Strawberry season is one of my seasonal highlights- I dream about it during the cold winter, I anxiously wait through the spring, and then I eat as many strawberries as I possibly as soon as they are available. And then- JAM!!!!!
Strawberry jam is just one of those things that stirs memories of days gone by. The first summer I remember making strawberry jam, I was 14. My mom and dad were (now retired) both ministers, and gave everything to the churches they were officiating at- in turn, the church-goers gave them thank you gifts. More often then not, the gifts were pickled beets or something do with angels, but one summer a couple lent my folks their cottage (thank goodness- some of those beets were awful!) in the back woods of Nova Scotia (where I am from), so off we went…. While we were there, my dad asked if I wanted to go strawberry picking as there was a u-pick close by- I think he was trying to give me something to do, other than read.
Returning home with super stained hands and knees, we decided that we had to do something with the 6 flats of fat, red berries that we’d just picked- jamming them seemed to be the best option, as we’d eaten as many as we could while picking. So my dad and I sat there, at the teeny kitchen table with an even teenier oscillating fan to help during a heat wave, hulling strawberries, then crushing, and then 8 batches of jam. We set them all out on the veranda to cool overnight as the teeny kitchen wouldn’t have the space. There was a hammock on the veranda that I used as my reading chair, for the rest of the night I read to the gentle “pop” of the lids as the jam cooled. Some of them didn’t set, so we just labelled it as strawberry sauce for ice cream- this invariably happens to me still, and I label it the same way.
That was also the summer that my dad taught me how to drive- the cottage was on a dirt road that wasn’t populated at all, and there was an old quarry not in use any more that we’d go to practice reversing and parallel parking. I was less nervous about the actual driving, but I was convinced that I was going to be arrested for underage driving…. Good times….
If you haven’t guessed yet, I made strawberry jam today.
In an appropriate sized-pot, sterilize jars and lids (I always add a good dash of vinegar) in boiling water for 10 minutes. In a tall pot (I always use a 12 liter/ quart pot), combine pectin and berries. Bring to a boil, add sugar and return to a boil, boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir for 5 minutes to prevent floating fruit. Divide up into sterilized jars and cap.
Most recipes will tell you to skim off the foam- I refuse to do this. The foam tastes just as good as the rest of the jam, so I stir it in. It usually leaves a light layer of bubbles on top.