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Posts Tagged ‘Strawberries’

As a kid, my family would go strawberry picking in July at a nearby farm. Our family would arrive in a multiple car convoy, with my grandmother leading the way. Each grandchild would be handed a basket and unleashed on the fields. We would spend the next few hours contently picking berries. More often than not, the majority of berries we picked ended up in our stomach rather than the basket. Our more disciplined parents and grandparents had more success in actually picking berries, so we would return to our cottage with mountains of ripe, juicy strawberries.

The challenge was to do something exciting with all these berries. Our family was always up for the challenge – we froze berries whole for later use in the summer, we whipped up frosted strawberry desserts, we baked numerous strawberry pies, and we cooked enough strawberry jam to last us the year. We lived in strawberry heaven for a few weeks before raspberry season arrived!

Today, the farm has been converted into a golf course, but we continue to jam using strawberries from the Farmer’s Market. Making jam is not particularly time consuming or difficult. The trick is in making sure you follow directions for the pectin crystal and avoid any risk of botulism by properly sterilizing jars and instruments. There are a variety of pectin crystals on the market – my mother really likes CERTO light because it is one of the few that uses more fruit than sugar.

Hulling the strawberries

Hulling the strawberries

Your fingers, counters, and bowls are at risk of being stained by the strawberry juice, so I recommend hulling berries over newspaper and using a dark colored or metal bowl to crush the berries. As for the jam pot, note that the jam will nearly double in volume while cooking, so be sure it’s large.

Sterilizing our jamming instruments and transforming our crushed berries into jam!

Sterilizing our  instruments and transforming our crushed berries into jam!

The fresh jam is delicious on breads, but also over icecream or eaten straight from the jar with a spoon!

 

Strawberry Jam

Makes ~8 cups of Strawberry Jam
 
Strawberry Jam
 

Ingredients:

6 cups washed, hulled and crushed strawberries
4 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 box CERTO light pectin crystals

Appropriate number of jars, rings, and lids (either four 2-cup jars or eight 1-cup jars). If the berries are particularly juicy, an extra jar may come in handy!
 

Directions

Sterilize jars by placing them in the oven at 225oF for 10 minutes. Keep warm until filling time. Boil utensils in a pot of water for at least 15 minutes and lids at least 5 minutes before use.

Place crushed strawberries in a large saucepan. Combine the CERTO light pectin crystals and ¼ cup of the measured sugar. Add to strawberries.

Bring the strawberry mixture to a boil over high heat. Add the remaining sugar. Return to a rolling boil (i.e. one where you cannot stop the pot from boiling when stirring hard) for 1 minute. The jam will nearly double in volume at this point and start spitting. It is also highly susceptible to burn at this stage, so continue to stir hard!

Remove jam from heat. Continue stirring jam for 5 minutes. During this time, skim foam off jam.

Pour jam using sterilized utensils into warm sterilized jars to ¼ inch from rim. Cover with lids and screw rings on tightly. The jars should seal overnight. Occasionally, one does not, so store it in the fridge and eat this jar first.
 
NOTE – this is the 2013 CERTO Light recipe – they occasionally change up the crystal formulation, so be sure to follow whatever recipe is listed with your pectin crystals.

Bon appétit!
 
– Catherine

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Halifax’s growing season continues to surprise me, if only because local strawberries are still in their prime come the end of September!  I was looking for an excuse to cook something savoury with them, when I happened upon some fishcakes in the grocery store.  The fishmonger recommended I pair it with a salsa, so, inspired, I decided to marry the strawberries with cherry yellow tomatoes and balsamic.

Gems from Halifax's market: strawberries, yellow cherry tomatoes, and kale.

The sweet cherry yellow tomatoes looked and tasted beautiful contrasted to the strawberries.  The balsamic only further deepened the flavours, while the slightly bitter cilantro piqued the salad.  My one complaint?  Against the bold flavours of the salad, the fishcake, which had too much potato and too little cod, was lost in the mix.  Next time, I’ll have to attempt my own!

If you put the balsamic glaze in a bottle, you can go wild decorating your plate!

Strawberry Tomato Salad with a Balsamic Glaze

(serves 1 strawberry and cherry tomato lover)

 

Ingredients:

About a dozen strawberries, hulled and quartered

About a dozen yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 shallot, finely diced

1 tablespoon balsamic reduction (you can buy balsamic vinegar already reduced at superstores, or make your own by boiling balsamic for a few minutes)

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Toss all the ingredients together. Adjust the strawberry,cherry, and balsamic proportion if desired.  Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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