My new gig this year is volunteering at the local community garden, which involves hard work, grubby feet and an unpredictable stash of organic produce. This week I scored a little container of small, sweet strawberries, a few stalks of slightly woody rhubarb and a couple of sprigs of mint. The plan was to stew the rhubarb and eat the strawberries, but at the last minute I veered off into jam, supplementing the precious community garden strawberrries with a few from the farmers’ market.
But how was I going to get that jam to set, given that both strawberries and rhubarb are low in pectin, and I had neither commercial pectin (which I try not to use anyway) nor a kiwi fruit, which was my 2013 revelation after the New York Times printed a recipe that used a kiwi as pectin for a stunning strawberry jam?
Cue the last two cubes of my home-made crab apple pectin, which I froze in ice cube trays a long, long time ago — that’s the little pink squares mixed in with the fruit in the picture.
It worked. I have a deep red jam with a soft set and a delicate taste of mint.
Recipe, more for me than for anyone else, given that I suspect it’s rare to have ice cubes of home-made pectin in the freezer.
Strawberry rhubarb jam
3 cups strawberries, washed and chopped to chunks
2 cups chopped rhubarb
3 cups sugar
Juice of two lemons
2 cubes of home made pectin (or use a kiwi)
3 sprigs of mint, chopped very finely
Let the fruit, lemon juice and sugar macerate for an hour or so until the juices flow. Add the pectin (or kiwi) and head, gently until the sugar melts, and then at a rolling boil until it drizzles rather than pours off the spoon and you can run your finger through a blob on a cold saucer and leave a jamless streak. Stir in the mint, and leave for a few minutes so the fruit settles (I am told this prevents the fruit from floating to the top of the jar), and then bottle in sterilized jars.
This gave me 3-1/2 jars of jam, so I decided not to waterbath them. Instead, I turned the jars upside down for a few minutes after I put the rings on, and I listened happily as they sealed with a satisfying pop. I can always keep them in the fridge.
Can I open one of my three jars now, or do I have to use up the 2013 jam stash first?
Rating: 5 (out of 5)
I opened a jar. This jam is amazing. Absolutely, totally, utterly amazing.