Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Strawberry-Kiwiberry Jam

My friend Tina has these amazing hardy kiwi vines that almost completely cover two big spruce trees and an apple tree in her side yard. Also known as kiwi berries, or Japanese kiwi, they are of the species Actinia arguta and are much smaller than grocery store kiwis and have a smooth green or reddish-brown, edible skin, rather than the fuzzy skin of the regular kiwi. They grew all over some retaining walls at the college I went to, and C and I planted two vines several years ago, which just set their first three or four fruits this summer (they need to be fertilized and pruned, I think).

Last week Tina picked a several pints of fruit from her vines and came over to my house Friday night for a jam-making party. During a hasty online research session, I found some websites that said the kiwi berries are "not suitable for jam" while others said they are suitable, but I couldn't find any recipes for them specifically. Searches for "kiwi jam" came up with (yummy-looking) jams from New Zealand, and a few strawberry-kiwi jam recipes that called for the regular fuzzy kiwis, and pectin.

As you know, I consider pectin to be a conspiracy of the agricultural-industrial complex to foist their byproducts off as valuable merchandise, and I suspected that the kiwi berries, being small and covered in thickish skin would contain natural pectin a-plenty, so I went with my usual formula: four cups crushed fruit, four cups sugar, a little lemon juice––and it turned out brilliantly. So, to make up for the dearth of kiwiberry recipes online, I present you with:

Strawberry-Kiwiberry Jam
(makes 5-6 half-pints of jam)

Bring to a boil in a large soup pot, stirring regularly:

1 1/2 cups crushed hardy kiwis (cut in half or quarters before crushing)
2 1/2 cups crushed strawberries
2 T fresh-squeezed lemon juice
4 cups sugar

Continue boiling and stirring until the mixture reaches jam-like consistency (test by placing a spoonful of the liquid part of the jam on a chilled saucer; return the saucer to the freezer for a couple of minutes. If the surface of the jam wrinkles when you push your fingertip through it, it's done). This took about 15-20 minutes at my not-much-above-sea-level home. Tina shared a bit of folk wisdom, that when the jam foams up, then the foam dissipates, it's within five or ten minutes of being done. This seemed pretty accurate.

Bring a large pot (canner) of water to boil (deep enough to cover jars by at least 1/2 inch). Wash five or six half-pint jars and place in boiling water for five minutes. Boil jars, rings, ladle, tongs and canning funnel in a separate pan.

When jam is done, ladle into hot jars, place hot lids on top and screw on rings loosely. Return to boiling water bath and boil for at least five minutes (add a minute for every 1000 feet of altitude). Place jars on a towel and wait for the satisfying "click" of the lids sealing (three of ours did not seal; it was the first time that's ever happened to me!).

Enjoy on toast!

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