Sunday, June 27, 2010

How does your garden grow? Part 16: Strawberry Rhubarb Freezer Jam.

I had Rhubarb filling up every extra spot in both of my refrigerators. What's a girl to do? Make some freezer jam that's what. So I will admit I was always the kind of girl (er, lady) who thought that lazy people made freezer jam. Not I. Only people who weren't savvy in the kitchen made freezer jam. Not I. Boys and girls I was wrong! I am in love with freezer jam. Don't tell the hubby, but I am seriously sitting in a tree M-I-X-I-N-G. Freezer jam that is! Oh the shame. If you think about it you really could make freezer jam up in a tree. Hee hee. It's that simple.

First you gather your ingredients. You will need enough fruit to equal 4 cups. This is 4 cups of mashed fruit. Trust me, 4 cups of whole raspberries is a whole lot different than 4 cups of mashed. As you can see above I had a heaping measuring cup of strawberries and rhubarb. It filled both my 4 cup and 2 cup measuring cups. Heaping. And it was just the right amount after it was mashed. Now before you wonder how you mash rhubarb don't. You are going to cook it for a bit before adding it to the strawberries. Yet, you don't have to cook the berries. This is the best part about freezer jam. For the most part no cooking. This makes the jam taste fresh picked and saves a lot of the good for you stuff in them.

Strawberry Rhubarb Freezer Jam adapted from Nancy Baggett
2-3 cups mashed strawberries (A 4 cup measuring cup heaping full turned into almost 3 cups mashed.)
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 c sugar, divided
2 1/2 c diced rhubarb
1 box Ball No Sugar Needed Fruit Pectin
Place a few metal spoons in the freezer. You may need these to test the doneness later. Put mashed (As you can see I use a potato masher to keep mine chunky. Some use a processor) strawberries, 3/4 cup sugar and lemon juice in a large non reactive bowl. Mix it up.

Now put remainder of the sugar (1 1/4 cups) and box of pectin into a heavy duty non reactive pot. Mix well. Add 1/2 cup cold water. Stir well. Add rhubarb and stir to coat. You will bring this mixture to a boil over medium to medium high heat. You need to stir constantly. Have patience as this will take a bit. Once it is boiling and getting all nice and foamy keep stirring and time it out so the rhubarb is just tender. This will take roughly 4 minutes give or take. You'd rather it be a little under done as it will keep cooking even after you take it off the burner. Nancy gives a great tip about checking to see if the pectin is set up enough. Those spoons I told you to put in the freezer...go grab one. Put about a teaspoon onto the spoon and let it sit for about 20 seconds. Pour it back into your pan. Does it run right off or does it hang on for dear life to the spoon? If it's the latter that's what you want. If it's too runny cook it for a couple minutes longer checking after EVERY minute that goes passes. It will continue to thicken as it sits. Remove from heat and immediately put your strawberries into the pan. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes. Make sure you scrape the bottom to get it all mixed up evenly. If there is foam and it is bothering you aesthetically you can get rid of it by skimming it off with a spoon. It won't harm the outcome of your jam. Using your scooper of choice (large spoon, ladle, turkey baster....okay, maybe not a turkey baster, but hey ya never know!) place into sterilized jars or plastic freezer 'jars' or containers. Place the lids on and let stand for 30 minutes before putting into the fridge. After 24 hours you can place into the freezer up to 1 year or keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. And the end result. :)

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