[caption id="attachment_345" align="alignleft" width="450" caption="Red currants and gooseberries provide the natural pectin that sets the jam. "][/caption] When it comes to jam,a totally unprofessional poll indicates that red jams out sell jams of other colours. Take that peach jam, apricot conserve and blueberry spread! But other fruits can take heart - each makes superlative preserves, and while they may not get gold as the most popular pick, there are plenty of people who wait all year for apricots - and I count myself among them. That said, last Saturday at the St. Lawrence Market, locally grown strawberries were the big seller. Yes, there were the first raspberries and red currants and gooseberries, but it was remarkable the number of flats of strawberries being carried off by shoppers. And I suspect, unless the market-goers were all having a few dozen friends over for shortcake, that jam was on their mind. Jam was on my mind too - a companion to the Seville Orange marmalade I make in the winter. In addition to strawberry, I also like to make one called Summer Berry Jam, but it goes by other names, Four Fruit and Jewel Jam are familiar. Luckily this jam is a little elastic in its ingredients, and while the mix you will find in The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook calls for red currants, sour cherries, strawberries and raspberries, the recipe works with the currants, both berries plus gooseberries. That's what I made on Saturday, as there were no sour red cherries at the Market. Both recipes follow. [caption id="attachment_346" align="alignleft" width="450" caption="A potato masher is the most useful for mashing berries, about 1 cup (250 mL) at a time. It presses out the juice, but leaves chunks that give texture to the finished jam."][/caption] Summer Berry Jam Worth every minute you spend in the kitchen. This is the original, and very red jam. As a general rule, you need to double the volume of whole fruit to obtain the volume of crushed or chopped berries and cherries. 2-1/2 cups (625 mL) crushed stemmed red currants 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) chopped pitted sour cherries 3/4 cup (175 mL) crushed hulled strawberries 3/4 cup (175 mL) crushed raspberries 3-1/2 cups (875 mL) granulated sugar . In large Dutch oven, combine currants, cherries, strawberries and raspberries. Bring to a boil, stirring almost constantly with a long wooden spoon. Reduce heat to low and simmer very gently, stirring fruit occasionally, for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. . Stir in the sugar; bring back to a rolling boil over high heat, stirring. Boil vigorously, stirring constantly until setting point is reached (see below), about 10 to 15 minutes. [caption id="attachment_347" align="alignleft" width="450" caption="A rolling boil is one that can't be stirred down. Much of the foam you see in the photo will disappear as the jam comes to the setting point."][/caption] . Remove from heat; stir well. Let jam settle; with a metal spoon skim off any foam around the edge of the pot. . Using a funnel and 1/2 cup (25 mL) measuring cup, fill prepared 1 cup (250 mL) canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch (5 mm) headspace. Seal with prepared discs and bands. Boil on rack in boiling water canner for 10 minutes. (See Canner Basics below). Turn off heat and let jars stand in canner for 5 minutes for the boiling to subside. Remove and let cool on rack. . Makes about 5 cups (1.25 mL). Summer Berry Jam #2 The procedure is exactly the same, with the following ingredients: The jam is still very red. 2-1/2 cups (625 mL) stemmed, whole red currants 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) quartered, topped and tailed gooseberries 1 cup (250 mL) crushed hulled strawberries 1 cup (250 mL) crushed raspberries [caption id="attachment_348" align="alignleft" width="450" caption="Always include at least one smaller jar among the ones filled with jam. There may not be a whole cup (250 mL) to fill one of the larger jars, and the smaller 1/2 cup (125 mL) is perfect. Any more left over is for the cook and friends to enjoy on toast the next morning. "][/caption] Strawberry Jam What's very agreeable about this jam is that does not have a hard set so familiar in jams set with pectin. It's more like the confiture you find in a little pot beside your baguette and croissant in France (just dreaming). The familiar 1 L green punnets in which berries are often sold contain about 4 cups (1 L) berries. 8 cups (2 L) strawberries, hulled 4 cups (1 L) granulated sugar 1/4 cup (50 mL) fresh lemon juice . In a wide bowl and using a potato masher, lightly crush 1 cup (250 mL) of the berries at a time; measure fruit to make 4 cups (1 L). . In large Dutch oven, combine crushed berries, sugar and lemon juice; stir over low heat to dissolve the sugar. Increase heat to high and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring very often. Boil hard, and stirring often until setting point is reached (see below), about 10 minutes. . Remove from heat. Let cool for 5 minutes; with a metal spoon skim off foam from around the edge of the pot. Stir well. . Using a funnel and 1/2 cup (25 mL) metal measuring cup, fill prepared 1 cup (250 mL) canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch (5 mm) headspace. Seal with prepared discs and bands. Boil on rack in boiling water canner for 10 minutes. (See Canner Know How below). Turn off heat and let jars stand in canner for 5 minutes for the boiling to subside. Remove and let cool on rack. . Makes about 5 cups (1.25 mL). Setting Point Before boiling the jam, chill 2 small plates in the freezer. To test, remove the jam from the heat. Drop 1/2 tsp (2 mL) jam onto plate and let cool. Run the tip of a spoon or your finger through the jam. If the surface wrinkles, the jam is ready to jar. If still syrupy, return plate to freezer and pan to heat. Continue boiling and testing every few minutes until a satisfactory wrinkle is reached, always using the coldest plate. Canning Know How . Check your supply of canning jars, ensuring that you have enough new lids and that the jars are free of cracks and nicks. Grocery and hardware stores stock these in the summer. Be sure to buy enough to see you through the season into the fall and winter if you make marmalade. . Wash, rinse and air-dry the jars. Set the lids aside in a bowl. Have the bands handy. . Fill a boiling water canner about 2/3 full with water. Place jars on rack, , lower rack, cover and heat. The jars should be hot when filled but do not need to be boiled/sterilized. Time this heating to coincide with the time the jam is ready to be jarred. . A few minutes before filling the jars, pour hot, not boiling water over the lids to soften the sealing compound. Do not boil the lids or bands. . I find a funnel with an opening large enough to let chunks of fruit through into the jars the most useful, as well as a half-cup (125 mL) dry measuring cup for scooping the jam into the funnel. Place the funnel in the jar. As you pour the hot jam into the funnel, lift the funnel to avoid messing the rim of the jar with the jam. Leave the headspace recommended in the recipes - usually 1/4-inch (5 mm) for jams. If some jam does get onto the rim, dampen a piece of paper towel and wipe the rim clean. . Centre warmed lids on the jars. Screw on bands until resistance is met; increase to fingertip tight. . Return jars to canner. Lower rack and cover. Add additional boiling water if necessary to cover jars by at least 1 inch (2.5 cm). Cover and bring to the boil; boil for specified time, usually 10 minutes for jams. . Turn off heat. Uncover and let jars stand in canner for 5 minutes. . Lift up rack with jars. With canning tongs, transfer jars to rack to cool and set for 24 hours . Check that lids curve downward. Refrigerate any that do not and use within 3 weeks. If you have followed the rules of new lids and intact canning jars, and respect the headspace, it will be very rare indeed if a jar does not seal. . Wipe, label and store the jars in a cool, dry, dark place for up to one year. You can haul them out from time to time to gloat over the summer sunshine you have captured in your jams. And of course, you can eat the jam or give it away to favoured friends and family.