Saturday, November 24, 2007

Joan Hassol's Strawberry Jam

Joan Hassol's book changed my life as a home cook. I've spent more blissfully meditative hours making jam over the last eight years since Well Preserved was published than I ever could have imagined or predicted. There is something completely satisfying about jam-making, and Joan's account of cooking as a spiritual practice, and as a way to increase awareness of the seasons, of our immediate environment, struck a deep chord with me. She lives and cooks and forages for wild berries on Cape Cod, right near where I spent the happiest parts of my childhood, so her book evokes all of that for me as well.

5 1/2 cups washed, hulled strawberries (about 1 rounded quart)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 1 3/4-ounce packages powdered pectin
7 cups sugar
1/3 cup Triple Sec liqueur (optional).

1. Sterilize your jars: Wash 8 8-ounce (1 cup) jars with new one-piece lids in hot, soapy water and rinse well. Place jars on a rack in a large kettle (jars must not touch the bottom of the kettle). Fill the kettle with water until the jars are completely covered. Bring to a boil and boil 15 minutes. Leave jars in the hot water, removing them individually with tongs as you fill them. Place lids in a large saucepan covered with water. Bring to a boil and boil 5 minutes. Leave lids in water, removing as you need them.

2. Meanwhile, working in small batches, process the strawberries in a food processor until finely chopped, or chop them by hand. Place berries and lemon juice in a large nonreactive kettle and bring to a boil. Stir in the pectin. Return to a boil and slowly stir in the sugar. Stir in the Triple Sec. Bring to a boil again and boil for 1 minute. Pour the hot jam into the jars, leaving 1/8 of an inch below the lip of each. Wipe the rims with a clean, damp towel and screw the lids on tightly. Invert the jars on a clean surface and leave 5 minutes. Turn right side up and cool. Store in a cool, dark place.

Yield: About 8 8-ounce jars.

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