So for the next little while, I’ll probably be going through old photos I have taken over the last several months and sharing different recipes and such. Hopefully I’ll have some new stuff to share as well. After all, it’s summer and the growing season, and there’s always something new to discover. Why, just this week the kids and I went on our annual strawberry picking expedition. Strawberry season is very early this year, and looks to be very short as well.
All told, from one harvest we now have 12 quarts of frozen strawberries in the freezer, as well as plenty of jam.
Ideally though, I’d like to be able to go picking one more time and whip out just a few more batches of jam. The weather hasn’t been cooperating to extend the season, but if the patch is picking, we’ll go out one more time next Friday and pick a few more flats. If the weather doesn’t cooperate though, we’ll make do with what we have and look anxiously ahead to the next fruit to roll in. Looks like that might be raspberries. I would kill to be able to put up a few jars of homemade raspberry jam!
In addition to regular strawberry jam, I also made Strawberry-Rhubarb and Strawberry-Apricot. The jam has a slightly softer set this year- I suspect because the berries were first crop berries, and I’ve heard an old wives tale that the best jam comes from later berries. But since the first crop berries might be the only berries this year, I had to take what I could get. The Strawberry-Apricot jam came about because I’d bought apricots a few weeks ago that were practically inedible. They were too sour and didn’t taste like much. The jam was a lark, and while okay, it would probably be better with sweet and juicy apricots. Of course, then we would have eaten the apricots instead of turning them into jam.
I’d also made a Nectarine Jam a week or so ago- wow is that a delight in a jar! On the same shopping trip as the apricots, I’d also bought nectarines- the first of the season. Well, the next day I went to get out a nectarine and they were all mushy and bruised. Rather than throw them all out, I made jam, following directions for a Peach Jam, only I didn’t need to peel the nectarines. This has to be one of the best jams I’ve ever made. It’s spectacularly delicious, fruity, slightly tangy, and loaded with flavor. I don’t know why it’s never occurred to me to make Nectarine Jam before, but this definitely won’t be the last. When the stone fruit get really affordable later this year, I may very well make another batch. Maybe try a batch of Plum Jam as well.
That’s the Nectarine Jam on the right- it really is that bright orange color!
I get asked a lot what we do with so much jam. My favorite breakfast is anything toasted- bagel, english muffin, toast, toaster waffle, etc.- slathered with homemade jam. Sometimes, in the case of the bagel, I’ll add a smear of plain cream cheese as well. We also love to give a nice assortment of jams as gifts and share with our friends. Oh, we’ll also do your standard peanut butter and jelly, but that’s almost always with straight up strawberry jam. Apparently we do go through the stuff. Last year I kept track of how many jars of jam I preserved, and out of the 20 jars of strawberry jam, we have just 5 left on the shelf. I know we shared one or two, but mostly, we ate them. I added 13 jars to the shelf this week, but if we want to be able to give some away, I think I need to do one or two more batches of jam.
So that’s the jam-making adventure so far this year. The thing is, one batch of jam really doesn’t take as much fruit as you’d think. The nectarine jam, for example, used just seven nectarines. If you’re reading this and you’re new to the idea of making jam, you’ll have to check out my Jam-Making Tutorial I did a few years ago. Just swap out the strawberries for the fruit of your choice. Pick up a box of Sure-Jell and follow the directions- works perfectly every time.