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JAM-MAKING, by Alison Colwell

JAM-MAKING, by Alison Colwell

Preserving food: jam-making
When the opportunity to go to a Canning workshop with one of Bernadin’s top chefs arose, I jumped at the chance. I know a lot about canning, my Grandma taught me to make Jam almost 30 years ago, but there’s always something new to learn. As it turned out – I learned a lot. The biggest realization was that I’m a bit of a jam snob! I make jam the old fashioned way. Long boil, with thermometers, copper pots, and an understanding of the various pectin levels of different fruits at different times of the year. I consider myself an expert at the obscure wrinkle test. And for the last few years I’ve taught “old-school” jam classes through the Galino community Food Program, making hundreds of jars of jam with participants. My Grandmother taught me never to waste food, and I have tried to pass some of those food preserving skills on.

But at the workshop I learned that there are other, perhaps easier ways than those I learned from my grandma! The Bernadin Chef used Bernadin Pectin. (As a traditionalist I have always opposed pectin on principle!) But if you are using commercial pectin the only skills needed are the ability to measure a few cups of fruit, and the ability to time a boil. Skills everyone has. That’s it. No thermometers, no wrinkle tests. The result: a half a dozen jars of jam on the counter, which the nutritionists in the workshop maintained was healthier because it was cooked for a much shorter amount of time. Using some commercial pectins also gives you the freedom to use honey or skip the sugar all together – things not possible with traditional long boil jams. Or you can make combinations of fruits not easily done in long boil, such as Strawberry Rhubarb Jam. Regardless of which technique you use for making the jam, there are simple, but strict procedures that must be followed to ensure that the jam you’ve made will be kept safe. My grandmother used paraffin wax to seal her jars, or dipped wax paper circles in brandy. Processing your jam in a hot water bath for ten minutes is now the acceptable practice.

I’ll be teaching a “Jam for Beginners” as well as the traditional jam classes on July 4th at 4:30pm at the Galiano Community Hall, sharing both techniques. Come learn how to put up your own harvest. And in the meantime, try an experiment with a quick jam.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam recipe
Makes 6 x 250ml jars
Mash approx. 2 cups of strawberries by hand (not a food processor). Measure out exactly 2 cups of crushed berries. Place in pot. Dice Rhubarb very fine. Measure out 2 cups of rhubarb into pot. Stir in 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Sprinkle 1 package of “Original Pectin” over the fruit. Stir well. Bring to a rolling boil, one that will not stir down. Add 5 1/2 cups of sugar to the fruit, stir well. Bring to a rolling boil, one that will not stir down. Boil hard for 1 minute. Fill jam into hot jars. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.