Posts Tagged strawberry rhubarb jam

Four-way strawberries

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Strawberries are tricky. Definitely one of the yummiest summer fruits around, and perhaps the nicest jam of all (except for all the others). But they are so low in pectin, the magic ingredient that makes jam set, that it’s always a gamble whether you’re going to end up with jam or syrup. Or a sweet, tasty liquid with strawberry lumps.

Last year canning buddy and I had a bold day of experimenting with various pectin options, which included the much-vaunted Pomona pectin (which is surprisingly hard to find in Canada) as well as using raspberries, gooseberries and home-made gooseberry pectin to ensure a set. I didn’t like the Pomona pectin jam at all. Low suger, it’s true, and a good, if firm set. But I didn’t like the taste. This year was a little less experimental, but mostly successful, with a fast and simple race through strawberry jam, four ways. The method and the fruit-jam-lemon ratio was the same for all of them, but there were tweaks to the pectin and the flavourings.

Fruit-jam ratio: Seven cups of chopped up fruit (our traditional ratio would call for 6, but we added an extra cup this year.); 4 not quite full cups sugar; juice of two lemons.

Basic method: Mix fruit, lemon juice and sugar and allow it to sit around for as much time as you have. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves, and then at a rolling boil for at least 10 minutes. It will foam madly at the start — use a big, big pot. But the foam dies down as the boil goes on. Add whatever you are using for pectin and boil for another 5 minutes or so until it seems to set. Add any extra flavourings and boil a little longer. Bottle in sterilized jars. Waterbath for 10 minutes.

Strawberry, kiwi, mint (5 jars)

This is based on a New York Times recipe, which uses one and a half finely chopped kiwis for the pectin that the strawberries lack (and adds that kiwi right at the start, as opposed to the later-on addition in the basic recipe). Finely chopped mint goes in at the end. It’s very good, although the little black specks of kiwi can be marginally disconcerting.

Strawberry lemon (5 jars)

Add the zest of three lemons before you start cooking the jam. It’s an interesting flavour, although I’m not sure yet whether I really like it. We used a cube of last year’s frozen gooseberry pectin toward the end of the boil and yes, it set. We could have used kiwi instead, or crabapple pectin. (Must make more of that this year.)

Strawberry balsamic pepper (5 jars)

Also with a cube of frozen gooseberry pectin for set (use a kiwi as an alternative). Add 3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar and about 1/2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper about five minutes before the end. Very yummy, with a lovely pepper kick that reminds me of the hugely successful peach white pepper jam we’ve made several times.

Strawberry rhubarb (6 jars)

With gooseberry pectin again (or kiwi). It’s a lovely taste combination because you get the sweetness of the strawberry and the tartness of the rhubarb. We used 4 cups strawberries and three of rhubarb. I think.

 

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More red magic

 

My “where’s the jam” crisis is now officially over, thanks to a smallish batch of strawberry-rhubarb jam with the first of the glorious Ontario strawberries. It’s the first time I’ve made strawberry anything jam in what was still a Canadian May, and it quells the fear that I might run out of home made jam before this year’s canning season.

I can relax now.

Having said that, it was a slightly strange venture, with a jam that foamed madly at the start and settled down quickly to something that passed my set test after just five minutes of a rolling boil, separating nicely on a chilled plate and feeling very jam-like in the pan. Except that it didn’t, and it wasn’t. This turns out to be a runny jam that will work in yogurt or ice cream rather than on bread, probably because both strawberries and rhubarb are pretty low in pectin and I didn’t add any of the bought or home-made stuff. I don’t see that as a problem, because most of my jam ends up in yogurt anyway, and it’s definitely thicker than the gingery melon syrup I made a few years back. And it’s also a very, very tasty jam, sweet yet tart at the same time. But it is a little curious.

What I did:

Rhubarb-strawberry jam (makes 5 jars, almost)

350g rhubarb, washed, trimmed and chopped
600g strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 lemons, juiced
750g sugar

Mix all the ingredients and let the fruit/sugar mix sit for a couple of hours until the juices start to flow.

Heat gently until the sugar is dissolved, and then at a full, rolling boil until it sets. It foamed like crazy at first, rising half way up the very large pan. But it settled down eventually, and there was only a little foam left to skim off at the end.


Test for a set by spooning a blob onto a chilled plate. If the blob stays apart when you run your finger through it, you have a set. It did, and I didn’t, even though I kept the boil going for another couple of minutes after the supposedly successful test. No clue why.

Skim off any remaining foam (which is amazingly good on bread), and bottle the jam in sterilized jars. Waterbath for 10 minutes, or just keep the jars of crimson magic in the fridge. The hot jars sealed quite nicely, even without waterbathing, and there’s a decent amount of sugar and lemon juice in this anyway.

(USDA recommends water baths, so I suppose I do too, theoretically at least.)

Enjoy.

 

 

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Strawberries start the season

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.

Getting ready to jam. The little pink squares are my home-made crab apple pectin.

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.

 

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OMG!

There was a moment in our quickfire Sunday afternoon canjam when canning buddy and I scraped every last streak of rhubarb-strawberry jam from the very bottom of the preserving kettle and let out a collective “oooooh.” This jam is lick-the-spoon, scrape-the-saucepan and lick-your-finger good. And it’s beautiful to boot.

The inspiration came from Food in Jars, although we scaled the recipe up hugely, increased the ratio of rhubarb to strawberry, added a little sugar and threw in the juice of a couple of lemons.  It’s spoon-on-yogurt runny and a rich red, with a bite of rhubarb and that glorious taste you only get from local strawberries that have not spent the last three weeks in a refrigerated truck. And in fact it’s so good that we did it all over again the following week.

We made two jams that first week, that one, plus five jars of a rhubarb-lavender venture that Tigress in a Jam posted about a few years back and that I’ve made both with lavender and with rosemary. This time I used used lavender from the garden, which made it almost feel home grown.

Talking garden, we have a large number of still green raspberries that should be enjoying the rain we’ve been getting more than we are. I’m hoping there might be enough to jam, although I worry that the critters might get to them before we do. I guess the summer was warmer the last time I used home-grown raspberries. It was July 5, and we had been eating raspberries for weeks.

But the latest jam making came just in time, I admit. Before adding the latest jars, there were just four jars in the cold room, which was starting to make me feel a little nervous.

Lovely to know that the canning season is starting over again.

Strawberry rhubarb jam
4 lbs strawberries
5 lbs rhubarb
6 (and a bit) cups sugar
juice of two lemons

Chop the fruit, add the sugar and lemon juice, stir the mix and then let it sit around for a couple of hours to let the juices flow. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves, then bring to a rolling boil until it sets. It took about 10 minutes, and it spattered madly. Wear a red shirt, and shoes rather than sandals.

Bottle in sterilized jars. Water bath.

Easy.

Rating: 3-1/2 4 (out of 5) This one tasted wonderful as we made it, but the taste seemed to dull over the summer. A jar opened in August was sharp rather than fruity, Too sharp for yogurt, a dribble too runny to boot. Strange.

Edit: Raising the rating to 4 (out of 5) on this one on the realization that it’s actually all about the pairing. This jam is a notch too tart for yogurt, but it’s absolutely perfect atop vanilla ice cream. Sadly this means I will be eating more vanilla ice cream.

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