Grams and I had spent the morning at the farmers market in Carmichael, picking up eggplant, summer squash, apricots, fresh wildflower honey (she didn't get raw, only because it came in a big container; I was worried about the potential for getting her sick but the salesperson explained that raw honey was only slightly riskier than filtered), and of course--strawberries! At $18 a flat, I wouldn't call them a bargain by any measure, but they were just barely ripe, big, perfect and delicious that we threw caution to the wind and shelled out a crisp twenty dollar bill.
So what if the strawberries weren't necessarily ripe enough for jam? That's the only way I like them, and I only cook food I like.
**SIDE NOTE I just spilled my soy latte all over my desk at work. While writing this blog and not filing or writing resolutions. After coming in ten minutes late and without my security badge. How have I not been fired yet?
The jam set up beautifully due to all the pectin in the new strawberries. It was lighter pink than last year's batch, and not as sweet (which I love!). I'll be eating it for breakfast all week, and maybe dessert, too, and on Thursday my morning co-workers are throwing me a party (again: Why do they love me so much??) because I'M TURNING 20! So I'm bringing jam and baguette at Grams' suggestion to show off our hard work.
If you are interested in making your own jam, I can't recommend it enough! It is very, very easy--I have literally been making jam with my grandma since i was five years old. Directions vary according to what brand gelatin and what kind of fruit you use, but some general tips:
- Don't use overripe fruit. Most of the pectin has changed to sugars, and the jam is less likely to set. Of course, it will still be delicious as a sloppy mess! My brother actually likes it better when it doesn't set, because he smears it on bread and licks the drippings off his fingers. Nom nom nom.
- Don't get ugly fruit. By this I mean, don't use white plums or peaches without some kind of color. It will look kind of mushy and might turn out discolored later. Apricots and red flesh plums are beautiful--and omg so delicious--in jam. If you are set on peaches, try adding some raspberries or another colorful fruit. This will enhance the flavor and look of the jam.
- Use pretty jars! This is the most important. My grandma recycles old jars from nacho cheese, salsa, etc. and then, if it's destined for a gift, we cover the tops with fabric and tie with a ribbon. Also, antique jars are a nice touch; she gave me some of her wildflower honey in a beautiful antique jar with a rocking horse on the lid. I want to try painting the lids of old spaghetti sauce jars next weekend.
I can't get enough of jam. It's delicious, and (if you use low sugar gelatin product--and ps, most modern products have no actual gelatin in them, so yay for vegetarians!) pretty healthy, plus you can buy local to eat year-round! Summer fruits have such short seasons...