Sweet, fresh, tart, ruby-red blood orange and strawberry jam. Absolute heaven on buttered toast with tea. Home cooks have been making jam for hundreds of years with recipes passed on from grandmother to mother to daughter as a way to preserve the family's home grown fruits throughout the winter. For those of us who grew up in suburbia, with neither fruit trees nor a family canning recipe, homemade jam is something for the trendy or intrepid.
If you've never seen a blood orange before it takes its name from the red veins that run through the flesh. Blood oranges (varieties include Tarocco, Sanguinello, and Moro) are common to Sicily and a few other areas of the Mediterranean. The color ranges from thin veins of red to fully red to almost purple-black depending on the variety. I remember the first time my mother brought one home from Russo's market. I was mesmerized by the colors. Mom made cocktails with it for me and my best friend Gaby when we were home from college. It's still "our" aperitif when Gaby and I get together.
Blood Orange and Strawberry Jam ~ makes approximately 2 quarts
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten's orange marmalade and strawberry jam recipes.
1 lb strawberries (weight after trim; you'll need a pint + for the recipe)
7 oz blood orange (about 2)
5 oz lemon (about 2)
6 cups water
6 cups sugar
Carefully wash oranges and lemons. Thinly slice blood oranges and lemons, removing seeds. Combine citrus with the water and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and add sugar. Stir until dissolved and then let sit covered 8 hours or overnight.
After the 8 hours have elapsed bring the mixture back to a boil and then reduce the heat and let simmer 3 hrs. Wash and trim the strawberries. Weigh out one pound and then halve or quarter the berries depending on their size. Add strawberries to the simmering citrus and cook over medium heat 30 minutes to a temp of 220º F.
Ina Garten's way of testing to see if the jam is set enough is to put a little on a cold plate. I tried this trick as well by putting a plate in the freezer for 10 minutes and then putting a small spoonful of jam on it. If it "set up" in a few seconds it was ready. If it runs on the plate continue cooking.
I also decided to use my favorite immersion blender to blend the jam together to a smooth consistency. If you prefer a chunky style leave whole. There is more than enough jam here to share so follow good canning protocol and share your bounty with friends. Or, just gobble it up with tea and toast.