Monday, January 10, 2011
I had intended to make and share my recipe for Chocolate Courgette (zucchini) Cake today, but low and behold Kye and I seem to have picked up some bug, so the butter remains on the bench where I left it to soften, untouched.
Lucky for me it was Si’s day off today, so Kye and I were able to spend the afternoon lying on the couch, quietly dying without having to think about entertaining Ada or cooking dinner. I lay there as still as can be, upper arm resting on the back of the couch, with hand splayed over my forehead. It did little to hasten the throbbing congested headache, but still made me feel better somehow. Kye lay next to me, struggling to breathe, tossing and turning in an attempt to get away from the pain and discomfort he was feeling. My poor baby boy. Isn’t it one of the hardest things in the world, seeing your little ones so sick? I hate it. I seem to have come right after taking a homeopathic remedy all afternoon, and getting some food into me. But Kye is still pretty sick. All his colds seem to descend to his chest way too quickly. He was so exhausted tonight all it took to get him to sleep was a teeny snuggle in bed, tucked up next to mum.
So the recipe I’m writing up today is for a lovely strawberry and rhubarb jam that I made last week. If you are like me and love strawberry jam but feel like it’s a waste using all those lovely fresh berries to turn into jam, this recipe will help you to let go of that notion. Using half strawberry and half rhubarb you manage to stretch the strawberry flavour that little bit further and it adds a lovely acidity to the mix too. Even better if you have a rampant rhubarb plant growing in your back yard like we do!
I've given this jam a little citrus hit in place of the usual vanilla paring. It results in a beautifully fresh flavoured jam. Because strawberries are not naturally high in pectin (needed to set jams), the addition of lemon zest and juice also helps the setting process along. I like my jams to have a soft spoonable set, so I remove it from the heat the second a trail is left on the plate when tested, but if you prefer a firmer set simply boil for longer or use a sugar like Chelsea’s jam setting sugar (it contains citric acid and pectin). As I've mentioned before, most homegrown rhubarb tends to be more green than red. But in a recipe like this you'd never notice as the berry colour really dominates.
I used unrefined cane sugar, but use which ever sugar you like.
Makes 4-5 small jars.
2 heaped cups (300g) strawberries, hulled and chopped in half if large
2 cups (230g) rhubarb, cut into 1cm pieces
3 1/2 cups (700g) raw sugar
The finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Pop a plate into the fridge or freezer to test for setting later. Place the fruit, sugar, zest and juice into a large preserving pot. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Cook rapidly, stirring often to prevent sticking. After 10 minutes start testing jam for setting. To do this, remove the plate from the fridge, drop a teaspoonful of jam onto it. Run your finger through the centre of the jam. If the trail remains in the jam your jam will set on cooling. If it runs into the centre and forms one blob again, return to the heat and cook for a further few minutes before testing again. Once setting point has been reached remove the pot from the heat, skim any foam off the top (or if you eat butter you can add a little knob of this to the jam, mix it in to help break up the foam- a tip from my Nana!) and set aside for 5-10 minutes. This ensures the fruit is evenly dispersed through the jam and doesn't all float to the top. Pour into sterilised jars*, screw on the lids and set aside to cool. Store jam in a cool dark place and refrigerate once opened.
* To sterilise jars, clean them in hot soapy water, rinse and place into 120 C/248 F oven for 30 minutes. Stand lids in boiling water for 5 minutes to sterilise.
Adapted from a recipe featured in the 2010 New Zealand Gardener garden diary.
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