It’s a good weekend when I get to putter, and make jam, and pick up a loaf of crusty sourdough to toast and eat with sauteed chard and over easy eggs. And then toast some more to eat with jam.
We had been berry picking last week, and had a bagful in the fridge. The boys wanted to make jam. Straight-up Saskatoon berry jam can be a little hardcore – they’re a little hardier than blueberries – and so I picked up some strawberries and let them squish them directly into the pot with their hands. We made strawberry-Saskatoon jam, and as far as combos go, it’s just about perfect.
The berries get cooked down anyway – normally you chop or mash them first or in the pot – and they got a great kick out of demonstrating their respective superhuman strengths by squeezing the guts out of strawberries with their bare hands. Hopefully now they won’t grow up to be those guys who smash beer cans against their foreheads.
The mixture is thick at first, before the fruit has had a chance to release its juices. The boys pushed stools up to the stove and attempted to stir without flicking sugared fruit all over the kitchen.
You think at first that the fruit might singe, being so dry in the pot. But then once it gives up its juice, you think it’s far too liquidy. But it’s not.
Just keep cooking it. It will foam up all big and pink but not (quite) overflow if you’ve chosen your pot correctly. Eventually the foam will subside and the jam will thicken – keep in mind though that it will still be runnier than it will be cool. This is why you need to put a small spoonful on a small dish that you’ve stashed in the freezer at some point during the last few steps.
Once it cools, it should wrinkle when you push it with your finger.
Ladle it into hot jars, or the containers of your choice. If you’re nervous about canning, cool the jam completely and store it in heavy duty freezer bags or other containers in the freezer. That works too.
If you don’t have access to them where you are, blueberries are a perfect substitute for Saskatoons.
8 cups fruit (about half Saskatoon berries or blueberries, half chopped or crushed strawberries)
1 pouch liquid pectin
5-6 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
In a large pot (it will bubble up as it cooks) stir together the fruit, pectin, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a full boil and cook, stirring often, for about 20 minutes, or until a small spoonful set on a small dish you’ve stashed in the fridge or freezer gels enough that your finger leaves a trail when you run it through the puddle of jam.
Ladle into clean, hot jars, wipe rims and seal according to the jar manufacturer’s directions (I use the snap lid jars). Set aside to cool. Refrigerate any that don’t seal properly. Our batch made almost ten 250 mL jars.