practice makes perfect

One of the things I miss about living in Florida is the extended growing season for fruits and veggies.  Our local farmer’s market starts up in a couple of weeks (so excited), but it will be at least a month after that before we start seeing any fresh local fruit.   Right now, in Florida, strawberries are abundant and I miss being able to stop at a farm stand to pick up a flat for several months out of the year.  We do grow strawberries here in Virginia (we even have a few plants in our garden!) but the growing season is limited to about 4 weeks starting in mid-May.  During that time I make it a point to visit the closest pick-your-own patch at least twice, coming home after each trip with a giant flat of berries, a slight sunburn and a full belly.

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We manage to consume most of the berries we come home with while they are still fresh, but towards the end of the season I’ll make a final trip to the patch to pick the few remaining berries that haven’t been zapped by June’s high temperatures, just to freeze for smoothies later in the summer.  Strawberries you’ve picked and frozen yourself bear no comparison to those you buy in the freezer section of your local grocery and I will surely be freezing some again this year. But I’ve also decided on another method of preservation for this May (JAM!!!), or maybe its merely an excuse to buy even more at the patch.  Because really, nothing makes me much happier than loading up a cardboard box with mounds of freshly picked berries.

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In the meantime I’ll be making do with the fresh Florida strawberries I’m finding at Whole Foods, which are absolutely delicious even if they do lack the nostalgia that comes with picking them yourself.  Canning is a new process for me, and I want to be sure to get some practice in before facing the challenge of preserving enough berries to make my fresh Virginia strawberry nostalgia last me from June 2009 until the following May.  Luckily I remembered reading a Molly Wizenburg article in last June’s Bon Appetit that outlined the process quite precisely, and was able to adapt her recipe to use strawberries and their favorite partner, rhubarb

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The result was delicious, although I might consider reducing the sugar in my next batch so that the tartness of the rhubarb shines through a bit more.  This recipe can be adapted to use an endless variety of fruit, and I plan on experimenting with as many as I can come summertime.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

basic jam recipe from Orangette via Bon Appetit

Ingredients:

  • 24oz fresh strawberries, washed and sliced
  • 1-1/2 lbs rhubarb (about 5 stalks), sliced into 1/2″ chunks
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Method:

  1. Place sliced strawberries and rhubarb in a large bowl with sugar and lemon juice.  Mix to coat and let sit for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. Place 2 saucers in freezer.
  3. Transfer fruit mixture to large saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Use a hand-held mixer or immersion blender to puree the fruit as best you can. Reduce heat to medium and boil gently until mixture begins to thicken, stirring often, about 18 minutes.
  4. Remove saucepan from heat to test jam for gelling point. Drop 1 teaspoonful jam on chilled saucer and return to freezer 1 minute. Remove saucer and push edge of jam with fingertip. If jam has properly gelled, surface will gently wrinkle. If not, return saucepan to heat and cook jam a few minutes longer; repeat test.
  5. Ladle hot jam into jars.  Allow to cool and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.*

* If you’d like to preserve the jam for longer, follow Molly’s method here.  The jam will keep for months, unopened in the pantry, if you follow a proper canning method.  Then, you can send a jar to friends and make them very, very happy.

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Thank you all for the sweet Happy Birthday messages!  I had a fabulous day, or weekend actually, filled with cake (friday, saturday AND today!), dinner out, brunch in and lots of great company.  I could not have wished for more, and your messages have put it over the top.  Thank you!!!

In the Blog World:

Rose is giving away one of those fantastic Quaker robe and slipper sets!  The deadline is midnight tonight, so hurry up!  And after you enter, stick around to read more of Rose’s wonderful blog and fabulous oatmeal stories…she is such a creative lady!

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39 responses to “practice makes perfect

  1. Happy Birthday again!

    That jam looks fantastic. I am SO impressed that you can make your own jam! I bet it tastes every bit as beautiful as it looks.

  2. Happy Birthday!

  3. Happy birthday!!

    I am totally with you on how wonderful it is to pick your own produce. It’s fun and rewarding at the same time.

  4. Happy Birthday Andrea – just catching up on my blog reading.

    Love this recipe – I can’t wait for my farmer’s market to open – sadly, not until the 2nd week of June!

  5. happy birthday! (sorry its a bit late). beautiful jam 🙂

  6. I LOVE strawberries!

    Happy Birthday! 🙂

  7. YUM to that jam and scone! I came by to say Happy Birthday as Meghann said it was your bday….but, wow, what a nice surprise. I will have to check back on your blog – it looks awesome!

  8. Happy Happy Birthday. This Jam looks fantastic. I can’t wait to tackle canning this growing season. I plan to make my own tomato sauce at the height of season this summer.

  9. Happy Birthday!!!!!!!

  10. Happy Birthday!

    I didn’t get to make your baked oatmeal this weekend. The family wanted to bagels, and frankly sticking something in the toaster slot was a lot easier and quicker, but I’m still going to make it!

    And I’ve seen how Meghann does birthdays…I think you can have cake for the next three months, no?

  11. Happy Birthday, hope it is a great one!

  12. Mmmm… I wish I had a stockpile of frozen strawberries like your’s!!

  13. Happy birthday! have a great one!

  14. HAPPY BIRTHDAY (again, haha)!!!! 😀

    That jam… oh my… I’ll pay you for some!!

  15. Happy Birthday!
    That jam looks so cute. I love making it fresh, my mom and I used to do it. Its a process I need to re-learn.

  16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

    I’ve never had rhubarb before but I want to try that jam!

  17. i have never made my own jam, but I would like to at some point. I do love picking berries – there’s just something about it 🙂

    Happy Birthday!!!

  18. You make it sound so easy! I wonder if I should try it…

    And (again) what GORGE pictures. I hope you write a cookbook one day!

  19. Strawberries just define summer to me 🙂

    Happy Birthday!!

  20. Happy Belated Birthday!

    Your jam looks like the essence of summer. 🙂

  21. Happy Belated Birthday my dear! Homemade strawberry jam brings back the most fabulous memories of being a kid in the summertime!

    Hope your special day was fab!

  22. Happy belated birthday!

    That jam looks fabulous, it totally makes me feel like summer is coming soon!

  23. Pruett&Daphne

    TRUST ME! THIS JAM IS JAMLICIOUS! A MUST MAKE!!!!

    Happy Birthday!

    Christina

  24. i found your blog through meghann’s blog as she mentioned it was your birthday. happy birthday! your recipes look a-mazing! i cannot wait to try some of them out. glad to find a new blog with great recipes.

  25. happy birthday! my grandmom makes strawberry rhubarb jam…it is the best flavor combination!

  26. This looks so beautiful! I can’t wait to try and make some 🙂 I made raspberry jam for the first time last summer and have been itching to make some more!

  27. you are making me crave berries…they look soooooo delish!

  28. happy birthday!

    this reminds me of my grandma, i love it…

    NAOmni

  29. Those little jars are the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!

  30. Happy Birthday!

    I am very hesitate to make jam. Last summer, my husband and I went strawberry picking and ended up with an over-abundance of berries. I was so tempted to make jam, bought all of the materials, and then chickened out and ended up just freezing most of the berries.

    Maybe this year I will give it a go. There is nothing better than homemade jame. Good thing my mother-in-law is famous for making it quite often! 😉

    Hope you had a wonderful b-day and a great weekend!

  31. Happy Birthday! Wow the jam looks really good. I’ve never cooked with rhubarb before and I think it just might be a good goal for this summer! Fruit & veg season here is crummy too, and we don’t even have a proper farmer’s market! As far as jam is concerned, I often find the berries too expensive for jam. But I did try to find a recipe for marmalade with Cointreau, which I tried at a fair once. Never managed to find it, so maybe you could… haha. Anyway. What did you eat the jam on? They look tasty as well?

  32. just wanted to say happy birthday! meant to stop by sooner but was busy celebrating my birthday yesterdya!!!

  33. Happy belated b-day! hope you had a wonderful day!

    By the way, that jam looks incredible. You always find the most interesting recipes to post!

  34. Happy belated birthday! Your jam looks so yummy. You should do a give-away! Or…i’ll even buy one from you!

  35. Thanks Everybody!!!

    Ruby – I made the same buttermilk biscuit that I posted about last week, but without the chives and cheese. Delicious!!! 🙂

  36. mmmm i love strawberry rhubarb jam. 🙂

    although it’s strawberry season here (in fact, this weekend is the strawberry festival!) and my favorite way to eat them is sliced up with a little raw sugar and then over nonfat or 2% cottage cheese!

  37. Happy Belated Birthday and thanks for the jam post!

  38. Pingback: it will do « bella eats

  39. Pingback: bella terra: blackberry jam, anyone? « bella eats

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