Jam Fest 2010

I did it.  I found a new dabble.  No, really.  I added another fixation to my list.  Hey -- all that homemade bread deserves some equally homemade toppings, right?  And its rhubarb season.  It only comes once a year.  And you can't really get it off-season.  Before I digress too much further, let's get down to business. 

Hence, a lazy Sunday became the site of a major jam (and chutney) fest in the house. 

The following morning, you would have no clue of the chaos that had existed less than 12 hours earlier.  Except... for the towel covered gathering of pretty little jars and the not so pretty sticky mess that I haven't finished cleaning up around my stove knobs.  (It's coming off in layers).   There was a layer cake (with home made curd) thrown in the middle of the craziness as well. 

It started out as a simple enough goal.  Really, I promise.  I was going to make a strawberry-rhubarb chutney.  Something to keep around to remind me of rhubarb and all of its tart yumminess through out the winter.  You know, any time I needed a little "spring" in my step, I could cook up some turkey or a tenderloin and top it with a nice little rhubarb chutney.

Around 9AM on what was going to be one very hot Sunday morning, I started.  Chopped up the fruits & veggies, washed and heated jars and lids, started cooking the chutney, got everything jarred and processed.  Hey!  That was pretty easy (but a little time consuming).  Started on the lime curd for the cake. 
Wow, I cut up four cups of rhubarb and I still have lots left.  HMMMM.  I can do more, right?  Crazy trip to the store to find mason jars.  HINT!  Just because you found them in one particular Walmart or Hannaford doesn't mean the ones in Amsterdam are going to carry them.  Thank goodness for Price Chopper at that point.  Jars and pectin (and strawberries and oranges) in hand, time to go home start rounds two and three...  Ok -- as you can see, that is the point where I lost my sanity -- you know, when I started thinking in terms of rounds two and three.  I still had to go home and make cake too....

So, after one frustrating, but ultimately fruitful (no pun intended) shopping trip, time to make cake layers.  DONE.  Time to chop up more rhubarb.  DONE.  Time to cut up orange strips and juice oranges.  DONE.  Time to make rhubarb-orange jam.  DONE. 

I was on a mission, so no sooner did round two get in the jars and processed and it was time to move on to round three.  Strawberry-rhubarb jam.  Basically, a much more tired version of the girl who participiated in rounds one and two. 

Lessons learned:

1)  It takes ALOT of fruit to make six little jars of jam
2)  Rhubarb multiplies
3)  Pick a cool day to stand over pots of boiling water
4)  Jam uses up a very large amount of sugar
5)  The homemade stuff just tastes better
6)  There is a large sense of accomplishment in being able to do it yourself

I know I still owe an update on the back to back birthday cakes - I will get there.  Also have hiking pictures to post from the top of Cascade Mtn.  One of these days!

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