Monday, June 14, 2010
In a Pickle, In the Jam!
Oh my... summer is here and the fresh food is rolling in. First up on my plate is the strawberry. The most luscious, delicate and reddest of fruits. Can you think of a better way to enjoy them than to pick them yourself? Thankyou Urka Farm in Traverse City.
There are a million things that you can do with strawberries, and I like to eat them fresh, first and foremost. But, when you've tired of strawberries on your cereal, your ice cream, your smoothies and your shortcakes, and you've picked 20 lbs. and you have 18 left over and you find yourself in "quite the pickle", the obvious solution is fresh, homemade strawberry jam, withOUT packaged pectin. Having failed previously at my attempts to make a natural pectin jam, I decided to consult the books and the blogs again, to see if I could solve my problem. I found a wonderful discussion about Strawberry Jam without boxed pectin from MothersKitchen. I also found a simple remedy in a book about preserved foods called Preserved written by Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton.
In the mean time, i LIGHTLY boiled 16 cups of whole fruit strawberries with the juice of one large lemon. In Preserved, the authors contend that the juice of the lemon extracts the pectin from the seeds of the strawberries. I boiled twice as many strawberries with the juice of one lemon for one hour (very light boil).
In the mean time, I pushed the apple and lemon pulp mixture through a sieve in order to have 2 cups of this mixture that would also serve as a pectin. The strawberries slowly turned to mush and did not boil over into a foamy mess.
Then it was time to add the sugar.
MothersKitchen. I boiled this new mixture for about 30 minutes, stirring constantly and slowly coaxing the mixture to rise up to 220 degrees, the magic number for the sugar to reach a setting point. After testing my jam to see if it was ready by dropping a dollop onto a saucer, chilling it to see if I could coax a wrinkle, I was ready to jar up my jam.
Okay, I'm not an expert cook- but I managed to make some incredible jam. Into the sterilized Ball jars they went. And my leftover pounds of berries will be gracing the insides of PB&J sandwiches and the tops of crusty pieces of toast for at least another year.