Last weekend I organized a baby shower for my dear friend in Seattle, Tina. When Tina broke the news about their baby and shared her first trimester ultrasound picture, I knew I have to throw her the best shower.
Tina has always reminded me of my sister Akki. They are so similar in nature. Very very caring, nurturing, looking out for you and at the same time super-intelligent and practical. I missed out on putting together a shower for my sister being so far away. So doing this for Tina, was almost like arranging one for Akki.
As return favors, I wanted to put together a DIY project. Canning procedures have always fascinated me. I would sit for hours in my grandma’s kitchen during our school holidays and watch her painstakingly canning spicy mango pickles in the hot summers of Mangalore. Amma would store some in large barnis for the home and the rest in sterilized jars for us and my cousins to take back home. We would eat these amazing pickles – Moodi Uppad (whole raw baby mangoes in a spicy mix) and Kochhidina Uppad (finely chopped raw mango in the yummiest spice mix) with watery Ganji (Rice served with the water it is cooked in) in the monsoon season where our staple fish diet would be affected by the lack of fishing activities.
Although making jams and pickles are often considered as a ‘Grandma’ activity for its lengthy procedures and patience required, I often enjoy them when I have some ‘me time’ on Saturdays. It is very relaxing. So the Saturday before the shower, I turned on some music, put all the ingredients together and made this jam.
Strawberries were the primary ingredient as they were the safest bet for a first time experiment. To make it a little more special, I added two cups of chopped Rhubarb as well.
To make a dozen of 1/2 pint jars of jam, I took around 6 cups of chopped fruit. 2 cups of rhubarb and 4 cups of strawberry. You must measure the fruits as you need equal amounts of sugar. So 6 cups of sugar in my case. In a pot, put the chopped fruit and half the sugar. No water is required.
The fruit breaks down in the pot and releases enough water of its own. Keep stirring it occasionally and let it come to rolling boil and let it boil for 5 minutes. Remove the white scum that forms on top. This is very crucial or else you might get white streaks in your jam. It is very simple to do it. Just scoop it out with a clean ladle.
After 5 minutes of the rolling boil and scum removal, add around 2 thsps of freshly squeezed lemon juice and the rest of the sugar. Many add an ingredient called Pectin at this stage. But I wanted this batch chemical free. Just pure jam. The lemon juice helps the jam set well, so you don’t really need the Pectin. Now let it come to a rolling boil again. Once it is on the roll ;), let it boil for 10 more minutes on the timer. Turn off the stove. Remove the remaining scum. The jam is ready.
Let it cool in the pot for ten minutes before pouring it in sterilized jars.
Sterilizing the jars:
This step is very important to store the jam for upto a year. You need to sterilize every single jar and tools including the ladle to pour in the jam for 10 minutes in hot water. An easier option is put them in the dishwasher and let the heated dry procedure do the magic. Canning jars are easily available online. I ordered mine from Amazon of course 😉