Pass the Jam, Ma'am

Despite watching my mother making strawberry jelly and even helping her as a kid I was intimidated at the idea of making it myself.  Not sure why.  It only has 4 ingredients.  The process takes a bit of time (Be prepared for a good bit of clean up too.)  but it's not that hard.  Maybe I just think of it as "advanced" because my mom did it.  I used rhubarb because my CSA had it in the box this week.  I've never had it or cooked with it before which added to the excitement of trying something new.  (If I only had a bucket list with making jam and trying rhubarb I'd get to cross 2 things off.  LOL.  I'm not into making bucket lists.  Chores are to be crossed off, not life's experiences.)

What you'll need:

The jars, pectin, and wax were available at my local hardware store.


Here's the recipe.  I didn't change much except I couldn't find Certo.  Bummer as the recipe is from Certo. 


3C Washed and cut strawberries, organic if possible
1C Washed and chopped rhubarb (Do not peel.)
7C Sugar (Yes, 7!  WOW.)
1/2 Bottle of Certo or 1-3oz packet of liquid pectin, any brand

6-8 Washed jelly jars, 6-8 oz each
2 bricks of Paraffin wax, melted

Wash the jars, lids, and rings and heat the paraffin wax before starting.  If you want to sterilize your jars do so.  I read mixed information about the necessity of sterilizing jars so I just gave them a good scrubbing in hot water.  For extra safety I'll store the jelly in the fridge. 

Put the strawberries and rhubarb in a large saucepan.  Add all that sugar.  Mix well and heat on high.  Use a potato masher if you have one to crush the fruit.  Bring fruit and sugar to a full boil.  Stir for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and stir in pectin.  Stir for 5 minutes and skim off the foam.  What is foam???


The pink bubbly stuff on top is foam.

 Ladle the hot jam into the jars one at a time, leaving about 3/4 of an inch at the top for the wax.  My jars, made by the Ball company, have a little decorative lip around the outside of the jars at the right spot.  (See pic below.) Then immediately pour about 1/8 inch of hot paraffin over the jam.  (My old Le Creuset pot with a spout is perfect for this task.)  Continue with the rest of the jars.  Cool completely (This takes a few hours.) and pour another 1/8 inch of paraffin over the first layer in each jar, carefully turning the jar at a slight angle to create a seal on the sides.  Allow the wax to start to harden then screw on the lids and rings while it's still warm so that suction forms as the wax cools.  Store in a cool dry place (3-6 months to be safe- some people keep it longer though.) or in the refrigerator for 6 months or more. 

See the lip?  It's at 3/4 of an inch!


To remove the wax seal simply run a knife along the inner edge of the jar.  Press on one side to tilt the wax up and grasp the other side to lift it out of the jar.  Toss the wax and use the lid and ring to cover the jam.  Once the wax seal is broken the jam must be kept in the refrigerator and used within a few weeks.

The finished jam, complete with instructions for removing the wax.


Some people feel that wax sealing of jams and jellies is an outdated method and shouldn't be used for safety reasons.  If you're concerned use the hot bath method.  The Ball website has lots of helpful info and appliances you can buy if you want to become a canning queen or king. 

So what did my family think?  I loved it on my toasted speedy artesian bread.  One of my daughters didn't believe jam could be made at home and thought the idea was weird.  (Eye-roll included.)  Once she got over that whole thing she said she liked the flavor but thought the texture was too thick.  (I agree.  I got sidetracked by my chatty plumber and let it cook a bit too long I think.)  My son said it tasted like strawberry ice cream, his favorite flavor.  My oldest prefers grape jelly but said this was pretty good for strawberry.  I didn't even mention the rhubarb!  So what does rhubarb taste like?  It gives the strawberries a different flavor.  Not exactly tart but more depth.  I can't put my finger on it. 

Over all I'm glad I tried this and feel quite victorious, like I could save my family from a zombie apocalypse by bartering the jam for everything we needed.  I hope it doesn't come to that. 

Sarah

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