Thursday, March 4, 2010

Strawberry Jam

I can't wait for summer. I will settle for spring, which, obviously, comes sooner, but I am a big fan of hot weather, and all of the fun outdoor activities that come with it.

Ignoring the snow still piled up outside my door, there was a new sign of the warmer weather to come this week - strawberries went on sale at the food store. Which means that it is strawberry season somewhere, which gives me hope that strawberry season can't be too far away here.

I wanted to take full advantage of these first strawberries, to enjoy them as much as possible, so I decided to buy a whole bunch of them and make strawberry jam today.

I have only ever made strawberry jam once, with my now-mother-in-law, when my husband and I were dating. It was pretty fun, and I can't believe that it's taken me this long to do it again, but it was fun to now do it with little miss.

She loves strawberries, so I was very impressed with the fact that she was as big a helper as she was - I pretty much expected her to eat all of the berries as we went along, but she didn't - I gave her her own bowl from which to eat, and she was great about following the recipe with the rest of them.

Making jam is very straightforward, and pretty easy to do. Which makes me wonder why I buy jam... hmm... Anyway, the first step was the most fun for little miss - smashing the berries with a potato masher. The berries need to be crushed, but not completely pulverized, so as not to destroy the natural pectin in the fruit.

These crushed berries were boiled with juice, pectin (powdered, from a box - speeds things up and helps the jam set) and sugar, though I did opt to use the no-sugar pectin, which greatly reduces the amount of sugar needed to set the jam. I didn't want jam that was so sweet as to overpower the natural deliciousness of the strawberries. And when I say boiled, I mean a rigorous, heavy boil. Whoa.

At this point, though, I was a little worried. After this rigorous boil, the recipe tells you to put the jam in jars and, well, you're done. My jam was a bit looser than I had expected. I had decided to make only half a batch, which meant using half the box of pectin, and I eyeballed the "half" measurement, so I was worried right away that maybe I hadn't added enough. But as it cooled, it really started to set better, and the result was really great. I think I will stick with the no-sugar pectin in the future, as the fresh taste of the fruit is really, well, refreshing.

And I can only imagine how much better jam will taste with fruit that we pick ourselves this summer...

But for that I will have to wait.

But for now, this went perfectly with the cornbread that I made today (but I'll tell you about the cornbread another day...). We had it for dessert tonight. And I am pretty sure we'll be having it for breakfast tomorrow, too.

And I have a couple other uses for this jam, too. So stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. Yay for strawberries! Evan made a couple batches of jam last summer and we've got a jar or two on the counter and in the fridge. Also my mom used to make batch after batch after batch of jam every summer, both up in Westchester and in Idaho, often with berries we'd picked. Such a pleasure to open up a jar of homemade jam in the winter months.


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