Some ’80s jams (mostly the strawberry kind) still rock.

Strawberry jam

Being of a certain age means we Gourmandistanis often have to suffer what many in our cohort still call “Modern Rock,” as if the era which created Kajagoogoo ended hard-edged rockers forever. (Despite the nauseatingly endless careers of the Stones and Aerosmith, there are those who argued that it did.) We are also too often in close proximity to people who still believe crappy California surfer-style shorts look good on them. Some of these happen to be the same people. We feel especially sad for them.

We don’t have that many fond memories of the 1980s. We both voted against Reagan each time we had the opportunity, and spent the better part of the decade trying to ignore how white people were becoming increasingly obnoxious (heading toward this) by doing things like moving to Indianapolis (pretty much the worst possible solution), getting married (much better), hosting parties, going on long bike rides and watching Max Headroom.

MIchelleSteveSteve and Paul

Another method of making it through the madness was turning to Camille Glenn’s The Heritage of Southern Cooking, a volume we’ve mentioned often here. Unlike our CD collection and 8-bit Nintendo, Glenn’s cookbook is one ’80s relic we’ve kept around the realm, and we’re happy we’ve held on to it. (Though to be truthful, Michelle does at times still pine for the simple pleasures of Super Mario.)

As it is once again strawberry season we’re starting to restock our freezer with preserves, and Glenn’s small batch recipe still wins as the simplest, most flavorful way to put up fresh berries.


Glenn (like Michelle’s mother) prefers whole berries swimming in sweet syrup, but Michelle likes to cut her strawberries into smaller pieces for a better syrup-to-strawberry ratio. Steve, of course, does not care which way it’s prepared, as long as someone is ensuring he has enough jam to get through the winter.

Strawberry jam

While we sometimes wander off to explore other fruit preserves, we keep returning to this sensible solution, one of the only to arise during the days when Arthur Laffer was taken seriously. (He is a joke these days, isn’t he? Please tell us he’s a joke.)

If you crazy kids really want to get all gaga over the 1980s, we suppose we can’t really put a stop to it. Just remember that along with Arnold, there were also a number of Poindexters gnawing up the Constitution to support some coked-up jungle rapists—something you might want to remind the next portly Parrothead you run into.

Strawberry jam, though, is still delicious, as is this tune—something that very much sums up how we felt about “Morning in America.”

Strawberry jam


  • Servings: makes about 1 pint
  • Print

(adapted from Camille Glenn’s The Heritage of Southern Cooking)

  • 1 lb. (about 1 quart) strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 2 c. sugar

Put sliced berries in a heavy saucepan.  Stir 1 cup of the sugar into them. Allow to marinate for about 5 minutes.

Bring berries and sugar to a boil.  Cook, skimming foam, for about 5 minutes.

Add remaining cup of sugar, stirring.  Boil until jam reaches 220° F.

Remove pan from heat. Pour jam into a bowl and let stand overnight.  (Glenn recommends that you make batches of jam no larger than as set forth here “to maintain the short cooking period so vital to fine preserves.” If you want to make another batch or two, you can do so and add to the bowl.)

The next day, pour the jam into sterilized jars and (if you want) process in a hot water bath, or (as we do) simply freeze.


  1. Your jam looks wonderful! Such beautiful color!

    Every time I make strawberry jam, it doesn’t seem to ever jell. I’ve added lemon juice, which didn’t seem to work. Someone recommended tossing in an apple core. Have you tried that?

  2. The cut-off t-shirt in the biker pic is the best! Ah, the 80s. I believe I had a Frankie Goes to Hollywood shirt myself.

    I must try the jam recipe. It will be the season here soon.

  3. First that jam is gorgeous — the first picture is killing me it’s so pretty! I want to run away with that slice of bread. And second: Super Mario! I love love love that game. In fact I still have an old Nintendo just so I can play it. I go through phases where I’ll play for a few hours a night for a week or so, then give it up for a year. But I always come back!

    • Aw, thanks! I completely lost interest in video games once they became so realistic. Which is probably a good thing, as I’m getting too old to stay up all night hopping from tree to tree and battling my way through dungeons. 🙂

  4. Okay, you win. “… white people were becoming increasingly obnoxious…” Ha! You are way funnier and braver than I am. I would never dare to put links to Pat Buchanan and Arthur Laffer in the same post. The cycling shot reminds me of the poster for the movie with John Travolta and Jamie Lee Curtis about aerobics clubs. Weren’t you supposed to work leg warmers in there someplace? Great post. Ken

    • Steve

      Leg warmers, Buster Poindexter (the other evil ’80s Poindexter), Wolfgang Puck…far too many choices for mockery. Glad you enjoyed it!

  5. Though I was but a wee one during that decade, I can still appreciate the sentiment. Jealous that it’s already strawberry season for you! The jam looks scrumptious and deserving of only the best bread and butter.

  6. This reminds me in a place in the Philippines where I grew up, strawberry jam is their specialty and we never run out of them 🙂 Nice with butter and freshly baked bread

  7. Gorgeous strawberry jam! Thanks for reminding me to get started in making them for later. I’ve been using the “extra” strawberries for smoothies. I better get started in jamming. Oh….and I enjoy cookbooks from all times…old, new, modern, antique….I read them all like novels! 😀 Thanks for sharing.

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