Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Strawberry Jam - May 15, 2012

I did it! My first ever jam-making and canning experience! These little jars are so pretty and so much more work than I expected went into making them that I can't even imagine eating them, although I'm sure I will change my mind when the dark days of winter roll around.

Cooking, cooking, cooking... What does "gelling point" mean, anyway??

My mother was a home food preserver, even in the 1980s and 1990s when it was not very fashionable. I think she was either ahead of or behind her time, not sure which! In addition to canning the tomatoes and freezing other veggies from our garden, she would buy crates of peaches, pears, and plums from the supermarket each summer and can them for us to eat throughout the year. I recall having a vague awareness of what she was doing, but never got interested in learning more. When I was very young I thought it was just something moms did, but then I got older and thought it was old fashioned and weird. No way was I going to go through all that work! I'd just buy canned stuff at the store, like everyone else in the normal world!

Which is exactly what I did, until my adult-onset food allergies threw me for a loop. Virtually all commercially produced canned tomatoes are a problem for me due to the citric acid (derived from corn) they add. Jams and jellies - even the "natural" ones without high fructose corn syrup - are still dangerous because there is no way of knowing what is in the pectin or what the fruit might have been treated with. So here I am... following in my mother's footsteps after all!

And to my great surprise, it is a lot of fun! And as I learn more about the commercial food supply, the more I am grateful that I had something push me in this direction.


Jess said...

Nothing compares to homemade jam! I've been canning strawberry, blueberry, and (following in my Mom's footsteps as well) raspberry jam the past few years and love it. I've also done red pepper jelly, which we use for our homemade hot wings. Plus some specialty items like fig jam and a sage and sauternes jelly. So good! I did tomatoes for the first time last year. So far everything has turned out great and I love my pretty mason jars full of fruits and vegetables. I am so happy you are getting into it too! We can share recipes and inspiration.

Jaime said...

Blueberry is next up on our list! There is also a giant mulberry tree in our neighborhood and I'd like to try to make jam from it.

Jaime said...

Tell me about the sage jelly... we have a prodigious sage plant (as well as other herbs) and I'd love to do something creative with it.

Where do you get figs?

Jess said...

Here's my post about the sage jelly and fig jam:

I just buy my figs at the co-op since they don't grow here, but you may be able to grow them in VA. My sister Kate has a fig tree in her yard in Portland and gets a decent harvest after only a couple years growth. I would think if they grow in OR, they should in VA as well. Otherwise, keep your eyes open this summer at your local grocery stores.

The sage is fantastic served with a cheese plate!


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