I overbuy food. There. I said it. Maybe my confession causes you to feel superior (at least to me), express wonderment at how weird that seems, or squirm with recognition. Whatever your reaction, it makes me creative in using leftovers and fresh food.
In the case of my fruit-buying spree last week, I’m not totally at fault. Because I was going to make a fruit salad for my friend Rachel, I bought a clamshell of strawberries at the store and a mango. But then she arrived with the most beautiful and tasty strawberries from her local farmers’ market; of course we ate them instead of mine. Luckily, I had procrastinated making fruit salad. I put my store-bought strawberries back in the refrigerator, my mango back on the counter, and went on my merry way.
This morning, I opened the refrigerator and my strawberries glared at me as if to say: “Use us now or throw us out tomorrow.” With inspiration from my canning guru, Cathy Barrow, and another friend, Jessica, who mentioned strawberry mango jam this past weekend (and reminded me how much I like that pairing), I decided to make a quick jam. It’s not my first foray into jam-making, but I’m kind of proud of how I winged it this time.
By now, the purists sigh at the prospect of using less-than-perfect fruit for any recipe, even a jam. Of course, the jam would be even more extraordinary if the fruit were phenomenal, but this is all about not wasting good food and turning a surplus into an opportunity.
This recipe makes enough for 2 jars – 1 for you and the other to bring as a host/hostess gift. It is not canned (using sterilized jars properly sealed), so it must be immediately refrigerated.
Strawberry Jam with Kiwi and Mango
Servings – Approximately 16 ounces (2 – 8 ounce jars) Cost – $4.50
- 1 pound of strawberries (more or less) I had eaten a few, so I had more like 13 ounces
- 1 ripe mango
- 1 ripe kiwi
- 1 cup granulated (white) sugar
- Cutting board
- Measuring cup
- 2 spoons – 1 large and the other soup or teaspoon-sized. For the large one, a wooden spoon works best, preferably with a long handle.
- Medium size, heavy pot
- Wash and cut the strawberries and kiwi in half. You can remove the white center inside fruit if you like (I did) and chop them into small pieces.
- Wash the mango. (Even fruit rind that will be cut off, including watermelons, cantaloupes, honeydew and mangoes, should be rinsed.) Remove the mango “meat from the rind. I slice off pieces, cut them in horizontal and vertical lines, and then slice the chunks off the rind. Once you fully expose the pit, you have to cut more creatively. The kiwi dissolves completely and the strawberries mostly disappear, but the mango chunks stay somewhat intact. If you prefer smoother jam, mash the mango chunks or put it through a food processor to turn it into mush.
- Mix the fruits and sugar in a large bowl, stir and leave the fruit to soften or “macerate” for at least 1 hour, preferably 1½ hours.
- Pour the mixture into a large pot. (It should hold the mixture with several inches of depth to spare.) The mixture grows as it boils, and may spit, causing a mess if it reaches the top of the pot.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Continue to stir almost constantly as the mixture boils for about another 15 minutes. You can leave the mixture for 30 seconds, but not longer. In other words, don’t text your best friend or check the score of a game. The mixture will foam up and then subside as it boils. If there is foam left as the mixture becomes jammy, a small sliver of butter will make most of it dissipate. If there is any foam left that you want to remove, you can also pull it off with a clean spoon. If you need to check on the consistency, dip in a clean spoon as tilt it; the jam should clump and some should stick to the spoon if it is ready.
- Cool the jam, then put into clean jars or other containers with lids.