipes, but when I saw this book, I knew I had to have it. While I can get Blue Chair jam locally (like the author, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area), the price makes me hesitate to throw a jar into my grocery cart, even though I'm well aware of how much labor goes into that little jar, and as much as I *love* Rachel's fig jam with ginger.

I was initially put off by all the full-page photographs of the author looking fey in her jammy wonderland--Rachel with vintage accessories, Rachel wandering through a misty orchard, Rachel caressing airbrushed fruit--I would have preferred, say, a photograph detailing how to skin a green almond. It's a gorgeous book and I wondered if its target audience was the folks who like to lie in bed and look at the pictures in cookbooks, but actually eat takeout much of the time.

My first recipe (strawberry-Meyer lemon marmalade) was a qualified success. The recipe specified covering lemon slices in a "medium" saucepan with one inch of water, but I think I used too large a pan, and ended up with too much water to cook off. I also couldn't get the hang of Rachel's method of testing when the jam is done, which involves putting a specific number of spoons in the freezer, and checking the texture of the jam as it sets up on a cold spoon. I omitted the rose geranium cuttings (there's a limit to the produce I can come up, even in the Bay Area). It was a very good marmalade, but a little tight in texture, as I'd overcooked it a bit.

For my second recipe (strawberry-kiwi jam), I went back to my tried-and-true method of testing the jam on a saucer in the fridge. Rachel's description of when the jam is done was spot-on.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm giving this book three stars because I can't do what I'd really like to, which is to give it both five stars and one star at the same time. It is a beautiful, well-written yet disempowering, inspiring and infuriating collection of recipes and information.

Full-page photographs occupy nearly every other leaf of this massive volume; open it anywhere and you're almost certain to be assaulted by an intoxicating obscenity of color and texture that will tweak your salivary glands into involuntary action.

Less attractively, The Blue Chair never stops working very, very hard to sell you a particular fantasy lifestyle. In this respect it's evocative of early Martha Stewart, because the author herself is packaged in a panoply of pretty poses along with the fruit spreads. She appears over and over again -- picking fruit, holding fruit, cutting and stirring fruit. Always her clothing is impeccably matched to the fruit she is picking or the blossoms she is snipping. Always her hair is perfectly coiffed. Never is there a hint of effort or haste or dissarray. These images are so brazenly fantastic that I can't help feeling manipulated.

But perhaps I'm just in a sour mood? After all, isn't there a place for fantasy? Must I ascribe such dark motives? Might it all have been meant in good fun?

Maybe. But what most seriously damages this book for me is the sheer impracticality, often bordering on impossiblity, of so many of the recipes. The author runs her jam company in an affluent city, in one of the best areas of the country for fruit growers. It makes perfect sense for her to base her company there and to make the best of the amazing ingredients she has access to, but she does not seem aware of how fortunate she is to have such resources.
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Format: Hardcover
There is so much to like about this cookbook and so much to hate. To like? The inclusion of so many fruits and the never-too-sweet preparations. I made the aprium jam, the tomato jam and the Italian plum conserve and was pleased with each result. The bad news? Way too many obscure ingredients. I found a cache of Early Girl dry farmed tomatoes, but where the heck am I supposed to find a blade of mace? Sure, I can order it on line, but by the time it arrives, the tomatoes are well past their prime, so I used a whole nutmeg instead. And, had I not happened to find Early Girl dry farmed tomatoes, would it have been worth making the jam? I found some perfectly ripe Italian prune plums for the prune and cardamom preserve, but where to find white cardomam seeds? Won't the mixed ones I have do? At the least, the author should recognize that not everyone has these handy and offer an alternative. All the space spent on photos of the author gazing at fruit and walking through an orchard could have been used to print recipes of the wonderful dishes suggested, but not explained, in other photos. The book is poorly indexed. A book that could have been great, but is only good, and irritating to use.
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Format: Hardcover
The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook is a wonderful book filled with great ideas and recipes. The Crabapple Marmalade for instance is great tasting recipe. Despite the ideas the major flaw in this book is that it has not been translated for a home caner. The recipes which im sure are scaled down versions of the large batches that are use by the author for her company are still too complicated. Most home caners have maybe a weekend to do a recipe and providing recipes that take 3 days is far too long. Many of the wonderful accents used to add flavor to the jams are either hard to find or too expensive, pine code bud syrup for example costs 30 bucks for a small container. Despite all this I still recommend the book but dont by it expecting simple recipes that you can do in a weekend by purchasing products at the local farmstand.
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