Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
From: Kevin West, Master Food Preserver, author of Saving the Season.                           From LAWeekly Blog
Makes: 2 pints + some extra for your morning toast. Directions
2½ pounds fresh strawberries, small and sweet
½ pound of rhubarb, cut into 2″ matchsticks
3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1. Wash and trim the strawberries, halving or quartering depending on the size of the berry (you want generally uniform pieces).
2. Add the rhubarb and toss with the lemon juice and sugar. Macerate the fruit mixture a little (West used a potato masher in class), releasing some of the juices into the sugar. Let sit for at least 15 minutes to allow the sugar time to extract the fruit juice. (West notes you can also let this sit overnight in the fridge.)
3. Cook on high heat in a deep, wide bottomed pan. Bring to a rolling boil and stir the whole time. (West adds, “Don’t answer the phone. Let the postman leave the package at the door. Don’t step away from the pot. Ever. Otherwise the jam will burn.” ) During the first stage you’ll notice a light colored foam accumulating. Skim it off with a spoon as you make the jam. As the water starts to evaporate off, you’ll be able to see the pan bottom as you stir. From this point, the jamming happens pretty quickly. There are a few ways to test it to see if it’s done. The National Center for Home Food Preservation details them as follows:
Temperature Test – Take the temperature of the jelly with a candy or jelly thermometer. When done, the temperature of the jelly should be 220°F, 8°F above the boiling point of water, if you are at sea level. NOTE: For each 1000 feet of altitude above sea level, subtract 2 degrees F. For instance, at 1,000 feet of altitude, the jelly is done at 218°F; at 2,000 feet, 216°F, etc.
For an accurate thermometer reading, place the thermometer in a vertical position and read at eye level. The bulb of the thermometer must be completely covered with the jelly but must not touch the bottom of the pot. (Remember to test the accuracy of the thermometer by placing it in boiling water.)
Spoon or Sheet Test – Dip a cool metal spoon into the boiling jelly mixture and lift the spoon out of the steam so the syrup runs off the side. When the mixture first starts to boil, the drops will be light and syrupy. As the syrup continues to boil, the drops will become heavier and will drop off the spoon two at a time. When the two drops form together and “sheet” off the spoon, the jellying point has been reached.
Refrigerator/Freezer Test – Pour a small amount of boiling jelly on a plate, and put it in the freezing compartment of a refrigerator for a few minutes. If the mixture gels, it should be done. During this test, the rest of the jelly mixture should be removed from the heat.
To can your jam (because that is what all of this is presumably about):
1. Ladle the still hot jam into clean, hot jars, leaving about a 1/4″ of headspace (very important as the jam expands during processing).
2. Wipe any potential spills off the rim with a hot, wet paper towel. Top with clean and new (never used), hot lids and rings. Close to “fingertip tightness”. Do NOT over tighten. (West recommends tightening with the jar on the counter and fingertips on the ring. Turn until you feel resistance and then stop. Do not grip the ring and tighten it like you’re wringing out a towel. Too tight means you won’t get a good seal.)
3. Submerge into a boiling water bath (the water should be an inch over the tops of the jars). Start the timer when the water comes back up to a boil. Boil the jars for a full five minutes (add another five minutes if you’re processing at a location at over 1000 feet in elevation).
4. Remove the jars from the water bath, keeping the jars vertical. Don’t tip them to get water off the lids or to examine your jam. Place onto a raised rack or towel on your counter – important to prevent the jars from cracking due to temperature differences. Do not disturb or press on the vacuum indicator on the lid. Allow to sit, unmolested for at least 12 hours. Patience, here, is a definite virtue. Just walk away. It’ll still be there when you get back.
5. Remove the rings, check your seals (the lids shouldn’t pop off when you lift the jar from the lid), clean off your jars, label (always label with a date) and store.
Properly processed and stored, your strawberry jam will have a shelf life of about one year. But we seriously doubt it will last that long. We tasted the dregs left in the pot. Homework has never been so sweet.
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