I’ve been making jam recently. First a Barnraisers jam day in Kenmore entailed making strawberry jam two ways – a traditional cooked jam and a freezer jam (the first I’d made; it’s great mixed in with plain yogurt) – as well as a smorgasbord of the host’s homemade jams to sample. Then a strawberry party last night on the East Side where M. and I cooked up a strawberry mint jam using mint and berries from her backyard monster strawberry garden.
I have no idea what I’m going to do with the red currants and gooseberries in that top picture. They’re from our garden, where they have been hanging on the bushes taunting me for about a week while I vacillate. There aren’t enough for a full jam batch of either, so I could either do small batches or use them for something else, or several somethings else. Ideas? And these are the problems I find myself focusing on because they’re the ones that are really the most trivial.
N. found a really good hedge of wild blackberries on the far side of a local park so we went over this morning and picked as many as we could before he had to open the shop. We had assumed that there wouldn’t be much competition for them but to my eye it seemed that “other fires have burned here before us,” as my dad used to intone before we’d try to build a campfire. There were telltale beaten down paths into the prickly brush and the best, ripest, juiciest berries that remained were wayyyy back in the thorny mess. I snagged my hair a few times. We’ll be hitting that row until we have enough fruit to stockpile for wine (N.), beer (K.), and… whatever else. Jam included! (Me.)
A bunch of the friends we’ve been making recently have gardens, a farmer’s market they frequent, and/or a good mental map of local wild-growing edibles. All of this means that hanging out with these people means food: sharing it, experimenting with it and enjoying it. I mean, there are so many other things they bring to the table friendship-wise but this post? This post is about jam.
Strawberry mint jam
2 pounds strawberries
4 3/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup lemon juice
two stems of fresh mint
Bring strawberries, lemon juice, and sugar to a boil in thick-bottomed pot. When foam subsides, add pectin. Boil for 3 minutes then test for set. Once set point is reached, steep mint sprigs until desired mint intensity is reached – it will be weaker when cool, so take that into account. Ladle into sterilized jars and process. Makes about six 8-oz. jars.
(If you haven’t made jam before, I suggest a read through a good jam book. This is a classic.)