I MADE JAM!!!
And it's so tasty! I could sit down and eat a whole bowl of it right now. It's so fresh and fruity, it reminds me of staying over at my best friend's house when I was eight. Her mom always had her own homemade strawberry jam, with big chunks of strawberries and not too much sugar. It was soooo delicious and we would eat it on french toast whenever I spent the night. I was thinking about that jam all the while I made my own, which is why I'm SO EXCITED that this jam tastes just as good.
But it's not strawberry jam. It's saskatoon berry jam. Yah. I never heard of a saskatoon before yesterday. Now I'm in L-O-V-E, all thanks to my food-smart friends who identified these bushes in the middle of downtown Bloomington.
|My friend Leigh, doing some urban gathering.|
They are called saskatoons, serviceberries, sarvisberries, juneberries, sugarplums, wild plums, shadbush, shadwood, shadblow, chuckley pear, or wild pear (according to Wikipedia). Leigh thinks they taste like fruit punch. Wikipedia says they taste somewhat like blueberries. Maddie said they are related to almonds somewhat and have bitter almond flavor in the seeds and SHE'S RIGHT. And it's delicious. I love almonds.
The berries are ready to be picked when they are purple, but a lot of times birds get to them first. Luckily these bushes still had a lot of good ones left.
So here's what I did, in case you are lucky enough to have your own saskatoons. I bought the only pectin available at the market near my house, which happened to be Pomona's Universal Pectin.
I don't know nothin about pectin, but apparently this is pectin extradordinaire - at least that's what the box says. The box calls for much less pectin per cup of fruit than the recipe I found in my friend's canning cookbook. Being a newbie to jam, this had me confused and nervous so I searched online and found this blog post about using this particular pectin. I used it as a guideline for the amounts, and ended up using:
- 4 cups saskatoon berries
- 1 cup strawberries (from our garden!)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar (roughly)
- juice of one lemon
- 2 tsp pectin
- 2 tsp calcium water (you make this with the packet of calcium that comes with the box using 1/2 cup water and the whole packet, then you store the extra water for later in the fridge)
The cooking process was not very scientific. I dumped the berries and calcium water together in a pot, let it get bubbling hot, mashed it together with a potato masher, added the lemon juice, and added the sugar and the pectin. I let it bubble a little more, stirred it a bit, and then dumped it in a jar. I didn't can it properly, because that's another hassle for another day, and I'm pretty sure we'll eat it up before the week is done anyway.
|Those are strawberries from our garden - not bad eh?|
As you can kinda see by this picture, it made enough to fill an old jar of Bubbies Sauerkraut (25 fluid ounces) plus some extra (probably another 12 ounces). It was much quicker and easier than I expected, although I'm sure that if I did the whole canning process I would change my tune. Or should I say, my saska-tune. Ahahaha. Sorry.
So that's it! My first adventure in jam making. I highly recommend you try service berries sometime. I think they are even more delicious as jam. It really brought out the almond flavor. As for Pomona's Pectin, I can't judge whether it is any better than regular pectin, but I do like that I didn't have to use a ton of sugar. I also think that maybe I would use less pectin next time because the jam ended up a little more solid than I might have liked after it cooled. Once you spread it on some hot toast, however, the consistency turns just right again. So who knows! Anyone else out there ever try saskatoon jam before? Have any tips on using pectin?