In the summer before my last year of high school, my mother and I went berry picking. We picked about half a bushel of raspberries, as well as some blueberries. The house was exploding with fruit. Despite my raspberry obsession, we were pretty sure that no one would be able to finish all of the fruit before it went bad. So we did what any country-dwelling Midwesterners would do: we made jam.
I remember that experience with fondness. So, when I found myself with a bunch of almost-too-ripe fruit last weekend, I decided to jam it up. The ingredients this time were different from those of that long-ago summer: strawberries, blueberries, plums and cherries. I chopped the fruit, then ran it through a food millto get about 4 cups of juicy fruit pulp. I mixed it with sugar and honey (following the directions in the package of Pomonas Universal Pectin) and mixed in just a bit of vanilla. Finally, when it was done, I poured it into two sterilized jars to cool.
The finished product is complex, fruity, and not-too-sweet. I used it a couple of days later to make some PB+J sandwiches that were pretty tasty. Not bad for an experiment! I guess I know what I’ll be doing if I have too much fruit in the future.
Just in case you’d like to play along at home, here’s the recipe:
1 cup of strawberries
2 cups of blueberries
3/4 cup each cherries and plums
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup of honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 package of Pomona’s Universal Pectin
Following the directions on the pectin recipe booklet, mix up a batch of calcium water. Cut fruit into smallish pieces, cook for about five minutes, and then run it through a food mill to create jam with a smoother consistency. Mix 2 tsp of the calcium water into the fruit, and heat to boiling. While the fruit is cooking, mix 2 tsp pectin into the sweetener. Once the fruit has reached boiling, put the pectin-sweetener mixture into the fruit and mix it thoroughly. Allow the entire thing to return to boiling for about a minute, then turn off the heat. Pour the jam into sterilized jars, and then boil sealed jars in a large pot of water for 3 minutes to help seal. Once you remove the jars from the water, allow them to cool to room temperature on a counter. Check the lids to make sure they are properly sealed. If they sealed properly, you can keep the jam in a cupboard. Otherwise, keep it in the fridge.