ahh……summer is here
It is with a sigh of relief that I welcome summer each year, although my friends will tell you that I am also a bit of a doom and gloomer because they know that my next thought is that once the summer solstice arrives we’re on that slippery slope into the dark days of winter. How’s that for a pick me up today? Let’s put that sorry thought aside for now though and get back to skipping, playing in fountains and just plain enjoying the summer we’ve waited so long for. There are farmers markets, festivals and fireworks to enjoy over the next couple of months and no one celebrates summer better than Chicago. I was driving home last night at 8:30 and was thrilled to see so many people out walking and enjoying the sights and sounds of the neighborhood.
I’m lucky enough to have a great green market close by as well as a regular farmers market a short block away. I’m really going to enjoy watching the whole growing season unfold before my eyes as new fruits and vegetables arrive each week. The last couple of weeks the markets have been inundated with strawberries. I’m not a real strawberry fan, I rarely pick them up at the grocery store, but somehow when you smell them at the farmers market before you even see them, all of a sudden you’ve got to have them. There’s such a difference in flavor between direct from the farm versus the grocery where they’ve been picked early and grown to withstand shipping and shelf life. I passed the berries by the first week at the market and kicked myself the rest of the week. At my next opportunity I picked up strawberries and what was probably the last of the rhubarb for the season and brought my treasures home……….where they promptly sat in the refrigerator for five or six days. My only choice at that point was to turn them into jam and man-o-man-o was it terrific! So good in fact that I bought more strawberries the next week and made another round. That’s when the wheels went off the tracks. I implore you, learn from my mistake and don’t try to double this recipe. Take the time and make two batches. Yes, I was ultimately able to rescue it, but it meant a lot of extra work that could have been avoided.
This jam recipe is like magic to me because of the minimal hands on time. It comes from the Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard. Enjoy.
makes 2 1/2 cups
4 cups strawberries, halved or quartered (depending on size)
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
Mix berries and sugar in a large bowl and let stand for 8 hours, stirring occasionally.
After the standing period, transfer berry mixture to an enamel saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the lemon juice, return to a boil and boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 24 hours.
After 24 hours, return the berries to a full boil over high heat and boil rapidly for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Ladle into hot jars and process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.
Variation: Add one cup finely chopped rhubarb to the strawberries and mix with sugar. Makes 3 cups.