What are your favourite flavours of summer?
My favourites are:
the taste of a ripe tomato, fresh off of the vine;
grilled corn on the cob,
peaches and nectarines on the day that they are just ripe enough to be sweet, but not too ripe,
fresh salads filled with seasonal fruits and nuts,
and most of all
When the season starts to change I will miss those summer treats.
One way that our ancestors were able to stretch their fresh fruits was to preserve the taste into jars of jams and jellies. You can open a jar in the dead of winter and still taste the wonderful fruit like it was the day you canned it.
I have wonderful memories of homemade jams from my childhood; memories of an older aunt who loved to cook. I remember her making luscious fruit jams and spicy chili sauce every summer. She was very generous with her cooking. We had a large family for which she would whip up sensational meals because she loved feeding a crowd. I miss her.
Everyone has a childhood memory or two that is related to food. We remember those wonderful days when we taste the dishes that our mothers, grandmothers, aunts or uncles used to make.
For me, making jam is like making a jar of memories.
Mixed Berry Jam
Makes approximately 9 -500 ml or 1 cup jars
9 cups mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, mulberries)
1/3 cup lemon juice
4 1/3 cups sugar, warmed
1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. pectin
Remove stems, stalks, leaves and any blemishes from the berries. If the berries are sandy or gritty, wash then gently under cold water. Be sure to drain them well in a colander.
Place the berries and lemon juice in a large pot and gently cook for 10 minutes. Add the sugar and stir over low heat for 5 minutes, or until all sugar has dissolved.
Boil for 15 minutes stirring often. Remove from heat.
Add the pectin and return to the heat. Boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Remove any scum from the surface with a spoon or ladle.
Pour immediately into clean, warm jars leaving ¾ inch headroom, and seal. Turn jars upside down for 2 minutes, then invert and let cool. Label the jars with the name of the jam and the date. Store the jars in a cool dark place for 6-12 months. Refrigerate after opening for up to 6 weeks.
Recipe adapted from Jams and Preserves by Thunder Bay Press.