Friday, June 11, 2010

Stop and smell the... strawberries!

In which Truffula sticks with the food theme we've been on here in the Green Phone Booth...

I wasn't fully through the doorway when coming home yesterday evening before strawberry sweetness surrounded me. Mmm...  The divine scent was the byproduct of Mr. Truffula and the TruffulaBoyz' culinary adventures: they had made strawberry jam!  (And, true to form in this household, this involved not one, but two, recipes for a side-by-side cookoff off a "regular" batch with sugar, and a no-sugar alternative.)

They began their day at a nearby pick-your-own farm, gleaning what end-of-the-season berries they could.  The slicing, dicing, cooking, and canning then took the better part of their afternoon.

The result:

The jars, with their beautiful (and tasty!) contents, hold more than just jam.  They hold memories of the warm sunny day, of berry picking with friends, of the emergency trip to the grocery store to buy the unsweetened apple juice for the no-sugar jam, of the TruffulaGuys' pride and satisfaction in making their first-ever jams. These are priceless ingredients which even the most exquisite organic store-bought product lacks.

There are a few whole strawberries left - we're freezing those.  I'm sure some of them will be pilfered by the kids, with my blessing.  I'm tucking a stash away for a special purpose: for remembering these summery days (and now, the Great Strawberry Jam Production) when we celebrate the Winter Solstice.  (Disclaimer: that's an idea I took from another blog a few years ago, and which I'd be happy to credit if only I remembered which one it was!).

It seems like just yesterday when the berry farm advertised the strawberries' arrival.  The weeks since then have passed so quickly.  If you have the opportunity, do stop and smell the strawberries (or things you've made with them) -- their season is fleeting, but is the sweet stuff of which memories are made.

p.s.  In case you're wondering about the cook-off results: The with-sugar version yielded several more jars of jam.  The no-sugar version, on the other hand, jelled up nicely, while the with-sugar jam may turn out to be more suited to be ice-cream or yogurt topping.


Kellie said...

Fun! Our pick-you-own farm just opened here (Colorado) this month and I've been dying to go.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

That's very interesting about the with-sugar version making more jars of jam. How many jars did each version make, and what kind of pectin did you use?

Truffula said...

The regular-sugar jam was made with Certo Liquid Fruit Pectin (mostly because we still had a packet left after making Violet Jelly a few weeks ago). It yielded 6 8-oz jars and 1 16-oz jar, with about 5 oz left over.

The no-sugar jam (which actually has some sugar in it) was made with Ball No Sugar Needed pectin. That recipe produced 6 8-oz jars, with about 4 oz left over.

The flavors are a little different - the no-sugar jam has an additional flavor which we couldn't quite nail. It's not bad, just a little unexpected.

The regular jam is still soup today, so it's obviously not going to jell up any further. Yes, it could be recooked, but we're just going to leave it as it is.

There's also a texture difference - the no-sugar jam is firm, but not in the way I remember the firm jam my mother used to make. It almost seemed a little gelatinous, firm, but not stiff.

As we discussed our findings, we thought we'd try a batch of jam with even less sugar (not strawberry, it's too late to get more berries... maybe blueberry?). But, as of this moment - our minds are open to change - we'll probably stick with the regular sugar recipes in general.


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