FOX EATS: FARM FRESH STRAWBERRY JAM
Gardener’s Guide to canning your harvest
Excerpt from Preserving the Season: 90 Delicious Recipes for Jams, Jellies, Preserves, Chutneys, Pickles, Curds, Condiments, Canning, & Dishes Using Them by Mary Tregellas
My mother, Renate, was a refugee from Czechoslovakia and would entertain us with stories of hours spent in her grandmother’s garden where the trees hung heavy with apricots and red currants grew in abundance. She was especially fond of jam—not the jellied mass of sugar and pectin so prevalent in 1970s Britain, but the kind of preserve where the fruit is the star. These were rare treats, however, for money was in short supply. Back then, nothing went to waste, and if we could grow things in our small garden or gather something for free, so much the better.
People are becoming more concerned about reducing their carbon footprints by buying from their local produce growers. There is also a larger appreciation for clean, simple food. This is helping to put the emphasis back on fresh, local, seasonal produce, and now we are rediscovering some of the old ways. We may no longer need to bake our own bread, to pick wild berries, or to make jam, but we can have a lot of fun doing it.
Preserving the Season
Take the fruits of your labor further by understanding general preserving tips and techniques, as well as useful equipment before you get started. An inspiring collection of more than 90 recipes for jams, jellies, chutneys, curds, ketchups, marmalades, pickles, cordials, vinegars, oils, and even liqueurs and breads, Preserving the Season is an excellent resource for any gardener.
I have come to realize a simple fact: making preserves makes me happy. Chopping up a pile of fruit or vegetables, cooking them up with sugar, spices, and vinegar, and, thereby, transforming them into something both delicious and attractive is intensely pleasing. But the preserves themselves are only part of the story. There is matchmaking to be done, too, whether it’s bringing together the happiest of old couples such as toast and marmalade or cheese and pickle, or forming new introductions. They also come into their own as ingredients in baked puddings, cakes, and savory dishes. Below is my favorite Strawberry Jam recipe found in my new book, Preserving the Season. My hope is that Preserving the Season will reacquaint you with some old favorites, encourage you to try new things, and inspire you to come up with a few new ideas of your own.
Classic Strawberry Jam Recipe
The quest for a really good strawberry jam was a driving force in my early jammaking days, since the kind of preserve I want (soft set, with big pieces of fruit and a delicious aroma) is not easy to find. Every summer my challenge is to make enough of this delicious preserve to last the year. I’ve tried various recipes; here one of my favorites.
- 3 lbs. 8 oz. (1.6 kg) strawberries hulled (halve or quarter any large ones)
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 3 lbs. (1.3 kg) sugar
- 1–2 Tbsp. butter
Strawberry Jam Recipe Directions
- Put the strawberries and lemon juice in a preserving pan and cook over a gentle heat for about
10–15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from the heat and add the sugar, stirring until dissolved, then stir in the butter.
- Return the pan to the heat and bring to a boil. Cook at a full rolling boil for about 20 minutes, then test for a set (below). Leave to stand for 15 minutes, then stir to distribute the fruit before potting up (below).
Canning Essentials is a go-to beginner’s guide that will take you step-by-step through the different processes of canning fruit and produce. From canning vegetables, like tomatoes and squashes, to preparing homemade jam, salsas, relishes, and so much more, this book simplifies food preservation so that even today’s busiest people can find time to do it themselves.
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This clear and concise directory provides all the essential information readers need to grow, use, and store a wide selection of flavor-enhancing herbs and spices.
Testing a Set
Do this for jams, jellies, and marmalades. Always take the pan off the heat while you are testing for a set.
The wrinkle test: place a saucer in the freezer for a few minutes. Put half a teaspoon of preserve on the chilled plate, and return to the freezer for a minute. Then push the preserve gently with your finger—it will wrinkle if setting point has been reached. If not, boil for another 2–3 minutes, and test again. I find this method to be the most reliable.
The thermometer test: the setting point of jam and marmalade is 220°F (105°C). If your preserve has reached this temperature, in theory, setting point has been reached. (In my experience, this is not always the case!)
The flake test: dip a wooden spoon in the preserve, let it cool for a few seconds, then let it drop off the spoon. If the preserve forms flakes that hang on the edge of the spoon, setting point has been reached.
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