Preserving Summertime (Strawberry Rhubarb Jam)
As any Montrealer can attest to, the extremely short duration of the summer season is a bittersweet affair. The bitter portion? The fact that Summertime takes, what seems like, an eternity to arrive after a long, brutal winter, and then disappears in what often feels like an instant - leaving us occasionally to wonder if the entire thing was just a dream. The sweet part? The season is around for such a short period of time that it is welcome with a gushing appreciation for it's sheer existence. We try then to soak in as much as humanly possible - leaving work a little bit earlier, staying out a little bit later, lounging for a little bit longer. Because, before we know it, we'll be lacing up our boots once again and crunching through the fallen leaves before we spiral into another seemingly eternal ice age.
In the spirit of things bittersweet, as well as the desire to preserve Summertime, I've made a sweet and tangy delight - strawberry rhubarb jam. A traditional summery fruit combination - make enough of this and you can taste the season all year round.
This jam is a wonderful accompaniment to yogourt, ice cream, toast, or, if you're feeling a little rebellious, as I have been lately, simply eat it with a spoon.
Straight out of the jar.
Go ahead - I won't tell.
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
what you'll need
1 cup white sugar
2 cups chopped strawberries
2 cups chopped rhubarb
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 packet liquid pectin (available in the baking section of the supermarket)
4 to 5 medium-size (250ml) Mason jars, lids and ring closures
Labels if desired
(all available at Canadian Tire, or any good kitchen store)
how to do it
combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until fruit is soft. Do not overcook, as your jam will turn unappealing colours and lose it's flavours! Skim the bubbly pink stuff off of the top as much as possible. This froth will liquefy in your jam and will interfere with the consistency once canned.
While fruit is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil to sterilize jars.
Remove jars once jam is ready and fill, while jars are still hot and jam is hot, leaving a 1-inch space at the top. Seal with lids and secure with rings. Leave to cool on the counter.
Once jars are cool enough, you can keep them in the fridge until ready to use - if canned and sealed properly, jam will be shelf-stable for about a year. Perfect time - just until the next strawberry harvest!
If you've never canned before, don't be afraid! It's easy peasy! Visit http://bernardin.ca for more information about heat processing, and some other great jam recipes. This isn't a plug, but hey, Bernardin, if you're reading this and feel like sending some free jars my way, I wouldn't be opposed!