Lingonberry Banana Jam || Hitchhiking to Heaven

Lingonberry Banana Jam

This jam won Best of Show at the 2011 Marin County Fair.

I almost didn’t make this jam, because I was afraid no one would like it. Banana jam sounds really weird to a lot of people — but not to me. I’ve been secretly intrigued by the idea of putting bananas in a jam all year. When I found this recipe in a pamphlet at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension office this summer, I gave a hoot of joy.

I love roaming the hallways at the UAF cooperative extension when we’re in Fairbanks. The walls are paneled with fascinating publications that are free for the taking — or for downloading. Check out this list of great  food preservation resources, which includes a series on home canning, both water bath and pressure canning. True, they offer some things most of us will never use, like Canning Walrus in Pint Jars. And there are some things I know I’ll personally never want, like Zucchini from A to Z.

I still hate zucchini, but yes, I did put bananas and seven cups of sugar in a jam.

I like this jam so much that I will make it again next year, with modifications. I’ll make it more suitable for grown-ups by using way less sugar. (I’ll use a low-sugar pectin or try it with none at all.) And I may spice it up a bit. (Think spiced cranberry banana bread flavors in a jar.) Even as is, however, this jam has plenty of takers — a few of whom are over the age of eight. It makes a great peanut butter and lingonberry banana jam sandwich.

The lingonberries — also known as lowbush cranberries, all of which I picked and brought home from Alaska in my suitcase — do a nice job of balancing the sweet bananas. I’m pretty sure regular cranberries would work in their place.

Lingonberry Banana Jam

3 cups lingonberries
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 bananas)
7 cups sugar (I can’t type that without cringing)
1 pouch Certo liquid pectin (3 ounces)

1. Wash your jars and lids and keep them in hot water. (There’s no need to sterilize your jars, because this recipe calls for a processing time of more than 10 minutes.)

2.  Open the pectin pouch and stand it upright in a glass so it will be available for quick use when you need it.

3. Put the lingonberries and water into a nonreactive pot. Simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Add the mashed bananas and sugar to the lingonberries. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

5. Stir in the liquid pectin and quickly skim off the foam.

6. Immediately pour the hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Clean the rims with a clean, damp cloth or paper towel if necessary, then seal the jars.

7. Process 15 minutes in a hot water bath canner.

Yields 7-8 half-pint jars.

P.S. Do you believe in signs? I was mulling over whether or not to make this strange little jam as I walked through the parking lot of the natural grocery store in town. I looked down and there were four beautiful organic bananas right there on the ground in front of  me. I laughed out loud because this recipe uses four bananas. I looked around (not furtively, I tell myself) and saw no one who might have dropped them. I decided they were a gift from the Gods of Whimsy and Delight, and tucked them into my bag. If something unusual or creative calls to you in your jam making, by all means go for it. But you might want to take a look at Marisa’s recent post at Food in Jars. It can help you decide just how wacky you can get and still stay safe.

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