Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Jam Plan

    So it's jam season... Yay... I understand if some of you don't share in my enthusiasm, but I happen to love homemade jam. The 1st batch (of many) that I chose to make this season was Rhubarb- Strawberry Jam. I guess Strawberry-Rhubarb jam is more common, but I had a lot more rhubarb than strawberries on hand, so it just worked out that way this time. Not to worry, it's still equally tasty.
    Making jam is so simple. It requires a little bit of time and energy, but the end result is well worth it. Once made, you not only have jam, you have a delicious topping to add to desserts.

Rhubarb- Strawberry Jam:

7 cups of rhubarb (cleaned and diced)
5 cups of strawberries (hulled, cleaned and quartered)
1 cup of water
3 cups of sugar
1 pkg. light fruit pectin

(1) Wash with soapy water 8 (500ml) jars (you may not need all of them), 8 rings, and 8 unused lids. Place the jars in a large pot with water and bring to a boil to sterilize. Place the rings and lids in a separate and smaller pot.
(2) Place the rhubarb, strawberries and water into a large Dutch oven. Let it simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook down until it begins resemble jam.

(3) Add the sugar and pectin. Bring to a full rolling boil and stir constantly until it thickens. (If it seems a little loose, don't worry. It will thicken some as it cools.)
(4) Remove from heat. Stir for 5 minutes to prevent fruit from floating, skimming off foam.

(5) Using a sterilized funnel, pour the jam into hot sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch (5 mm) head space. (If necessary, wipe rims.)
(6) Cover with hot lids; screw on bands fingertip tight.
(7) Place back into the large pot and bring to a rapid boil. Process in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove jars and let cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Check for seal, ensuring that lids curve downward. (If not, refrigerate and use within 3 weeks.) Store in cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year.

Kitchen Tip:

• To determine when the mixture will form a gel, use the spoon test: Dip a cool metal spoon into the hot fruit. Immediately lift it out and away from the steam and turn it horizontally. At the beginning of the cooking process, the liquid will drip off in light, syrupy drops. Try again a minute or two later — the drops will be heavier. The jam is done when the drops are very thick and two run together before falling off the spoon.

*    If you don't have a canning rack, create your own. Tie several screw bands together with string or use a small round cake rack in the bottom of a large covered Dutch oven. Be sure the pan is high enough for 2 inches (5 cm) of water to cover the jars when they are sitting on the rack.

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