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Strawberry Jamming Finale

So the strawberries are finally slowing down, the end of the season is in sightÖ and do I feel relief that I will no longer be chained to the kitchen counter, three nights a week, preparing strawberries for jam? Am I sick of the sight of them, turning into one myself, in a word, jaded? Surprisingly enough Iím not. Six weeks of making jam and I could carry on longer.

I sneak into the larder to count the jarsÖhave I sold too many? Will it be enough for the family for the year and what about Christmas presents? Two weeks ago I was merrily flogging it at the market, secure in the knowledge I could make more. Now friends are ringing up asking to buy jam and Iím grudgingly parting with it but the Scrooge hoarding instinct is kicking in, a sure sign of the end of the season.

And I never did master the thick jam versus runny jam dilemma, the jam decided for itself what it would become, not me. So I cannot yet claim to be a professional jam maker, not when the jam is in charge of the process. Further experiments will have to wait until next year, when at the beginning of the new season I can afford to be lavish with the strawberries and if a batch burns in the attempt to thicken it wonít be a disaster, Iíll be able to use it for baking jam squares, where the caramel overtones are a bonus.

Part of the magic of strawberries is their cheerful colour as well as their scent. Iím going to miss the piles of fruit on the table, waiting to be sorted for selling, in the fridge in punnets, to be delivered in the morning, bowls of seconds for the family to eat and containers of the rest for jam. The youngberries will be starting soon, like blackberries, they have their own allure and make great summer puddings, but they just donít quite have that special something that strawberries haveÖ!

So what will I fill my jars with now? Well the good news is that apricots are just starting to creep into the shops. Unfortunately we only have one tree and this year it has very little fruit on it, we need to plant some more trees but it will be a few years before they produce properly.

So we check out the fruit in the shops. Itís a bit like playing the stock market. Weíre waiting for the price to come down, to buy loads and jam them all, but if we wait too long and misjudge the timing the price will shoot up again or thereíll be none left, itís a short season. So perhaps Iíll play it safe and buy a couple of kilos next week and then hope to splurge the week after on 5 kilos as cheap as can be, but I canít risk being caught short of apricot jam. Weíre on our last jar of last yearís and thereíll be a family uprising if I donít get in next yearís supply.

The apricot jam recipe Ė very similar to the strawberry jam recipe but less temperamental. The worst Iíve managed to do has been burn it and even then it was usable in baking, just a slight caramel added flavour!

1 kg apricots halved and stoned

750g sugar

Pack fruit and sugar in a stainless steel or enamel pan and keep in fridge overnight. Heat slowly, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat a bit and boil rapidly (stir occasionally to prevent burning) for about 20-30 mins. Test a drop on a cold plate. If, after 2 minutes, when you push your fingernail through it, the skin wrinkles, it is done. If not test every 5 minutes till it does. Pour into hot sterilised jam jars and seal immediately.

NB apricots have plenty of pectin, so you donít need to add lemon juice to get the set.

For more tips on jam making and the strawberry jam recipe, look at my article Strawberry Jamming Again.

Copyright 2005 Kit Heathcock

Submitted by:

Kit Heathcock

Kit Heathcock

Sometime flower photographer, keen observer of the resonances of life and fulltime mother. Born in the UK but now living on a farm in the southern hemisphere. Contributor to the creation and maintenance of http://www.aflowergallery.com one of the homes of chakra flower art.





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