Monday, November 14, 2011

Tomatoes and Strawberry Jam!

Hello Everyone!

This month has been super jam-packed busy!  So busy in fact I had to take time off from real world working just to keep up with what's going on at home!  And speaking of jam-packed, I even packed jam.  Not just the mango rosemary jam I promised and never delivered but good ol' fashioned strawberry jam.  I tested two recipes and came back with the one I liked the most!  Oddly enough, that was not the country 'use lemons' recipe that you slow cook.  The more delicious, thicker, pinker lovelier batch came from the back of the Jamsetta packet.  Go figure!  (If anybody can tell me where to get local pectin, please post!)

Dark red strawerry preserves, yum!
This is the CWA strawberry preserves.  It was dark and honied almost, which was quite nice but didn't taste near as fresh as the regular pectin recipe, even though they were the same batch of strawberries.  This also had a higher propensity to want to burn, one because it took 40 minutes to boil and two because you weren't allowed to stir it.  Also, you used less lemons and got more preserves out of the packet jam.  Ouch!  If I had a lemon tree, I would totally do the CWA recipe way more and be a bit more careful about eyeing it perfectly to get it just right, but until I can afford 10 lemons a batch, I might stick to the packet.  How unfortunate for me!

For quick jam:
3kg strawberries
1/2c water
8 tablespoons lemon juice (about two lemons)
2 50g packets Jamsetta
3kg sugar
3 tablespoons butter (optional)

Before starting, place some plates in the freezer.

Rinse and hull strawberries.  Hulling means just to cut the tops off real quick with a knife.  Feed tops to the chickens or compost for lovely vitamin-C rich soil (great for watering citrus!).
Place everything minus Jamsetta and sugar and put into a preserving pan.

Or, like I do *above* use a nice good baking tray on a long burner (or two burners) of your stove.  Basically, you want as large a surface as possible to prevent clogage, difficult stirring and, oh, burning the whole darn thing.  Cook until fruit is soft, about 10 minutes.  Maybe 20.  Depends on the size of your strawberries and how berry-y you want the jam.  I chose really super soft, 20 minutes.
 Add Jamsetta, sugar and butter, if using (it keeps the scum from forming).  Bring to a boil for 10 minutes, removing any scum with a spoon.  It should look like above.
Test by placing drop or three of  jam onto frozen plate and waiting ten seconds.  If it wrinkles and appears jam-like when poked questioningly with the tip of a finger, it's done.
Either wait to cool and store in jars with a wax ring on top or put hot into sterilized jars and boil can 10 minutes, depending on your preferred method.

Also, my husband and I built a giant tomato patch over the weekend!  For the last month, we've had tomatoes growing in a seedling bed and finally, they were getting too crowded for comfort.  I filled the bed, but right before I did I snapped a photo of it!  I know it looks so empty without seedlings right now but I assure you it's filled with 400 tomatoes, 5 varieties at the moment.  All heirloom.

I'll be writing about how to grow nice tomatoes in the near future!!

Happy Cooking!