Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Wello-Berry Jam (Strawberry, Raspberry and Blueberry Preserves)
I had declared 2012 my year of canning. So far I'm 1 for 1. Not a bad batting average, but I admit I was rather intimidated about the whole thing. Luckily, my sweet friend Liz from Portland gave me a book on canning in the southern tradition as a going away gift before we moved. She wasn't going to let me forget my declaration.
Canning is a funny thing. Oregon completely opened my eyes to do-it-yourself ideas. Making jam only scratched the surface.
I attended a chapstick making party (my favorite flavor was a orange-sage), made friends who made their own shampoo/conditioner/hair product, and was given home-made laundry detergent as a Christmas gift! I don't care what you all think... I learned so much from these women! Some of it was for fun, some of it was for controlling the chemical ingredients and some of it was for cost efficiency.
But we are all about food around here... so back to my canning!
Canning used to be about preservation. I've never lived anywhere where this was the norm. California and Oregon (and now a lot of the US) can get just about any product any time of year. It's quite a food revolution. For as convenient as that may seem, I like to buy as local as possible. Not because I'm all about agenda (although I do believe in supporting local agriculture) but also because it is more fresh (local) farm to table. In this case, it's from bush to can.
When you get a new book or magazine, you can count on the cover recipe being a winner. That was my logic. Berry preserves it was. Plus I had everything I needed... sanitized jars and lids, a canning funnel and a large pot. No thermometer or pH reader needed. This was a good recipe to start with.
***full recipe at bottom of post.
I collected some gorgeous fruit from the farmer's market, and tied my apron tight! Here goes nothin'!
Start with the fruit. Hull your strawberries. Then rinse all your berries. You never want to wash you berries until right before you are about to eat them.
Mashing time. I used my potato masher. Spend the most time on the strawberries. You don't want huge chunk surprises in the jam. A little here and there, but we are going for consistency.
Raspberries... like little jewels. Their local season is so short. I got em while I could. Someday I'll have a huge freezer that will be dedicated to things like frozen berries to last me year round.
Ruby red glop.
Fish out any Placer County nature. Points for freshly picked but no points for jam. Get those leaves out of there!
Modern art? Blueberries aren't the prettiest girl in school.
Now for the non exciting, but very important ingredients... Freshly squeezed lemon juice.
An embarrassingly large amount of sugar. I just kept laughing at this. And then told myself I was giving a lot of this jam away. Plus- at least it's sugar and not high fructose corn syrup... that stuff really does stimulate hunger receptors in the brain.
Adding insult to injury... Butter. But look how little it is! (compared to enough sugar for a sand castle!)
Last ingredient... our friend Mr. Pectin. I used only one packet according to the recipe, even though the outside packaging suggested otherwise.
Easy part: put everything accept the sugar into the pot over high heat. Bring it to a rolling boil. When the boil can no longer be stirred down, add sugar.
The sugar disappeared?! I feel better about it already! Starting to look like real jam!
Bring to a raging full boil for at least 1 minute. With a spoon, test for "jelling" you want it to drip s-l-o-w-l-y off the spoon. Not like honey slow, but hot jam slow.
Remove from heat.
Using your canning funnel and a 1/2 cup measuring tool, fill each can to the bottom of where the rim begins. I used 1/2 pint jars.
Screw the lids on tight, but 90% tight. We are going for solidly closed, but not death grip.
Flip upside down! Jam yoga!
Let sit for a minimum of 2 minutes. I left mine inverted for a few hours until they cooled.
Oh the flavor! I loved these three berries together. Great balance. I named it "Wello"Berry Jam because that was my brother's first name for me, and this was my first attempt at canning. Truly a success.
You "can" do this! It's so worth it. The ultimate breakfast, ultimate PB&J or just by the spoon full... :)
3 cups crushed strawberries
1 1/2 cups crushed red raspberries
1 1/2 cups crushed blueberries
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbls butter
1 packet pectin or 1/3 cup bulk pectin
8 1/2 cups sugar
1 case of 12 half pint jars with lids (sterilized in dish washer).