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No doubt some folks in mild climates have fresh, locally-available fruit in April, but here in Maine, that’s still a long way off. It’s a lovely thought for sure, but somehow it seems a particularly humorous one at this moment, given that it’s April 1, and we still have over a foot of snow on the ground.
So, what to do when it comes to jam? Well, it seems to me to be a good time to give a little love and attention to a fruit that is pretty much a permanent fixture in my fruit bowl, no matter the season, but that I often overlook: the banana. Dense, sweet, and filling, if there was ever a fruit that could qualify as a comfort food, the banana would be it.
Bananas sound great for jam, but if you’ve been making jam for a while, you might have noticed that there are not a lot of recipes out there for banana jam. The primary reason is that a straight banana jam would be too dense to safely can. Additionally, unlike most fruits, bananas are considered “low-acid,” which means that a specific amount of acid (usually in the form of lemon juice) would need to be added to the bananas to make them safe for boiling water bath canning.
To address both of these issues, I’ve used a good quantity of strawberries in this recipe in combination with the bananas, along with some lemon juice. To ensure safe canning, please don’t adjust the quantities of either of the fruits, or of the lemon juice. However, if you are crazy about bananas and absolutely must include more banana in your jam, then just be sure that you freeze your jam rather than can it.
For this recipe, you can of course use fresh strawberries if you have them, but I used frozen berries and they work just as well. And, for the bananas, be sure they are ripe enough that you can mash them easily. Enjoy!
Strawberry-Banana Jam is a low-honey cooked jam made with Pomona’s Pectin. Pomona’s Pectin contains no sugar or preservatives and jells reliably with low amounts of any sweetener.
Yield: 4 to 5 cups
Before You Begin:
Prepare calcium water. To do this, combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona’s pectin) with ½ cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well. Extra calcium water should be stored in the refrigerator for future use.
Strawberry-Banana Jam Ingredients
Strawberry-Banana Jam Directions
1. Wash and rinse jars, lids, and screw bands. Set screw bands aside until ready to use. Place jars in boiling water bath canner with a rack, fill at least 2/3 of the way full with water, and bring to a boil. Boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize (add 1 additional minute of sterilizing time for every 1000 feet above sea level), then turn down heat and let jars stand in hot water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small pan, bring to a low simmer, and hold there until ready to use.
2. If you are using fresh strawberries, place them in a colander, rinse them well, then remove and discard stems. If you are using frozen strawberries, defrost the berries.
3. Place fresh or defrosted strawberries in a mixing bowl and mash well. A potato masher works well for this.
4. Measure out 2¾ cups of mashed strawberries. (If you have extra, simply use for something else.) Pour the measured amount of strawberries in a large saucepan, then set aside.
6. Measure out 1¼ cups of mashed banana. (If you have extra, simply use for something else.) Pour the measured amount of bananas into the large saucepan with the strawberries. Add lemon juice and calcium water, then stir to combine.
7. In a separate bowl, combine the honey and pectin powder. Mix well and set aside.
8. Bring the strawberry-banana mixture up to rolling boil over high heat. Add honey-pectin mixture, then stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes, still over the highest heat, to dissolve pectin. Return jam to a boil, then remove from heat.
9. Remove hot jars from canner and fill jars with jam, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Remove trapped air bubbles, wipe rims with a damp cloth, and put on lids and screw bands, tightening bands only to “fingertip tight” (until resistance is met, and then just the tiniest bit more).
10. Place jars in the hot water, on the rack inside the canner. (Make sure jars are upright, not touching each other or the sides of the canner, and are covered with at least 1-2 inches of water). Place the lid on the canner, return the canner to a rolling boil, and boil for 10 minutes. (Add 1 minute additional processing time for every 1000 feet above sea level.)
11. Turn off heat and allow canner and jars to sit for 5 minutes. Then remove jars from canner.
12. Allow jars to cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours. Then, confirm that jars have sealed. Remove screw bands from sealed jars, rinse off outside of jars if necessary, label jars, and store for later use.
Recipe and photos by Allison Carroll Duffy