Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Easy Peasy Strawberry Jam

For the last month, baby girl and I have been eating up strawberries like we'll never see them again. Every week, as we approach the market stands, baby girl screams, "sawberry!" and "teese!" her two favorite market finds being strawberries and cheese. Alas, strawberry season is nearly over. We might get another week or maybe two, but once the heat sets in, we won't be seeing them 'till next year. Sure, I can get strawberries at the supermarket nearly year-round, but those are hard sour white things rather than the sweet, juicy red berries that are so delicate and fleeting, you must eat them or cook them within 48 hours before old age sets in and spoils them.

So, this past Friday I decided to try my hand at strawberry jam. In the morning, baby girl and I sauntered over to the Bradley Farm stand for some of their organic strawberries. Baby girl kept saying, "mah! Mah!" as Ray's wonderful partner handed her berry after berry and, somehow inspired, I kept seconding baby girl saying, "more! More!" each time Ray filled a pint of strawberries. Luckily, I stopped at 8 pints. It was getting sort of embarrassing.

That night, after we tucked baby girl into bed, the husband (who I must say has been really getting into this whole slowfood thing) and I perused the Internet and our cookbooks for jam recipes. While there are many to choose from, we decided to go with the KISS method that I so hated at Citigroup: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Oh yes and we did just that, stupid. There are only three ingredients and one basic step to making this jam. It's that easy

The end result was a not a sugary sweet, but a strawberry sweet pot of the most flavorful jam I've tasted in quite some time. Not content to wait 'till morning, the husband and I made some toast and heaped criminally huge helpings of jam on top. The next morning, baby girl was all over it too saying, "mah! Mah!"

Icebox Strawberry Jam
(To get an unearthly strawberry flavor, you must use fresh local strawberries. Those shipped from thousands of miles away simply won't cut it here.)

What You'll Need:
10 cups fresh market strawberries cut into small chunks
2 cups of sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Wash and cut the strawberries in half or into small chunks. Toss them into a stockpot and add the sugar and the lemon juice. (If you don't have 10 cups of strawberries or if you have more, just remember the ratio of sugar to strawberries is 1:5.) Mash the berries, sugar and lemon juice together, turn on the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer at a low boil for about 30 minutes or until the jam passes the cold plate test, which is plopping a helping of jam on a cold plate. If the jam holds its shape, it's ready. If not, It probably needs a bit more time.

While the jam is simmering, plunk whatever jars and lids you're using into a vat of boiling water to sterilize them. Keep in mind, I didn't take all of the steps necessary to store this jam in my pantry. Therefore, this is icebox jam an really should be eaten within a couple weeks of making. You won't have any problem polishing it off.

Approximate Dinner Cost
• Groceries - $20.00
• Leftovers – Expect 3 full jars of jam. We ended up giving two jars away and keeping the rest for ourselves. One jar lasted two weeks to the day.



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