Monday, June 25, 2007
Canning California: Apricot, Plum and Strawberry Jam
As thrilled as I am about my pending move to New York, I'm already anticipating produce withdrawal--what will I do without Harry's Berries Gaviotas and Seascapes, or Weiser's potatos, or Finley's summer squash?
One way to ease the transition is to take a bit of California with me, and this weekend I enlisted my friends Jill and Emily in a jam-making extravaganza. (I will miss these ladies even more than the produce.) We started at the Pasadena Farmers' Market for supplies, deciding on apricots and strawberries to supplement the plums Emily'd brought from her home courtyard. Jill was kind enough to let us take over her kitchen for the day, and after the market we got to work with chopping, sterilizing jars, and sugar-measuring.
Jar sterilizing is probably easier with a rack for jars, but we found that a big pot of boiling water, tongs, and excellent hand-eye coordination does the job just fine. Most books recommend boiling the jars and lids for at least 10 minutes, and leaving them in the boiling water until you're ready to fill them.
We made apricot preserves, plum preserves, Gaviota strawberry jam and Seascape strawberry jam with lemon verbena. Emily's posted the apricot and plum recipes here; as for the strawberry, the Gaviota couldn't have been easier: 5 cups chopped strawberries, 7! cups sugar, 1 package of powdered pectin, and 1/2 tsp. butter. Mix it all over medium heat, bring to a boil and cook for exactly one minute, stirring all the time. Then can.
As for the Seascape, I made 1 cup of simple syrup infused with lemon verbena and also let a few sprigs steep in the jam as it cooked. The result was a very mild, herby flavor, just enough different from the Gaviota to make it worthwhile.
Other than the Gaviota, we didn't use added pectin and all of ours seemed to jell fairly well. I'd recommend experimenting and exploring different recipes, with a focus on flavor--if you end up with something more like syrup or compote than jam, so what? It will still remind you of summer in California, even if you move away.