Friday, July 12, 2013

Jam! Rhymes with D@!n

Or something like that...  I figure that the title of my post shouldn't be cursy.

So I would like to send a thanks and shout out to all the handsome young men at the Hack Family Farm stand at the South Shore Farmer's Market.  They saved eight quarts of strawberries for me last.  And saved is really an understatement.  I mean, between the time they gave them to me, and the time that I spent jibber-jaberring about Star Trek or Wars or Gate or something related - FOUR PEOPLE TRIED TO BUY MY STRAWBERRIES OUT FROM UNDER ME.  I only got to the market an hour and a half late, which is pretty late for me, but I'm fairly certain they were the last strawberries at the market.  Possibly for the whole year.  I probably should have sold them.  Instead, I tried to make jam.

I suck at jam.

I don't think that I have ever successfully made a batch of jam.  I follow the directions exactly.  I have tried multiple recipes from multiple books, and NEVER do I ever get jam.  I get ice cream topping.  Seriously.  The recipe says to cook for 30 minutes or until it sets - I cook it for two hours and it never sets.  If I based my self esteem on my ability to make jam, I would be in a lot of trouble right now.

Anyway, I ended up with 6 half pints each of strawberry and strawberry rhubarb ice cream topping. I also like to use it with some Greek yogurt.  If anyone wants to teach me how to make jam, I would pay you back with pickles.  I'm really good at pickles!

If you are interested in shopping where I shop, and hanging out with my farmers, please come check me out at the South Shore Farmer's Market on Saturday, August 17th.  I will be giving a cooking demo at 9:00 am.  I don't know what I'm going to make (it depends on what will be there that day), but there will be samples!  The after party, like last year, will be at the the Great Lakes Distillery.  The Tasting Room opens at 11:00, and the first tour is at 1:00.

Kate's Strawberry Ice Cream Topping:
(This recipe originally comes from my Put 'em Up book where it is called Classic Strawberry Jam.  Which I guess I'm assuming means it's really safe for canning - even if it isn't safe for jam.)

(Makes about 3 pints)

  • 3 cups strawberries, hulled and halved if large
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
Toss the strawberries and sugar in a large bowl and macerate overnight.

Transfer the mixture to a large nonreactive saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring and crushing the fruit regularly.  Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the jam reaches the desired gel, about 20 minutes.  (Alternately, cook for 2 hours while cursing at it to be jam already, then give up, can as is, and tell your friends and blog readers that it's ice cream topping and that you meant it to be that way.)

If you are canning using the boiling water method, process in half pint jars for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat, remove the cover, and allow the jars to sit in the water for 10 minutes.  And, while you may hope it does, this process does not make the contents of your jars any jammier. 

Strawberry Rhubarb "Jam" like liquid
(Originally called Strawberry Rhubarb Jam, from The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and other Sweet Preserves)

(Makes about 3 pints)

  • 1 large lemon
  • 2 pounds strawberries, hulled
  • 3/4 lbs rhubarb stalks, cut into approximately 3/8 inch cubes
  • 4 1/4 cups sugar
 Squeeze the juice from the lemon.  Put the seeds into a spice bag, and put the bag and juice into a preserving pan (looked this up on the internet.  It's basically what we common folk call a "pan.")  Add the strawberries, and slice or mash them if they are large and firm.  Add the rhubarb.  Over low heat, simmer the contents until the rhubarb is tender, about 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the sugar.  Stir the mixture over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Raise the heat to medium-high and boil the jam, stirring and skimming off the foam, until a drop mounds on a chilled dish, or until you are crazy tired and can't remember why you even bothered to do this.  It's not like you like jam that much anyway!

Fish the bag of seeds out of the sticky mess, and wonder why the F you put them in there.  They clearly didn't do anything.  This would also be a good time to reflect on the wisdom of choosing these two recipes that didn't have any store-bought pectin in them, when you've never had a jam or jelly set in your life.

Ladle the jam into pint or half pint mason jars.  Add lids and rings and process the jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.


  1. Never had much luck with jam, even using pectin, so I know from experience your ice cream topping is also really good on pancakes and waffles.

  2. When I was looking for a Jam recipe for myself this year, I read somewhere that non-pectin jams can be difficult. So I picked on with pectin and it turned out just fine. Sorry to hear yours didn't, but I'm sure it will be super-yummy on ice cream. And pancakes and waffles.