}

June 26, 2011

Viva la Fraises - Because it's June

SEASONAL LOCAL VARIETIES OF STRAWBERRIES ARE READY TO PICK. EVEN WITH DAMAGE FROM THE RAIN, HAIL AND MICE, THESE TENDER, FRAGRANT AND SWEET VARIETIES ARE FAR BETTER THAN ANY COMMERICIAL BRAND FOUND IN A PLASTIC CLAMSHELL.

NATIVE STRAWBERRIES ARE DIFFERENT THAN STORE BOUGHT VARIETIES, WHICH ARE BRED TO BE RESISTANT TO BRUISES, AND CAN HANDLE LONG SHIPPING WELL. LOCAL BERRIES ARE EXTREMELY FRAGILE, BUT OH SO MUCH MORE FLAVORFUL.
 I can't help but to associate June with strawberries. For this is the month for the world's most popular berry. It doesn't matter if you are in Germany, Switzerland, Seattle, Tokyo or New York - this month is THE season. You may prefer those Driscoll branded varieties, that are bred to retail intense flavor but even they don't compare to the intense fragrance of garden-grown sweet strawberries. Many people don'e realize that that there are nearly a hundred varieties of strawberries, and like tomatoes, those found in markets are bred for color, shelflife and firmness. Garden varieties are extremely tender, and bruise too easily, but their flavor is incredible. Intensely strayberry-ish,  juicy and sweet, full of rainwater and sunshine.

AT THIS TIME OF YEAR, BERRIES HAVE SO MUCH WATER IN THEM, THAT JUST SUGAR IS ADDED. BOIL UNTIL FOAM BEGINS TO FORM. THE ENTIRE KITCHEN WILL SMELL LIKE A CANDY FACTORY!

PREPARE IN SMALL BATCHES USING NO MORE THAN 4 LBS OF FRUIT AT A TIME. NEVER LET THE TEMPERATURE OF THE PRESERVES RISE HIGHER THAN 220 DEG. F, OR IT WILL SET TOO TIGHTLY. (I LEARNED THE HARD WAY!).

 I have many fond memories of picking strawberries with my parents. We grew a few rows in the gardens, and the rest were picked a local farms which my mom would freeze for later use, or to make jam with. If you remember back in December, I decided that this year I would start making jams and jellies again, as well as pickles. I miss the smells in the kitchen, and the entire process. It's a little funny to think that I have about 20 years experience as being an apprentice to my mother as she made pickles, james and jellies in many, many flavors, from currant to sour cherry, and wild concord grapes. Each fruit marks a season for me, with its scent, flavor or the entire process of picking them.
STERILIZED WECK JARS  FROM GERMANY ARE READY FOR FILLING. I STERILIZE THEM IN THE OVEN. WECK JARS ARE BEAUTIFULY DESIGNED, BUT PROBLEMATIC FOR MORE MORE SERIOUS CANNING, SUCH AS FOR BEANS, MUSHROOMS, MEATS, BUT FOR ANYTHING REQUIRING A HOT WATER BATH OR FOR PICKES, JAMS AND JELLIES, THEY MAKE THE RESULTING PRODUCT LOOK SO MUCH NICER. THERE IS NO JAR MORE ATTRACTIVE THAN A WECK, I THINK.

Why not take your family and pick some strawberries or blueberries at a local farm this year.  Enjoy your Saturday or Sunday making some fresh Jam ( I highly reccomend the Blue Chair Cookbook). Get the proper equipment, since there is really no room for experimenting or taking corners when it comes to home processing or jam making, but the results are incredible, and with a good jar of White Cherry Peach Jam going for around $14. at your local Whole Foods, why not make some yourself at less than half the price!

IT TAKES ABOUT AN HOUR FOR THIS PECTIN-FREE RECIPE TO REDUCE. ONLY 3 INGREDIENTS, BERRIES, LEMON JUICE AND CANE SUGAR. THE TRICK, IS TO USE THE RIGHT POT, SUCH AS THE WIDE COPPER CONFITURE PAN FROM MAUVIEL.  THE WIDE SURFACE ALLOWS FOR A FAST REDUCTION. IT'S A BIT OF AN INVESTMENT, BUT A NICE ADDITION FOR ANY KITCHEN.

FRESH STRAWBERRY JAM IS SUMMER IN A JAR, WHEN EATEN IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER


Why not take your family and pick some strawberries or blueberries at a local farm this year.  Enjoy your Saturday or Sunday making some fresh Jam ( I suggest that you get the the Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders, it's just about the best jam cookbook I have ever read, besides being a beautiful addition to any library). Get the proper equipment, since there is really no room for experimenting or taking corners when it comes to home processing or jam making, but the results are incredible, and with a good jar of White Cherry Peach Jam going for around $14. at your local Whole Foods, why not make some yourself at less than half the price!
NEXT WEEK, IT'S CHERRY SEASON!!!

1 comment :

  1. This reminds me of picking strawberries with my father many years ago. We only had enough for eating not bottling but it looks so easy and I am ready to plant more strawberries this year to try it out.

    Karen

    ReplyDelete

Oh yes, do leave me a comment!