Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Strawberry rhubarb jam is arguably the best jam that I make. It's a perfect mash up of sweet and tart and its glorious ruby red hue looks so lovely on top of a cream biscuit, or a vanilla scone...or even a plain ol' slice of toasted bread. We go through gobs of the stuff every year, my own homemade supply supplemented with jam from the Green Briar Jam Kitchen in Cape Cod.
Jamming is simple (really) and though it's best done with a few useful tools, you can usually make do with what you have in your kitchen already. I have a large jamming pot, but I don't use it for small batches of jam because it is so huge and takes so long to heat up. Instead, I process my jams in my pasta cooker (with an insert). It holds exactly 7 half-pint jars, which is perfect for many of my recipes. If I have any extra jam, I just pour it into a sterilized jar and place it in the fridge. It's ready to be eaten immediately and will last for about 3 weeks (but your family will devour it way before then).
Like knitting, this old-timey activity is once again gaining steam for good reason--there is nothing sweeter than something that's homemade, with love.
Fruit, sugar and a little patience is all that's required for good jam. It's also helpful to have a candy or digital probe thermometer, a ladle or flat sieve for skimming, a funnel for filling your 8-ounce canning jars and a jar lifter (or jar tongs) to help you lift the jars from a simmering water bath. Most, if not all of these items can usually be found at your hardware store, or in the canning section of your grocery store (yes, there is probably a canning section in your grocery store...and you've walked by it about a thousand times without noticing it!). I sterilize my clean jars, bands and new lids (never re-use your lids) by placing them on a cookie sheet in a 250 degree oven for at least 10 minutes. You can also boil them in water for 10 minutes to sterilize them. They should be hot when you fill them with jam.
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
Recipe adapted from Gourmet Preserves
This brightly colored, soft-set jam is sweet and tart and perfect for spooning over cake, toast or a scone. It fills about 7 half-pint jars, with a bit left over. Just place any extras in a sterilized jar in the fridge and consume it within 3 weeks.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: about 1 hour
Yield: 5 1/2 cups
2 pounds strawberries
1 pound rhubarb, sliced into 1/2 inch lengths
1 cup water
zest from one lemon
juice from one lemon
2 cups sugar
1. Rinse and drain the berries. Remove the stems and hull them. Cut berries into a uniform size and place in a heavy, non-reactive 8-quart saucepan. Add the rhubarb, lemon zest and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Add lemon juice, and then sugar in 1/2 cup increments, waiting until the liquids come to a simmer before adding more sugar. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes longer, stirring regularly to prevent sticking. Jam will reach a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit. When bubbles are thick and the jam spits when stirred, turn off the heat.
3. Skim off foam. Fill hot, sterilized jars to within 1/4 inch from the top. Wipe the rims clean (with a clean cloth), attach new lids and screw on caps tightly. Process in a pot of boiling water, submerged by one-inch for 10 minutes. Remove jars and cool on a towel. Jar lids should produce a "ping" sound when they vacuum seal is complete. Store any un-sealed jars in the fridge and consume within 3 weeks.