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Monday, February 28, 2011

Stuck In A Jam?

A while ago I posted about making marmalade. Yesterday I made marmalade from the abundance of citrus fruit I bought this season and which I obviously won’t use up otherwise. Even so, I may have to make another batch (when I get the energy).

This batch contained 2 Texas grapefruits, a cara cara orange, a Meyer lemon and about a dozen clementines. I sliced all the fruit as thin as I could and followed my favorite marmalade recipe. I started on Friday afternoon and the marmalade was ready to cook on Sunday. I pulled 7 half pint jars from the canner and had another nearly full pint that was destined for the refrigerator to be eaten first.

While the marmalade bubbled I hulled a container of strawberries that the market had given away with a minimum purchase and a coupon. Turkeys were also on sale this week and I was determined to get one. Since we usually spend the Thanksgiving holiday with the in-laws, we often miss out on the fridge full of leftovers, even though they supply us with baggies of food to take home.

A turkey thawing in my tiny fridge means there is not any extra space, even for a small container of strawberries. Since I was already in the midst of the canning process I figured another jar or so could not hurt. I added sugar to the berries and simmered them until they turned into a thick syrupy mass. Since the quantity was so small I decided to dispense with the canner and just pour the strawberry jam into a jar to be eaten this week and kept in the fridge. I got nearly a full pint. English Muffins were also on sale this week so I hope to make a pretty good dent in the marmalade and jam.

Strawberry jam is not my favorite. I far prefer the tarter flavors of red currant and damson, or the bitterness of marmalade, and for PBJ I prefer the classic Grape. But homemade strawberry jam is not to be dismissed lightly. Bill and I licked the spoon and scraped the pan. I look forward to spreading some on toast.

To make strawberry (or just about any kind of) jam cut fruit into slices or chunks (fruits like blueberries or raspberries do not need slicing). Measure and add almost the same amount of sugar. I like my jams less sweet so I usually use about ¾ cup sugar to every cup fruit, sometimes even less. Place in a heavy bottomed pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Adjust the heat so the fruit continues to boil and cannot be stirred down. Choose a pot quite a bit larger as the boiling fruit will rise up a lot. Use a long handled spoon too to avoid burns. Cook until the jam reaches 220 degrees Fahrenheit or 8 degrees above the boiling point of water for your area. If you don’t have a thermometer, until the liquid sheets off the back of a spoon.

Pour in to hot, sterilized canning jars and cover with hot, sterilized lids and rings. You can process the jam in a boiling water bath or a pressure canner or just keep it in the frigde and eat it within a few weeks. Homemade jam is a special treat and makes a great gift, especially if you give it with some homemade bread and dress it up with ribbon. Be sure to process the jam if you plan to give it as a gift.

Quotable quotes; in the category I Guess You Can’t Have Your Jam And Eat It Too!

“The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday - but never jam today.”

Lewis Carrol – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

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