Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Let's make strawberry rhubarb jam!
First, we'll wash the jam jars, with the dishwasher setting on heated dry, to get them nice and sterilized. I enlisted some help, however, this little lady's got the attention span of a gnat.
We've got our boiling water canner 3/4 full of water and I've already fired up the burners, as it takes quite a while to boil that amount. Next we'll wash the strawberries. Delectable red beauties. Bug dressed herself today. Fantastic. It's only supposed to get to 105 today, so sleeves of that length are completely appropriate. We mash the strawberries with a potato masher. I could have just used my food processor, but this seems to work just as well.
Rhubarb. What an odd little vegetable. It's like red celery. But much tougher to cut through than celery, so I had to break out the big guns: the santoku I gave Jay for his birthday. This knife is downright scary! One false move and your finger is toast.
I can't imagine finely chopping rhubarb, so we'll use the food processor for this.
This is hard work. I need some coffee. (A decision I'll later regret, as the temperature in my kitchen will rise to levels nearing that of the fires of Mordor).
Yummm. Come hither, my dear. As you can see from the photo, I take my coffee black...RIGHT! More like, a splash of coffee with my cup of creamer. Lemme show you God's (other) gift to the world:
Remember in a previous post I said I wanted to marry a cupcake? Well, we did marry and now we have a daughter. This is her. We named her International Delight Dulce de Leche. SIGH. My life is full of deliciousness. Shall we get back to jam now? Nah...not just yet. Check out my husband (the real one, I mean). He's doing yard work. He's just so darned handsome in that hat. I think part of the reason he wears it is because he doesn't want to suffer my wrath if he comes back inside one. more. time. with yet another sunburned neck. He doesn't want to hear me rant on about how it's fine if he doesn't want to be around for his childrens' graduations and weddings. We'll just carry on without him. Don't worry about us. Just keep being careless. Keep getting sunburned. I don't care. Do what you want, you thoughtless, selfish jerk! And then I run off in tears. He must love being married to an emotional wreck. Never a dull moment. I love you, sweetie. Sweetie-kins. Sweety-weety-kins.
Alright, back to the task at hand. I must focus. I must stop getting distracted by the impossibly cute, sweaty husband in the backyard and get back to jamming.
The rhubarb got a little more than finely chopped, but it will be fine. Jam is very forgiving.
The rhubarb is a little tough and needs to be cooked in a bit of water, just until it's tender. Once it's done, we'll put 1 3/4 cups of the cooked rhubarb and 2 1/4 cups of the raw mashed strawberries into a large pot and add a small pat of butter. This is to reduce foaming...I don't even know how that works. But that's just what you do.
Then we add pectin. In purist jamming circles pectin is termed "the coward's way out". But I like to call it "give me a break, I have three kids".
(It just helps things jell up much faster and you can stand over your hot stove and get splattered with scalding hot jam for 30 minutes less than you would normally have to). Then we'll bring the mixture to a full rolling boil while constantly stirring. (That part totally blows. You have to stand there stirring in perpetuity (I've been waiting and waiting to be able to use the word perpetuity somewhere in this blog and today the opportunity finally arose. Yes, words delight me-why am I so weird?!) and it's hot and boring. I cheat constantly. I frequently scurry away and grab a magazine or change the CD playing. Then I scurry back and freak out that the bottom is burning). When the full rolling boil starts, we add 4 1/2 cups of sugar. This is actually a very mild amount of sugar. Most fruit jams call for around 7 cups. But the rhubarb is going to give this jam a nice tang and we don't want to overpower that with too much sugar.
Now things really start going fast at this point. I didn't have a lot of time to take pictures. We need to stir (constantly again, ugh) and wait for another full rolling boil, but it'll come quickly this time because things are already so hot. This is my gloved hand stirring. (Just doing my best to avoid 3rd degree burns up my forearm). (Has anyone noticed that my rampant (and inappropriate) use of parentheses grows exponentially with each passing day?) (I asked a fellow blogger, who is well-versed in the rules of grammar, to help me (and she did!) but I might be un-helpable. I'm a grammatical failure. There's really no hope for me and a proper paranthetical relationship.)
Once we reach full rolling boil, we cook the jam for 1 minute more. It's so hot in the kitchen right now. Why did I drink that coffee? Look:
81 degrees inside. Gross.
Then we take the jam off the heat and spoon off any foam. (I always have lots of foam. Nice try, pat of butter). Quickly, we'll take our clean hot jam jars out of the dishwasher and ladle in the jam.
Look at these little darlings!
I love the color. It's such a fresh, vivacious red.
I love this part so much, I can't stop taking pictures of it. The jars are just so adorable, all filled up with that lovely, lustrous, glossy jam.
I forgot that we've had a tiny amount of water boiling in a sauce pot so we can sterilize our lids.
One by one, we'll take them out with tongs and place them on each jar.
Look how sweet.
Then the screw tops go on.
Now let's use this neat little thingamajigger to grab the top of each jar and place it into the boiling water canner, which by now, has a jolly little boil going on. They all fit nicely. Like a little family sitting in a jacuzzi.
Little do they know they're about to get dunked. How weird, you can't see the water in this photo. But they are under water. They need to be at least an inch or two below the surface.
We'll process the jars for 10 minutes and then they're done! We'll pull them out with the same thingamajigger as before, and listen for the satisfying little pop that tells us the lid has sealed. The squatty ones are the cutest.
Now for the real test. My first taster. A real critic. She takes a small amount on the knife.
I can see skepticism spreading across her peachy little face.
She's closed her mouth. Jam has made contact with taste buds. The suspense is tangible.
If her eyes stay open, it's a no-go. If she closes her eyes, that means it's "deeeeeeeelicious".
SCORE!!!
"Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelicious!"
As if anything with 4 1/2 cups of sugar in it wouldn't be.
Now let's put it to good use:
A 3 year old's heaven on a plate.
Someone's waiting to eat it.
But someone's mom won't stop taking pictures of it.
She can smell the pb & j goodness wafting over her. And yet still I make her wait. "Maaam! Come on!" "I really would like to have my lunch now".
But her face is so enchanting this close up. I can't help myself.
"I'm falling asleep waiting mom".
Finally!

7 comments:

Caryn said...

YUM!!!! Your helper is adorable!!!

Dawn said...

Best.canning.post.ever.

I was totally entertained and I now realize why my jams never sealed.

Meghan said...

You're so great. I love the little jam jars.. wish we were closer so I could have one. :) Grace is just too stinkin' cute, I tell ya!

serenity said...

I LOVE YOUR POSTS.

There, I said it. I'm a total fan.

Promise me you'll keep posting into perpetuity.

xxx

Rich and Allyson said...

I love canning...It does get really hot though. We use a camping stove outside on the porch and that way the house doesn't get heated up. It really helps :)

Dana said...

Don't think I've ever had strawberry/rhubarb jam, but you make it look delicious! How did you ever find the time to stand and stir that long with three little cherubs around? I'm impressed! :)

MADKR said...

Yum!

My daughter and I picked raspberries yesterday. We love fresh fruit!