My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.

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Strawberry-Honey Jam 9

Posted on June 15, 2009 by crankycheryl

bread and jelly 002Allow me to start with what is not included in this post:

  • How I brought my children to a hot field on a sunny day with milk in sippy cups, but no water at all.
  • How Z. clung to my leg and whined and pleaded to go home, insisting we hold hands every time I took a step.
  • How I went to pick a week too early, knowing we’d be away for the peak berry-picking weekend, which resulted in twice as much work for half the results.  And a sunburn.
  • The growing awareness of how so many of these allegedly golden, wholesome childhood moments I seem so hellbent on providing are like this.  Sigh.

Regardless, we are completely out of last year’s jam, and I heard that the call had gone out that strawberries were ready.  So off we went to Adam’s Berry Farm in Burlington’s Intervale, at which we can pick our own organic strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.  (For blueberries, I’m also especially fond of Owl’s Head, which has an astonishingly beautiful hillside setting and live music, even if its berries aren’t organic.)

june 007One double bedtime, some serious lolly-gagging, and seven pounds of berry-cleaning later, I was getting ready to can.  Well, truth be told, I was trying to talk myself out of canning because it was 11:00 and I wanted to go to sleep.  But I had washed the berries and couldn’t trust them not to spoil, and there was no way I was letting all that suffering be for naught.

I pulled out the Pomona’s, a citrus pectin that’s activated (i.e., is able to gel your preserves) with the addition of the calcium powder that’s included.  I know some serious jam-makers who don’t like its texture, but I think it makes great stuff.  Plus it doesn’t require a crazy amount of sugar (in fact, you don’t really have to use any), and you can double or triple batches, unlike with many traditional recipes.  Isn’t flexibility nice?

strawberries and chicken 002Strawberry-Honey Jam

About 5 pints

  • 8 cups of strawberries, cleaned, with stems removed, and cut into halves or quarters, depending on how chunky you want the results.
  • 1 cup honey
  • peel from 1/2 organic orange, or 1/2 t. dried
  • 4 t. Pomona’s pectin
  • 4 t. calcium water made from packet included with pectin

Wash and rinse jars, lids and bands.  Some boil everything, and some say this isn’t necessary.  Whichever way you decide to go, do that and then keep in hot water until ready.

Place water in boiling water canner deep enough so that it will cover the jars you’re going to fill once you put them in.

Mix calcium water according to package instructions and set aside.

Put berries, orange peel, and calcium water into stockpot and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Stir pectin into honey.  As berries are approaching a boil, look at the texture and either leave as is, or use a potato masher to smooth out chunks as desired.  When berries are at full boil, vigorously stir honey-pectin mixture in for 1 – 2 minutes, being sure to stir hard enough to dissolve the pectin.  Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.  Remove orange peel if using large pieces.

Fill prepared jars to 1/4″ of top, wipe around the rim with a wet cloth, then place on lids and bands.  Carefully strawberries and chicken 007place jars into boiling water, and boil for 5 minutes.

Place on a rack to cool.  In the next little while you should hear the slight snap of the lids sealing completely, which will let you know that they’re ready to store.  To test the seal, tap on them.  If they move or wiggle at all, just keep in the fridge and use within three weeks.

This jam is delicious.  Like fresh strawberries themselves, bright and sunny and not overly sugary.  My mom (and you know how moms are always the most objective of critics) said it was the best strawberry jam she had ever had.  It may be immodest, but I agree.  What a treat it’ll be if that taste lasts into the depths of winter.  And by then, I’ll have forgotten the rest.

Strawberries & Cream Biscuits 0

Posted on April 21, 2009 by crankycheryl

carroll-shower-food-apr-09-0311When I think of strawberry shortcake, I remember my grandmother and picking berries in dusty, straw-covered fields near her home on Long Island.  She would wear a pink cotton floppy hat and we would pick and eat and pick and eat until our hands were red and we had a full flat of berries.  She froze them in Tupperware, covered with sugar, and would pull them out all year long for fruit salad.

Or strawberry shortcake, which in our family meant frozen Chock Full O’Nuts pound cake, Cool Whip, and thawed sugary berries.  The first time someone handed me a crumbly biscuit with unsweetened real whipped cream and fresh berries, I looked at them in disbelief.  And though my taste in food has evolved, of course, I’ve never really come around on this particular issue, except for coming to prefer actual whipped cream.

strawberriesSo when we put mini strawberry shortcakes on the menu for last weekend’s baby shower, I had a moment of truth.  I took a deep breath, and turned to the biscuit page in the Joy of Cooking – only to discover I didn’t have enough butter for the double batch I needed.  The Cream Biscuit recipe caught my eye, (this recipe is from a B&B and is very close, though you’ll have to decide whether you want to brush the tops with milk or sugar them so that they’ll brown a little – I wanted mine pale and decided not to).

carroll-shower-food-apr-09-028Regular or buttermilk biscuits are always a little worrisome to me.  I go into a small anxiety attack as I’m worrying whether I’m going to overbeat after the liquid is added and overdevelop the gluten.  Do I need this agita?  No, I do not.  So cream biscuits are a lovely alternative, and lower pressure.  And the most important thing, of course, is that they taste great – somewhere between a buttery roll and a flaky biscuit.  So nice.

Give ’em a try.  You can slice some early spring strawberries, toss them with just enough sugar to coat them, and let them sit for a half-hour or so while the biscuits cool.  Then you can whip a cup of cream with a tablespoon or so of confectioners sugar or maple.  Slice open the biscuits, put a dollop of cream and a couple of sticky berries in and enjoy.  My grandma Ruth would approve.

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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