marionberry-rhubarb jam (flavored with vanilla bean and kirsch)
How does one stay upbeat when we seem to have gone from barefoot to “kaput” in just one week? My current solution is to can it, jam it, pickle it and no doggin’ it!
There’s only a sliver of time left to grab the best of the season and jam it in a jar so I’m not letting this opportunity slip by. After spending a few days stirring up marionberry-rhubarb jam, apricot jam, tequila pepper jelly, red currant jelly and dill pickles I am pumped to put more up!
This "urge to preserve" got me thinking... are we humans programmed like animals to start stockpiling food when a severe winter is on its way? Does this mean the frost will come early and the snow will fall heavy and deep? Are other animals watching me to see if I’m getting hairier and storing more than my fair share of acorns? Who knows, maybe it’s just my desperate attempt to keep summer preserved in a jar so I can admire it with loving eyes, tilting it and holding it to the light, and then consuming it all through the winter. Whatever the reason, it all tastes good.
On a chosen day last week, a pal and I headed out to the countryside in search of supplies and inspiration. Boy were we shocked to learn at all our favourite farm stands that everyone else had put orders in for 100+ pounds of pickling cucumbers, hence there were none left for us last minute hunters! (I took this as another sign that this Winter is going to be a cold one.)
Luckily we uncovered a few pounds of “cukes” as well as some other ingredients to satisfy our preserving impulse. I won’t post our pickle recipe yet, as the verdict on them won’t be in until October, but I can testify about the deliciousness of a few jams. So jump in, and put a lid on summer…. And don’t let anyone see where you store your jars.
Note: If you are not experienced with the safety rules of canning, it’s best to check out the following links Bernardin, National Center for Home Food Preservation, and Canning Across America, to learn the basics and safe practices for canning. Botulism is serious and it is best to check out what the experts advise on this one.
Now back to the fun!
This first recipe for marionberry-rhubarb jam is inspired by yet another David Lebovitz recipe for Rhubarb Berry Jam.
Marionberries are a wonderful Pacific NW berry that is rather like the child of a blackberry and a raspberry couple. As are many cool things, this berry hails from Oregon, so please send your thanks to the “Beaver State”.
- 3 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces (that’s about 8 or 9 cups)
- 2 cups fresh marionberries
- 1/2 cup water
- 5 cups sugar
- juice of two large lemons
- vanilla bean (split open)
- 1 tablespoon kirsch (optional)
First move, put a china saucer in the freezer to test for gel point later.
Using a large stainless steel pot, combine the rhubarb, marionberries, and water.
Cook stirring frequently over low to moderate heat for about 15 minutes, until the rhubarb is cooked and breaking up.
Add the sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla bean.
Increase heat to medium high and cook until boiling rapidly, skimming off and discarding any foam that forms until the jam is thick (this will take about 15 to 20 minutes).
When the jam is looking thicker, start the gel testing on the cold saucer you stashed in the freezer. (Testing entails putting a little jam on the saucer, letting it chill again for a few minutes and then seeing if the jam is thick enough to run your finger through, without the jam running back together. It must stay pushed in a little mound with your finger. Keep testing as you go but you will notice when things start to look thicker.)
When jam is ready to pour in the jars, stir in the kirsch and fish out the vanilla bean.
Ladle the hot jam into sterilized 1 cup jars, leaving about ½ inch headroom from the top of the jar.
Carefully put on the lids and screw on caps just until they are tight… no cranking!
Store jars in the fridge to consume in the next few months or process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath, if you’d like to preserve it for longer. (I kept one for instant consumption and the rest went into the boiling water.)
Note: After you gently remove the jars from the bath, listen for the happy little "ping" that tells you the seal has taken and your jam is safely waiting for it’s unveiling.
Makes about 5 or 6 - 1 cup (250 ml) jars.
P.S. Stay tuned for apricot jam laced with lavender coming next!