Your teatime can be a real jam session — no, not music, but real, fruity, yummy jams to sweeten your palate. I’m talking about strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, peach, apricot, pear, and lots more. Spread thin on toast or globbed on thick on your scone, biscuit, crumpet, or muffin, jam will liven up your teatime as much as a jazz quartet can enliven a dull party.

By far the crowd pleaser among jams and preserves (also called “conserves”) is strawberry. Available in just about every brand imaginable, including Bonne Maman, Frank Coopers (a royal favorite), Duerr’s, Elizabethan Pantry, and Hartley’s, it’s a virtual trumpet player in your jam session, sounding loud yet melodic over the other subtle flavors.

Of course, marmalade (also called “shred”), sort of the odd duck in the world of jams and preserves since it includes rind pieces, is also very popular, especially the kind made from oranges. One story of how this tasty treat came about was of a merchant who bought some less-than-stellar oranges and had his wife make them into something edible that he could sell. She cleverly came up with marmalade, including rind shavings for extra texture and flavor. The world has been scarfing it down ever since. In fact, different versions of this versatile player in your jam session have come about over the years. There’s Golden Shred Orange Marmalade, Old Time Coarse Irish Marmalade, Sweet Orange Marmalade, English Traditional Fine Cut Marmalade, and much more.

Some makers of orange marmalade even slip in a little something extra (such as Elizabethan Pantry’s Orange Marmalade with Whisky Liqueur and Frank Coopers 3 Fruit Marmalade made with oranges, lemons, and grapefruit). For all you fans of the British Detective series Inspector Morse, there’s even Frank Coopers Fine Cut Oxford Marmalade and Coarse Cut Oxford Marmalade. (Yes, eating these daily will make you as smart as any Oxford College Don — or at least you’ll feel very Oxfordish!)

Other fruit flavors abound to round out your jam session. There’s raspberry, blueberry, peach, blackberry, fig, blackcurrant, plum, nectarine, and apricot.

Go for a unique taste with Fuzzy Navel Jam. The name itself will make your teatime jam session more fun. You’ll taste sweet peaches and tart orange in every bite. Good enough to eat straight from the jar (go ahead, it’ll be our little secret), but try it on scones, toast, or even some plain Walker’s Scottish Oatcakes and McVitie’s Digestives.

Walk on the wild side with Jalapeño Tangerine Jam in your tarts, on your toast, or in your favorite recipe. You’ll get a marmalade-ish flavor with a kick of jalapeño spiciness. Ah! Or get your spice infusion from Elizabethan Pantry’s Cranberry Preserves with Chili, combining the tart/sweetness of cranberries and the oh-my-gosh hotness of chilies. Sort of the Chuck Mangione in your jam session.

For a louder jam session (taste-wise), go with a high-fruit version of your favorite jams, preserves, conserves, and marmalades. You can even make your teatime a bit tipsy with Elizabethan Pantry’s Cherry Preserves with Brandy — those Elizabethans really knew how to live!

Include a few of those cute little 1-ounce jars when you’re stocking up your picnic basket. Don’t forget the Devon Clotted Cream for your own tasty Cream Tea experience.

What about making your own jams? This guide says making your own is easy and then proceeds to lay out all the stuff you need to buy and all the steps you need to take. That’s easy? Just as I call in a plumber, electrician, and handyman rather than spend on special tools they already own and, more importantly, know how to use, I prefer to buy my jams. An alternate plan is to become best buddies with someone who makes jam and work out a deal with them, sort of a joint teatime program (you supply the pot of tea, they supply the jam, you supply the scones, they supply the jam, you hold the teatime at my house, they supply the jam — you get the idea). If you still want to pursue a do-it-yourself jam project after reading that guide, the site also has a list of pick-your-own farms so you can go all the way with your homemade jam. Nothing like sweating out in the hot sun picking fruit to make it all taste better. Uh, well, maybe I’ll just go to the local farmer’s market.

We haven’t even touched on the various flavors of curds out there. But that’s another article.

Explore your options. Then, make your choices, and get ready for your teatime jam session. Enjoy!

A.C. is always jamming out on her blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!

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