Peak Strawberry

Goodness, I didn't expect to take quite such a break from this space... in fact, I didn't actually want to be absent (I have sooooo many ideas percolating in the writer bits of my brain), but a few problems with the internets and a long fortnight of life-ing got the better of me.

First, let me jump back a couple of weeks to Peak Strawberry.

Our humble little strawberry patch was so very productive this year! I think that all-in-all we harvested about 6kgs of the most intense little strawberries you ever have tasted. They are like concentrated strawberry essence when they explode in your mouth. The varieties that we grow are never going to make it in the commercial space as they are hopelessly quick to spoil once picked... you can't leave them overnight without losing a few, and a few days on the bench or in the fridge will see the whole lot of them liquifying. But they are amazing to eat straight off the bush, or to wash and freeze for the rest of the year to use in ice creams, sauces or on french toast (our family favourite). Or, as I did with the first 2kgs that we harvested this year, make into jam.

The batch of jam I made (20 jars of it!) was by no means perfect... it is runny beyond belief, the fruit is floating all atop the jar, and the little bit of butter fat I included kind of separated out in the processing part. It's weird as I made this jam last year, following the same recipe and didn't have those issues. Not to worry, nothing a good stir can't (almost) fix. We are already two jars in to our stash and loving it!

I have now modified the recipe I used, which is a version of strawberry and vanilla jam from the gorgeous Rachael (who has also kindly shared her images here too). Hopefully the modified recipe will help you to avoid the saucy-ness that I made this time round. This recipe is fantastic for any fruit that you want to jam - I also used it for peach jam last year. Just have a think about the pectin content of the fruit you are using and consider using jam-setting sugar (high-pectin sugar) if you think it might have trouble setting.

Strawberry jam

Strawberries, rinsed, hulled and finely chopped and then weighed // Caster sugar (or jam setting sugar) to the same weight as the strawberries

Sterilise your jars by running them through the dishwasher and then immediately popping them into a 150°C oven for 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow them to cool a bit before you are ready to fill them.

Place the strawberries and sugar into a large pot and gently heat the mixture over low heat to dissolve the sugar completely. Once the sugar is liquified, turn the heat up and bring it to a rolling boil for 5-6 minutes. Turn the heat off and allow the jam to cool for a little while before filling your sterilised jars. Depending on how much you have made you may wish to process the jars to allow them to have a shelf life - I use a very simple waterbath method, but if you are new to preserving you may wish to study up a bit to avoid giving any of your family some horrendous food-borne illness!

Make some bread, slather it with a good salty butter and apply jam liberally! Enjoy!

{Thanks again to Rachael who so kindly let me share her jam photos with you all}