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Mixed berry jam

(post, Linda Ziedrich)

Here in western Oregon, summer seems a long way off. The heavy soils that dominate the region are still too wet to plant, and my summer vegetable garden is pot-bound in the greenhouse. 

[%image jam float=left width=300 caption="Last year's berries, this year's jam."]

Strawberries are beginning to ripen, and I have even picked a few raspberries, but the 2010 preserving season has yet to begin.

Yesterday, however, I found in my freezer plenty of berries from last year to make a big batch of jam. So I decided to try combining red currants, raspberries, and strawberries in Mixed Berry Jam. The results were — well, see for yourself.

Mixed Berry Jam

2 lb. frozen red currants, thawed
2 lb. frozen red raspberries, thawed
2 lb. frozen strawberries, thawed
7 cups sugar

In a covered preserving pan — a wide, heavy, nonreactive pan (I use a big Le Creuset pot with sloping sides) — over medium heat, bring the currants and raspberries to a simmer. Uncover the pan, and simmer the fruits about 5 minutes, until they are quite tender (if you use fresh fruit instead of frozen, the simmering will take a bit longer).

Purée the mixture through the fine screen of a food mill set over a large bowl. Briefly mash the strawberries with a potato masher (to break them into pieces, not to obliterate them), and add them to the fruit purée. Stir in the sugar.

Pour half the mixture into the preserving pan. Boil the mixture over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until it mounds in a chilled bowl. Ladle the jam into pint or half-pint designated jam or Mason jars, and close the jars. Cook the rest of the fruit mixture in the same way, and fill more jars with the jam.

The jars can then be processed in a boiling-water bath: five minutes if the jars are sterilized first, 10 minutes if they’re not.

The red currants in this jam provide abundant acid and pectin for a strong gel. I undercooked my jam a bit to keep the gel on the soft side.

Unless your food-mill screen is finer than mine, some seeds will slip through, enough to add a little texture without making the jam unpleasantly seedy.

You can also cut this recipe in half and cook all the jam at once.

p(blue). Culinate editor's note: This post also appeared on Linda Ziedrich's blog, A Gardener's Table.

reference-image, l

jam, l