Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Strawberry Jam Starts the Season

I took my children strawberry-picking for the first time ever.  We went to the farm where I went on a field trip as a first-grader, when I had a young, enthusiastic teacher with a strawberry farm.  The only activity I remember was using fresh strawberries as crayons to draw pictures.  My kids have begged for that "story" (memory fragment, really) over and over.  Do you embellish memory fragments like that into real stories for youngsters?


Anyway, we picked 15 pounds of strawberries ($1.75 a pound) while Phoebe sat in a wagon nearby with a bowl of strawberries.  I made strawberry freezer jam, for the first time ever using Pomona's Pectin which is a lower-sugar variety.  We'll see if we like it.

The process was easy and the jel was good before the jars went to the freezer.  I also froze some whole berries - an idea from a friend at the berry patch.  She said her kids like to eat them straight from the freezer as snacks.  Then I used two cups of strawberries to make strawberry rhubarb jam - the rhubarb provides the thickness, the jel, and I used vanilla sugar for a little something special.




The strawberry rhubarb jam required my canning gear, so the preserving season is officially begun!



A few weeks ago, I did an inventory of my freezer and canning shelves so I could make goals for this year's preserving.  Cherries will be up next, I think, followed closely by beets.  And blueberries!  Thank you, dear God, for all this wonderful food.

15 comments:

Minty Frosting said...

I love berry season, and am so happy it's here! I've been wanting to make my own jam for a while now...any tips?

- Greta
www.mintyfrosting.com

Margo said...

hi Greta! My tips for jam would be to figure out if you like a firm jel (use commercial pectin and traditional recipes) or a softer, runnier spread (use Food in Jars or other modern recipes). Also, I like freezer jam for its ability to preserve the really fresh taste of the berries (or fruit), but it does take a lot of sugar and requires, obviously, freezer space.
My other tip would be to get familiar with the canning/preserving process with something simpler than jam. Jam doesn't always jel and it can be hard to figure out why - so if you don't mind a runnier sauce/spread, then you're fine.
Hope that helps! Feel free to ask more specific questions :)

Becky said...

Never ever let the truth get in the way of a good story, especially if it's one you're telling your kids!

I always freeze a few cookie sheets full of berries - they are great for smoothies or if I happen to run out of jam a little too soon, they can be used for more jam!

Sara McD said...

I have almost no preserving experience and have put off learning about jams because of all the sugar required, but this is interesting! Thanks.

Yes, my kids love my memory fragment stories and I remember loving my grandmother's weird little stories. Looking back, I'm sure she embellished a little, but I don't mind a bit.

The most recent story I told my twelve-year-old as he caught a couple of small frogs from a puddle went like this: "When I was a little girl - well, not very little - maybe about ten - my aunt Mary took me to Forest Park in Queens, where we saw the tiniest little frogs. They were no bigger than my thumbnail and so numerous, they covered the ground under the trees everywhere we looked. It was the first time I'd ever seen anyone willingly touch strange little wild animal like that. Aunt Mary is only about seven years older than I am so she was just a teenager at the time."

My children really seem to delight in these little bits and I hear them retelling them to each other. So cute.

Jenny said...

Yes, about the memory fragments. It is one of the funnest things about being a mother. I have to remember the details of my additions, though, because my boy reminds me of them! I love those last two pictures. That is the definition of kitchen work, or any big project, with a toddler underfoot. So sweet.

e said...

Mmm... fresh berries!

I make a LOT of jam every summer. I can't remember the last time I had to buy jam. And, I eat it most every day. I love Pomona's pectin for the sugar reduction factor. I always make low sugar jams. The old school recipes that call for more sugar than fruit are just... ugh. Way too sweet! The favorite flavors around here are Apricot, Raspberry, Sour Cherry, Blueberry. But, I've made many others and many variations of those standards. Yay for Jam Season! (Also, yay for freezing fruit and making jam in the winter. Not quite as perfect, but so much cooler!)

Margo said...

e, yes, I forgot that a few years ago I had frozen blackberries and made blackberry jam in the fall. I want to do that again - I'm much more in the mood to heat up the kitchen in cool weather, and berry jams are my favorite.

jenny_o said...

I'm not a home canner, but used to make freezer jam, and I would consider making it again now with less sugar, so thank you for mentioning this pectin. Does it come with recipes, or did you use a recipe from a different source?

We are supposed to have a banner year for strawberry production in our province, so it would be a good chance to give this a try again.

Fresh strawberries are such a treat!

Margo said...

jenny_o, I used the recipe right in the box. The method is just a touch different from the traditional freezer jam, but the directions were clear. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

My first venture into canning was blackberry jam. Free for the picking berries were my inspiration.
Now, I love freezer jams. So easy.
I, too, freeze various berries on cookie sheets. Then freeze. I've also portioned out berries in small, snack sized ziplocks for the freezer. Perfect size for a smoothie.
Have you shared your beet recipes? I'm growing them and should have a bumper crop. Cheers, SJ in Vancouver BC

Rachel said...

Margo! I need to know more about this Pomona's pectin! How did it turn out? Should I go buy some? Just made my batch of strawberry jam, but maybe some raspberry or blackberry later this summer....

Margo said...

Rachel!! The jam queen! I was pleased with the lower sugar, but I am reserving final judgement until we get a jar out of the freezer a few weeks hence. I know Pomona's is popular with the healthy crowd and the process wasn't really hard - you have 2 packets of powder to deal with instead of one, but truly, the small packet gets mixed with some water and that's the extra step. The rest is easy. I think you should try!

AmyK said...

We love frozen strawberries! We eat them fresh from the freezer or I put them in smoothies. But they are like healthy candy to me. I have a frozen sweet tooth, and they are sweet enough to satisfy that craving a lot of the time.

Polly said...

I have been thinking of taking my children berrying this year. So far our only berry-picking has been nibbles off the wild black raspberries that are growing along the wayside here.....

I have never even thought of embellishing a memory fragment!! I bet it's fun for your kids, though!

Sarah Barry said...

Yummy!

I see you got some Sunsans for Phoebe. Love the picture of her on the floor.

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