Monday, June 24, 2013

June is for Strawberries

My sister and I like to head out first thing Saturday morning to check out the farmer's market near us.  It is not a big market, but there are plenty of the things that make farmer's markets so much fun:    Fresh local in season produce, beautiful flowers, yummy breads and cheeses and organically grown meats and eggs.  

Two weeks ago I snapped up some of the season's last strawberries - the smell of those sweet berries called to me from across the market.  I was so hypnotized by the smell that I bought a whole flat!  A whole flat of strawberries at the eat-me-right- now peak of ripeness. 
 Right at the busiest wrapping-up-the-school-year time of year...

I knew that we couldn't eat them all fast enough so I decided to try my hand at homemade jam.  I searched the internet for help and settled on Ina Garten's recipe.  I enlisted my fabulous sous-chef, Daughter Carolyn, to help.
Carolyn making strawberry jam
The recipe was very easy - just lots of stirring!  I chose Ina's recipe because it didn't use pectin and I read that pectin jams tended to be sweeter.  It was still plenty sweet, but the lemon in the recipe really helps cut the sweetness a bit.  

Patience is key here.  Stir, stir, stir.  don't skimp on the stirring.  The longer you stir, the more "jelled" your jam will be.  Carolyn and I took turns on this part.

Stirring the jam is key

Look at that berry deliciousness!

Since we were short on time, we decided not to process the jam and just made it "refrigerator jam."  I gave away a few jars and my family is quickly gobbling up the rest, so no worries about spoilage! 
Look at that ruby red yumminess!  I especially love the whole chunks of berries.

Here is the recipe I used.  Does anyone else have a favorite recipe or tips for next time?  Add your comments below.  I can't wait to hear what you have to say!

Ina Garten's Fresh Strawberry Jam
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 1/2 pints fresh strawberries hulled and halved (I quartered some of the larger ones)
1.  Combine the sugar, lemon zest and juice in a small saucepan and cook over very low heat for 10 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. (If you double this, like me, it may take longer.  There is a video on the website above that shows you what it should look like.)

2.  Add the strawberries and continue to cook over very low heat for 20 minutes until the berries release some of their juice and the mixture boils slowly.

3.  Cook until a small amount of the juice gels on a very cold plate.  (Put one in the freezer for this step.)

4. Pour carefully into 2 pint canning jars and either seal of keep refrigerated.  (You can find canning directions on the Food Network website along with the video)


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