I finally went to pick strawberries this weekend with my friend, Virginia. We had a compressed strawberry harvest this year with smaller and fewer berries, but I still managed to bring home almost 15 pounds. Some might say I have a problem. I say be prepared for several more posts on strawberries on this blog.
I must admit, though, that I was a bit daunted by the 15 pounds of strawberries last night. You see to take advantage of the wonderful just-picked flavor of the berries, I need to start processing and preparing them quickly after getting home. Well, washing and coring that many strawberries takes a while. It seems to take even longer when you’re tired and sore from home renovation. Oh, but the smell of my kitchen when I’m making jam makes it so worth it.
Of course I made a batch of strawberry preserves again, but I also decided to experiment and make a small batch of strawberry blueberry jam. I’m very glad I did.
This is an easy recipe to get started with making preserves and it isn’t a big commitment of time and resources since it makes 2 small jars. You can also use this as a guide for your own kitchen experiments and vary the fruit and the amounts staying to the 2:1 ratio for fruit to sugar. You can also use an orange or lime instead of lemon.
Strawberry Blueberry Jam
Makes 2 1/2 pint (8 oz) jars
1 pint (2 cups) strawberries – washed, cored, and chopped into bite-size pieces
1 pint (2 cups) blueberries – washed with stems removed
2 cups granulated sugar
juice of 1 lemon
Combine fruit and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pot and cook over medium-high heat.
The sugar will melt and it will start to bubble. Stir frequently and let it cook until the juices are no longer cloudy-looking. Probably around 5 minutes.
Stir in the lemon juice and turn off the heat. Let it sit for about an hour to macerate some more and get really juicy. Then, turn the heat back to medium and cook the mixture. The amount of cooking time will vary slightly depending on the type of fruit, the amount, and the pot you are using. But, you cook it until it is the right consistency. How do you know it is the right consistency? Well, I use a couple of different methods…
One is the “freezer test.” I put a small plate/saucer in the freezer when I start to cook the fruit. When the mixture has thickened and I think it is ready, I dribble a bit of the jam (like a 1/4 tsp) on the cold plate and then put it back in the freezer. Thirty seconds later, I remove the plate and run my finger through the blob of jam. If my finger has created a clear path through the jam, and it does not run back together, it is ready to jar. If the path disappears in a puddle of jam, I know I need to cook it longer.
The other method is to use a candy thermometer. The temperature to strive for will vary slightly with the fruit you use, but 220 degrees F, is a safe bet for this particular recipe.
This batch was ready to jar after about 15 minutes of cooking and stirring.
I use glass jars with a vacuum seal for my jams and preserves, and I provide directions on that process on the post on strawberry preserves.
For a small batch recipe like this, however, you may not want to go to that much of effort. You can put the cooked jam in a sealable container with a lid and keep in your refrigerator for a couple of months or in your freezer for close to 12 months. But, because it hasn’t been processed, you cannot store it on a shelf in your pantry or cabinets.
Happy preserving this summer!