Last month when Sol Food was in town the Museum had a community day focused around food, sustainability, gardening, cooking, and living. In addition to the workshops Sol Food held on the bus and the vigorous butter making happening on the other end of the lobby, I held a jam-making workshop for anyone who was interested.
Berry jam, made without pectin or sugar added, is as simple as three ingredients, a bit of time, and patience. Whole blueberries combine with big chunks of strawberries and the juice of a few lemons, and simmer for a half an hour, or until they’re nice and syrupy. Then they quickly go into sanitized jars and get plopped into a water bath, ready to be enjoyed at your leisure.
I made enough jam that day for 6 1/2 pint jars- two went on with Sol Food and the rest went home with excited Museum guests. And there was just enough left over for a bit of sampling. Jam, it turns out, is the perfect compliment to homemade butter.
photos by Will Kirk
Mixed Berry Jam
1 1lb fresh strawberries
2 pints blueberries
1/2 or 1/4 pint canning jars
In a large, non-reactive pot combine whole blueberries and quartered strawberries over medium heat. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the juices are thick the the chunks of fruit have broken down. Stir in juice from lemons.
About an hour before you want to can fill two large pots with water. I recommend that you have some canning equipment, at the very least a large pot with a rack and a pair of tongs. You’ll need a separate pot for sterilizing your jars and lids. Bring both pots of water to a boil. In one pot (the one without a lid) place your jars and the lids (not the screw bands). Allow them to boil for at least 10 minutes, but keep them in the pot until right before you fill them.
Use a spoon to fill the jars, leaving 1/4″ of room at the top. Use a spoon to make sure there are no bubbles in the jar, and adjust the headspace (space between the jam and the top of the jar) as needed. Wipe the rim with a sterile cloth and fish a lid out of the pot. Place the lid onto the jar and screw the band on tightly. Set aside and repeat with all of your jars.
Take the rack from the other pot and place the jars onto it. Lower the rack into the pot (whose water should be boiling) and process the jars for 10 minutes. Remove them from the water and (here’s the hardest part) wait for the ping. When they first come out of the water the jar should pop up and down, but when the jars seals you won’t be able to pop the jar any more. Some jars will seal immediately, some will take a little longer, and some may not at all. If jars fail to seal, store them in the fridge for up to two weeks. The jars that do seal, however, are good in a cool dark space for up to a year. Enjoy!