It is definitely strawberry season. As soon as I saw the first one at the farmer’s market, I knew it was time to get out pickin’. The Bauer Berry Farm was calling my name, so I answered.
You may remember, both Anne and I went out picking last year and came home with oodles of berries. In case you forgot, here is Anne’s experience (Pat – will you make strawberry ice cream again? Thanks.) and here is mine, which include a killer strawberry rhubarb pie.
Last year I went a little bonkers and came home with 30 lbs of strawberries. I tried to keep it in check this year and ended up with a respectable 19 lbs. Here is my fellow berry-picker, Amanda, showing off her loot.
I must say, the berries were not as good as last year. I think it was because of all the wet weather we’ve had. We picked over lots of moldy strawberries to find those oh so perfect ones. We still had a great time and had tons of strawberries to get creative with.
This year for me was all about jam. Last year I made freezer jam, which I really liked. This year, I wanted to tackle canning jam. I made three varieties. The first one was an Old Fashioned Strawberry Jam where it is just strawberries and sugar. You cook the daylights out of it to release its natural pectin, pour into jars and process in a boiling water bath. It is a bit time consuming, but the end result is a very concentrated strawberry flavor. I prefer this one – it tastes just like strawberries. If you get a chance, toast an english muffin, spread some creamy goat cheese on it, and top it with this jam. HEAVEN.
The second batch was a more contemporary version where I used strawberries, sugar (lots more than the first batch), lemon juice and liquid pectin. Using the pectin shortens the cooking time significantly. It results in a sweeter jam, which Brette prefers. The man likes his sugar. After cooking, you pour it in to jars and process in a boiling water bath.
I’m not going to get into the art of canning in a boiling water bath today because 1) I just don’t want to write that much and 2) I don’t consider myself an expert by any means and 3) there is a great book that has become my bible for canning called “Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving”. I would recommend it to any of you that want to get into canning. I used this book for both of the jams above.
But, what I really want to chat about is the third type of jam I made. It does not require special jars or a boiling water bath. It’s super easy and oh so delicious. It is Brandied Strawberry Jam. It doesn’t taste overly boozy and it has just the right amount of sweetness. It would be great on toast or biscuits, but also wonderful over ice cream for a sophisticated dessert.
So get out there and get some fresh strawberries from the farm (of the farmer’s market) and get jammin’. It would make a wonderful gift for a hostess, new parents, birthdays, or those “just because” gifts. Bring along some muffins or a good loaf of bread and you will make friends for life. I sent a jar home with my parents for father’s day and I’m convinced it will solidify my standing as favorite child. (shhh….don’t tell my siblings)
Brandied Strawberry Jam
from Cooking Light
4 cups quartered strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brandy, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine strawberries, sugar, and 3 tablespoons brandy in a heavy dutch oven or sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced 1 1/2 cups (45-60 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon brandy and vanilla. Spoon into jars (or bowls or whatever random tupperware you have) and cool to room temperature. Cover and chill.
This will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks. However, I’m doubtful it will ever make it that long.
Have you been to the strawberry patch? What are you doing with your berries?