Saturday, April 21, 2007

Strawberry jam! A Manhattan story

When I stopped at my favorite fruit and veggie store yesterday I couldn't resist the QUART of fresh California strawberries for $1.79. They looked REAL compared to the perfectly sized and pyamidal shaped berries in pints nearby -- the latter the kind from hybrid plants that grow in greenhouses and come out too brightly colored and all the same size and shape and are as flavorful as cardboard. These looked like they grew in fields and were picked by poor migrant workers [I do hope they got minimum wage]. They were not all the same size or shape or color and smelled like strawberries. I ate a few dipped iin confectioner's sugar for dessert. They were lovely. But I had so many ... what was I thinking?

It proved to be an insomniac night. Couldn't turn the brain off. Solved three or four little problems then THE idea came to me. I'll make strawberry jam. I got up, got my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook [1960s vintage] and found a recipe. Pectin and sugar and strawberries. That's it. Great. Back to bed and to sleep. This morning I set out on a search for pectin. I knew it wouldn't be easy. Understatement. Most clerks and even store managers had no idea what it was. I even went down to Fairway, the fresh produce store with the most of everything {not just produce] on the West Side. Pectin is unknown -- no one makes jam ... nor have I for a very long time.

The brain kept going. I knew I'd read recipes in the distant past that did not call for pectin; it depends on the kind of fruit. When I got home -- after, a two mile walk with stops at seven stores -- I got my America Cooks [same vintage] and found two recipes for strawberry jam without pectin. Viola!!! Boil water and sugar, hull and half or quarter strawberries.
When sugar is dissolved and boiling add strawberries and boil on medium heat for half an hour. Then put into shallow pan to cool. When cool put in sterilized jars and seal with parafin. Parafin? Ha! Parafin is off in never, never land with pectin. And I haven't saved jam jars, but I do have a couple of pint size [literally,not figuratively] ceramic pots. So I boiled them five minutes and "sealed" with Saran and rubber bands. They wil be stored on the back of a refrigerator shelf so I'm pretty sure will preserved properly.

Jam done, I went for a walk in the sunny afternoon. When I came back in ... oh! what a lovely smell!! If I'd made fresh bread to go with it I'd have been on cloud nine in a state of total ecstasy.

1 comment :

mojo said...

use the juice of half a lemon to each 8 ounces of fruit instead of pectin in jam making.