First canning project of the year! I must say that canning is pretty easy once you've got the hang of it. At the beginning of my third canning season I have no problem throwing down a batch of jam in the middle of the afternoon, working alone while also working on some bread dough. (Obviously, since I was making jam, I needed to bake some bread to slather it on. Isn't that how everyone does it?)
I learned that baking bread and canning jam actually go pretty well together. The heat and humidity produced by my boiling water canner created a wonderful environment near the top of my fridge for my dough to rise in. I've been having a lot of trouble lately with dead yeast, but this time either I got a really live batch or the conditions were ideal, because my dough rose like crazy! It's so big that it doesn't fit in any of my tupperwares (usually I have to squish the top of the loaf a little, but even squished, these loaves don't come close to fitting). I finally found a container to fit one loaf after Jeff suggested cutting large slices off to leave out for French toast tomorrow morning. (Did I mention that my husband is a genius?) But I digress . . .
Jam had to be made because I am now officially on a rhubarb kick. I'd never had it before last week - I'd been wondering what all the hype was about, so I decided to make a strawberry rhubarb crumble I found on smitten kitchen. It was glorious - the sour tartness of the rhubarb was a lovely complement to the sweetness of the strawberries. And the filling turned out rather jam-like, planting the seed of an idea in my brain. I found myself, late at night, combing the internet for a great strawberry rhubarb jam recipe to try. Lo and behold, I found one by one of my favorite bloggers, Marisa from Food in Jars, posted on Food52. The recipe was really simple - just strawberries, rhubarb and sugar - and straightforward. The jam cooked down exactly as she said it would, into a bubbly, rich red mass. I got so excited by my success that I failed to take any pictures of the jam before getting it into the jars. No matter how many times I do this, I can't get over how easy it can be. If I can do it beautifully in the middle of the afternoon, with no help, only half paying attention, I think there will be a lot of small-batch jam making this summer!
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
Recipe by Marisa from Food in Jars, posting on Food52.
1 lb strawberries, cleaned, hulled and diced
1 lb rhubarb stems, cleaned and sliced into 1/2" pieces
1 1/2 c sugar
Add the strawberries and rhubarb to a glass or ceramic bowl and cover with sugar. Stir it around a few times so that all the fruit is coated. Let sit for at least an hour, until the sugar draws the juices out of the fruit.
Pour the contents of the bowl into a stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a rapid boil, then cook about 8-12 minutes (on my powerful burners in a wide skillet, I think it was done even before 8 minutes). Marisa says " It is done when it is quite thick; you can tell that it's ready when you draw your spoon or spatula through the jam and it doesn't immediately rush in to fill that space. It will also make a vigorous sizzling noise when stirred." (I knew I was done when that sizzling noise became more pronounced.)
(I wish I had pictures of the jam cooking to share, but as I said above, I got excited and filled my jars too quickly!)
Spoon the jam through a funnel into half-pint canning jars. Depending on how much moisture you got to evaporate, you may get three half-pints (I got just shy of three - you want 1/4" of headspace for jam, so that third jar was too low for me to try to seal). Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.