Warm, sunny days with the sounds of birds chirping. People are walking more and just a bit nicer as you pass on the street. The garden centers are packed with people buying plants to landscape their yards. There is a type of hope after the cold dreary days of winter start to thaw. Admittedly, Central Florida does not have that long of cold weather, but the skies get a bit cloudy and sad. This is our dry season here.
It is also strawberry season here in Florida. It is the start of spring and warmer weather. It means robins are stopping buy to snack on the strawberries on their way up north.
I always buy a few pounds more than we will use in recipes and just to eat. This way I can make some strawberry syrup and jam and freeze just a bit. The syrup is pretty easy, just getting it the right consistency is a little difficult. Still I attempt to make some every year for pancakes or waffles.
Making strawberry jam was a spring rite when we lived on the farm in Michigan. We would visit a farm or farm stand and buy a couple of flats. I even spent many a June working on strawberry farms packing the strawberries in the flats to be shipped where ever when I was a teen.
Once we moved to Florida I didn’t make anything for years. This side of the state (at least where I am) there are few farms. I have to rely on my store Thrifty Produce to provide my strawberries at a decent price. They have not let me down so far.
The past two years I attempted to make jam using a couple of recipes. These recipes just did not work for me. The recipes were basic ones from the foodnetwork.com and another blogger who I admire.
My friend Nancy knows how to make her own pectin from scratch. I just wanted to skip it altogether. I searched online for strawberry jam recipes. The first recipe I used was okay, the second was just plain awful. They used lemon juice and I followed each recipe exactly.
I was mystified. How could something as simple as making jam be so hard? I had made it many times before and never had an issue. I came up with the idea to Google search French strawberry jam recipes. Who better than the French to make this clear or make this as hard as can be?
I came upon the website instructables.com. This post actually gave me an epiphany. There are so many chefs and people, like myself (not that I am in anyway a chef or anyone special), who are always creating something different. We make things so involved, so complicated. Sometimes it is the simplest answer that works the best. To state this simply, just take some fruit, a small amount of water, sugar and cook until the jam gets to the consistency you desire. The writer of this post had read Robert Arbor’s Joie de Vivre. A how to guide on everyday living the French way. The link to the website is here http://www.instructables.com/id/Homemade-Jam-the frenchway/
I put the hot jam into warm washed jars and covered quickly with lids and they sealed immediately. It is not as thick as I would like, but I can correct that next time.
I didn’t even have to can this or freeze it. The lids on the jars sealed up within an hour or two. My eldest daughter and her husband were here. They and my husband enjoyed it. I had 4 small jars made and am now down to 2. I need to hit Thrifty again to buy a bunch more since this was such a success!