Here in western Oregon, summer seems a long way off. The heavy soils that dominate the region are still too wet to plant, and my summer vegetable garden is pot-bound in the greenhouse. Strawberries are beginning to ripen, and I have even picked a few raspberries, but the 2010 preserving season has yet to begin.
Yesterday, however, I found in my freezer plenty of berries from last year to make a big batch of jam. So I decided to try combining red currants, raspberries, and strawberries in–
Mixed Berry Jam
2 pounds frozen red currants, thawed
2 pounds frozen red raspberries, thawed
2 pounds frozen strawberries, thawed
7 cups sugar
In a covered preserving pan over medium heat, bring the currants and raspberries to a simmer. Uncover the pan, and simmer the fruits about 5 minutes, until they are quite tender (if you use fresh fruit instead of frozen, the simmering will take a bit longer).
Purée the mixture through the fine screen of a food mill set over a large bowl. Briefly mash the strawberries with a potato masher (to break them into pieces, not to obliterate them), and add them to the fruit purée. Stir in the sugar.
Pour half the mixture into the preserving pan. Boil the mixture over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, skimming the foam, until the jam mounds in a chilled bowl. Ladle it into pint or half-pint jars, and close the jars. Cook the rest of the fruit mixture in the same way, and fill more jars with the jam. You should have about 5 pints total, with the perfume of raspberries, tartness of currants, and occasional smooth globs of pure strawberry.
• The red currants in this jam provide abundant acid and pectin for a strong gel. I undercooked my jam a bit to keep the gel on the soft side.
• Unless your food-mill screen is finer than mine, some seeds will slip through, enough to add a little texture without making the jam unpleasantly seedy.
• Process the jars in a boiling-water bath as usual: 5 minutes if the jars are sterilized, 10 minutes if they’re not.
• You can cut this recipe in half and cook all the jam at once.