Friday, May 13, 2011

Ready to Jam! (I think...)

I'm not sure if I'm ready to MAKE jam, or just ready to jam out of here. I've romanticized the idea of home preserving, and enjoying all the homemade jams and goodies just like my mom used to make. I've even done a little home canning - salsa and diced tomatoes. I've considered how nice it would be to whip up a little batch of this or that. Strawberry Jam, Blackberry Jam, Strawberry Syrup...mmmmmm! Well, now my time has come. I'll have to deliver, or let wonderful produce and precious time spent go to waste...all the while learning as I go.

This time last year, my husband convinced me that we should start growing strawberries. At the time, we had been enforcing the low-sugar-no-high-fructose-corn-syrup-no-artificial-sweeteners rule in our home for a while and had found such jams and jellies to be a wee bit spendy. So we put in our tiny baby strawberry plants and let the rows begin to mat, as images of homemade jam danced in our heads.

Strawberry beds - July 2010 - after about 2 months of growth

Strawberry beds in foreground - July 2010 - after about 2 months of growth

After the winter, I looked over the beds with dismay - they all looked dead. All that careful weeding and planning seemed to have gone to waste. Well, low and behold, a month later those same plants are lush and teeming with flowers and green berries! (Experienced gardeners, yes I realize how ignorant I am. This is my first strawberry experience, thank you. I know nothing except that which I retain from books and Google.)

Matted strawberry rows May 2011

Flowering strawberry plants

Green strawberries just waiting to ripen

I don't even know how many quarts of berries to expect! So now the question is - can I actually make jam? We shall see! This year I plan to try out the following strawberry recipes:
  • Traditional Strawberry Jam
  • Old-Fashioned Strawberry Jam
  • Natural Summer Fruit Jam
  • Strawberry Margarita Preserves
  • Sundae in a Jar (Doesn't that sound AWFUL!!?? So much for low-sugar on that one!)
  • Strawberry Sauce (for my Hubbie, who prefers berries on his pancakes)
  • Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate
I'll enlist some lucky victims to taste test later this summer, and post the results.

In addition to the strawberries, I noticed that our blackberry bushes, peach trees, and apple trees are ALL bearing this year. Thank goodness they don't all have to be harvested at the same time!! What began as a little bit of canning may turn out to be a short-term full time job. LOL

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