A friend and I went strawberry picking this weekend, so Sunday arrived and I had to make jam…or expensive compost. I had planned to make freezer jam, as I’m feeling a bit lazy about the whole canning thing, but when I saw that freezer jam requires twice as much sugar as fruit, I was a little put off.
Then I discovered Harriet Fasenfest and Marge Braker’s Portland Preserve web site and their Small Batch Strawberry Jam. It’s a brilliant and simple recipe: 3 c. sliced strawberries, 1c. sugar, 2Tbl. lemon juice. You cook it in a skillet, and it makes about a pint. I put it up in half-pint jars, which hopefully won’t dry out before we eat them. I also followed their directions for inverting the sterilized jars, which will hopefully keep without refrigeration.
This recipe and method is perfect for me. We don’t eat a lot of jam, so I was perfectly happy to come away with five half-pints from the half-flat of berries I’d picked. And that was actually three different batches, so I got to play with the recipe some. The process felt manageable, too; I’d been dreading hours spent over the stove, five pounds of sugar used, and enough plain old strawberry to last us three years. This recipe is so do-able, I could see doing a batch from a quart of strawberries as the whim takes me during strawberry season, without feeling the need to mark off an entire weekend to pick, clean, cook, and can jam. Brilliant! Thanks, Harriet and Marge!
The first batch was straight strawberry. The second had candied, dried, and grated fresh ginger. The third batch – and I have no idea where this idea come from – had fresh rosemary (about 10 leaves) and sage (2 leaves) shredded and added in the last 3 minutes of cooking. Sample tastes suggest it’s going to be a fabulous flavor combination, especially with slow-risen wheat/rye bread.
And if you’re counting, this is local except for the lemon juice (actually, lime juice in my case) and ginger, because Pioneer and Penninsular beet sugars are grown and produced in Michigan’s thumb area. Strawberries were from Rowe’s U-Pick farm, and herbs came from the deck.