I haven't found much time for cooking lately, let alone blogging, which is why I've been away for so long. But I have something that's very news worthy! Well, two things, one of which I will share immediately (because it just can't wait!) and the other...possibly tomorrow?
Here it is. I did it. I finally did it. I made jam! Now this may not be a big deal for those of you who 1) Are avid jam makers and really don't see the big deal about boiling down fruit and sugar & 2) Are not as obsessed with fruit preserves and jam as I am. I know I've been yammering on and on for almost a year about how much I wanted to try canning but was holding out until summer when there is an abundance of fruit. So here it is: Summer. I still had my reservations, the fear of jam not setting and the jar sterilization process was almost enough to make me
run sprint the other way. But the moment I walked into the grocery store and saw a sale on ruby red strawberries, I really didn't have a choice but to buck up and just do it.
I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about jam and I confessed something that I had never really realized about myself. I am a fruit preserve, conserve, jam, jelly, you-name-it hoarder. I am. Whenever I'm at the farmer's market or at a specialty food store and I find jars of what is essentially fruit spread I MUST have it. Now that's not really where the problem is. It's that when I bring the jars home, I don't have the heart to open them and this is especially true if it's an uncommon or interesting flavor of jam. Meyer lemon? Two, please. Lavender Peach? Absolutely. Nectarine Plum? YES.
See the problem?
Though, I can't possibly be the only one with this addiction.
Anyways, I won't know for sure if my rookie jam excursion was a success or not until morning when it has fully cooled and (hopefully) set, but my fingers are crossed.
I've had my sights set on making jam every since I came across Food In Jars--it's a really good read if you're interested in canning and preserving. I followed one of her recipes for an "Urban Preserving" portion of strawberry and vanilla jam. I didn't have the heart to use vanilla bean on my first go around so I decided to make the classic combination of strawberry and rhubarb while still following the general guidelines for her recipe.
Here it is:
Strawberry & Rhubarb Jam
3/4 cup chopped strawberries
1/4 cup chopped rhubarb
1 1/2 cup sugar, divided
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Wash, hull, and chop the strawberries. Toss them in 1 cup of sugar and allow them to macerate for at least 3 hours.
While you prepare/ sterilize the jars, pour the macerated strawberries into a pot and add the remaining cup of sugar and bring to boil (about 5 minutes). Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the jam reaches 220 degrees (this is if you're at sea level). During the last five minutes of cooking, add the lemon zest and the juice.
Once the jars have been prepared, remove from heat and pour the jam into your jars. Wipe the rim, top with the rings and the lid and place in your canner for 10 minutes.
Let them cool on a towel lined counter top. Once cooled, remove the rings and check the seal.
Store the sealed jars in a cool, dark place.
Makes about two cups of jam.