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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Strawberry Raspberry Jam with Lemon



The above average heat and drought conditions have resulted in my first crop of raspberries being less than perfect in appearance this year. Even though I have been watering them regularly, they are on generally smaller than usual, more prone to crumbling, and even "sun-scalded" (my Mom's term) with white patches where the light has hit the ripening berry.

Jam, sherbet, and pies are very forgiving of these visual irregularities, however, so that's where most of the heavy and still flavorful crop has ended up this year--along with the daily bowl of berries and cereal of course! 

I have found that the intense flavor of raspberries is often made better when mixed with some other fruit, so the strawberries in the refrigerator looked like a perfect match. Both of these fruits are low in pectin, so any no-pectin recipe for these jams will include some lemon juice. With a supply of already sliced lemons also in the fridge, I decided to try something new. When we lived in Arizona, I often made orange and other marmalades, so why not try to make a combination jam/marmalade from these ready ingredients?

The resulting "jarmalade" is wonderful! It thickened much more quickly than usual, and the color is bright and fresh. The strawberries temper the raspberries (and make for a slightly less seedy final product) and the lemon is just a little more prominent in the overall flavor mix. Best of all, start to finish--from washing the berries to sealing up the jars--the jam was ready in little more than an hour.

NOTE:  As usual, I did not process the jam in a water bath, as I will be keeping it in the refrigerator until sharing as gifts and using it soon. If you do want to store it on the shelf, you will need to add a little more time for processing. Just about every state has an extension site with good instructions for canning, but a very reliable resource for everyone can be found at:  http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can7_jam_jelly.html   
Please, don't skip the processing step if your jam will be stored outside the refrigerator for any length of time. There is nothing more discouraging--let alone potentially unhealthful--than to have all your work and produce become moldy or fermented and turned into instant compost!



Strawberry Raspberry "Jarmalade"

4 c red raspberries
4 c chopped strawberries
6 c sugar
1/2 c lemon juice
1 to 2 lemons

1. Wash the lemons well. Slice and then dice, keeping the peeling and the pulp but making sure to remove all seeds. Cut the strawberries in pieces about the same size as the raspberries.

2.  Mix all ingredients in a large pan, stir well, and cook over medium high heat. Continue stirring occasionally to be sure mixture is not sticking to the bottom. If desired, skim foam as it forms on the top. (This is a tasty bread topping for any kids waiting for the jam to finish, so don't discard it!)

3.  Test for jelling by one of the following methods:
  • When the temperature reaches 220 degrees
  • When a few drops on a chilled plate hold their shape--drop a small amount on the plate and then run your finger through the jam. If it leaves an open space instead of running into the center, it is done
  • When the mixture "sheets" off the mixing spoon. Hold the spoon above the mixture and watch how the drops form as they come off the spoon. When they begin to slide together and drop as one, the jam is ready
(For our family, jam a little on the soft side is fine so I often end up stopping the cooking before any of these tests is completely met. In addition, if you will be processing the jam, you might want to finish a little early, as the jam will be "cooked" a few minutes in the hot water bath.)

4.  While the jam is cooking, wash jars and lids and place in a pan of water kept just below boiling on another burner. This will maximize sanitation and help prevent broken jars from too great a temperature contrast when you pour in the hot jam.

5.  Immediately after removing the jam from the heat, skim the foam if desired, and then pour into the hot jars. Put the covers on immediately.  Cool in an area away from drafts, again to avoid any potential glass breakage.

This mixture made a little more than four pints.








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