The Friday before last, we went to a local u-pick strawberry field and walked away an hour later with 28 pounds of strawberries. I froze several bags for use later in the winter and I also immediately baked up some shortcake for dessert that evening (real shortcake, not that angels food sponge-like substance you get at the market). I reserved some fresh and some frozen berries for my parents and had the remainder to play around with.
I ended up making a strawberry-black pepper jam and a strawberry-lemon marmalade. Both turned out quite well for my first foray into jam making. I’ve been canning food for years, but somehow never got around to making jellies or jams. We aren’t really breakfast eaters around here and jam or jelly has never been on the shopping list so I suppose it just didn’t occur to me. But – there is more than one use for jam, and Gary does go on PB&J kicks every once in a while.
The first two tries were made using powdered pectin, quite successfully, but I started getting curious about naturally made jams (without added pectin). I was flipping through the Ball Blue Book when I saw a recipe for grapefruit marmalade and I realized that I still had a good number of pink grapefruit in the closet from a bulk purchase earlier this year. The grapefruit marmalade was a two day process, but I am happy to report that it was successful as well! It set up perfectly and is a nice balance of sweet and hints of bitter. I’m thinking it will be great incorporated as a glaze for one of our ham roasts from the half pig we got earlier this year.
By far the easiest little experiment is in the half gallon jar in the picture above. After years of talking about it, this year I am actually experimenting with making fruity booze. The strawberry liqueur is my first attempt. If it turns out allright, by the end of the year I hope to have a little variety of strawberry, raspberry and blackberry liqueuers to bottle up and gife as gifts for the holidays. The assembly was quite simple. I looked up a number of recipes and ended up with a baseline idea of how to approach this. After washing and stemming the strawberries I filled the half gallon jars full of berries. I then poured sugar over the berries (I eyed this, perhaps 3/4 to 1 cup?) and filled to the top with vodka. After a few days the berries had given up most of thier color to the liquid. I plan on keeping teh berries in the vodka for 1-3 months and then I will strain and rebottle the liqueur. I also did the same on a smaller scale with gin. I like gin quite a lot, but know that others are not as fond of it – so I may just reserve those jars for myself and other gin lovers (that is assuming any of it is palateable).